- Georgia Power is trying innovative new compensation structures for large C&I customers’ solar arrays. They will pay a combination of REC’s and what looks to be essentially a feed-in tariff for kWh produced by the arrays. https://solarindustrymag.com/georgia-utility-launches-renewables-program-large-customers
- High on the List of Things That Fred Hears About a Lot and Kind of Understands are blockchains. A new company called Grid+ wants to use this technology to facilitate transactions. The company will essentially act as a utility, buying electricity wholesale and selling to customers using crypto-currencies. https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/grid-raises-40-million-as-blockchain-fever-grows
- Two prominent United States manufacturers of PV panels claim that imported panels from China threaten their business, and ask the Trump administration to impose tariffs to protect them. This debate is interesting because it pits different parts of the United States solar industry against each other: While a tariff may favor the panel manufacturers in the US, it would probably hurt the solar financiers/installers because it would raise their costs. http://www.utilitydive.com/news/updated-itc-finds-injury-to-us-solar-manufacturers-sending-tariff-decisio/505602/
I have come here to chew bubblegum and write a newsletter about electricity. And I’m all out of bubblegum.
- A proposal to have California create a regional western power grid has been tabled in the state legislature until next year. The proposal is part of Governor Brown’s plan to boost the market for renewable energy in the entire western region, but will require careful political maneuvering to achieve.
- The California legislature also did not take up SB 100 during this legislative session, which would have required electricity generation to be 100% renewable by 2045. The bill faced opposition from utilities and labor unions.
- The state legislature also voted to spend nearly $900 million of the $1.5 billion of cap-and-trade revenue on clean vehicles, including electric vehicles.
I hope this newsletter finds you all doing well. Let’s all take a moment to hope for a speedy recovery for the folks affected by the recent spat of hurricanes. If you’d like to help, here’s a handy guide on how to best go about doing that.
Before I get to the news, I’d like to direct your attention to the trailer for a movie that’s actually about our industry. Unfortunately, it’s not about calculating revenue requirements. Also unfortunately, it looks horrendous. Here, in all its Cumberbatchy glory, is the trailer for The Current War.
If you’d like to wash the taste of that out of your mouth, come drink a beer with us at our next happy hour tomorrow, Tuesday September 12th. It’ll be at Lost & Found in Oakland (2040 Telegraph Ave) at 6 PM.
- Hurricane Irma has knocked out power for 6.5 million customers in Florida, and could leave some residents of Puerto Rico without power for several months. Really drives home how important resiliency planning is becoming, given that climate change is expected to make extreme storms more common.
- California is considering legislation to push utilities to generate more electricity during peak periods from carbon-free resources, rather than just setting overall RPS goals. It’ll be interesting to see how far into the weeds the legislature gets when it comes to energy policy going forward.
- APS is hoping to address solar curtailment through a “reverse demand response” program, which sounds like some sort of load building program. Qualifying customers would be able to get free electricity for specific dispatchable loads. Money for nothin’, and watts for free.
Hope everyone had a great Labor Day! Now to celebrate labor some more by working! Hooray!
Heidy ho, Power Triperinos! It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for for a whole week: time for an electricity newsletter. Strap in! It’s gonna be a wild ride.
- The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (abbreviated as RGGI but pronounced “Reggie” to make it sound like a friendly co-worker who everyone likes because he’s nice and he always has peanut M&M’s in a bowl on his desk that’s free for anyone to take, rather than an unconstitutional power grab by environmentalist elites and the “gubbement” which is what it really is if you ask any true liberty-loving patriot, I tell you what…) is set to reduce its emissions targets by 30% by 2030. The regional cap-and-trade program governs carbon prices for nine states on the East Coast: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/rggi-states-propose-to-cut-power-plant-emissions-another-30/503465/
- After several decades of utilities spending more money than they anticipated on nuclear power plants, Duke has decided to spend a substantially smaller amount of money to NOT build a new nuke. The company has decided to abandon its plan to build the Lee Nuclear Plant in South Carolina after Westinghouse, the company that designed the reactors, went bankrupt. The sunk costs spent to date on the project, however, still need to be recovered and will be included in a 13.6% rate hike request: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/duke-cancels-lee-nuclear-project-rate-increase
- If you’re planning on burning coal any time soon, please be sure to scrub it down with some soap and water first. You know, clean it after you dig it up. Make it clean coal. That’s how this works right? Oh god someone please help me. My lips keep moving and stupid statements keep coming out and I don’t know how to stop it: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/energy-environment/wp/2017/08/23/trump-keeps-saying-clean-coal-it-does-not-mean-what-he-thinks-it-means/?utm_term=.4bdfd9d414ad
- An interesting piece argues that having more frequent rate cases leads to lower utility productivity, because utilities focus on the short term rather than effective long-term planning. http://www.utilitydive.com/news/fewer-rate-cases-mean-better-utility-performance-and-growth-lbnl-finds/448700/
- Drones could very useful for the grid (monitoring transmission lines, locating outages, etc), but have not found widepsread use in the US yet. A company called Avion Unmanned is trying to break down barriers to their adoption: https://dronelife.com/2017/08/17/avion-unmanned-brings-drone-power-to-local-utility-companies/
- The grid is changing very very fast, and so too will its pricing. Fixed service fees will displace volumetric ($/kWh) rates, according to a new book, Innovation & Disruption at the Grid’s Edge:
Thanks to everyone who came out for a great round table about community choice aggregation last week. Special thanks to Michael Callahan of MCE for leading a lively discussion and answering all of our questions!
- The Washington Post ran a story today about how climate change is becoming a very real thing for folks in the Pacific Northwest. Of course, this may have implications for renewable portfolio standards and other policy efforts for fighting climate change that will impact electric utilities, but it also raises questions about how utilities will account for changing weather in their power planning processes: https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/powerpost/paloma/daily-202/2017/08/14/daily-202-evidence-of-climate-change-abounds-amid-extreme-weather-in-the-pacific-northwest/59910b8e30fb0462b8e1a9c4/?utm_term=.2e2345fbfdf3
- Utility Dive has an in-depth look at how energy storage is helping SCE avoid using natural gas plants, which is particularly relevant in light of the ongoing Aliso Canyon fall out: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/esna-2017-how-storage-enables-sce-to-avoid-siting-new-gas-plants/449068/
- The (extremely temporary) end (of solar generation) is nigh! Next Monday, the Great Old Ones, led by Cthulhu himself, will swallow our sun orb and obscure it from the sky, rendering us helpless in the face of their inter-dimensional invasion. All hail The Old Ones! Woe unto our solar generation facilities: https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/solar-eclipse-shadow-us-solar-fleet
- Can we have a grid with 100% renewables? One really smart guy did a bunch of math and says that we can. Another really smart guy thinks the first smart guy did his math wrong. This article is a good reminder that good analysis involves rigorous questioning of assumptions, not just focusing on the answer to your research question: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/whats-missing-from-the-100-renewable-energy-debate/447658/
- Missouri has a very interesting solution to its own duck curve problem: pay people to buy west-facing solar panels to better align their production with demand. Could this solution help in California? http://midwestenergynews.com/2017/08/03/to-solve-duck-curve-missouri-utility-to-pay-bonus-for-west-facing-solar-panels/
- Getting solar has traditionally been difficult for low-income renters, as they have little means or incentive to make such a large investment. To overcome this, ConEd is starting the rollout of a ratepayer-subsidized solar PV program for installing solar on the roofs of low-income customers. http://solarindustrymag.com/utility-con-edison-wins-approval-low-income-solar-program
Hello! I hope everyone’s having a wonderful Monday. We’ve got a great newsletter for you. Hands down, it’s going to be the best newsletter we put out this week.
We’re excited to announce that we’ll be holding our next round table discussion on Tuesday, August 8th at 6:30pm at 995 Market St in room 3A. We’ll be discussing community choice aggregation, and our discussion will be led by Michael Callahan, Policy Counsel at Marin Clean Energy. If you’d like to attend, please RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/2AnNvmKtspesI80C3
On to the news!
- Governor Brown has signed AB 398 into law, extending California’s cap-and-trade program to 2030 (it was originally set to expire in 2020): http://www.latimes.com/politics/la-pol-ca-jerry-brown-climate-change-law-20170725-story.html
- The EIA has found that residential electricity sales have been falling since 2010 as a result of economics, weather patterns, energy efficiency, and the growing popularity of distributed generation. Interestingly, the report doesn’t mention the anticipated impact of electric vehicles going forward: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/eia-us-residential-power-sales-in-decline-since-2010/448000/
- California is doubling down on its use of demand response, both for normal load management activities as well as dealing with the specific constraints resulting from the Aliso Canyon incident: http://www.utilitydive.com/news/california-iso-approves-changes-to-enhance-dr-in-wholesale-markets/448138/
Howdy all! Here’s a little newsletterin’ to ward off those Monday blues:
- Elon Musk has joined with Approximately A Jillion Other People, including yours truly, in declaring that Tesla’s stock price is too high. But the difference is that Musk’s opinion, unlike my own, matters: The stock price dropped 3% shortly after his statement. I wish I could just say stuff and have it immediately affect the economy, that would be cool.
- The archipelago of grid islands and literal islands that we call Hawaii is moving aggressively towards a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2040. The recipe for achieving this varies by island, and contains a mix of distributed generation, feed-in tariffs, demand response, grid-scale solar photovoltaic, wind, and biofuels.
- The White House has released a “Unified Agenda” for rolling back environmental regulations, including the Clean Power Plan, the Clean Water Rule, and various EE standards. I’m sure the staff at the EPA/DOE who spent their careers crafting these rules feel very unified with the leadership about all this.