Weekly Update: June 19th, 2017

The top story from this weekend is that the Earth has deviated from its orbit and is now flying directly into the sun, as you might have figured based on the weather from the past few days. Haha, not really! It’s just global warming.

Thanks to everyone who came out to our round table last week. Special thanks to Alana Lemarchand for leading our discussion on the locational value of DERs. As requested, I’m providing a link to the Nexant report on the topic: http://www.nexant.com/resources/addressing-locational-valuation-challenge-distributed-energy-resources

On to the news!

Weekly Update: June 12th, 2017

Hi there! A reminder that tomorrow (June 13th) we will be hosting a round table at 6pm in the Nexant office (101 Second St, 10th floor). Alana Lemarchand, a senior consultant at Nexant, will be discussing the locational value of distributed energy resources. If you plan on attending, please RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/zp9EnbypJN27YpSS2

In this week’s non-Comey/Sessions news:

Here in our California IOU bubble, we tend to take it for granted that total utility revenues are dependent on an authorized rate of return on investment, not total kWh sold. However, this idea is far from universally accepted in the US. Xcel energy is just now considering implementing this policy (known as revenue decoupling):

Regulators and utilities are rethinking their plans to invest in gas-fired plants after an LA Times investigation found that California has over-invested in these plants. My guess is, we probably need less old-school base load and peaker plants, and more flexible ramping generation to deal with that pesky duck curve:

It’s like that Portlandia sketch where they “put a bird on it,” but in this case the “bird” is solar PV, and “it” is a big old lake, and instead of Fred Armisen and Carrie Browstein it’s China: https://phys.org/news/2017-06-solar-farm-china-energy-ambitions.html

Weekly Update: June 5th, 2017


First, a quick announcement about our next round table, which will take place Tuesday, June 13th at 6pm in the Nexant office (101 Second St, 10th floor). Alana Lemarchand, a senior consultant at Nexant, will be discussing the locational value of distributed energy resources. If you plan on attending (or are considering it), please RSVP here: https://goo.gl/forms/zp9EnbypJN27YpSS2

On to the news!

Weekly Update: May 29th, 2017

First off, thanks to Thomas Yu and Audrey Lee of Advanced Microgrid Solutions for their very educational and entertaining talk on the economics of energy storage, and to the good folks at E-Discuss for hosting. Here’s to many more future events!

In this week’s news:

Wrathful Egyptian sun-god Ra, displeased with California’s hubris in attempting to harness His power with our puny photovoltaic arrays, has ordered a solar eclipse to teach us all that we exist at His pleasure:

A comparison of solar adoption forecasts to actual data, showing that even the best get it very very wrong. An interesting reminder that 1) forecasting is hard, 2) never blindly accept what experts say, 3) humility and retrospectives are important to get better at forecasting. http://www.visualcapitalist.com/experts-bad-forecasting-solar/

One of the United States’ first working microgrids is going into service in Illinois. Cool stuff-it will be interesting to see how much value microgrids add, and if they are worth pursuing as a public policy goal.

Weekly Update: May 22nd, 2017

It’s time for electricity news, everybody! Electricity news is the best type of news for two reasons: 1) It involves a highly antiquated business model that is being tested in unexpected ways by rapidly evolving technology, and 2) it DOESN’T serve as a constant reminder of our fragile political system or embarrassing national history. Let’s all read some electricity news and forget about our troubles!

Oh, but first an announcement. Our very own Thomas Yu of Advanced Microgrid Solutions will be hosting an E-Discuss along with Audrey Lee, AMS VP of Analytics and Design, this Wednesday. They’ll be discussing economic optimization of DERs. More info below:

As VP of Analytics and Design, Audrey leads design and engineering of AMS’s software platform, Armada, which optimizes fleets of distributed energy resources as a grid resource. Thomas sees it all first-hand as AMS’s NOC Operator.  AMS deploys large networks of battery systems in buildings and industrial facilities where electric utilities need grid support, and our duo will be speaking about serving customers and the electricity grid via economic optimization of distributed energy resources.

What:  Economic Optimization of DER
Who: Audrey Lee & Thomas Yu (AMS)
When:  Wednesday, May 24th, 6:30p mingling, 7:15p discussion
Where:  ECO-SYSTM @  540 Howard St
Potluck theme:  Spring Harvest
RSVP:  here
# to call if you’re locked out:  617-257-4136

On to the news!

Weekly Update: May 15th, 2017

Hope everyone is having a good week so far. In this week’s energy news:

Weekly Update: May 8th, 2017


First order of business, a reminder that our May happy hour will be tomorrow, May 9th at 6:30pm at Mad Oak (135 12th St, Oakland). Come enjoy some beer and the warm, East Bay weather while we nerd out about electricity.

Second order of business is to announce the winner of this month’s Backronym Challenge (this month’s word is “Load”): the winner is Hambir Chavan, with the entry “Lots of Awesome Dollars”. Your prize is a free beer (or other drink of your choice) at tomorrow’s happy hour.

We had a lot of fun with this contest, and really enjoyed all of the entries. There were a lot of really creative ones, but in the end we had to choose a winner. And as they say in Highlander, “there can be only one”. I try to live most aspects of my life according to the teachings of Highlander.

There will be future Backronym Challenges! We’re still working out the exact format, but we’re thinking we’ll have one with every happy hour announcement that we send out the week prior to happy hours. We’ll also send out a google form for entries next time to standardize the process.

On to the news!

  • FERC recently held a technical conference that touched on, among other things, how to appropriately incentivize renewables and other non-carbon emitting sources of electricity as the wholesale market evolves. While there was plenty of interesting discussions between various stakeholders, there was not much consensus beyond the notion that there needs to be a price for carbon (good thing the federal government isn’t actively trying to dismantle those efforts…oh wait…): http://www.utilitydive.com/news/the-carbon-consensus-generators-analysts-back-co2-price-at-ferc-technical/441862/
  • California Democrats have introduced legislation to extend the state’s cap and trade program beyond 2020, as well as reform some aspects of the program. Proposed reforms include setting a price ceiling and floor on the credits, as well as returning some of the revenue from the cap and trade auctions to consumers through tax credits and rebates: http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article147530089.html

Weekly Update: May 1st, 2017

Hi everyone! Two announcements:

1) Happy hour next Tuesday May 9th at 6:30 PM at Mad Oak (135 12th St, Oakland, CA 94607). Woohoo!

2) On that note! Would you like a free beer at this happy hour? Of course you would! Do you like acronyms? Of course you do! I mean, you darn well better, because in this industry those things are everywhere.

We at the Power Trip leadership board are therefore very pleased to announce the first Acronym Challenge, a semi-regular contest to show off your verbal chops and make funnies on the Internet.

-Take an existing electricity-related word (which we will provide) and turn its letters into the words of an amusing acronym. For example, let’s take “duck” (of “duck curve” fame). Here are some possible ideas:
Damn U Crazy, Kilowatts

Dreadful Utility Capacity Killer
-1 entry per person per week.
-Send your entries to: power-trip-leadership@googlegroups.com
-First place gets a free beer at the next happy hour and a shout-out on the newsletter, aka instant fame and fortune.

This week’s word is: Load. Have at it!

In the news:
An interesting piece about the need for a “global” grid. To be honest, it’s not clear to me if this is the solution to the problem of increasing population and energy demand, but it’s definitely worth exploring. https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-04-25/let-s-get-to-work-on-a-global-energy-grid

In a good reminder that utilities do really important nuts-and-bolts stuff, and that they really really need to do this, PG&E is on the hook for an 8 million dollar fine for failing to perform proper management of trees near their power lines. A pine tree fell into one of the lines, starting a massive fire.  http://www.elp.com/articles/2017/04/pg-e-fined-for-wildfire-caused-by-faulty-power-line.html

In deeply, deeply nerdy rates news, the California IOUs are considering changes in how they collect the costs of departing load and stranded assets from CCA’s. The new Portfolio Allocation Methodology (PAM) now takes true-ups into account, unlike the current method. http://www.utilitydive.com/news/california-utilities-propose-charges-for-community-aggregation-custome/441406/

Weekly Update: April 24th, 2017

Apparently, Friday was pretty crazy in San Francisco because of the power outage. As awful as the loss of business and deadlocked traffic was, it must have been nice for workers to get the day off and get an opportunity to enjoy the amazing weather outside. At least that’s what I assume. I wouldn’t know. Despite being on a block full of buildings that lost power, our office was operating normally. Yay. No power outage for us. Thanks, PG&E. I’m so grateful and not bitter at all…

On to the news:

Weekly Update: April 17th, 2017

Hello all! A big thank you to everyone who came out for the electric rates talk last week. And of course special thanks to Colin Kerrigan of PG&E and Whitney Richardson of the CPUC for dropping knowledge about this very thorny, complex, and important issue.

In the news last week: