Energy Exchange

Utility 2.0: What are Utilities Doing to Meet New York’s Vision for a 21st Century Energy System?

nyc skylineSince the New York Public Service Commission (Commission) opened its Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding in the spring to modernize the state’s electricity system, a lot has happened. Namely, New York utilities are already working to align themselves with the broad objectives outlined in the REV proceeding. Here is an overview of efforts by the state’s big players:

CON EDISON – Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management Program

Growth in electricity demand in parts of Brooklyn and Queens is taxing infrastructure and will require action from Con Edison to ensure reliability. Con Edison could pursue a costly $1 billion substation upgrade to meet this rising demand. Instead, the utility is slashing needed investment by half and plans to invest around $500 million – $305 million in traditional utility investments and $200 million clean energy resources – to address the area’s growing energy needs as part of its Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management program. Measures include:

  • Demand Response (a tool that pays customers to conserve energy when the electric grid is stressed): A new demand response system from energy services provider Alstom, which would allow 3.3 million customers to be compensated for the value they provide to the grid.
  • Energy Storage: Battery-based energy storage for electricity produced when electricity demand is low (off-peak hours) for use when demand is high (peak periods), easing the burden on the electric grid at those times.
  • Microgrids (which generate electricity nearby or on-site where it’s consumed): The development of microgrids to improve resiliency and enable the aforementioned demand response system.
  • Electric Grid Resilience and Optimization: Expanded use of smart meters, which provide detailed electricity use data throughout the day, will improve response time to power outages and give customers more control over their energy usage.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, New York, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Tagged , | Leave a comment

Texas Grid Regulator Cites Very Little Burden in Complying with EPA’s Clean Power Plan

Source: Armin Kübelbeck, Wikimedia Commons

Well, it didn’t take long before the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) released, at the request of Texas’ very political Public Utilities Commission, another report about the impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA’s) rules designed to protect public health.

This time ERCOT, which manages 90 percent of Texas’ electric grid, looked at the impact of seven EPA clean air safeguards on the electric grid, including the Cross State Air Pollution Rule (CSAPR), the Mercury Air Toxics Standard (MATS), the Regional Haze program (all of which go back before the Obama administration), the proposed Clean Power Plan, which would set the first-ever national limits on carbon pollution from existing power plants, and others. What was surprising to learn, though, is that after power companies in the state start complying with EPA’s other clean air protections, the proposed Clean Power Plan poses a minimal incremental impact to the power grid. We would only have to cut 200 megawatts of coal-fired generation, which equates to less than one coal-fired power plant. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Climate, Renewable Energy, Texas| Tagged , | Leave a comment

Lighting the Way to Energy Savings and Job Growth in North Carolina

By: Greg Andeck, EDF senior clean energy manager, and Ivan Urlaub, executive director of the NC Sustainable Energy Association

incandescent-72139_1280Rapid declines in the price of light emitting diodes (LED) technology suggest that the next generation of energy efficient lighting – LED bulbs – is on the verge of widespread adoption. LED bulbs will eventually make traditional, energy-hogging incandescent bulbs a thing of the past.

Price goes down, energy savings go up

In North Carolina, for example, one of the world’s largest LED bulb manufacturers, Cree, recently announced a new bulb that is up to 82 percent more efficient than an incandescent bulb. The bulb sells for about $8 at Home Depot, a price that means the bulb will pay for itself in energy savings in about a year.

That's a smart energy choice in the home – and a bargain. In 2013, the same wattage LED bulb was about $13, illustrating the dramatic cost reductions that are occurring throughout the industry.

Companies adopt efficient lighting

Some of the largest companies in the world are beginning to make LEDs the default lighting choice in their buildings. Food Lion and Walmart, for example, have introduced LED lights into their in-store refrigerators in North Carolina. LEDs emit very little heat, reducing electric bills in the refrigerated section. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, North Carolina| Tagged | Leave a comment

America Agrees That It’s Time to Act on Methane Pollution From Oil and Gas

There’s not much in Washington these days that Americans can agree on. But a new poll released last week by the American Lung Association found that a large majority of voters would support EPA regulations requiring the oil and natural gas industry to cut methane pollution in half by 2020.

This comes as EPA nears a decision – likely in the coming weeks — on whether to tackle the growing problem of unregulated methane pollution from the oil and gas sector. It’s a big decision. Reducing methane pollution from the oil and gas sector by half would save close to $1 billion a year in wasted energy and, over a 20-year time frame, cut climate pollution equivalent to closing about 90 coal-fired power plants.

The new poll of 1,000 voters, conducted by a bipartisan team of pollsters, also shows that public support for the Environmental Protection Agency and for strong clean air laws are as high as ever. GOP leaders should take note as they take over in Congress: voters believe, by a 3-to-1 margin, that the EPA, not Congress, should be setting pollution standards. That includes a 2-to-1 margin among Republican voters. So while the polluter lobby clamors for more political interference from Congress, the public wants the non-partisan EPA to be left alone to do what it is supposed to do.

The reasons that Americans support these policies are not new. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas| Leave a comment

Untapped Incentives for Energy Efficiency Projects

By: Abraham Weiner, 2013 EDF Climate Corps Alumnus

money presentAs an EDF Climate Corps fellow back in 2013, one task that was of particular interest to me was figuring out how to help my host organization fund, in whole or in part, its efficiency upgrades. In my research, the most unique funding source I found was the energy efficiency forward capacity market.

This program allows those who invested in energy efficiency over the last several years to go back and obtain additional incentive dollars on top of traditional utility rebates. This is essentially free money for organizations who have invested in efficiency measures. In fact, when I was a fellow, I identified over $50,000 in incentives that my EDF Climate Corps host organization was eligible for from projects completed before I even arrived.

In order to explain how this program works, I need to explain who PJM is and what they do. PJM Interconnection is a regional transmission organization. They coordinate the activity of suppliers, generators, and utilities to maintain an adequate flow of electricity on the grid. Their territory touches 13 states and the District of Columbia, and they are the largest electricity market in the world. They are also unique because they allow energy efficiency to participate in their forward capacity markets. Fortunately, my EDF Climate Corps host organization was in their territory. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency| Tagged | Leave a comment

National Program Aims to Expand Minority Participation in Energy Sector

EDF Climate Corps fellow Olivia Moreno uncovers ways to increase energy efficiency at University of Texas at El Paso.

EDF Climate Corps fellow Olivia Moreno uncovers ways to increase energy efficiency at University of Texas at El Paso.

It's no secret that minorities are underrepresented in the energy field.

In the United States, Hispanics, African Americans, and American Indians make up 24 percent of the overall workforce, yet only account for nine percent of the country’s science and engineering workforce.

An initiative called Minorities in Energy (MIE) aims to change those numbers. It is creating a sustainable model that identifies diverse stakeholders to address challenges and opportunities for underrepresented communities in the growing energy economy, STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) education, and climate change.

Launched a year ago by the U.S. Department of Energy, MIE has built an impressive list of ambassadors and partnerships. Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz puts it this way:

"We can only be successful in achieving our energy goals if we are inclusive of America's diverse communities." Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Renewable Energy| Tagged | Leave a comment