Energy Exchange

FERC approves pipeline despite concern over controversial business arrangement

Last week, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) approved the proposed Spire STL Pipeline. Blessings for the controversial 66-mile project come even though St. Louis already enjoys excess capacity from other pipelines, and despite the fact that the only customer of the pipeline, Spire Missouri, does not actually have any growth in customer demand. It is estimated that the project will cost ratepayers $30 million annually over the next twenty years.

The proceeding reveals much about how the agency assesses the legally-required “market need” for new pipelines when both buyer and seller in the contract used to demonstrate that market need are two different arms of the same company. These so-called affiliate transactions are a growing trend as retail gas utilities seek new revenue to offset stagnating demand.

The risk with these types of transactions is that we could end up with expensive new pipelines that aren’t needed. What’s more, these deals are specifically engineered to shift financial responsibility for these costly projects away from private shareholders and onto retail ratepayers (i.e., the public). They can also lock utility customers into decades-long gas contracts at precisely the time when competitive alternatives – from renewables to energy storage – are transforming the market. Spire presents a textbook example of these concerns.

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Posted in Natural Gas, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

North Carolina celebrates ‘American Wind Week’ with optimism for the future

Governor Roy Cooper has issued a proclamation recognizing August 5-11 as “American Wind Week” here in North Carolina. It’s a good time to reflect on our clean energy progress – as a nation and as a state – and to consider what’s next.

The amount of energy generated from wind turbines has more than tripled in the United States in the last decade, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), representing 6.3 percent of the nation’s generation mix last year. The Tar Heel state can take credit for a tiny portion of that with the 104 turbines generating power at the Amazon East Wind Farm near Elizabeth City, but we are lagging behind with wind representing only 0.4 percent of our state’s energy mix. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, General, North Carolina / Comments are closed

Regionalize and resist: A regional power grid could unlock 100 percent clean energy across the West

Captain Planet taught us that when our powers combine, we can defeat any villain.

That’s hopeful news for those of us who want a livable planet for the future, because times are fraught: Our president has called global warming a “hoax,” withdrew the U.S. from a global climate agreement, and installed former fossil fuel lobbyists and CEOs to the highest positions of power.

Meanwhile, carbon pollution is at an 800,000-year high (the highest concentration of C02 in human history), and climate change is ravaging the world in the form of record-breaking heatwaves, extreme drought, and severe storms. Scientists warn that we need a dramatic decrease in carbon pollution and fossil fuels to avoid runaway climate change – which needs to happen at the fastest pace possible, and at the most efficient cost.

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Posted in California, Clean Energy / Read 1 Response

What this summer's heat waves tell us about America's electric grid

With another triple-digit heat wave scorching the Southwest this week, fears of widespread outages are back.

California’s grid operator has urged homes and businesses to crank up thermostats and avoid running power-hungry appliances during evening peak hours – all in an effort to avoid disruptions like the ones we saw earlier this month.

The dangerous and expensive outages that left 80,000 Los Angeles residents in the dark then may have been limited to Southern California, but they should sound alarms nationwide. The world is changing, affecting how our grid works.

Utilities are taking steps to adapt and expand their power systems to maintain reliability and accommodate the growth of renewables, but they need to pick up the pace – and fast. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy / Comments are closed

As L.A. temperatures rise, so does interest in cleaner air and cleaner energy

This blog was co-authored by Annie Cory, Princeton Environmental Institute (PEI) Intern for EDF's Oil & Gas Program

Just like many cities that have experienced record high temperatures in 2018, Los Angeles was hit with a heat wave of record proportions in early July, with temperatures topping 113 degrees in several parts of the county. As air conditioners across the region struggled to keep up, the heat pushed our energy grid over the brink, with blackouts leaving at least 80,000 Angelinos sweltering without electricity.

Such elevated temperatures are not typical for Los Angeles. Yet weather events like these are becoming both more frequent, and more intense. Burning more fossil fuels, of course, only compounds the warming problem.

To put a dent in the causes and impacts of man-made climate change, cities, states and nations will need to implement a portfolio of solutions aimed at cutting carbon across the board and boosting the resiliency of our energy grid. By increasing the share of renewable energy used to power our homes and businesses, and incentivizing technology like battery storage while expanding focus on energy conservation, the threat of blackouts can be greatly diminished during hot summer days.

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Clean Energy, Climate, Community Solar, Energy Equity, Energy Storage, Methane, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy / Comments are closed

Report: More renewables could mean 5,000 new jobs and $8B in investment for Ohio

Last year, I highlighted how voters in Ohio overwhelmingly support developing more clean energy like solar and wind over more traditional resources like coal.

Ohio has a remarkable opportunity to capture the benefits of a growing renewable energy market. A new report shows the state could boost supply chains and create local jobs by developing more wind and solar, potentially creating more than 5,500 jobs and bringing in nearly $8 billion in investment.

Multibillion-dollar opportunity

Ohio is part of PJM, the regional grid operator for all or part of 13 states. Eleven of these (including Ohio) have state requirements for a minimum amount of renewable energy and, under the current laws, these requirements will be 67 percent higher across PJM in 2025 than today. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Ohio / Comments are closed