Energy Exchange

Compensating distributed energy resources for environmental attributes

By Elizabeth B. Stein, Ferit Ucar

Small distributed energy resources, cutting carbon emissions, and making sure people pay appropriately for participating in the electric system: These have been pillars of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), New York’s comprehensive initiative to re-think utility regulation and reduce carbon in the power sector.

Cutting carbon pollution – decarbonization – will be difficult as long as a carbon price is in effect only for large generators. That approach creates a risk of shifting emissions from large generators to small ones and creates a disincentive for environmentally-beneficial electrification.

Setting a robust price on carbon and applying it to fossil fuel users of all sizes and types would avoid such results and enable the market to drive down emissions efficiently. But in a world without such a broadly-applied price, designing an appropriate compensation mechanism for small generators that produce both environmental benefits and emissions is an interesting economic policy challenge.

There’s a lot to consider. Let’s unpack the issues. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, New York, Renewable Energy / Comments are closed

California’s disadvantaged communities could benefit from time-of-use electricity prices, but it won’t happen automatically.

By Lauren Navarro, senior policy manager, and Jamie Fine, senior economist

It’s no secret that California is a clean energy leader. The state is on track to meet its renewable energy goals, with many utilities hitting targets ahead of schedule. In order to transition to a system that can handle increased levels of clean energy like solar and wind, we need innovative solutions to take advantage of these resources. One low-cost solution is to change how we pay for electricity – making it cheaper when it is powered by clean resources and more expensive when powered by fossil fuels with time-of-use pricing. Utilities are on their way to bringing this to Californians, piloting the new rates in advance of a full rollout in 2019 and building on the successful rollout of these rates to commercial customers a few years ago.

For many Californians, the shift to time-of-use pricing will be new, but not impact their bills very much and could even save them money, particularly for people who live along the coast. However, for some customers – communities with lower incomes in hotter areas of the state that are more vulnerable to possible summertime bill increases – shifting when they use electricity can be harder, and without help their costs could increase. Rightly, lawmakers and regulators have pushed for extra attention for these vulnerable customers as the state moves toward time-of-use rates. While utilities acknowledge this discrepancy as an issue, none are offering sufficient, robust solutions (you can learn more about this in our recent blog).

A new bill introduced last week by California Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula would add that utilities must consider how time-of-use rates could impact low-income customers in disadvantaged communities before putting them on the new rates. It is vital to protect the most economically and environmentally vulnerable Californians from financial hardships. And the answer is not easy. All Californians stand to benefit from rates that could lower pollution and integrate more renewables – yet, we don’t want to heedlessly roll-out the rates in a way that results in higher electricity bills for customers with low incomes. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, General, Time of Use / Comments are closed

Key takeaways from the court decision blocking suspension of BLM’s Waste Prevention Rule

By Rosalie Winn and  Samantha Caravello, EDF Legal Fellow

A U.S. District Court judge has halted Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke’s latest effort to suspend the Bureau of Land Management’s (BLM) Waste Prevention Rule.

The judge issued a preliminary injunction last night in response to legal challenges brought by the states of California and New Mexico, and by EDF and a coalition of conservation and tribal citizen groups.

The court decision ensures that the Waste Prevention Protections are in full force and effect, delivering important benefits to tribes, ranchers and families across the West. It also demonstrates that facts matter, and that public input matters — and, as the court recognized, Zinke ignored both when he suspended the Waste Prevention Rule.

Here are some key takeaways from the court’s decision.

Zinke’s suspension would have resulted in immediate and irreparable harms Read More »

Posted in BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

As ESG goes mainstream, methane disclosure divide looms large on investor agenda

By Kate Gaumond and Sean Wright

The demand for corporate transparency is here to stay. Just last year, 390 investors representing more than $22 trillion in assets signed a letter in support of the Task Force on Climate-Related Financial Disclosures, advocating for a unified set of recommendations for corporate climate disclosure. So as financial markets increasingly recognize Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) risks, and increasingly embrace ESG strategies, oil and gas companies failing to report on environmental risks, like methane emissions, will be at a disadvantage.

Yet despite the reputational and financial risks posed by methane emissions in the oil and gas sector, over 40 percent of oil and gas companies analyzed in a new EDF report fail to report even basic information on methane management. The report finds that the quality and quantity of methane risk management reporting has increased amongst nearly 60 percent of companies analyzed. But the overall improvement has not been enough.

The report also finds a link between investor engagement on methane and a company’s subsequent reporting, and suggests that the companies failing to provide any methane information should expect increasing pressure and engagement from investors as demand for material ESG information continues to rise.

Read More »

Posted in Methane / Comments are closed

Trump's energy policy: Is China the real winner?

By Xixi Chen, manager, EDF+Business 

This week, President Trump's administration announced plans to cut the Department of Energy’s (DOE) renewable energy and energy efficiency program budgets by 72 percent, according to a leaked draft of the DOE budget for fiscal year 2019. This is the second major blow to the renewable energy industry, coming only days after Trump imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar imports.

I find this ironic. On Tuesday, Trump stood before our country to deliver his first State of the Union address. It was a story on “America First,” and domestic policy took the center stage – tax cuts, trade, the economy, jobs … and more jobs. But as he praised the accomplishments in these areas over the past year, I couldn’t help but see the other side: the opportunities we’re missing and the jobs we’re giving up (now even more so).

I’m talking about jobs in the clean energy and sustainability economy. An industry that is growing faster than any other sector. According to Environmental Defense Fund's (EDF) new clean energy jobs report, the solar industry grew 24.5 percent, and has experienced a 68 percent annual growth rate over the last decade. And with this growth comes jobs. Solar jobs now outnumber coal jobs 1.6 to 1 across the country. Today’s increasingly globalized supply chain is partially responsible for this enormous growth.

Trump’s decision to impose a 30 percent tariff on solar imports from Asian markets, including my home country, China, will set this progress back. Here’s what a tariff could do: Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Are electric vehicles finally taking off? Here's what you need to know.

By Jason Mathers, supply chain director at EDF, Corporate Partnerships

Electric vehicles are poised to take off. We’ve just closed a year of record demand and investment. It’s no longer a question of whether electric vehicles – or EVs – will arrive, it’s how: How big of a role will EVs play, how soon and how clean will they be?

Popularizing EVs will depend on tackling key challenges. We’re seeing progress on several fronts.  Read More »

Posted in Electric Vehicles / Comments are closed