Energy Exchange

Illinois blazes new trail in anticipation of private microgrids using utility wires

On May 9, Andrew Barbeau, senior clean energy consultant for Environmental Defense Fund, will speak at the Microgrid 2018 conference. This year’s theme is Markets and Models for the Greater Good, and Andrew will discuss the effort to create a new microgrid tariff for third-party-managed microgrids as described in this post. You can register for the conference here.

Imagine you and your neighbors have solar panels on your roofs. You want to create a mini-power grid so that your neighborhood can operate solely on your panels’ electricity, even sending excess power from one home to another. And if there’s a storm that affects the main power grid, your homes can disconnect and stay powered.

This is the vision that microgrid proponents have promised for the past decade: small sections of the broader grid that incorporate rooftop solar and batteries, and can isolate from the grid as a whole when needed. Yet, this promise faces a major hurdle: The utility owns the wires that connect your homes and has an exclusive monopoly on that electrical infrastructure. This has driven most microgrid projects in the U.S. to either be completely “behind the meter” of a single customer, or owned and managed by the utility itself.

A new agreement with Illinois’ largest utility, ComEd, is poised to jump that hurdle. Working with Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), ComEd will begin a process this year to allow customers or third parties to develop and manage their own microgrid projects – working with the utility’s existing infrastructure rather than having to avoid it.

We have received lots of questions on how this will work. Here are your questions answered. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization, Illinois / Tagged | Comments are closed

Illinois is about to release its plan to kick-start new renewables. Here's what you need to know.

The Future Energy Jobs Act, which catapulted Illinois to the forefront of the clean energy movement, includes an ambitious directive for electric utilities to get 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025. To achieve that, the Illinois Power Agency has been developing a Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan (the Plan) based on workshops and input from stakeholders, including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The Agency filed the Plan in December 2017 for the Illinois Commerce Commission’s approval.  Following several more rounds of comments, it is now up to the Commission to make its final modifications to the Plan before approving it on April 3.

By jumpstarting Illinois’ renewables development, the Plan contains huge wins for the environment and people. But there are a few questions yet to be resolved. Here’s what you should know. Read More »

Posted in Illinois, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

Illinois has plenty of power, says new report. So, why bail out Dynegy’s coal plants?

Since last year, Dynegy has tried to strong-arm Illinois legislators and regulators into allowing it to pollute more. To add insult to injury, the Texas-based energy giant wants to charge customers more to do so. It’s a lose-lose for Illinoisans. And here’s the kicker: A new report just revealed that Illinois has more than enough power without Dynegy’s coal plants.

Dynegy has spent the past year targeting environmental protections at the Illinois Pollution Control Board, and has re-introduced legislation in Springfield that would give its uneconomic coal plants a $400 million per-year bailout. Meanwhile, Dynegy is raking in millions in profits. Moreover, Dynegy was acquired last week by Vistra Energy in a move that will generate $4 billion in equity.

There is more than enough power in Illinois (termed “resource adequacy” in energy parlance) to keep the lights on and then some, confirms the new report from the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC). The report is further evidence that Illinoisans should not have to bail out Dynegy’s polluting plants. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Illinois / Comments are closed

3 ways Dynegy is trying to make Illinoisans bail out its aging coal fleet

Dynegy, a Texas-based energy giant, is pulling out all the stops in Illinois to keep uneconomic and dirty coal plants running.

Dynegy is Illinois’ largest producer of coal-fired electricity, but the falling prices of other power sources, including renewable energy, have hurt the company’s bottom line. Last year, Dynegy tried to ramrod customer-funded coal subsidies into the Future Energy Jobs Act at the last minute, but Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and our allies successfully blocked that effort.

But, like the Hydra of Greek mythology, when we cut off one head, more appeared. The legendary Dynegy hasn’t given up on its quest for a coal bailout, and the company is tapping nearly every avenue of government along the way. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, Clean Energy, Illinois / Read 2 Responses

What’s next for NextGrid – Illinois’ ‘Utility of the Future’ process

Many experts anticipate the electric utility industry evolving more in the next 10 years than it has in the past 100.

So noted the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC), when it recently initiated the “NextGrid” Utility of the Future Study. NextGrid is a statewide, collaborative effort to rethink the roles of the utility, the customer, and energy solution providers in a 21st-century electric grid.

The ICC invited stakeholders to participate in NextGrid, welcoming suggestions for how the process should work. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), partnering with the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), recommended NextGrid ensure that upcoming technological advances enable a more dynamic grid – one that is cleaner, affordable, reliable, equitable, and more responsive to customer needs. But how do we get there? Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Illinois, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed