Author Archives: Michael Panfil

U.S. Supreme Court Breathes New Life into FERC Order 745, Demand Response

scotusYou’ve probably heard the saying “life is a journey,” but this could not be more true for EPSA v. FERC, the landmark demand response case clean energy experts have been eyeing for more than a year as it’s made its way through the U.S. legal system.

Starting in the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals back in May 2014, EPSA v. FERC (also known as the “FERC Order 745 case”) now rests with the U.S. Supreme Court where, today, it was given new life when the Justices accepted the U.S. Solicitor General’s request for review submitted on behalf of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). Review was granted on both petitions, which have been consolidated, by FERC and Enernoc, et. al, case numbers 14-840 and 14-841. The Supreme Court granted review to both central questions, one about FERC’s authority and a second about challenges to central provisions to the order providing for fair valuation of demand response. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with a broad coalition of consumer advocates and environmental groups, supported FERC’s petition before the Supreme Court earlier this year and will continue to do so as the matter is reviewed by the high Court.

The decision to review the case is great news for demand response, a voluntary energy conservation tool that relies on people and technology, not power plants, to affordably meet our country’s rising electricity needs. It’s also a welcome sign for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) – the government entity tasked with ensuring our electric rates are ‘just and reasonable’ – and anyone in favor of cleaner, more reliable, lower-cost energy. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response| Tagged | Comments are closed

NERC's Report is Flawed: We Can Reduce Climate Pollution and Ensure Electric Reliability

rp_power-poles-503935_1280-300x199.jpgIf reducing climate pollution from power plants were a football game, the U.S. team would be halfway to the goal line while fans were still singing the national anthem.

That is, we have already gotten about halfway to the expected goals of the Clean Power Plan – before the rule is even final.

The Clean Power Plan is the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) historic effort to place the first-ever limits on climate pollution from our country’s existing fleet of fossil fuel-fired power plants. When it’s finalized this summer, it’s expected to call for a 30 percent reduction in carbon emissions compared to 2005 levels — but U.S. power plant emissions have already fallen 15 percent compared to 2005 levels.

That’s because renewable energy, energy efficiency resources, and natural gas generation have been steadily deployed and growing for years. Even conservative estimates forecast continued growth of these resources — which makes last week’s report from the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) seem really strange.

NERC’s report about the Clean Power Plan’s impacts on electric grid reliability makes predictions that starkly contrast from the progress we’re already seeing.

How did this departure from reality happen? Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy| Tagged | Comments are closed

The Story of Demand Response

GridDefection-COMPRESSEDDemand response. It’s a cost-effective energy resource that pays customers to use less energy. Few people even know exists, but it invisibly impacts the life of so many Americans. It’s a clean energy resource that embodies precisely what electricity can and should be: cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient than traditional fuel sources.

We’ve written about demand response at length, discussing a potential case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving the resource and what the road ahead could look like. Today, however, we’re telling the story of how the resource got here. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Experts Agree: We Can Preserve Electric Reliability While Protecting Public Health Under the Clean Power Plan

power-poles-503935_1280Last June, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed the first ever national carbon pollution standards for existing power plants. Fossil fuel-fired power plants account for almost 40% of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions, making them the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the nation and one of the single largest categories of greenhouse gas sources in the world.

Under the Clean Power Plan, these emissions will decline to 30% below 2005 levels by 2030 – accompanied by a significant decline in other harmful pollutants from the power sector, such as sulfur dioxide and oxides of nitrogen. The power sector is already halfway to this target, already 15% below 2005 levels.

The EPA has carefully designed the Clean Power Plan to provide extensive flexibility so that states and power companies can continue to deliver a steady flow of electricity while deploying cost-effective measures to reduce carbon pollution over the next fifteen years. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Clean Power Plan, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy| Read 1 Response

Environmental and Consumer Groups Unite in Asking Supreme Court to Hear Important Demand Response Case

supreme court2Earlier this week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), along with 11 other environmental and consumer groups, joined forces in asking the Supreme Court to hear an important case involving an energy resource that saves families and businesses money, improves electric grid reliability, and reduces carbon emissions: demand response. We’ve written a lot about demand response and the federal case that could determine its future (also known as EPSA v. FERC or the FERC Order 745 case), and for good reason – the legal and policy frameworks governing demand response are critical to our clean energy future.

Simply put, demand response relies on people and technology, not just power plants, to meet electricity demand. It balances stress on the electric grid by reducing demand for electricity, rather than increasing supply. This makes our grid more efficient, reduces harmful air emissions from fossil fuel plants, and keeps electricity prices lower.

And these aren’t small savings – demand response cumulatively saves customers billions of dollars that would otherwise go toward more costly polluting resources. In 2013 alone, for example, demand response saved customers in the mid-Atlantic region $11.8 billion. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Smart Grid| Tagged | Read 2 Responses

Demand Response: A Valuable Tool that Can Help California Realize its Clean Energy Potential

rp_Cover-photo-image-300x200.jpgA tool only has value if it’s used. For example, you could be the sort of person who’s set a goal of wanting to exercise more. If someone gives you a nifty little Fitbit to help you do that, and you never open the box, how useful, then, is this little device? The same is true about smart energy management solutions: good tools exist, but whether it’s calories or energy use that you want to cut, at some point those helpful devices need to be unpacked. The same is true for demand response, an energy conservation tool that pays people to save energy when the electric grid is stressed.

California's electricity industry stands at a crossroads. The state got an early start on creating laws and policies to cut carbon pollution, and is now reaping the benefits of these policies through reduced emissions and healthy economic growth. That said, California can’t cut carbon emissions and reduce its reliance on fossil fuels without having alternatives to choose from — some focusing on promoting renewable energy, others on smarter energy management tools. Demand response is one of these tools, and a critical one. This highly-flexible, cost-effective resource should play a key role in California’s clean energy future, but several barriers stand in the way of unleashing its full potential.

It’s hard to think of California as anything but forward-thinking, but, right now, the state’s demand response programs are lagging behind those in other states and regions of the country like the Mid-Atlantic. There is good news, however, because demand response is an evolving resource. And, with advances in smart grid technologies, demand response has the potential to improve our energy mix in California. In EDF’s new report, Putting Demand Response to Work for California, we offer recommendations on how to unlock demand response as an important part of the overall strategy for California’s bright energy future.

Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response| Read 4 Responses
  • Attorney
    Michael Panfil is an attorney for the EDF Clean Energy Program, focusing on reducing energy demand throughout the electric power grid. He also engages on efforts to reduce emissions throughout the United States by advocating for the deployment of smarter technology, improved design standards, and sustainable practices.

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