Energy Exchange

A roadmap for a clean, modern grid – The 6 areas that should guide our efforts

Everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change. Farmers can use new methods to rotate their crops that keep more carbon safely in the ground. Consumers can act with their wallets – buying goods and services that produce less carbon than competitors. Our elected officials, of course, have a lot of influence in setting the narrative and enabling support for climate progress.

But around the country, in municipal buildings, state offices, and corporate headquarters, separate groups of people are busy designing and implementing changes that could have the biggest impact of all: a better, smarter, more modern grid.

Improving our electricity system could be the single largest climate fighting opportunity we have. But it’s not as simple as just putting solar panels on rooftops. Our grid was built over a century ago by different companies, cities, and co-ops. Pieces of it are owned and run by a dizzying web of stakeholders. Even if we could snap our fingers and spur all of these pieces to action, each player would manifest different versions of a “modern grid.”

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) thus released a guide titled, “Grid Modernization: The foundation for climate change progress” [PDF], which outlines the six key categories that make up a sustainable grid modernization strategy. All of them are connected, either physically or digitally, or by legislation, regulation, or management. Most importantly, they’re connected by efficiency: If each of them is executed well, the whole grid modernization process will yield the best, most reliable, most affordable, and cleanest electricity system. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Data Access, Electric Vehicles, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Voltage Optimization, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

We already know which grid fixes can keep lights on during bad storms. Here are 3.

After a record-breaking hurricane season and catastrophic wildfires in California, the vulnerabilities of our electric system – and the urgent need to upgrade it – have never been clearer.

It took more than 10 days of around-the-clock work to restore electricity to 350,000 customers after fires struck California wine country last month. Returning service to all 4.4 million power customers in Florida after Hurricane Irma took almost as long – and 70 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack power six weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Such crippling outages contribute to $250 billion in economic losses globally every year.

But there are solutions available on the market today that can reduce the impact of these outages. By investing in technologies that modernize our electric grid, and with careful planning, we can also create a cleaner and more efficient electricity system overall. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, General, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Voltage Optimization / Tagged , | Comments are closed

What Do Customers Want from Solar and Electric Vehicles? Surprising New Survey Results

baka-charging-station_croppedCustomer interest and adoption of clean energy technologies, including solar and electric vehicles (EVs), has increased significantly in recent years. People across the country have already taken steps to become more engaged in energy decisions that impact their homes, wallets, and communities. However, questions about the future of these developing technology options still remain. How do we ensure each customer is able to participate and benefit from making clean energy choices? How can this growth be sustained?  What do customers really think about these clean technologies today?

A new report from the Smart Grid Consumer Collaborative (SGCC) attempts to address some of these questions and present a closer view of customer attitudes towards clean energy, electric vehicles, and the electric grid by going straight to the source. SGCC partnered with DNV GL, CenterPoint Energy, and Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) to survey over 1,500 people across the United States to see what customers really think about these technologies. Many of the findings are surprising and suggest that the decreasing costs of home solar and electric vehicles, coupled with consumer interests in clean energy and staying connected to the grid, present business cases for promotional and educational campaigns. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electric Vehicles, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

Feeling Gridlocked? New Report Grades State Power Systems and Inspires Modernization

2016 grid modernization rankings by gridwise alliance and cleanedgeThe GridWise Alliance, a leading business forum for the development of a smart, clean, modern electric grid, just released its 3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index – a ranking of states’ progress towards a more sustainable energy system. The Index goes beyond tracking investments that modernize the electric system; it explores the policies these investments can support, such as increasing efficiency and reducing emissions. The report also delves into the valuable services customers can expect from smart technology investments in the grid.

Grid modernization isn’t simply about replacing aging infrastructure – it’s about managing energy in new ways, namely through sensors and digital communication. Greater visibility and control as a result of these investments can create a dynamic electric system that is more efficient, better manages costs, improves customer service, and protects our limited resources.

In addition to possibly giving your home state something to brag about, the results of this Index offer plenty of useful information on how states have modernized the grid and charted their own course toward making smarter energy choices. Read More »

Posted in California, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, Illinois, Solar Energy, Texas, Voltage Optimization / Comments are closed

Emerging Technologies Can Pave the Way for Time-Variant Electricity Pricing

Nest_front_official; http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Nest_front_official.pngThe amount of energy we use at any given time is constantly changing. Lights are switched on and off by time of day – other appliances, such as air conditioners, might operate based on the season. In order to meet our dynamic energy demands, our system has to have the infrastructure and resources in place to respond when needed.

What may not be clear to many of us is that the costs associated with supplying this electricity also change with time, and during certain hours of the day and year these costs can be much higher. This isn’t readily apparent because the electricity rates we pay throughout the year are essentially flat.

Many, including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), have made the case for electricity pricing that helps signal these fluctuating costs to customers. There are a variety of ways to design pricing that varies with time, while communicating to individuals and businesses the value of cutting back on electricity, or shifting use to other times. These options can take the form of paying a different amount for energy at different times, or perhaps being compensated for reducing use at times when the electric system is most constrained. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization / Read 1 Response

Utility 2.0: Optimizing Energy Use by Making Customers Part of the Solution

Source: designmilk flickr

Source: designmilk flickr

New York is re-examining the way energy is regulated, priced, and distributed in the state in order to emerge with a 21st century business model. This change will deliver on a broad range of objectives, including increased customer value and environmental benefits, among others. However, achieving greater system efficiency could lead to the most impactful outcomes for customers, the environment, and society as a whole. Not only does increasing system efficiency have the potential to significantly reduce costs, energy use, and carbon emissions, it also makes the customer an integral part of the solution to meeting our future energy needs.

The challenge

Electric utilities are tasked with meeting consumer demand for electricity at all times and, until now, have done so primarily by installing additional infrastructure on the electric grid whenever needed. While this has resulted in a fairly-reliable way to meet our energy needs, it has and continues to be extremely expensive and inefficient given the evolution in how energy is used today. Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, New York, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models / Read 1 Response