Selected category: California

New California Demand Response Decision Comes Equipped with BUG Repellent

engineer-with-controls_rfIf you are anything like the typical Californian, you likely took the opportunity to get outside this summer and explore the great outdoors. Chances are you also took plenty of insect repellent to avoid becoming the latest offering at the mosquito buffet. Here in the Golden State, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) is also fighting off BUGs – lest you think the CPUC is branching out into new regulatory territory, they are targeting the kind that harm our environment and public health: back-up generators (BUGs) that run on fossil fuels.

State regulators recently issued a proposed decision to end the use of fossil-fueled BUGs as a form of demand response – a clean energy tool intended to reward people who reduce their electricity use during periods of peak demand, or shift it to times of day when clean, renewable energy is abundant. Unfortunately, dirty, fossil-fueled generators are sometimes used to reduce demand from the electric grid during demand response events, but this does not help California meet its aggressive climate or clean energy goals.

Demand response programs should encourage people, buildings, and companies to use energy in a way that reduces the state’s need to make electricity from polluting sources. That’s why the CPUC’s recent proposal is a huge, positive step forward. However, there are also some changes that could make these advancements even more impactful.

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Why Clean Energy is Center Stage on International Day of Peace

poster-largeEach year since 1981, the United Nations (UN) recognizes an International Day of Peace on September 21. The day is intended to strengthen peace both within and among nations.

As an environmental advocate, I can’t help but think about the effects of climate change on the current state of global peace. And while there are a few climate deniers out there, those who have looked at the science are saying climate change poses a serious threat to global security and peace.

Fortunately, the UN agrees – which is why they chose to focus this year’s International Peace Day on Sustainable Development Goals. Unanimously adopted by all 193 UN member states, the Sustainable Development Goals are broken down into 17 focus areas and are part of a broader agenda to fight inequality, injustice, and climate change by 2030.

Goal 7 – “ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all” – is a hugely important part of fostering global peace. The world needs affordable, reliable electricity to heat, cool, and power our homes, and to encourage economic growth. But we also need this electricity to be clean, modern, and efficient, so it doesn’t pollute our communities and exacerbate climate change.

Here are four ways the U.S. is doing our part to achieve an affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy system for all:

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Also posted in Data Access, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Energy Financing, Energy-Water Nexus, Grid Modernization, Illinois, New York, Solar Energy, Texas| Leave a comment

Eastside Sol Celebrates Community, Culture, and Clean Energy in Los Angeles

ess-2016-dancing-crowdBy: Luis Gutierrez, Senior Associate, Leadership for Urban Renewal Network (LURN) and Jorge Madrid, CA Campaign Director, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)

It’s a warm, sunny day in August at the iconic Mariachi Plaza in Boyle Heights, California. More than 400 local residents have come together to dance to the classic tunes of Selena and the cumbia-rock fusion of El Conjunto Nueva Ola – the entire stage powered by solar. They’re enjoying delicious vegan treats, participating in a live mural art project, and screen printing their own reusable tote bags. Many are collecting free shade trees to plant at home, learning about bicycle safety and receiving free helmets, and discovering information about a new vehicle trade-in program that allows Californians to swap out their older vehicles for a new or used electric car. So what exactly is this celebration of music, art, culture, and clean energy? It’s Eastside Sol.

Event organizers Jorge Madrid and Luis Gutierrez reflect on the origins of Eastside Sol, its driving principles, and what’s in store for the future.

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Also posted in Electric Vehicles, Energy Equity, Solar Energy| Leave a comment

Post-Legislative Session, California is Closer to Important New Clean Energy Laws

ca-leg-buildingAfter a long and hard-fought legislative session, the dust is settling in California’s capitol. Many forward-looking clean energy bills sit on Gov. Brown’s desk, while others did not make it that far. It’s a time when legislative staff and advocates step back, breathe a sigh of relief, and take stock of what has been accomplished, what was lost along the way, and – most importantly – what remains to be done.

AB 1937 (Gomez) – a bill to avoid new natural gas plants in heavily burdened communities – and other key energy bills await the governor’s signature. Efforts to expand the entity that manages our electric grid, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO), also continue. For the state to realize its vision of an economy powered by clean energy resources, it is crucial Gov. Brown sign these key energy bills and work closely with the legislature to expand CAISO.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Demand Response, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Smart Policies to Stop Disastrous Natural Gas Leaks

rp_AlisoCanyon4-300x209-1-300x209-300x209.jpg

Infrared footage reveals massive methane emissions from a gas storage facility in California's Aliso Canyon

Last fall, a massive leak from a natural gas storage facility in California’s Aliso Canyon released nearly 100,000 tons of methane pollution into the atmosphere — the largest uncombusted release of this potent greenhouse gas in U.S. history, and seen by many as the industry’s worst environmental disaster since the BP oil spill.

Facilities like Aliso Canyon inject gas pumped in from elsewhere and withdraw it when needed for electric production or heating. Aliso Canyon is the largest field of its kind west of the Mississippi River. There are around 400 such facilities across the U.S., about 14 in California. Until recently, regulatory oversight of these facilities has been uneven at best.

The exact cause of the Aliso Canyon incident is still being investigated, but all signs point to a problem in the aging, corroded casing of one of over a hundred individual wells at the sprawling site. Neither the utility’s maintenance programs nor the state’s lax enforcement of 1980s-era policies were sufficient to prevent this disaster. But now that’s about to change. Read More »

Also posted in Aliso Canyon, Climate, Methane, Natural Gas| Tagged | Comments are closed

A Simple Fix with a Big Benefit: California Lawmakers Consider Closing Loophole to Curb Gas Leaks

8-11-2016 10-29-01 AM

Click image to play video.

After passing the State Assembly Appropriations committee on Wednesday, a little known bill – SB 1441 – is headed for the assembly floor, which is slated to deliver big benefits for consumers and the environment. Not only will the bill create a strong market driver for utilities to operate tighter infrastructure and save California consumers tens of millions of dollars per year, the simple yet innovative approach it takes can chart a course for curbing methane leaks across the industry.

But first, a little context.

As recent as a couple years ago, non-hazardous natural gas leaks and venting were a commonly accepted occurrence across gas utility infrastructure. As long as a leak or a venting wasn’t likely to ignite, utilities could let it go – with many small persistent leaks lasting for decades. And though it sounds hard to believe, gas utilities continuously collect money from consumers through their gas bills to cover the amount of gas utilities lose, even though they also collect money from those same ratepayers to upgrade pipes. This market design works only to protect utilities – giving them money to fix leaks while also covering them if they don’t. Read More »

Also posted in General, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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