Selected category: California

To Keep Lights on in LA, State’s Aliso Canyon Action Plan Must Fix Energy Markets, Maximize Smart Energy Solutions

By Tim O’Connor and Lauren Navarro

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Ongoing fallout from the catastrophic failure at the Southern California Gas Company’s Aliso Canyon storage facility is exposing a critical weakness in the state’s energy system. Overdependence on natural gas – and on one provider of that gas – means we don’t have the flexibility we need to cope if things go wrong. And now that they have gone wrong, because of SoCalGas’ mismanagement of the Aliso Canyon storage facility, a group of state agencies says the region could be facing power shortages this summer as a result.

A new report released today by the California Energy Commission (CEC), California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), California Independent System Operator (CAISO,) the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) and Southern California Gas (SoCalGas) describes the problem. While a separate report released by CEC, CPUC, CAISO and LADWP, begins to lay out the short-term response plan. (Some of the efforts already under way are documented here, here, and here). Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Aliso Canyon, Clean Energy, Demand Response, General, Methane, Natural Gas| Read 4 Responses

Transforming an Energy Burden into an Energy Opportunity

Energy opportunityEconomic inequality has become one of the dominant political narratives of the day. It occupies discussions on both sides of the aisle, and is shaping elections from city halls to the White House. There’s a good reason for this: the continuing trends of flattening incomes, concentrated wealth, and deepening poverty are historic.

One place this reality is really hitting home for millions of Americans is on their monthly energy bill. For nearly one in three American families, paying a monthly energy bill is a challenge.

The energy burden, as the Department of Energy defines it, is the ratio of energy costs (which includes heating, cooling, appliances, and lighting from electricity, gas, and fuel sources) to household income. Nearly 40 percent of low-income households use electricity to heat their homes (the majority in the South and West), and are suffering a more severe energy burden because of factors like wage stagnation and the quality of housing at lower economic levels.  In 2014, researchers looking at the “energy affordability gap” for low income households (the difference between actual energy bills and what is considered affordable) tabulated it at almost $45 billion nationally. That is an increase of 16 percent from 2011, with nearly 60 percent of the growth accounted for by states in the mid-South, South, and east of the Mississippi. For any of those families, even a 10 percent growth in electricity costs can be destabilizing. Monthly electric bills become another factor forcing households to choose between groceries, childcare, and medical bills.

To make inroads in closing the energy affordability gap and reducing energy burdens for the most vulnerable, Environmental Defense Fund believes we need a combination of greater and scalable clean energy investment in low- and moderate-income communities, and a focus on empowering the many faces that are energy-burdened. The multi-billion dollar affordability gap certainly poses a variety of financial risks, but it’s also rife with opportunity. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, North Carolina, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

Clean Energy Conference Roundup: March 2016

rp_conference-300x200.jpgEach month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in March:

March 9: Clean Power Plan or What Next? Symposium & Workshop (Houston, TX)

Speaker: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy

  • Join a group of high level executives for a discussion on the issues arising from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan and its regional impact.

March 16-17: California’s Distributed Energy Future 2016  (San Francisco, CA)

Speaker: Jamie Fine, Senior Economist, U.S. Climate and Energy

  • As distributed energy gains steam in California, state regulators, policymakers, utilities, and distributed energy resource providers are shaping the rules, regulations, and markets that will ensure the transition is speedy and smooth. Greentech Media is partnering with More Than Smart to host actionable conversations on the future of electricity in an innovative state.

March 16: 2016 Building Energy Summit® (Washington, DC)

Speaker: Ellen Bell, Manager, Midwest Clean Energy

  • Building owners, energy experts, and technology pioneers will come together at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC to address the business and social drivers for more energy efficient buildings. Ellen will participate in a discussion on how to analyze portfolio data for energy saving opportunities, how to prioritize initiatives based on payback, and how to align your efforts with a corporate environmental policy. Read More »
Also posted in Conference Roundup, New York, Pennsylvania, Texas, Washington, DC| Read 2 Responses

After the Aliso Disaster: Less Gas Storage, More Clean Energy Through Increased Market Efficiency

By: Mark Brownstein & Tim O'Connor4157619250_29ac89191b_o

The nearly four-month disaster at the Aliso Canyon storage facility owned by Southern California Gas Company has spurred widespread calls to close the sprawling underground reservoir, and cast intense scrutiny on the 13 other similar facilities around California. But others, including Governor Jerry Brown and key state agencies, say the facilities may be needed to keep the electric grid running reliably.

Ironically, one reason for dependence on this fossil fuel is California’s renewable energy boom.

As things currently stand, there aren’t enough responsive resources on the grid to simultaneously manage the large daily swings in consumer electricity demand typical in California and swings in renewable energy output due to variations in time of day and weather.

A more robust grid in combination with innovative energy storage and energy management technology will eventually reduce these swings, but may take decades to fully deploy.  Until then, fast-acting gas-fired generation is necessary for balancing system operations. This has become a rallying cry for SoCalGas and the rest of California’s oil and gas industry in the wake of Aliso Canyon. Read More »

Also posted in Aliso Canyon, General, Methane, Natural Gas| Read 2 Responses

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 »

Also posted in Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Grid Modernization, Illinois, Solar Energy, Texas, Voltage Optimization| Comments are closed

Preventing Future Aliso Canyon-Sized Gas Leaks – the Importance of Well Integrity

AlisoCanyon4Southern California is now in month three of one of the country’s worst environmental disasters. In October 2015, a natural gas storage well operated by SoCal Gas sprung a massive leak hundreds of feet underground, releasing nearly 1,400 tons of gas into the air each day at its peak. Thousands of local residents impacted by noxious fumes and oily mist have been evacuated from the communities around the Aliso Canyon storage field. Because the leak is so large and technically complex, SoCal Gas has been working for months to fix it – so far without success.

In January, California Governor Jerry Brown declared a State of Emergency because of the ongoing leak. In addition to addressing the immediate disaster at Aliso Canyon, Gov. Brown ordered emergency regulations for the state’s natural gas storage industry and has directed several state agencies and commissions to prepare and submit reports and propose how to prevent similar leaks at similar sites across the state. Read More »

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