Selected category: California

A Good Grid is Like a Good Vacation: Balanced and Well-Timed

photo-1456425712190-0dd8c2b00156On vacation and awake in my too-soft bed at 5 AM while my family snored, I was regretting my misaligned sleep schedule. But then I realized time was on my side, so I tiptoed out in solitude for sunrise at the south rim of the Grand Canyon. Thanks to my very clever smart phone that is also a camera, my amateur photos (sort of) reveal the majesty of this national landmark. When we realize the schedule of Nature’s wonders is both beautiful and indefatigable, and humble ourselves with simple acts of realignment, harmony can be found amidst the springs and cliffs of our lives.

Just as timing helped me take advantage of something I would have otherwise missed and my smart phone aided in capturing the moment, similar lessons can be learned in how we use energy. My phone, when linked to a smart thermostat, can help align my electricity use with cheap, clean energy resources like solar and wind. Soon residential customers of California’s “big three” utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SoCal Ed), and San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), will be able to take full advantage of this option.  Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing| Read 3 Responses

We're wasting solar energy because the grid can't handle it all. Here's a solution.

caligrid_378x235California has a nice problem: It’s producing so much clean solar energy that the state’s electric grid is at capacity, and sometimes beyond.

As Vox’s David Roberts reports in his excellent piece about California’s grid headache, it makes good sense to expand the system by interconnecting state-run energy markets.

But he also notes, at the end of his story, some other and complementary strategies California can use to increase its grid bandwidth – while accommodating rapidly growing, but variable, renewable energy sources.

Connected grids, alone, are not a long-term fix. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Time of Use| Read 3 Responses

Transforming the Electric System to Reduce Costs and Pollution

electrical-power-linesBy: Beia Spiller and Kristina Mohlin

Electricity markets around the world are transforming from a model where electricity flows one way (from electricity-generating power plants to the customer) to one where customers actively participate as providers of electric services. But to speed this transformation and maximize its environmental and cost benefits, we need to understand how customer actions affect the three distinct parts of our electric system: generation, transmission, and distribution. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization, New York, Texas, Utility Business Models| Read 7 Responses

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

los-angeles-1262207_1920

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
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