Guest Blog Post By: R. Blake Young, President and CEO of Comverge
The complex task of managing peak energy demand is not something that should be addressed in a piecemeal fashion, and this is particularly true in the demand response industry. For reference, demand response (DR) balances supply and demand, providing peaking capacity to utilities without investments in new plants. DR incentivizes change in customer energy usage patterns to reward lower electricity use at times when system reliability is jeopardized or the price of electricity is higher.
While Comverge supports both residential and commercial and industrial (C&I) demand response programs, it’s important to remember that the residential sector is an incredibly valuable and essential part of any energy management program. The infographic below illustrates why residential demand response is so important to our nation’s energy mix. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on Verizon’s News Center.
Technology giant Verizon is making significant strides toward increasing the use of on-site green energy throughout its national portfolio with plans to finish more than $100 million in clean and renewable energy projects across facilities in seven states by the end of this year. The investment is estimated to reduce carbon emissions by over 15,000 metric tons each year, which is comparable to over 2,000 homes’ annual electricity use. Verizon’s video showcasing its plans includes an introduction by Environmental Defense Fund (EDF)’s very own Victoria Mills, managing director of Corporate Partnerships.
The move builds on the company’s earlier foray into clean technology, resulting in Verizon’s successful 2005 investment in a 1.4 megawatt fuel cell in Garden City, New York. Fuel cells use an electrochemical process in which oxygen and fuel (natural gas or biogas) react to produce amounts of electricity. The process produces less carbon emissions than more conventional sources of electricity, and enables the possibility of affordable on-site, user-owned power generation that is as constant and reliable as a utility and provides an attractive economic payback for customers.
When selecting locations for solar and fuel-cell energy projects, Verizon was careful to consider sites with favorable zoning requirements, utility partners and regulatory regimes. Despite being financially viable, identifying suitable projects was no simple task. Financing these projects without incentives at the federal and state levels proved impossible, and the incentives often came with conflicting timetables and were difficult to leverage. Read More
Last month I travelled to Amsterdam for European Utility Week (EUW), Europe’s largest “smart energy” conference that was attended by more than 7,000 people, hundreds of exhibitors, utilities, regulators and policy experts. The theme of this year’s conference was “Pulling in One Direction,” with a focus on greater collaboration between the European power transmission and distribution sectors. I was invited to speak about EDF’s Smart Power Initiative, which aims to change the trajectory of the U.S. electricity system to help avoid dangerous climate change through smart power policies and clean energy investments.
Why would EUW be interested in EDF’s approach? Because EDF seeks to knit together key state and regional regulatory agendas to “move the needle” toward a clean and modernized power grid, and to fix the “disconnect” between power transmission and distribution. Increasing the connection between the wholesale sector (typically has more sophisticated markets including real time pricing) and the distribution sector (has less sophisticated pricing) can unlock the value of smart grid.
This is one reason why our team seeks to enable smart metering and dynamic pricing for customers on the distribution side. Dynamic pricing incentivizes the shifting electricity use to periods of lower demand and lower prices (often when clean, low-carbon energy is most available). Enhancing the flow of information and energy between the wholesale and distribution sector will also empower smart grid solutions such as: reducing wasted energy through energy efficiency and demand response (which rewards customers who use less electricity during times of peak, or high, energy demand) and increasing the use of clean, distributed generation (like wind and solar). These innovative solutions will ultimately make the system cleaner, less wasteful and eliminate the need to invest in additional polluting fossil fuel power plants. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on EDF Voices blog.
Rooftop solar owners in Arizona will pay higher costs for utility service under a new decision by state regulators, but the increase was much lower than the amount sought by Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility company. Both sides claimed victory. The case is part of a growing trend of more states reviewing these charges.
What is net metering?
The case involves a practice known as “net metering” where the utility pays rooftop solar owners for the excess energy the rooftop solar panels send back to the grid. Most states allow net metering. In many states, the utility company pays rooftop solar owners the full price the utility charges for power it delivers to customers. Utility companies claim this price is higher than their actual cost to produce electricity. The rooftop solar industry claims that raising costs would crush a new industry that provides cheap, clean energy and fails to recognize the benefits provided by rooftop solar.
Regulators must find the right balance between utilities and the rooftop solar industry by allowing utilities the opportunity to recover all their costs while ensuring that rooftop solar owners receive full credit for the benefits they provide to the electric distribution system.
As we approach the end of 2013, Texas’ power grid is soon to embark on a new clean energy path. While most people don’t get too excited about electrical transmission and distribution lines, the much awaited Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) transmission project– set to come online in a few weeks and roll out through 2014 – could be the exception.
Approved by the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) in 2008, CREZ is a 3,600 mile transmission line that will connect remote West Texas wind energy to the eastern cities that need its power – 18,500 megawatts of power to be exact. This is enough power to energize 3.7 million to 7.4 million homes and increase available wind power supply by a whopping 50 percent.
Much like some other wind-rich regions in the country, wind in the West and Panhandle regions of Texas was partially unused, or curtailed, because local communities could not use all of the available supply and the state’s current, outmoded electric grid could not efficiently deliver the abundant energy to high-demand eastern cities. This "congestion" bottleneck forced wind farms to lower prices and at times pay the utilities to take their electricity. Read More
What do you do when a major new customer arrives in town asking for renewable energy? You supply it. Facebook’s decision to locate a new data center in Iowa and supply that data center with 100% wind energy is a great example of a company using its clout for good. To show its seriousness of intent, Facebook simultaneously pursued development rights to two wind parcels, one in Iowa and Nebraska, alongside its traditional site evaluation for a new data center. Iowa won the new data center, in no small part due to its leadership in the wind sector.
According to Vincent Van Son, Facebook’s Data Center Energy Manager, “When we settled on Altoona as the location for our fourth data center, one of the deciding factors was the opportunity to help develop a new wind project in the state. The project brings additional investment and jobs to the region, and in effect it makes it possible, on an annualized basis, for 100% of our energy needs to be met entirely with one of Iowa’s most abundant renewable resources.” Facebook worked with a local developer, RPM Access, and then at a key point, transferred ownership to a major utility, Mid-American. This project enabled Facebook to announce last week that the new data center will be supplied by 100% renewable energy.
As we profiled last year with Collaborative Economics, Iowa views the wind sector as a powerful economic development driver. As a result, it has emerged as an epicenter of wind in all facets – installations, innovation and manufacturing strength. Iowa’s multi-pronged clean energy strategy continues to deliver economic wins in 2013. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
It’s easy for Americans to laugh at Donald Trump when he goes off on a rant, like when he joined the birthers during the last presidential election. But when Trump starts picking fights with other countries, and wind energy, it’s just embarrassing. As environmentalists and global citizens we feel the need to offer the world an apology for Trump’s attempt to blackmail Scotland, as the country attempts to spur economic growth, cleaner air and a safer climate.
Several years ago, the real estate tycoon took his personality parade to Scotland, where he fought local environmentalists for approval to build a luxury golf resort on a pristine section of the nation’s northeast coast. Now, because it will affect the view from his golf club, Trump’s begun a fierce legal battle over Scotland’s plans to install offshore wind turbines near his property.
To fully appreciate Trump’s hypocrisy, it’s worth exploring some of the story’s background. Back in 2007, when Trump sought approval for construction of the Trump International Golf Links, he promised more than 900 high-end condos, 500 luxury homes, a huge hotel and two 18-hole golf courses. The project, Trump said, would attract over a billion dollars of investment and generate more than 4,000 full time construction jobs and 1,200 full-time jobs. Read More
Ohio’s clean energy standards have helped jumpstart an industry that is spurring economic development, creating jobs, boosting energy independence and cutting the state’s carbon footprint. Recently, these standards have come under attack and EDF’s own Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President of Smart Power, stepped up to defend them by testifying before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Commission on Senate Bill 58 (S.B. 58). As a former Ohio Public Utility Commissioner herself, Roberto made it clear that S.B. 58 would destroy Ohio’s clean energy standards and unjustly enrich the state’s electric utilities.
Ohio adopted clean energy standards in 2008, and is one of 29 states with a renewable energy standard and one of 25 states with an energy efficiency standard. Based on these standards, Ohio will acquire 12.5% of its power by renewable energy and will reduce its energy use by 22% by 2025. The energy efficiency standard has allowed Ohio to reduce its energy use by over 3%, and the renewable energy standard has already added 466 mw of wind energy in the state, enough to power 466,000 homes. Ohio is now ranked fourth in the nation for wind energy jobs, with over 5,000 direct and indirect jobs supported by the industry.
Credit: Julia Collins
The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a group of conservative state legislators, is leading a nationwide effort to repeal state clean energy standards, including S.B. 58 in Ohio. ALEC has previously supported controversial “stand your ground” laws as well as laws classifying environmental civil disobedience as terrorism. To date, ALEC has failed to repeal clean energy standards in any state. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices: People on the Planet blog.
At a time when partisan rancor is the order of the day, this week’s news out of Colorado is a tribute to the power of partnership. On Monday, Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado proposed new regulations for oil and gas operations that, if adopted, will cut both conventional air pollution and climate pollution – by making Colorado the first state in the nation to tackle the problem of methane emissions. The big announcement showed that industry leaders, state officials and an environmental group like Environmental Defense Fund can sit down together to negotiate a plan to deliver cleaner, safer air. And just in time. As EDF’s Rocky Mountain Regional Director Dan Grossman told NPR this week, “the fundamental question [is] whether or not citizens will tolerate oil and gas development.”
On Election Day, four Colorado communities voted to ban hydraulic fracturing. State officials and industry leaders are getting the message: public trust has been badly damaged, and the only way to restore it is by putting in place strong rules to protect air, water, and communities. Not every community is going to ban oil and gas development, obviously, so we need to protect the many places where it is happening.
While the new Colorado proposal doesn’t address all the issues surrounding oil and gas development, the governor and the state’s regulators should be applauded for their efforts in bringing forward these commonsense air pollution measures, which were agreed to and supported by EDF, Anadarko Petroleum, Encana, and Noble Energy. And we’re not the only ones who think so. Newspapers from Los Angeles to Denver to New York wrote in support of the new rules. New York Times columnist Joe Nocera praised both the proposed legislation and Environmental Defense Fund’s collaborative approach in an op-ed published Monday. Read More
Source: Pecan Street Inc.
Over the past few years, we’ve seen some of the world’s largest automakers release their first mass-market electric vehicles. Models like the Chevrolet Volt, Nissan Leaf and Tesla Model S are popular with consumers looking to reduce their carbon footprint and spend less at the pump. But the vehicles’ rising popularity has raised concerns about the effect they might have on the electric grid, particularly during the hot summer months in Texas.
Electric vehicles are the largest new home electric load in decades. Some suspected that drivers, upon returning home from work, would charge their vehicles during the evening hours (a ‘rush-hour’ time for the wires that carry our energy, which strains the electric grid). They thought that the increased need for energy would overwhelm the electric system, possibly force utilities to fire up more dirty fossil fuel power plants and offset any potential environmental benefits of the gasoline-free car. Thankfully, this line of thinking is now an idea of the past.
A recent report from Pecan Street proves that electric vehicles have less of an impact on the electric grid than anticipated. Read More