Energy Exchange

Clean energy bill: A roadmap for New Jersey

Today, New Jersey lawmakers will be voting on a “Clean Energy Bill,” a piece of legislation that can help the state transition to a 21st-century clean energy economy, and set us on a path to becoming a national clean energy leader once again.

Gov. Phil Murphy’s pledge to source 100 percent of the state’s electricity from clean energy by 2050 points us in the right direction. But we need a roadmap to get there – one that will boost the state’s economy and reduce harmful pollution.

The clean energy bill paves the way to invest in clean energy – a critical step toward achieving a more resilient, healthier future for New Jerseyans. We can only move forward if elected officials vote for it, accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, New Jersey, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

California’s disadvantaged communities could benefit from time-of-use electricity prices, but it won’t happen automatically.

By Lauren Navarro, senior policy manager, and Jamie Fine, senior economist

It’s no secret that California is a clean energy leader. The state is on track to meet its renewable energy goals, with many utilities hitting targets ahead of schedule. In order to transition to a system that can handle increased levels of clean energy like solar and wind, we need innovative solutions to take advantage of these resources. One low-cost solution is to change how we pay for electricity – making it cheaper when it is powered by clean resources and more expensive when powered by fossil fuels with time-of-use pricing. Utilities are on their way to bringing this to Californians, piloting the new rates in advance of a full rollout in 2019 and building on the successful rollout of these rates to commercial customers a few years ago.

For many Californians, the shift to time-of-use pricing will be new, but not impact their bills very much and could even save them money, particularly for people who live along the coast. However, for some customers – communities with lower incomes in hotter areas of the state that are more vulnerable to possible summertime bill increases – shifting when they use electricity can be harder, and without help their costs could increase. Rightly, lawmakers and regulators have pushed for extra attention for these vulnerable customers as the state moves toward time-of-use rates. While utilities acknowledge this discrepancy as an issue, none are offering sufficient, robust solutions (you can learn more about this in our recent blog).

A new bill introduced last week by California Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula would add that utilities must consider how time-of-use rates could impact low-income customers in disadvantaged communities before putting them on the new rates. It is vital to protect the most economically and environmentally vulnerable Californians from financial hardships. And the answer is not easy. All Californians stand to benefit from rates that could lower pollution and integrate more renewables – yet, we don’t want to heedlessly roll-out the rates in a way that results in higher electricity bills for customers with low incomes. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, General, Time of Use / Comments are closed

Clean energy – not natural gas – drove decarbonization in 2017

Despite attempts by the Trump administration and the coal industry to limit clean energy in favor of fossil fuels – including a tariff on solar energy, a thinly-disguised bailout for coal and nuclear power plants (that was rightly rejected), and a dramatic proposed cut to energy research – we are accelerating the transition to a cleaner electric grid. In fact, last year was the first time the reduction in power sector emissions can be attributed more to energy conservation and renewable energy than switching from coal to natural gas.

The new 2018 Business Council for Sustainable Energy (BCSE) Factbook* highlights the electric power sector as the driving force behind the decarbonization of the U.S. economy. In total, power sector emissions declined 4.2 percent in 2017, mostly due to the 18.4 GW of new renewable energy we added to the grid (a 14 percent increase over the previous year’s total U.S. renewable capacity). In 2017, renewable generation represented about 18 percent of total U.S. generation (around10 percent from non-hydro renewables alone).

This explosive growth further cements renewable energy’s role in reducing emissions from the U.S. power sector. Let’s dig into the factors that led to this growth, and how we can extend this trend of emissions reductions from renewables beyond 2017. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, Electric Vehicles, Energy Equity, Grid Modernization, Natural Gas, Solar Energy / Read 3 Responses

Utilities planning to move Californians to time-of-use pricing need solutions for low-income customers

By Andy Bilich, clean energy analyst, and Jamie Fine, senior economist

Last month, all three of California’s major investor-owned utilities submitted applications to the California Public Utilities Commission detailing their respective strategies for how to transition residential customers to time-of-use pricing. Time-of-use pricing, if done right, is a low-cost strategy to help meet California’s climate and clean energy goals. This innovative tool can help the state rely more on clean energy and less on fossil fuels, at the same time delaying the need for new infrastructure and reducing costs and harmful emissions. While a significant number of Californians will be able to adapt to this new pricing, the shift this summer and next will likely be more challenging for some ─ namely, low-income customers in hot areas of the state.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) supports time-of-use pricing for its benefits to the environment, the electric system, and customer’s pockets. However, the utility plans have some troubling gaps that may prevent the new system working for everyone. For California to pioneer a clean economy for all, the utilities and the commission must proactively overcome barriers facing vulnerable customers who need more help adjusting to time-of-use rates. Read More »

Also posted in California, Time of Use / Read 2 Responses

DOE’s compensation scheme for coal and nuclear is dead – Now what?

In a January 8 Order, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC or Commission) swiftly dismissed the Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposed out-of-market compensation scheme for coal and nuclear units.  DOE’s proposal would have provided guaranteed profits to coal and nuclear plants, despite the fact that these aging units are losing out to more efficient and affordable resources.  Instead, FERC took a more measured approach, asking all regional market operators to submit additional information on resiliency issues within 60 days, and providing interested parties an opportunity to respond to those submittals within 30 days.  Here’s what we can expect next. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

FERC’s rejection of DOE’s pro-coal and nuclear proposal shows evidence can still trump politics

Last week the Midwest and northeastern United States experienced an historic cold snap that tested our nation’s electric grid. Like last year’s solar eclipse, unprecedented wildfires in California, and extreme flooding after Hurricane Harvey, this year’s “bomb cyclone” has not created a reliability crisis. In fact, it appears based on the evidence thus far that our electricity system – built upon the markets and long-standing operator practices behind our grid – passed this test with flying colors.

That’s why today’s decision by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to reject the Department of Energy’s (DOE) flawed coal and nuclear proposal is such an important win for American families, competitive markets, and the environment.

In mid-October, the DOE took the unprecedented step of asking FERC to provide guaranteed revenues and profits to uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. DOE did so with thinly veiled pretext, arguing without evidence that these plants support grid resiliency. FERC was quickly inundated with a chorus of resistance and disapproval from natural gas companies, environmental groups, consumer advocates, state attorney generals, and congressional members from both parties.  Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization / Read 4 Responses