This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
Source: Peter Lee/Flickr
Earlier this year, Southern California Edison (SCE) permanently retired the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station (SONGS) after forty years of operation in San Diego County, appearing to put the large-scale power plant firmly in the past. However, much like Ebenezer Scrooge, California is grappling with the specter of SONGS’ past – which may haunt our present and future.
The story of SONGS is not unique to California. As of the end of 2012, 28 nuclear power plants were shut down in the United States – and many more will face the same fate in the near future, as they reach the end of their design life. Thus, a transition to renewables and incentivizing reduced demand– and a refusal to be tied to fossil fuels – is an issue of national importance.
The closure of SONGS has left California at an important crossroads: Continue to lean on fossil fuel energy and build additional combustion power plants– like Marley’s ghost chained to the past – or start shaping the future by using the clean solutions that are available today. Read More
One of the worst hit states by last year’s Superstorm Sandy, New York is moving aggressively to avert future climate-related weather events. Governor Cuomo announced the launch of a Green Bank last week, giving the state a timely and much-needed Christmas gift.
The move shows the state’s strong commitment to the acceleration of a clean, low-carbon energy economy. New York joins the ranks of several other states, including Connecticut and Hawaii, in addressing a key issue holding clean energy in America back, namely financing. The Green Bank, which has $210 million in initial funding originating from existing ratepayer and Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative funds, targets market barriers to private financing of renewable energy and energy efficiency projects.
Working with private sector financial institutions, the Green Bank will offer financial products such as credit enhancement, loan loss reserves and loan bundling to support securitization (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace) and help build secondary markets. These products have long-proven successful in stimulating market developments and creating investment-quality, asset-backed securities that can be bought and traded. Read More
The Sustainable FERC Project, a coalition of environmental and clean energy organizations, launched its new website today: www.sustainableFERC.org. The site will inform the public and policymakers about the coalition’s efforts to increase the amount of clean, low-carbon energy powering the nation’s electric grid, which focus on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the regional entities regulated by FERC.
FERC is a federal agency whose activities include regulation of transmission and wholesale sales of electricity in interstate commerce. Working on behalf of its coalition partners, the Sustainable FERC Project develops and advocates for federal policies and regional implementation and practices that will give rise to a cleaner, more efficient energy system. The coalition’s top priorities include removing the barriers to getting clean energy on the transmission grid, maximizing the use of energy efficiency in planning and facilitating a transition to a cleaner energy future.
Source – Windpower Engineering Development
EDF’s work as a member of the Sustainable FERC Project coalition complements our own Smart Power Initiative, which is working, primarily through state-level advocacy, to change the trajectory of the U.S. electricity system to help avoid dangerous climate change through smart power policies and clean energy investments. The Smart Power Initiative focuses on ensuring that the right state policies are in place to allow for better integration of clean energy resources into the power grid.
Optimizing the environmental performance of the U.S. electric grid – which is sometimes called the “largest machine on the planet” – requires environmentally-sound policies and practices at all levels to drive system planning and operation. The new website (www.SustainableFERC.org) will feature issue analysis, coalition comments filed with FERC and regional grid organizations and links to blogs written by representatives from the coalition. It should become a go-to site for those wanting to deepen their understanding of environmentally-important smart grid developments in the federally-regulated portions of the U.S. electric system.
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
If renewable energy is a good thing, then a lot of renewable energy is a very good thing, right? Not exactly, according to recent articles in the L.A. Times and Forbes about challenges posed by the growth of renewables. But, as we’ve pointed out, the issue here is not too much renewable energy, but rather a vulnerable U.S. electric grid built for the last century.
It’s essential to remember the bigger picture in order to arrive at the truth of the matter: If we are to avoid catastrophic climate change, renewable energy is a vital part of the solution. And while an unprecedented abundance of renewable power may raise complex questions about how to integrate these resources, it also underscores the need – and vast opportunity – for critical energy infrastructure improvements. Our response as a nation should not be to shrink from the challenges of renewables, but rather to keep working toward a smarter, more resilient energy system to meet the needs of the 21st century and beyond. Read More
On November 18th, the Smart Cities Council released the Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide at the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Spain. I am privileged to be a member of the Smart Cities Council Advisory Board, and in such a capacity, served as a review for the Guide.
The Smart Cities Council Readiness Guide is the first of its kind—a comprehensive, vendor-neutral handbook for city leaders and planners to help them assess their current state of technology and give them a roadmap for developing a smart city.
It was produced in collaboration with some of the world’s top smart city experts and includes technology recommendations for a city’s most important responsibilities: buildings, energy, telecommunications, transportation, water and wastewater, health and human services, public safety and payments.
My reviews were solely of the energy and water chapters, but the Guide as a whole offers a collection of guidelines, best practices and more than 50 case studies as well as 27 proven principles that will enable cities to achieve a smart city status. City planners will be able to identify the best path forward for their particular city, creating a customized plan that will work, even if development of the plan is gradual. Read More
This commentary originally appeared on our EDF Voices blog.
Today president Obama took an important step toward supporting a clean energy future by directing the Federal Government to consume 20 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. This is more than double the current level, making this a significant moment in President Obama’s second term.
Renewable energy has become cost-competitive over the years and the quality of innovative clean technologies has dramatically improved. These are clean, efficient, homegrown resources that we can count on now, and President Obama’s public support of renewables in this announcement will serve to further drive their competiveness in the market.
This memorandum also directs agencies to update their building-performance and energy-management practices, “by encouraging the use of the consensus-based, industry-standard Green Button data access system (Green Button) and the Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Energy Star Portfolio Manager.” Recommendations under this section ask agencies to install smart energy and water meters, participate in demand response where possible and make the data collected from smart meters publically available in order to better manage energy performance and allow for benchmarking. Read More
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
Over the past two years, Texas’s changing energy landscape has been a focus of EDF’s work. In our Texas’ Energy Crunch report from March 2013, we highlighted that Texas has a peak capacity constraint – meaning that the power grid becomes strained when, for example, everyone is using their air conditioning units on hot summer afternoons. This challenge, coupled with increased climate change and drought, signal the need to prepare by adopting a smarter grid and cleaner resources.
The Public Utilities Commission of Texas (PUCT) and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) have been engaged in this conversation and various proposals have been laid on the table to determine what Texas’ energy future will look like. EDF maintains the position that, whatever reforms are made, customer-facing, demand-side resources – defined here as demand response (DR), renewable energy, energy efficiency and energy storage – must play a key role to ensuring reliability, affordability, customer choice and environmental improvements.
Energy-Only Status Quo or Capacity Market or…?
Texas’ current energy-only market structure pays power plants only for the energy they produce. This is beneficial in that generators are not overcompensated, but the downside is that energy companies aren’t incentivized to build in Texas and energy management providers (DR companies) are not viewed as equal players. Energy prices are low due to an upsurge in cheap, abundant natural gas and wind – and without a guarantee for a high return on investment, companies will not take the risk of constructing costly new power plants. Read More
Also posted in Demand Response, General, Renewable Energy, Smart Grid, Texas
Tagged Capabilities Market, Capacity Market, Energy-Water Nexus, ERCOT, PUCT, Texas Energy Market, Texas Public Utilities Commission, Third Way
By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant, Environmental Defense Fund
Nearly 40% of U.S. energy is consumed by both residential and commercial buildings, which emit more than a third of our country’s greenhouse gases. Realizing all of the available cost-effective energy efficiency savings would require roughly $279 billion of investment, resulting in more than $1 trillion in energy savings over ten years.
Environmental Defense Fund’s Investor Confidence Project (ICP) opens up energy efficiency to investment markets by laying the foundation necessary to enable organizations to tap into this vast potential. This means turning energy efficiency upgrades in the commercial building sector into an asset that can be bought and traded, much like stocks and bonds. By developing a straightforward set of protocols that define a clear road-map for upgrades, ICP creates an investment-quality asset class whose risks and returns are transparent. Ultimately, large-scale adoption of the ICP framework will reduce transaction costs and engineering overhead, while increasing the reliability and consistency of savings.
ICP will be hosting a series of webinars targeted at specific stakeholders in the energy efficiency sector, and strongly encourage individuals and organizations interested in the future of the energy efficiency industry to attend. With the assistance and feedback of industry leaders, investors and programs, ICP has developed a range of Energy Performance Protocols tailored to market needs and project types that will reduce transaction costs, manage performance risk and increase deal flow. Our webinar schedule this fall will focus on how these protocols can create value for individual projects, organizations and the energy efficiency industry as a whole.