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Microgrids can help prevent extreme power outages, and cities are taking notice

By Ellen Shenette, manager, EDF Climate Corps

This year, the Atlantic basin had eight consecutive storms develop—the first time in 124 years. The storms—and by storms I mean big storms—have had catastrophic effects on families, communities and the economy at large. Millions of people were left powerless, access to clean drinking water was compromised and homes were destroyed. It will take decades for the country to recover from this devastation, and hurricane season is only halfway over.

And as the intensity of these storms increases, so do their price tags. Together, hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, which hit the U.S. earlier this fall, are estimated to cost $150-$200 billion in combined destruction. This is an enormous blow to the economy and to tax payers’ wallets.

To those of us on the east coast, this sounds awfully similar to destruction caused by Hurricane Sandy, which hit New York City and New Jersey hard this time five years ago. That’s why it’s important to ask: could the devastation have been avoided, or at least reduced? Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, New York / Comments are closed

Coal workers deserve opportunity and support, not false promises about reviving their industry

Coal mining is tough and dangerous work. In the movie Coal Miner’s Daughter, country star Loretta Lynn’s husband Doolittle sums it up this way, “There ain't nothin' in Kentucky for me except a chest full of coal dust and being an old man before I'm forty.”

Nearly 40 years later, coal mining is still dangerous, and we know a lot more about its disastrous health effects. On top of these risks, workers have seen decades of job cuts as coal companies automate the mining process and coal-fired electricity is being squeezed by cleaner and cheaper energy sources like natural gas, wind and solar.

Rather than seek genuine solutions that would help current and former coal workers, President Trump campaigned on reviving coal jobs and seems hell-bent on propping up the uneconomic coal industry, no matter the cost. We – and President Trump – owe coal workers more than empty political promises. We owe them an opportunity to succeed in this shifting economy. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

Cuba’s electric future: Lessons learned and pathways forward

A new report from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) highlights lessons learned and recommendations for the future of Cuba’s electric sector. These include the benefits of Cuba’s decentralized grid, the potential benefits of fueling the grid with more clean energy, and new financing opportunities. The full report is entitled The Cuban Electric Grid, and an abridged version appears in The Electricity Journal. The report builds upon more than a decade of EDF engagement in Cuba.

Here are five key takeaways from the report. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

We already know which grid fixes can keep lights on during bad storms. Here are 3.

After a record-breaking hurricane season and catastrophic wildfires in California, the vulnerabilities of our electric system – and the urgent need to upgrade it – have never been clearer.

It took more than 10 days of around-the-clock work to restore electricity to 350,000 customers after fires struck California wine country last month. Returning service to all 4.4 million power customers in Florida after Hurricane Irma took almost as long – and 70 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack power six weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Such crippling outages contribute to $250 billion in economic losses globally every year.

But there are solutions available on the market today that can reduce the impact of these outages. By investing in technologies that modernize our electric grid, and with careful planning, we can also create a cleaner and more efficient electricity system overall. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, General, Renewable Energy, Voltage Optimization / Tagged , | Comments are closed

If we don’t talk about water, are we really talking about resiliency?

It’s time to rely on water-smart power

Energy Secretary Rick Perry is trying to prop up coal and nuclear companies under the guise of enhanced “resiliency.” The Department of Energy’s (DOE) proposal does not define resiliency, nor does it even make clear what resiliency means in the context of the electric grid.

Resiliency in the energy sector generally, however, depends on water. The majority of the electricity that powers our world runs on century-old technology, guzzling down our most precious resource: water. Depending on the type of technology, generating just one megawatt-hour of electricity could use anywhere from 500 to 50,000 gallons. Solar and wind, on the other hand, use negligible amounts of water, and energy efficiency uses none.

Yet neither the DOE’s proposal nor its recent study on grid reliability touches on climate and water. Specifically, there is no mention of how climate change affects water availability or what that means for electric reliability. If Secretary Perry is really concerned about resiliency, water should be a key focus. And as a former governor from a drought-stricken state, he should know better. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy-Water Nexus / Read 1 Response

Department of Energy's proposal to FERC: Too many costs, no actual benefits

By Natalie Karas, Michael Panfil, and Rama Zakaria

Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry recently proposed that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) provide new revenues and guaranteed profits to the owners of inefficient and aging coal and nuclear power plants at the expense of American homeowners and businesses. These aging units are losing out to more efficient and innovative ways to generate power, reduce peak demand, and foster participation and competitive in the markets. EDF filed comments – separately and with a coalition of environmental organizations – today opposing DOE’s proposal to diminish, if not destroy, the integrity of competitive wholesale electricity markets.

The proposal is plagued by both procedural and substantive infirmities. It prevents informed outcomes by shortening FERC’s generally lengthy rulemaking process to a mere 60 days – offering little time for key stakeholders to participate. And it directs an independent, fuel-neutral federal agency to bankroll favored companies and energy sources under the guise of “resiliency,” a term the proposal does not define, applied to a problem that does not exist. In fact, a study released today shows “no clear relationship” between increased reliability and more coal and nuclear power. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing / Comments are closed