Energy Exchange

Compensating distributed energy resources for environmental attributes

By Elizabeth B. Stein, Ferit Ucar

Small distributed energy resources, cutting carbon emissions, and making sure people pay appropriately for participating in the electric system: These have been pillars of Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), New York’s comprehensive initiative to re-think utility regulation and reduce carbon in the power sector.

Cutting carbon pollution – decarbonization – will be difficult as long as a carbon price is in effect only for large generators. That approach creates a risk of shifting emissions from large generators to small ones and creates a disincentive for environmentally-beneficial electrification.

Setting a robust price on carbon and applying it to fossil fuel users of all sizes and types would avoid such results and enable the market to drive down emissions efficiently. But in a world without such a broadly-applied price, designing an appropriate compensation mechanism for small generators that produce both environmental benefits and emissions is an interesting economic policy challenge.

There’s a lot to consider. Let’s unpack the issues. Read More »

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

Trump kills solar jobs, taxes families and businesses, but he can’t kill solar competitiveness

With President Trump’s announcement this week to slap a 30 percent tariff on imported solar cells and modules, the solar industry once again finds itself in the firing line, targeted by the political whims of elected officials.

This political posturing has created uncertainty in the marketplace. In the last decade, solar has suffered from seven changes to the investment tax credit. And in the last few months, the industry got a double whammy of the BEAT tax – which will negatively affect equity investments in solar development – and the threat from the Department of Energy’s plan to prop up dirty coal while undermining solar. The tariff decision this week – a protectionist attempt by Trump to appeal to his anti-free trade base – is the latest assault on clean energy and a tax on American families, businesses, and utilities who want to go solar. Republicans once considered such actions a “tax on consumers.”

Despite these attacks, solar is still booming. Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) reports that in the last five years, the U.S. solar industry has attracted more than $100 billion in investment, realized year-over-year growth rates of 21 percent, and now employs more than 260,000 people. The tariff may slow the growth of solar, but it doesn’t kill its competitiveness. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

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, Grid Modernization, Voltage Optimization / Tagged , | Comments are closed

How solar helped a church pull out of the red and steward the community

This summer, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) collaborated with First Baptist Church in Mount Olive, North Carolina to host an event to explore the new opportunities solar energy is providing for the church and Wayne County.

We spent most of the day together and heard how First Baptist Church is benefitting from solar energy projects situated a couple of miles from the church. The church has provided land for two solar installations, built by Birdseye Renewable Energy and owned and operated by Strata Solar, a Chapel-Hill based solar developer. The solar farm we all toured generates more than 10,000 MWh of energy every year.

Speakers included Senior Pastor Dennis Atwood and Angelo San Fratello, President of Trustees.

"It's a matter of stewardship for us and we didn't want the land to be developed for some purpose that would be contrary to the mission of our church," Atwood said. "And solar farming is clean energy, and it's a good use of the earth and it essentially goes back to providing power for almost an entire town." Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization, North Carolina, Solar Energy / Read 1 Response

Waiting for Perry: Leaked draft gives us a glimpse into the study he should release

It’s been 100 days (and counting) since Secretary Perry ordered the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to conduct a 60-day study of the U.S. electricity system. We expect the final report to be issued any day now.

The initial focus of the study was clear: to determine whether renewable energy policies or regulations have accelerated the retirement of coal and nuclear plants. Perry himself admitted the so-called study was intended to reassess “politically driven policies driven by a hostility to coal,” implying he intends to use the study to discriminate against renewables in favor of dirty, expensive coal.

But a bombshell recently hit. A leaked draft of the study seems to contradict Secretary Perry’s pro-coal thesis and rhetoric.

The draft is thoughtful, and it boils down to some conclusions that Secretary Perry’s political appointees – ahem, editors – will be hard pressed to massage into policy recommendations that call for more coal. Namely, America’s grid reliability remains strong with more clean energy and less coal. Read More »

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

Trump budget breakdown: Time to defend the clean energy economy and American innovation

This post was updated on June 5, 2017.

My first week on the job at Environmental Defense Fund was also the week the Trump administration released its full federal budget proposal. I joined the EDF+Business team after working at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), implementing technology-to-market innovation partnerships for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE). The proposal slashes EERE and related offices and programs that have been at the forefront of successful public-private partnerships. At a time when the U.S. is backing out of the Paris Climate Agreement and federal clean energy technology investments are critically and urgently needed, this budget threatens American innovation.

Funding that nurtures new businesses without requiring their owners to give up any stake in their companies can be make-or-break for the early-stage startups that drive innovation. When government, well-positioned to make this kind of unique investment, puts forth tax-payer dollars, it encourages the private sector to buy-in as well—oftentimes with a multiplying effect. DOE has created opportunities like these that reduce risks for both entrepreneurs and investors. It is through this public-private collaboration that meaningful partnerships and lasting progress are possible for clean energy and our nation’s economy. Read More »

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