Category Archives: Renewable Energy

New Jersey to Make Grid Smarter, More Flexible with Energy Storage

Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0

Source: Carbon Cycle 2.0

Energy storage devices that collect electricity at times of abundance and deliver when demand is greatest are essential to upgrading our outdated power grid to a smarter, more flexible electricity system. New Jersey took a positive step toward implementing more energy storage earlier this year when its Office of Clean Energy released a proposal to allocate $2.5 million for incentives that would encourage more energy storage use. EDF recently took the opportunity to comment on the proposal, highlighting the ways in which energy storage can deliver added resiliency, environmental benefit, and flexibility.

Energy storage could be critical in next storm

Energy storage can help stabilize a power grid, which is particularly important in a place like New Jersey where Superstorm Sandy left a third of homes and businesses in the state without electricity, even five days after the disaster. Large-scale deployments of energy storage can reduce peak or high demand, when the dirtiest power plants are usually turned on, while smaller, community-scale energy storage, when paired with renewable energy like solar power, can keep the lights on when the electric grid at large goes down. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Storage, New Jersey, Smart Grid | 3 Responses, comments now closed

White House Meeting on Climate Change Resilience Shows National Commitment

Source: The White House

Source: The White House

Today, the White House is hosting an event highlighting its commitment to boosting resilience among communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change. EDF commends the White House for taking steps to make climate change preparedness and resilience a national priority, especially since this has mostly been a regional issue dealt with in areas affected by severe weather events, such as New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

At the event, federal agencies, businesses, researchers, and academia, among others will discuss plans to use data-driven technologies and leverage freely available government data to develop products and services that will help the country better prepare for the effects of climate change. The event will showcase insights gathered from scientific data as well as cutting-edge technologies built by American innovators that are essential to better understanding and managing the risks posed by climate change. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid | Comments closed

PACE Financing for California’s Clean Energy Future, Part 1: Expanding the Residential Market

Scott_Hofmeister-287x377-228x300When it comes to protecting the environment and fighting climate change, California has always been a first mover.

Now the state is boldly acting to unleash a new market that saves energy, cuts pollution, and drastically increases clean energy investment for California’s residents.

Last week, California approved a $10 million reserve that will revive the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program for residential customers.

PACE allows customers to take advantage of energy saving upgrades to their home with no money down. Customers simply use a portion of their savings to pay off the investment over time through their property tax bill. Financing can be entirely provided by private lenders at no cost to taxpayers. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, On-bill repayment | Tagged | 2 Responses, comments now closed

‘Utilities 2.0’: The Future May Be Sooner Than We Think

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Source: NASA Earth Observatory

Last month, I had the pleasure of moderating a panel called “Utilities 2.0: The Role of Distributed Generation and Demand Response in Evolving Utility Business Models.” The topic may sound esoteric, but to the more than sixty people in attendance, and at least fifty more watching online, the event, which was sponsored by clean energy networking group Agrion, offered insight into how these options will in a not-too-distant future revolutionize the way all of us consume electricity.

The energy industry is abuzz with talk of how distributed generation, which enables consumers to draw power from on-site sources, such as rooftop solar, and demand response, which rewards customers who use less electricity during times of peak demand, are transforming the electric utility industry. A once-in-a-generation paradigm shift is already in motion, and exactly how it will play out is anyone’s guess. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Dynamic Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models | 2 Responses, comments now closed

Minnesota Advances First Statewide Plan to Fairly Value Rooftop Solar

rp_iStock_Solar_Installer-300x270.jpg

Most people do not typically associate Minnesota with abundant sunshine, but after a landmark decision by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) yesterday the sun is definitely shining on this snow-swept state. The PUC established the first statewide program to fairly value investments in rooftop solar electricity generation. I listened to a portion of the public meeting and oral arguments, which lasted several hours and demonstrated much thoughtful work. Through a refreshingly civil display of democracy and Midwestern hard work, state officials, utilities, and the solar and environmental community were able to hash out a method for valuing solar resources that are key to a clean energy future.

Yesterday’s decision dealt with the ongoing debate over how much solar power is worth to a utility, its ratepayers, society, and the environment. The PUC did not establish a set price for a statewide solar tariff, but rather the method to be followed when utilities calculate how much to pay for electricity generated by rooftop solar systems. Minnesota utilities will now have the option to file tariffs using this method instead of net metering, the more common but controversial and less scalable cousin of the “value-of-solar” (VOS) tariff.

Read More »

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Illinois Shows Clean Energy Leadership by Fast-Tracking the Smart Grid

SmartMeterIn a victory for Illinois residents and the environment, Commonwealth Edison Company (ComEdtoday formally proposed to the Illinois Commerce Commission an accelerated timetable for completing its deployment of four million smart meters. ComEd began installing smart meters last fall as part of the Energy Infrastructure and Modernization Act of 2011. With this proposal, the Illinois utility will complete its meter installation almost five years earlier than planned.

Modern, smart electricity meters are a key component of the smart grid. These devices help eliminate huge waste in the energy system, reduce overall and peak energy demand, and spur the adoption of clean, low-carbon energy resources, including wind and solar power. By enabling two-way, real-time communication, smart meters give every day energy users, small businesses, manufacturers, and farmers (and the electricity providers that serve them) the information they need to control their own energy use and reduce their electricity costs. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Dynamic Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Illinois, Smart Grid, Utility Business Models | Tagged , , | Comments closed

Is Clean Energy Technology Booming? Five Reasons It Is.

To see the full infographic, go to greentechmedia.com.

By: Benjamin Schneider

You may have heard about the recent 60 Minutes segment that inexplicably reported the cleantech sector was in steep decline. There are quite a few reports out there breaking down the many fallacies of that segment, with most correctly concluding the sector is not dead, it is in fact booming and evidence of that surging momentum is everywhere you look. Consider these five examples that show just how good things are for cleantech these days:

1.  The solar industry is booming.

The facts are unequivocal: the solar industry is alive and well. According to a new report and infographic released this week by Greentech Media Research and the Solar Energy Industry Association (SEIA), 2013 was a banner year. Read More »

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Funding the Future with a California Green Bank

rp_Brad_Copithorne-199x300.jpgTwo weeks ago, State Senator Kevin de León introduced a bill to establish the first “Green Bank” in California, a bold proposal that would unleash low-cost financing opportunities for clean energy projects throughout the Golden State.

I recently had the opportunity to testify at a hearing on the bill to discuss the best practices for green banks across the country and how the program would work in California.

First, a bit more on Green Banks:

At its core, the program is a clean energy finance bank set up by the state, designed to enable increased investment in clean energy projects and companies by working closely with the private sector to remove financial or structural barriers.   The goal is simple: increase the amount of clean energy at a low-cost and encourage private investment by reducing the overall risk of clean energy projects. Read More »

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Changing Times for Electric Utilities

Source: Edison International

Source: Edison International

Two seemingly unrelated announcements drew much attention in the electric utility industry recently. First, the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) (the trade group for the U.S. electric utility industry) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) jointly recommended changing how utilities should be regulated. Second, Duke Energy announced it will sell 13 Midwest merchant power plants. These announcements are actually related because they both result from the same dramatic changes affecting the electric utility industry. As Bob Dylan aptly noted, “the times they are a-changin’.” Regulators and other stakeholders must be prepared to address these changes.

Under the traditional business model, electricity usage grew steadily. Utilities built ever-larger plants to serve this growing load. The bigger plants were more efficient than existing plants, so the unit cost for electricity steadily declined. Utilities benefited by steadily increasing their revenues. Customers benefited from declining unit costs. For utility customers, it was like paying a lower price per gallon of gasoline every time you filled your tank.

But this traditional model is crumbling, due to several factors: Read More »

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Hawaii Taps On-Bill Repayment Program for Clean Energy Financing and Job Creation

Source: The Green Leaf

Source: The Green Leaf

EDF has been advocating for states to establish On-Bill Repayment (OBR) programs that allow property owners and tenants to finance clean energy retrofits directly through their utility bills with no upfront cost. California and Connecticut are working to establish OBR programs, but Hawaii is expected to beat them to the punch. Hawaii’s program is critical as electric rates are about double the average of mainland states and most electricity has historically been generated with dirty, expensive oil.

Given the potential of OBR to lower electricity bills, reduce that state’s carbon footprint, and expand job growth in the clean energy sector, EDF has been working closely with Hawaii and multiple private sector investors for the past year to develop their OBR program. Once formally launched later this spring, Hawaii’s program will be one of only two in the nation, preceded by New York who enacted their program in 2011.

Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, On-bill repayment, Utility Business Models | Tagged , | 1 Response, comments now closed