Selected category: Smart Grid

A Stealth Tool to Modernize the Electric Grid

Electricity regulators, clean energy innovators, and rappers have all lamented poor communication. And some have pushed for cleaner, cheaper, more reliable solutions for meeting our energy needs. This is particularly so with the much anticipated emergence of a new kind of non-event based, price-responsive demand response (DR), or flexible DR.

Whereas traditional DR signals customers to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their energy use at times when the electric grid is stressed, this type of DR does that and more. The big difference? It signals customers, their appliances, and their electric vehicles to increase their energy use when electricity is clean, plentiful, and cheap.

For example, electric vehicles can be programmed to charge at mid-day when the sun is bright and solar energy is at its peak, and use that stored energy when the sun sets. Better yet, many of our cars, homes, and appliances can be programmed to monitor grid conditions in real time, via the Internet, and respond accordingly by charging or defecting. Also known as a “set-it-and-forget-it” feature, this function enables the seamless integration of flexible DR while also supporting the full potential of energy efficiency measures and distributed energy resources (DERs), like rooftop solar and energy storage.

The seamless and stealth nature of this type of DR, which can be largely automated by tools and service providers, is something neither the customer nor the utility have to think about. It’s like a secret agent, operating behind walls and wires to find the greatest energy (and cost) saving-potential. Regulators need to unleash this “secret agent DR” by rewarding it fairly and efficiently in the energy marketplace, giving it a “license to thrill” in households and businesses across California. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Storage, Renewable Energy, Time of Use| Leave a comment

California Utilities Plan for a Cleaner Electric Grid

California’s “big three” utilities are taking importasolar instalnt steps toward achieving a clean energy future – one in which we will better utilize renewable sources of energy, give customers more choice and control, and keep the state on course to cut pollution.

One way they are doing this is through Distribution Resource Plans (DRPs). Signed into state law in 2014, DRPs are roadmaps for California’s investor-owned utilities – including Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric – to incorporate more distributed energy resources, like rooftop solar and electric vehicles, onto the grid. Each investor-owned utility in California is required to develop a DRP, and the big three submitted their initial plans on July 1, 2015 – a milestone in and of itself.

Upon analysis, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) sees the DRPs as a considerable step in the right direction. However, there are aspects of the plans we think could be improved to ensure California’s electric grid is able to take full advantage of already existing and future distributed energy resources.   Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, General| Tagged , , , , | Comments are closed

Finding a Balanced Solar Policy in Kansas

Black_&_White_Handshake_-_Still_from_the_film_Colour_Blind_(2009)How does a utility company structure charges for the electricity it sells? That depends on where you live, and across the country, utilities are filing for rate increases with state agencies and commissions. The utility’s charges may be some combination of a fixed monthly fee, a fee based on the volume of electricity used, and a fee connected to the customer’s peak energy use.

Westar Energy in Kansas is one example of a utility company filing for rate increases. The company recently asked the Kansas Corporation Commission for permission to increase the fixed monthly charge for residential customers. That’s not unusual in itself, but the amount of the fixed charge increase was shocking.

Westar also proposed a special rate structure squarely aimed at residential customers with solar panels, essentially penalizing them for using clean energy and discouraging more people from installing solar panels.

Environmental Defense Fund disagreed with Westar’s approach, and we filed expert testimony with Kansas regulators explaining why. Westar finally reached a settlement with the other stakeholders – and our recommendations were instrumental in eliminating the utility’s proposal to impose discriminatory rates on solar customers. Last week the Commission issued the order to approve the settlement. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, General| Tagged , , , | Read 1 Response

3 Ways the Clean Power Plan Will Strengthen Our Economy

cleanenergymarket_378x235_0On Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the Clean Power Plan, the first initiative of its kind to curb carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from existing U.S. power plants. By improving air quality, the plan promises to prevent 90,000 childhood asthma attacks and avoid up to 3,600 premature deaths each year – without compromising economic growth. In fact, the Clean Power Plan is an incredible economic opportunity that states can’t afford to miss.

By limiting power plants’ “free pass” to pollute, EPA projects their Plan will deliver billions of dollars in environmental and public health benefits each year – and that’s just the start. Here are three ways in which the Clean Power Plan will work to strengthen states’ economies and accelerate many of the clean energy trends already underway: Read More »

Also posted in Clean Power Plan, General, Renewable Energy| Read 2 Responses

Don’t Write Off Energy Efficiency. It’s Just About to have its Day.

By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant

pgegreenenergy-smartmeterA few days ago, economists from the University of Chicago and the University of California, Berkeley released a study that called into question the cost-effectiveness of energy efficiency. The study was based on the team’s analysis of energy savings shortfalls in the Michigan low income Weatherization Assistance Program. Since then, a host of articles have used the study’s results to call into question the value of utility-sponsored energy efficiency programs.

While this study did raise some thought-provoking points, it also contained biased assumptions and reached conclusions that far exceed its scope, lumping together market-based efficiency with low-income weatherization programs. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Illinois, Investor Confidence Project| Read 14 Responses

Empowering Pennsylvanians through Increased Energy Data Access

Source: Green Button

Source: Green Button

Data may be the most promising and powerful tool to advance energy efficiency, but we’ve barely begun to scratch the surface of its potential. Fortunately, more and more customers across the country are obtaining access to information on their electricity usage and pricing data, and Pennsylvania may be one step closer to harnessing this resource.

EDF and Mission:data – a national coalition of technology companies that advance the use of energy data – recently encouraged the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) to empower customers with data in an electronic form. Specifically, we are proposing the PUC adopt the Open Access Data Framework, which clarifies the type of electricity usage data all Pennsylvania customers and authorized third-parties have access to and how the data should be provided. Based on widely-adopted national standards, the Framework can help Pennsylvania effectively utilize and get the most out of its energy data.

Data, technology, and potential savings

Data access is central to customers realizing value from a utility’s investments in advanced energy measurement, and technology can further unlock the potential. But most people do not have the time to become an expert energy analyst simply to identify cost-effective efficiency opportunities. Therefore, most of us will rely on technologies, such as smart thermostats, and third parties to digest and synthesize meter data into actionable steps that increase efficiency, save money, and cut pollution. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Pennsylvania| Comments are closed
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