Category Archives: Smart Grid

Four Ways the U.S. Military Can Adopt Clean Energy for National Security

USArmy

Ribbon cutting ceremony for the Fort Carson solar array. U.S. Army photo by Michael J. Pach.

At the U.S. Defense Department, the multiple national security threats created by sea level rise and severe weather command daily attention; climate change has been on its radar for years.  The recently published Quadrennial Defense Report (QDR), an assessment of U.S. defense readiness, addresses the growing threat that climate change poses to military capabilities and global operations. Adding to that, the newly released Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report states that extreme weather events will begin occurring more frequently across the globe. As first responders in the wake of extreme weather events, the U.S. military will be called upon to provide emergency support and services for a large portion of them.

The timing of these reports highlights a growing defense challenge but also provides an opportunity for the Defense Department to lead from the front in climate change mitigation and adaptation. Read More »

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Changes to Electricity Systems Will Enhance U.S. Grid Reliability

Cheryl Roberto PhotoLast Thursday morning, with my heart quickly jumping, I entered the grandeur of the United States Senate hearing room for the Committee on Energy and Natural Resources’ Keeping the lights on — are we doing enough to ensure the reliability and security of the US electric grid? hearing as an invited witness. I was eager to share EDF’s vision of a cost-effective, clean energy system that enhances reliability − but I couldn’t help being a little awed by the moment. I had never testified on Capitol Hill before and the dignity of the setting and importance of the message I wanted to share weighed on me.

Here are the high points of my testimony (though you can read it in full here):

  • The nation’s electricity system stands at a transformative crossroads: The costs of distributed generation technologies like rooftop solar and battery storage are falling and energy productivity is rising. In our digital world, people have increased demands for power quality and reliability, but needs for power quantity are predicted to fall – mostly due to “gains in appliance efficiency and an increase in vehicle efficiency standards by 2025.” As a result, our system is transforming from a one-way, centralized power delivery network in which customers passively receive electricity to a two-way flow of both power and information in which customers both receive and produce electricity. The very model of centralized, utility-scale power generation is no longer sacrosanct. The electricity systems we built in the last century, and the regulations that govern them, are no longer adequate – neither to ensure reliability, or to accommodate the rapid changes in technology, consumer needs, environmental standards, and the changing marketplace. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Utility Business Models, Washington, DC | Leave a comment

Resiliency+ Series: A Highlight of Clean Energy Technologies that will Strengthen New Jersey’s Electricity Grid

Source: Greenpeace, Tim Aubry

Source: Greenpeace, Tim Aubry

Improving energy resiliency has become critically important throughout the United States – particularly in the Northeast, where devastating events like Superstorm Sandy debilitated our electricity grid. States are searching for ways to create a stronger, smarter, and more flexible energy infrastructure, so that storm damage can be minimized and restoration times shortened. Doing so, however, is no small task. Ensuring that the lights stay on in critical facilities like hospitals, emergency shelters, and water treatment facilities requires innovative thinking, as well as a forward-looking instead of reactive approach to our power sector.

The issue is critical for New Jersey

New Jersey was among the worst hit when Superstorm Sandy pummeled the East Coast eighteen months ago. The state suffered more than $30 billion in damage, most of it along the Jersey shore, while an estimated 2.6 million households across the entire state lost power, many of them for weeks. Five days after Sandy hit, a third of New Jersey’s homes and businesses still did not have electricity. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, New Jersey | Leave a comment

Fossil Fuel Industry's Tired Battle Against Clean Energy is Also a Losing One

Source: Alternative Energies

Source: Alternative Energies

The assault on successful renewable energy legislation continues, long after the facts have proven that state renewable policies deliver clean, affordable, and reliable energy solutions that the majority of Americans support. Apparently, the fossil fuel industry and its so-called “free market” allies didn’t get the memo.

There’s a great line in the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s 2000 blockbuster Gladiator where a soldier says to his general, as they are about to slaughter an overmatched foe, “People should know when they’re conquered.” The general replies, “Would you? Would I?”

So I can’t really blame the fossil fuel industry for fighting old battles in an effort to undo approaches that have increased investment in renewable energy in states around the country, created thousands of jobs, and continue to lower energy costs with each passing day. Read More »

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Roberto Rocks the House (and the Senate Too): Why Protecting Ohio’s Clean Energy Standards is Imperative

Source: American Insurance Association

Source: American Insurance Association Flickr

Cheryl Roberto, Associate Vice President and leader of EDF’s Clean Energy Program, recently testified before the Ohio Senate Public Utilities Committee against S.B. 310, which would freeze Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewable energy standards at current levels. Sen. William Seitz, the Committee Chair, described her testimony as “passionate,” “very persuasive” and “thought provoking.”

Roberto described how the electric grid has changed. The old model, in effect for the past hundred years, relies on one-way power flows from large, centralized utility power plants, with limited customer service options and limited information available to customers on their energy usage. The new model involves two-way power flows between the utility and customers who own small, on-site solar, wind, and combined heat and power units. Customers receive detailed, real-time energy usage and price information. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Efficiency, Ohio, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models | Tagged | 5 Responses

UPDATE: Demand Response Helped Texas Avoid Rolling Blackouts in the Face of Polar Vortex

Source: KXXV

Source: KXXV

Good news for clean energy in Texas!

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), Texas’ power grid operator, presented a report to its Board of Directors this week confirming what we already knew: demand response is a worthwhile investment that strengthens Texas' power grid.

Demand response is an innovative tool used by utilities to reward people who use less electricity during times of peak, or high, energy demand. In effect, demand response relies on people, not power plants, to meet the demand for energy. And on January 6th when the Polar Vortex hit Texas, it did just that. Read More »

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Let’s Remove Roadblocks to North Carolina Solar Energy

Source: Gray Watson, http://256.com/solar/

Source: Gray Watson, http://256.com/solar/

Earlier this year, North Carolina considered providing the aerospace giant Boeing with incentives and other tax credits worth up to $2.5 billion if the company built a new manufacturing facility in the state. Given the high cost of attracting industry and jobs, North Carolina should be removing roadblocks instead for one of the fastest growing sectors already in the state – solar energy.

One recent study ranks North Carolina #2 in the country for total solar investment, and another ranks it as #3 in the country for the total amount of solar energy installed in 2013. This represents significant amounts of private capital being put to good work, creating jobs and making our farms, homes, and businesses more energy independent. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Financing, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models | Tagged | 1 Response

Demand Response Is the Best Cure for Texas’ Ailing Grid

Source: North America Power Partners

Source: North America Power Partners

The Texas Public Utilities Commission (PUC) has, yet again, kicked the can down the road on securing reliable energy to power the state’s growing population. The PUC, the state agency charged with managing electricity rates, meets to securely plan for the future, yet they continue to delay planning meetings. This will benefit no one in the short or long-run. To secure reliable power and safeguard against threats of blackouts, the PUC needs to keep pace with the times and leverage technologies that require little to no water, generate negligible carbon emissions, and can respond to the call for electricity.

Last week, the PUC decided to postpone indefinitely an important meeting, originally scheduled for May, to discuss Texas’ recent blackout scares. The PUC has been in a heated debate over Texas’ electricity market structure, and in the midst of backlash from stakeholders, they have decided to push the decision onto the Legislature in 2015. This is not necessarily in the best interest of the state. Texans were asked to conserve energy several times this winter after colder temperatures forced heating units to ramp up. This request to turn down thermostats for threat of rolling blackouts came at the same time the state power grid operator assured Texans that reliability is on the upswing. But it’s time Texas faces the facts. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Texas | Tagged | Comments closed

Conference on Clean Energy Financing Signals a Shift in Funding the Low-Carbon Economy

Source: eProGuide

Source: eProGuide

In 2010, I began working on financial policy at EDF. Our objective was to implement policies that would allow private sector companies to profitably deliver financing solutions to residential and commercial property owners footing the upfront cost of money-saving energy efficiency and clean distributed generation (such as rooftop solar) projects. While the residential solar market was already gaining steam at the time, most of the other markets had very limited momentum. But after attending the clean energy finance conference that EDF co-hosted yesterday with Citi, energy efficiency solutions provider Elevate Energy, and law firm Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, it appears that the market for financing clean energy projects is beginning to accelerate rapidly.

The agenda featured 12 private companies from the clean energy sector (Kilowatt Financial, Clean Power Finance, Renovate America, AFC First Financial Corp., Renewable Funding, Clean Fund, Joule Assets, Noesis Energy, SCIEnergy, Metrus Energy, Hannon Armstrong, and Honest Buildings), plus a few more in the audience, that are executing a wide range of transactions using Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), On-Bill Repayment, Energy Services Agreements (ESAs), and many other innovative techniques to fund the transition to a low-carbon economy. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project, New York, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy | 1 Response, comments now closed

Gigafactory Proves that Tesla is Ahead of the Clean Energy Curve, But Does Texas Stand to Benefit?

Source: Texas Public Radio

Elon Musk, Tesla CEO, speaking to Texas Legislature in 2013. Source: Texas Public Radio.

Disruptive technologies tend to follow a certain trajectory. First, they are outliers, often ignored, and typically on the cusp of never entering the market. But, for the successful ones, a tipping point is ultimately reached, after which the technology goes viral and changes the status quo it was designed to replace. In the new energy revolution, Tesla is one such company that has surpassed the tipping point and threatens to change the way we produce, distribute, and consume electricity.

It isn't just Tesla's sleek and beautiful electric vehicles that will be key to disrupting the status quo. At a current price point of around $80,000, most people en masse won’t be able to afford a Tesla, even though the company has plans to develop more affordable models. But what makes Tesla unique, besides the strange genius of CEO Elon Musk, is the potential diversification of its offerings, highlighted recently by the company's announcement to build the GigaFactory, a $5-billion battery factory that will employ 6,500 workers.

Set to open in about three years, the new GigaFactory will be large enough to manufacture more lithium-ion batteries than the entire industry produces now, and due to its sheer scale, is expected to reduce the cost of batteries by almost one-third. Read More »

Also posted in Electric Vehicles, Energy Storage | Tagged | 1 Response, comments now closed