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
On 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
By: Matt Golden, Senior Energy Finance Consultant
A 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
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
‘Disruptive’ is a favorite word among entrepreneurs and innovators, but start-up companies like Airbnb and Uber truly have disrupted long-standing industries over the past few years. Beyond their youth and success, what further links these two companies as well as many others (such as Teespring, Postmates, Patreon, and Verbling), is the way they empower people.
Exemplified by Airbnb and Uber, among others, is a new kind of business model that is revolutionizing many sectors, including how we get our electricity. Just like hotel and taxi industries, these disruptive, decentralized trends are taking hold in energy – affording people more choice, enabling existing resources and technology, and empowering people to veer from the traditional provider of services. Moreover, they even allow some people to make money in ways that didn’t exist until recently. Read More
By: Paul Fenn, Founder and President of Local Power Inc.
New York has embarked on a major energy reform that will change the way electricity is produced, distributed, and priced in the state. The effort, called ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ (REV) has the potential to scale up the use of local renewable energy resources and widely deploy energy efficiency technologies, reduce energy bills, and give customers greater control over their energy use.
New York’s REV effort would change the longstanding utility business model that relies on a one-way, centralized power grid delivering electricity to customers, most of it generated by aging, polluting power plants. Under this model, the environmentally-conscious customer has little say over how her energy is produced. Read More