Selected category: Smart Grid

Community Choice Programs Empower Electricity Customers in New York and Beyond

By: Paul Fenn, Founder and President of Local Power Inc.

solar panelNew 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 »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Financing, New York, Renewable Energy, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Want to See EDF at SXSW Eco 2015? Cast Your Vote!

Vote-croppedEvery year, SXSW Eco – one of the most high-profile environmental conferences – selects its programming based on votes from the public. This means anyone, regardless of whether you submitted a panel, can cast a vote.

This year, seven experts from Environmental Defense Fund are featured on dynamic panels that cover everything from solar equity and new utility business models to innovative building efficiency programs and the threat of methane pollution. To make sure EDF and energy-related programming is represented at the conference in Austin, TX this October, we are asking our readers to please vote for your favorite EDF panels and presentations. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Climate, Demand Response, EDF Climate Corps, Energy Efficiency, Energy-Water Nexus, General, Illinois, Methane, Natural Gas, Renewable Energy, Texas, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Coast to Coast and Across the Electric System, Microgrids Provide Benefits to All

Source: via Wikimedia Commons

Source: via Wikimedia Commons

Microgrids are getting a lot of attention. Yet how they’re developed could dramatically alter today’s electricity system.

At the most obvious level, microgrids could disrupt today’s utilities and their regulated-monopoly business model, because they challenge the centralized paradigm. In a nutshell, microgrids are localized power grids that have the ability to disconnect from the main, centralized grid to operate independently when the main power grid experiences disturbances. This significantly boosts grid resilience. For almost a century, large centralized power plants have generated electricity and delivered that energy over high-voltage transmission lines to customers. But with microgrids, all that could change.

Less obviously, microgrids challenge the basic assumption that the power grid must be controlled by a monopoly electric utility. Multiple microgrids on the south side of Chicago, for example, could be owned by different entities (not just a utility or even a platform provider, which would provide an exchange between customers and distributed energy generators) with contract arrangements among them controlling the sharing of power. Put another way, microgrids open the distribution system to some level of competition and, thereby, engage entrepreneurs and advance innovation. Read More »

Also posted in Illinois| Tagged | Read 3 Responses

What Tesla's Powerwall Home Energy Storage Battery Means for Texas

Source: flickr/genphys

Source: flickr/genphys

There is enough solar energy potential in Texas to power the world twice over. Yet currently we rank 10th in the nation (behind New Jersey) with 330 megawatts (MW), which is enough to power about 57,000 homes. Texas is a state of almost nine million households. That's a lot of rooftops, and when you add the number of commercial and industrial rooftops, parking lots, and garages, we are talking about a significant amount of surface area.

Meanwhile, the cost of solar panels has dropped 80 percent since 2008 and prices for rooftop photovoltaic (PV) systems have declined markedly in recent years, dropping 29 percent from 2010 to 2013. Moreover, jobs in the solar industry are booming –SolarCity is hiring significantly more people than leading tech companies like Twitter.

So, what will it take to energize rooftop solar growth in Texas? Well, a recent announcement from one of Texas' “frenemies” may be part of the solution. Read More »

Also posted in Texas| Tagged , , | Read 4 Responses

The Story of Demand Response

GridDefection-COMPRESSEDDemand response. It’s a cost-effective energy resource that pays customers to use less energy. Few people even know exists, but it invisibly impacts the life of so many Americans. It’s a clean energy resource that embodies precisely what electricity can and should be: cleaner, cheaper, and more efficient than traditional fuel sources.

We’ve written about demand response at length, discussing a potential case before the U.S. Supreme Court involving the resource and what the road ahead could look like. Today, however, we’re telling the story of how the resource got here. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

What do the New Apple Watch and Home Energy Monitors have in Common?

apple watch lwyang flickrThe new Apple Watch, which went on sale last Friday, is attracting huge attention. Among many other features, the watch will monitor your health by tracking fitness and activity, like the Fitbit. In its first day on the market, nearly one million were sold.

The popularity of this wearable device speaks to a larger trend happening in technology that one might call “life tracking”: the ability to track, analyze, and hone your personal activities through the use of connected devices. From fitness to finance, technology like the Apple Watch is enabling more choice and efficiency than ever before. And, just as fitness wearables monitor our personal activity, other devices can monitor our home energy activity – leading to an array of cost-saving and environmental benefits.

Home energy monitors

The Nest thermostat is one of the most well-known home energy monitors. It learns how you like to set your home temperature, and then automatically programs itself to follow your patterns.

For example, if you work an office job and are away from home nine to ten hours a day, the Nest thermostat may cycle the air conditioner down to increase the home temperature a couple of degrees during the day while you’re gone, and then automatically reduce the temperature an hour or so before you return to re-establish your preferred home temperature. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing| Tagged | Comments are closed
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