Energy Exchange

Closing the information gap on Texans’ energy burdens

As summer approaches in Texas, it may be hard to recall that just this January, temperatures hovered at or below freezing for as long as 64 straight hours. Texans used the most electricity ever over the course of one hour, setting a record in energy use as people reached for their thermostats and cranked the heat. For some in the state, however, this was simply not an option.

People in the lowest income brackets regularly have to choose between keeping their homes at a comfortable temperature and other everyday necessities, like putting food on the table – especially in a state like Texas with extreme temperatures. Low-income households that heat with electricity spend four times more on utility bills, as a percent of their income, compared to the average American. This “energy burden” (the percent of a person’s income spent on energy) highlights the devastating reality that many people face, as well as presents an opportunity for cleaner, smarter energy to help lower electricity bills.

Enter the Texas Energy Poverty Research Institute, or TEPRI, a nonprofit organization seeking to first understand the burden that energy costs place on low-income households, and then propose practical, equitable solutions. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) is proudly partnering with TEPRI to advance this mission, starting with conducting a sociodemographic study to provide a detailed understanding of Texans with low incomes and their relationship to energy. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Equity, Texas / Comments are closed

New York breathes easier as plans emerge for electrification, starting with new city buses

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) in New York City, operator of the largest bus fleet in the United States, recently announced a plan to adopt a zero-emissions electric vehicle (EV) fleet by 2040. This news is a welcome breath of fresh air. Transitioning away from diesel-fueled buses will improve the quality of life for all New Yorkers in numerous ways. But the question remains: Why will it take more than 20 years?

The deadline is likely a result of the MTA’s need to determine how best to integrate EVs into their current operations while maintaining, and improving, quality of service. There are a myriad of logistical and operational aspects to consider before making a full transition. These considerations will be identified during the agency’s bus pilot, scheduled to start with 10 EV buses this year and planning to expand to 60 buses within the next three years.   Read More »

Also posted in Air Quality, Electric Vehicles, New York / Read 2 Responses

New study answers the question, ‘What is grid resilience?’

By Rama Zakaria, Michael Panfil

Whether or not our electric grid is “resilient,” and what if anything should be done to make the grid more resilient, has been a topic of intense scrutiny in the past year.

The stakes in this debate reached new dimensions last fall with a highly controversial proposal by Sec. Rick Perry and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), which claimed that the resilience of the electric grid is threatened by the premature retirement of uneconomic coal and nuclear plants. DOE’s flawed proposal – to bail out these plants through a profit-guarantee mechanism – was considered and unanimously rejected in January by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the agency charged with overseeing our nation’s electric grid. DOE’s proposal, in short, was an incredibly bad idea.

When FERC dismissed DOE’s proposal it opened a new proceeding, asking a series of questions around the topic of grid resilience.

A Customer-focused Framework for Electric System Resilience, a new report authored by Alison Silverstein and Grid Strategies, aims to answer these questions. The report, commissioned by Environmental Defense Fund and Natural Resources Defense Council, recommends a customer-centric framework for evaluating electric system resilience and concludes that the most effective resilience solutions center upon the wires connecting the grid: distribution, and to a lesser extent transmission. By contrast, generation-related solutions – like keeping dirty coal and uneconomic nuclear plants online past their retirement dates – are the least effective for improving resilience. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, FirstEnergy, Grid Modernization, Market resilience, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

California’s legislative session could be huge for state economy and world climate

This year’s legislative session here in California is poised to be a wild ride in clean energy – more ideas, intertwining issues, and intrigue are developing than in the last 10 years. A signal that the state’s clean energy policy is coming of age, leaders and significant players are weaving all of the separate programs together and answering major policy questions. This progress can have a major impact on both California and the world around us.  It’s like Pangea, spreading apart and creating the new world – only much faster.

A game-changer for the West

Take AB 813 by Assemblymember Chris Holden, for example. The bill would create a regional electricity market in the West – something that would combine the state’s desire to expand its clean energy and climate policy and the need for all states, including California (with its high expectation for renewable resources), to balance and run their grids more affordably and effectively.

It is a policy solution that thinks large and small – taking into account the out-of-state pollution reductions necessary in order for California to move the needle on its climate goals while preserving participating states’ and communities’ control over their resource choices. Read More »

Also posted in California / Read 1 Response

New Jersey’s leaders pave the way for a clean energy future

New Jersey’s legislature voted on two important bills last week related to the state’s energy future. One will boost clean energy like renewables and energy efficiency, create jobs, and cut pollution. The other subsidizes two nuclear plants indefinitely. Both bills passed. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) enthusiastically supported the clean energy bill, but withheld our support for the nuclear bailout.

New Jersey deserves a clean, healthy, and prosperous future, and we need a plan to make it happen. The clean energy bill is such a plan. The details may be complex, but the result is simple: It prepares the state for the inevitable retirement of nuclear plants by accelerating the adoption of renewable energy and energy efficiency. The nuclear bailout is flawed and wasteful. It should have been fixed. Read More »

Also posted in Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, New Jersey, Solar Energy / Read 2 Responses

As moratorium on North Carolina wind power winds down, economic opportunity appears on the horizon

I’ve never been more optimistic about wind power in North Carolina and the benefits it will bring our state. And, given that we’re in the middle of a very unfortunate 18-month moratorium on wind project permits, that’s saying something.

I’m optimistic because the benefits of wind power are making themselves crystal clear. Here are few of the highlights:

More money for individuals and communities

In Pasquotank and Perquimans counties, Avangrid Renewables — the operator of the Amazon Wind Farm — has become the largest taxpayer after just one year of operation. Avangrid’s $520,000 annual local tax payments provide a big boost for the community, because they create new opportunities for investments in local schools, fire departments, and public safety services. Read More »

Also posted in North Carolina, Wind Energy / Comments are closed