Energy Exchange

How location-based prices and utility rewards could help California’s electric grid

By Larissa Koehler, Jamie Fine

Distributed energy resources, from rooftop solar panels to smart well-weatherized homes and timed electric vehicle charging, are vital pieces of the clean energy puzzle. Coordinating how and where to encourage them in a way that benefits the electric grid, the environment, and Californians can be complicated. In its’ Integrated Distributed Energy Resource proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) recently asked stakeholders [PDF] to “consider how existing programs, incentives, and tariffs can be coordinated to maximize the locational benefits and minimize the costs of distributed energy resources.”

This key step forward in the proceeding is potentially a big deal. Why? Rocky Mountain Institute’s report puts it this way [PDF]:

“More granular pricing, capable of reflecting marginal costs and benefits more accurately than today’s rates do, will provide better incentives to direct distributed resource investments, regardless of whether investments in and management of [distributed energy resources] are undertaken by customers, by utilities, or by third-party service providers.”

By reflecting both costs and benefits in retail prices that electricity customers pay, California can modernize the grid while spurring the efficient and fair build out of distributed clean energy resources. This can help the state substitute traditional and inflexible polluting resources [PDF] with a variety of more nimble distributed energy resources where the grid can handle them. What’s more, distributed energy resources can lead to cleaner air in areas traditionally burdened by higher levels of harmful air pollution. They can achieve all this while bolstering the electric grid and protecting the health of the environment and of Californians. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Sensing solutions

This post is part 5 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 4.

Pollution from oil and gas production can pose serious health risks to nearby communities. In Los Angeles, nearly 600,000 people live within ½ mile of an active oil well. That’s why a combination of smart policy and smart technology is needed to safeguard the region’s public health.

The good news is that California is already a national leader on environmental issues – and it must continue to be one as it listens to and cares for communities near urban oilfields. These communities are standing up and demanding clear air and the accurate, real-time pollution monitoring that can make it a reality.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Game changer

This post is part 4 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch parts 1, 2, and 3.

Los Angeles has long been a city defined by creativity and innovation. Now, that same spirit of innovation promises to help the region tackle the threat of pollution from the 3,500+ active oil and gas wells in LA County.

Technical advances are driving down prices and increasing the precision of pollution monitoring technology, which could enable industry and communities to understand what chemicals may be leaking from nearby oil and gas equipment. According to Elias Tobias of Safety Scan USA, “We are seeing the first wave of lower cost, real time oil and gas pollution monitors right now. Other waves will come and make it even better, faster, and cheaper.”

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Left in the dark

This is part 3 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 2 or 4.

Los Angeles sits atop the nation’s largest urban oilfield, and over 3,500 oil and gas wells are sprinkled throughout LA County. They exist in neighborhoods ranging from posh Beverly Hills to less affluent areas like Compton, but not all of these wells are created equal.

More affluent areas benefit from stronger regulations that minimize the impact of oil and gas development, but there is often much less oversight of wells that sit in lower-income neighborhoods. It’s a difference one can’t help but notice:

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: No peace of mind

This post is part 2 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 1 or 3

Oil and gas operations have existed for decades in California’s Central Valley and the greater Los Angeles area, but many people may not realize that over 3,500 active oil and gas wells dot LA County alone. These wells exist near schools, hospitals, and homes – which is cause for concern since oil and gas wells are known to emit dangerous chemicals like benzene, a known carcinogen.

So, what’s being done to ensure we have accurate, timely information about pollution coming from these oilfields? Very little. Few regulations require pollution monitoring at California’s oil and gas wells.

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Also posted in Air Quality, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

The most important thing California can do with its clean energy could be to share it

Not often is running the electric grid as simple as applying lessons from childhood. Right now it is ─ California is learning to share with its neighbors. A bill currently in front of the Legislature from California Assemblymember Chris Holden, AB 813, aims to build a better trading platform to share California’s extra solar power with nearby states like Oregon, Washington, and Nevada, which would then share their extra wind, solar, and hydropower resources with California.

It is like the lunch table you sat around as a kid – one where you can trade that banana pudding that overflows at your house for one of your neighbor’s chocolate chip cookies. It’s a delicious deal, where everybody wins.

That deal just got better. Holden’s office yesterday released new language which represents an important, positive step in the process of creating a regional electric grid for the West. This includes key requirements and protections to ensure a regional grid lowers harmful greenhouse gas emissions and supports California’s climate and energy goals – helping the state and its neighbors to move towards a low-carbon future. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Energy Innovation, Regional Grid / Read 2 Responses