Selected category: Texas

Transforming the Electric System to Reduce Costs and Pollution

electrical-power-linesBy: Beia Spiller and Kristina Mohlin

Electricity markets around the world are transforming from a model where electricity flows one way (from electricity-generating power plants to the customer) to one where customers actively participate as providers of electric services. But to speed this transformation and maximize its environmental and cost benefits, we need to understand how customer actions affect the three distinct parts of our electric system: generation, transmission, and distribution. Read More »

Also posted in California, Electricity Pricing, Grid Modernization, New York, Utility Business Models| Read 7 Responses

Why Texas Leaders Should Maintain Clean Energy Tools

wind turbines unsplashIn terms of clean energy, Texas is incredibly resource-rich. And as our wind progress shows, we have begun to maximize that potential: The Lone Star State currently produces nearly three times as much wind energy as the next highest state.

How did Texas arrive at the forefront of the wind energy economy? One factor that undoubtedly played a vital role: the creation of an ahead-of-its-time policy tool that required the identification of Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ), as well as the construction of transmission lines to move energy from the CREZ to electric customers.

Since West Texas has plentiful wind but not as many people, this initiative aimed to transport that wind energy to populous cities throughout the state. The rules allow the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) to designate an area with abundant renewable energy as a CREZ, and then approve new transmission lines or improvements to existing ones. In 2008, the PUCT exercised this authority and the resulting power lines – completed in 2014 – stretch nearly 3,600 miles, moving clean, renewable energy across the state while improving the overall reliability of the electric grid.

However, despite these successes, the PUCT recently proposed to dismantle the rules related to CREZ and the approval of new transmission lines, which would be a significant affront to the state’s thriving wind industry – including the revenue and jobs that come with it. Right now, there are no proposals to expand the designation of CREZ and develop additional power lines to those zones. But with the rapidly changing energy landscape, it makes more sense for state leaders to maintain CREZ capabilities in their toolkit, rather than undoing a successful energy development policy. Read More »

Also posted in Renewable Energy, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

Clean Energy Conference Roundup: April 2016

rp_conference-300x2001-300x200.jpgEach month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in April:

April 4:  Energy Power Dialog (Austin, TX)
Speaker: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy

  • Participate in a national dialog on energy being hosted at universities across the United States. The Power Dialog will engage approximately 10,000 students in face-to-face conversation with state-level regulators and policy experts in all 50 states about the federal Clean Power Plan (CPP), which requires 32 percent cuts in global warming pollution by 2030. At the University of Texas at Austin, EDF’s John Hall will co-lead the dialog that helps students understand the positions for and against the Clean Power Plan: Why does Texas oppose the CPP? Why should Texas support it? This is not a lobbying or advocacy event, but rather a way to engage students in an important learning opportunity.

Read More »

Also posted in Colorado, Conference Roundup, New York, North Carolina| Comments are closed

Forget Taco Wars – the Real Competition is Over Who is Using Water More Wisely

Guadalupe_river_Hunt_TXSan Antonio and Austin just called a cease-fire on a taco war over which city invented the breakfast taco. Both make excellent tacos: from the traditional chorizo and egg taco in San Antonio to a free-range egg and organic spinach taco in Austin. But this debate was about more than just tacos – it was about the history and culture of these two neighboring cities.

Only 80 miles apart, San Antonio and Austin have some significant differences. San Antonio is known as “Military City USA” largely due to its huge military bases, but it’s also known for other industries like biotech, military medical centers, and a dynamic business relationship with Mexico. The capital city’s economy, on the other hand, is based on high-tech, entertainment, state government, and the behemoth University of Texas at Austin. San Antonio is one of the largest Hispanic-majority cities in the country (at 63 percent in 2010), while Austin’s diversity comes in large part from people flocking to the Capitol from all over the state and country. As someone with roots in both San Antonio and Austin, I appreciate both – I’m an equal opportunity taco lover.

But both cities share an important commonality: exploding population growth. The population of the 13 counties that make up the Austin-San Antonio corridor is estimated to increase by 77 percent by 2050, to 6.8 million people. Extreme growth brings intense pressure on resources and services, particularly water in this drought-prone region. Both cities are standing up to that challenge through careful water conservation measures and by advancing clean energy. Read More »

Also posted in Energy-Water Nexus, Solar Energy, Wind Energy| Comments are closed

Clean Energy Conference Roundup: March 2016

rp_conference-300x200.jpgEach month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in March:

March 9: Clean Power Plan or What Next? Symposium & Workshop (Houston, TX)

Speaker: John Hall, Texas State Director, Clean Energy

  • Join a group of high level executives for a discussion on the issues arising from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed Clean Power Plan and its regional impact.

March 16-17: California’s Distributed Energy Future 2016  (San Francisco, CA)

Speaker: Jamie Fine, Senior Economist, U.S. Climate and Energy

  • As distributed energy gains steam in California, state regulators, policymakers, utilities, and distributed energy resource providers are shaping the rules, regulations, and markets that will ensure the transition is speedy and smooth. Greentech Media is partnering with More Than Smart to host actionable conversations on the future of electricity in an innovative state.

March 16: 2016 Building Energy Summit® (Washington, DC)

Speaker: Ellen Bell, Manager, Midwest Clean Energy

  • Building owners, energy experts, and technology pioneers will come together at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, DC to address the business and social drivers for more energy efficient buildings. Ellen will participate in a discussion on how to analyze portfolio data for energy saving opportunities, how to prioritize initiatives based on payback, and how to align your efforts with a corporate environmental policy. Read More »
Also posted in California, Conference Roundup, New York, Pennsylvania, Washington, DC| Read 2 Responses

Why Isn’t Texas Saving Energy and Water through Solar Floatovoltaics?

floatovoltaics flickrSymbiosis – in which different species have a cooperative or mutually beneficial relationship – is everywhere in nature: honeybees receive vital nutrients from flowers while delivering pollen (male) directly to the female parts of the flower; pilot fish gain protection from predators, while sharks gain freedom from parasites; and dogs protect their owners, while receiving food and shelter. Cited by some scientists as a major driver of evolution, symbiosis has played an important role in the mutual survival of certain species.

Two elements in nature that are also very symbiotic are energy and water: It takes water to produce and distribute energy, while energy is used to treat, pump, and distribute water. This inextricable link is knowns as the energy-water nexus. Yet, energy and water planners do not treat these important resources as symbiotic “species,” resulting in a lot of waste – something we cannot afford with climate change on the rise.

Floating solar panels atop bodies of water, or the cleverly nicknamed “floatovoltaics,” are a possible solution for both energy and water challenges. The panels help to reduce evaporation of water – critical in hot, dry places like Texas and California – and the water helps to keep the panels cool, increasing their efficiency. Plus, compared to more traditional fuel sources, solar PV requires little to no water to produce electricity. Incorporating more solar energy and relying less on coal or natural gas means greater water savings overall.

Floatovoltaics seem like a win-win solution, but it’s not being deployed on a large scale yet. Some countries and U.S. states have surged ahead in testing this technology. So why isn’t a state like Texas, with big reservoirs, crippling droughts, and lots of solar potential, taking this bull by the horns? Read More »

Also posted in Energy-Water Nexus, Solar Energy| Read 2 Responses
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