Energy Exchange

California bill aimed at wildfires effectively bans clean energy that may help prevent them

California experienced one of the worst wildfire seasons in its history last year. In response to widespread devastation, the state’s legislature introduced a bill last week, SB 1088, requiring regulators to establish fire risk reduction and mitigation standards for utilities. Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) strongly supports compensating Californians harmed by the fires and taking steps to prevent future fires. However, as currently written, the bill includes unnecessary provisions that would severely limit Californians' access to distributed energy resources. Ironically, these are the tools that can help the state more quickly and cheaply fight climate change – a large contributor to its fire risk. Read More »

Posted in General / Read 1 Response

California’s disadvantaged communities could benefit from time-of-use electricity prices, but it won’t happen automatically.

By Lauren Navarro, senior policy manager, and Jamie Fine, senior economist

It’s no secret that California is a clean energy leader. The state is on track to meet its renewable energy goals, with many utilities hitting targets ahead of schedule. In order to transition to a system that can handle increased levels of clean energy like solar and wind, we need innovative solutions to take advantage of these resources. One low-cost solution is to change how we pay for electricity – making it cheaper when it is powered by clean resources and more expensive when powered by fossil fuels with time-of-use pricing. Utilities are on their way to bringing this to Californians, piloting the new rates in advance of a full rollout in 2019 and building on the successful rollout of these rates to commercial customers a few years ago.

For many Californians, the shift to time-of-use pricing will be new, but not impact their bills very much and could even save them money, particularly for people who live along the coast. However, for some customers – communities with lower incomes in hotter areas of the state that are more vulnerable to possible summertime bill increases – shifting when they use electricity can be harder, and without help their costs could increase. Rightly, lawmakers and regulators have pushed for extra attention for these vulnerable customers as the state moves toward time-of-use rates. While utilities acknowledge this discrepancy as an issue, none are offering sufficient, robust solutions (you can learn more about this in our recent blog).

A new bill introduced last week by California Assemblymember Joaquin Arambula would add that utilities must consider how time-of-use rates could impact low-income customers in disadvantaged communities before putting them on the new rates. It is vital to protect the most economically and environmentally vulnerable Californians from financial hardships. And the answer is not easy. All Californians stand to benefit from rates that could lower pollution and integrate more renewables – yet, we don’t want to heedlessly roll-out the rates in a way that results in higher electricity bills for customers with low incomes. Read More »

Also posted in California, Clean Energy, Demand Response, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Equity, Time of Use / Comments are closed

Oil and gas front group fails to read fine print on climate pollution…again

Last week, EDF released a new analysis, based on current, peer-reviewed science, that estimates methane emissions from Pennsylvania’s oil and gas sites are nearly five times higher than what industry reports to the state’s Department of Environmental Protection. If you look strictly at emissions from unconventional well sites – emissions are twice as high as what companies report.

Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas, Pennsylvania / Comments are closed

Markets offer solutions to New England energy challenges

A recent report published by ISO-New England, the Operational Fuel Security Analysis, has certainly grabbed the region’s attention.

“The ISO has been able to maintain power system reliability during severe winter conditions without using all its emergency procedures,” the report says. “However, the evolving generation mix is increasingly susceptible to variable and uncertain factors.”

The study looks ahead at the 2024/2025 time frame, examining 23 scenarios for coal, oil, gas, nuclear and renewable sources. While it says the system is maintaining a delicate balance for now, “study results suggest that in the future, New England could be headed for significant levels of emergency actions, particularly during major fuel or resource outages.”

Although EDF doesn’t necessarily agree with all the assumptions in the study, ISO New England is asking the right questions at the right time. So what are the best policies and actions we can take to ensure the New England utility grid is clean, reliable, and resilient?

Read More »

Also posted in Natural Gas, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

Five things to watch as industry tackles methane in 2018

As we close out 2017, we are energized by successes in our work with oil and gas industry partners. And as we look forward to a new year and a fresh start, here are five things we’ll be looking for as industry leaders step up methane action in 2018.

  1. Target setting

This year, 10 leading companies through the Oil and Gas Climate Initiative supported the ambition of achieving “near zero” methane emissions, and committed to set quantitative methane targets in 2018. This was an important and welcome moment as CEOs upped their methane pledge. 2018 will be a key year for follow through in establishing and announcing those targets. We will look for targets that are ambitious, innovation-forcing, and linked to credible plans for verification. We will also look that this action addresses emissions from both oil and gas production, as the International Energy Agency’s data shows that more methane emissions comes from oil production than from gas production. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Four takeaways for investors from methane disclosure report

Two big developments this month suggest that investor interest in climate-related financial risk is at an all-time high. The first is Climate Action 100+, a new initiative led by Ceres and 225 investors with more than $26.3 trillion in assets under management to strengthen climate-related financial disclosures among the world’s largest corporations.

As investors work to increase reporting on climate risk, methane emissions will be top of mind. Methane, the main component of natural gas, is 84 times more potent than carbon dioxide when released to the atmosphere over a 20-year period – and is responsible for 25 percent of the warming we’re experiencing today. Read More »

Also posted in Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed