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Whether you love or hate natural gas, stopping methane emissions now is crucial

The International Energy Agency’s new 2017 World Energy Outlook contains the agency’s strongest language yet about the urgent need to reduce methane emissions from the oil and gas sector, and the huge opportunities that exist to do so.

Some have taken issue with IEA projections on the overall role of natural gas, suggesting they are beyond what is environmentally sustainable. Others think IEA is underestimating growth potential. Whatever you believe the trajectory for gas is — or should be — the benefits of reducing methane emissions are both enormous and irrefutable.

The good news: IEA estimates the industry can reduce their worldwide emissions by 75 percent – and that up to two thirds of those reductions can be realized at zero net cost. “These emissions are not the only anthropogenic emissions of methane,” says the report, “but they are likely to be among the cheapest to abate." Read More »

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Data reveals real-time electricity pricing would help nearly all ComEd customers save money

Over the past few years, Illinois has taken great strides to not only modernize its electric grid, but also to provide people and businesses with access to energy data.

In February, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) approved the release of anonymous, aggregate energy-use data on a large scale, broken out in half-hour increments, 24 hours a day. Sensing an opportunity to unlock innovation, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Citizens Utility Board (CUB), Illinois’ utility watchdog, dove into that treasure trove of granular data.

Specifically, we wanted to see how the customers of Illinois’ largest electric utility, ComEd, would have fared under a “real-time pricing” program in which power prices change hourly. Anonymous data from over 300,000 homes revealed several interesting tidbits that we’re sharing in our new whitepaper, The Costs and Benefits of Real-Time Pricing.

Most importantly, the study shows that real-time prices would have saved 97 percent of customers money in 2016 – even if the customers made no changes to how they use electricity. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing| Leave a comment

We already know which grid fixes can keep lights on during bad storms. Here are 3.

After a record-breaking hurricane season and catastrophic wildfires in California, the vulnerabilities of our electric system – and the urgent need to upgrade it – have never been clearer.

It took more than 10 days of around-the-clock work to restore electricity to 350,000 customers after fires struck California wine country last month. Returning service to all 4.4 million power customers in Florida after Hurricane Irma took almost as long – and 70 percent of Puerto Ricans still lack power six weeks after Hurricane Maria.

Such crippling outages contribute to $250 billion in economic losses globally every year.

But there are solutions available on the market today that can reduce the impact of these outages. By investing in technologies that modernize our electric grid, and with careful planning, we can also create a cleaner and more efficient electricity system overall. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Grid Modernization, Renewable Energy, Voltage Optimization| Tagged , | Comments are closed

Methane momentum builds, time for Canada to follow through with strong action

The call to reduce oil and gas methane emissions landed a one-two punch this week that should provide Canada all the motivation it needs to get ahead of this global trend and prepare its energy industry for the future.

First, the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) World Energy Outlook analysis stated the future of the natural gas industry will depend on “industry demonstrating credibly that methane emissions from oil and gas operations are being minimised.” IEA reports as much as 76 million metric tons of methane is emitted around the world each year from both oil and gas facilities. For customers and companies, that’s $34 billion dollars of lost product and profit. There are also significant health and air quality benefits to reducing these emissions as hazardous air pollutants and smog-inducing toxins are removed when companies control methane pollution.

IEA also highlighted that a 75 percent reduction of those emissions is possible today using existing technologies. To put that in context, a reduction on that order would have the same short term climate impact as removing all the vehicles in the world from the road. For all of us, it’s one of the quickest and most affordable opportunities to slow climate change. Read More »

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Three reasons Westerners are fighting to defend federal methane waste standards

Westerners are a hardy bunch. They are used to working through adverse conditions and making the best of what the land provides. That includes fighting to defend requirements from the U.S. Bureau of Land Management that are designed to cut wasted natural gas and maximize revenue for community projects. This is despite repeated attempts from the Trump Administration to undercut these regulations and sell taxpayers short.

Here are three reasons communities and individuals from across the Mountain West are fighting to defend methane waste rules:

  1. Westerners hate waste: $1.8 billion and counting. That’s the value of taxpayer-owned natural gas that has been wasted since 2013 when the BLM began developing a new set of standards to address this problem. The rules finalized last November would help cut that waste and recover millions more in tax and royalty revenues for the western communities faced with impacts from oil and gas development that need it most.

Read More »

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Data shows two companies stand alone in their New England pipeline practices

This blog post was co-authored with Levi Marks and Matthew Zaragoza-Watkins

Earlier this month we—a  team of economists at EDF, UC Santa Barbara, University of Wyoming and Vanderbilt University—released  a new study on the natural gas pipeline markets in New England which revealed a distinctive pattern showing that local gas utilities owned by two companies—Eversource and Avangrid—routinely ordered large deliveries, then sharply reduced those orders at the last minute. This “down-scheduling” consistently came too late for anyone else to buy that capacity, thus limiting available gas supply in the wholesale market.

One question people ask: Were these two companies acting any differently from other firms, and how can you tell?

We approached this question as we would any research project by thoroughly investigating the data. Over 18 months, we analyzed scheduled gas flows for all 117 delivery points (nodes) on the Algonquin pipeline for every hour of every day in a three-year study period from August 1, 2013 to July 31, 2016, which we downloaded from the pipeline’s public reporting web site. In total, we looked at approximately eight million data points generated from the scheduling patterns of 18 local gas utilities owned by 11 parent companies.

What we found in those public data was clear and irrefutable. Local distribution companies owned by two of those parent companies—and only utilities belonging to those parents—consistently behaved differently than all the others. We don’t know why, but there’s no question that it occurred. The pattern is clear when you visualize the data. Read More »

Also posted in Gas to Clean, Natural Gas| Comments are closed
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