Selected category: Utility Business Models

Why this Utility Giant's $4-billion Coal Bailout is an Ill-Fated Energy Strategy

Clean energy investments are soaring worldwide, and the United States is no exception with $56 billion going toward renewable generation in 2015, an 8-percent increase over the year before.

So why are some utilities going against this trend – and risking a contest against more progressive competitors that are gaining market share at their expense?

To understand why, it helps to have a closer look at Ohio-based FirstEnergy, a large investor-owned energy company with operations in six states that has become the poster child for resistant utilities.

The FirstEnergy case also illustrates why companies that refuse change won’t be able to stop the rising clean energy tide, no matter how hard they try. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, FirstEnergy, Ohio| Leave a comment

How Battery Technology and Crowd-Sourced Energy Can Save Our Aging Grid

By: Karin Rives

Not too long ago, making and selling your own electricity via rooftop solar was a novelty. Today, with 784,000 homes and businesses in the United States already on solar, such transactions are taking place every day in 44 states.

Now comes Bring Your Own Battery

Also posted in California, Electric Vehicles, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy| Comments are closed

10 Clean Energy Trends that Prove 2015 was a Transformative Year

Back in September when the New York Times declared 2015 “the year humans got serious about climate change,” we knew they were on to something. But as we near the end of 2015, it’s hard to believe we’ve accomplished as much as we have in just 12 months.

This momentum culminated in representatives of 195 nations agreeing in Paris to act together on world knowledge of climate change. This historic agreement will aim to reduce global greenhouse gas emissions, report transparently, and review and strengthen standards every five years. EDF President Fred Krupp stated, “It sends a powerful, immediate signal to global markets that the clean energy future is open for business.”

Though history proves “hindsight is 20/20,” historians just might look back at 2015 as the year everything changed for clean energy. Here’s a look at some of the top trends that fueled climate action by governments, investors, corporations, individuals, cities, utilities, market analysts, real estate professionals, and cleantech leaders in 2015. [Click through the following slideshow to see the trends.] Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Electricity Pricing, Energy Efficiency, Energy Financing, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage| Comments are closed

Pennsylvania Continues Moving toward Smarter, Cleaner Electric Grid

Just in time for the hSolar-3-2011_11_17_0003 morgueolidays, the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) quietly gave the gift of more affordable electricity to millions of Pennsylvanians.

PECO Energy Company, a leading Pennsylvania utility, had requested a significant distribution rate increase – meaning higher bills for its approximately 1.6 million electric customers. After months of discussion, last week the PUC approved a settlement with a lower rate increase and a directive for PECO to hold a series of collaborative meetings with all interested parties on revenue decoupling, or separating a utility's profits from its sales. Decoupling suggests a system in which utilities are rewarded based on the overall service they provide, rather than the amount of electricity they sell.

The PUC’s decision represents a win for grid modernization and distributed energy resources like energy efficiency, energy storage, and rooftop solar in the Keystone State. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, Pennsylvania| Comments are closed

3 Ideas That Could Shape Our World After The Paris Climate Negotiations

The Paris climate negotiations can set the stage for a global shift on climate change – when our world’s emissions finally stop rising, level off, and begin to fall.

There is reason to be optimistic: from China to the United States, from Europe to South Asia, countries are coming together with commitments to cut climate pollution. And so are cities, companies, investors, entrepreneurs – and even moms. That’s real momentum that could open a new era for how we make and use energy.

The real action starts after we all go home from Paris with the biggest question coming out of COP-21: Now what? I want to share three specific ideas for the future – ideas that could accelerate access to clean energy.

First, the biggest barriers today lie in how to deploy the technology we have or will soon have.  Solar panels, “smart” buildings, electric cars – the cost of these technologies is on its way down. Yet we still face problems of scale, because barriers in policy and finance limit the ability of clean technologies to deploy in ways accessible to everyone. Read More »

Also posted in Climate, Energy Financing, Investor Confidence Project| Tagged | Comments are closed

Utilities’ Rate Designs Can Help or Harm Solar Adoption

Solar_panels_on_house_roof_winter_viewA recent study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) concludes that the way a utility charges customers can greatly influence whether they will install solar panels. It is a timely analysis because utilities across the country are redesigning their rate structures to accommodate our changing electricity system, which is becoming cleaner and more efficient than ever before.

What’s unfortunate is that some utilities are intentionally trying to destroy customers’ incentive to install solar panels. Why? Because rooftop solar reduces shareholder profits and revenue for utilities.

Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), a solar industry trade group, reports that in 2014, residential customers installed solar panels at an astounding 36 percent growth rate compared to 2013. But the LBNL study says the rate design changes now being proposed by utilities across the country could slash solar panel growth up to 60 percent. Clearly, poorly designed rate changes could devastate the potential for solar panels to help transform the electricity sector. Regulators should not let this happen.

Utilities have the opportunity to change their rate design to provide incentives for more solar adoption while also recouping investments and properly balancing their books. Read More »

Also posted in Electricity Pricing, Solar Energy| Comments are closed
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