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A roadmap for a clean, modern grid – The 6 areas that should guide our efforts

Everyone has a role to play in fighting climate change. Farmers can use new methods to rotate their crops that keep more carbon safely in the ground. Consumers can act with their wallets – buying goods and services that produce less carbon than competitors. Our elected officials, of course, have a lot of influence in setting the narrative and enabling support for climate progress.

But around the country, in municipal buildings, state offices, and corporate headquarters, separate groups of people are busy designing and implementing changes that could have the biggest impact of all: a better, smarter, more modern grid.

Improving our electricity system could be the single largest climate fighting opportunity we have. But it’s not as simple as just putting solar panels on rooftops. Our grid was built over a century ago by different companies, cities, and co-ops. Pieces of it are owned and run by a dizzying web of stakeholders. Even if we could snap our fingers and spur all of these pieces to action, each player would manifest different versions of a “modern grid.”

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) thus released a guide titled, “Grid Modernization: The foundation for climate change progress” [PDF], which outlines the six key categories that make up a sustainable grid modernization strategy. All of them are connected, either physically or digitally, or by legislation, regulation, or management. Most importantly, they’re connected by efficiency: If each of them is executed well, the whole grid modernization process will yield the best, most reliable, most affordable, and cleanest electricity system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Climate, Data Access, Electric Vehicles, Energy Innovation, Energy Storage, Grid Modernization, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed

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 »

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Ohio’s Electric Grid is Getting Smarter, Thanks to AEP

power lines unsplashAfter a century in use, the American electric grid is on the precipice of transformation. The technology is here and customers are ready, but we need a modernized grid to unlock the clean energy future. Fortunately, utilities like AEP Ohio are taking advantage of the potential to lower pollution and customers’ energy bills by updating – and upgrading – their operations.

For the past several years, AEP Ohio has been thoughtfully implementing grid modernization, and the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) today approved a settlement in the utility’s program. In a win-win for the environment and customers, AEP Ohio’s grid modernization plan will result in less energy waste, as well as significant customer benefits that greatly exceed the program costs: Every dollar spent will produce nearly three times as much in savings. Read More »

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How Maryland Tackles Grid Modernization Could Have Big Impact

15671323838_0aac227627_bThe need to plan for and design a more efficient, cleaner, and resilient electricity grid has never been greater. Our aging grid is ill-prepared to keep pace with rapid technological advances and an increasingly distributed, dynamic energy system. A greater number of customers are producing electricity themselves, demanding expanded energy choice and a more interactive relationship with their utilities. In the meantime, an increased number of severe storms in recent years keep pressing the need for resilience. In order to meet these challenges, we need to look beyond traditional planning solutions for how we make, use, and distribute electricity.

This year has seen a flurry of activity on grid modernization in states across the U.S. As 2016 comes to a close, the spotlight is on Maryland as it joins the ranks of states investigating how to transform our electric system. Read More »

Also posted in Clean Energy, Data Access, Energy Innovation, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed

2 Steps We Can Take Right Now to Modernize Pennsylvania’s Electric Grid

PowerLinesEach year, dozens of utilities across the U.S. embark on a complicated process called a “rate case.” Presented to a state public utility commission (PUC), a rate case is a utility’s pitch for higher electricity prices for customers. For most utilities, a rate case only happens once every several years. So, all sides argue for the rules of the road by which the utility will operate until the next rate case. A rate case is also where state and local governments, along with consumer and environmental advocacy groups, seek cleaner, cheaper, and more customer-friendly prices, products, and policies.

The Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission (PPUC) is currently hearing a rate case for Metropolitan Edison (Met-Ed), which serves 560,000 residential and commercial customers, and represents one of the Pennsylvania utility branches of Ohio-based mega company FirstEnergy. Last month, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed testimony in the case urging Pennsylvania to modernize its grid with both voltage optimization and customer data access. The PPUC should require Met-Ed to implement both programs so Pennsylvanians can benefit from a clean, modern electric grid.

Read More »

Also posted in Grid Modernization / Comments are closed

Indiana Formally Approves Duke Energy’s Grid Modernization Plan

grid

UPDATE: Since the March 2016 publication of this original blog post, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) last week issued an order officially approving a settlement agreement Environmental Defense Fund, along with several other stakeholders, helped negotiate for Duke Energy’s grid modernization plan. The IURC’s order approved the settlement (details of which are outlined in the post below) without change. Now Duke Energy can proceed with the $1.4 billion plan, which will bring many clean energy benefits to Duke’s 800,000 customers.

Help is on the way to reduce harmful pollution in Indiana, which has the seventh highest level of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.

Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) joined a settlement filed this week for Duke Energy’s grid modernization plan. The settlement calls for Duke – the largest utility in the country, which serves over 800,000 Indiana households – to invest $1.4 billion over the next seven years to improve its electric grid. Doing so will deliver major benefits for Duke’s customers. Read More »

Also posted in Demand Response, Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models / Comments are closed