Energy Exchange

How location-based prices and utility rewards could help California’s electric grid

By Larissa Koehler, Jamie Fine

Distributed energy resources, from rooftop solar panels to smart well-weatherized homes and timed electric vehicle charging, are vital pieces of the clean energy puzzle. Coordinating how and where to encourage them in a way that benefits the electric grid, the environment, and Californians can be complicated. In its’ Integrated Distributed Energy Resource proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) recently asked stakeholders [PDF] to “consider how existing programs, incentives, and tariffs can be coordinated to maximize the locational benefits and minimize the costs of distributed energy resources.”

This key step forward in the proceeding is potentially a big deal. Why? Rocky Mountain Institute’s report puts it this way [PDF]:

“More granular pricing, capable of reflecting marginal costs and benefits more accurately than today’s rates do, will provide better incentives to direct distributed resource investments, regardless of whether investments in and management of [distributed energy resources] are undertaken by customers, by utilities, or by third-party service providers.”

By reflecting both costs and benefits in retail prices that electricity customers pay, California can modernize the grid while spurring the efficient and fair build out of distributed clean energy resources. This can help the state substitute traditional and inflexible polluting resources [PDF] with a variety of more nimble distributed energy resources where the grid can handle them. What’s more, distributed energy resources can lead to cleaner air in areas traditionally burdened by higher levels of harmful air pollution. They can achieve all this while bolstering the electric grid and protecting the health of the environment and of Californians. Read More »

Posted in California, Clean Energy, Energy Innovation / Comments are closed

New regional emissions study offers insights into New Mexico’s oil and gas emissions problems

A new study from the Western Regional Air Partnership — a collaboration of state, tribal, and local air agencies, the Environmental Protection Agency, federal land managers, and other local stakeholders — finds methane emissions from New Mexico’s oil and gas facilities are higher than previous estimates and notes regulations could help address the problem.

The research draws on data reported by states, tribes, and the oil and gas industry, and finds oil and gas companies emitted 816,980 tons of methane and smog-forming pollution in 2014 – significantly more than what the industry reported to the EPA.

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Posted in BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas, New Mexico / Comments are closed

Tech for change video series: Sensing solutions

This post is part 5 of EDF’s Tech for Change series, which aims to spotlight the way pollution-sensing technology can protect public health and the environment in California. Watch part 4.

Pollution from oil and gas production can pose serious health risks to nearby communities. In Los Angeles, nearly 600,000 people live within ½ mile of an active oil well. That’s why a combination of smart policy and smart technology is needed to safeguard the region’s public health.

The good news is that California is already a national leader on environmental issues – and it must continue to be one as it listens to and cares for communities near urban oilfields. These communities are standing up and demanding clear air and the accurate, real-time pollution monitoring that can make it a reality.

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Posted in Air Quality, California, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

North Dakota has a flaring problem that even industry recognizes

Last year, oil and gas companies in North Dakota flared over $220 million worth of natural gas. That’s enough to heat over 1 million homes and meet North Dakotans’ heating needs seven times over.* It was also enough to convince the North Dakota Petroleum Council (NDPC), an industry coalition, to reconvene its flaring task force.

The irony is that North Dakota already has flaring reduction targets on the books. They were created in 2014, at a time when the state was wasting one-third of the natural gas it produced. These rules set a series of gas capture targets, which were proposed by NDPC, and gave the state the authority to curtail the oil production of operators that failed to meet those targets. But since the rule’s implementation, North Dakota operators have allowed nearly $850 million of natural gas to go up in smoke.*

So why aren’t North Dakota’s flaring restrictions consistently working?

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Posted in BLM Methane, Methane, Natural Gas / Comments are closed

Three key takeaways from Ground Water Protection Council’s latest report on oil and gas regulations

Aerial footage shows the footprint of oil and gas development across the U.S. landscape.

A recent report is helping shine a spotlight on three emerging issues facing the oil and gas industry and the agencies that regulate development practices.

The triennial report, funded by a consortium of government, industry and nonprofit stakeholders including EDF, was developed by the Ground Water Protection Council, an organization of state regulators working to protect the nation’s groundwater resources. The report surveys 300+ water protection strategies from 27 state oil and gas agencies. It evaluates how those strategies have evolved over time and identifies key issues for policymakers to consider going forward.

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Posted in Natural Gas, produced water / Comments are closed

Clean energy boom played key role in recent U.S. carbon emissions drop, study shows

After rising for nearly two decades, carbon dioxide emissions from United States energy use began to fall sharply and unexpectedly in 2007.

For years now, experts attributed this decrease to the drop in energy demand during the economic recession that began late that year, and to the huge surge in cheap natural gas that displaced coal in our energy mix during this period. But they overlooked another key change that drove the drop in emissions just as much: the rapid rise in renewable energy production.

By 2013, our country’s annual carbon dioxide emissions had decreased by 11 percent – a decline not witnessed since the 1979 oil crisis. Our research shows that the growth of renewable energy sources accounted for 31 percent of that 640-million metric ton carbon drop.

The impact from renewables is just below the 34-percent contribution the switch from petroleum and coal to natural gas made to the emissions decline – a fact that, until now, has previously gone largely unrecognized.

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Posted in Clean Energy, Renewable Energy, Solar Energy, Wind Energy / Comments are closed