Texas Cities Lead on Solar, But Tapping The State’s Potential Has Just Begun

Mueller_austin_solar_array1Last year solar power saw unprecedented growth and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. So where is much of this growth happening? In one word: cities.

In a new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group, Shining Cities 2016 identifies the urban centers fostering growth in solar energy, and the policies and programs that can maximize solar potential. The cities that topped the list were, not surprisingly, primarily from the sunshine-abundant Pacific region, followed by an equal amount of cities from the Mountain, South Central and South Atlantic regions. These centers of connectivity and growth are major electricity consumers, and therefore important movers in the transition to a clean energy economy.

But there are still vast amounts of untapped solar potential in the U.S. – specifically 1,118 GW, which equates to 39 percent of total national electricity sales (enough to power over 782 million homes a year) – according to a study on “rooftop solar power generating capacity potential” by National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The same study stated that Los Angeles, the city currently with the most solar capacity, could host up to 42 times its current solar capacity, providing up to 60 percent of the city’s electricity. This staggering amount of renewable energy is possible in other cities across the U.S. as well – even in unlikely states, such as Texas. Read More »

Posted in California, Electricity Pricing, Solar Energy, Texas, Utility Business Models| Read 6 Responses

Clean Energy Conference Roundup: May 2016

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Each month, the Energy Exchange rounds up a list of top clean energy conferences around the country. Our list includes conferences at which experts from the EDF Clean Energy Program will be speaking, plus additional events that we think our readers may benefit from marking on their calendars.

Top clean energy conferences featuring EDF experts in May:

May 5:  Regional Plan Association Assembly (New York, NY)
Speaker: Rory Christian, Director, New York Clean Energy

  • Each year, RPA brings together more than 1,000 civic and business leaders from around the New York metropolitan area to discuss major issues affecting the prosperity and quality of life in the region. This year’s assembly includes preliminary recommendations of the Fourth Regional Plan: a long-range vision for the shared prosperity of the New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut metropolitan region. It will also outline actions the region should take to ensure sustainability, good governance, and shared prosperity over the next 25 years.

Read More »

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Ohio Failed to Protect Customers and Markets – So Federal Regulators Came to the Rescue

columbus-898928_1280The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently rejected Ohio-based utilities FirstEnergy and AEP’s bailout deals, which the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) recently approved. FERC, which is responsible for ensuring fair wholesale electricity prices, recognized that these backroom bailouts were “abusive,” taking advantage of “captive” customers and harming the competitive market. Fortunately, FERC’s rulings protect customers and markets – which the PUCO utterly failed to do in approving these deals.

FirstEnergy and AEP wanted these bailouts to protect their old coal and nuclear plants, which are losing money because they cost more to operate than the money received from power sales. The companies considered shutting down the plants, but they concocted the backroom bailout deals in a last-ditch attempt to keep them open and money rolling in. Read More »

Posted in Ohio, Utility Business Models| Read 6 Responses

Four Reasons We Can’t Wait to Plug the Leaks

IMG_4801From articles in top media, to diverse state leaders taking action, there has been a noticeable uptick in public attention on the need for methane pollution limits on the oil and gas industry over the past few months.

It’s great to see growing national and international interest being brought to an issue that was deserving of attention many years ago. But we need to move faster to rein in this problem.

Why the urgency? Here are four reasons:

  1. Americans across the country are seeing the impact of an uncontrolled oil and gas industry on their air quality.
  2. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Read 3 Responses

The True Cost of Electricity: What We’re Not Paying for Through Our Utility Bills

image oneThe price we all pay for electricity generally does not reflect the “true costs” of producing it. As described in a recent blog post, generating electricity creates harmful pollution, damaging the environment and public health. This comes with a cost, but it is not necessarily paid for by those generating the pollution or purchasing the electricity. These types of costs are known as “external costs.”

For example, a coal-fired power plant releases pollution into the atmosphere, which adversely affects the health of residents in nearby communities. This pollution is an example of an external cost because it causes health problems that neither the plant owners nor the electric users pay for (unless they live near the plant and pay the cost through their health bills).

From coal mining and energy production, to distributing and using that energy, to disposing of waste products, electricity has many external costs. By examining them, we can better understand the true cost of electricity and how it varies depending on the technology or fuel used to generate it. Read More »

Posted in Electricity Pricing, General| Read 13 Responses

Texas Methane Leaks are a Problem—for California

CA TXAliso Canyon was a big methane release, especially in Los Angeles, but in the grand scheme of methane released every day by the nation’s oil and gas industry, it was a blip. And recent footage from Texas, coupled with a new study of over 8,000 oil and gas wells gives a glimpse at the kind of leaks that are happening outside of California’s borders – leaks that have huge implications for the state.

The Texas infrared footage shows a cloud of methane leaking from a pump jack in an oil field in Texas’ Permian Basin. While these smaller leaks may not be as egregious as the one at Aliso Canyon, they often go undetected and unaddressed, adding up to a large amount of pollution. And as these leaks happen in Texas – with little plans to stop them – the climate footprint of the gas supply system continues to increase.

So what does this have to do with California? California imports nearly 90 percent of its natural gas from regions across western North America, with a large portion coming from Texas production areas like the Permian and Anadarko basins. To put it another way: when it comes to the climate, what happens in Texas doesn’t stay in Texas. So even while progress is happening to cut oil and gas pollution in the Golden State, there is still a lot of work to be done to make sure imported gas isn’t responsible for significant climate damage before it gets here. Read More »

Posted in Methane, Natural Gas| Read 3 Responses
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