3 Insider Clues that Demand Response is the Key to a Clean Energy Future in California and beyond

California is at the forefront of the clean energy revolution. Innovative policies have helped make the state number one in solar installations and clean tech, and meet the 33 percent renewable energy goal early. This has provided the courage to set a course for half of the Golden state’s electricity to be renewably-sourced by 2030. Three new clues indicate that demand response (DR) will be the key that unlocks our clean energy future.

Traditional demand response signals customers to voluntarily and temporarily reduce their energy use at times when the electric grid is stressed. But there are also other types of demand response that signal customers, their appliances, and their electric vehicles to increase their energy use when electricity is clean, abundant, and cheap. I refer to it as “secret agent DR” because of its stealth quality. Its automated nature allows customers to benefit from demand response without having to think about it on a daily basis. Instead third party companies provide this service through enabling technologies. Read More »

Posted in California, Demand Response, Grid Modernization| Comments are closed

New York’s Standby Tariff: Standing in the Way of Distributed Energy?

AeonSolarcityviewLate last month, New York took a major step toward rethinking utility economics when it issued the “Order Adopting a Ratemaking and Utility Revenue Model Policy Framework” (also known as Track 2 Order). This action aims to better align New York’s electricity system with Reforming the Energy Vision (REV), the state’s initiative to transform the electric grid into a cleaner, more efficient, and affordable system.

But buried in this 180-plus page document is another important development for New York’s clean energy future: Nearly 10 pages are dedicated to re-examining the state’s controversial standby tariff.

Frequently cited as a major obstacle to distributed power generation (e.g. combined heat and power (CHP) systems, rooftop solar panels, energy efficiency, and storage), the standby tariff is a special electricity rate charged to large commercial and industrial customers who produce some of their own electricity but remain connected to the grid. While utilities say they need standby tariffs to recover the costs of maintaining a reliable electric grid, many potential and existing large electricity customers producing their own power see standby tariffs as perversely designed to undermine the business case for distributed generation.

Unless the standby tariff is fixed in a manner that clears the way for investment in customer-owned and sited distributed generation, it will be hard to make REV’s revolutionary vision for a decentralized, competitive electricity market a reality. Read More »

Posted in Electricity Pricing, Energy Storage, New York, Solar Energy, Utility Business Models| Comments are closed

Clean Heat, Clean Air in Westchester County, New York

New York City may not be the place that comes to mind when you think of clean air, but NYC has done tremendous work in improving air quality – and now our neighbors in upstate Westchester County are following suit.

Seeing the positive health impacts from the phase-out of highly polluting heating oil in NYC, the Westchester County Legislature yesterday approved a resolution to phase out No. 6 and No. 4 oil in their buildings over time – No. 6 heating oil by 2018, and No. 4 oil by 2020.

These oils emit fine particular matter (PM2.5) and harmful chemicals like sulfur dioxide. When burned, they can become lodged in the lungs and worsen respiratory and cardiovascular issues. There were only a few hundred such buildings in Westchester county – compared to thousands in NYC – but that was still too many for Westchester officials to rest on their laurels. The county legislature went to work cleaning their air, and that work is paying off. Read More »

Posted in Air Quality, New York| Tagged | Read 2 Responses

What We Know – And Don't Know – About Toxic Wastewater From The Oil And Gas Industry

By Cloelle Danforth and Steve Hamburg

For all that we hear and think about oil and gas production, wastewater may not be at the top of our list of concerns. And yet, onshore oil and gas operations in the United States produce more than 800 billion gallons of toxic wastewater each year.

Most oil and gas companies either dispose of this water deep underground, or recycle it for use in other wells. But a growing number of operators are now considering alternate ways to discharge or reuse this water above ground.

Before we can effectively manage this influx of wastewater in new ways, we need to have a better understanding of what’s in it. Read More »

Posted in Natural Gas, Water| Comments are closed

50 Million Reasons Why California Should Adopt Stronger Oil And Gas Rules

California’s oil and gas industry emitted approximately 270,000 tons of methane in 2014 – nearly three times the gas released during the Aliso Canyon storage facility disaster. This wasted methane – primarily natural gas – is worth over $50 million, and would have met the heating and cooking needs of about 400,000 homes in the state, had it not been lost to the atmosphere.

Notwithstanding the fact that methane pollution damages the climate and co-pollutants can cause dramatic public health problems, losing natural gas is a wasteful practice. However, as demonstrated during a 2-day joint agency symposium in Sacramento earlier this month, there are businesses that are ready, willing and able to help the state reduce leaks by deploying cutting edge technology, many of which are based in California.

Innovative solutions on display

The symposium featured companies, like United Electric Technologies, Safety Scan, Rebellion and Heath Consultants, that showcased technologies and capabilities being used today to reduce methane emissions across the U.S. in the area of oil and gas production, transmission, and natural gas storage. Read More »

Posted in California, Methane, Natural Gas| Comments are closed

Valuing Energy Efficiency: The Case for Consensus

money building pixabayIn my time immersed in commercial real estate energy management, I have met a multitude of building owners, managers, and engineers whose love for their properties is clear.

Last month at the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Better Buildings Summit in Washington, DC, I was lucky enough to once again spend time in the company of these inspiring commercial real estate professionals. This particular group takes that passion one step further. By publicly pledging to be industry leaders in energy efficiency, driving efforts to accelerate investment, and sharing success stories and lessons learned, the summit’s attendees are maximizing their operations and the value of their buildings.

Despite this shared commitment, I still find a common thread lost in translation between the industry’s stakeholders: the value of energy efficiency. These groups don’t always speak the same language and, when it comes to financing and implementing energy efficiency, this disconnect is often even more pronounced.

It’s time for the real estate market to collectively decide that it values energy efficiency, and make it an integral, uniform part of all core business decisions. Without consensus, the building-efficiency industry is just going to tread water – and miss out on a whole lot of savings.  Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, Illinois| Comments are closed
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