Selected tag(s): Clean Energy

Another Ohio Utility Seeks a Bailout When It Should be Upgrading the Grid

coal smoke morguefileFirstEnergy isn’t the only utility trying to stick Ohioans with the cost of its poor business decisions.

AEP Ohio has also presented a similar proposal to bail out several old, uneconomic coal plants, asking the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) to guarantee the purchase of power produced by its coal plants. The utility tried the same tactic earlier this year and failed, but is now back with an updated proposal. Last week, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) filed testimony opposing the deal and recommended that AEP Ohio should invest in grid upgrades if the PUCO decides to approve AEP Ohio’s proposal.

Ohio has a competitive retail electric market, meaning customers can buy electricity from many different sellers. But utilities still have a monopoly when it comes to service territories. So if you live in AEP Ohio’s territory, the company will deliver your electricity – even if you purchase it from a different provider. Since AEP Ohio’s bailout proposal applies to its entire service area, essentially the utility wants to force all of those customers to pay for its coal plants, including those who don’t buy their electricity from AEP Ohio. Read More »

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Europe’s Love Affair with the Investor Confidence Project Gets Serious

By: Panama Bartholomy, Director of ICP Europe

Flag_of_EuropeThe European Commission is putting its weight behind an initiative designed to increase private investment in energy efficiency, the Investor Confidence Project (ICP). ICP is accelerating the development of a global energy efficiency market by standardizing how energy efficiency projects are developed and energy savings are calculated.

In late February, the European Commission released a landmark report on energy efficiency in Europe that was 18 months in the making, and it had ICP all over it. The report, Energy Efficiency – the first fuel for the EU Economy, was issued by the Energy Efficiency Financial Institutions Group (EEFIG), a group of financial and energy efficiency leaders and building owners convened by the European Commission and United Nations Environment Programme Finance Initiative.

Earlier that same month, the European Commission awarded a €1.92 million grant to the European version of the project, ICP Europe. The grant will pay for a consortium of companies to:

  • develop ICP’s project protocols for the European market;
  • work with financial institutions to embed them into their financing process; and
  • organize National Steering Groups in five countries: (Austria, Bulgaria, Germany, Portugal and the U.K.) to take the protocols to markets in those countries.

Read More »

Posted in Clean Energy, General| Also tagged | Comments are closed

Smart Planning for a Successful Smart Grid Roll-Out

John Finnigan PhotoBen Franklin famously said, “If you fail to plan, you’re planning to fail.”  This saying certainly holds true for smart grid deployment plans, which can cost utilities several hundred million dollars.  Given these high stakes, good planning is essential.

Many utilities have installed smart grids.  Currently, 25% of U.S. electricity customers have smart meters, a key component of the smart grid.  Some early deployments were rocky, but utilities have learned their lessons.  Utilities have incorporated these lessons learned in the planning process for more recent smart grid deployments.  A well-thought-out smart grid deployment plan should address the following topics: Read More »

Posted in Grid Modernization, Utility Business Models| Also tagged , | Read 3 Responses

Freezing, Scorching, or Not, Texas Needs More Demand Response

This commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters blog.Final Images EDF-6524

As we thaw out this week from our most recent arctic blast, Texas’ inexperience with ice and snow has been met with Internet memes and jokes. But dealing with extreme temperatures causes serious strain on our current energy system and exacerbates our “energy crunch,” signifying that the available supply of electricity barely meets the demand for that power.

However, as is typical of Texas, last week our weather was quite pleasant – in the 70s – and strains on the system due to weather events weren’t too much of a concern. Yet the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), the state agency charged with managing the flow of electricity for most of Texas, alerted an emergency situation despite mild temperatures. To avert disaster, ERCOT initiated demand response, “ask[ing] customers to raise thermostat settings to 78 degrees, typically a summer response intended to reduce demand from air conditioners.” A single malfunctioning power plant caused the problem. ERCOT declined to identify the plant involved.

Much of this uncertainty and drama can be alleviated with demand response (DR), a novel approach to managing the grid system. Using smart power technology like smart thermostats, utilities can moderately adjust their customers’ energy use in real-time for a brief amount of time to meet the energy needs of all Texans. When energy demand is high, electric utilities can ask customers to voluntarily conserve energy in exchange for cost-savings and even payments. During the polar vortex earlier this month, CPS Energy, San Antonio’s municipal utility, saved about 77 megawatts (MW) of power through demand response programs – enough to power 32,725 homes.  Texas isn’t the only place where demand response is taking hold. Read More »

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$200 Million in Private Capital Financing Signals Investors’ Support for Clean Energy

(Credit: www.poonamsagar.com)

(Source: www.poonamsagar.com)

While 2014 is only just getting underway, it is already shaping up to be a banner year for clean energy finance. Capital investments are being made, funds developed, and securitization tools crafted — all with remarkable speed. And private capital markets are aggressively rallying around these efforts, which will only increase the momentum of our collective efforts to drive investments into essential energy efficiency and renewable energy projects.

Funding for homeowner energy efficiency loans could lead to securitization

Early this year, clean energy consumer finance company, Kilowatt Financial, closed a $100 million deal with  Citi to finance 10-12 year unsecured loans of up to $30,000 for homeowners making energy efficiency improvements to their HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, water heaters, windows, roofing, insulation, lighting, and appliances.

The transaction is designed to facilitate a securitization of loans (which promotes liquidity in the marketplace), help establish a secondary market, and spur energy efficiency investments. Kilowatt and Citi expect to create term asset-backed securities from the loans that will provide a sustainable source of capital for homeowners looking to make home energy upgrades. Read More »

Posted in Energy Efficiency, General, Investor Confidence Project, On-bill repayment, Renewable Energy| Also tagged | Comments are closed

Is Texas the Next Global Leader in Water? It’s Up to State Leaders to Decide.

Kate ZerrennerThis commentary originally appeared on our Texas Clean Air Matters Blog.

The Texas Comptroller, Susan Combs, recently released the Texas Water Report: Going Deeper for the Solution, which proposes a sort of revolution to solve Texas’ water woes. As Combs notes, Texas is a global energy leader, but the state should be a global water leader too. And her initiative couldn’t come fast enough. Texas, already prone to cycles of drought, is facing new water pressures, including population growth and a changing economy, which only make it harder to preserve our diminishing water supply. To rouse the state’s water recovery plan, the report prioritizes water-saving technological innovations (while stressing the need for conservation) and lauds various Texas cities for water management practices. But the report misses some key elements that are essential to keeping our water flowing. In the same way that new energy technologies have brought us closer to a cleaner, more reliable electric grid, innovations in the water arena can seamlessly reduce our water use and set the state on a sustainable path.

The report says conservation is not enough, and it’s right. However, efficiency is the most significant first step and conservation achieved through technology is a welcome counter to the infrastructure-heavy plans typically heard at the Capitol and in the State Water Plan. (What good is a new reservoir, if there’s no water to put in it?) Some of the technologies evaluated in the report include aquifer storage and recovery, inter-basin transfers, low-water fracking technologies and desalinization – what some call “game changers.” These technologies could potentially relieve our future water woes, but these projects are expensive and don’t alleviate our immediate or even mid-term water stresses.  Read More »

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