Solar For Everybody Else
Community solar gives those of us without solar-suitable roofs the chance to buy in. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...
WEEKEND VIDEOS, May 26-27:
Community solar gives those of us without solar-suitable roofs the chance to buy in. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
This guy calls it “pretty cool stuff.” Hear why.From NatioonalSierraClub via YouTube
This is about a time when it rained for two million years and the dinosaurs took over.From PBS Eons via YouTube
Climate Change Warriors’ Latest Weapon of Choice Is Litigation
Jeremy Hodges, Lauren Leatherby and Kartikay Mehrotra, May 24, 2018 (Bloomberg News)
“In the global fight against climate change, one tool is proving increasingly popular: litigation…From California to the Philippines, activists, governments and concerned citizens are suing the biggest polluters and national governments over the effects of climate change at a break-neck pace…[Our Children’s Trust, a legal challenge center in the U.S.,] is involved in climate change litigation across 13 countries, including the U.S., Pakistan and Uganda…The wave of activity is about channeling the fervor of a social movement to drive change via the legal system. The arguments vary…In Europe, it’s largely governments being hammered over pollution-reduction plans that fall short of EU targets…
[Increasingly,] cases are using human rights arguments, in which plaintiffs make the case that climate change has threatened or taken away populations’ basic rights to shelter, health, food, water and even life. From Ugandan children who sued their government for failing to protect them from climate change to hundreds of elderly Swiss women who sued the country for failure to shield them from climate change’s effects, human rights cases are a small but growing approach to this type of litigation…The strategy has paid off particularly well in the U.K. and Germany, where suits have forced significant government policy changes…” click here for more
Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Growing, Taking Place in 75 Countries; IRENA study shows world market for corporate sourcing of renewable electricity reached 465 terawatt hours in 2017 – enough to power a country the size of France
24 May 2018 (International Renewable Energy Agency)
“Companies in 75 countries actively sourced 465 terawatt hours (TWh) of renewable energy in 2017, an amount close to the overall electricity demand of France…[W]ith the continued decline in the costs of renewables, corporate demand will continue to increase as companies seek to reduce electricity bills, hedge against future price spikes and address sustainability concerns…[According to a new study from IRENA,] renewable energy sourcing by private sector companies, made possible with the right policy framework in place, can be a key factor in the world’s pursuit of a sustainable energy transformation in line with the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement…[E]nvironmental and sustainability concerns, social responsibility and reputation management and economic and financial objectives are the three primary drivers of corporate sourcing…” click here for more
Climate Change Warriors’ Latest Weapon of Choice Is Litigation
Jeremy Hodges, Lauren Leatherby and Kartikay Mehrotra, May 24, 2018 (Bloomberg News)
“…[In the fight against climate change, one tool is proving increasingly popular: litigation…The wave of activity is about channeling the fervor of a social movement to drive change via the legal system. The arguments vary…In the U.S., home to more cases than anywhere else in the world, many recent suits involve plaintiffs seeking to protect climate-change rules passed under former President Barack Obama…California is quickly becoming ground zero for climate cases in the U.S., where eight cities and counties are suing oil companies to recover the cost of infrastructure needed to protect against rising sea levels…The climate lawsuits aren’t all about cleaning up the environment. Last year, 27 percent of U.S. climate-related cases—largely those brought by companies—opposed protections…[For some of those, the] Trump administration has written in support…” click here for more
The Economics of Clean Energy Portfolios
May 21, 2018 (Rocky Mountain Institute)
The US power system is one of the largest, most complicated, and most expensive machines in the world, but the grid’s core infrastructure is old and is not aging gracefully…[A]bout half of the existing thermal generator fleet (i.e., coal-, nuclear-, and gas-fired power plants) is likely to retire by 2030, leading to a gap in capacity that will need to be addressed with new investment…US electricity generators may be committing their customers and investors to as much as $1 trillion in future investment and fuel costs through 2030 as they rush to build new gas-fired power plants. Yet advances in renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DERs) offer lower rates and emissions-free energy while delivering all the grid reliability services that new power plants can…
[A new RMI analysis] finds that, because of recent innovation and rapid cost declines in renewable energy and DER technologies, clean energy portfolios can often be procured at significant net cost savings, with lower risk and zero carbon and air emissions, compared to building a new gas plant. More dramatically, the new-build costs of clean energy portfolios are falling quickly, and likely to beat just the operating costs of efficient gas-fired power plants within the next two decades—a sobering risk for investors and customers in a market with over $100 billion of already announced investment in new gas-fired power plants…” click here for more
One small step for Hawaii solar, one leap toward 100% renewables; After Hawaii regulators approved two new solar tariffs last month, solar customers in the state must now decide whether to buy, lease or pass on battery storage.
Herman K. Trabish, November 9, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: Hawaii continues to point the way to the New Energy future. It just opened a proceeding which will shift the power system's focus from utility profits to electricity customers' demands.
A new Smart Export solar tariff ordered by Hawaii’s regulators is so popular that both distributed energy resource (DER) advocates and Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) say it was their idea. They are probably both right because the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) used ideas from nine months of workshop negotiations to shape the final Decision and Order. The ruling ends the Technical Track in Hawaii’s groundbreaking DER proceeding (Docket 2014-0192). It is, the parties agree, the logical next step toward Hawaii’s 100% renewables by 2045 goal. Smart Export is one of two new interim tariffs in the order. It and the Customer Grid Supply-plus (CGS+) tariffs will replace tariffs created in the HPUC’s landmark 2015 decision ending retail rate net energy metering (NEM).
Each tariff has its own advantage and provides different incentives on whether to pair storage with residential solar systems. With Smart Export, owners of solar-plus-storage systems will be able to maximize their use of stored solar to offset their nighttime consumption of electricity priced at Hawaii's high retail rate. They will also earn some below-retail compensation for generation sent to the HECO grid outside peak solar generation hours. With CGS+, owners of solar-only systems will earn modest compensation for any excess generation they send to the grid, whenever the sun is shining. Solar-plus-storage system owners will be able to choose how much electricity to send to the grid and how much to store to offset the retail rate at night. HPUC's order sends policymakers and stakeholders into the docket’s Market Track. In it, they will grapple with even more complicated rate design and DER valuation questions to construct a final NEM successor tariff... click here for more
As feds focus on baseload, grid modernization is sweeping the nation; More than 30 states are considering far-reaching modernization and utility business model reforms, including new initiatives to integrate battery storage into grid planning processes.
Herman K. Trabish, November 14, 2017 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: As shown in yesterday's "Study of the Day," grid Modernization efforts across the country have accelerated since this story ran. Q1 2018 saw an astonishing 75% increase in actions over Q1 2017.
As the Trump administration continues to throw its weight behind legacy power assets, states and utilities are busy building the grid of the future...Grid modernization actions make the power sector “more resilient, responsive, and interactive,” according to "50 States of Grid Modernization," the new Q3 2017 policy update from the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC). "Actions" are legislation or regulation that addresses smart grid, advanced metering infrastructure, utility business model, or rate reforms, or ways to expand access to DER...The clear trend in 2017 has been in state-initiated investigations of grid modernization, said Autumn Proudlove, NCCETC Manager of Policy Research and lead author of the update. “We are still at the beginning of grid modernization but more and more states are doing broad investigations to understand it better," Proudlove said...
In Q3 2017, there were 40 actions to “tweak” existing policies and 38 actions to implement incipient programs or deploy “first-step” technologies. But there were 32 actions initiating studies or investigations on grid modernization, as well as 74 actions studying markets, planning, rate and business model reforms, and financial incentives. Also significant was the fact that 26 of the 33 states engaging with grid modernization took actions on energy storage policies and deployment. The emerging question asked by state investigations, Proudlove said, is what grid modernization should include to enable a 21st century power sector... click here for more
NO QUICK NEWS
The 50 States of Grid Modernization, Q1 2018 Quarterly Report
May 3, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)
WHAT IS GRID MODERNIZATION?
Grid modernization is a broad term, lacking a universally accepted definition. In this report, the authors use the term grid modernization broadly to refer to actions making the electricity system more resilient, responsive, and interactive. Specifically, in this report grid modernization includes legislative and regulatory actions addressing: (1) smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure, (2) utility business model reform, (3) regulatory reform, (4) utility rate reform, (5) energy storage, (6) microgrids, and (7) demand response.
The purpose of this report is to provide state lawmakers and regulators, electric utilities, the advanced energy industry, and other energy stakeholders with timely, accurate, and unbiased updates about how states are choosing to study, adopt, implement, amend, or discontinue policies associated with grid modernization. This report catalogues proposed and enacted legislative, regulatory, and rate design changes affecting grid modernization during the most recent quarter. The 50 States of Grid Modernization report series provides regular quarterly updates and annual summaries of grid modernization policy developments, keeping stakeholders informed and up to date.
The authors identified relevant policy changes and deployment proposals through state utility commission docket searches, legislative bill searches, popular press, and direct communications with industry stakeholders and regulators…
This report focuses on cataloguing and describing important proposed and adopted policy changes related to grid modernization and distributed energy resources, excluding policies specifically intended to support only solar technologies. While some areas of overlap exist, actions related to distributed solar policy and rate design are tracked separately in the 50 States of Solar report series, and are generally not included in this report.
In general, this report considers an “action” to be a relevant (1) legislative bill that has been introduced or (2) a regulatory docket, utility rate case, or rulemaking proceeding. Only statewide actions and those related to investor-owned utilities are included in this report. Specifically, actions tracked in this issue include:
Studies and Investigations
Legislative or regulatory-led efforts to study energy storage, grid modernization, utility business model reform, or alternative rate designs, e.g., through a regulatory docket or a cost-benefit analysis.
Planning and Market Access
Changes to utility planning processes, including integrated resource planning, distribution system planning, and evaluation of non-wires alternatives, as well as changes to state and wholesale market regulations enabling market access.
Utility Business Model and Rate Reform
Proposed or adopted changes to utility regulation and rate design, including performancebased ratemaking, decoupling, time-varying rates, and residential demand charges.
Time-varying rate and residential demand charge proposals are only documented if they are being implemented statewide, the default option for all residential customers of an investorowned utility, or a notable pilot program. Actions related to inclining or declining block rates are not included in this report.
Grid Modernization Policies
New state policy proposals or changes to existing policies related to grid modernization, including energy storage targets, energy storage compensation rules, interconnection standards, and customer data access policies.
Financial Incentives for Energy Storage and Advanced Grid Technologies
New statewide incentives or changes to existing incentives for energy storage, microgrids, and other advanced grid technologies.
Deployment of Advanced Grid Technologies
Utility-initiated requests, as well as proposed legislation, to implement demand response programs or to deploy advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid technologies, microgrids, or energy storage…
Q1 2018 GRID MODERNIZATION ACTION
In the first quarter of 2018, 37 states plus DC took a total of 259 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, utility business model and rate reform, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response. Table 1 provides a summary of state and utility actions on these topics. Of the 258 actions catalogued, the most common were related to policies (73), studies and investigations (44), and deployment (42).
TOP 5 GRID MODERNIZATION DEVELOPMENTS OF Q1 2018
Five of the quarter’s top policy developments are highlighted below.
Arizona Regulator Proposes Energy Storage Target and Clean Peak Standard
In January 2018, Commissioner Tobin filed a proposed Energy Modernization Plan, including an energy storage target of 3,000 MW by 2030, as well as a clean peak target. The proposal is currently under consideration as part of the Arizona Corporation Commission’s proceeding examining the modernization of the state’s Renewable Energy Standard.
Hawaii Initiates Transition to Performance-Based Ratemaking
During Q1 2018, the Hawaii State House moved forward legislation initiating a transition to performance-based ratemaking in order to align utility regulatory policies with customers’ interests and the state’s public policy goals. The bill later passed the Senate and was signed into law in April 2018. The Public Utilities Commission is to establish performance incentives and penalty mechanisms for the state’s investor-owned utilities by January 1, 2020.
Texas Regulators Deny AEP Proposed Battery Storage Project and Open New Proceeding
In January 2018, Texas regulators denied AEP Texas North Company’s proposal to deploy two battery storage systems as non-wires alternatives. At issue is whether energy storage is categorized as generation or not because the state’s deregulated utilities may not own generation assets. The Commission subsequently opened a rulemaking docket to establish a framework for energy storage.
Virginia Legislature Enacts Grid Modernization Legislation
The Virginia legislature enacted omnibus energy legislation in Q1 2018, which includes major provisions related to grid modernization. The bill defines electric distribution grid transformation project and declares that these are in the public interest. These projects include advanced metering infrastructure, distribution system modernization, energy storage, microgrids, cybersecurity measures, system hardening not including undergrounding, and several other types of measures
Public Utilities Commission of Ohio Concludes its PowerForward Proceeding
Ohio’s PowerFoward grid modernization proceeding concluded in March 2018 with its third and final segment, examining ratemaking and regulation. The exploratory proceeding, which was first announced in March 2017, was focused on learning from industry experts and engaging stakeholders. No official policy recommendations came out of the proceeding, but it will inform future grid modernization activities in the state.
MOST ACTIVE STATES AND SUBTOPICS OF Q1 2018
The most common types of actions across the country related to advanced metering infrastructure rules (22), followed by energy storage deployment (21), grid modernization investigations (17), and utility business model reforms (17). While deployment actions were the most common type of action taken through all of 2017, the most common types of actions taken in Q1 2018 related to policies and studies and investigations.
The states taking the greatest number of actions related to grid modernization in Q1 2018 can be seen in Figure 4. New York, California, and Massachusetts continued to see the most action during the quarter, followed by Hawaii, New Jersey, and Minnesota. The total number of grid modernization actions being taken by states is quickly increasing, with 75% more actions being taken in Q1 2018 over Q1 2017.
TOP GRID MODERNIZATION TRENDS OF Q1 2018
Grid Resilience Planning Emerges as a New Area of Focus Among States
Grid resilience is becoming a growing priority among states, particularly after last year’s devastating hurricane season. Three states – California, Florida, and Hawaii – considered legislation in Q1 2018 requiring states or utilities to undertake grid resilience planning. Florida and Hawaii also considered legislation creating incentive programs to boost grid resilience.
States Working to Define the Scope of Grid Modernization
As more states, utilities, and energy industry stakeholders address the topic of grid modernization, it has become evident that a common definition of grid modernization does not exist within the industry. Several states are working to define grid modernization as part of their investigatory proceedings. The California Public Utilities Commission issued a decision in March 2018 establishing a definition for grid modernization and a classification framework to standardize the terms used for different grid modernization investments.
Growing Number of States Addressing Access to System and Customer Data
Access to data – both distribution system data and customer usage data – has emerged as a key aspect of grid modernization. A growing number of states are undertaking distribution system planning efforts and hosting capacity analyses to increase the availability of system data, while many states are also considering customer data access rules, including rules for third party access to customer data.
States Express Support For and Concerns About Advanced Metering Infrastructure
In Q1 2018, the most common type of action related to advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) rules, such as opt-out provisions and fees. Proposed rules have taken very different approaches, ranging from requiring utilities to deploy AMI to imposing a moratorium on AMI deployment. Legislators in multiple states have proposed studies examining the public health impacts of AMI, while regulators continue to consider deployment proposals from utilities, with the majority of these proposals being approved.
Most U.S. States Taking Action on Energy Storage
Of the 37 states taking grid modernization actions during Q1 2018, 32 states took actions related to energy storage. A wide range of actions were taken, including conducting studies, proposing incentive programs, and revising planning processes. The majority of grid modernization legislation considered in Q1 2018 related to energy storage, with energy storage incentives, procurement targets, and studies being key topics of interest to state legislators.
NO QUICK NEWS TODAY, DUE TO TECHNICAL PROBLEMS CAUSED BY A MICROSOFT UPDATE. GRRR
Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy; A better system created by the people, for the people.
Lynn Jurich, April 2018 (Sunrun)
(Editor’s note: This is a passionate defense of rooftop solar that deserves to be heard but it contains factual inaccuracies)
This paper details the trends that are converging to develop a better energy system. A system that will radically remake our dated, economically inefficient existing energy infrastructure into a more affordable, clean, and reliable system that puts people at the center of energy production and consumption.
We shed light on the political and regulatory decisions we are making today that will determine our future, and how quickly and cost-effectively we can move to a superior, cleaner energy system. A pressing question is whether incumbent powers will allow this transition to happen swiftly and without wasting significant capital on rebuilding yesterday’s centralized utility infrastructure.
After 10 years of living and breathing the home solar and battery market, witnessing rapid technology developments, engaging policymakers, watching special interest groups get nervous, understanding the energy customer, and analyzing future trends, this paper summarizes what we’ve learned.
Most Americans are surprised to learn that the cost of moving electricity through transmission lines, transformers, and local power lines is greater than the cost of generating the electricity itself. Many power lines are old and frail and in need of massive upgrades. That means more power outages from extreme weather events and even higher bills to upgrade infrastructure. How can we reduce these costs and improve reliability while lowering our dependence on harmful fossil fuels? We can put the clean power where it’s used: solar power on roofs and batteries in garages. Households and businesses that adopt solar and batteries save money for themselves and their communities, reduce pollution, and increase system reliability and resilience for everyone. They also benefit from the power stored in their batteries, keeping their families and employees comfortable and safe during power outages.
Let’s Stop The War On Solar
Utility investors lose money when they cannot build new power plants because people adopt solar. This means powerful interests are motivated to make it unnecessarily difficult and punitive for households to produce their own clean power. In 2017 alone, in 250 different places across the country, proposals were put forth to increase rates for households that choose to adopt solar.10 A recent report found that “a national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel-backed think tanks has provided the funding, model legislation and political cover to discourage the growth of rooftop solar power.”11 Policies that support consumer choice and home solar are under attack across the United States.12
These proposals attack a clean energy resource that is overwhelmingly popular with the American public.13 They are introduced from a place of fear and often with the following static logic: even though the penetration of home solar is low today, as people generate more of their own electricity from the solar panels on their roofs, utility revenues will decline, and, unless the utility can find a more efficient way to operate, the remaining utility customers will have to pay more for the powerlines to keep the system running. That would increase the incentive for the remaining customers to leave. This is known as the utility “death spiral”.
This reasoning fails to consider the overwhelming benefits of local energy. Without considering benefits, the punitive measures against solar are more about the threat of competition and reduced revenues than they are about protecting consumers from high prices. Most of the research suggests that solar customers already save utilities and energy consumers more money than they cost them.14
We will likely invest enough dollars to rebuild our entire energy system in the coming decades. investing in a system that puts energy consumers at the center, with the clean, local resources available today, can save us from investing in yesterday’s redundant technology. It will also build the foundation for a more efficient, resilient system.
Most dangerously, the constant and premature changes to the consumer’s solar value proposition removes the market stability required for innovation and the novel solutions technology will inevitably bring.
Utilities cannot be relied upon to drive this consumer centered clean energy future. Even if they wanted to, utility investors are risk-averse and unlikely to support a program that could cause a short-term loss in revenue and dividends. Case in point: In 2016, utilities spent $20 million on an anti-home solar ballot initiative in Florida - one of the nation’s sunniest states that has 22 of the top 25 cities most threatened by sea level rise.15
Let The Market Work
Let’s stop this war on affordable, clean, reliable energy and create a market for innovation. These resources should be viewed as an opportunity. We should welcome and encourage power created by the people, for the people and give the market time to develop. Americans want clean power and backup power during outages, and they want the freedom to control their monthly energy costs. Let’s incentivize it to happen quickly, allow competition to lower costs for the whole system, and accelerate the adoption of a better system.
Fortunately, the building blocks are in place. There are many positive case studies to share and some states are already drawing the roadmap for the future. The faster we do it, the more local jobs we create, and the faster we can get to a clean energy system. We’ll avoid tearing up our land with polluting fossil fueled power plants and power lines that will become obsolete in the near future.
We have incredible potential before us. Solar energy generated just 2% of U.S. electricity last year;25 home solar alone could meet 40% of total U.S. electricity demand.26 As we are witnessing in California and New York today, regulators are creating mechanisms to utilize homes and businesses with solar and batteries as alternatives to building new fossil fuel power plants, transmission, and distribution infrastructure.27 For example, California’s grid operator has a new plan that saves 2.6 billion dollars in future costs by directing utilities to tap into home solar and efficiency resources, rather than building transmission projects.28 When the sun is shining, homes and businesses can store extra power in their batteries and send it to the community when and where it is most needed. Households that adopt solar make the system more affordable for everyone – even for those that don’t go solar.
The cost of this future is significantly lower than the alternative. This future will meet the values and expectations of Americans, and accelerate the retirement of harmful and polluting power plants to the great benefit of future generations…
Stop Climate Change To Save “Tens Of Thousands” Species Limiting climate change to 1.5°C increase would save thousands of species: report
Jessica Vomiero, May 20, 2018 (Global News)
“Just half-a-degree Celsius difference in temperature could make the difference between saving the majority of the world’s species from climate change, or increasing the extinction risks for plants, animals and insects…[K]eeping global warming under a 1.5 C increase in temperatures would preserve tens of thousands of land-based species, plants, vertebrates and insects on Earth, even in comparison to a rise in temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius…[T]he upper temperature limit set during the Paris Agreement is 2 C…[but the] impacts on biodiversity multiply significantly with a 2 C increase in global warming levels compared to 1.5 C [according to a new study from the University of East Anglia]…An additional study published by NASA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reveals that not only is the Earth getting warmer every year, temperatures are increasing by greater amounts year after year…” click here for more
Tom DiChristopher, 16 May 2018 (CNBC)
“Americans have long supported the idea of clean power. The question has always been how much effort they're willing to expend to make a green energy future a reality…[A new Deloitte survey] suggests the gap between environmental concern and consumer action may be shrinking…[because of] falling prices for solar power, higher awareness of clean energy options, growing concern about climate change and the inclinations of millennials…68 percent of electric power buyers said they are very concerned about climate change and their carbon footprint. That's the highest percentage ever recorded in the study…74 percent of respondents believe climate change is caused by human actions, up 5 points from 2017. Just 37 percent said environmental concerns are overblown, down 8 points from last year…7 in 10 companies reported that customers were demanding that they draw at least some of their power from renewable sources...Building out more solar and wind farms was widely seen as the main answer to climate change…” click here for more
Lawmakers, Regulators Working To Grow EVs The 50 States of Electric Vehicles Report Released by NCCETC; 42 States and DC Took Action on Electric Vehicles During Q1 2018
May 15, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])
“…[NCCETC’s Q1 2018 The 50 States of Electric Vehicles] finds that 42 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q1 2018 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to electric vehicle fees, fast charging deployment, and electric vehicle studies…[Four trends are apparent or emerging… (1) states considering multi-faceted electric vehicle plans, (2) contention around utility ownership of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, (3) examining the role of demand charges in vehicle charging rates, and (4) piloting the co-location of energy storage systems with electric vehicle charging infrastructure…A total of 275 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q1 2018 – more than were taken in the entirety of 2017 (227 actions)…” click here for more
“Absolutely no scruples or allegiance to the post…” From NationalSierraClub via YouTube
Impacts from climate change-induced environmental devastations cost the U.S. over $1 billion in 2017. From Hot Mess via YouTube
Wind turbines, “like ballerinas on the landscape” of the plains, are bringing economic salvation to this rural region. It is a solution for the planet and the planet’s people. From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube