Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Review Of Alternative Rate Designs
  • QUICK NEWS, May 23: Human-Caused Changes Threaten A Third Of Bird Species With Extinction; Attack On Wind Linked to Oil Industry Money; Solar Plus Storage Multi-tasking To Cut Costs

  • Weekend Video: New Energy FulFills Its Potential
  • Weekend Video: The Nuclear Fantasy
  • Weekend Video: Building Wind Was Never Better

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Unlike U.S. Republicans, Islam Calls For Climate Change Action
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Powers A Nation For Four Days!
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Solar Rising On The Wide World
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Power Of The Oceans


  • TTTA Thursday-Children Lead Fight Against Climate Change
  • TTTA Thursday-No. Carolina Lawmakers Attack New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-Texas Markets Say Forget Coal
  • TTTA Thursday-Things Rooftop Solar Buyers Ought To Ask

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: How New York Will Build Shared Solar
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Other Utility Death Spiral

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Potential Power Of The Nation’s Waters
  • QUICK NEWS, May 17, 2016: Cruel April Was The Hottest Month By Record Margin ; Big Solar Throws Its Weight Around In Maine; Big Oil Ready To Move On Ocean Wind
  • --------------------------


    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews


    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns


    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart




      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.


    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

  • ---------------
  • Tuesday, May 24, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: On The Path To SunShot – Utilities And Distributed Solar

    On The Path To SunShot – Utility Regulatory and Business Model Reforms for Addressing the Financial Impacts of Distributed Solar on Utilities

    Galen Barbose, et. al., May 2016 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Net-energy metering (NEM) with volumetric retail electricity pricing has enabled rapid proliferation of distributed photovoltaics (DPV) in the United States. However, this transformation is raising concerns about the potential for higher electricity rates and cost-shifting to non-solar customers, reduced utility shareholder profitability, reduced utility earnings opportunities, and inefficient resource allocation. Although DPV deployment in most utility territories remains too low to produce significant impacts, these concerns have motivated real and proposed reforms to utility regulatory and business models, with profound implications for future DPV deployment.

    This report explores the challenges and opportunities associated with such reforms in the context of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As such, the report focuses on a subset of a broader range of reforms underway in the electric utility sector. Drawing on original analysis and existing literature, we analyze the significance of DPV’s financial impacts on utilities and non-solar ratepayers under current NEM rules and rate designs, the projected effects of proposed NEM and rate reforms on DPV deployment, and alternative reforms that could address utility and ratepayer concerns while supporting continued DPV growth. We categorize reforms into one or more of four conceptual strategies (Table ES-1). Understanding how specific reforms map onto these general strategies can help decision makers identify and prioritize options for addressing specific DPV concerns that balance stakeholder interests.

    Reducing compensation to DPV customers.

    Recent efforts to address stakeholder concerns about the impacts of DPV have revolved largely around reforms to NEM rules and retail rate structures. These include, for example: new or increased charges for DPV customers, minimum bills, demand charge rates for DPV customers, reduced compensation for electricity exported to the grid, reduced compensation for all DPV generation under two-way rates, and transfer of renewable energy certificate ownership to the utility. Although such reforms can address the concerns of both utility shareholders and non-solar customers and are often relatively straightforward to implement compared to more fundamental reforms to utility business models or markets, they accomplish their objectives only by constricting DPV customer-economics and deployment. They are thus largely a zero-sum game. Community solar is one possible exception because its economies of scale may allow for compensation at prices below retail rates, while maintaining customer-economics comparable to rooftop DPV with full NEM.

    To demonstrate the deterioration in DPV customer-economics that could occur if, in particular, NEM were eliminated, we compare the payback period of DPV systems with and without NEM, based on original analysis described further within the main body of the report. In the latter case, we assume that DPV generation exported to the grid in each hour is compensated at wholesale electricity prices, rather than at retail rates. As shown in Figure ES-1, elimination of NEM would increase the payback period for residential DPV systems by 1.4–8.9 years across the six illustrative states shown, depending on the state and the size of the system. Elimination of NEM would erode the customer-economics of commercial DPV as well, though only in cases where significant grid exports occur and where volumetric rates under the prevailing retail electricity tariff are substantially above wholesale electricity prices. As other studies have shown, customersited storage and demand flexibility can help DPV customers insulate themselves from such changes, though in doing so would also thwart the effort to stem utility revenue erosion.

    Given the implications for DPV customer-economics, reforms to NEM rules could also significantly impact long-term DPV deployment levels. Under an extreme bookend scenario in which NEM is immediately eliminated across all states and replaced with the alternative compensation scheme described above, cumulative U.S. DPV deployment in 2050 would be roughly 20% lower than under a continuation of current NEM policies (Figure ES-2, left), based on original analysis described further within the main body of the report. Conversely, indefinitely extending and expanding NEM to all customers and states would lead to DPV deployment levels in 2050 that are 30% higher than under current policies (Figure ES-2, right). In both cases, the impacts are notably more pronounced for residential than for non-residential markets. Many other recent studies have also shown potentially significant impacts on DPV customer-economics and deployment from other kinds of retail rate reforms, such as timevarying pricing, demand charges, two-way rates, fixed customer charges, and minimum bills.

    Within the context of the SunShot Initiative, NEM and retail rate reforms represent significant risks to achievement of near-term cost and deployment goals as well as the longer-term legacy and impact of the initiative. Within the immediate timeframe of the SunShot 2020 cost-reduction targets, constraints on market growth could dampen the pace of soft-cost reductions driven by increasing industry scale and learning. Uncertainty in the outcome of NEM and retail rate reforms also exacerbates business risks for the solar industry and potential solar customers, inflating soft costs associated with customer acquisition and financing. Longer term, NEM and retail rate reforms could produce an outcome in which achievement of the aggressive SunShot 2020 cost targets could still fail to spur the initiative’s vision of dramatic, sustained DPV growth.

    Fortunately, several other strategies—as discussed below—offer the potential to address utility and non-solar customer concerns about DPV, without unduly constraining DPV customereconomics and market growth.

    Facilitating higher-value DPV deployment.

    Many reforms seek to address stakeholder concerns about DPV by facilitating higher-value DPV deployment. Certain retail rate reforms—such as time-varying, locational, and unbundled attribute pricing—could incentivize optimally sited and grid-friendly DPV, though these innovations generally increase costs to DPV customers and could require significant efforts from utilities to establish the value of DPV production and handle customer differentiation. Enhanced utility system planning can provide an analytical foundation for these pricing designs and for other mechanisms to preferentially direct DPV deployment toward locations or design characteristics that increase its value to the utility system. In addition, utility ownership of DPV assets may enable higher-value forms of deployment through optimized siting and operation. Community solar might also facilitate optimized siting and design and more readily enable deferral of distribution system upgrades. Over the longer term, major reforms to utility business models and retail markets (e.g., transforming electric utilities into energy services utilities and forming distribution network operators or transactive retail electricity markets) could facilitate higher-value DPV deployment through enhanced price signals or procurement processes.

    Broadening customer access to solar.

    Bringing solar to traditionally underserved customer classes can diffuse concerns about cost-shifting and potentially regressive effects of NEM; indeed, one reason why energy efficiency programs are less susceptible to such concerns is that opportunities for participation are broad and often include programs targeted to low-income or other hard-to-reach customer segments. Among the reforms highlighted in this report, community shared solar offers perhaps the most explicit path toward expanding customer access, if opportunities for participation are broadly available. Utility DPV ownership that is restricted to underserved customer segments may provide another pathway to expanding access to those customers, and it may minimize some objections over utility entry into a competitive market.

    Aligning utility earnings and profits with DPV.

    Under traditional cost-of-service regulation, DPV tends to erode utility financial performance via reductions in sales growth and deferral of traditional utility capital investments. Reforms can seek to realign utility financial incentives so they are neutral toward, or even produce utility shareholder benefits from, DPV growth. Such reforms are thus targeted at addressing utility shareholder concerns, in particular, but can exacerbate ratepayer concerns surrounding possible cost-shifting to non-solar customers. Some suggested reforms entail relatively “incremental” changes to utility regulatory and business models. These include decoupling and other ratemaking reforms to reduce regulatory lag, which already have widespread adoption and hold utility profits immune to DPV growth. Performance based incentives and utility ownership or financing of DPV assets could create positive utility earnings opportunities associated with DPV growth, and they have precedents, but they represent a greater departure from the traditional cost-of-service model. Finally, many novel conceptual utility business model and market reforms are intended to realign utility financial incentives vis-à-vis DPV, such as by reorienting utility profits around the provision of services rather than commodity sales of electricity.

    In summary, efforts to address concerns by utilities and non-solar customers about the financial impacts of DPV growth are unfolding across the country in a variety of forms. To date, much of this activity has centered on reforms to NEM rules and retail rate designs. This pathway has certain practical advantages because these kinds of reforms address concerns of both utility ratepayers and shareholders and can often be implemented in a relatively immediate fashion. However, these reforms are generally premised on reducing compensation to DPV customers and, as such, achieve their objectives only insofar as they constrict DPV customer-economics. Other reforms discussed in this report instead provide opportunities to address utility and/or ratepayer concerns about DPV without necessarily constraining growth of those resources—by focusing on facilitating higher-value DPV deployment, expanding customer access, and aligning utility earnings and profits with DPV growth. Some of these alternatives have already been adopted in some locations and are options for wider implementation by 2020, while others will unfold over a longer horizon. In either case, opportunities exist to preserve the long-term legacy of the SunShot Initiative by promoting a stable regulatory environment and utility business models that align DPV adoption with the continued provision of safe, reliable, and affordable electricity service.

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    QUICK NEWS, May 24: Portland, Ore, Bans Climate Change Denial From Science Classes; Wind Hits 100%-Plus Of Aussie State’s Power For 10 Hours

    Portland, Ore, Bans Climate Change Denial From Science Classes Portland School System Bans Teaching Materials That Cast Doubt on Climate Change

    Eric Chaney, May 23, 2016 (The Weather Channel)

    …Last week, the Portland Public School board unanimously passed a resolution which directs schools to ‘abandon the use of any adopted text material that is found to express doubt about the severity of the climate crisis or its root in human activities.’ …The resolution broadly calls for all Portland schools to ‘develop an implementation plan for climate literacy.’…Climate literacy is essential for the success of Portland Public Schools students, the resolution says, both as members of their communities and citizens of the world…Teaching climate change isn't always easy. A survey conducted by Science Magazine in 2014 found that although more than 95 percent of active climate scientists attribute recent global warming to human causes, only about half of U.S. adults believe the same thing…” click here for more

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Wind Hits 100%-Plus Of Aussie State’s Power For 10 Hours Wind energy hits 100% of South Australia demand on Sunday

    Giles Parkinson, 24 May 2016 (RE New Economy)

    “…[On May 22, the wind energy-generated electricity supply met South Australia’s electricity] demand for more than 10 hours, from 1.40am to just before midday (11.55am), with a peak of 120 per cent of demand at 4.30am…[It is 40 per cent of the state’s installed capacity, but] with more wind energy projects in the pipeline that could more than double the current capacity, [there is a growing] need for more inter-connectors to other states…[W]hat’s interesting to watch is the comparison between South Australia and Queensland, the other state most reliant on gas as the marginal cost of generation…While gas is used to fill in the gaps between wind and solar in South Australia, it is used in Queensland to fill the gaps between the output of coal and system demand, minus the input of 1.5GW of rooftop solar. Queensland, apart from a few biomass power plants, has no large-scale renewable energy generation…In the past two weeks, South Australia’s average daily price has been cheaper than Queensland’s on eight days out of 14…” click here for more

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Monday, May 23, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Review Of Alternative Rate Designs

    A Review Of Alternative Rate Designs; Industry Experience With Time-Based And Demand Charge Rates For Mass-Market Customers

    Aman Chitkara, Dan Cross-Call, Becky Li, and James Sherwood, May 2016 (Rocky Mountain Institute)


    There is a serious conversation unfolding around electricity rate design for mass-market (residential and small commercial) customers—both in the U.S. and internationally. New proposals are appearing for how to improve rates to meet emerging challenges (and opportunities) around environmental impact, customer engagement, bill management, reliability, and cost recovery. These proposals frequently generate debate and conflicting opinions between stakeholders.


    Recent trends are forcing stakeholders across the industry to take stock of how customer needs are evolving and how that affects the electricity system. Customer load profiles are becoming more diverse while new technology is increasing potential customer capabilities. Existing default rates in the U.S. are simple—typically pairing a flat, volumetric energy rate with a customer charge. These rates have worked well enough but are proving inadequate in the face of recent trends, as they fail to provide price signals that reflect system costs and enable customer response. An expanded rate design toolkit is needed, but it is critical that solutions do not reduce signals for energy efficiency or be difficult for customers to understand and respond to.


    Two types of alternative mass-market rate designs are often proposed to meet rapidly evolving customer needs in the near-term:

    • Time-based rates can provide more accurate price signals to customers, better reflecting the marginal cost of supplying and delivering electricity. These price signals may lead customers to change their consumption patterns to reduce both peak and total consumption.

    • Demand charge rates can provide a price signal to reduce peak demand and can potentially allocate peak driven costs more fairly. Customers may respond by changing their consumption patterns to reduce peak demand, flattening their load profile. These solutions can be important near-term steps in the ongoing evolution of rate design.

    Objectives of This Report

    To support informed decision making, this report provides a meta-analysis of numerous existing studies, reports, and analyses to support an objective assessment of the efficacy of time-based rates and demand charge rates for mass-market customers. The report:

    • Provides a structure for utilities, regulators, and stakeholders to design and evaluate time-based and demand charge rates.

    • Identifies major design choices required for each rate, and reviews options for those dimensions.

    • Identifies whether empirical data confirms (or refutes) the potential benefits of each rate, and notes where clear evidence is not available.

    • Determines best practices that can help achieve and maximize desired outcomes.

    • Highlights areas where further study is needed.


    Our review of industry experience with time-based rates finds that they can reduce customers’ peak consumption and total energy consumption without compromising customer acceptance (in terms of enrollment and retention). Empirical evidence shows that time-based rates have the potential to result in:

    • Peak load reduction of 0–50%

    • Reduction in total energy consumption of 0–10%

    • Customer enrollment rates of 6–98% and retention rates of 63–98% These impacts depend on key choices made in designing the rate.


    The impact of time-based rates can vary widely, as evidenced by the wide ranges at left.

    This variation is influenced by key choices made along nine important design dimensions. Several of these dimensions have a particularly noteworthy effect on the efficacy of the rate:

    • Peak/Off-Peak Price Ratio is one of the strongest predictors of customer peak load reduction, as higher ratios send a stronger price signal to shift consumption away from peak hours—for instance, time-of-use rates with a 5:1 ratio tend to double the peak reduction compared to a 2:1 ratio.

    • Peak Period Duration and Peak Period Frequency have a significant impact on customer acceptance. Customers are less willing to enroll in a rate, and less able to respond once enrolled, where the peak periods are too long or when critical peak pricing events occur too often.

    • The Financial Mechanism is a strong driver of peak load reduction. Price-based rates can double the reduction achieved with rebate-based rates, which reward conservation but do not penalize consumption.

    • The Enrollment Method affects customer acceptance, where opt-in rates attract more-engaged participants, but opt-out (default) rates have enrollment rates 3–5 times higher than opt-in rates, as well as increased peak reduction.

    • Enabling Technology can substantially increase the peak load reduction by customers. Rates coupled with “active” technologies (which automate customer response) reduce peak load by an additional 10–20 percentage points compared to the same rate without technology.


    Our review finds that there is comparatively little industry experience with mass-market demand charges relative to time-based rates. Limited empirical evidence is available to provide insight on the efficacy or impact of demand charges on any desired outcome beyond cost recovery. However, there is a serious debate and much theory about how they may affect customers’ peak consumption, total energy consumption, and acceptance.

    Claims regarding the impact of demand charge rates on these outcomes (positive or negative) are largely speculative. The industry needs to better align on what is currently known and unknown, and where further research will be most useful.


    While there is a clear gap in the empirical evidence, our research suggests that there are key design choices that will determine the efficacy of the rate. Of the eight important design dimensions for demand charges (some of which differ from time-based rates), four are likely to be particularly influential:

    • The Cost Components & Allocation directly determine the magnitude of the demand charge price. Approaches range from including only customer-specific costs (e.g., service transformer) to including all costs associated with system infrastructure built to meet peak demand (e.g., including marginal generation and transmission capacity). The magnitude of the price will impact both peak consumption and customer acceptance, depending on whether customers are able to change behavior in response to the rate.

    • Peak Coincidence can provide a more-targeted price signal, where charges coincident with system peak may help customers understand when to reduce their demand. In contrast, non-coincident charges are assessed against customer demand at any time, regardless of whether non-coincident demand affects system costs.

    • A Ratchet Mechanism can help stabilize utility revenue by locking in a floor at a certain level for the customer’s demand bill, but the mechanism may remove customers’ incentive to reduce peak load, depending on how the ratchet is designed. • Enabling Technology may be the most important determinant of whether customers actually respond to a demand charge price signal. It is possible that sufficiently educated customers will respond by reducing peak demand, but technology that automates their response will reduce the possibility of customers not changing their behavior due to confusion about the rate.



    • Specific design choices are key to the efficacy of any time-based or demand charge rate. In particular, the accuracy of the price signal (e.g., cost components and allocation) and the ability for customers to respond (e.g., peak period duration or a ratchet mechanism) are critical design choices.

    • In theory, it may be possible to achieve similar objectives using either time-based rates or demand charges, but this remains unproven. Proposals often state similar objectives, including recovering costs while sending price signals that better reflect the drivers of those costs. However, it is unclear whether the two rate designs send equally effective price signals—more evidence on the impacts of demand charges is needed.

    • Regulators and utilities considering these alternative rates should incorporate identified best-practice design principles. Evidence shows effective time-based rates—particularly time-of-use rates—can be developed and widely deployed using design choices described in this report. While there is insufficient evidence on the impacts of demand charges, demonstration and evaluation projects can be implemented to gain experience.

    • Improved mass-market rates for consumption are necessary but not sufficient. Ongoing attention is also needed to develop improved pricing structures and compensation mechanisms that fairly represent the benefits and costs of distributed generation and other distributed energy resources. Although this report focuses exclusively on rates for consumption, a more complete transformation of electricity pricing will also include accurate and fair value pricing for on-site generation and similar customer-provided grid services.


    There are significant knowledge gaps related to both time-based and demand charge rates that the industry and researchers should address. Specific topics that emerged through this work include:

    • Evaluating rate impacts on total energy consumption

    • Identifying the impact of demand charges on key outcomes

    • Improving understanding of the relationship of rates and technology

    • Clarifying methods for including and allocating cost components

    Looking Ahead

    Moving toward time-based or demand charge rates is an important step in the evolution of more-sophisticated rates. While near-term improvements are critical, it is also important that the industry stay focused on longer-term goals for rate design. This can include:

    • Transitioning more-sophisticated rates from opt-in to default, as California is doing with time-of-use rates, and exploring opportunities to further evolve rate sophistication, such as by combining time-based and demand charge rates.

    • Developing new rates that provide greater pricing granularity to better signal value and enable response, both through behavior and with technology.

    • Developing new ways to manage the tension between maintaining a minimally complex customer experience and continuing to increase rate sophistication.

    QUICK NEWS, May 23: Human-Caused Changes Threaten A Third Of Bird Species With Extinction; Attack On Wind Linked to Oil Industry Money; Solar Plus Storage Multi-tasking To Cut Costs

    Human-Caused Changes Threaten A Third Of Bird Species With Extinction Third of North American Birds Said to Face Extinction Due to Climate Change, Other Man-Made Factors

    Michael Edison Hayden, May 22, 2016 (ABC News)

    “…37 percent of all migratory bird species on the continent are at risk of extinction due to a myriad of harmful environmental factors including climate change, sea-level rise, land development and oil spills…[including 432 most at risk of extinction without significant conservation actions of the 1,154 native species of birds in Canada, the U.S., and Mexico, as ranked by The State of North America’s Birds 2016 from the North American Bird Conservation Initiative, with a score of 14 out 20 or higher] or with a concern score of 13 and a steeply declining population trend…Some of the birds that received a score of 20, the highest possible, included the California condor, the imperial woodpecker, and the Florida scrub-jay…Concern about a "mass extinction event" as a result of climate change and other man-made factors has risen in recent years…[ A widely cited paper suggests that the Earth had entered a new epoch] causing radical shifts to our planet…” click here for more

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Attack On Wind Linked to Oil Industry Money Big Oil Cheerleader Robert Bryce Predictably Misleads On Wind Energy And Eagle Deaths In WSJ

    Andres Seifter, May 16, 2016 (MediaMatters)

    …[A May 6 Daily Kos post warned the Wall Street Journal would soon publish work from oil industry advocate Robert Bryce attacking revisions to U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) regulations governing wind energy and bald and golden eagles…[On May 15, Bryce attacked, but] as the Daily Kos piece explained, wind turbines are responsible for only ‘about 3 percent of human-caused eagle deaths’ and that other factors -- including the oil and gas industry and climate change -- are a much greater threat to birds than wind energy…[Bryce is] a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, which has received millions of dollars from oil interests over the years, including $800,000 from ExxonMobil and $1.9 million from a foundation run by the oil billionaire Koch brothers…” click here for more

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Solar Plus Storage Multi-tasking To Cut Costs Storing The Sun’s Energy Just Got A Whole Lot Cheaper

    Joe Romm, May 18, 2016 (Climate Progress)

    “With prices dropping rapidly for both renewables and battery storage, the economics of decarbonizing the grid are changing faster than most policymakers, journalists, and others realize…[A solar plus storage system based on lithium-ion batteries makes economic sense through revenue stacking. It can stack or combine multiple revenue sources like frequency regulation for a system operator, adjusting local power quality without other expensive new infrastructure, and reducing peak mid-day demand charges for the customers it serves. Battery prices have come down by a factor of three in the last few years, expanding available opportunities. This is] the dawn of a revolution that will enable lithium-ion batteries to play a larger and larger role in [making New Energy] more unstoppable than ever…” click here for more

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Saturday, May 21, 2016

    New Energy FulFills Its Potential

    Portugal was powered for FOUR DAYS STRAIGHT on New Energy this month, proving grid operators can manage the challenges. It is time to ignore the naysayers with vested interests and build out this planet’s energy future. From wochit News via YouTube

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    The Nuclear Fantasy

    Nuclear only works if a fantasy about affordable new technologies comes true. New Energy is ready to do the job NOW, while most cities still don’t look like Venice. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Building Wind Was Never Better

    There’s a New Energy world coming and it’s time to choose: Help build it or get out of the way. From AmericanWindEnergy via YouTube

    IFTTT Recipe: Share new blog posts to Facebook connects blogger to facebook

    Friday, May 20, 2016

    Unlike U.S. Republicans, Islam Calls For Climate Change Action

    Islamic Declaration on Climate Change; Islamic leaders call their community to climate action.

    Erika Street Hopman, May 19, 2016 (Yale Climate Connections)

    “…[‘Allah] has created the universe in all its diversity, richness and vitality: the stars, the sun and moon, the earth and all its communities of living beings…’ [begins the Islamic Declaration on Global Climate Change, a call to action for the 1.6 billion Muslims around the world…[For Islam, nature is alive and conscious and follows God’s laws and breaking those laws in the name of earthly welfare is destroying the very habitat that God created for us, according to] Seyyed Hossein Nasr, professor of Islamic Studies at George Washington University…The Declaration outlines [a unified vision for how the Islamic community can provide leadership on climate changeand uses passages from the Qur’an to call] for people worldwide to phase out greenhouse gas emissions, invest in a green economy, pursue growth in moderation, and prioritize adaptation…” click here for more

    New Energy Powers A Nation For Four Days!

    Portugal runs for four days straight on renewable energy alone; Zero emission milestone reached as country is powered by just wind, solar and hydro-generated electricity for 107 hours

    Arthur Nelsen, 18 May 2016 (The Guardian)

    “…Electricity consumption in [Portugal] was fully covered by solar, wind and hydro power in an extraordinary 107-hour run that lasted from 6.45am on Saturday 7 May until 5.45pm the following Wednesday…News of the zero emissions landmark comes just days after Germany announced that clean energy had powered almost all its electricity needs on Sunday 15 May, with power prices turning negative at several times in the day – effectively paying consumers to use it…[Leaders say the energy transition is gathering momentum and records like this] will continue to be set and broken across Europe…[Last year, wind provided 22% of Portugal’s electricity and all renewable sources together provided 48%…In 2015, wind power alone met 42% of electricity demand in Denmark, 20% in Spain, 13% in Germany and 11% in the UK…UK citizens last week enjoyed their first ever week of coal-free electricity generation…” click here for more

    Solar Rising On The Wide World

    The Heat: Developing countries turn towards solar energy

    Nathan King, May 17, 2016 (CCTV America)

    "With solar energy becoming more affordable and efficient, a host of developing countries are using the technology for electricity. For the first time, developing countries installed more renewable energy than developed countries in 2015…Countries such as India, Brazil, Chile, and Mexico are producing clean, sustainable energy with solar power…China is the world’s largest investor in renewable energy and is leading the world in solar expansion. In the United States, analysts are forecasting the solar market could soar nearly 120 percent this year…” click here for more

    The Power Of The Oceans

    Harnessing the Oceans; Is energy from the oceans even feasible?

    Hans Buitelaar, May 13, 2016 (The Maritime Executive)

    “If saving the planet is not enough reward for harvesting the enormous energy potential of the oceans, high profits on renewable energy installations might be the incentive that makes investors open their wallets…Offering strong currents, big temperature differences, ongoing wave motion on the surface and lots of open area over which winds can develop, the world’s oceans offer a variety of energy sources and the potential for extensive involvement by the maritime industry…Ninety percent of the world's offshore turbines are along the northern European coasts, close to large population centers…[and] large-scale offshore wind parks are installed or under construction all along the coast of Asia…China ranked fourth in global offshore wind, following the U.K., Germany and Denmark. Total global capacity currently stands at 12,105 MWs…Around 20,000 MWs of wave and tidal stream energy installations are expected by the early 2030s…[and] capacity should grow to 100,000 MWs by 2050…[T]he energy potential of the oceans is calculated to be 20,000–80,000 terawatt-hours (TWhs) of electricity, generated by changes in ocean temperatures, salt content, and the movements of tides, currents, waves and swells…” click here for more

    Thursday, May 19, 2016

    Children Lead The Fight Against Climate Change

    Children Win Another Climate Change Legal Case In Mass Supreme Court

    James Conca, May 19, 2016 (Forbes)

    “In another surprising victory for children suing the government over climate change, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court…found in favor of four youth plaintiffs against the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection…The Court found that the DEP was not complying with its legal obligation to reduce the State’s greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and ordered the agency to ‘promulgate regulations that address…greenhouse gas emissions, impose a limit on emissions that may be released…and set limits that decline on an annual basis…’ This case is one of several similar cases in federal district [and state] courts…All of these legal cases are supported by Our Children’s Trust…[T]hese lawsuits claim that a government elected by the people and for the people has a duty to protect the natural systems required for the people’s survival…[and] if both the executive and legislative branches fail in that duty, then the judicial branch must intervene [based on the latest science]…” click here for more

    No. Carolina Lawmakers Attack New Energy

    NC bill takes aim at wind power and solar energy

    John Murawski. May 18, 2016 (The News and Observer)

    “Green energy advocates are aghast at the latest energy proposal in the state legislature to regulate wind farms and solar farms, a bill they say would turn North Carolina into the nation’s most hostile state for renewables…[I]ntroduced last week by two Republican state senators, [Senate Bill 843] would impose a host of financial hurdles and safety precautions, in some instances stricter than North Carolina’s standards for coal-burning power plants and nuclear power plants…The bill would require a wind farm or solar farm to be built at least a 1 1/2 miles away from a neighboring property line. Even at that distance, a solar farm would have to be concealed behind a perimeter of hedges and native landscaping. A wind farm could not generate more than 35 decibels of noise, as measured from the neighboring property, which is equivalent to the volume of humans whispering…Renewables advocates say it’s the most aggressive and sweeping attempt yet to undermine renewable energy in the state…” click here for more

    Texas Markets Say Forget Coal

    In Texas, Market Forces Driving Shift From Coal, Study Says

    Jim Malewitz, May 17, 2016 (The Texas Tribune)

    “Texans are on pace to rely more heavily on natural gas, wind and solar energy to power their lives in the coming decades — and much less on coal…regardless of how judges rule in battles over federal regulations meant to speed the shift toward cleaner-burning electricity sources…and market forces alone could drive the trend, which would barely nudge electricity prices, [according to a new Brattle Group study. If natural gas prices stay relatively low, as some expect, and solar energy technology keeps getting cheaper, 60 percent of coal generation on the ERCOT grid could be shuttered] by 2020. And by 2035, natural gas, wind and solar power would combine for roughly 85 percent of generation…” click here for more

    Things Rooftop Solar Buyers Ought To Ask

    12 Questions to Ask Your Prospective Solar Company

    May 19, 2016 (Sullivan Solar Power)

    “1. How many years have you been in business? If you want a straight answer, you may want to search for yourself. Reference the Contractors State License Board website to verify a license.

    2. Who are your current clients? Solar companies with a substantial client portfolio mean they passed rigorous vetting tests. If the contractor has been chosen for large commercial project or a government project, it is a good indicator they are a quality company.

    3. Is your company NABCEP accredited? A North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) accreditation means that a company’s processes and ethics have been proven. NABCEP is the gold-standard in solar accreditation, and very few companies are certified.

    4. Who monitors your solar power systems? While most solar companies offer monitoring on their solar power systems, companies with in-house monitoring technicians get notified in an unlikely event of system failures or performance losses. This offers an additional level of security for your system performance.

    “5. Do you have a C-10 Electrical Contractor license? A solar power system is a mini power plant on your property. Only state licensed electricians should be working on your installation.

    6. Do you use in-house employees for the installation? The best way to ensure work is completed correctly, and that you aren’t inheriting liability, is to ensure your solar company isn’t subcontracting your work.

    7. Will you inspect my roof before giving me a contract? If the company doesn’t get on your roof, they haven’t done the proper shade readings or roof measurements to guarantee your solar power system will produce what it should, and they have not taken into account the integrity of your roof.

    8. Do you offer more than one type of financing? Find a solar company who offers more than one type of financing and gives you tools to decide what’s best for you. Those companies typically take the federal tax credit, which most Californians can utilize. Don’t get pushed into what best for the solar company, always picks what’s best for you.

    “9. What tax incentives or rebates are available for me? There is still federal tax credit that cover 30% of the system’s cost! The California state rebate for solar has expired for homeowners, if anyone is telling you it’s still available, stay away!

    10. Do you offer a warranty on your products? Solar companies should offer a 25 year solar panel warranty and 20-year inverter warranty, so that you can avoid out-of-pocket costs down the line.

    11. Who makes the parts you are using? Ask the solar company to only specify quality products for your system that are made by a reputable company. To protect yourself, ensure the manufacturer of the system’s components has been in business as long as the warranty they are providing, they are financially-stable and support ethical business practices.

    12. Should everyone go solar? Solar won’t work for everyone. To determine if solar makes sense for you, a solar expert should analyze things like roof orientation and detailed energy-use information such as when your electricity is being consumed and your 15-minute interval data.” click here for more

    Wednesday, May 18, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How New York Will Build Shared Solar

    Inside New York's aggressive new community shared renewables program; 'This is the one we have been waiting for,' says the leading national shared solar developer

    Herman K. Trabish, July 30, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    Ea rlier this month, New York regulators unveiled their new plan to expand consumer access to clean energy through a shared renewables program. Solar and wind advocates cheered the proposal, saying it is one of the most aggressive in the nation, but utilities see it presenting new challenges at a time of dramatic change in their regulation and business models.

    Like other policy innovations emerging from the landmark New York Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) process being overseen by the state’s Public Service Commission (PSC), the shared renewables program isimpressively designed, renewables advocates say. Utilities worry it goes too far, too fast and could cost ratepayers.

    “We support policies that encourage the development of solar energy and that make it easier for our customers to choose renewable resources,” Con EdisonSpokesperson Allan Drury told Utility Dive.

    “We also believe it is important that these policies be fair to all our customers.”

    The proceeding in which the New York PSC wrote the rules for the Community Shared Renewables program began with “a public comment process that got a lot of interest and participation from the solar industry and a wide range other stakeholders, including a Joint Utilities group,” explained New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYERDA) Program Manager Max Joel.

    “Overall this is a great step forward," he said.

    The Community Shared Renewables program

    The program is the newest campaign in the NY SUN Initiative, aimed at driving the state’s solar marketplace. NY SUN is one of the programs in Governor Cuomo’s REV initiative aimed at transforming New York's utility business models and modernizing the transmission and distribution grid.

    Cuomo and other state leaders determined, in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, to impose regulatory changes on utilities that would lead to more efficient energy use, more renewables, and more distributed energy resources (DERs) like micro-grids, roof-top solar, and energy storage. The ultimate goal is to alter the business models of the state's utilities to stimulate the growth and proliferation of DERs, ultimately leaving customers with more independence and choice in their electricity use, as well as lower prices.

    "The Commission was forward-thinking in establishing community DG at the heart of REV's vision for an interactive grid," said Pace Energy and Climate Center Executive Director Karl Rábago. Rabago’s center played a key role in the program’s design, which was applauded by Clean Energy Collective (CEC), the leading U.S. community shared solar developer, and VoteSolar, one of the most important national solar advocacy groups.

    The essence of the shared renewables program program, according Sean Garren, a regional manager at the solar advocacy group VoteSolar’s, is that it extends New York’s net energy metering (NEM) policy to centrally-located solar arrays and other types of renewable generation of up to 2 MW. Now not only do rooftop arrays qualify for retail rate reimbursment, but shared solar arrays as well.

    The program also establishes full rules for shared ownership. The generation will have a project sponsor that can be an energy services company, a municipal entity, or any type of business, non-profit, or civic association. The sponsor will be responsible for building, interconnecting, owning, and operating the behind-the-meter generation.

    Ownership shares will be sold to utility customer members. In return, each member’s account will be credited with the output of the generation at full retail rate credit through remote metering. Members may be residential or commercial accounts and are eligible for special NY-Sun program provisions.

    The generation must be in the same utility territory as the customers it serves, and the generation projects must have at least ten members. Ownership portions of over 25 kW can be no more than 40% of the project’s output. Members can own no more of the output than their own yearly use.

    Sponsors are also responsible for providing the utility with all necessary details about the members including how the credits are to be distributedamong them. Members can alter, transfer, or give up ownership with a month’s notice. The sponsor must distribute all credits at least annually.

    Utilities are required to track and distribute credits according to the sponsor’s guidance. They must also format, bill, and protect the members’ information.

    The program will roll out in two phases. Phase 1 will be from October 19, 2015, through April 30, 2016. Sponsors can only build during this period if the project is in a utility-designated Community DG Opportunity Zone or at least 20% of its members are low/moderate income (LMI) customers. Phase 2 begins May 1, 2016, and has no restrictions.

    Each utility is expected to designate the Opportunity Zones. They must make up at least 40% of its service territory. The are expected areas in which thelocational benefits of the DG are maximized.

    LMI customers are those enrolled in officially designated state assistance programs.

    A unique provision of the program is the Low-Income Customer Collaborative NYSERDA is required to form and lead by January 2016. The collaborative is tasked to find ways to remove barriers to LMI customer participation.

    It is a “really good program that is well thought through…[and] forward-thinking,” observed Karen Gados, Business Development Director forSunShare, one of the top U.S. community shared solar developers.

    “People have asked me for years what the model state community solar program is,” said CEC Policy and New Markets Director Hannah Masterjohn. “There has not been a good answer. New York is it. This is the one we have been waiting for.”

    The Joint Utilities

    The Joint Utilities (JU) group, composed of Consolidated Edison, Orange and Rockland Utilities, Central Hudson Gas and Electric, Niagara Mohawk Power (d/b/a National Grid), New York State Electric & Gas, and Rochester Gas and Electric, “provided comments with a lot of detail on their perspective,” Joel said.

    In their comments, the JU urge the PSC to restrain extension of NEM because customers who have it “reduce or eliminate their contribution to the upkeep of the electric grid” even as they use it and that “shifts grid costs to those customers who do not participate.” The shift, the filing explains, puts “upward pressure on rates for those who are unable to afford or cannot install renewable distributed generation.”

    The JU say they support efforts to expand DER, but want to slow the transition and institute the community shared solar program when more of the REV initiatives, such as new tariffs, are put in place. If the PSC, in order to implement a program sooner, chooses to “extend the cross-subsidization inherent in the net metering construct by implementing community net metering,” the group recommends, it should be limited "to an interim measure.”

    Among its specifics, the JU filing proposes more formulaic pricing revisions, a limit on the NEM-backed program to seven years, and either relieving utilities from handling customer bill credits or paying them to do so.

    It also proposes adding a minimum bill charge, special rates, or new demand charges to ensure that “all customers participating in a community net metering project contribute fairly to the electric system that is necessary to facilitate the flow of energy from the host site to the members.”

    Responses to the Joint Utilities

    Had the PSC followed JU recommendations, Garren said, the program would have been delayed, limited in size, and had a more complicated rate structure.

    “The electric utilities were not excited about this expansion. They threw the book at it in obstacles, delays, and cuts.”

    “CEC has partnered with 21 utilities across the country. We know this can work for them,” Masterjohn said. “But putting myself in their shoes, the REV docket is shaking up their business model. I understand the resistance expressed in their public comments.”

    In its order, the PSC responded to the JU directly and unequivocally.

    “Coordinating Community DG with the coming decisions in REV would further the public interest,” it writes, but there is “strong support for moving forward with Community DG as quickly as is feasible…[and] after more decisions are arrived at in REV, the application of the REV principles to Community DG would be expanded.”

    Some of the JU’s proposals “would unduly constrain or overly restrict Community DG programs,” the PSC adds. In particular, the seven year time limit would impose program-disrupting uncertainties, regulators wrote, and it is the responsibility of utilities to handle the billing and properly credit member accounts.

    The PSC did, however, side against solar advocates in affirming the JU proposal to require all members in a project to be in the same service territory and load zone as the project.

    “The NY PSC knows their responsibility is to look out for the best interests of NY ratepayers and they do it well,” Masterjohn said.

    “It was suggested utilities should be allowed to own DG since there is a priority to build it and utilities have the capability to do that,” Garren added. “The PSC decided that, as with other generation, utilities should not [own community shared renewables].”

    Masterjohn is convinced NY utilities would still like to be sponsors in the program and own projects, which is prohibited by New York’s deregulation.

    “Whether the commission will ultimately allow that is to be determined,” she said.

    The cost shift

    “Everybody understood this is an access issue we need to solve now, to allow access to solar for all customers,” Masterjohn said. “We will answer the much harder valuation of DG question but we are going to take our time and do it right.”

    In two ways, the cost shift debate in New York is different, she added. First, the “deep and diverse coalition advocating for this legislation included low income advocates, communities of color, and environmental justice advocates. That provides a welcome counter to arguments we hear about solar hurting poor people.”

    Second, because the PSC is forward thinking, the program “is fully subject to change within the context of the broader REV docket. As the net metering successor tariff comes out and as the cost-benefit analyses come out, this program will evolve.”

    There is no research that conclusively proves NEM causes the cost shift the JU described, Garren said. “The commission seems to want to study those things without making the assumption net metering is the wrong choice and it looks like it is going to do a really good job on the analyses.”

    What could happen

    “New York represents a huge market potential for community shared solar,” Masterjohn said. New York City is the posterchild. It represents something like 30% of the state’s energy demand. Our back of the envelope estimate is that no more than 2% or 3% of the utility customers in New York City can put solar on their roof.”

    There are 7,317,755 occupied housing units in New York City, NYSERDA’s Joel pointed out. Some 53.3% (3,897,837) are owned outright or through a mortgage or loan. The other 46.7% (3,419,918) are rented and those renters are ideal candidates for community shared solar membership.

    “New York City is a shining example of people who would want to go solar but can’t put it on their roof,” Garren said.

    “New York City is a challenging marketplace, one that a lot of solar developers have been trying to crack for years,” Masterjohn said. “They working on lowering soft costs and simplifying things but it remains a challenge. And the order requires that projects and customers be within the same load zone. It will be interesting to watch how that works out.”

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The other utility death spiral

    The other death spiral utilities are beginning to deal with; Corporates and their big revenues will defect if utilities don’t give them green energy

    Herman K. Trabish, August 6, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    The central lesson for utilities in the talk of a death spiral is if they don’t give their customers what they want, they go elsewhere.

    To date, that talk is mostly about rooftop solar taking their revenues, but some utilities have begun to notice some of their biggest key accounts looking for greener pastures. Well, greener energy.

    “This is a new environment. You don’t just build it and shove it in the rate base. There is a more open dialogue. Renewable energy is at the center of that,” explained Altenex Managing Director Duncan McIntyre.

    Altenex is a broker-procurer of renewables for corporate buyers who want to go green. Discreetly, the company doesn’t talk about who is buying. But the solar and wind industries do.

    The numbers tell the story

    Utility power purchase agreements (PPAs) accounted for 40% of the wind capacity commissioned in 2014, down from 75% in 2013 and 76% in 2012, according to the "U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report" from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA).

    The number of non-utility entities contracting for wind reached 60 last year. Microsoft, Walmart, Yahoo, Amazon Web Services, the U.S. General Services Administration, and Cornell University joined the ranks of institutional buyers of wind in 2014. Already on the list were Google, Apple, Oklahoma State University, Ohio State University, and the U.S. Air Force.

    PPAs for over 1,770 MW of wind were signed in 2014 by private sector, government, and education institutions. Some, like Facebook and Google signed with utilities. Others, like IKEA and Anheuser-Busch, bought their own wind.

    Corporate buyers also upped their commitments to solar in 2014 by 28% over the year before, taking the cumulative installed capacity of top U.S. companies to over 569 MW at 1,110 facilitites, according to “Solar Means Business,” a report from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). That was over twice the 279 MW cumulative installed capacity recorded at the end of 2012.

    “The declining cost of renewable technologies, new third-party business models with attractive returns on investment, and price-risk mitigation are expanding the choices available,” according to another report — “Renewable Energy Options for Electric Utility Key Account Customers” — from the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA).

    These things and enabling policy are making solar “an economic, not just environmental choice…[and] loosening the existing exclusivity with a particular utility,” it reports.

    Walmart led private companies with a cumulative 105.1 MW of installed solar capacity in 2014 and added 15 MW during the year. Kohl’s, Costco, Apple, and IKEA rounded out 2014’s top five.

    More of the same this year

    Amazon Web Services (AWS) contracted for the 208 MW output of an Iberdrola Renewables wind project to power North Carolina operations this year. And Hewlett Packard took the output of a 112 MW SunEdison wind project for a Texas data center.

    One of the major early year highlights for solar, according a joint report from GTM Research and SEIA, was corporate entities’ “aggressive procurement of centralized solar.”

    More recently, SolarCity announced it would go after small and medium-size businesses, which CEO Lyndon Rive has called a "neglected" part of the solar market. GTM Research Analyst Shayle Kann called SolarCity’s new offering "meaningful because no one is doing small commercial well."

    Among Altenex’s Fortune 500 clients, exploring the renewables opportunityhas increased “somewhere between three-fold and five-fold over the last two years,” McIntyre said. “Actual transactions have gone up about two fold to three fold over the last year alone.”

    There are three key drivers that close deals between independent power producers and corporate buyers, McIntyre explained: Cost savings from increasingly competitive renewables, management of electricity price volatility risk due to rising natural gas penetration, and corporate sustainability goals.

    “That combination drives the decision to enter into these contracts,” McIntyre said. “And it is rare the organization’s finance group will support asustainability initiative at scale if it doesn’t meet economic thresholds.”

    The opportunity for utilities

    Utilities’ key account customers are finding “economically compelling alternatives to their traditional regulated utility’s offerings,” the SEPA paper explains. “Within this shifting landscape, utilities are beginning to proactively respond to these new interests through a variety of new renewable energy products, programs, or projects ... targeted to their key account customers.”

    “Utilities are in a position to serve them,” explained SEPA Sr. Research Analyst and paper co-author Ryan Edge. “They have existing customer relationships. They have energy sector expertise. They have the grid. Until recently, they haven’t been proactive in developing new products to meet the demand.”

    The paper outlines five customer expectations utility offerings must meet:

    1-Economic value comparable to either retail rates or on-site generation

    2-Favorable and flexible contract/financial terms such as competitive dollar value, contract term, and deal options

    3-Additionality, such as the assurance the renewable generation will not be used by the utility to meet a mandate or in any other way

    4-Risk comparable to that of on-site generation

    5-Streamlined transaction processes and costs

    Because utility offerings “will be benchmarked against the values provided by on-site generation, either customer or third-party owned,” the paper explains, the reasons key accounts don’t “simply utilize on-site generation and skip the utility option altogether” vary by market.

    Policies, electricity rates, and resources differ. “Key accounts may assess the costs and risks and decide the utility program, while not exactly like on-site generation in its benefits, offers a compelling alternative.”

    Green tariff programs, in which utilities supply renewables at a premium, were among the earliest offerings. But the “sleeve project seems to be the winning utility model,” Edge said.

    In a sleeve project, a third party handles development and operations with a wholesale rate PPA from the utility. The utility uses its existing infrastructure and transaction management capabilities to “wheel” the project output to the key account customer (called the contract sleeve) at its retail rate.

    “The utility keeps its relationship and load with that customer and maintains the revenue,” Edge explained. “The customer gets renewable energy. And the third party gets to develop a contracted project. All three benefit economically.”

    Through its sleeve contract with Arizona Public Service, Edge said, IO Data Services was able to meet its corporate sustainability goals. “But it also created another product for its customers. It has data center services at one price and a 100% renewable power data center option at a slightly higher price.”

    With a sleeve contract, Edge said, “the utility meets its key customers’ demands and retain its revenue.”

    Many regulated utilities are moving in the same way, McIntyre said. The two main drivers are policies, like renewables mandates, and taking advantage of increasingly competitive prices for generation in resource rich regions, like wind in the Midwest and solar in the Southwest.

    If the utility doesn’t provide renewables to its customers where those factors are driving forces, they may very well get them for themselves, he added. “But the preference from the corporate is always to buy their power from the utility because that is the entity they have had a relationship with and the entity that has always delivered reliable electricity.”

    Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) established a tariff that passes through the cost of wind energy to the corporate entity, McIntyre noted. "NPPD owns the assets and the corporate buys the renewables product it wants."

    If such offerings are not available, Altenex clients have gone elsewhere for renewables, he added. “Some states view this type of tariff as a way to attract businesses.”

    The move of utilities to renewables offerings to meet the demands of corporate customers “is definitely a trend,” McIntyre said. “I don’t have statistics but what is happening at the distributed generation level is also happening at the utility-scale generation level and we are not at the peak of the curve. We are still on the upward slope.”

    Pressure, he added, is coming from customer demand. It is also coming from state regulators who are concerned about the rising cost of electricity. It is coming from the volatility of natural gas prices. And it is coming from federal emissions regulations.

    “Five years ago, if I walked into the average regulated utility and suggested a program where we build a wind farm and they deliver the power to the corporate buyer, I would have been laughed out of the room,” McIntrye said, “The dialogue is a lot easier to have now.”


    Tuesday, May 17, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Potential Power Of The Nation’s Waters

    Marine and Hydrokinetic Technology

    2016 (U.S. Department of Energy Water Program)

    The energy from waves, tides, ocean currents, the natural flow of water in rivers, and marine thermal gradients can be captured to generate new sources of clean and renewable electricity. Although the marine and hydrokinetic (MHK) industry is at a relatively early stage of development compared to other renewable energy technologies (such as wind and solar power), the rivers, coasts, and oceans of the United States represent significant potential as a renewable energy resource. The United States uses about 4,000 terawatt hours of electricity per year. DOE estimates that the maximum technical resource potential, or electric generation potential, of waves, tides, and ocean and riverine currents in U.S. waters is more than 1,700 terawatt hours per year, almost half of the nation’s total annual electricity usage. Although not all of this resource potential can realistically be developed, the nation’s enormous MHK energy potential still represents major opportunities for new water power development in the United States.

    The Water Power Program helps industry develop and optimize MHK technologies that can harness this renewable, emissions-free resource to generate environmentally sustainable and cost-effective electricity. Through support for public, private, and nonprofit efforts, the Water Power Program promotes MHK technology development and testing in laboratory and open water settings, while gathering the operational, environmental, and market data needed to accelerate the responsible deployment and commercialization of MHK technologies. The Water Power Program works to assess the potential extractable energy from domestic water resources and to reduce the resources required for siting MHK power projects in order to assist industry and government in planning for the nation’s energy future. In addition, the Water Power Program recognized a lack of standardized descriptions for the stages of technology development for the wide range of devices and systems within the emerging MHK industry. In FY 2010, the Water Power Program incorporated Technology Readiness Levels (TRLs) into the Funding Opportunity Announcement process to enable consistent and uniform discussions regarding MHK technologies.

    From FY 2008 to FY 2015, the Water Power Program announced awards totaling about $136 million for 92 projects focused on MHK energy. Table 1 provides a brief description of most of these projects. To control the length of this project report, several older, Congressionally Directed Projects are not included. There are two sources of funding for MHK projects covered in this report: competitive Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs), funded by Congressional Appropriations, and Congressionally Directed Projects (CDPs).

    Types of Funding Sources a DOE Funding Amounts identified in this table reflect the total DOE funding planned for award to each project for the total period of project performance that may span multiple years. DOE Funding Amounts shown in this table may be subject to change. WWPTO research and development (R&D) projects covered in this report are financed through two primary sources of funding: Congressional Appropriations and Congressionally Directed Projects (CDPs). Congressional Appropriations determine the operating budgets for each EERE office. WWPTO-funded R&D projects are typically awarded to recipients as grants through competitive Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) that are dedicated to specific topic areas. CDPs are also funded by Congress, but are outside of the annual federal budget process. Frequently, there is a costshare requirement for recipients of both competitive FOA grants and CDPs.

    WWPTO also funds research projects at DOE’s national laboratories through the laboratories’ annual operating plans. This funding is not detailed in this report. However, a national laboratory may be a lead or a partner on a competitively awarded project covered in this report. In these cases, the national laboratory is identified as the lead or partner in the appropriate project descriptions

    The Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, in DOE’s Office of Science and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), provides competitive awards-based funding for domestic small businesses engaging in R&D of innovative technology. SBIR and ARPA-E have funded MHK R&D projects; however, these projects are not covered in this report.

    Marine and Hydrokinetic Funding Distribution DOE funded 92 MHK projects through the Water Power Program from FY 2008 to FY 2015. These projects are categorized in the following sections by activity area, topic area, geographic region and division, state, recipient type, and funding source.

    Funding by Activity Area and Topic Area The Water Power Program’s R&D efforts between FY 2008 and FY 2015 fall under two activity areas: Technology Development and Market Acceleration and Deployment. The Water Power Program’s Technology Development projects are aimed at reducing the technical barriers to MHK device development, improving device reliability and performance, and enhancing the understanding and evaluation of various technology types. The Water Power Program’s Market Acceleration and Deployment projects are aimed at reducing the time and costs associated with siting water power projects; better quantifying the potential magnitude, costs, and benefits of water power generation; and identifying and addressing other barriers to deployment. When total DOE funding for MHK from FY 2008 to FY 2015 is categorized by activity area, technology development activities received over 85% of the funding, while market acceleration activities received approximately 11%.

    Funding by Geographic Region & Division MHK projects were awarded in each of the nation’s four geographic regions. Table 3 provides details on how the Water Power Program’s funding was distributed within regions and divisions. The geographic regions and divisions used to present the distribution of WWPTO’s funding are based on the U.S. Census Regions and Divisions.

    Eight projects spanned several regions and divisions and are thus categorized as multiregional.

    Funding by State Projects in 24 states have received funding for MHK projects through the Water Power Program. Funding awarded to eight projects is disbursed across many states (including Vermont, which is not listed in Table 4) and is categorized as multistate.c Table 4 outlines funding by state.

    Combined, Maine, Oregon, and Hawaii received over 30% of total funding for MHK projects. All three states had projects aimed at improving, testing, and demonstrating various MHK technologies that are nearing commercialization, and some of the strongest wave and tidal resource potential in the continental United States also resides off the coasts of these states.

    Funding by Recipient Type DOE funds a variety of recipient types, including private industry, nonprofit organizations, universities and community colleges, investor-owned utilities and public utilities, local and state governments, as well as DOE national laboratories, federal agencies, and interstate government agencies.

    More than half of the total MHK funding from FY 2008 to FY 2015 was awarded to private industry, and nearly one-third went to universities or colleges. The remaining funds were awarded to public utilities, nonprofit organizations, and local or municipal governments. Exhibit 2 provides these details by recipient type.

    Funding Sources

    From FY 2008 to FY 2015 the Water Power Program issued eleven competitive FOAs focused on MHK. These FOAs provided more than $129 million in announced awards for 84 unique MHK projects. An additional $13 million was awarded to 13 unique MHK projects through Congressionally Directed funds. Although the unique number of awards made by the Program is 106, some projects, where bodies of work overlapped significantly, were combined in Table 1 resulting in an operational total of 92 projects. Exhibit 3 provides details on the funding sources for the Water Power Program’s MHK projects.


    The Water Power Program provided about $136 million in funding for MHK projects from FY 2008 to FY 2015, with numerous projects operating over multiple years. The Water Power Program has already realized significant returns on the federal investment to date and anticipates significant key accomplishments in the years to come. A few of the Water Power Program’s project accomplishments include the following:

    • In 2013, Dehlsen Associates, LLC fabricated a basin-scale model of the Aquantis C-Plane ocean current device and completed a series of highly successful tow tank tests at the Naval Surface Warfare Center, Carderock Division’s David Taylor Model Basin in Bethesda, Maryland. The tests demonstrated static and dynamic stability of the C-Plane in a variety of modes and validated numerical and modeling data, bringing the technology another step closer to commercialization. In 2012, Dehlsen Associates, LLC completed a study that identified regulatory requirements for avoiding sensitive benthic habitat off the coast of southeastern Florida to inform siting of ocean current technologies. Geophysical and benthic habitat surveys were conducted within areas selected by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to inform MHK siting development and to create ocean energy benthic survey methodologies.

    • In 2013, Verdant Power, Inc. and Cornell University signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the intention of entering into a long-term relationship centered on research and other activities related to MHK technologies. Verdant Power’s MHK project is the first commercially licensed tidal energy plant in the United States. On September 7, 2012, Verdant successfully completed an in-water dynamometry test, with the new rotor performing very well. This project in New York City builds upon an initial DOE investment in 2008 to improve Verdant Power’s turbine blade design. It remains the only project in the world where an array of tidal energy turbines has successfully been deployed and operated.

    • In 2012, the Water Power Program completed four assessments of U.S. MHK resources: wave, tidal, river hydrokinetic, and ocean thermal energy. These resource assessments are pivotal to understanding water power’s potential for future electricity production. Based on various resource assessments, the theoretical resource potential for United States wave, tidal, current, and riverine hydrokinetic resources is over 4,000 terawatt-hours per year (TWh/year) and the technical resource potential is estimated to be between 1,286 and 1,787 TWh/year. The wave assessment, completed by the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), found that 1,170 TWh/year are recoverable, with the West Coast (including Alaska and Hawaii) containing high potential for wave energy development. The tidal assessment, completed by Georgia Tech Research Corporation, found that 249 TWh/year are recoverable, with locations with high kinetic power density scattered along both the Atlantic and Pacific coasts. The river hydrokinetic assessment, also completed by EPRI, found that 120 TWh/year are recoverable, with the Mississippi River containing nearly half of U.S. potential. The ocean thermal energy assessment, completed by Lockheed Martin, found that 576 TWh/year are recoverable in U.S. waters. Additionally, Georgia Tech Research Corporation updated an assessment of U.S. ocean current resources that finished in 2013. The ocean current assessment found that 200 TWh/year are recoverable. The maps of each completed resource assessment are available at:

    • In the spring of 2012, Harris Miller, Miller & Hanson, Inc. (HMMH) completed a project aimed at providing siting information to the Edgartown Tidal Energy Project. HMMH developed a model to predict changes in hydrodynamics and sediment transport due to energy extraction by tidal devices in Muskeget Channel, Massachusetts, and used model results to assess potential changes to benthic habitat. The project also determined the occurrence of protected species in the area to inform monitoring efforts at the proposed project location. These data have been used specifically to inform the Edgartown Tidal Energy Project Draft License application, but the methodology could be used to help other tidal energy projects secure a license.

    • In 2012, Northwest Energy Innovations (NWEI) verified the ocean wavelength functionality of the Azura device (previously called WET-NZ) through wave tank testing and a controlled open-sea deployment of its 1:2 scale device. Azura was deployed on August 22, 2012, at the Northwest National Marine Renewable Energy Center (NNMREC) off the coast of Oregon. As the first developer to test at NNMREC’s offshore mobile ocean test berth, NWEI obtained six weeks of power performance data, as well as installation experience. Next, the device will be tested for one year at the U.S. Navy’s Wave Energy Test Site on Kaneohe Bay in Oahu, Hawaii.

    • In 2012, Ocean Renewable Power Company (ORPC) successfully deployed the first U.S. commercial tidal project in the United States using its TidGen™ Power System. Bangor Hydro Electric Company verified that electricity was flowing from ORPC’s Cobscook Bay Tidal Project in Maine, marking the first time in U.S. history that such a project was connected to the electric power grid. Due to its success, ORPC was named Emerging Company of the Year in November 2012 by the New England Clean Energy Council. ORPC is currently developing the next generation of their TidGen device using lessons learned from this deployment.

    • In September 2012, Vortex Hydro Energy tested the Vortex Induced Vibration Aquatic Clean Energy (VIVACE) converter in Michigan’s St. Clair River. The VIVACE converter is a novel device that generates power on a river bottom by creating vortices as the water flows through it, which makes the device bob up and down ( The VIVACE converter is designed for water currents as slow as 2 knots to 4 knots—a flow range not targeted by conventional turbine technologies.

    Technical characterization of resource

    The Mapping and Assessment of the United States Ocean Wave Energy Resource report (Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI)) assesses ocean wave energy potential along the U.S. coasts. The theoretical resource potential for generation from wave resources is estimated to range between 1,594–2,640 TWh/year. The technical resource potential for generation from wave resources is estimated to range between 898–1,229 TWh/year. Developing just a small fraction of this resource could allow for millions of American homes to be powered with clean, reliable wave energy.

    The Assessment of the Energy Production from Tidal Streams in the United States report (Georgia Tech) assesses the theoretically available energy in the nation's tidal streams. The theoretical resource potential for generation from tidal resources is estimated to be 445 TWh/year. The technical resource potential for generation is estimated to range between 222–334 TWh/year. Alaska contains the largest number of locations with high kinetic power density. Twelve other states, including all of the West coast and a large portion of the East coast, contain a number of locations with significant kinetic power density. The average tidal stream power density at these locations provides strong signals to tidal energy developers looking to test and deploy their devices.

    The Assessment of Energy Production Potential from Ocean Currents along the United States Coastline report (Georgia Tech) assesses the maximum theoretical power resource contained in the ocean currents. The theoretical resource potential for generation from ocean currents resources is estimated to be 200 TWh/year. The technical resource potential for generation is estimated to range between 45–163 TWh/year. The technical resource potential available for extraction in the Florida Current region of the Gulf Stream is approximately 45 TWh/year of generation. A larger region of the Gulf Stream—within 200 miles of the U.S. coastline from Florida to North Carolina—creates more than 3.5 times the amount of technical resource potential available for extraction (approximately 163 TWh/year of generation).

    The Assessment and Mapping of the Riverine Hydrokinetic Resource in the Continental United States report (EPRI) assesses the theoretical and technically recoverable riverine hydrokinetic energy resource—energy extractable from the natural flow of a river without the use of a dam—in the contiguous 48 states and Alaska (tidal waters excluded). Eighty percent of the potential comes from four hydrologic regions: the lower Mississippi (48%), Alaska (17%), the Pacific Northwest (9%), and the Ohio River (6%). The theoretical resource potential for generation from riverine hydrokinetic resources in the continental United States is 1,381 TWh/year. The technical resource potential is 120 TWh/year.

    The Ocean Thermal Extractable Energy Visualization report (Lockheed Martin) assesses the maximum amount of energy that can be practicably extracted from the world's ocean thermal resources. This energy uses the temperature difference between the cooler water at the ocean's depths and the warmer, surface water to power an engine that generates electricity. The technical resource potential for electric generation from ocean thermal resources is estimated at 576 TWh/year in U.S. coastal waters (including all 50 states, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands).