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.


  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Save $2 Trillion – Stop Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Germany Hits World Solar-Plus-Storage High
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussie Media Gets Facts Way Wrong On Wind
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Dubai To Study Geothermal, Ocean Energy Potential


  • TTTA Thursday-The Climate Change Secret In The Great Trees
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Makes A Home’s Value Grow
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind In The Stock Market
  • TTTA Thursday-Doc Brown Lives! Flux Capacitor Is World’s Fastest Car

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utility-scale solar booms as costs drop
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The backbone for the modern grid

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Lots of Solar
  • QUICK NEWS, July 19: The Time For New Energy Is Now; Wind Floats A Deepwater Future; Solar Keeps Getting More Affordable

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Why Hawaii’s Regulators Said No to NextEra
  • QUICK NEWS, 7-18: Cleveland Convention Reveals Republican Climate Cleavage; LA To Build World’s Biggest Battery Storage In Place Of NatGas Plant; Texas Meets Community Solar

  • Weekend Video: Eyes On The Prize – The New Energy Grid
  • Weekend Video: A Climate Change Coffee Mug
  • Weekend Video: Elizabeth Warren Challenges Deniers’ Data
  • --------------------------


    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.

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS,. July 23-24:

  • It’s Time To Choose
  • Solutions From Our Millennials
  • Coal In The Water, Clean In The Wind

    Saturday, July 23, 2016

    It’s Time To Choose

    The choice is stark. Trump made his case for fossil fuels. Here’s the case for New Energy. Pick – only the entire future is at stake. From Movieclips Film Festivals & Indie Films via YouTube

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    Solutions From Our Millennials

    The next generation is building New Energy solutions. All they need is the right support. From U.S. Dept of Energy via YouTube

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    Coal In The Water, Clean In The Wind

    Time to choose between cancer and New Energy. A little less in taxes or childerns’ lives? Do the math. From Time To Choose via YouTube.

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    Friday, July 22, 2016

    Save $2 Trillion – Stop Climate Change

    Heat stress from climate change may cost global economies $2 trillion by 2030

    Katie Medlock, July 21. 2016 (Inhabitat)

    “Research reveals yet another loss we can anticipate at the hands of climate change: global productivity. Heat stress in lower income countries has already shortened work days, which could result in a net loss of $2 trillion across all global economies by the year 2030. The sad irony is that the countries contributing the least to global warming will end up hurting the most…[Six new studies detail] the economic devastation coming our way on the heels of rising temperatures…First world countries, who contribute far more to our dire climate situation, can afford to adapt to the productivity challenges…[F]actories can invest in alternative means of cooling their machinery and bigger companies can afford to shift around workers’ schedules. Lower income countries will be the first to experience the growing economic burden, due to low-skill, low-paying, and labor intensive jobs being affected more severely by heat stress…Up to 43 countries, including China, Indonesia, and Malaysia, could take an economic hit by 2030. [Southeast Asian countries’ work hours have been slashed 15 to 20 percent because of extreme heat, a figure which could double in the next 30 years or so]…” click here for more

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    Germany Hits World Solar-Plus-Storage High

    Germany Sets a New Solar Storage Record

    July 18, 2016 (Energy Collective)

    “Germany’s 1.5 million photovoltaic installations provide a generation capacity of 40 gigawatts (GW), four times the 10.8 GW base-load nuclear fleet that is being decommissioned in legislated stages between the end of 2017 and 2022…[S]olar power has a particular advantage over centralised nuclear generation, in that it needs no long-distance transmission to serve local markets…[But there is overall grid congestion and, in response, the] German government has now announced restrictions on additional renewable capacities…[T]here is another way of addressing grid congestion: by increasing local storage for subsequent usage…Fully autonomous off-grid solar systems are expensive, but partial storage in grid-connected systems provides improved economy for both homeowners and power utilities. The Renewable Energy Storage Subsidy Program of the KfW Development Bank arranges low-interest federal loans and payback assistance covering up to 25% of the required investment outlays. KfW has determined that 41% of Germany’s new solar installations in 2015 included battery storage, compared with less than 14% the previous year. This level of adoption likely constitutes a world record for dedicated solar storage…” click here for more

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    Aussie Media Gets Facts Way Wrong On Wind

    Murdoch media gets it hopelessly wrong on wind energy. Again.

    Giles Parkinson, July 20, 2016 (ReNew Economy)

    “…[The latest] Murdoch media attack on the Australia wind industry…suggests that South Australia’s wind turbines were producing significant amounts of ‘negative power’ from the grid at the height of the recent electricity ‘crisis’…but the numbers it quotes are so ridiculously wrong it is almost laughable…[The Murdoch media apparently does not know] the difference between capacity and output…The state’s wind turbines cannot produce 5,780MW because they only have a combined capacity of 1,600MW. There’s not even 5,780MW of wind capacity in the whole country…[There is ‘negative output’ when turbines are not generating but, like a coal or gas plant, the facility needs power from the grid for lights, computers, etc. It was, according to government statistics, not 50MW but no more than 1.8MW]…To adapt an old expression, there are lies, damned lies, and the Murdoch media, particularly when it comes to writing about renewable energy (and climate change for that matter)…” click here for more

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    Dubai To Study Geothermal, Ocean Energy Potential

    Dubai to explore feasibility of geothermal energy

    LeAnne Graves, July 18, 2016 (The National)

    “…[Dubai is studying] renewable sources of energy it can make use of, such as the seas of the Gulf of Oman and the steam from the earth…Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) is requesting proposals for an early-stage feasibility study on producing electricity from geothermal energy and its use in desalination – removing salt from water to make it potable…The other area of focus for the study will be to, for the first time in the country, gauge the potential for tidal, wave and ocean currents as a source for power generation…Dubai’s Clean Energy Strategy includes the aim to generate 75 per cent of its electricity from clean energy sources by 2050…” click here for more

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    Thursday, July 21, 2016

    The Climate Change Secret In The Great Trees

    How ancient sequoias may hold a key to reversing climate change; The massive, ancient trees were once thought to be vulnerable to drought and fire. But now, scientists are attempting to clone and replant them all over the world to absorb greenhouse gasses

    Simone McCarthy, July 20, 2016 (Christian Science Monitor)

    “Planting more trees to absorb carbon is one of the many ways that humans are working to combat climate change across the world…[M]eticulously collecting samples from ancient sequoia trees to then clone them in a lab and replant them throughout the world…[is the climate change “solution”] being undertaken by the Archangel Ancient Tree Archive…[T]hey put particular hope in the sequoia, native only to the western slopes of the Sierra Nevada Mountains of California. The group says that the genetics of these trees, which grow to be some 300 feet tall and 3,000 years old, may make them particularly suited to withstand and push back against climate change…The nonprofit group takes the extra step of cloning, instead of just planting new trees, in order to preserve existing trees' genetic make-up and propagate the genes that have produced success…[R]esearch and observation have shown the sequoia to be resilient in the face of drought…” click here for more

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    Solar Makes A Home’s Value Grow

    Increase Your Home’s Value with Solar Panels; Consider installing a home solar system to save money on utility bills and boost your home’s value.

    Shelley Stonebrook, August/September 2016 (Mother Earth News)

    “…Installing a home solar system may provide long-term benefits to your household’s bottom line in reduced energy costs…[and] there’s another key financial perk to consider…[A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory report showed] a home’s value will increase about $15,000 if it includes an average-sized PV system (about 3.6 kW). When analyzing the data in terms of units of energy produced, the researchers found that property value goes up about $4 per watt of energy generated by the solar system installed on a given home…The researchers found only a small and insignificant difference in the value added for new homes with solar systems compared with existing homes that were retrofitted with a PV system. This means you can use solar to increase your home’s value even if it’s an older home…” click here for more

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    Wind In The Stock Market

    New Wind Energy Stock Debuts on NASDAQ...

    Jeff Seigel, July 19, 2016 (Wealth Daily)

    “…[$7 trillion is] expected to flow into the clean technologies space…[because] the rapid decrease in production costs for wind and solar…[is] allowing these clean energy technologies to compete with fossil fuels and nuclear for the first time — and without continued subsidies…[and] while production costs for wind and solar continue to fall, production costs for fossil fuels and nuclear continue to increase…[W]hen it comes to investing, it’s all about growth. And in terms of energy, nothing is growing faster than clean energy…I tend to side with the major players…like GE, Siemens, and ABB…[T]he best pure plays are those that continue to have the necessary capital, technology, and first-mover advantage…[like] SunPower, SolarEdge, First Solar, and Vestas…[but most of those stocks] have taken a beating this year…[A new wind stock, TPI Composites (NASDAQ: TPIC), will] begin trading on the NASDAQ under the symbol TPIC…” click here for more

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    Doc Brown Lives! Flux Capacitor Is World’s Fastest Car

    The Flux Capacitor is now the world’s fastest street-legal electric car; Jonny Smith's Flux Capacitor just set a sub-10 second 1/4 mile time at the drag strip.

    Jonathan M. Gitlin, July 19, 2016 (Ars Technica)

    “Jonny Smith's Flux Capacitor is [an Enfield 8000 electric city car (built in small numbers in the 1970s) transformed by a more potent powertrain and, on July 16, it] entered the record books as the world's fastest street-legal EV, running the quarter-mile in 9.87 seconds…[In Back to the Future, the flux capacitor was the core component of Doctor Emmett Brown's time traveling DeLorean and Brown said the flux capacitor made time travel possible. Smith used 44 more cells to supplemente] the existing 144-cell Hyperdrive Innovation lithium-ion battery pack…[and boosted the car from 370v to 400v…The new battery pack also boosts the Flux Capacitor's range to about 50 miles (80km), up from the previous 30 mile/48km range…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, July 20, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utility-scale solar booms as costs drop

    Utility-scale solar booms as costs drop, challenging gas on price; The total cost of a new project fell more than 50% from 2007 to 2014, a new LBNL study finds.

    Herman K. Trabish, October 8, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    The utility-scale solar sector is maturing right before our eyes. The resource's prices are falling so fast, it's on the verge of edging out natural gas on cost, according to the industry's latest progress report from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory(LBNL).

    “Utilities should take another look at utility-scale solar because they may be surprised at how much prices have come down. Prices from just two years ago are now grossly out of date,” noted Research Scientist Mark Bolinger, co-author of LBNL’s recent report, “Utility-Scale Solar 2014; An Empirical Analysis of Project Cost, Performance, and Pricing Trends.”

    Solar may now be a better choice to protect utility ratepayers from price hikes than natural gas, he added, because the prices in solar contracts are generally fixed, while fossil fuel plants are at the mercy of market prices for their fuels.

    Growth up, prices down

    One set of numbers tells the story of how quickly utility-scale solar is emerging:

    The first projects fitting LBNL’s definition of a utility-scale photovoltaic solarfacility — any ground-mounted array of 5 MW or greater — were installed in 2007, and there were 194 such projects online at the end of 2014. Of the 6,236 MW the projects comprised, more than half of that capacity — 3,218 MW — went online in 2014 alone.

    That breakneck pace of growth shows little sign of slowing in the short term. Installation increased by 729 MW in Q2 2015 alone, according to the "Q2 2015 U.S. Solar Market Insight Report" from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research. It was the ninth consecutive quarter that the utility-scale market segment grew by at least 500 MW, and the sector is widely expected to continue its growth pattern until the potential sunset of the 30% federal investment tax credit for solar at the end of 2016.

    But while those growth numbers are impressive, utility-scale PV's cost figures are more eye-popping.

    The median price in power purchase agreements (PPAs) fell to $3.10/watt (AC) in 2014, a 50% fall from the average price from 2007 to 2009, and a 37% drop from the price in 2010. The lowest prices were at $2.00/watt.

    The least expensive 20% of the prices sampled went from $3.20/watt in 2013 to $2.30/watt in 2014.

    Utilities have taken advantage of the new, lower prices.

    NV Energy recently reported signing a PPA for the 100 MW output of First Solar’s Playa Solar 2 installation at $0.0387/kWh after paying at $0.046/kWh for the output of SunPower’s 100 MW Boulder Solar installation last year. The utility bought utility-scale solar power for an average of $0.1377 per kWh for solar generation over the course of 2014.

    Austin Energy recently received record low bids below $0.04/kWh in response to its 2015 request for proposals (RFP). Those bids were 20% lower than the contract it signed with Recurrent Energy in 2014 for $0.045/kWh and only 25% of the $0.16/kWh it paid for the 30 MW Webberville project, the utility's first large installation.

    Deep Market

    The price declines represent more than just a few exceptional PPAs, Bolinger said.

    “The responses to utility solicitations show quite a bit of capacity priced very similarly to the winning bids in the RFPs, and that confirms this pricing is real," he said.

    LBNL’s survey of developer responses to solicitations found concrete evidence of a deep market.

    The Austin Energy RFP for 600 MW of solar received 149 unique proposals representing 7,976 MW from 33 different bidders. “Almost 1,300 MW were reportedly bid at levelized prices of $45/MWh or less,” LBNL reports.

    A Southwestern Public Service 2014 RFP for 200 MW of utility-scale PV received 112 project bids representing 5,250 MW. Some 2,958 MW were bid at levelized prices ranging from $40/MWh to $50/MWh, and 1,782 were bid at levelized prices ranging from $50/MWh to $60/MWh.

    Of the 2,537 MW of renewable resources bid into the 2015 NV Energy RFP, more than 90% were solar. LBNL did not get pricing information for the non-winning bids, but several hundred MW of shortlisted capacity were reportedly bid at prices very similar to the winning bids. In addition, the solar bids were priced lower than wind or geothermal bids, according to the utility.

    The LBNL study found such responses suggestive of "a significant amount of utility-scale PV capacity capable (at least with the 30% ITC) of selling electricity at very low prices in the Southwest,” the LBNL study reports.

    Financial cash flow models using real world parameters produce hypothetical PPA prices that match current market prices, Bolinger said. “There isn’t much question the current solar technologies are viable and these projects should be profitable, even at the new low PPA prices.”

    New highs in capacity factors

    Technology advances are also allowing utility-scale PV installations to generate more power for every MW of nameplate capacity. That means higher project capacity factors. And higher capacity factors enable low PPA prices, Bolinger explained.

    “The highest capacity factors in our sample are up around 35%, which is comparable in the Southwest to wind power,” he said. “That may surprise some people because the sun only shines during the day whereas wind could come around the clock.”

    The four key drivers of a project’s capacity factor are the strength of the solar resource, whether the panels are fixed or track the sun, the inverter loading ratio, and the module type, Bolinger said.

    “Module type does not have much impact," he said, "but the other three variables have a strong influence.”

    Capacity enhancement factors may increase the cost per MW of the project, but they can reduce the cost per MWh of production even more, Bolinger said.

    Unsurprisingly, projects sited in stronger solar resource areas have substantially higher capacity factors, all else being equal, the study reports. There is an average 8% advantage to being in the highest resource area versus being in the lowest resource area, though that difference may be affected by a project’s tracking technology and inverter loading ratio.

    Single-axis tracking ups the average capacity factor by 3% to 4% over projects that used fixed-tilt racking.

    An increase in the inverter loading ratio, which means adding more panels to the array but keeping the same size inverter, alters the array’s average capacity factor between 1% and 6%, depending on the solar resource.

    The differences in project-level capacity factors by module type are generally smaller than for the other variables and exhibit few patterns beyond that there seems to be a strong preference by developers of thin-film projects for fixed-tilt racking, the study reports.

    “Tracking has become a lot more reliable and the cost has dropped so the developers will get extra MWh by shifting to it,” Bolinger explained. The new numbers may simply reflect the recent purchase by First Solar, one of the world’s biggest usPV developers, of tracking technology provider RayTracker.

    One of the big drivers for choosing First Solar’s cadmium telluride thin filmmodules for Southwestern desert projects is their thermal coefficent, Bolinger said. “When you have that strong a resource, it makes sense to track it.”

    Low prices have the South rising

    In addition to the capacity factor drivers, Bolinger said, the planned sunset of federal tax incentives at the end of next year is spurring short-term growth.

    "We are heading into 2016 and developers are bidding aggressively to get contracts in place so they can build their projects ahead of the reversion of the ITC," he said.

    The federal investment tax credit (ITC) was raised to 30% in 2006 to support solar growth, after having long been at 10%. Congress is expected to allow it to revert to 10% when the increase now in place expires at the end of 2016.

    The ITC may have been successful enough as an incentive for the utility-scale sector to sustain strong growth beyond the reversion, Bolinger said.

    Modeling with aggressive parameters and a 30% ITC produced a levelized PPA price of about $43 per MWh. The same modeling with a 10% ITC only increased it to about $54 per MWh, he said.

    “There have been a lot of contracts signed at that level and it is not clear to me demand will suddenly dry up if we go back to a 10% ITC in 2017,” Bolinger said.

    He also anticipates further installed cost reductions.

    “The CEO of First Solar recently essentially promised their installed prices would be below $1/watt in 2017,” Bolinger said.

    The result of the lower prices is an expansion of utility-scale PV to regions beyond the Southwest, particularly in Southeast, Bolinger said.

    “We are seeing contracts in the $50/MWh to $60/MWh range in states like Arkansas and Alabama that haven’t seen solar development," he said.

    Of LBNL’s 8.7 GW of sample projects, 96% were in the Southwestern states of California (68%), Nevada (11%), Arizona (11%), Texas (4%), and New Mexico (3%).

    Even so, “there have been a number of notable announcements over the past year about new utility-scale solar PPAs being signed at competitive prices in several southeastern states,” the study reports. They include:

    -Georgia Power long-term PPAs signed in Oct. 2014 for 545 MW at an estimated average PPA price of $65/MWh or less

    -A Feb. 2015 Tennessee Valley Authority PPA for 80 MW at a price of $61/MWh

    -An April 2015 Entergy Arkansas PPA for 81 MW at a price just above $50/MWh

    -An Amazon Web Services PPA for 80 MW at an undisclosed price

    -A July 2015 Orlando Utilities Commission PPA for 13 MW at $70/MWh, less than half the $194/MWh price of its 2011 project

    The trend is especially noteworthy “because the Southeast has historically not seen much renewable energy development,” the study explains.

    “If people in the Southeast see they will not be on the losing end of the Clean Power Plan and other policies proposed to combat global warming, there might be less resistance there,” Bolinger added.

    Solar's competitive advantages

    At the new low PPA price levels, “solar can compete head on with wind power in terms of both price and generation profile,” the LBNL study also finds.

    Both renewable resources, because their PPAs lock in cost over long contractual periods, offer a hedge value against the volatility of fossil fuel prices, Bolinger said.

    Competition for PPAs is emerging between wind and solar in the Southwest and Texas, he said.

    “It would be difficult to build wind in the $50 per MWh to $60 per MWh range in many places in the Southeast. And the solar resource is more widespread," Bolinger said.

    Solar has several advantages over wind. It is available more often during the day, closer to peak demand periods, and has less risk in the form of moving parts and annual resource variation.

    “All in all, it is a more predictable resource,” Bolinger said. “If they can get a solar PPA at a similar price as a wind PPA, nine times out of ten they will choose solar.”

    More significantly, PPA prices for utility-scale PV are starting to match the fuel costs of natural gas power generation, Bolinger said. “Even if the utility doesn’t need new generation capacity for the next five or ten years, solar could allow a utility to back off the gas plant and save on fuel costs.”

    And, Bolinger added, if solar can compete with the fuel cost of natural gas generation now, without considering any fixed capital cost recovery for the gas plant, it is likely to be an even better investment going forward because “it is a good bet gas prices aren’t going much lower.”

    “Most solar PPAs have no escalator," Bolinger said. "That means the price declines over time in real dollar terms. Natural gas price projections tend to increase over time in real dollar terms."

    The LBNL report is a high-level cost measurement and doesn't break down cost factors for specific utilities to compare costs. Even so, the nationwide drop in utility-scale PV prices, especially combined with the freedom from fuel costs, is still “a good reason for utilities to take another look at solar,” Bolinger said.

    "Solar is a little more expensive than natural gas at current prices but looking out a few years solar gets cheaper pretty quickly,” he said.

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The backbone for the modern grid

    How 'grid neutrality' can build the backbone for the modern grid; Wellinghoff, Tong and partners propose 5 standard principles to guide DER integration

    Herman K. Trabish, October 12, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    As utilities and customers look to cut carbon emissions and modernize their grids through the use of distributed energy resources (DERs), one of the nagging questions facing sector stakeholders nationwide is how to decide where, when, and how new technologies like rooftop solar or storage will be deployed on the grid.

    New rules are needed, many stakeholders say, to convert the old grid, based on centralized generation, to one that readily integrates and promotes the proliferation of new grid technologies.

    A new report from the Public Utilities Fortnightly attempts to address that issue, establishing five principles of "grid neutrality" designed to help utilities and policymakers design a more open grid — one impartial to the technologies being deployed on it, and who owns them.

    “We are not being critical of existing grid policies," said Jon Wellinghoff, former chair of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and one of the authors of the study, “Grid Neutrality; Five Principles for Tomorrow’s Electricity Sector."

    "We are formulating new policies necessary to optimize operations in a rapidly transforming grid dominated by customer DER acquisition and deployment," he said.

    Debates about who should pay for what on today’s grid involve a host of political, business, and technology interests, the paper explains. But the concept of grid neutrality is based on “an inherent structural property of the grid itself.”

    Electricity grids are not just conduits of generation. They are dynamic networks, the paper asserts, likening the concept of "net neutrality," which "seeks to maintain a fair and open Internet."

    Grid neutrality, by definition, seeks the same thing, "[emphasizing] a fair and open electricity network.”

    The extent to which regulators protect grid neutrality is a way “to evaluate future regulatory decisions in the rapidly evolving electricity sector,” said Shayle Kann, another co-author and senior vice president of GTM Research.

    Regulatory processes, however, have caused friction in grid policy since they are are based on precedents and past costs that can be backwards-looking, said James Tong, co-author and vice president of strategy for Clean Power Finance (CPF).

    Grid neutrality can “steer policies in the right direction,” he said.

    For example, Kann said the limited bill reduction for distributed energy resources (DERs) given to customers installing such technologies often fails to accurately value the resource itself.

    “Those DERs may have the potential to provide value to the grid, either at the utility level (as distribution deferral, resource adequacy, or another service) or at the ISO/RTO level (as frequency regulation or another service)," Kann said. “With a few notable limited exceptions, this just isn't available to consumers today.”

    The grid will be sub-optimal, with consumers overpaying for energy services, until "we reveal values up and down the grid chain, from distribution through transmission and generation, and establish mechanisms to monetize and provide consumers access to those values,” Wellinghoff asserted.

    That's a tall proposition, and another nagging question on the sector, but regulators looking for direction today can get their start in the grid neutrality principles, Kann said.

    The five core tenets of Grid Neutrality

    These five principles encourage empowering the consumer, clarifying boundaries between private and public interests, rewarding risk, ensuring transparency and opening access on the grid.

    Allowing DERs onto the grid is an example of the first principle, which calls for enpowering the consumer, according to Kann.

    Tong agreed that consumers should have a choice in how they manage their energy.

    “We don’t expect every consumer to be a supplier to the grid,” Tong said. “But they should at least have that choice.”

    Unintentional bias in regulatory proceedings has historically positioned customers as a uniform and passive block, explained co-author Jenny Hu, a CPF business analyst, but "the world has changed."

    “We’re trying to change the language to assume someone wants choice, not that they don’t want it," she said.

    Shifting some of the risk and potential reward previously held by regulated utilities to customers who want choice exercises the principles of clarifying boundaries and rewarding risk, according to the paper. Such a move draws a line between public and private interests by rewarding customers who take risks, while also protecting other consumers from the risks taken on by individuals.

    These two principles also help ensure that DERs are not over-compensated if utilities more readily or more economically provide the contraptions and include them the rate base, Kann said.

    Regulators have, except in rare cases, protected ratepayers from risk and the marketplace from unfair competition by denying regulated utilities the right to rate base residential solar, Tong acknowledged.

    But at the same time, a number of utilities have entered the rooftop solar industry either with rate-based pilot programs, such as in Arizona, or through unregulated renewable energy developments arms. Those trends make the risk conversation even more important, Tong said, "because the dialogue in some places has been moving in that direction.”

    To follow the fourth principle calling for a level playing field, a customer’s DERs can only be efficiently sited and fairly valued if data transparency exists, the paper argues. And consequently the fifth principle, which calls for open access to the grid, can only occur if the customer can bring DERs competitively to market.

    All of that requires a fuller understanding of the value of distributed resources on an individualized basis, the authors said, and grid neutrality is the key to uncovering that information.

    “Implementing the tenets of grid neutrality is a condition precedent toaccurately valuing DERs,” Wellinghoff said. “Without their implementation in a policy structure, it will be difficult if not impossible to get DER values right.”

    Changing the regulation of the past

    In the past, the power sector has done little to ensure grid neutrality, the paper asserts, especially on the distribution grid, which utilities still largely own as regulated monopolies.

    “To take advantage of the enormous economies of scale associated with this grid architecture, governments granted exclusive franchises to monopoly providers," the paper explains. "That ensured a mostly uniform product for captive ratepayers."

    That “one-size-fits-all model” doesn’t work anymore for three reasons, the authors argue: New infrastructure is not needed for universal access, and DERs can now often meet grid needs more efficiently than central generation. And the customer is no longer a mere taker from the grid but has in many cases evolved into a so-called “prosumer” by sending energy, capacity, and ancillary services to the grid.

    In the last century, regulatory policy evolved for a "monopoly supplier," Tong said.

    "Under that construct, everything centers in regulatory proceedings around what the utility does. Regulation is to protect the public from utility excesses.”

    The current preoccupation with “the utility of the future” is an example of how today’s grid is not neutral, he said.

    “It makes the utilities the center of everything," Tong said. "The center of regulation should be about what is best for the consumer. But in those conversations, the consumer is almost entirely absent. That’s why we put ‘empower the consumer’ as our number one principle.”

    For instance, the starting point shouldn't be the prevailing cost of service regulation (COSR) paradigm because it “sets prices based on past costs, not on future potential,” the paper explains. Furthermore, the paper asserts that COSR is also “naturally biased in favor of minimizing harm rather than maximizing customer value.”

    This paradigm is inadequate because it requires regulators to subject all grid users to a single interpretation of value. DERs’ value and cost “change constantly in response to locational and real-time constraints of supply and demand,” the paper says. “Setting prices through slow, periodic rate cases cannot keep pace with such a dynamic grid.”

    This shortcoming is evident in current regulatory disputes over the value of DERs, the paper added. These disputes appear similar to debates over DER compensation, but the real problem is that the "pricing mechanisms are too blunt and rigid; prevailing regulation cannot dynamically balance the benefits of distributed resources to the grid and grid users.”

    Tong added that utilities' integrated resource plans (IRPs) often don't include demand side resources. CPF's Hu agreed that the IRP process should include anyone who meets minimum grid standards, including consumers, utilities, or generator.

    “They should be evaluated under the same metric without preference," she said. "And if somebody invents a new energy technology tomorrow, it would be evaluated on the same metric.”

    Grid neutrality, Hu added, is “a call to create that kind of metric.”

    Hitting all five points in Con Ed’s BQDM project

    Consolidated Edison’s Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management (BQDM) Program is a good example of a project that hits all five points of grid neutrality, the authors said.

    The utility and the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) “are laying out the framework for that metric but they have not created it," Tong said.

    High electrical demand growth in Brooklyn and Queens meant ConEd faced a 69 MW overload of feeders serving two substations by 2018.

    The traditional answer would have been a $1 billion-plus investment in new substations, feeders, and switching stations. But ConEd added a request for proposals (RFP) for demand side resources.

    ConEd's $200 million-plus proposal to the PSC was for 17 MW of infrastructure investment and for the BQDM Program, which was 52 MW of demand side solutions on both the utility and customer sides of the meter. This was a plan following the five principles, according to the paper.

    The BQDM empowered customers who wanted to provide demand side resources while the infrastructure build respected customers’ right to not buy in. The utility's decision to deploy both centralized and customer-side solutions "upholds the dual mandate of grid neutrality."

    "It maintains grid reliability while maintaining the grid’s position as a platform via which customers are incentivized to reduce costs for all grid users," the paper explained.

    ConEd will own and control the monopoly infrastructure, with most of the distributed solutions owned by customers and/or third parties. This enabled the utility and the PSC to “established clear boundaries for monopoly and market activities [and] protected the rate base.”

    For the infrastructure investment, the PSC granted a regulated rate of return plus a 100 basis point reward for the programs built toward its customers. But the PSC denied ConEd’s request for a 50% share of BQDM customer savings. Instead, the agency returned the savings to the customers and third parties who owned the demand side resources. This follows the third principle by allocating various risks and rewards “among various willing and able participants.”

    The PSC required the ConEd RFP to be transparent and ordered an independent third party monitor. It also required a public report on the bidding and will require “future public reports on all program expenditures and activities.” These moves augment grid neutrality as defined by the paper.

    The RFP and bidding have been open with decisions based on merit, which allows "different technologies and stakeholders to prove their merit ensures an open playing field and upholds grid neutrality,” the paper said.

    In meeting all five core principles, the BQDM program should “stand as an early example of the grid operating as an open, transparent platform.”

    Without common ground, Tong warned that arguments about the direction of the grid could go on indefinitely. Setting up common principles for a dialogue between utilities, customers, regulators, and third parties can build a more fruitful conversation.

    “The principles are agnostic. They are not anti-utility or pro-DER. If we can agree on these principles, we can talk more constructively," Tong said.

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    Tuesday, July 19, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Lots of Solar

    On the Path to SunShot: The Environmental and Public Health Benefits of Achieving High Penetrations of Solar Energy in the United States

    Wiser, et. al., May 2016 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    The U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative (SunShot) seeks to motivate swift reductions in the cost of solar energy in order to strengthen the role of solar as a low-cost energy source. The SunShot Vision Study (DOE 2012) evaluated the profound implications of such cost reductions for the solar industry, the electricity sector as a whole, and end-use electricity consumers, finding that achieving the SunShot cost targets could result in overall solar electricity penetrations of 14% of annual U.S. electricity demand by 2030 and 27% by 2050. Analyzed solar technologies included photovoltaics (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP). That study, however, did not comprehensively quantify and value the potential environmental and health benefits associated with achieving these levels of solar penetration.

    Our analysis fills that gap by thoroughly assessing three key potential environmental and health benefits of achieving the solar penetrations envisioned in the SunShot Vision Study: greenhousegas (GHG) emissions reductions, air-pollution health and environmental impacts, and water-use reductions. Specifically, we use a scenario-analysis approach in which the 14%-by-2030 and 27%-by-2050 “SunShot Vision” scenario is compared with a ”No New Solar (NNS) baseline” scenario in which no new solar is deployed after 2014. This framework allows us to assess the potential benefits of all incremental solar deployment. We employ the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) electric sector capacityexpansion model to conduct our analysis, updating the analysis conducted in the SunShot Vision Study. For each of the three benefit categories, we take the modeled output from ReEDS and then apply additional tools—as necessary—to assess potential benefits in physical and, where feasible, monetary terms. We qualify the study results where appropriate, and highlight areas of uncertainty not otherwise explicitly addressed in our analysis.

    The United States is already benefiting from an existing fleet of solar power projects. Evaluating the potential environmental and health benefits of that existing solar generation helps provide context for the future scenario analysis. To this end, we briefly assess the recent benefits of the 2014 U.S. solar fleet. In this case, we use the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s Avoided Emissions and geneRation Tool (AVERT) to estimate the characteristics and location of fossil generation sources displaced by the 20 gigawatts (GW) of year-end 2014 solar capacity. As with the forward-looking analysis of the SunShot Vision scenario, we assess the potential benefits in physical and monetary terms using appropriate additional tools.

    As summarized below and in Figures ES-1 (SunShot Vision), ES-2 (solar fleet at end of 2014), and ES-3 (regional results associated with solar fleet at end of 2014), our analysis finds that a future U.S. electricity system in which solar plays a major role would result in enduring environmental and health benefits; that the existing fleet of solar power plants is already offering a down-payment towards those benefits; and that there are sizable regional differences in the magnitude of the benefits.

    Greenhouse Gas Emissions

    • SunShot Vision: Achieving the SunShot Vision scenario reduces life-cycle GHG emissions from the power sector by 13% in 2030 and 18% in 2050, relative to the NNS baseline scenario. Cumulative GHG savings from 2015 to 2050 equal 10% of life-cycle emissions from the power sector.i These reductions produce global benefits of $259 billion in the form of lower future climate change damages when applying a central value for the social cost of carbon (SCC), which is equivalent to a levelized benefit of solar of 2.2¢/kWh-solar.ii If, instead, solar is viewed as a way to meet future legal requirements to reduce carbon emissions—and therefore offsets the cost of complying with those regulations—then, under a medium trajectory for the cost of those future regulations, the SunShot Vision scenario yields $238 billion in savings, which is equivalent to a levelized benefit of 2.0¢/kWh-solar.iii

    • Solar Fleet at End of 2014: These potential future benefits build on the 17 million metric tons of CO2 savings realized annually from the 2014 solar fleet, which is equivalent to an annual global benefit of $700 million (2.1¢/kWh-solar) when applying a central value for the social cost of carbon.

    Air-Pollution Emissions

    SunShot Vision: Achieving the SunShot Vision scenario reduces emissions of sulfur dioxide (SO2), nitrogen oxides (NOx), and fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the power sector by 14%, 14%, and 13% in 2030 and 15%, 18%, and 13% in 2050, relative to the NNS baseline scenario. Cumulative emissions savings from 2015 to 2050 equal 9%, 11%, and 8% of power-sector SO2, NOx, and PM2.5 emissions, respectively. These reductions produce benefits of $167 billion in the form of lower future health and environmental damages based on central estimates which is equivalent to a levelized benefit of 1.4¢/kWh-solar.iv The benefits derive, in large measure, from a reduction in premature mortality from sulfate particles from SO2 emissions—achieving the SunShot Vision scenario reduces premature mortalities by 25,000–59,000 based on methods developed by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

    • Solar Fleet at End of 2014: These potential future benefits build on annual reductions of 10,000, 10,300, and 1,200 metric tons of SO2, NOx, and PM2.5, respectively, from the 2014 solar fleet, which provide annual domestic air quality benefits of $890 million (2.7¢/kWhsolar) based on central estimates.

    Water-Use Reductions

    • SunShot Vision: Achieving the SunShot Vision scenario reduces power-sector water withdrawals by 8% in 2030 and 5% in 2050, relative to the NNS baseline scenario, while power-sector water consumption is reduced by 10% in 2030 and 16% in 2050.v Cumulative water impacts from 2015 to 2050 equal 46 trillion gallons of avoided withdrawal (4% of total power-sector withdrawals) and 5 trillion gallons of avoided water consumption (9% of total power-sector consumption). By 2050, water withdrawals in the continental United States are lower than the NNS baseline scenario in 35 of 48 states, and water consumption is lower in 36 of 48 states. Importantly, drought-prone and arid states are among those with the largest reductions in water use. These results assume dry cooling for CSP plants; greater use of wet or hybrid cooling reduces modestly the national water savings (e.g., water consumption savings drop from 16% in 2050 to 12% in 2050).

    • Solar Fleet at End of 2014: These potential future savings build on the water-use reductions from the 2014 solar fleet, including annual withdrawal and consumption savings of 294 billion gallons (0.8% of power sector total) and 7.6 billion gallons (0.5% or power sector total), respectively, with much of those savings located in drought-impacted California.

    The total monetary value of the GHG and criteria air pollution benefits of the SunShot Vision scenario exceed $400 billion in present-value terms under our central estimates, which is equivalent to roughly 3.5¢/kWh-solar. Focusing on the existing end-of-2014 fleet of solar power projects, recent annual benefits equal more than $1.5 billion under our central estimates, which is equivalent to 4.8¢/kWh-solar. These are central estimates, with a sizable range of uncertainty. The figures exclude the value of reduced water use—for which monetary quantification was not feasible—as well as other non-quantified environmental considerations.

    It is important to recognize that the environmental and health benefits of solar are strongly dependent on not only the amount of solar deployment but also the location of that deployment—solar that displaces higher-emitting coal generation has substantially larger benefits than solar that displaces lower-emitting gas-fired (or even wind) generation. Focusing on recent benefits from the end-of-2014 solar power fleet, Figure ES-3 illustrates the sizable regional variations in both the absolute magnitude of the GHG and air quality benefits and how those benefits translate on a normalized ¢/kWh-solar basis. About two-thirds of total end-of- 2014 solar generation is delivered to California, and California accounts for roughly half of the recent total global GHG benefits. On a normalized ¢/kWh-solar basis, recent GHG-reduction benefits range from 1.9 to 3.2¢/kWh-solar depending on the region, when a central value for the social cost of carbon is applied. Normalized health-related air quality benefits are especially sensitive to regional attributes, with recent benefits ranging from 0.6 to 19¢/kWh-solar, driven in significant measure by the degree to which higher-emitting coal-fired generation is displaced by solar.

    Decision makers will naturally wish to compare these potential environmental and health benefits with, among other things, the potential costs and risks introduced by adding solar to the electric system as well as the potential impacts of solar on local ecosystems and communities. Although not addressed in this report, the SunShot Vision Study (DOE 2012) provides a thorough initial assessment of electric-system costs and impacts, while other papers in the On the Path to SunShot Study series help inform such comparisons.

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    QUICK NEWS, July 19: The Time For New Energy Is Now; Wind Floats A Deepwater Future; Solar Keeps Getting More Affordable

    The Time For New Energy Is Now A New Climate Change Documentary Focuses On Solutions, Not Doom But Instills A Healthy Amount Of Fear, Too

    Grennan Milliken, July 18, 2016 (Popular Science)

    “Despite the shrillness of climate deniers in today’s political and media circuses, it’s fair to say that most regular citizens--and nearly all of the global scientific community--know that our planet’s climate is changing, and that those changes are already causing damage to our environments, cities, and economies and will continue to do so on a grander scale…[Time to Choose, from award winning filmmaker Charles Ferguson] is the latest documentary to attempt to tackle the subject and succeeds in many ways where other climate change documentaries [have failed. By effectively and truthfully explaining just how feasible and realistic the New Energy solutions to climate change are, it’s] a more welcome and informative watch than most documentaries with an environmental cause…[The film also breaks down the need for New Energy solutions] in the clearest, most coherent way possible for anyone to comprehend…” click here for more

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    Wind Floats A Deepwater Future Are floating turbines the future of wind energy?

    Jennifer Johnson, July 17, 2016 (Energy Digital)

    “Wind turbine technology has come a long way in the quarter of a century since the world’s first offshore wind farm, Denmark’s Vindeby, was installed [with .45MW, 52.5m turbines]…Traditional ‘fixed’ turbines are limited to water depths of around 40 to 50m, mostly relegating offshore wind farms to the shallow waters of the continental shelf…[Deploying turbines beyond 100m] could allow them to harvest energy from some of the strongest winds on the planet…There are currently dozens of [‘floating’ turbine] pilot projects…which consist of [wind turbines mounted on buoyant structures and here are five proposals that could revolutionize] wind energy…1. Trident Winds’ Morro Bay Offshore Project…2. New England’s Aqua Ventus [off Maine]…3. Floatgen [off France’s Le Croisic coast]…4. [Principle Power’s] WindFloat [off Portugal’s Aguçadoura coast, and…5. [Statoil’s] Hywind [off Scotland’s coast]…” click here for more

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    Solar Keeps Getting More Affordable You’ll Never Believe How Cheap New Solar Power Is

    Joe Romm, July 18, 2016 (Climate Progress)

    “Solar energy has grown 100-fold in [the U.S.] in the past decade. Globally, solar has doubled seven times since 2000, and Dubai received a bid recently for 800 megawatts of solar at a stunning $0.0299/kWh unsubsidized as compared to the $0.12/kWh average U.S. residential electricity price]…Solar energy has been advancing considerably faster than anyone expected just a few years ago thanks to aggressive market-based deployment efforts around the globe…[Costs have come down by a factor of 150 since 1975 and installed capacity has increased 115,000 times over and] for every doubling in scale of the solar industry, the price of solar modules has dropped roughly 26 percent…[It is projected that, by 2040, global investment in solar will reach $3.4 trillion, more than the projected $2.1 trillion investment in fossil fuels and $1.1 trillion in new nuclear] combined…[That will make wind and solar] the cheapest ways of producing electricity in many countries during the 2020s and in most of the world in the 2030s…” click here for more

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    Monday, July 18, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: Why Hawaii’s Regulators Said No to NextEra

    Summary of Decision and Order No. 33795, Docket No. 2015-0022

    July 15, 2016 (Hawaii Public Utilities Commission)

    In assessing whether or not the Application should be approved, the Commission applied two legal standards: (1) is the Application reasonable and in the public interest; and (2) is the applicant (NextEra) fit, willing, and able to provide the services currently offered by the HECO Companies. It is the Applicants’ evidentiary burden to prove that both of these legal standards are met by a preponderance of the evidence. After reviewing the entire record, the Commission concluded that while NextEra is fit, willing, and able to step into the shoes of the HECO Companies without a loss in performance, the Application for the proposed Change of Control is not in the public interest.

    In reaching this decision, the Commission considered the ninety-five (95) specific commitments proposed by the Applicants, as well as the evidentiary record as a whole. Specifically, the Commission concluded that the Applicants had not shown the Application to be reasonable and in the public interest with respect to five fundamental areas of concern: (1) benefits to ratepayers; (2) risks to ratepayers posed by NextEra’s complex corporate structure; (3) Applicants’ clean energy commitments; (4) the proposed Change of Control’s effect on local governance; and (5) the proposed Change of Control’s effect on competition in local energy markets.

    Benefits to Ratepayers

    The Commission concluded that Applicants did not demonstrate, by a preponderance of the evidence, that their proposed benefits (represented through a combination of rate credits, investment funds, and a rate case moratorium) would provide adequate or assured benefits to ratepayers:

    • The proposed $60 million is a conditional guarantee that is not irrevocable. Accordingly, it does not represent a “guaranteed” benefit to ratepayers.

    • Additionally, the $60 million is inextricably linked to Applicants’ proposed fouryear moratorium for seeking rate increases. Specifically, the $60 million in rate credits is designed to be spread over the four-year rate case moratorium, with the bulk of the rate credits “back-loaded” (i.e., more is due in the latter years of the moratorium, rather than the earlier years). However, the record demonstrates that the rate case moratorium could be prematurely terminated for a number of reasons, some of which are not clearly defined. The result is that there is the potential that the rate case moratorium may be ended prematurely, and that any pending rate credits would be nullified. This is especially concerning given the back-loaded nature of the proposed rate credits.

    • Likewise, the $60 million in rate credits is conditioned upon Commission guarantees that certain ratemaking policies, which could ultimately cost customers more than the value of the rate credits, could not be changed during the moratorium. For example, the Commission would be required to continue to allow the HECO Companies to adjust the way capital expenditures and expenses are recorded (through a tariff known as the Rate Adjustment Mechanism), which would allow the HECO Companies to accelerate their recovery of costs from ratepayers, which could lead to an increase in ratepayers’ bills during the rate case moratorium. This could diminish or offset completely the $60 million in rate credits.

    • Applicants also failed to present sufficient evidence to support that $60 million in rate credits is an appropriate amount. Applicants did not retain a third party to provide a quantitative analysis, and the HECO Companies instead relied on estimates provided by NextEra – an entity with no direct experience on the impact of revenues and expenses on customer bills in Hawaii.

    • The actual impact of the $60 million on ratepayers’ actual monthly bills is relatively minor. When considered in the context of an actual ratepayers’ monthly bill, the Commission observed that the $60 million in rate credits would likely translate to less than a dollar per month in savings over the four-year rate case moratorium.

    • Regarding Applicants’ estimated $1 billion in state-wide benefits, the Commission noted that this projection was based on: (1) approximately $464.4 million in savings to ratepayers; and (2) approximately $496.1 million in derivative benefits that would result from these estimated ratepayer savings. Regarding ratepayer benefits, the Commission observed that a large portion of these estimated benefits are premised on assumptions and/or expectations about the future. • Similarly, Applicants projected sizeable savings from the estimated reduction in the HECO Companies’ borrowing costs as a result of merging with NextEra. However, Applicants were unable to show that a credit upgrade to the HECO Companies would be a guaranteed result if the proposed Change of Control was approved.

    • Even assuming an improved credit rating, the Commission noted that it is highly unlikely that the HECO Companies would be able to refinance all of their existing debt at once; rather, the more likely scenario would be a gradual refinancing as debt matured.

    • Regarding the derivative effects to the State’s economy, the Commission concluded that while such benefits can be accepted in theory, Applicants had failed to provide specific quantifications or analytical methods to support their projected benefit of $496.1 million.

    Risks to Ratepayers

    The Commission concluded that Applicants failed to put forth sufficient ring-fencing measures to adequately protect ratepayers from the increased risks presented by joining NextEra’s corporate structure.

    • The Commission defined “ring fencing measures” as measures necessary to insulate a specific corporate entity, such as the HECO Companies, from the potential risks posed by its corporate affiliations or by events not of their own making, such as the adverse actions of NextEra or one of its subsidiaries or affiliates. • In the event of a bankruptcy by NextEra or one of its affiliates, there is the risk that the bankruptcy court would consolidate the HECO Companies as part of the bankruptcy estate, which would effectively turn control of the HECO Companies over to the bankruptcy court.

    • The Commission observed that Applicants’ primary ring-fencing measure, the formation of the holding company HEUH, stopped short of offering the full protections of a “bankruptcy remote entity.” Rather, Applicants described HEUH as a “special purpose entity,” but did not provide sufficient details regarding the structure, relationship, and authority of HEUH so as to permit the Commission to determine if it offered a similar level of protection.

    • NextEra was unwilling to seek an opinion of a qualified bankruptcy professional prior to forming HEUH, which only served to deepen Commission concerns about the effectives of HEUH as a ring-fencing measure.

    • The Commission listed a number of concerns which Applicants’ proposed ringfencing commitments did not address, including: a provision for an independent board member whose consent must be given before any member of NextEra’s corporate family may file for voluntary bankruptcy (a “golden share”); requiring an annual financial audit of the HECO Companies, HEUH, and HEH performed by a recognized independent auditor; and requiring distinct legal counsel and financial advice for HEUH separate from that of NextEra.

    Commitments Regarding The State’s Clean Energy Goals

    The Commission concluded that NextEra possesses considerable resources and experience with renewable energy. Two of NextEra’s primary subsidiaries, NextEra Energy Resources, Inc., and Florida Power and Light, have extensive experience in developing utility scale renewable energy projects and implementing smart meters and grid modernization, respectively. However, the Commission observed that NextEra lacks direct experience in the specific and unique renewable energy issues facing Hawaii, such as integrating very high levels of distributed energy resources – particularly residential rooftop solar PV systems – into isolated island grids.

    • The Commission expressed concern over Applicants’ lack of specific details concerning its plans to achieve Hawaii’s energy goals. In particular, NextEra refrained from providing a specific plan for clean energy transformation, stating instead that if the Change of Control was approved, it would need up to twelve months to develop and submit such a plan.

    • Similarly, many of the Application’s commitments in this area were limited to “good faith” and “best efforts,” without any specific means to measure achievement or enforcement mechanisms to address under-performance.

    • NextEra provided commitments to collaborate with governmental agencies to develop an updated resource plan, engage with stakeholders and communities about its resource plans, fully support the State’s 100% RPS goal, and continue to support the HECO Companies’ work in the areas of green technology innovation. The Commission concluded that these commitments essentially repeat existing statutory, regulatory, and other standards.

    In short, Applicants’ commitments in this area were simply too broad and vague to satisfy the public interest standard.

    Uncertainty Regarding The Effects On Local Governance

    The Commission concluded that while its regulatory authority over the HECO Companies should remain unchanged by the proposed Change of Control, there was significant uncertainty regarding the effects on local governance.

    • The HECO Companies would cease to be the primary operating entity of HEI (along with American Savings Bank), and would join the extended corporate family of NextEra, alongside NextEra’s other vast holdings, including its two principal businesses, Florida Power and Light and NextEra Energy Resources.

    • In this regard, Applicants clearly stated that ultimate decision-making authority for the HECO Companies would reside with the Chairman and CEO of NextEra.

    • The Commission was careful to observe that such facts do not automatically mean that NextEra’s management would inherently conflict with local management, regulation, or State policy. However, the loss of local control over decision-making of for the HECO Companies is a significant issue, and Applicants failed to provide any specific details to reassure the Commission that local decisions, culture, and policy would be adequately represented and respected under the proposed Change of Control.

    • Despite assurances by NextEra that it would respect the interests of Hawaii, the Application stated that local management was limited to making recommendations regarding management of the HECO Companies. Likewise, NextEra stated that the presidents of HECO, MECO, and HELCO may be replaced with executives from NextEra.

    • The lack of details regarding: (1) NextEra’s post-merger operational plans; (2) the structure and operation of HEH, HEUH, the HECO Companies, and the local Advisory Board; and (3) the nature of the corporate governance documents for these entities precluded the Commission from concluding that the Application sufficiently ensures that management decisions made outside of Hawaii will be consistent with the best interests of ratepayers and the State.

    The Risks Of Diminishing Robust Competition In Hawaii’s Energy Markets

    The Commission concluded that the proposed Change of Control did not adequately address issues concerning competition.

    • The Change of Control would change the character of the HECO Companies. The HECO Companies would no longer be a small collection of island utilities, but would become part of an extremely large and complicated family of corporate entities.

    • The HECO Companies would become affiliated with numerous unregulated NextEra subsidiaries who may participate in bids solicited by the HECO Companies. Such a transformation would likely have an impact on local competition.

    • There is the possibility that HEH may form its own non-regulated subsidiaries, creating a potential scenario in which the HECO Companies, HEH, and NextEra may all participate in the same competitive bidding process. This is cause for concern as, under the existing competitive bidding framework, the HECO Companies, as the utilities, have substantial control over designing, conducting, and evaluating the competitive solicitations.

    • While Applicants committed to drafting a revised Code of Conduct, they stated that code would not be provided until ninety days after the Change of Control was approved. The Commission concluded that the revised Code of Conduct should be in place before, and not after, the Change of Control takes effect.

    • Given the lack of reassurances from the Applicants, the Commission was unable to conclude that the proposed commitments in this area weighed in favor of the public interest.

    In dismissing the Application, the Commission was careful to clarify that its decision did not mean that the commission would not approve, in the future, a merger, acquisition, or other change in control of the HECO Companies. Rather, the Commission emphasized that its decision is specific to the Application and record in this proceeding. In an attempt to provide guidance on any future application for a change of control, the Commission included a section in which it discussed the key areas which should form the foundation of any future application: ratepayer benefits, mitigation of risks, achievement of the State’s clean energy goals, competition, corporate governance, and the transformation of the HECO Companies.

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    QUICK NEWS, 7-18: Cleveland Convention Reveals Republican Climate Cleavage; LA To Build World’s Biggest Battery Storage In Place Of NatGas Plant; Texas Meets Community Solar

    Cleveland Convention Reveals Republican Climate Cleavage Gone Fishin' – Most Republicans who care about climate change are skipping the convention

    Ben Adler, July 18, 2016 (Grist)

    “Most congressional Republicans with even a hint of moderation on climate change are distancing themselves from Donald Trump and won’t be present for his nomination in Cleveland this week…Four of the five Republican senators with a record of supporting climate action [- Mark Kirk of Illinois, Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, and John McCain of Arizona - ] are skipping this year’s Republican National Convention…[Susan Collins of Maine, who] has the strongest pro-environment record among Senate Republicans, and was the third GOP vote in support of the Clean Power Plan…[is planning to attend but] isn’t endorsing…House Republicans who accept climate science are anti-Trump too…Trump and his running mate Mike Pence are climate science deniers — both have called climate change “a hoax” — and opponents of environmental protection…Both come across as ignorant and backward to educated voters, minorities, and young people.” click here for more

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    LA To Build World’s Biggest Battery Storage In Place Of NatGas Plant World’s Largest Storage Battery Will Power Los Angeles; More than 18,000 lithium ion battery packs would replace a gas-fired power plant used to meet peak demand

    John Fialka, July 7, 2016 (ClimateWire via Scientific American)

    “…[On midsummer late afternoons, engineers turn on what they call “peaker” natural gas-burning power plants to meet spiking demand as people arrive home from work and turn on air conditioners, televisions, and other appliances. In 2021, the “peaker” will be replaced in Los Angeles] by the world’s largest storage battery, capable of holding and delivering over 100 megawatts of power an hour for four hours. The customary afternoon peak will still be there, but the battery will be able to handle it without the need for more fossil fuels. It will have spent the morning charging up with cheap solar power that might have otherwise been wasted…[The battery will be ready for the next day’s morning demand peak by charging overnight with] cheap power, most of it from wind turbines…California’s Public Utilities Commission [mandated storage and the local utility, Southern California Edison Co., invested in it]…” click here for more

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    Texas Meets Community Solar Average homeowner will now be able to use solar energy to power homes

    Michael Hernandez, July 12, 2016 (Fox – San Antonio)

    “When we think about electricity we think about these big transformers and power lines…But now for the first time there's a way that the average homeowner will be able to use solar energy to power their homes…[The cost of having rooftop solar turned many off. The CPS Energy 1.2 MW Community Solar Array’s 11,000 panels] changes the game…[Homeowners and renters will be able to buy panels in the array that send power to the utility and that energy will be translated into credits on the panel owners’ utility bills. The price will be] around 200 dollars per panel...[and return] about 25 dollars a year in credits…[It will take about eight years to hit the break-even point on the cost. By year nine that panel is paid off [and the panel owner gets a reduced utility bill for the 12 to 17 years left in the panel’s service. A panel owner who moves can sell or take the service to the new address]…” click here for more

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    Saturday, July 16, 2016

    Eyes On The Prize – The New Energy Grid

    This is the goal for the next 15 years: A two way grid that can handle as much New Energy as anybody can build. After that - 100%!!!ThisFrom NEIGHBOR Motion Design and Animation via YouTube

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    A Climate Change Coffee Mug

    Enjoy. From WQAD-TV Quad Cities


    From WQAD-TV Quad Cities

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    Elizabeth Warren Challenges Deniers’ Data

    The next Vice-President of the United States? From Special Report Daily via YouTube

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