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-Half Of World’s Threatened Mammals Harmed By Climate Changes
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Is World’s Biggest Solar Producer
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Ocean Wind’s Price Getting More Competitive
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Next-Gen Biofuels Advance On The Market


  • TTTA Thursday-Climate Moving Out Of The Goldilocks Zone
  • TTTA Thursday-U.S. New Energy Boom Gets Bigger
  • TTTA Thursday-Oil Companies Uneasy As EVs Rise
  • TTTA Thursday-Research Would Make Algae Biofuels Affordable

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Shared Customer Storage May Make Big Batteries Obsolete
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Help For Rural Utilities To Build New Energy
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Arizona Utility Leads Trend Toward Demand Charges

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Here Come The Robot Cars
  • QUICK NEWS, February 14: Climate Change Progress That Politics Won’t Stop; Wind’s Price Getting Better; Vermont Health Care Goes Solar

  • TODAY’S STUDY: California’s Plan To Transform Its Energy System
  • QUICK NEWS, February 13: Fashion Faces Climate Change; UPS Delivers Solar; Ocean Wind Becomes The Next Frontier

  • Weekend Video: Arnold Comes Back Fighting For New Energy
  • Weekend Video: The New Energy Revolution Is Now
  • Weekend Video: Wind Works For Rust Belt Economies
  • --------------------------


    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, February 18-19:

  • “The S Hits The Fan”
  • Some Fact-Finding
  • More Jobs In New Energy Than In Fossil Fuels

    Saturday, February 18, 2017

    “The S Hits The Fan”

    This is not the kind of new NewEnergyNews was created to report. But former Secretary of Energy Steven Chu is brilliant, informed, and not an alarmist so this has to be reported.From Climate One via YouTube

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    Some Fact-Finding

    Some good news: There still lots of scientists standing up and speaking truth to power.From Chicago’s Field Museum via YouTube

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    More Jobs In New Energy Than In Fossil Fuels

    More good news: New Energy is a way to invest directly in “the local communities that have not received the benefits of globalization.” From greenmanbucket via YouTube

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    Friday, February 17, 2017

    Half Of World’s Threatened Mammals Harmed By Climate Changes

    Impact of climate change on mammals and birds 'greatly under-estimated'

    February 13, 2017 (PhysOrg)

    “…[A] team of international researchers found evidence of observed responses to recent climate changes in almost 700 birds and mammal species…[Species’ traits influenced their response to recent climate change] reviewed the observed impacts of climate change on birds and mammals using a total of 130 studies, making it the most comprehensive assessment to date on how climate change has affected our most well studied species…[It clearly showed that the impact of climate change on mammals and birds to date has been greatly under estimated and reported on. About] half the threatened mammals (out of 873 species) and 23 per cent of threatened birds (out of 1272 species) have already responded negatively to climate change…[The authors said decision makers must be made aware that climate change is not a future threat anymore and action is needed] to stop species going extinct…” click here for more

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    China Is World’s Biggest Solar Producer

    China Is Now The World’s Largest Producer Of Solar Power

    Alexa Erickson, February 12, 2017 (Collective Evolution)

    “…Of the countries of the world taking advantage of solar, it is China, the most populous in the world, who reigns supreme…[It] doubled its installed photovoltaic (PV) capacity in 2016…[to a] capacity of 77.42 gigawatts…[Though that is only 1% of the country’s energy output, China has announced plans to] add more than 110 gigawatts [of New Energy] within the next three years…[and up] its renewable energy use [from 11%] to 20% by 2030...[China plans to put more than $360 billion into New Energy like] solar, wind, nuclear, and hydropower. The country currently relies heavily on [severely polluting] coal…[The commitment to New Energy is expected to create] over 13 million jobs…” click here for more

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    Ocean Wind’s Price Getting More Competitive

    Wind costs heading in the right direction…Wind power's competitive position continues to improve despite historically low fossil-fuel prices.

    David Milborrow, 31 January 2017 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…[The 2016 installed costs for offshore wind were] between £4,000/kW and $6,000/kW. This year they range from only $2,100/kW to $5,000/kW…Last year we arrived at a figure of just under $192/MWh as a representative cost of offshore wind electricity generation, assuming a wind speed of 9m/s...[This year, assuming installed costs of $3,000/kW, is] $89.5/MWh, or slightly less than half. Slightly higher wind speeds could push that down to below $80/MWh…At that level, offshore wind is extremely cost-competitive with [the current price range for natural gas-fired electricity generation of between $56/MWh (US) and $71/MWh (UK)], provided a carbon price is applied, and well within the wide range of nuclear generation costs [of around $120/MWh in the UK and around $100/MWh in the U.S. in 2022]… The economic case is impossible to ignore…” click here for more

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    Next-Gen Biofuels Advance On The Market

    Global Biofuels to Rise to 67 Billion Gallons in 2022 as Next-Generation Technologies Take Over; Advanced biofuels will nearly double in five years to 9.6 billion gallons per year as first-generation fuels like traditional biodiesel lose out to newer low-carbon fuels…

    February 14, 2017 (Lux Research)

    “New biofuel technology is finally starting to push aside traditional biofuels…[Overall output will grow] to 67 billion gallons a year (BGY) in 2022, from 59 BGY in 2016…The global biofuels industry will grow at a slower 2.2% annual rate to 67 BGY of nameplate capacity by 2022. First-generation biofuels, which hold a 91.5% market share, will continue to dominate but will lose nearly 6% of market share, as advanced biofuels see rapid growth, nearly doubling capacity to 9.6 BGY…Second-generation biodiesel makes up 65% of the 5.0 BGY advanced biofuel market today, but is projected to lose 26% market share by 2022 due to the rapid growth of low-carbon and high-performance drop-in biofuels such as renewable diesel…Emerging thermochemical and catalytic technologies will surpass bioconversion processes to make up over half of the new capacity deployment for the first time in the biofuel industry’s history…” click here for more

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    Thursday, February 16, 2017

    Climate Moving Out Of The Goldilocks Zone

    What 'Goldilocks' can tell us about climate change and health

    Ariel Bogle, February 15, 2017 (Mashable)

    “…The earth’s balance of things like enough rain but not too much and enough sun to warm us but not too much is changing. This [Goldilocks Zone] of comfort — where conditions are best for supporting our food, our water and our health — is fast being upended by man-caused global warming…Everyone knows about Goldilocks’ not too hot and not too cold porridge and human] life generally operates on the same principle…We're physiologically evolved to manage within a particular climatic zone, and on top of that, we have social and cultural adaptions to climate that mean our houses are built in a particular style, we wear a particular type of clothes, we spend more or less time out of doors…But if climate changes quickly, whether temperature goes up or down, we're stressed. And one of the expressions of that stress is a greater vulnerability to disease, injury and ill-health…” click here for more

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    U.S. New Energy Boom Gets Bigger

    Solar and wind energy propel growth in US renewables; Capacity has grown threefold in the past decade, but the country still lags behind Europe and China in sustainable energy.

    Quirin Schiermier, 14 February 2017 (Nature)

    “…Energy capacity from sustainable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal reached a record 141 gigawatts (GW) in the country at the end of 2016…Hydropower, the most prevalent renewable in the United States, added another 103 GW…[The combined new wind and solar capacity] has increased almost fivefold since 2008, from 26 to 123 GW [according to The Sustainable Energy In America Factbook]…Wind accounted for 83 GW...But US wind capacity still lags way behind that of the European Union and China, which both had more than 140 GW installed by 2015…The increasing use of solar photovoltaics and cells drove most of the growth in US low-carbon energy in recent years…And thanks to the increasing decarbonization of the power sector and improved energy efficiency generally, US greenhouse-gas emissions plunged to a 25-year low in 2016.” click here for more

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    Oil Companies Uneasy As EVs Rise

    Electric Car Frenzy Putting Oil Companies On Edge

    James Burgess, February 15, 2017 (Oil Price via Yahoo Finance)

    "The massive wealth of the 20th century was all about the oil boom, but the 21st century is going to be about lithium as electric vehicles move in to replace traditional vehicles…The global economic implications are vast and far-reaching…[For investors, the] implications are potentially very lucrative…[ Bloomberg predicts EVs could take hundreds of billions of dollars in fossil fuel producers’ value] in the next decade…We may have already seen U.S. gasoline demand peak, and future demand may be in a state of permanent decline, in large part because electric vehicles are becoming cheaper and hitting the mainstream…[Electric vehicles could replace] 2 million barrels per day of oil demand by 2025…[The oil supermajors have seen this energy revolution coming and auto] giants are now convinced that EVs—despite the long road to the finish line—will overtake the internal combustion engine sooner than you might think…” click here for more

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    Research Would Turn Algae Into Affordable Biofuel

    Graduate student develops economically efficient way to turn microalgae into biofuel

    Kennedy Rose, 02-08-2017 (The Syracuse University Daily Orange)

    “…[Production of biofuels] from microalgae can be more efficient and economically viable [according to Cultivation and energy efficient harvesting of microalgae using thermoreversible sol-gel transition…Microalgae is very versatile and can produce different types of biofuels, including ethanol, jet fuel and biodiesel…[The breakthrough is a new way] for extracting microalgae from the solutions in which they grow. Previously, the organisms grown in a lab setting had a tendency to stick to the walls of their container and had to be stirred constantly…The microalgae grow in [a] gel when it’s at a higher temperature, and the gel turns into a liquid when the temperature is decreased. That method allows the organisms to be harvested more easily…[and] saves on energy, making it more economically efficient than the current methods…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, February 15, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Shared Customer Storage May Make Big Batteries Obsolete

    Greater than the sum: How aggregation is making storage into a software business; Grouping customer-sited batteries can deliver the same benefits as grid-scale storage, DNV-GL says

    Herman K. Trabish, June 13, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Battery storage continues to grow expand and wrestle with cost and technology growing pains.

    The installed capacity of U.S. battery storage continues to rise rapidly. The 65 MW deployed in 2014 turned into 221 MW put online in 2015, according to the U.S. Energy Storage Monitor from the Energy Storage Association and GTM Research. The projected annual deployment is over 2 GW by 2021, producing a market worth $2.9 billion. Once-prohibitive costs are coming down but, more importantly, the software that allows utilities and grid operators to aggregate and control numerous storage sources on the grid is getting cheaper and better and it will lead to a new era of storage adoption, according to DNV GL Americas Energy Storage Leader Davion M. Hill.

    In front of the meter, utility-scale storage continues to lead the sector, reaching almost 10 MW in Q1 2016. But the behind-the-meter (BTM) storage sector is forecast to go from 15% of the 2015 market to 49% of the market in 2021. Enabled by the newest software platforms, aggregations of distributed energy resources (DER), including BTM storage, will increasingly be able to provide megawatt scale power over long durations with unprecedented flexibility. With software platforms allowing more and more efficient aggregation capabilities, there will be no need for a disruptive battery technology. Today’s off-the-shelf technologies can become virtual batteries that have greater energy and power and duration greater than theoretical disruptive technologies. New software platforms are permitting the stacking of applications that were previously thought to be mutually exclusive and may become an operating system for the grid… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Help For Rural Utilities To Build New Energy

    The Rural Utilities Service: How the USDA is building a clean energy future for rural America; A little-known federal program has billions to dole out for renewables and efficiency projects for underserved populations

    Herman K. Trabish, June 10, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: It will be worth noting what happens to this program aimed at Trump country during the Trump administration. Will it follow the drive for infrastructure investment or succumb to the hostility to New Energy? And how will Trump voters respond?

    From the best-kept secrets file: There is a little-known $6.25 billion federal fund offering low interest loans and guarantees to utilities looking to build rate-based infrastructure. Along with the funding, utilities can work cost-free with knowledgeable staff anxious to get applicants successfully through the process of building the kinds of renewable energy, smart grid, and efficiency projects utility customers are clamoring for. It has invested over $1.1 billion since 2009 in 26 renewable energy projects in rural America and is actively looking for more renewables and energy efficiency opportunities. The only catch is that U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Utilities Service (RUS)-funded projects have to meet the needs of underserved communities with populations of 20,000 or less.

    Power providers can leverage the funding with a variety of partners. RUS money is to improve economic development and the quality of life in rural America and can go to corporations, states, territories and subdivisions and agencies such as municipalities, people's utility districts, and nonprofit, limited-dividend, or mutual associations. The loans and loan guarantees finance construction of electric distribution, transmission, and generation facilities, including system improvements and replacements required to furnish and improve electric service in rural areas, as well as demand side management, energy efficiency and conservation programs, and on-grid and off-grid renewable energy systems… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Arizona Utility Leads Trend Toward Demand Charges

    APS rate case sparks concern beyond mandatory demand charge proposal; Along with a rate structure overhaul, the Arizona utility also wants to cut net metering credits to its avoided cost rate.

    Editor’s note: This controversy will come to a head when the rate case goes before AZ regulators in March.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 7, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    After working for years to win approval from Arizona regulators for higher fixed charges and fees for solar customers, Arizona Public Service altered its strategy in its new rate case and requested demand charges for virtually all its customers. The deferred 2015 request from APS to the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) for an increase of its $0.70/kW fixed charge to $3/kW has been abandoned for a more complicated and contentious solution as part of its proposal to invest $3.6 billion in utility operations over the next three years. The demand charges, being new, have raised a clamor. But net energy metering (NEM) credits for rooftop solar would also be reduced.

    APS has long expressed concern that rooftop solar customers, due to their lower demand and NEM credits, do not pay their fair share for grid upkeep, leaving the costs to the rest of the customers. The rate case filing expands on those concerns. The total shift to non-solar customers already totals $42.7 million and will grow by $20.1 million just in the time it takes the commission to rule. Former Arizona commissioner Kris Mayes said the problem is that APS is ignoring all the benefits of rooftop solar and making its calculations only its costs. Fixed charges and net metering rates will get their shares of hearing time in the rate case, but the push for residential demand charges raises serious questions or whether utility customers are prepared and equipped to benefit from them… click here for more

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    Tuesday, February 14, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Here Come The Robot Cars

    Peak Car Ownership; The Market Opportunity Of Electric Automated Mobility Services

    Charlie Johnson And Jonathan Walker, February 2017 (Mobility Transformation/Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary – Introduction

    Personal vehicles have dominated the U.S. mobility system for nearly 100 years. But we are now in the formative stages of a powerful confluence of cultural, technological, and societal forces. It is possible that a new mobility system will emerge in the next few years that is superior to our existing system in almost every way. This report provides guidance on what to expect so that stakeholders can prepare today.

    Analysis by leading organizations and experts indicates the technical, logistical, and economic plausibility of a future where most mobility needs are met by mobility services, enabled by autonomous driving technology, and powered by electric powertrains. This future system has the potential to reduce costs by over $1 trillion, reduce CO2 emissions by a gigatonne, and save tens of thousands of lives per year in the U.S. alone.

    With so many advantages, hundreds of billions of dollars could shift away from personal vehicle products and services to mobility service providers like transportation network companies (TNCs), technology companies, and the nimble automakers that are able to pivot. What is unclear is the rate and scope at which the disruption could occur and the impact it will have on determining winners and losers, both of which are highly dependent on the decisions made today by stakeholders (financial institutions, automakers, new entrants, electric utilities, governments, etc.).

    This report provides strategic decision makers with potential market sizes and plausible rates of mobility service proliferation that could occur under reasonable circumstances. The report is the product of analysis to determine key economic tipping points combined with relevant consumer-adoption data and trends to estimate market sizes, growth rates, and impacts on demand for personal vehicles, gasoline, electricity, and CO2 emissions. The results suggest that key stakeholders must shift their business models and policies to benefit from this mobility transformation.

    Executive Summary – Key Findings

    1. By 2018, solely using autonomous taxis for transportation could cost the same as owning and operating a car.

    Upon debut, fully autonomous vehicles could reduce the cost of on-demand point-to-point mobility services like Uber and Lyft to near cost parity with owning and driving a car (around $0.85 per mile), allowing consumers to economically choose these services exclusively over a personal vehicle (see Figure 1). Despite current technological and potential regulatory barriers, many of the world’s most powerful companies are racing to deploy automated mobility services as soon as 2017 in certain U.S. cities.

    2. Electric vehicles make strong economic sense to provide automated mobility service.

    At the high mileage driven by mobility service vehicles, model year 2018 electric vehicles (EVs) such as the Chevy Bolt and Tesla Model 3 could save mobility services providers over $1,000 annually per vehicle versus a comparable gasoline vehicle (see Figure 2). This is due to lower operating costs that more than compensate for higher capital costs (even without subsidies). As battery costs fall and EV production reaches full scale, the cost advantages of EVs will only grow and should lead to at least $4,000 annual savings per vehicle by 2030, equivalent to ~$200 billion in total fleet savings per year. Economics should impel automated service providers to deploy electric autonomous vehicles (EAVs).

    3. The total mobility market of the first 26 U.S cities where automated mobility service will likely launch is worth ~$600 billion

    Based on existing use of services like Uber and Lyft, paired with surveys of consumer acceptance of autonomous vehicles and automated mobility services, the U.S. “early adopter” pool for automated mobility service appears to be quite large, particularly at a price point of $1.00 per mile or lower. By rolling out service strategically in U.S. markets, early-to-market automated mobility service providers could capture over $100 billion in revenue at the expense of incumbents like oil companies and traditional carmakers.

    4. Automated mobility services could capture two-thirds of the entire U.S. mobility market in 15–20 years.

    Second-generation electric autonomous vehicles and services could reduce automated mobility costs below the operating cost of a personal vehicle (~$0.30/mile). At this price, car owners could utilize automated mobility services frequently/exclusively with no cost increase over driving their own vehicle. Low cost, combined with increasing breadth of vehicle and service offerings, would open most of the mobility market to automated mobility service providers. Potential pitfalls and unknowns may limit automated mobility service growth, but tech leaders, governments, and other stakeholders are working on making the proliferation of electric automated mobility service a reality.

    5. Oil companies will lose revenue, utilities will gain, and carmakers will be split.

    Electric vehicles could displace gasoline vehicles very quickly in a mobility service paradigm. Due to high annual mileage, service vehicles will turn over in about five years instead of ten to fifteen for personal vehicles.

    Due to compelling economics, most of the automated service vehicles should be electric by 2025. This quick introduction and quick turnover could lead to gasoline demand dropping by two-thirds by 2035.

    Executive Summary – Outlook

    According to our modeling, peak car ownership in the United States will occur around 2020 and will drop quickly after that. This could lead to a clear delineation between winners and losers based on which auto companies capitalize on emerging business models for mobility services and which do not. In addition, the speed and complexity of this disruption could favor new entrants that are used to a rapidly changing consumer and technology landscape and fast turnover of product. New entrants also have lower risk of stranded assets that are already deployed (or planned) for a personal vehicle-centric market.

    On the positive side, carmakers that excel in providing autonomous vehicles and automated mobility services stand to prosper greatly in the next two decades. As personal vehicle demand drops, demand for autonomous vehicles to perform mobility services will grow. Demand for autonomous service vehicles will compensate for lost demand for personal vehicles for several years, but ultimately the vehicle fleet will shrink considerably. But carmakers that provide mobility services and autonomous vehicles could reap substantial profit since our current system costs around $0.80 per mile, and mature electric automated mobility service could cost only $0.30 per mile. That difference of $0.50 per mile equates to over $1 trillion in total savings that will be split between society, consumers, and the mobility service providers of the future.

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    QUICK NEWS, February 14: Climate Change Progress That Politics Won’t Stop; Wind’s Price Getting Better; Vermont Health Care Goes Solar

    Climate Change Progress That Politics Won’t Stop The Trump administration can’t entirely roll back progress on climate change. Here’s why.

    Jessica F. Green, February 10, 2017 (Washington Post)

    “Environmentalists are not happy with the Trump administration…[But here’s] the good news: States, cities and many companies in the United States realize that…[rational policies provide] important health benefits, such as reducing smog, and [help] authorities prepare for climate-induced changes, such as floods and droughts. For companies, planning for the future is just good business…The C40 Cities initiative is a network of more than 80 cities, including 13 in the United States, and represents 600 million people around the globe. Their governments are collaborating on climate efforts, and they have committed to mandatory measurement and reporting of emissions and other policy measures…Eight U.S. cities also joined the ambitious Carbon Neutral Cities Alliance, where cities pledge to cut emissions by at least 80 percent by 2050…[New York, Miami, and many other U.S. cities are also preparing for a changed climate…[T]he fate of Obama’s Clean Power Plan (CPP) is unclear…[but] many U.S. utilities are moving forward assuming CPP or other regulations will be in place…All of these moves suggest there’s reason to be hopeful…” click here for more

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    Wind’s Price Getting Better Wind costs heading in the right direction; WORLDWIDE: Wind power's competitive position continues to improve despite historically low fossil-fuel prices.

    David Milborrow, 31 January 2017 (Windpower Monthly)

    “…Despite the low oil, gas and coal prices of the past two and half years, the renewable-energy industry has remained buoyant…[According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), ‘major transformations’ in global energy will make renewables and natural gas the big winners through 2040. Most renewables-based generation is already competitive without subsidies and, with the oil price now rising to over $50 a barrel, the outlook is even better for] renewables, particularly wind power…Onshore wind energy is already proving to be commercially competitive in some markets. If the cost of electricity from conventional fossil-fuel sources increases, that process will accelerate…[The latest manufacturer’s data] suggests that turbine-selling prices in the third quarter of 2016 were $941/kW, 8% lower than in the corresponding period in 2015…” click here for more

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    Vermont Health Care Goes Solar Medicine turns to solar energy

    Susan Smallher, February 11, 2017 (Rutland Herald)

    “…[The Springfield, VT, Hospital and Health Center] has completed its first solar project, with the installation of four solar panels in front of the entrance of the health center…[T]he hospital will build a full solar array on land adjacent to the hospital later this year…[The smaller solar system will] produce hot water for use for the doctors and patients at the health center, and the larger, net metered system at the hospital [will] produce electricity to offset the hospital’s usage…[Engineers determined the building’s] roof was not suitable…[The $30,000 four panel hot water system was installed before the onset of winter and has] already started decreasing the center’s use of fossil fuels…During the next 10 years, the hot water system will offset the use of 2,500 gallons of propane, which would ordinarily heat the 600,000 gallons of water used annually by staff members, patients and visitors to the health center…” click here for more

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    Monday, February 13, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: California’s Plan To Transform Its Energy System

    California’s Distributed Energy Resources Action Plan: Aligning Vision and Action

    November 10, 2016 (California Public Utilities Commission)


    The California Legislature recently enacted legislation to further California’s deep commitment to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and deploying distributed energy resources. Senate Bills 350 and 32, approved by the Governor in 2015 and 2016, commit California to reduce 2030 greenhouse gas emissions (GHG) by 40% below 1990 levels, by increasing to 50% the share of electricity to be produced by renewable generation, doubling targets for energy efficiency, and encouraging widespread transportation electrification. Assembly Bill 327, approved by the Governor in 2013, requires reform of utility distribution planning, investment, and operations to “minimize overall system cost and maximize ratepayer benefits from investments in preferred resources,” while advancing time- and location-variant pricing and incentives to support distributed energy resources.1

    Distributed energy resources (DER), which are defined as distribution-connected distributed generation resources, energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response technologies, are supported by a wide-ranging suite of California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) policies.2 The Commission is actively considering augmentations and refinements to many of these policies in Commission proceedings.3 This DER Action Plan (Action Plan) seeks to align the Commission’s vision and actions to shape California’s distributed energy resources future.

    Senate Bill 350 requires the Commission to implement an integrated resource plan (IRP) process to identify optimal portfolios of resources to achieve the state’s GHG goals and meet the challenge of renewable integration, and DERs will play an important role. 4 The Commission anticipates that this Action Plan will inform, and be guided by, IRP as that process takes shape.

    At the July 14, 2016 voting meeting, the Commission adopted fifteen strategic directives to guide staff activities throughout the agency. This DER Action Plan furthers several of those directives. Specifically, accomplishing the vision described in the Action Plan will support the directives related to rates and affordability, climate change, environmental sustainability, economic prosperity, and coordination with other governmental entities.


    This DER Action Plan continues the Commission’s support of DER, accomplishing four objectives:

    1) Provide a long-term vision for DER and supporting policies;

    2) Identify continuing efforts in support of the long-term vision;

    3) Assess and direct further near-term action needed to support long-term vision;

    *4) Establish a DER steering committee responsible for sustained coordination of DER activities.

    This DER Action Plan will serve as a roadmap for decision-makers, staff, and stakeholders working in support of California’s DER future in order to facilitate proactive, coordinated, and forward-thinking development of related DER policy. This DER Action Plan is intended to guide development and implementation of policy related to DERs, not to determine outcomes of individual proceedings. Because many of these policies are strongly linked to initiatives at the California Air Resources Board, the California Energy Commission, and the California Independent System Operator, the Commission remains committed to close coordination with these agencies.

    Scope and Structure

    To accomplish the purpose, a strategic scope and structure are endorsed. The scope includes three groups of related proceedings or initiatives:

    1. Rates and Tariffs

    2. Distribution Grid Infrastructure, Planning, Interconnection and Procurement

    3. Wholesale DER Market Integration and Interconnection

    The DER Action Plan includes vision, continuing, and action elements for each proceeding grouping, detailed in the following section. The “continuing” elements are ongoing efforts that help achieve the vision. “Action” elements are additional efforts considered necessary for achieving the vision.

    The scope and structure of this DER Action Plan are necessarily limited. Because of the sheer breadth of issues touching DER, this Action Plan may not necessarily include all affected major policy areas (e.g., integrated resource planning (R.16-02-007)). A primary focus is on DER strategies that are sensitive to time and location. Many worthy intermediate goals and milestones may be omitted. This reflects the practical limitations of this Action Plan effort, and the reality that although the Commission can reasonably identify the starting block and finish line for work on DER, the rest will be determined as we go. Following our identification of vision, continuing, and action elements we state more fully how we will support that process, including action needed to expand this scope to complement other state energy policy priorities.

    Vision, Continuing, and Action Elements

    The following table sets forth the elements identified for each grouping: (Note: Where action elements indicate “by year X,” this means by the end of that year.)

    1. Rates and Tariffs Vision Elements

    A. A continuum of rate options, from the simple to complex, is available for customers, and customers are educated to make informed choices.

    B. Rates reflect time-varying marginal cost.

    C. Processes for adopting innovative rates and tariffs are flexible and timely.

    D. Rates and demand charges better reflect cost causation and capacity benefits of DERs.

    E. Rates remain affordable for non-DER customers.

    Continuing Elements

    1. Time of Use (TOU) Rulemaking (R.15-12-012), consideration of:

    a. TOU time periods

    b. Compendium of TOU rate designs.

    2. Residential Rate Design (R.12-06-013), including the goal of default residential TOU by 2019, and implementation of:

    a. Marketing, Education, and Outreach for TOU

    b. TOU Pilots.

    3. General Rate Case (GRC) Phase 2 (e.g., A.16-06-013) and Rate Design Window cases, consideration of: fixed charges, TOU periods and rates, nonresidential rate design, including enhancements to dynamic rates.

    4. Appropriate rate designs to absorb renewables oversupply.

    5. Consideration of Net Energy Metering (NEM) successor (R.14-07-002), including policy alternatives to reach disadvantaged communities.

    Action Elements

    1.1. By 2017, complete a review of non-residential demand charges and recommend alignment of pricing with DER vision elements.

    1.2. By 2017, develop methodology for setting TOU periods.

    1.3. By 2017, complete review of opt-in TOU residential pilots.

    1.4. By 2017, consider changes to nonresidential rate design, including modification of demand charges.

    1.5. By 2017, establish a forum for considering innovative rates and tariffs.

    1.6. By 2018, start study of residential default TOU rates through pilots.

    1.7. By 2018, ensure that analytical tools to assess the value of DERs support the review of NEM successor tariff (D.16-01-044).

    1.8. By 2018, establish clear marketing, education and outreach plans that maximize the take-up of time-varying rates by customers able to take advantage of them with DERs.

    1.9. By 2019, meet statutory requirements to default residential customers to TOU rates.

    2. Distribution Planning, Infrastructure, Interconnection, and Procurement Vision Elements

    A. DERs are able to meet distribution grid needs though a transparent, seamless planning and sourcing process, resulting in increased DER deployment and grid reliability with decreased cost.

    B. Investor-owned utilities (IOUs) are motivated to support deployment of DER regardless of the impact on distribution capacity investment opportunities.

    C. DER sourcing mechanisms are restructured to ensure that they are technology-neutral and competitively procured, where appropriate. Utility or affiliate ownership of DERs is also considered where it may be necessary to achieve market transformation or other public policy goals.

    D. Cost effectiveness and valuation frameworks accurately and impartially reflect the full grid services, renewables integration, and GHG value of DERs.

    E. Interconnection is facilitated by improving DER hosting capacity estimates to minimize the need for interconnection studies, and by ensuring greater cost certainty, streamlining utility application practices, and expediting resolution of disputes.

    F. Sophisticated DER Growth Scenarios are regularly updated and inform proactive investments designed to strengthen DER hosting capacity and the efficiency of the distribution grid in identified growth areas and ensure net benefits to ratepayers of accommodating high penetrations of DERs.

    G. Markets for distribution grid services are enabled through data communications and cybersecurity requirements.

    Continuing Elements

    1. Distributed Resource Plans (DRP) (R.14-08-013) proceeding, including consideration of:

    a. DRP demonstrations including establishing and testing integrated capacity and locational net benefit methodologies

    b. Grid condition data needed to support targeted DER sourcing

    c. Distribution infrastructure deferral framework, including reforms to consider DRP results in GRC Phase 1 proceedings (e.g., A.16-09-001)

    d. Grid modernization definition and characterization

    e. DER growth scenario forecast methodologies, including implementation of risk assessments as inputs to integrated resource planning.

    2. Integrated Distributed Energy Resources (R.14-10-003) proceeding, including consideration of:

    a. Competitive Solicitations Framework

    b. Integrated DER valuation and cost-effectiveness framework

    c. Utility incentive mechanism pilot.

    3. Efforts to streamline interconnection of generation and storage facilities, including:

    a. Implementing the cost envelope pilot and other D.16-06-052 directives

    b. Conducting a formal review of utility administration of Rule 21 to identify areas for process improvement

    c. Establishing a binding, 60-day dispute resolution process per Assembly Bill 2861.

    4. Energy efficiency (R.13-11-005), including locational targeting to avoid or defer grid upgrades, and normalized metered energy consumption evaluation methods to increase visibility.

    Action Elements

    2.1. Periodic collection and review of demonstration activities, including enhancements, redirection, and augmentations where needed.

    2.2. By 2016, begin Commission consideration of the use of a societal cost test in DER valuation.

    2.3. By 2017, consider how existing DER sourcing mechanisms (e.g., programs and tariffs) should reflect location value and/or be transitioned to a competitive sourcing mechanism already reflecting locational value.

    2.4. By 2017, the Commission concludes consideration of an independent distribution planning review process to ensure that DERs are being adequately evaluated in the context of utility distribution planning.

    2.5. By 2017, the Commission will conclude consideration of a grid modernization framework that shall provide guidance regarding the appropriate investments utilities should make to accommodate and facilitate higher penetrations of DERs, which may include required basic functionalities, data transmission and communications capabilities, and interoperability standards.

    2.6. By 2017, begin to consider the role of Distributed Energy Resource Management Systems to enhance grid management and maximize the value of DER deployment.

    2.7. By 2018, the Commission will consider the use of Integration Capacity Analysis to streamline utility interconnection processes to accelerate DER deployment.

    2.8. By 2018, consider developing guidelines to clarify the circumstances in which utility or affiliate ownership of DERs is appropriate, and review utility applications implementing Assembly Bill 2868. 5

    2.9. By 2020, fully operationalize advanced (beyond Phase 1) smart inverter functionalities to enhance the integration of DERs into the grid.

    3. Wholesale DER Market Integration and Interconnection Vision Elements

    A. DERs participate robustly as grid resources through progressively greater visibility, dispatchability, and profitability in wholesale (and local) grid operations and markets.

    B. DERs are appropriately enabled to earn multiple revenue streams by delivering multiple services to the wholesale market, distribution grid and end-users (“stacking value”). Rules and procedures are in place governing how DERs may participate in the wholesale market while providing distribution capacity and other services to distribution utilities, including clear prioritization in case of reliability events.

    C. Wholesale market rules and interconnection tariffs support behind-the-meter DERs.

    D. Electric vehicle charging systems, and mobility and driving behaviors, can be predicted and overseen in the grid operations.

    E. Non-discriminatory market rules and regulations for mobile electric transportation resources (addressing registration, interconnection, and physical connectivity) are established to support customer mobility.

    Continuing Elements

    1. Storage (R.15-03-011) proceeding and California Independent System Operator (CAISO) stakeholder processes, including consideration of market rules and regulatory policies for DER Multi-Use Applications.

    2. Demand Response (R.13-09-011) proceeding and CAISO stakeholder processes, including consideration of IOU transition of demand response programs into the wholesale market and development of a “click-through” platform for DR direct participation.

    3. Enhancement of demand response products and Proxy Demand Resource, including participation in ancillary services markets, viability of “reverse” demand response, and growth of third-party demand response aggregator participation in wholesale markets.

    Action Elements

    3.1. By 2017, consider issues regarding use of DER to meet both transmission and distribution system needs (e.g., optimizing dispatch) and related Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jurisdictional issues.

    3.2. By 2018, consider eligibility of NEM resources in wholesale markets.

    3.3. By 2018, assess regulatory options to streamline Commission jurisdictional interconnection rules (Rule 21) and FERC interconnection rules such as Wholesale Distribution Open Access Tariff for behind-the-meter DERs

    3.4. By 2018, complete research critical to vehicle-grid integration and incorporate results into transportation electrification policy.

    3.5. Develop policies that ensure that transportation electrification infrastructure and rates avoid unreasonable cross-subsidies.


    To further the DER Action Plan, the Commission will establish the following ongoing oversight mechanisms:

    • Steering Committee – A committee of staff will be constituted and given responsibility to oversee development of intermediate steps of this DER Alignment – those necessary to see the Action elements lead to the Vision elements. Among the tasks will be to coordinate implementation of the plan, facilitate communication across proceedings, periodically report to the Commission on current status, and prepare revisions to this action plan for subsequent consideration by the Commission. Another task will be to provide information to the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Division about development of these steps, and seek ALJ Division advice on appropriate procedural vehicles. The Steering Committee shall be supported by an analyst from the Energy Division.

    • Commission briefings – Periodic briefings on the status of implementation will be provided at Commission meetings.

    • Future Revisions – Staff may suggest revisions to the plan, as necessary, to respond to new legislation, new guidance from major proceedings such as IRP, advances in technology and DER markets, and other changes in circumstances.


    Through this DER Action Plan the Commission reaffirms its commitment to California’s clean energy future. We must continue to develop the market opportunities and remove unnecessary barriers to unleash the full value that DERs can provide. The Commission must coordinate its efforts, both internally and with our sister agencies, to push efficiently toward these goals. This Action Plan reflects the Commission’s vision for achieving its DER goals…

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    QUICK NEWS, February 13: Fashion Faces Climate Change; UPS Delivers Solar; Ocean Wind Becomes The Next Frontier

    Fashion Faces Climate Change Climate change puts weather on fashion students' radar

    Ashley Milne-Tyte, February 13, 2017 (MarketPlace/PRI)

    “…[Climate change-induced weather havoc is impacting clothing sales] of all kinds, from coats to boots to bathing suits…[The retail industry is trying to get on top of the changes and one] famous New York fashion school has even incorporated weather analysis into its coursework…[The Fashion Institute of Technology has FM 329], Predictive Analytics for Planning and Forecasting: Case Studies with Weatherization. It’s the first time FIT has married math and the business of fashion to help students understand a huge influence on buying behavior: weather…[For fashion retailers, a] warm December or chilly June can mean millions of dollars in lost sales of seasonal merchandise…[Climate change is making the weather more volatile. A sudden hot spell can depress coat sales and send buyers shopping for swimsuits but big data] is giving professional analysts — and these students — an edge in predicting how weather could affect sales or inventory buildup…” click here for more

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    UPS Delivers Solar UPS to spend $18M to install 26,000 new solar panels The new project will produce 10 megawatts of power, or enough electricity to power about 1,200 U.S. homes annually

    Lucas Mearian, February 10, 2017 (Computer World)

    “UPS plans to expand its use of solar energy nearly five-fold this year, by adding [about 10 megawatts, or enough electricity to power about 1,200 U.S. homes annually, at a cost of about $18 million] to its 2,580 facilities throughout the world…Increasing the use of renewable energy has become a targeted goal of Fortune 500 companies, and with good reason. As early as 2014, more than half of Fortune 100 companies collectively saved $1.1 billion in energy costs by rolling out renewable energy programs…[UPS] has invested more than $750 million in alternative-fuel and advanced-technology vehicles and in fueling stations globally since 2009. In 2014, UPS said, it saved nearly $200 million from its renewable energy program…” click here for more

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    Ocean Wind Becomes The Next Frontier Offshore Wind Moves Into Energy’s Mainstream

    Stanley Reed, February 7, 2017 (NY Times)

    “…[O]ffshore wind, once a fringe investment, with limited scope and reliant on government subsidies, is moving into the mainstream [and developers say it is the next New Energy frontier]…Offshore wind has several advantages over land-based renewable energy, whether wind or solar. Turbines can be deployed at sea with fewer complaints than on land, where they are often condemned as eyesores…But the technology had been expensive and heavily dependent on government subsidies, leaving investors wary. That is now changing…Turbines today are bigger, produce much more electricity and are deployed on much larger sites than in the past. The result is more clean power and extra revenue…The number of major players has also expanded, creating more competition. A joint venture of Vestas, the Danish turbine maker, and Mitsubishi Heavy Industries of Japan, is now competing with Siemens, which had long dominated the market for building offshore turbines. Others, like the American giant General Electric and Chinese manufacturers, are also jumping into the game…Companies are developing specialized vessels and improving installation techniques (taking a cue from the oil industry), cutting construction timetables…” click here for more

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