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

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Bonus From Plugging Cars In
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: What About Nuclear?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Renewables Mandate To Beat The Peak

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Global New Energy Now
  • QUICK NEWS, June 20: What Power Mix Will Beat Climate Change (Part 1)?; What Power Mix Will Beat Climate Change (Part 2)?; New Energy Is NO Threat To U.S, Grid

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Why The U.S. Needs A Western Energy Market
  • QUICK NEWS, June 19: More Artists Join The Climate Fight; U.S. Power Just Hit 10% Wind And Solar; The Dangers Of Oil And Gas Drilling, Detailed

  • Weekend Video: Bill Maher Talks Jobs In Coal And The Real Problem
  • Weekend Video: A Farmer Defends WindPower
  • Weekend Video: The Secret To EV Success Is Charging Stations


  • TTTA Thursday-Climate Change Stops Climate Study
  • TTTA Thursday-Survey Shows Millennials Back New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Thursday-Drinking Water From The Sun
  • TTTA Thursday-Ocean Wind Unites Hard Hats And Greens

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Debates About Solar Get Bigger, More Interesting
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Wind And Solar Sidestep Politics
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities Respond To Customer Demand For Distributed Energy
  • --------------------------


    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.

  • ---------------

  • What Does Exxon’s Carbon Tax Mean?
  • The Rump Flails Factlessly At Wind
  • New Energy To Get Bigger And Cheaper
  • EVs To Be Cost-Competitive By 2025

    Thursday, June 22, 2017

    What Does Exxon’s Carbon Tax Mean?

    Groups Slam Exxon for Deceptive Support of Carbon Tax Plan

    Lorraine Chow, 20 June 2017 (EcoWatch)

    “Environmental organizations are calling foul on a carbon tax and dividend plan supported by ExxonMobil, BP, Shell and other influential businesses, individuals and organizations…[The Climate Leadership Council, developed by former cabinet members James Baker and George Shultz, would] fight climate change by taxing carbon emissions and then redirecting that levy to taxpayers…[But the free market, conservative climate solution also calls for rolling back] Obama-era climate regulations and shields polluting companies from lawsuits over their contribution to climate change…[Environmentalists say Exxon backs the carbon tax proposal because it knows it is politically non-viable and is a distraction] from the ongoing investigations into whether the company lied to the public and its investors about climate change…” click here for more

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    The Rump Flails Factlessly At Wind

    Trump attacks wind power in state that gets nearly third of energy from wind

    Jacqueline Thomsen, June 21, 2017 (The Hill)

    “…[The President ignorantly blasted wind power during a rally in Iowa, which gets] nearly a third of its power from the alternative energy source…[He said he was bringing back coal because he does not] want to ‘just hope the wind blows’ and did not mention that Iowa gets over 36% of its electricity and over 8,000 jobs from wind…During last November’s election campaign, the rump told Iowans ‘wind kills all your birds’ despite the fact that wind causes less than 0.01% of human-related bird impacts and is the least impactful on wildlife of all utility-scale forms of power generation…” click here for more

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    New Energy To Get Bigger And Cheaper

    Solar and wind energy set to get cheaper

    Denisse Moreno, 21 June 2017 (International Business Times via Raw Story)

    “…[Solar energy costs will fall] 66 percent by 2040…[as onshore costs] decrease by 47 percent…[and offshore wind costs plunge] by 71 percent…The decrease in the cost of solar and wind power will undercut the majority of existing fossil power stations by 2030… [A new forecast] predicts $7.4 trillion will be invested in new renewable energy plants by 2040…[which is] nearly three-quarters of the $10.2 trillion the world will invest in new power generating technology…Solar power is expected to be cheaper than coal in China, India, Mexico, the U.K. and Brazil by 2021…[Coal will] see a 51 percent reduction in generation by 2040. In its place, gas-fired electricity will rise 22 percent, and renewables 169 percent…” click here for more

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    EVs To Be Cost-Competitive By 2025

    Electric cars will cost less to buy than regular cars by 2025: analysis

    Sean Szymkowski, June 21, 2017 (Green Car Reports)

    “…[Electric vehicles have a number of strikes against them in the minds on consumers, including range anxiety, the lack of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, awareness,] and high purchase prices…[But a new study forecasts EVs will cost less than a normal, gasoline-powered car] as soon as the year 2025…[The biggest factor will be the plummeting price of batteries which, by 2030,] is expected to have decreased 77 percent…By next year, the lifetime cost of ownership in Europe of an electric car is expected to dip below a conventional, internal-combustion engine vehicle…[and 14 percent of new car sales are forecast to] be electrified vehicles in 2025…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, June 21, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Bonus From Plugging Cars In

    How California utility regulators are turning electric vehicles into grid resources; Harnessing the power of electric vehicles will be critical to the state’s renewable energy and climate goals, but big questions remain about how to spur adoption

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 21, 2016 (Utlity Dive)

    Editor’s note: California is leaving other states in its dust as it moves to capitalize on electric vehicles.

    New numbers show California’s peak demand will stress its grid more than previously thought, and in response policymakers are pushing ahead with an unexpected solution: electric vehicles. In 2015, California’s grid needed as much as 10,091 MW of quick-responding resources to meet a three-hour load spike in the late afternoon and early evening. As soon as 2019, that demand spike could be almost 14,000 MW, according to a recently-released report from analyst ScottMadden. Using natural gas peaker plants to meet that load would impede the state’s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions. And stationary storage, even with California's landmark storage mandate fully met, would provide insufficient ramping capacity. But electric vehicles (EVs) — already a benefit to utilities for the power demand they provide — could offer the grid something more.

    If EV sales rise fast enough to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of putting 1.5 million zero emissions vehicles into service by 2025, EV battery storage could be an answer to the challenge of peak demand, according to a paper from California’s Alternative Fuel Vehicle regulatory proceeding. According to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Vehicle-Grid Integration (VGI) white paper, EV batteries plugged into smart charging stations can be “fast acting resources” to meet grid needs nicknamed the “duck curve” because a theoretical graph of them devised in 2011 looked like a duck, with the sharp, late-day ramp up in load as the neck. The need to respond to that fast ramp is now more than theoretical. EVs plugged into smart charging stations are flexible load, especially with electricity price signals that influence when and how charging is done. Utilities can use that flexibility instead of natural gas peaker plants to manage the duck… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: What About Nuclear?

    Without the Clean Power Plan, are nuclear plants essential to combat climate change?; A new report sees emissions skyrocketing if nukes retire, but PG&E says that's not a given

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 30, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the new administration’s disdain for the environment has become clearer, making the question raised here more important.

    Renewables and distributed resources can help the U.S. significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions by mid-century. But a big debate remains over the role of nuclear power in that transition, especially without the Clean Power Plan. A 100% renewables power mix without nuclear is possible for nearly every nation by 2050, according to Stanford professor Mark Jacobson's Solutions Project. But renowned climatologist James Hansen, billionaire Bill Gates, and a roster of other voices say only an energy mix that includes nuclear power can beat climate change. A new paper from Rhodium Group found the closure of the most vulnerable nuclear plants in the U.S. fleet will likely drive greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs) up in 2030, despite a renewables boom.

    In the face of higher operating costs and lower electricity prices, the economic viability of the nation's nuclear fleet — supplier of 19% of U.S. electricity — is now increasingly in doubt. Older plants are being scheduled for retirement when operators say they could be authorized to run decades longer. If that happens, the paper finds, greenhouse gas emissions will rise, particularly if the Trump administration throws out the Clean Power Plan, as expected. Nuclear advocates say keeping the vulnerable plants going is the only practical choice. California, as usual, has a different idea. Its climate and energy policies are making baseload generation less relevant and less economic and placing an increasing premium on flexible generation… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Renewables Mandate To Beat The Peak

    New Arizona proposal seeks to mandate renewable generation during peak demand hours; A fix to the renewables mandate floated by the state’s consumer advocate would require wind and solar to deliver power when electricity use is highest

    Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 9, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: California lawmakers recently added this breakthrough concept to their agenda. And insiders say New York is considering the same step.

    An unprecedented proposal from Arizona’s consumer advocate on how to improve the state’s renewables mandate could be a policy whose time has come throughout the nation. Evolving the RPS: A Clean Peak Standard for a Smarter Renewable Future by Arizona’s Residential Utility Consumer Office (RUCO) would enhance a state’s renewables mandate by adding a mandate for renewables to meet peak demand. While the idea is new, its immediate relevance to grid needs across the nation is already attracting attention of regulators, utilities, and important private sector players in other states.

    The Clean Peak Standard (CPS) adds more renewables, but it adds renewables when the system most needs capacity so it uses renewables to deal with system cost drivers and saves ratepayers money when electricity prices are highest. Peak power needs can be met by pairing renewable energy with storage or designing wind and solar facilities to deliver power at certain times. The CPS concept is intended to provide that incentive. If it works, it could reduce the system’s need for conventional generation at peak times and eliminate costs for delivering it. It would provide a boost not only for renewables, but for storage and distributed energy companies. Tesla, fresh off its acquisition of SolarCity, endorsed the concept… click here for more

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    Tuesday, June 20, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Global New Energy Now

    New Energy Outlook 2017; Bloomberg New Energy Finance’s annual long term economic forecast of the world’s power sector June 2017 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    Executive Summary

    • Global power demand grows by 58% between now and 2040, or 2% per year. Growth in power demand increasingly decouples from GDP, however – we expect the intensity of electricity consumption per unit of GDP to fall by 27% over 2016-40.

    • We expect $10.2 trillion to be invested in new power generation capacity worldwide to 2040. Of this, 72% goes to renewables, or $7.4 trillion. Solar takes $2.8 trillion and wind $3.3 trillion. Investment in renewable energy increases to around $400 billion per year by 2040, a 2-3% average annual increase. Investment in wind grows faster than solar – wind increasing 3.4% and solar 2.3% per year on average.

    • Wind and solar account for 48% of installed capacity and 34% of electricity generation world-wide by 2040. This is compared with just 12% and 5% today. Installed solar capacity increases 14-fold and wind capacity fourfold by 2040. We anticipate renewable energy reaching 74% penetration in Germany, 38% in the U.S., 55% in China and 49% in India by 2040 as batteries and new sources of flexibility bolster the reach of renewables.

    • The levelized cost of new electricity from solar PV drops by 66% by 2040. By then, a dollar will buy 2.3 times as much solar energy than it does today. The levelized cost of new electricity from onshore wind drops 47% by 2040, thanks to more efficient turbines and streamlined operating and maintenance procedures.

    • Onshore wind costs fall fast, but offshore falls faster. We expect the levelized cost of offshore wind to decline 71% by 2040, helped by development experience, competition and reduced risk, and economies of scale resulting from larger projects and bigger turbines.

    • Consumer-driven PV becomes a significant part of the power sector. By 2040, rooftop PV will account for as much as 24% of electricity generation in Australia, 20% in Brazil, 15% in Germany, 12% in Japan, and 5% in the U.S. and India.

    • Electric vehicles bolster electricity use and help balance the grid. In Europe and the U.S., EVs account for 13% and 12% respectively of electricity generation by 2040. Charging EVs flexibly, when renewables are generating and wholesale prices are low, will help the system adapt to intermittent solar and wind. The growth of EVs pushes the cost of lithium-ion batteries down 73% by 2030.

    • We expect lithium-ion batteries for energy storage to become a $20 billion per year market by 2040, a tenfold increase from today. Small-scale batteries installed by households and businesses alongside PV systems accounts for 57% of installed storage capacity worldwide by 2040.

    • By 2030, wind and PV start to undercut existing coal plants on an operational basis in some countries, prompting an acceleration in the deployment of renewables and the decline of coal generation. Only 35% of new coal power plants that are in planning ever get built. That means 369GW of projects stand to be cancelled and global demand for thermal coal in 2040 ends up 15% lower than in 2016.

    • Global coal-fired power generation peaks in 2026. Growth in coal demand is centred on Asia, but is offset by sharp declines in Europe and the U.S. Coal-fired generation in China is set to peak within the next 10 years.

    • Gas is a transition fuel, but not in the way most people think. Gas-fired capacity increases 16% by 2040 but gas plants will increasingly act more as a source of flexible generation needed to meet peaks and provide system stability rather than as a replacement for ‘baseload’ coal. In North America, however, where gas is plentiful and cheap, it plays a more central role, especially in the near term.

    • Asia Pacific sees almost as much investment in generation as the rest of the world combined. China and India alone are a $4 trillion opportunity for the energy sector. China accounts for 28% and India 11% of total regional investment over 2017-40. Wind and solar both account for around a third of total investment.

    • Powering China and India presents a $4 trillion opportunity. These countries account for 28% and 15% of all investment in power generation to 2040. Asia Pacific sees almost as much investment as the rest of the world combined, at $4.8 trillion. Of this, just under a third goes to wind, a third to solar, 18% to nuclear and 10% to coal and gas.

    • Peak coal is in sight in Asia. Peak coal capacity occurs in 2024, and peak generation in 2028, as retirements begin to outpace new additions. By the mid-2020s, cheap wind and PV begin to undercut new coal on a levelized basis throughout the region, trimming average installations to just 9GW a year. Coal, however, remains the bedrock of the region’s power supply, providing 34% of electricity in 2040 – a larger share than any other fuel.

    • China will go big on renewables, with wind and solar capacity increasing eight-fold to 2040. Coal consumption in China peaks in 2026, but at a level 20% higher than today. Nevertheless, China remains the world’s largest coal consumer and emitter, with that fuel still accounting for 30% of the generation mix in 2040.

    • India significantly expands its coal fleet over the next five years, adding over 40GW of new coal plants. Following that, we expect coal new build to slow but existing plant utilization to increase, pushing up coal consumption by around 3% per year through the 2020s. From 2030, solar begins to sideline coal in India, with the pace of PV additions more than doubling from the 2020s to the 2030s.

    • Japan and South Korea shift from gas to coal, and then to solar. Gas generation declines in both countries as over 30GW of coal capacity is commissioned over the next decade – Japan and Korea are the only two members of the OECD to build significant volumes of new coal in our forecast. Power sector gas demand in Japan and South Korea declines by over 50% in the next ten years with possible ramifications for the global LNG market as the two countries account for half of current demand for seaborne gas.

    • Australia’s electricity system becomes one of the most decentralized in the world. By 2040, around 45% of Australia’s power generating capacity is located behind-the-meter. Its fossil-fuel dominated grid also transforms into a predominantly renewable system, as wind, PV and batteries replace retiring coal.

    • European investment in renewables grows by 2.6% per year on average out to 2040, averaging $40 billion per year. Total investment in renewables across Europe reaches almost $1 trillion over 2017-40. Europe’s firm generating capacity shrinks by 29%, replaced by variable and flexible capacity.

    • Half of European electricity supply in 2040 comes from variable renewables, posing challenges for grid and generators. With 97% of fossil fuel capacity in 2040 required for peak demand, under-utilized thermal plants are the norm. The changing grid creates opportunities for 103GW of new flexible capacity, including 56GW of batteries. These help with peak load, ancillary services, shifting demand or renewable supply and regulating frequency.

    • Gas in Europe benefits from a wave of coal and nuclear retirements over the next decade, but power sector gas consumption never returns to the record level set in 2008 as the role of gas shifts from providing firm capacity to providing flexible generation. Nuclear generation drops 50% and the combination of sluggish demand, cheap renewables and coalto-gas fuel switching slashes coal use by 87% by 2040. This drives down power sector emissions by 73% over 2017-40.

    • Installed capacity in the MENA region moves from 93% fossil fuels to 53% zero-carbon over 2017-40. The region becomes less reliant on oil and more reliant on gas. Gas provides over half of generation by 2040. In Turkey, coal and nuclear push out gas, which declines from 36% to 2% of the generation mix over 2017-40.

    • Investment in renewables across the Americas averages $50 billion per year to 2040, to reach almost $1.5 trillion over 2017-40. Investment in solar grows faster than wind – solar increasing 1.5% and wind 0.8% per year on average. In the U.S., power sector coal consumption drops 45% as coal plants are retired and replaced by cheaper natural gas and renewables.

    • By 2023, onshore wind and PV are competitive with new-build gas plants in the U.S. Five years later, PV undercuts existing gas generation. PV averages 15GW of additions and $10 billion invested per year, such that more PV is added in the U.S. than any other technology. Small-scale PV grows to 140GW by 2040, yet only a minority of systems are paired with batteries as the economics remain difficult for much of the forecast period.

    • Renewables produce 80% of Mexico’s electricity by 2040, a fourfold increase from today. Solar overtakes gas and hydro to dominate Mexico’s capacity mix, which more than triples in size to 2040. Electricity demand is expected to grow 60% from 2016 to 2040 thanks to strong economic growth, but the country also becomes 29% more efficient in how it uses electricity over that time.

    • U.S. natural gas influences the power generation mix all across the Americas, as exports accelerate. Cross-border exports to Mexico and liquid natural gas exports further south keep gas prices in check across both continents, particularly through 2030. This allows new gas plants to displace retiring coal and nuclear in North America while offering a relatively low-cost option in parts of Latin America for new build.

    • We expect U.S. power sector emissions in 2030 to be 30% below 2005 levels, coming very close to fulfilling the Clean Power Plan’s headline goal even in the absence of federal policy. The federal Clean Power Plan was anticipated to reduce power sector emissions by 32% below 2005 levels by 2030 and the U.S. pledge in the UNFCCC Paris Accord set an economy-wide goal of 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025.

    • Global power sector emissions peak in 2026 at 14.1Gt, then decline by 1% per year out to 2040. This is a steeper decline than in our previous forecast, mainly due to a faster rate of Chinese coal retirements compared with NEO 2016. We also expect India's emissions to be 44% lower by 2040 than in our NEO 2016 analysis, as that country embraces solar and invests $405 billion to construct 660GW of new PV.

    • Although the world’s power sector emissions reach a peak within a decade, the rate of decline in emissions is not nearly enough for the climate. A further $5.3 trillion investment in 3.9TW of zero-carbon capacity will be needed place the power sector on a 2°C trajectory

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    QUICK NEWS, June 20: What Power Mix Will Beat Climate Change (Part 1)?; What Power Mix Will Beat Climate Change (Part 2)?; New Energy Is NO Threat To U.S. Grid

    What Power Mix Will Beat Climate Change (Part 1)? 'Full toolbox' needed to solve the climate change problem

    19 June 2017 (Carnegie Instituion for Science via EurekAlert)

    “Solving the climate change problem means transitioning to an energy system that emits little or no greenhouse gases into the atmosphere…[but making the transition will depend on making use of energy technologies such as bioenergy, nuclear energy, and carbon capture technology, according to a new] study from a group of 21 published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences…[Wind, solar, and hydroelectric should play a central role in future American energy systems but they] concluded that a much broader array of energy technologies is necessary to transition to a zero-emissions future as quickly and seamlessly as possible…The team is particularly concerned about having backup energy sources to deal with variability in solar and wind, because current energy storage technology is not sufficient to cover gaps in production on a national scale…Careful evaluations of energy system transitions consistently show that broader portfolios form an important base to ensure success…” click here for more

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    What Power Mix Will Beat Climate Change (Part 2)? 4 Reasons Nuclear and Fossil Fuel Supporters Criticizing 100% Renewable Energy Plan Are Wrong

    Mark Jacobson, June 19, 2017 (EcoWatch)

    "…[The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences paper arguing a 100% New Energy mix from wind, solar, and hydroelectric powers will threaten reliability] is replete with false information…[It claims] nuclear, fossils with carbon capture and biofuels reduce costs of decarbonization…[but an independent assessment of our 100 percent wind, water and solar plans] concludes neither fossil fuels with CCS or nuclear power enters the least-cost, low-carbon portfolio…[It claims we propose technologies that can't be scaled up…[but underground thermal energy storage in rocks, hydrogen fuel cells, and demand response are proven technologies now in use. It also claims we made modeling errors but multiple data sets show] this is absolutely false…[Finally, it claims our climate model] has never been adequately evaluated…[but it has been used in] 11 published multi-model inter-comparisons and 20 published evaluations…[a 2008 Atmospheric Physics and Chemistry Journal comprehensive review concluded it] is ‘the first fully-coupled online model in the history that accounts for all major feedbacks among major atmospheric processes based on first principles’ and hundreds of processes in it still not in any other model…” click here for more

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    New Energy Is NO Threat To U.S, Grid No evidence that changing power mix endangers electric system reliability; Expert report by Analysis Group finds that low-priced natural gas, not renewable energy policies, is fundamental cause of coal and nuclear plant closures

    June 20, 2017 (American Wind Energy Association)

    “…[Market forces, primarily low-cost natural gas and flat demand for electricity, are] causing some coal and nuclear power plants to retire, and not state and federal policies supporting renewable energy development…[and] the changing electricity resource mix poses no threat to reliability of the nation’s power system [according to Electricity Markets, Reliability and the Evolving U.S. Power System from the Analysis Group, which is intended] to answer independently the questions raised recently by Energy Department Secretary Rick Perry…Factors such as rapid growth in deployment of advanced energy technologies, and state policies supporting such technologies also contribute to reducing the profitability of less economic assets, but such factors are secondary to market fundamentals…[In addition, the] retirement of aging resources is a natural element of efficient and competitive market forces…Many advanced energy technologies can and do provide reliability benefits…Given the many attributes associated with a reliable electric system, the term ‘baseload resources’ is an outdated term in today’s electric system…” click here for more

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    Monday, June 19, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Why The U.S. Needs A Western Energy Market

    Enhanced Western Grid Integration: A Legal and Policy Analysis of the Effects on California’s Clean Energy Laws

    Juliana Brint, Josh Constanti, Franz Hochstrasser, and Lucy Kessler, May 2017 (Yale Law School and Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies)

    Executive Summary

    This analysis addresses the legal and policy merits of a transition to a fully integrated electricity grid in the Western United States through the creation of a regional independent system operator. We summarize the increasing constraints that today’s balkanized grid imposes on system-wide electricity costs and reliability, address the potential benefits of enhanced grid integration, and evaluate potential legal risks for key California clean energy policies.

    Wind and solar power are the dominant sources of new renewable energy in the United States and can provide numerous benefits to the economy and the environment. However, the variable nature of these technologies can create grid integration challenges for electricity system operators in some circumstances because renewable energy supply does not necessarily track demand. As California increases its renewable energy generation, it often has to curtail or shut down clean energy that is produced when demand is low. In February 2017, the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) warned that it may need to curtail 6,000 megawatts (MW) to 8,000 MW of renewable energy capacity during some hours in the spring of 2017,1 which is equivalent to 60 to 80% of the total installed large-scale solar generating capacity in the CAISO.2 This means that CAISO will not be able to take full advantage of this inexpensive and pollution-free generation. One way to improve grid reliability, minimize curtailments, and reduce the variability of renewable energy is to create a regional independent system operator to balance supply and demand across a larger geographic area.

    Within the Western grid (known as the “Western Interconnection”), electricity is managed by 38 separate balancing authorities (BA) across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. All 38 BAs, including CAISO, are part of the synchronized Western Interconnection but each BA is independently responsible for balancing supply and demand in its own territory. In order to improve reliability, cut costs, and increase efficiency, a number of these balancing authorities are partnering in the Western energy imbalance market (EIM), which is managed by CAISO. The EIM is a “real-time market” that adjusts for forecast errors between supply and demand every five minutes. This regional market has demonstrated numerous benefits of enhanced regional grid integration, such as reducing costs and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the EIM is limited in that it only allows for incremental adjustments to generation dispatch schedules and only captures a small portion of the region’s wholesale electricity market. CAISO, Western states, and other stakeholders throughout the West are exploring the creation of a more fully integrated regional electricity market that would be comprehensively managed by a single system operator and include a day-ahead market and other benefits. Such a market could enhance utilities’ resource planning, improve grid efficiency and reliability, and save utility customers money while meeting the West’s demand for reliable, affordable, and clean electricity.

    This report examines the potential impacts of an integrated Western electricity market on California’s clean energy policies, including the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), the greenhouse gas emissions performance standard (EPS) for long-term contracts with baseload power plants, and the cap-and-trade program established by AB 32, the state’s groundbreaking climate law. We find that enhanced Western grid integration—through the creation of a regional ISO—does not interfere with these clean energy policies, and it instead can assist California in meeting its objectives by creating more market opportunities for renewable energy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other pollution, and improving the transmission system’s efficiency and reliability. CAISO is not now, and would not become a policy-making body, but like other multi-state grid operators it would assist the states it serves in achieving their own policy objectives at lower cost while improving electric system reliability.

    While California’s clean energy policies could be the subject of future legal challenges, the likelihood and prospects of such challenges would not be affected by enhanced Western grid integration.

    Two provisions of the U.S. Constitution pose theoretical threats to California’s clean energy laws: the Supremacy Clause3 and the Commerce Clause.4 Under the Supremacy Clause, a state law is preempted and invalid if it conflicts with a federal law,5 such as the Federal Power Act (FPA) or the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). Additionally, the “dormant” Commerce Clause imposes limits on state actions that discriminate against out-of-state commerce,6 unduly burden interstate commerce,7 or assert control over conduct that occurs outside the state’s borders.8 Opponents of regional grid integration might argue that the creation of a regional power market could call the legality of California’s clean energy laws into question under either of these two provisions.

    Our analysis indicates that the expansion of CAISO into a regional system operator across several states would not make these challenges any more likely to succeed.9 Given the highly interconnected nature of the electric grid in the Western United States through the Western Interconnection, wholesale sales and transmission of electricity in the CAISO footprint are already treated as forms of “interstate commerce”10 subject to regulation by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) under the FPA. California laws and regulations affecting wholesale electricity transactions could be subject to challenges today if they conflict with federal energy law, and those same laws and regulations are already subject to scrutiny under the dormant Commerce Clause. As long as California and other Western states remain within the Western Interconnection, the potential for Supremacy Clause and dormant Commerce Clause challenges will not change. It is noteworthy that to date there have been no such challenges.

    In sum, enhanced Western grid integration under a regional system operator would not expose California’s clean energy policies to additional risks of preemption under the FPA or challenges based on the dormant Commerce Clause. Shifting to a regional grid operator would enable more efficient, affordable, and reliable integration of renewable resources without increasing the legal risk to California’s clean energy policies.

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    QUICK NEWS, June 19: More Artists Join The Climate Fight; U.S. Power Just Hit 10% Wind And Solar; The Dangers Of Oil And Gas Drilling, Detailed

    More Artists Join The Climate Fight Mainers hope their artwork can help lobbyists’ effort to combat climate change; Work from a Canton and Winslow artist is featured in a conference in Washington, D.C., devoted to public awareness of global warming.

    Kate McCormick, June 18, 2017 (Morning Sentinel via Press Herald)

    “…[A]rtist Laurie Sproul found herself deeply frustrated as she searched for ways that she, as an individual, could take action against what she saw as the impending threat of climate change…[I]n the middle of a snowstorm, she and her mother trekked to a climate change conference…[and connected with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, which lobbies] members of Congress…Sproul now volunteers with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, helping them use art to start conversations…[She hopes] her art can help break down barriers to discussions on climate change…By all appearances, there is little executive or legislative will to act on climate change, but behind the scenes the Citizens’ Climate Lobby has been successfully working to build consensus around the group’s carbon fee and dividend proposal, which proponents say is the most effective, market-friendly, bipartisan and fair approach to curbing carbon emissions…” click here for more

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    U.S. Power Just Hit 10% Wind And Solar Wind and solar in March accounted for 10% of U.S. electricity generation for first time

    June 14, 2017 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    "For the first time, monthly electricity generation from wind and solar (including utility-scale plants and small-scale systems) exceeded 10% of total electricity generation in the United States, based on March data…[W]ind and solar made up 7% of total U.S. electric generation in 2016…[It follows seasonal and geographic] patterns…Based on seasonal patterns in recent years, electricity generation from wind and solar will probably exceed 10% of total U.S. generation again in April 2017, then fall to less than 10% in the summer months. Since 2014, when EIA first began estimating monthly, state-level electricity generation from small-scale solar photovoltaic systems, combined wind and solar generation has reached its highest level in either the spring or fall…” click here for more

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    The Dangers Of Oil And Gas Drilling, Detailed Study of oil and gas drilling finds pollution and connections to earthquakes; Fracking pollutes, causes quakes, new analysis says

    Davin Hunn, June 18, 2017 (Houston Chronicle)

    "Oil and gas drilling in Texas shale plays pollutes the air, erodes soil and contaminates water, while the disposal of millions of gallons of wastewater causes earthquakes, a consortium of the state's top scientists concluded…In the most comprehensive analysis of the environmental and social impacts of drilling and hydraulic fracturing, The Academy of Medicine, Engineering and Science of Texas found that the shale oil boom that delivered so much prosperity to Texas also has degraded natural resources, overwhelmed small communities and even boosted the frequency and severity of traffic collisions as workers and equipment rush to oil fields. Fracking, which uses a high-pressured concoction of water, sand and chemicals to free oil and gas from dense shale rock, is also spreading rapidly across Texas, [Environmental and Community Impacts of Shale Development in Texas] noted… click here for more

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    Saturday, June 17, 2017

    Bill Maher Talks Jobs In Coal And The Real Problem

    ”Why are we working so hard to preserve the worst job this side of deodorant tester?” From Real Time With Bill Maher via YouTube

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    A Farmer Defends WindPower

    This Ohio farmer’s defense of windpower is run-of-the-mill – until the fourth minute. From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

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    The Secret To EV Success Is Charging Stations

    This is the next challenge in the revolutionary transition to cars with plugs. Read more here.

    From Fortune Magazine

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    Friday, June 16, 2017

    Climate Change Did NOT Pause

    The great myth of the global warming ‘pause’; While sceptics obsess over a global-warming hiatus, the sea gets steadily hotter

    Phillip Williamson, 17 June 2017 (UK Spectator)

    “…[Climate change deniers say the world’s media ignored a published finding that] the rise in global surface temperature had stalled…[in favor of attention to research that] questioned the existence of that hiatus…[Climate researchers do not] ignore evidence…[But the research did] not counter the reality of man-made change…[and the hiatus in global air temperatures came] to a blistering halt. The years 2014, 2015 and 2016 were the three hottest years on record — an unprecedented run…

    As a land species, it’s hardly surprising that we’re more concerned about what’s going on in the atmosphere than with conditions under the sea — but in the context of global warming that’s a big mistake. Around 93 per cent of the extra heat gained by the Earth over the past 50 years has sunk into the ocean, while 3 per cent has made ice melt, and 3 per cent has warmed the land. Only around 1 per cent has stayed in the atmosphere…[T]he so-called global-warming hiatus is already history.” click here for more

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    The Graph That Captures The Solar Boom

    This One Chart Shows How Solar Energy Growth Is Skyrocketing Beyond Predictions; We've blown away every estimate.

    Leanna Garfield, 9 June 2017 (Science Alert)

    “In early 2016, the International Energy Agency (IEA) projected that, starting that year, the world would add just 50 gigawatts of added solar energy capacity per year. And in 2017, solar's growth rate would level out and start to decline…[But the IEA has been wrong about solar's potential for growth] every year since 2002…Auke Hoekstra, a head researcher at the Technical University of Eindhoven in the Netherlands, says these forecasts are too conservative when compared to solar energy's track record…Every year, the organisation assumes that solar's growth rate will be linear, rather than increasing exponentially as it largely has for over a decade…Globally, there is now approximately 305 gigawatts of solar power capacity, partly due to the fact that the cost to install solar panels has dropped significantly worldwide in recent years…” click here for more

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    The World Celebrates Wind Day

    Global Wind Day: wind power companies have come a long way

    Susy Bento, June 15, 2017 (Into The Wind)

    "…[Global Wind Day] has become a worldwide holiday…[and an opportunity to look at] how this industry has grown…Windmills go back thousands of years…[In 1887,] the first windmill was used to generate electricity…[In the 1970s,] the United States go/vernment began [studying 13] commercial wind turbines…[There are now over 53,000 U.S. turbines in service and wind] prices have dropped 66 percent in the past seven years…In many parts of the U.S., wind is now the cheapest source of new generating capacity…Worldwide, there are now 1.2 million wind jobs…[Wind supplies about 5.5 percent of U.S. electricity, and it’s on track to supply 10 percent by 2020…” click here for more

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