NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Boomed With World 2021 Power Demand, Emissions
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Collaboration Can Cut Cost To Beat World's Climate Crisis
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT WEDNESDAY,:

  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: Trying To Make Arizona’s Just Energy Transition More Just
  • TTTA Wednesday-Solar Prices Keep Getting Better
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Monday Study – New Insights On The Impacts Of Electricity Costs
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Diversity Commitment Growing In New Energy Industries
  • Weekend Video: Next-Gen Geothermal
  • Weekend Video: New Energy For New Build Housing
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Earth’s Numbers Show Record-Breaking Heat
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-New Energy Could Save $$$Millions
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    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

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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

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

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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, October 1-2:
  • The Light From Solar Power
  • New Energy’s Delivery Needs
  • Think About Power To The Plug

    Saturday, October 01, 2022

    The Light From Solar Power

    Solar's light seems to shine brighter with every darkening of the climate crisis. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

    New Energy’s Delivery Needs

    The just-passed government funding bill omitted language to streamline transmission building. It might get a second look after the November election. From Vox via YouTube

    Think About Power To The Plug

    This is just one office's effort in the Biden Energy Department power system modernization. From U.S. Dept. of Energy via YouTube

    Friday, September 30, 2022

    New Energy Boomed With World 2021 Power Demand, Emissions

    Wind And Solar Top 10% of Global Power Generation For First Time

    September 21, 2022 (Bloomberg New Energy Finance)

    “The world’s wind and solar projects combined to meet more than a tenth of global electricity demand for the first time in 2021…[but Bloomberg BNEF found the economic recovery from COVID also drove up overall electricity demand, production from coal-fired power plants, and emissions…[Wind and solar’s nearly 3,000 terawatt-hours of electricity] accounted for a combined 10.5% of global 2021 generation…[Wind’s contribution was] 6.8% while solar climbed to 3.7%. A decade ago, these two technologies combined accounted for well under 1% of total electricity production…

    …[Including hydro and nuclear generation,] 39% of all power produced globally in 2021 was carbon free…Every year since 2017, wind and solar have accounted for the majority of new power-generating capacity…[Total] zero-carbon power accounted for 85% of all new capacity added…Solar was half of all global capacity added, at 182 gigawatts…[But enormous work remains] for the power system to address its role in climate change…[E]lectricity demand surged 5.6% year-on-year, putting new strains on existing infrastructure and fossil fuel supply chains…

    …[Because of lower-than-expected production from hydro plants and higher natural gas prices,] coal plants set records by jumping 8.5% from 2020-2021…One small bright spot: the speed at which new coal is being added to the grid is slowing…[Nonetheless, the result was a] 7% spike in global CO2 emissions from the power sector in 2021 compared to 2020. Power-sector emissions set a new high at 13,600 mega tons of CO2…” click here for more

    Collaboration Can Cut Cost To Beat World's Climate Crisis

    International "collaboration gap" threatens to undermine climate progress and delay net zero by decades

    20 September 2022 (International Energy Agency)

    “…[The first annual International Energy Agency Breakthrough Agenda Report] aims to align countries’ actions and coordinate investment to scale up deployment and drive down costs across five key sectors…[Together, the power, road transport, steel, hydrogen and agriculture] sectors account for nearly 60% of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions today and could deliver the bulk of the emission reductions needed by 2030 in a pathway that would make a significant contribution to limiting global warming to a maximum of 1.5°C, in line with the Paris Agreement goals…[The report’s 25 recommendations] include…

    …Demonstrate and test flexible low-carbon power systems…Create new cross-border supergrids this decade…Set up new international centres of expertise to channel finance and technical assistance…Agree a common definition and target dates by which all new road vehicles will be net zero…Mobilise investment in charging infrastructure, including prioritised assistance for developing countries and harmonise international charging standards…Standards to boost the recyclability of batteries and supercharging research into alternative chemistries for batteries…

    …Government policies and private-sector purchase commitments to drive demand and deployment of low-carbon and renewable hydrogen…Public and private commitments to purchase near-zero emission steel…Investment for agriculture technologies and farming practices that can cut emissions…International standards for monitoring and reporting on the state of natural resources on which agriculture depends…[W]ithout international collaboration, the transition to net zero global emissions could be delayed by decades…” click here for more

    Wednesday, September 28, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Trying To Make Arizona’s Just Energy Transition More Just

    Stakeholders, Utility Unite in Face-Off with Regulators Over Arizona Just Energy Transition

    Herman K. Trabish, April 28, 2022 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: While calls for energy justice and equity rise across the U.S. and around the world, Arizona’s regulators continue to avoid a decision.

    Arizona Public Service (APS) raised the national standard for a Just Energy Transition with its $144.45 million settlement with affected communities and tribal peoples in late 2020. The money was for assistance to communities impacted by the already-closed coal fueled 2,409 MW Navajo Generating Station and planned 2031 closures of the 2,270 MW Four Corners Generating Station, and the 1,129 MW Cholla Generating Station. Navajo supplied and the Four Corners’ supplies power to California.

    The urgent need for the proposed APS investment to rectify the coal plants’ decades-long destructive impacts was emphasized April 27 in the first of several April-May town hall meetings on the ACC ruling. Chaired by Commissioner Anna Tovar, the citizens of Joseph City, Arizona, testified to coal generation’s pollution of local air, water, health, and economics.

    Endorsed by environmental groups and tribal peoples, the coal plant settlement included $128.75 million for the Navajo Nation, $12 million to Cholla communities, and $3.7 million to the Hopi Tribe. But the plan required Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approval. The commission objected to APS’s proposal to recover almost $120 million from ratepayers and sharply cut the amount to be recovered through rates.

    That investment would support “a solid economic transition,” Navajo Nation President Jonathan Nez told this reporter at the time of the agreement. It would “electrify homes, increase renewable energy projects, and promote economic development” and could make Navajo Nation lands “a renewable energy epicenter,” Nez said.

    As Western utilities close uneconomic coal facilities, affected communities and advocacy groups are pushing for economic justice in the transition to clean energy. Landmark efforts include Washington state’s $55 million in 2011, New Mexico’s $40 million in 2019, and the April 26, 2022, agreement for closure of Xcel Colorado’s Comanche facility, which could approach APS’s proposed expenditure.

    The APS plan would likely be the biggest just transition utility expenditure in the U.S. to date, according to APS and Arizona State University Just Energy Transition Center Co-Director Amanda Ormond. The ACC disrupted that ambition. In its final decision late last year, concerned about costs to APS’s 1.2 million Phoenix and central Arizona customers, the commission reduced the proposed $119.25 million ratepayer share of the Just Energy Transition payment to $10 million… click here for more

    Solar Prices Keep Getting Better

    US installs record solar capacity as prices keep falling; It's often cheaper to build and run solar than to buy gas for an existing plant.

    John Timmer, September 21, 2022 (Ars Technica)

    “…The annual Energy Department analysis found solar energy was nearly half of new U.S. 2021 generating capacity partly] because costs have dropped by more than 75 percent since 2010…[and] it's now often cheaper to build and operate a solar plant than it is to simply buy fuel for an existing natural gas plant…[Incentives and tax breaks in the Inflation Reduction Act] should expand solar's advantages…[Over 12.5 gigawatts of new utility-scale capacity was built] last year, bringing the total installed capacity to over 50 gigawatts…

    Combined with residential and other distributed solar installations, solar alone accounted for 45 percent of the new generating capacity added to the grid last year…[The] expansion has largely been driven by falling costs…[T]he price of building a solar plant has been dropping by an average of about 10 percent a year…[Prices averaged] about $1.35 for each watt of capacity in 2021. Large-scale plants benefit the most, with projects over 50 megawatts costing about 20 percent less…

    …[It is] becoming increasingly economical to install large facilities in states that don't get as much sun…[making the median capacity factor of solar plants in the US was 24 percent…[With the drop in construction costs, solar’s LCOE without federal tax incentives has dropped 85 percent since 2010, from $230/MWh to $33 per MWh] and utility-scale and distributed solar growth is forecast to] triple by the end of the decade, reaching about 75 GW in 2030, and continuing to grow from there…” click here for more

    Monday, September 26, 2022

    Monday Study – New Insights On The Impacts Of Electricity Costs

    Paying for Electricity in California: How Residential Rate Design Impacts Equity and Electrification

    September 2022 (The Energy Institute at UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business via Next 10)

    EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

    California has ambitious goals to fight climate change while also ensuring that energy is affordable for all of its residents. Unfortunately, the current structure of residential electricity prices in the state makes achieving these goals much harder. Electric utility rates feature high volumetric (i.e., per kilowatt-hour) prices that are designed to recover many costs beyond the direct incremental cost of providing electricity. These high volumetric prices make electrification less attractive to consumers while simultaneously distributing the burden of paying for electricity in a way that is quite regressive.

    In this report, the authors analyze detailed billing data from over 11 million California households served by the state’s three large investor-owned utilities (IOUs)—Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E)—in order to characterize the implications of the current residential electricity prices for equity and for electrification of vehicles and homes. The authors then discuss potential reforms that could simultaneously improve equity while fostering decarbonization by removing barriers to electrification.

    This report builds on a prior companion report that established key facts about retail electricity pricing in California.1 First, the initial study showed that IOU customers face prices that are two to three times higher than social marginal cost (SMC), which is defined as the going-forward cost to the utility of providing additional electricity to an existing customer, inclusive of pollution costs. Second, the initial report also found that the reason that retail prices are so far above the efficient SMC benchmark is that retail prices are used to recover non-incremental costs of electricity supply along with other programs that have been integrated into bills. This method of cost recovery has generated a large, and rapidly growing, gap between retail electricity prices and social marginal costs. The report authors refer to this gap as the effective “electricity tax.”

    This report explores the consequences of this effective electricity tax on equity and efficiency and ultimately finds that reforms could better align electricity rates with the state’s climate and clean energy goals. Using the detailed billing data, the residual cost burden for each customer—defined as the difference between the amount the customer pays on their bill and the incremental cost to the utility of providing that household with power—is calculated under the current rate system. The distribution of those residual cost burdens across the income distribution is then characterized.

    Customers do not see their bill broken into “incremental costs” and “residual cost burden,” so the drivers of escalating retail prices are opaque to the typical customer. A primary goal of this analysis is to bring to light essential facts about the current system—who is paying for California’s electricity system today? and how is that determined by specific features of current rates?—in order to better inform public discussion. Household & Equity Impacts: This report offers a firstof-its-kind analysis for California that demonstrates how residual cost increases for customer electricity bills are impacting households and how that impact varies across households with different abilities to pay.

    The analysis presented in this report finds that:

    • Overall, customers across the three IOU service territories contribute $678 per year on average toward the residual cost burden. For PG&E and SDG&E customers, residual cost burdens are more than twothirds of their total bills, whereas SCE customers pay slightly more than half of their bills towards residual costs. As a result, how California chooses to recover these costs is the primary driver of electricity costs.

    • Residual cost burdens vary widely across households. As of 2019, a quarter of households were contributing less than $220 per year, while the quarter of households with the highest usage contributed more than $850 per year.

    • California’s current electricity pricing regime assigns a greater share of residual costs to higher-income households, but lower-income households pay much more as a fraction of their annual income on average, so much so that the effective electricity tax is more regressive than the state sales tax. Figure ES.1 summarizes these data for 2019: it shows the estimated average residual cost burden by income category for each household (in solid lines, which rise with income), as well what fraction of average income this represents (in dashed lines, which decline with income).2

    • Net metering for rooftop solar makes the effective electricity tax substantially more regressive. This is because wealthier households are much more likely to have rooftop solar. The effect is strongest in SDG&E, where rooftop solar in 2019 already provided over 20 percent of residential electricity under net metering, thus offsetting a majority of the cross-subsidy created by the California Alternative Rates for Energy (CARE) program.

    Impacts on Decarbonization Efforts:

    The state’s strategy for decarbonization includes plans for widespread electrification of buildings and rapid electrification of personal transportation. Relying entirely on the effective electricity tax to recover residual costs, however, implies that customers considering electrification face much higher operating costs if they electrify than they would if prices were set equal to social marginal cost. The authors refer to this increase in operating costs as the “electrification cost premium.” Related to this issue, this analysis finds that:

    • For California households considering purchasing an electric vehicle (EV), the effective electricity tax raises the annual operating cost of an EV by around $600 per year on average. Recent research suggests that this could be reducing EV adoption by somewhere between 13 and 33 percent. Figure ES.2 shows the average annual electrification cost premium for EVs across the utilities. The premium is close to $900 for the average SDG&E customer.

    • For households considering electric heating in lieu of natural gas, the effective electricity tax raises the annual cost of doing so by around $600 per year. Recent research suggests that eliminating this tax could increase the fraction of new homes that are built with electric heating by around one third. Figure ES.2 shows how the electrification cost premium for home heating varies across the utilities, with the highest annual burdens, around $850 on average, in PG&E.

    Fortunately, there are ways that residential electricity rates could be reformed in order to foster electrification (by lowering volumetric prices), while simultaneously improving equity outcomes. Some of these possible reforms were discussed in the previous related report,3 but with the detailed billing data available for this report, the authors are now able to examine their impacts much more closely. They find that:

    • Moving some costs that contribute to the residual cost burden onto the state budget, to be funded by increases in the sales or income tax, would increase equity and improve efficiency because it would reduce the effective electricity tax. A variety of costs that might be moved are discussed, including public purpose programs, legacy costs and costs related to wildfires.

    • Introduction of income-based fixed charges would similarly increase equity and efficiency at the same time. As an example, the authors consider a system of income-based fixed charges that would mimic the progressivity of the state’s sales tax, showing the rates needed and the distribution of bill changes it would induce.

    • Minimum bills, which have been suggested as a potential source of funds to cover the residual cost burden, would be both ineffective and highly inequitable. The report authors conclude that minimal bills are more regressive than even the current rate structure, as more than half of the added revenues from a minimum bill would be paid by households with below-median income. In addition, minimum bill levels that have commonly been discussed in the current debate, such as $30 per month, would make an extremely small contribution to covering the residual cost burden.

    Some of the challenges with rate reforms are discussed in this report. The authors also note that, even where it is possible to pursue rate reforms that are equitable on average across income categories, their analysis of the billing data makes clear that there would be a wide distribution of resulting winners and losers—which could make it more difficult to reach political consensus on reform.

    In this report, the authors take as given the amount of revenue that utilities need to recover. Another important policy direction is to identify and reduce any costs due to inefficiency or unnecessary expenditures, but that is not pursued in this report. Also, this report focuses exclusively on residential electricity rates. Commercial and industrial electricity rates are also used to cover costs above SMC, raising many of the same issues around electrification, as well as different concerns over equity and business climate in California.

    Given this context and these complexities, this report is first and foremost aimed at providing useful facts and outlining possible paths forward, guided by the twin objectives of fostering decarbonization and improving equity. All possible reforms create some manner of trade off, and as such should be debated in the broader policy context in the state.

    1 Borenstein, Severin, Meredith Fowlie, and James Sallee. Designing Electricity Rates for An Equitable Energy Transition. Next 10 and the Energy Institute, February 23, 2021. Available at: https://www.next10.org/publications/electricity-rates. 2 This report focuses primarily on 2019 data, because they are pre-pandemic and the most recent available when data were requested from the utilities. But it is clear that the residual cost burden has continued to expand since 2019. 3 Borenstein, Severin, Meredith Fowlie, and James Sallee. Designing Electricity Rates for An Equitable Energy Transition. Next 10 and the Energy Institute, February 23, 2021. Available at: https://www.next10.org/publications/electricity-rates...

    Saturday, September 24, 2022

    Diversity Commitment Growing In New Energy Industries

    Details of diversity efforts here from Heather Zichal, a longtime leader in bringing opportunity to women. From American Clean Power Association via YouTube

    Next-Gen Geothermal

    The next generation of geothermal is called “enhanced” and it has real potential to enhance the world’s New Energy capability. From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

    New Energy For New Build Housing

    For $10,000 more in total cost, there is essentially no power bill for the life of the house. From CNBC Television via YouTube

    Friday, September 23, 2022

    Earth’s Numbers Show Record-Breaking Heat

    Earth had its 6th-warmest August on record; Antarctic sea ice set record low; Northern Hemisphere saw its 2nd-hottest summer

    September 14, 2022 (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration)

    “…The average global land and ocean surface temperature in August was 1.62 degrees F (0.90 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average of 60.1 degrees F (15.6 degrees C), making it the sixth-hottest August in the 143-year global climate record…North America and Europe both had their hottest Augusts on record as Asia recorded its fourth-hottest August. South America, Africa and the Oceania region all had warmer-than-average Augusts but none saw a top-10 warm August…

    …The season was Earth’s fifth warmest on record — tied with 2015 and 2017 — at 1.60 degrees F (0.89 of a degree C) above the 20th-century average. The five warmest June-August periods on record have occurred since 2015…[There is now] a greater than 99% chance that 2022 will rank among the 10-warmest years on record…For the third consecutive month, Antarctica set a record low sea ice extent (coverage) since records began in 1979…The globe saw nine named storms in August: Four of the nine named storms reached tropical cyclone strength (74 mph or higher), including Super Typhoon Hinnamnor, the first Category 5 tropical cyclone of 2022…” click here for more

    New Energy Could Save $$$Millions

    Switching to renewable energy could save trillions – study

    Jonah Fisher, 13 September 2022 (BBC News)

    “Switching from fossil fuels to renewable energy could save the world as much as $12tn (£10.2tn) by 2050, an Oxford University study says…Gas prices have soared on mounting concerns over energy supplies…[and] going green now makes economic sense because of the falling cost of renewables…

    …[Historic price data for renewables and fossil fuels show] the price of renewables will continue to fall is based on ‘probabilistic’ modelling, using data on how massive investment and economies of scale have made other similar technologies cheaper…Wind and solar are already the cheapest option for new power projects, but questions remain over how to best store power and balance the grid when the changes in the weather leads to fall in renewable output…[but the] likely costs have been over-estimated…[and the transition to renewables is likely to have] a net economic benefit…” click here for more

    Thursday, September 22, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: New Ways To Bring Distributed New Energy

    Breakthroughs in generation and system integration are driving the utility of the future, analysts say; The new technologies will reverse the supply-demand equation and bring competitive procurement and a transaction platform to merge the bulk power and distribution systems.

    Herman K. Trabish, January 31, 2022 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The policy fight to bring new technologies onto the system gets easier as the innovations to integrate them become more accessible.

    Decarbonization goals driving the growth of renewable generation along with customer demand for distributed energy resources (DER) are reshaping what electric utilities can be.

    For the emerging utility of the future, the flexibility of DER will protect reliability and lower customer costs by balancing renewables’ variability, utility representatives and power system analysts said.

    Flexible customer demand is moving utilities “from a world where we forecasted demand and scheduled supply to a world where we will forecast supply and schedule demand,” said Mike Hogan, senior advisor to the non-partisan Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP). Utilities can learn to “forecast supply, price energy appropriately, and allow demand to respond to it.”

    But electricity providers must also learn to take advantage of these new dynamics and the proactive customers that are also producing electricity, also known as “prosumers”, power system stakeholders agreed.

    “Utilities have been providers of a commodity called electricity, and there have been few options to get it elsewhere,” said Bryan Hannegan, president and CEO of Colorado electric cooperative Holy Cross Energy. But with new technologies and policies that allow generating and storing electricity at home and managing it with smart devices, “utilities must find ways to remain relevant.”

    Two breakthroughs — divesting generation ownership and integrating system operations — are transforming today’s electricity providers while protecting reliability and affordability, utility representatives and system analysts said. But the evolution to a “utility of the future” will only be completed by how utilities respond to still-emerging technologies, changes in policy and new customer demand, they added… click here for more

    U.S. Schools Going Solar

    Report finds 1 in 10 of all K-12 schools have gone solar

    Kelsey Misbrener, September 15, 2022 (Solar Power World)

    “Schools across the country are rapidly switching to solar power to meet their energy needs while gaining significant cost-savings, STEM learning and climate resiliency benefits, according to [Brighter Future: A Study of Solar on K-12 Schools]…Since the start of 2015, the amount of solar installed by U.S. K-12 schools has tripled…[and] over six million students now attend more than 8,400 schools nationwide that utilize solar power.

    The growth of solar energy on schools has reached 1 in 10 (9%) of all K-12 public and private schools in the United States…[N]early half (47%) of the public schools with solar are eligible for the Title 1 Schoolwide Program, which serves a large population of low-income students…Schools with budgets of all sizes are going solar…[with 87% using third-party partnerships that remove the barrier of upfront costs and help schools see immediate energy cost savings…[T]he remainder was purchased and owned directly by schools…

    …[High school students can] begin preparing for employment as solar installers…[which] is expected to become one of the country’s fastest-growing occupations over the next decade…Schools are also combining solar with battery storage to manage their energy consumption from the grid and provide back-up power to their buildings…The top five states for solar capacity at schools — California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts and Illinois — helped drive national growth…” click here for more