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

HAPPY HAPPY BIRTHDAY to NFTM, who makes this world more wonderful with every life she touches.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.


  • The Conundrum of Electricity’s Cost In California

  • Weekend Video: An “Unequivocal” Increase In The Global Temperature
  • Weekend Video: The Nuclear Re-evaluation
  • Weekend Video: A White Wash For The Climate Crisis

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-The Affordable Cost To Stop The Climate Crisis
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global Geothermal’s Double-Barreled Power


  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: An Overview Of The Net Metering Debate In California
  • TTTA Wednesday- Geothermal And Politics

  • Monday Study – Utility Financial Viability At Risk
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    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.

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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Electrification In The Infrastructure Bill
  • Feds Streamline New Energy On Public Lands

    Wednesday, January 26, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Electrification In The Infrastructure Bill

    Federal Infrastructure Bills Would Drive Transportation Electrification

    Herman K. Trabish | October 5, 2021 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: The bipartisan bill was passed and is successfully being put to work. Build Back Better is all but bupkus.

    Two federal proposals to advance electric vehicles in California and across the nation are the $1.2 trillion Invest in America (HR 3684) bill, already passed by the Senate, and the House’s controversial and still evolving $3.5 trillion .

    There is $30.7 billion in Invest in America to advance EVs, according to Atlas EV Hub. That includes $7.7 billion in funding for ZEVs, $12.7 billion for “clean” vehicles, including hybrids, and $10.3 billion for battery manufacturing and recycling and transportation electrification-related power system infrastructure.

    There are grants for charging and fueling infrastructure, public school efficiency and renewable energy, and advanced manufacturing, Atlas reported. Funds also are included for studies on electrification impacts and critical minerals mining, charging station standards, network interoperability, and medium- and heavy-duty truck, fleet, bus, ferry, and port emissions reductions.

    The more ambitious but uncertain House Act provides $34.5 billion for ZEV-related projects, Atlas reported. It also could provide as much as $117.1 billion in “clean” funding for which ZEV-related manufacturing, production, deployment projects are eligible.

    The House Act adds $10 billion in grants for vehicle and charging infrastructure deployment, for battery recycling, and for transportation electrification at ports and airports. It also provides $22.5 billion for federal fleet electrification and $15 billion for charging station and rapid transit project development in low-income and disadvantaged communities.

    Importantly, it also provides $10 million to continue the $7,500 tax credit for ZEV purchases. Bonuses for a ZEV’s domestic and union-made product could make the tax credit as high as $12,500. A House provision removing the current limit of $200,000 in tax credits per ZEV manufacturer would be especially valuable at driving the market, automakers, charger providers, and advocates agreed. Many transportation electrification stakeholders seem to prefer the certainty of the Senate bill… "click here for more

    Feds Streamline New Energy On Public Lands

    The U.S. Government has announced a new MOU to expedite and streamline processes for renewable energy development on public lands across federal agencies.

    Alexander Richter, 23 January 2022 (Think GeoEnergy)

    “…[The U.S. Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Defense, Energy and the Environmental Protection Agency will] improve federal agency coordination and streamline reviews for clean energy projects located on public lands…[and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM, Department of the Interior) has consented to geothermal leasing [and permitting on National Forest Service] lands…

    …[This] supports the Biden-Harris administration’s goal of a carbon pollution-free power sector by 2035, as well as Congress’ direction in the Energy Act of 2020 to permit 25 GW of solar, wind and geothermal production on public lands no later than 2025…” click here for more

    Monday, January 24, 2022

    The Conundrum of Electricity’s Cost In California

    Utility Costs And Affordability Of The Grid Of The Future An Evaluation Of Electric Costs, Rates And Equity Issues

    May 2021 (California Public Utilities Commission)

    Executive Summary

    “Senate Bill (SB) 695 (Kehoe, 2009) requires the CPUC to prepare an annual report addressing electric and gas cost and rate trends as well as actions to limit or reduce utility costs. 1 For 2021, the CPUC is taking a different approach to this report in order to provide a longer-term rate forecast and to leverage a wider array of subject matter expertise from within the CPUC as well as externally in academia and the energy industry. The goal is to evaluate longer term system costs and policy risks. The draft of this report (the SB 695 Report or White Paper) laid the foundation for an “En Banc Meeting on Cost and Rate Trends” held on February 24, 2021, which provided a venue for discussing potential options for addressing the trends and impacts identified herein.

    The CPUC faces multiple intersecting policy mandates that require a delicate balance to avoid unintended consequences. If handled incorrectly, California’s policy goals could result in rate and bill increases that would make other policy goals more difficult to achieve and could result in overall energy bills becoming unaffordable for some Californians. Electrification goals and wildfire mitigation planning are among the near-term needs, for example, that place upward pressure on rates and bills.

    Another regulatory risk that has been identified in prior SB 695 reports and is further detailed in this white paper is a continuing increase in capital investments that are recovered in rate base by the investor-owned utilities (IOUs). While capital investments by IOUs will be necessary to meet California’s energy and climate policy goals, they can result in higher bills for customers. Evaluating the reasonableness of these investments in a cleaner, more efficient grid raises affordability and equity implications that merit further investigation.

    While this white paper does not explore a comprehensive, detailed breakout of all essential cost categories and their incremental impacts on IOU rates, it evaluates select areas of projected costs of specific programs and policy priorities, including transportation electrification (TE) and wildfire mitigation plan (WMP) implementation. The decision to highlight these specific areas of cost is informed by recent findings of staff analysis and the desire to bring their relative impacts on overall rate forecasts into sharper focus within the broader operations and revenue requirements of California’s IOUs. The figures below provide the illustrative impacts of projected wildfire spending relative to the other major bundled2 residential rate components from 2021 through 2030.

    The rate forecasts developed as part of this white paper, in conjunction with estimates of natural gas rates and gasoline prices, were used to project total energy bills for a representative high energy usage household located in a hot climate zone based on rates for each of the major IOUs, as presented in the figures below. These projections show that, for energy price sensitive households, bills are expected to outpace inflation over the coming decade. The implication is that, if household incomes are expected to generally increase at the rate of inflation, energy bills will become less affordable over time.

    The policy goals and regulatory requirements that create upward cost pressures appear manageable over a longer time horizon, but if not managed correctly, they could trigger equity and affordability concerns for vulnerable customer populations over the short- to mid-term horizon. There is the potential for a growing divide in the cost of service between customers participating in behind-the-meter (BTM) or distributed energy resources (DER) and those who are less likely to do so. Moderate- to higher-income customers are more likely to invest in DERs such as solar photovoltaic (PV) systems, electric vehicles (EV), and storage technologies, and the advanced rate offerings that support them. This enables them to shift load and take advantage of potential structural billing benefits, which often results in a cost shift onto lower-income and otherwise vulnerable customers. Without the prudent management of IOU revenue requirements, rate base, rate structures, and DER incentives, California’s continued progress toward the optimized grid of the future may widen this chasm between participants and non-participants of DER opportunities.

    There are three critical and overlapping regulatory fronts that must be actively managed to address this fundamental equity risk for vulnerable customers:

    1. The costs and timing of fulfilling clean energy and electrification mandates;

    2. The relatively rapid pace of rate base growth; and,

    3. Revenue shifts to lower-income non-participants from Net Energy Metering (NEM) and other DER incentives

    Problem Statement

    The need to improve the safety and reliability of the electric system while meeting California’s climate goals and various statutory mandates will require careful management of rate and bill impacts to ensure that electric services remain affordable. As California continues transitioning to a more robust distributed energy resources marketplace with greater deployment of electric vehicles, it will be essential to employ aggressive actions to minimize growth in utility rate base and to protect lower-income ratepayers from cost shifts and bill impacts. This white paper explores the affordability of the grid of the future and is intended to stimulate discussion of potential solutions that will be necessary to ease this transition, particularly for California’s most vulnerable customers.

    Key Findings

    Across all three IOUs since 2013, rates have increased by 37% for PG&E, 6% for SCE, and 48% for SDG&E. 4 The growth in rates can be largely attributed to increases in capital additions driven by rising investments in transmission by PG&E and distribution by SCE and SDG&E. While the utilities have made major financial commitments to wildfire mitigation and transportation electrification, these costs have not been fully reflected in rates so far. This paper finds that transportation electrification investments are not expected to contribute to significant rate growth in the near term, but that wildfire mitigation efforts will. Furthermore, higher than national average returns on equity (ROE) are a more modest but not insignificant factor that has amplified the three IOUs’ revenue growth in recent years.

    While tracking rates is important, customers care more about their bills than rates. California bills have typically been lower than most of the country in recent years, but those trends are changing. In 2019, SDG&E’s bundled residential average monthly bill ranked 142nd highest out of about 200 IOUs, even though its rate was among the top 20 highest. PG&E, however, is showing a 2018 and 2019 monthly bill ranking of 94th highest and 70th highest, respectively, meaning PG&E’s bills are higher than most of the IOUs being ranked. Further, SCE’s bills, while still lower than the median (#100 ranking), moved up in the rankings from 136th highest to 122nd highest between 2018 and 2019.

    Looking forward, the paper’s 10-year baseline forecast shows steady growth in customer rates (nominal $/kWh) between 2020 and 2030 for the three IOUs:

    • PG&E: $0.240 to $0.329, or about an annual average increase of 3.7 percent

    • SCE: $0.217 to $0.293, or about an annual average increase of 3.5 percent

    • SDG&E: $0.302 to $0.443, or about an annual average increase of 4.7 percent

    By 2030, bundled residential rates are forecasted to be approximately 12 percent, 10 percent, and 20 percent higher, respectively, than they would have been if 2020 actual rates for each IOU had grown at the rate of inflation.5 However, when the analysis focuses on households in the hotter regions of the state, household bills (electric, natural gas, and gasoline) are forecasted to rise at an annual rate of 4.5 percent, as compared to a 1.9% inflation rate.

    While the cost to further reduce GHG emissions in the electric sector to 38 million metric tons (MMT) compared to a target of 46 MMT would increase bills by $4 to $9 a month, a well-managed effort to move customers to all electric homes and electric vehicles could result in over a $100 a month reduction in overall energy bills. This means that, in order to avoid large increases in energy bills, customers will need to adopt technologies that require large up-front investments. In the absence of subsidies and low-cost financing options, this could create equity concerns for low- to moderate-income households and exacerbate existing disparities in electricity affordability…” click here for more

    Saturday, January 22, 2022

    An “Unequivocal” Increase In The Global Temperature

    This is why they call it a crisis. From NASA Goddard via YouTube

    The Nuclear Re-evaluation

    Until small modular reactor technology proves itself and brings down costs, the available investment will and should go to today’s low cost New Energy. From Yale Climate Connections via YouTube

    A White Wash For The Climate Crisis

    It will take every good idea to beat the climate crisis and this is one. From PBS NewsHour via YouTube

    Friday, January 21, 2022

    The Affordable Cost To Stop The Climate Crisis

    The Surprisingly Low Price Tag on Preventing Climate Disaster

    Yuval Noah Harari, January 18, 2022 (Time Magazine)

    “As the climate crisis worsens, too many people are swinging from denial straight to despair…Despair is as dangerous as denial. And it is equally false. Humanity has enormous resources under its command…[No one knows the full cost to] prevent catastrophic climate change…[Achieving a net-zero carbon economy has been estimated to require just] 2% to 3% of annual global GDP…We can quibble endlessly about the numbers, tweaking the models this way and that…[But the] crucial news is that the price tag of preventing the apocalypse is in the low single digits of annual global GDP…

    …[And it is] about making investments in new technologies and infrastructure, such as advanced batteries to store solar energy and updated power grids to distribute it. These investments will create numerous new jobs and economic opportunities, and are likely to be economically profitable in the long run in part by reducing health care expenditures and saving millions of people from sickness caused by air pollution…

    Since global GDP is now about $85 trillion USD, 2% currently totals about $1.7 trillion…[That will not] derail the economy or abandon the achievements of modern civilization. We just need to get our priorities right…During the 2008–09 financial crisis, the U.S. government spent about 3.5% of GDP to save financial institutions…[In just the first nine months of 2020 COVID stimulus measures were] worth nearly 14% of global GDP…[Right now, 2.4% of global GDP goes to militaries, 2% of annual global GDP subsidizes the fossil-fuel industry, and tax evasion costs] around 10% of global GDP…The money is there…[Instead of defeatism, demand] 2% of annual global GDP.” click here for more

    Global Geothermal’s Double-Barreled Power

    The world is hungry for lithium. Geothermal energy could transform how it’s sourced

    Anmar Frangoul, January 19, 2022 (CNBC)

    “..In the Uk’s county of Cornwall, efforts are underway to tap into the area’s natural resources and establish an industry which could, one day, produce both renewable energy and establish a local source of lithium…[L]ithium is crucial to electric vehicles and battery storage, two technologies with a big role to play in the planet’s shift to a low and zero emission future…

    Cornwall’s Geothermal Engineering Ltd (GEL) wants] to demonstrate that lithium hydroxide, a key component of lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles, can be produced in Cornwall from naturally occurring geothermal water with a net zero carbon footprint…[Processing falls into] three main categories: adsorption using porous materials that enable lithium bonding, ion exchange, and solvent extraction…[Doing it] remains a challenging task…The security of global supply chains is another issue, especially when the vast majority of lithium production is currently dominated by countries including Chile, China, Australia and Argentina… [C]ommercializing less intensive, more local and easily accessible ways of sourcing lithium could be hugely important going forward…

    …[Major economies and automotive manufacturers are planning] to increase the number of electric vehicles on our roads…[and] the push to expand renewable energy capacity shows no sign of letting up…[Much lithium is expected to come from recycling batteries but] the majority of lithium that will be in use in 2030 had not been extracted yet…[GeoCubed, Cornish Lithium, Vulcan Energy Resources in Germany, Controlled Thermal Resources in California are all working on geothermal-lithium] engineering, procurement, construction and commissioning…” click here for more

    Wednesday, January 19, 2022

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: An Overview Of The Net Metering Debate In California

    As California's solar net metering battle goes to regulators, a focus on reliability may be the best answer; Customer advocates say the current rooftop solar rate is "unsustainable," while solar advocates say "they want to kill us."

    Herman K. Trabish | October 1, 2021 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The commission ruling significantly changed existing compensation to solar owners, producing a big protest from the solar industry. The commission’s final ruling is due at the end of this month.

    Uncompromising final arguments were filed Sept. 14 in the nationally-watched debate to set a behind-the-meter (BTM) solar tariff in California to succeed the state's retail rate net energy metering (NEM).

    Proposals to cut NEM export compensation to customers will "kill" their right of self-generation and are "hostile" to solar businesses, solar advocates said. But current compensation for solar owners creates a "massive" shift of system costs to non-solar owners and a "crisis" of rising electricity rates, customer advocates and U.C. Berkeley economists noted.

    NEM changes proposed by a coalition of stakeholders that "want us dead" may alter the "payback period" on solar purchases and "devastate today's market," California Solar and Storage Association (CalSSA) Policy Director Brad Heavner said.

    That coalition, which includes environmental advocate the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) and ratepayer advocate The Utility Reform Network (TURN), sees a threat of higher costs to all electricity consumers.

    "The solar industry is attacking groups that support reform," but today's NEM "is a material driver of rate increases," TURN Staff Attorney Matthew Freedman said. Without reform that recognizes "the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few," the cost shift "will explode in the coming decade and threaten affordability for all customers."

    The "fundamental tension" in California's NEM legislation is that compensation must both drive solar growth and protect all customers, a CPUC-ordered study on cost shifts concluded. Standard regulatory metrics show retail rate NEM shifts costs unjustly. But a new approach to solar that recognizes its reliability value may remedy that, some stakeholders suggested…” click here for more

    Geothermal And Politics

    The renewable energy source Democrats hope will break out; Climate advocates and lawmakers believe the $320 billion in tax incentives promoting renewables like geothermal will remain mostly unchanged.

    Jonathan Custodio, January 17, 2022 (Politico)

    “…[Geothermal energy was included in the bipartisan infrastructure package passed last fall which could lead to technology breakthroughs and cost reductions. The] initial cost for a geothermal energy field and power plant is about $2,500 per kilowatt…In 2019, the average cost for onshore wind generators was $1,391 per kilowatt, while solar energy averaged at $1,796 per kilowatt…

    Geothermal energy only accounted for two percent of total energy consumption in 2020…[But researchers] are working to better identify areas where the rocks have the permeability best suited for geothermal development. So far that’s mostly limited to hotspots in states such as California and Nevada, which combined account for 95% of domestic production…But a newer technology, called enhanced geothermal systems, or EGS, only needs a heat source and uses hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — the same technology used by the oil and gas industries — to increase the permeability of the rock…

    Since geothermal energy is essentially a heat exchanger, it thrives better in colder temperatures…[and some systems] emit very low levels of greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide…Environmental impacts include increased [but cirmcumscribed and limited] seismic activity…Possibly the strongest argument for greater adoption of geothermal systems is that power plants can produce energy around the clock since the heat in the earth’s core is available 24/7, unlike its wind and solar companions…” click here for more

    Monday, January 17, 2022

    Monday Study – Utility Financial Viability At Risk

    Hidden Risks of US Utilities

    Management, February 2021 (Lazard asset Management)

    The Lazard Global Listed Infrastructure strategy currently has low exposure to the US utility sector. This low weight is in direct contrast with listed infrastructure indices and many active managers in this asset class. While many US utilities are high quality natural monopoly assets, we are unable to find value in the sector today. Current valuations imply that the rare combination of low interest rates, generous allowed returns, and solid rate base growth will continue indefinitely. Although this situation has persisted for several years, we believe the risks of a reversal are rising.

    US Utility Earnings

    US utilities that are in our preferred infrastructure universe transmit essential commodities like gas, electricity, and water. They are not the power generators or energy retailers that sell to the consumer, rather they own network assets. Utilities that deliver these essential services earn a return on invested capital as determined by a regulator while their fuel, operational and maintenance costs are generally passed-through directly to the consumer.

    In the US, each state has its own regulatory agency and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission regulates interstate transmission assets. As a result, there is a degree of variability in the utilities’ authorised rate of return earned on invested capital. Utilities invest in their networks, maintaining and extending these assets, and improving their efficiency and safety, as well as building new assets for, say, transmission of renewable energy. The more the utility can invest in its infrastructure, the more revenue it can generate.

    The Current Situation

    US utilities have enjoyed a widening spread over the risk-free rate since the early 1980s, as allowed returns have declined less than bond yields, a trend that accelerated in the ultra-low rate environment of the last decade (Exhibit 1). This has allowed the utilities to earn a premium to global peers, whose returns are usually linked via formula to the risk-free rate.

    Exhibit 2 highlights the experience of regulated UK water utilities, where allowed returns have tracked lower alongside the cost of debt.

    While US utilities’ allowed returns are typically not linked to interest rates by any formula, we expect that regulators will not allow them to over-earn forever, so our long-term projections assume a lower cost of capital spread than what is currently allowed.

    At the same time as US utilities have been earning quite generous returns on rate base, the rate base has been growing consistently (Exhibit 3)

    Some of the areas of network and generation investment add to the rate base, and at the same time reduce operations and maintenance expense (O&M) which is a pass-through cost to customers. These areas of investment include:

    • Installing advanced metering infrastructure, which dramatically improves workforce efficiency.

    • Phasing out coal plants in favour of gas and renewable generation (renewable assets add to the rate base and eliminate the variable fossil fuel costs).

    • Retrofitting existing generation assets to reduce emissions.

    • Building out transmission networks to interconnect regions.

    As a result, while rate base growth has been high, the reduction in O&M has helped offset the impact on customer bills.

    Other areas of capital expenditure, which are critical, have also added to rate base growth, including:

    • Safety and reliability investment (e.g., the federally mandated pipeline replacement project to reduce leaks and wildfire risk by hardening the network).

    • Grid investment to keep pace with the widespread adoption of innovative technologies (e.g., electric vehicles).

    • Network investment to accommodate the addition of renewables (e.g., household solar)

    Can rate base growth persist at such high rates?

    While US utilities’ projections of rate base growth over the next five years suggests that rate base growth levels will be similar to history, there is significant variability within the broader cohort of US utilities. The key question for investors, then, is whether the combination of extreme low interest rates, high allowed returns, and rate base growth will continue.

    In our view, at the valuations where these assets are trading, any breakdown in this perfect set of circumstances could see a material de-rating.

    US electricity prices have not risen in real terms over the last decade. In fact, they have regressed slightly, while personal income has grown (Exhibit 4). Customer bills have been largely flat with increases in capital investment (net plant) being offset by various cost savings, primarily in energy costs—the price of natural gas has fallen significantly (Exhibit 5).

    The utilities have had the additional advantage of macroeconomic tailwinds over the past decade:

    • The decline in interest rates, reducing interest expense.

    • The reduction in the federal corporate tax rate

    • The gradual ongoing refunds to customers of over-collected tax (deferred tax liabilities)—this liability materialized at the time of the corporate tax rate cut.

    • Federal tax credits arising from the construction and electricity production of renewables.

    • Network expansion for customer growth (for some utilities, but not all).

    Although these tailwinds should be to some extent sustainable, we think they are unlikely to be as strong in the future as they have been in the past. Ultimately, we think that ongoing high levels of capital expenditure (and rate base growth) will flow through to customer utility bills, and regulators will need to consider curbing rate base growth or lowering utilities’ allowed rate of return. Neither option is positive for US utility valuations.

    Above and beyond industry-specific risks looms the prospect of higher interest rates. Should the downward rate trend of the past 30 years start to reverse, it could add a further obstacle to US utility valuations. Such a scenario would, we believe, automatically start to correct the over-earning issue, by reducing the spread between allowed returns and interest rates. US regulators would probably avoid lifting allowed returns in response, likely keeping returns flat and letting the spread return to more normal levels. In simple terms, the discount rate will rise with no offsetting change in earnings - leading to a decline in values.


    We think these risks are heightened because US regulated utilities are currently trading significantly above their long-term averages (Exhibit 6). US utilities are the single biggest sector in global infrastructure indices.

    Their performance consequently makes up a major portion of the returns from passive infrastructure investments and active portfolios with large positions in US utilities.

    Our internal value rank highlights the challenges facing the sector. In Exhibit 7, each bar represents the expected annualised return over three years, for each stock in our Preferred Infrastructure universe, based on the assumption that all stocks will trade at our valuation in three-years’ time. As the chart shows, we see potential negative returns over the next three years for US utilities. Only one US utility has positive expected returns over the period. click to enlarge


    Utilities’ appeal of stable and growing earnings that are not linked to the economic cycle is obvious, but investors need to be mindful of the risks. US regulated utilities have benefited from a confluence of circumstances which has enabled them to enjoy sustained high rates of rate base growth and allowed returns well above their cost of capital, all without raising prices to their customers. We do not believe these conditions can last forever and question whether the market is pricing the risks properly. Accordingly, the Lazard Global Listed Infrastructure strategy has low exposure to this sector.

  • Saturday, January 15, 2022

    Announcing The Clean Energy Corps

    1000 new jobs dedicated to building New Energy. Apply! “Your planet needs you.” From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

    Al Gore On Today’s Climate

    The problem is still ahead of the solutions. From CBS Mornings via YouTube

    Comparing New Energy And Old Energy

    Rosie explains "Levelized Cost of Energy" (LCOE) and why New Energy ultimately wins. From Engineering with Rosie via YouTube