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

  • Weekend Video: A Rogue Climate Scientist Talks To Seth Meyers
  • Weekend Video: The Rogue Scientist Does A Climate Denier Fact Check
  • Weekend Video: How Anybody With A Good New Energy Idea Can Change The World
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Climate Change Is More Than Warming
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Takes Global Wind Lead
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Aussies Lead Charge To Solar+Storage
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-How Brexit Could Impact UK Ocean Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, February 23:

  • TTTA Thursday-Infrastructure Fix Should Face Changing Climate
  • TTTA Thursday-Grid Operator Says ‘Gimme More Ocean Wind!’
  • TTTA Thursday-Marines Assault Old Energy In $80 Million Solar Build
  • TTTA Thursday-Cars With Plugs Face Fight With Agro-Oil Alliance
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Urgent Need For Planning New Transmission Now
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Four Ways To Reconsider Net Metering
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Energy Storage Solution
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Delivering Electricity Through The Cloud
  • QUICK NEWS, February 21: What Businesses Can Do About Climate Change; High Winds Rising In The Deep South; When Solar Stocks Will Come Back
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • A Presidents’ Day Visit To The White House
  • Obama Did It
  • The President Reports
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    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

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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.

  • ---------------
  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, February 27:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Wind’s Big Year
  • QUICK NEWS, February 27: Heartland City Leaders Face Climate Change; EVs Nearer To Going Plug-Free; Politics Block Farmers From Growing Solar

    Monday, February 27, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Wind’s Big Year

    U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2016 Market Report

    January 26, 2017 (American Wind Energy Industry)

    The U.S. wind industry installed 6,478 megawatts (MW) during the fourth quarter of 2016, the second strongest quarter for installations on record. With 8,203 MW commissioned during 2016, the U.S. now has an installed capacity of 82,183 MW.

    Project developers reported more than 18,300 MW of wind capacity under construction or in advanced development, with 6,345 MW in combined new announcements. There are now 10,432 MW under construction and 7,913 MW in advanced development.

    Over 4,000 MW of power purchase agreements (PPA) were signed during 2016, and electric utilities released 23 wind-eligible requests for proposals (RFPs).

    Key Takeaways

    2016 Wind Project Installations

    • The U.S. wind industry installed 6,478 MW of wind capacity during the fourth quarter, the second strongest quarter for installations on record. For the year, the U.S. installed 8,203 MW.

    • 19 states commissioned a total of 47 projects during the fourth quarter. Texas led with 1,790 MW, followed by Oklahoma (1,192 MW), Kansas (615 MW), North Dakota (603 MW) and Iowa (551 MW).

    • Oklahoma surpassed California to become the third-ranked state in the nation with over 6,600 MW of installed capacity; Kansas surpassed Illinois as the fifth-ranked state with more than 4,400 MW.

    • There are now 82,183 MW of installed wind capacity in the United States, with more than 52,000 wind turbines operating in 40 states plus Guam and Puerto Rico.

    • The U.S. commissioned its first offshore wind project during the fourth quarter, the 30 MW Block Island wind project off the coast of Rhode Island.

    • GE Renewable Energy and Vestas captured a combined 85% of the U.S. wind turbine market during 2016; including Siemens, the three turbine manufacturers captured 95% of the market.

    Wind Capacity Under Construction or in Advanced Development • There are now 10,432 MW under construction and 7,913 MW in advanced development, a combined 18,344 MW of wind capacity.

    • Project developers announced 6,345 MW in combined new activity during the fourth quarter, with 3,793 MW in new construction announcements (a three year record high) and 2,552 MW in new advanced development.

    • The industry also qualified significant additional project capacity for the full value of the PTC at year end through safe harbor and physical construction without finalizing project capacities. These new projects will be reported in the near term.

    Strong Procurement Activity

    • Project developers signed 816 MW of PPAs during the fourth quarter, contributing to a total of 4,040 MW of PPAs signed during 2016.

    • Utilities and rural electric cooperatives represent 56% of total project capacity contracted (2,266 MW) during 2016, building on announcements by Alliant Energy, MidAmerican Energy, Xcel Energy and others to build and own wind capacity.

    • For the year, non-utility purchasers comprise 39% of the remaining capacity contracted (1,574 MW).

    • 23 electric utilities released wind-eligible RFPs during 2016, with 10 RFPs released specifically for wind energy capacity. Two open RFPs are currently seeking at least 250 MW of wind capacity.

    U.S. Installed Wind Power Capacity, Top States

    • Oklahoma (6,645 MW) and Kansas (4,451 MW) jumped in the state rankings to become the third- and fifth-ranked states in the nation, respectively.

    • 19 states commissioned a total of 47 projects during the fourth quarter. Texas led in fourth quarter installations with 1,790 MW installed, followed by Oklahoma (1,192 MW), Kansas (615 MW), North Dakota (603 MW) and Iowa (551 MW).

    • Texas continues to lead the nation with 20,321 MW of installed capacity, the first state to pass 20,000 MW.

    • Nebraska became the 18th state to join the “Gigawatt Club,” installing 402 MW for a total of 1,328 MW.

    Wind Power Capacity Under Construction or in Advanced Development

    • There are now a combined 18,344 MW of wind power capacity in two development stages, with 10,432 MW reported under construction and 7,913 MW reported in advanced development.

    • Project developers announced 6,345 MW in combined new activity during the fourth quarter, with 3,793 MW in new construction announcements (a three year record high) and 2,552 MW in new advanced development.

    • The combined 18,344 MW of wind power capacity is spread across 130 wind projects in 31 states. Projects in these two categories can be reasonably expected to be completed in the near term.

    • The 3,793 MW in new construction announcements represents a three year record high, with 10,432 total construction activity. This decrease from the 13,563 MW reported during the previous quarter is due to several projects coming online. The industry also qualified significant additional project capacity for the full value of the PTC at year end without finalizing project capacities. These new projects will be reported in the near term.

    • 24 projects across 7 states started construction during the fourth quarter. Total activity spans 27 states.

    • Texas led the nation with 2,447 MW in new construction announcements. Texas also leads in total construction activity, hosting 52% of current activity.

    • 15% of construction activity is located in the Midwest, wth an additional 13% located in the Mountain states of Colorado and New Mexico.

    • Given current construction activity, New Mexico is expected to more than double in installed capacity in the near term.

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    QUICK NEWS, February 27: Heartland City Leaders Face Climate Change; EVs Nearer To Going Plug-Free; Politics Block Farmers From Growing Solar

    Heartland City Leaders Face Climate Change Red state rural America is acting on climate change – without calling it climate change

    Rebecca Romsdahl, February 26, 2017 (The Conversation via Business Insider)

    “President Donald Trump has the environmental community understandably concerned…[but even] if the Trump administration withdraws from all international climate negotiations and reduces the EPA to bare bones, the effects of climate change are happening and will continue to build…In response to real threats and public demand, cities across the United States and around the world are taking action to address climate change. We might think this is happening only in large, coastal cities…[but research of over 200 local governments in 11 states of the Great Plains region shows] local leaders in small- to medium-size communities are already grappling with the issue…[Their] strategies can provide insights into how to make progress on climate policy under a Trump administration…[Many of these policy activities are specifically not framed as climate actions but to broader concerns with] dirty water and dirty air…” click here for more

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    EVs Nearer To Going Plug-Free Wireless electric cars about to hit the road

    Rob Nikolewski, February 24, 2017 (San Diego Union Tribune)

    “…Car buyers are familiar with plug-in hybrids and all-electric vehicles, but companies such as Qualcomm seek to jump-start the transition from internal combustion to zero-emission cars with “inductive” charging…Instead of charging a vehicle with a plug or cable, the driver using a wireless system aligns the car over a charging pad and an electromagnetic field does the rest…The technology has been talked about for years but, starting with the hybrid version of the 2018 Mercedes-Benz S550e, wireless vehicle charging technology will make its debut…A slew of other car makers are about to enter the wireless-charging market as well…[T]ech companies such as Evatran, Momentum Dynamics, Witricity and Wireless Advanced Vehicle Electrification offer versions of wireless vehicle charging…Expect charging pads to be seen first in the garages of electric vehicle (EV) owners…Models from some makers run as low as just under $1,500…” click here for more

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    Politics Block Farmers From Growing Solar New farmland harvest – solar energy – creating political sparks

    Jan Ellen Spiegel, February 21, 2017 (CT Mirror)

    “…[Farms around Connecticut can relieve economic pressure by hosting solar projects but face an emerging] controversy over siting solar on farm and forestland…pitting farmer against farmer and environmental interest groups against one another, putting state departments at odds, and raising the always explosive issue of private property rights versus state policy…[It is] a collision of two well-intentioned environmental policies. One pushes and provides financial incentives for more renewable power – solar being the vastly favored choice in Connecticut. The other preserves farmland and forestland for agriculture and open space…Farmland is clear, well-drained, usually large, often south-facing – just what solar needs…[It] tends to be less expensive for solar developers…[but the land] is a finite resource…[Compromise legislation] would inventory available land and other facilities to determine which are best suited for solar…” click here for more

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    Saturday, February 25, 2017

    A Rogue Climate Scientist Talks To Seth Meyers

    This scientist chose not to be safe and silent but to push back. Hear him speak the twelve words that shook deniers to their core. From Late Night With Seth Meyers via YouTube

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    The Rogue Scientist Does A Climate Denier Check

    “We looked at all the satellite data in the world and he was wrong.” From Late Night With Seth Meyers via YouTube

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    How Anybody With A Good New Energy Idea Can Change The World

    Ideas are easy. Making them real is what’s hard. From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

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    Friday, February 24, 2017

    Climate Change Is More Than Warming

    Modeling sustainability: population, inequality, consumption, and bidirectional coupling of the Earth and Human Systems

    Motesharrei, et. al., December 2016 (National Science Review)

    “Over the last two centuries, the impact of the Human System has grown dramatically, becoming strongly dominant within the Earth System in many different ways. Consumption, inequality, and population have increased extremely fast, especially since about 1950, threatening to overwhelm the many critical functions and ecosystems of the Earth System. Changes in the Earth System, in turn, have important feedback effects on the Human System, with costly and potentially serious consequences…” click here for more

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    China Takes Global Wind Lead

    China Leads Global Wind Power Installation in 2016

    Staff, February 15, 2017 (Brink Asia)

    “China once again led the way globally in terms of installed wind power capacity in 2016, illustrating its continued commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions… In 2016, China installed 23.3 gigawatts (GW) of wind power capacity, almost three times the 8.2 GW that the second place U.S. installed [according to Global Wind Energy Council (GEWC)]. China’s total new capacity fell by almost a quarter from 2015’s 30 GW, driven by impending feed-in tariff reductions, flattening electricity demand growth, and inadequate transmission but] the market is expected to pick up again this year…[Germany’s new installed capacity of 5.4 GW was third, and fourth was] India, which saw 3.6 GW of installations…At the end of 2016, China’s cumulative installed capacity stood at 169 GW, or 34.7 percent of the global total. It was followed by the U.S. with 82 GW, or 16.9 percent of the global total, Germany (10.3 percent) and India (5.9 percent)…” click here for more

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    Aussies Lead Charge To Solar+Storage

    State Of Solar 2016: Globally And In Australia

    February 2017 (Climate Council of Australia)

    “Globally, solar photovoltaic (PV) power is surging on the back of scaled-up production and continually falling costs…Solar costs are now so low that large, industrial-scale solar plants are providing cheaper power than new fossil and nuclear power…Australia remains a world leader in household solar…2017 will be a huge year for large-scale solar in Australia…A range of energy storage technologies will complement the growth of solar power providing secure, flexible power…Solar and battery storage for households and businesses is already gaining traction in Australia – with more than 6,500 households installing the technology. Uptake is expected to triple in 2017…” click here for more

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    How Brexit Could Impact UK Ocean Energy

    Impact of Brexit on the UK and European marine energy sector

    Andrew Williams, 21 February 2017 (Maritime Journal)

    …Although the Brexit decision has certainly ruffled a lot of feathers amongst the political and media classes, early indications suggest that any potentially negative (or indeed positive) business and financial impacts have not yet been felt by the UK marine renewable energy sector…[at least partly because the sector is] flexible…[and partly because it is un likely] the UK would not want to exploit its sovereign resources and make the most of the opportunities this new technology offers…[I]nvestment in the British marine renewable energy sector [remains] strong…[though] there are some signs that the fall out of the Brexit saga is beginning to dent confidence amongst potential investors…[Sector leaders say] uncertainties relating to future funding and government investments in the marine energy sectors…[are a concern and the UK government now has a crucial role to play in] helping to avoid the prospect of the UK marine renewable energy sector slipping down the international league tables…” click here for more

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    Thursday, February 23, 2017

    Infrastructure Fix Should Face Changing Climate

    Climate change tied to nation's infrastructure needs

    Rep. Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), February 22, 2017 (The Hill)

    “…[T]he combination of extreme weather and crumbling infrastructure…[at Northern California’s Oroville Dam] threatened numerous communities…[The crisis was averted but scientists are documenting a rise in extreme weather events] in response to a warming climate, and Congress has failed to make needed investments in our infrastructure for decades…[There were only three with losses exceeding $1 billion in 1980 but, in] 2016, there were 15 climate disaster events with losses exceeding $1 billion…If we continue with business as usual, roughly 13 million Americans could become climate refugees by the end of the century…[M]ore than 90 percent of published climate scientists believe human activity is the primary cause…[C]arbon pollution is causing the climate to change 170 times faster than natural forces... Yet President Trump and Republicans in Congress continue to ignore the problem and push an extreme agenda that tips the scales on behalf of the fossil fuel industry and special interests…[If] the Trump administration is serious about a bipartisan infrastructure package, they and Congressional leaders must be willing to invest real money and admit that our changing climate is one of the most serious challenges we face…” click here for more

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    Grid Operator Says ‘Gimme More Ocean Wind!’

    Offshore Wind Push; Researchers show US grid can handle more offshore wind power, cutting pollution and power costs

    Tracey Bryant, February 21, 2017 (University of Delaware UDaily)

    “Injecting large amounts of offshore wind power into the U.S. electrical grid is manageable, will cut electricity costs, and will reduce pollution compared to current fossil fuel sources, according to…a first-of-its-kind simulation with PJM Interconnection — a grid operator supplying electricity to more than 60 million people in 14 states…[In The challenge of integrating offshore wind power in the U.S. electric grid. Part II: Simulation of electricity market operations, they developed] a computer model that simulates how the electric grid would respond to injections of wind power from offshore wind farms along the East Coast at five build-out levels, between 7 and 70 gigawatts of installed capacity…[Grid operators face the question of] how to integrate increasing amounts of naturally fluctuating offshore wind into a network that has to deliver reliable power to customers, 24-7…[The research] showed conservatively that, with some upgrades to transmission lines but without any need for added storage, the PJM grid can handle over 35 gigawatts of offshore wind…[and] the PJM grid could in the future handle twice that amount, up to 70 gigawatts, as wind forecasting improves…” click here for more

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    Marines Assault Old Energy In $80 Million Solar Build

    These Marines Beat the Odds to Build a Solar Energy Fund

    Jeremy Quittner, February 22, 2017 (Fortune)

    “As marines, Rye Barcott and Dan McCready had plenty of experience performing under pressure, but neither had much knowledge about the high stakes world of investing and finance. That didn’t stop them from leaving their well-paying day jobs to start…[Double Time Capital to invest in utility-scale solar and,] in just over three years, the firm has raised seven funds, totaling $80 million, from investors including Prudential Financial, Burt’s Bees, former Bank of America chief executive Hugh McColl, Jr., and former Duke Energy CEO Jim Rogers, who now advises the company…Double Time has financed 36 solar energy projects, which collectively produce roughly 10% of North Carolina’s solar power…Barcott and McCready’s plans run counter to many of the prevailing national trends around alternative energy…Hostile president or not, Barcott and McCready are confident they found a market opportunity. While SolarCity, Vivint and their ilk install individual solar projects on commercial and residential roofs, Barcott and McCready wanted to address the financing needs of the utility-scale solar developers, which provide power directly to the electrical grid via solar farms…” click here for more

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    Cars With Plugs Face Fight With Agro-Oil Alliance

    Big Corn courts Big Oil to combat electric car threat

    Chris Prentice, February 21, 2017 (Reuters via St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    “A biofuels lobbying group says it wants to work with the oil industry to fight the threat to both from subsidies for electric vehicles…[The enmity between the two industries over] how much biofuel should be included in gasoline and diesel…is thawing as the growing number of electric cars on the road threatens to cut demand for both renewable and conventional fuels…[E]lectric car and plug-in hybrid vehicle sales could hit 4.4 million in 2021 and exceed 6 million by 2025, up from 1.1 million last year…[Liquid fuel-powered vehicles] still account for 99 percent of the U.S. auto market and electric vehicles still account for less than 1 percent of U.S. car and light truck sales…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, February 22, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Urgent Need For Planning New Transmission Now

    'Should have started yesterday': Why better transmission planning is urgently necessary for tomorrow's grid; The power mix is changing fast and it will cost ratepayers if transmission planners don’t catch up, according to a new report from the Brattle Group.

    Herman K. Trabish, June 15, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The Trump administration initiative to rebuild the nation’s infrastructure is a big opportunity for long-needed new transmission.

    An adage warns that failing to prepare is preparing to fail. Transmission experts say system planners may be doing just that. As the U.S. moves toward a power mix with more renewable resources and flexible generation, transmission will be a key element in enabling the grid to handle the transition. Recent record-breaking renewable energy penetrations would have been impossible without aggressive transmission building in recent years. But building transmission lines is one of the most arduous, time-consuming tasks in the power sector, and so even as demand for a more diverse power mix intensifies, transmission buildout struggles to keep pace. A recent Brattle Group report warns that transmission planners are failing to prepare to meet the challenge of the transforming generation mix.

    Successful planning could save $30 to $70 billion in generation and transmission investments through 2030, researchers said. And a well-planned system could net U.S. ratepayers as much as $47 billion in savings annually. The long lead time in planning transmission lines means planning should start immediately to meet the evolving power mix and regulatory goals from 2020 to 2030. The current use of reliability as the primary measure of transmission value and planning leads to a segmented grid, deficient in the flexibility needed to manage the emerging generation mix. And the current transmission investment cycle is the first opportunity in a half-century to streamline the Balkanized system while controlling costs and environmental impacts… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Four Ways To Reconsider Net Metering

    Beyond rate reforms: Bundling strategies could resolve net metering battles; An NREL study evaluated four common strategies used in these debates to find a solution for both sides

    Herman K. Trabish, June 16, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The debate over how to support distributed solar in a way that is fair to all utility customers continues to burn hotly across the country.

    Debates over net metering policies nationwide are notoriously heated, with utilities and solar sector often sharply divided over how to compensate rooftop solar users for their excess energy. Utilities say rooftop solar users don't pay their fair share to maintain the grid and shift those costs onto non-rooftop solar users. Solar advocates argue that utilities and regulators fail to quantify the full value and benefits of distributed solar. Rate reforms have been the primary tool of choice thus far in regulatory proceedings to settle the disputes. But there could be a new way to resolve that debate and satisfy both sides beyond just rate reforms, according to a new National Renewable Energy Laboratory report.

    The paper surveyed various forms of reforms, including rate design and efforts to deploy distributed solar in ways most useful for utilities, and place them in four categories, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses. The most familiar strategy are requests from utilities to reduce net metering compensation. The second group of strategies are how distributed generation resources are deployed and used in ways valuable to utilities. Broadening customer access to solar through an expanded market is a third strategy. The fourth—and possibly the most complicated and forward-thinking—strategy, would be to align utility profits and earnings with the deployment of more distributed solar. No single category outlined in the report offers the proverbial silver bullet… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Energy Storage Solution

    How storage can help solve the distributed energy 'death spiral'; A new Navigant paper lays out three examples of how storage can facilitate the transition to a more distributed grid

    Herman K. Trabish, June 21, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Microgrid builders continue to struggle to find ways into the marketplace.

    Cost effective distributed energy resources (DERs) are expected to displace 320 GW of centralized generation from 2014-2023, according to Navigant Research. As early as 2018, Navigant expects DERs to outpace centralized generation in annual capacity additions. Those predictions have stoked worries that DER proliferation would combine with stagnant load growth to undermine utility finances across the nation, especially for municipal electricity providers. But a new report says the distributed energy trend can also help munis “reinvent” themselves with digital economy business strategies.

    Software-managed energy storage can do that and create “win-win scenarios” that deliver benefits to consumers, the utility, and the grid at large, according to Making Sense of New Public Power DER Business Models; The Business Case for Energy Storage. These benefits can impose order on the potential “chaos” of the emerging DER-dominated bi-directional electron flow, Navigant argues, and can be applied to munis, cooperative utilities, and investor-owned power providers alike. The paper describes storage applications in nanogrid, microgrid, and virtual power plant deployments that can help public power providers take advantage of the DER transition… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, February 21, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Delivering Electricity Through The Cloud

    Clearing a Path to the Cloud: U.S. Regulator Perspectives on Cloud Technologies

    February 2017 (Oracle Utilities)

    While utilities are starting to embrace cloud technologies, as determined in On Cloud Now, a study we undertook in early 2016, often the decision is not theirs alone to make. Regulators’ rulings on whether public utilities’ investments in cloud technologies can be capitalized are central to paving the way for accelerated cloud adoption.

    Our first utility cloud survey of 100 electric, water, and gas utility executives found that 45% of those utilities were already using cloud technologies—defined broadly as applications and computing resources delivered as services over a network connection instead of through in-house resources at the utility—with another 52% planning to do so. Building upon the results of that first study, we sought out the thoughts of another group integral to the utility investment equation: utility regulators. We subsequently surveyed 76 U.S. regulatory staff and commissioners, and discovered corroboration of the paradigm shift indicated in our first study: Both utilities and regulators recognize that the cloud will become an integral part of utilities’ processes and operations.

    Our survey results indicated that many regulators understand the cloud’s benefits, and are starting to show more formal support as they figure out their role in enabling investment in cloud technologies. This paper takes a deeper dive into the ways in which regulators see value in the cloud, both for utilities and for their customers.

    Armed with the wealth of information gleaned from both studies, we have also prepared a brief playbook to aid utilities in taking a proactive approach to optimizing their individual strategies for leveraging cloud technologies. You’ll find it, and further recommendations, at the end of this paper. In this paper, you’ll learn:

    • Why U.S. regulators see benefits in utilities using cloud technologies • How regulators plan to support investment in cloud technologies by utilities

    • Recommendations for furthering regulator support for the cloud

    • Approaches for utilities to evaluate the best path forward for their own cloud strategies

    Key Findings

    74% of respondents report improved flexibility as a top benefit of the cloud.

    69% of U.S. regulators support capitalizing cloud-based software.

    33% of respondents have a specific and comprehensive strategy for utility cloud investment.

    Nearly 80% of regulators think that they should play at least some role in determining whether utilities use cloud.

    Regulators See Benefits in the Cloud

    Why the change in perspective? In the digital age, customers’ increasing expectations have set the bar for functionality, flexibility and efficiency at an unprecedented high level across all industries—and utilities are no exception. The digital world moves quickly, and keeping up with the latest technology can be difficult. For utilities, lagging behind on technology can pose significant physical, safety and financial threats.

    The study shows that regulators understand these needs, and that the cloud can help utilities stay ahead of the technology curve. Approximately 74% of regulators surveyed ranked improved flexibility as one of the top three benefits of cloud applications versus on-premises solutions. Keeping pace with technology changes (70%) and improved accessibility to applications (61%) were also highly ranked benefits. (Figure 3)

    The cloud offers myriad opportunities for utilities to leverage technology in ways that don’t require them to step outside of their areas of expertise, both on the customer and operational sides of the business.

    While the regulators we surveyed indicated that the top three opportunities for the cloud are in emerging or relatively new areas for utilities, including meter data management (46%), big data analytics (41%), and distribution and network automation (36%) (Figure 4), there are opportunities for leveraging the cloud all across the business enterprise…

    Recommendations

    Regulatory bodies across the United States are enabling the cloud to grow in value for utilities, and utilities must take a proactive approach to optimize their individual strategy for leveraging cloud technology. By combining the regulator insights captured in this report with the utility executive insights captured in our previous study, we’ve developed a Cloud Playbook for Utilities to assist in evaluating cloud strategy decisions. Below are the steps:

    Step 1: Evaluate cloud fit. There is not simply a “one size fits all” cloud roadmap. Utilities must evaluate their own goals, business processes, and technology needs in order to determine the cloud roadmap that will deliver the most value for their unique needs. Utilities should evaluate cloud fit for each application and business area within their technology roadmap. Key assessment categories:

    • Cost savings and risk reduction potential: Applications that typically carry a heavy cost and time burden for initial on-premises implementation, as well as ongoing maintenance, tend to have significant opportunity for cost savings and process efficiency improvements in the cloud.

    • Standardization: A major key to realizing the greatest cost benefit of cloud lies in eliminating complexity and risk through standardization. The more a process can be standardized, the greater the opportunity to streamline and simplify the supporting technology.

    • Internal expertise: When a business area or application requires specialized expertise, building a team to support it pulls resources from core business objectives. The cloud can potentially offload this specialization to a technology partner so your team can refocus on the core business.

    • Scalability: Supporting the rapid growth of projects can potentially be expensive, as traditional on-premises infrastructure and technology costs add up. Cloud options often deliver the flexibility to scale up, or down, in a cost-effective way

    • Latest technology: Keeping in sync with the latest technology and capabilities is difficult when working within traditional methods of software implementation and upgrades. Alternatively, cloud solutions should offer a predictable, consistent upgrade path.

    Given the respective scores of the business areas and applications assessed, utilities can begin to prioritize their cloud roadmap strategy and accelerate cloud adoption where there is the most value to be gained.

    Step 2: Get aligned with regulators. As we found in both studies, utilities and regulators are aligned on many of the key cloud benefits and challenges. This alignment is a solid foundation to build upon and continue to nurture progress. Utilities and regulators can develop an effective approach to maximizing benefits of cloud while working together as stewards of privacy and data security. Here are key points to keep in mind:

    Think Big Picture As regulation evolves in the face of technology-induced change, huge opportunities will be unlocked for utilities. Support regulators as they continue their balancing act between protection and innovation. As regulators move forward, it is important first to help them understand the big picture of the cloud and its potential value to constituents, and then to address specific ways in which utilities can best recover the costs of their investments in cloud technologies.

    Leverage Common Understanding When asked to identify the top three perceived benefits for utilities in leveraging cloud applications over onpremises solutions, regulators and utilities alike identified improved flexibility and the ability to keep pace with technology changes as important benefits. After that, their focus diverged: utilities identified reduced spending on technology infrastructure and the ability to focus on core competencies as important benefits, while regulators indicated that improved accessibility to applications was important. Both the commonalities and differences in the survey results of these two groups present an opportunity to establish a common understanding within both groups of the benefits of moving to the cloud.

    Step 3: Implement the right accounting treatment. Throughout the U.S., regulators and utilities alike are turning to accounting experts to better understand how to account for cloud investments.

    Some regulators have made progress in leveling the playing field between cloud and on-premises solution investments. These regulators are taking a simple approach and interpreting existing regulatory accounting rules to meet their needs. Utilities can proactively urge other regulators to follow in their footsteps.

    As the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners recently noted in a resolution at its 2016 annual meeting: “The business of electric, gas, and water utilities is changing rapidly. Utilities are now faced with how best to respond to modern expectations, technological innovation, and new regulatory drivers. To thrive in the future, utilities may need to modernize and transform their business operations. A key element of this may be access to state-of-the-art commercial cloud computing services, which is increasingly delivered via a ‘cloud-based’ or ‘software-as-a-service’ model.”

    Step 4: Move forward quickly and prudently. After you have built a cloud strategy that supports your business and technology roadmap, move forward with confidence. You have cleared the best path to the cloud, trust it. Periodically reassess your strategy to uncover opportunities to accelerate and optimize return on investment. Look to your technology partners to support you through this.

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    QUICK NEWS, February 21: What Businesses Can Do About Climate Change; High Winds Rising In The Deep South; When Solar Stocks Will Come Back

    What Businesses Can Do About Climate Change 5 Ways Businesses Are Tackling Climate Change; Businesses recognise that climate change will involve new technologies, operating models and investment landscapes that present particular challenges and opportunities.

    February 20, 2017 (World Economic Forum via Eye Witness News)

    “Businesses and investors are increasingly recognising climate change as one of the top global risks...[and now fall] into two main camps. The first group have already started mobilising to drive the shift to a low-carbon and climate-resilient economy, looking to take advantage of the economic opportunities it presents. The second group - reading the signals from policy-makers and markets - is beginning to realise that the world’s shift to a low-carbon future is now inevitable and is grappling to understand the disruptions it will bring and the speed at which they will come…[Both groups recognize five key areas of challenges and opportunities in the rising level of investment going into sustainable business models and infrastructure development, the phase out of fossil fuel subsidies, the standardizing of corporate reporting on climate risk, the increasing use of effective carbon pricing, and more global collaboration on meeting the challenges]…” click here for more

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    High Winds Rising In The Deep South The South Has Been Slow To Harness Its Wind, But That's Changing

    Sarah McCammon, February 16, 2017 (National Public Radio)

    “Wind power is the largest source of renewable energy in the United States. But [because surface winds are mild, Amazon’s North Carolina installation will be the first large wind project in the] Southeast…[T]he strongest winds tend to be higher up than in [the wide open spaces of] the Great Plains…[because of geography and because] the Southeast has a lot of trees and forests…[A]side from a small amount of wind power in Tennessee, the region has lagged far behind the rest of the country in wind energy…[But technological advances make taller towers and longer blades] feasible and more affordable…[T]he cost of generating wind power has dropped about 65 percent over about the past five years…[and is now cost-competitive with coal and nuclear and southern] utilities are looking to diversify their fuel mix and lock in a low price with wind energy…” click here for more

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    When Solar Stocks Will Come Back Solar Energy Production Hit a Record High in 2016, So What's Wrong With Solar Stocks?

    Travis Hoium, February 18, 2017 (Motley Fool via Madison.com)

    “…[Driven by falling costs and favorable policy, the U.S. solar industry saw a 95% jump in installations in 2016] to 14.6 GW…On top of the huge installation numbers, solar accounted for 39% of all new electricity installed in 2016, a record for the industry. And with costs coming down every year, the future looks bright for the industry…{But across] the board, solar stocks had a rough year in 2016…SunPower, First Solar, Vivint Solar, and Sunrun are all down significantly [and SolarCity would be, too, if not for its buyout by Tesla…[Stocks are down because the favorable policy disfavored new contracts. That will lead to a slow 2017. But solar energy is cheaper than ever and it's now competing with fossil fuels on a cost basis. Long term, that will lead to a [bumpy ride and then a] tremendous amount of growth, and companies like First Solar, SunPower, Vivint, Sunrun, and Tesla should lead the way…” click here for more

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