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.



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  • Weekend Video: Pictures Of Sea Level Rise
  • Weekend Video: Change And Be Changed
  • Weekend Video: Postcards From Hawaii’s New Energy Struggle



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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews


    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns


    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart



    Your intrepid reporter


      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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  • Thursday, September 03, 2015


    General Mills' move on climate change is 'leadership that makes America great'; It’s a shame some politicians don’t share the company’s priorities.

    Editorial, September 2, 2015 Minneapolis Star Tribune

    “General Mills’ detailed new plan to combat climate change raises a challenging question for the alarming number of presidential candidates and political leaders who downplay or deny this global threat…General Mills has long been a leader on climate change...[but] this week distinguished itself by rolling out an ambitious road map to [to encourage their suppliers to reduce carbon]…[Its aim is] to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions by 28 percent by 2025. The firm also will invest more than $10 million a year over the next decade in clean energy and energy efficiency…The company will also help consumers reduce their carbon footprint by improving packaging for more than 3,000 products and introducing more organic products…General Mills is pragmatically hoping that its involvement will lead to a more informed debate and spur other companies [to act] …” click here for more


    Are “Palm Trees” The Next Step In Solar Energy’s Evolution?

    Gaurav Agnihotri, 1 September 2015 (Oil Price)

    “…[M]ore than 50 percent of the total investments in new electricity generation around the world was made in renewable energy…[and] the world invested around $150 billion into solar energy in 2014…There have been some interesting innovations in the field of solar energy sector, such as the creation of ‘community solar gardens’ in the United States…D Idea has recently launched a ‘smart palm’ solar tree that is providing free Wi-Fi, mobile charging docks and information through touch screen panels to the residents of Dubai, all through the power of sun…The ‘smart palm’ solar trees are nothing but tree shaped solar panels that are capable of generating close to 7.2 kWh per day of energy. The photovoltaic panels (with a leaf like shape) are capable of generating enough power to remain independent of the grid…The next generation of the solar palm will be 3D printed…[and could] have ATM machines and utility bill payment services…[T]hey are made of concrete and fiber re-enforced plastic, which makes them extremely practical and user friendly…” click here for more


    The surprising way that birds and wind turbines can coexist

    Joby Warrick, August 31, 2015 (Washington Post)

    "…[There is new hope for reducing the number of bird deaths from wind turbines in Landscapes for Energy and Wildlife: Conservation Prioritization for Golden Eagles across Large Spatial Scales which finds] avian mortality can be sharply reduced through better decisions about where future wind farms are built…[P]eaceful co-existence between large raptors and rotors across Wyoming, a state with large numbers of eagles and a vast potential for wind-generated electricity…[can come from comparing] data for hundreds of known eagle nesting sites and…Wyoming’s most promising regions for wind farms…[to identify “sweet spots” far] removed from nesting grounds but directly in the path of prevailing winds…Most modern turbines are mounted on tall towers where birds are less likely to encounter them. Still, it is important for planners of future wind farms to carefully consider nesting locations…” click here for more


    Record Number of Cities Take Part in Fifth Anniversary of National Drive Electric Week From Hawaii to Vermont, in Canada and Hong Kong, more than 170 events in 165 cities are planned

    Zan Dubin Scott, September 2, 2015 (Plug-In America)

    "…[ National Drive Electric Week will take place Sept. 12 through 20, 2015. events are organized by volunteers…Oil-field worker John Gallagher, who hauls oil in his 18-wheeler from a local well site to a major pipeline in the heart of oil country, is staging the first event in Oklahoma…Brian Kent, driving his Nissan LEAF through 48 states—to plant a tree in each one—will route his gasoline-free, 26,000-mile tour through the event in Jeffersontown, KY…“Vegan hippy chick” race car driver Leilani Münter will be among featured speakers [in LA] Also invited: …Mayor Eric Garcetti, California state Senator Kevin de Leon, director Chris Paine (“Revenge of the Electric Car”), Sierra Club executive director Michael Brune, and actress/environmentalist Alexandra Paul (“Bay Watch.”)…An EV rally ascending 4,000 feet to the top of Mt. Spokane [in Washington state] should dispel any doubt that unmodified, affordable EVs available today can climb mountains…

    "...At the state capital, expect to see Massachusetts’ secretaries of energy and transportation as well as state representatives Jonathan Hecht, Frank Smizik and Bradford Hill and Massachusetts state senator Jamie Eldridge…Charging a plug-in with solar power, for “zero gallons of fossil fuel use for personal transportation,” will be among panel topics [in San Antonio, TX]. Also: an electric car parade and “energy lab” for kids (and their moms)…Actor/environmentalist Ed Begley, Jr., who has been driving an EV on sunshine by charging it with solar-generated electricity longer than anyone else, is scheduled to appear [in Woodland Hills, CA] at this event, organized for the third consecutive year by teenager Erik Doroski… Activities [in Hong Kong] will include a “treasure hunt” with points awarded for most public chargers used, test-drives given and the like…” click here for more

    Wednesday, September 02, 2015


    Where is the U.S. energy storage market going?; Storage deployments could triple this year and open big new markets

    Herman K. Trabish, March 10, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    The 40% growth in yearly additions to U.S. energy storage capacity from 2013 to 2014 was big news but growth for 2015 is expected to more than triple to 220 MW.

    The numbers explain why over half the utility executives queried in Utility Dive’s recently released State of the Electric Utility 2015 survey picked energy storage as the most important emerging technology.

    “When an industry grows 40% in a year and is forecast to grow another 300% the next,” said GTM Research energy storage analyst Ravi Manghani, “the opportunities will not be limited to just one segment or one technology. They will be in the entire value chain and each step in it.”

    The growth is expected to continue for at least the next five years, added Manghani, author of the GTM Research-Energy Storage AssociationU.S. Energy Storage Monitor 2014 Year In Review.

    “After a short-term lull in utility projects in 2016, growth will resume and remain steady through 2019, resulting in over 800 MW of installations in 2019 and cumulative deployments of over 2.5 GW,” according to the report.

    “The vast majority of energy storage deployments in the U.S. take place in a small number of markets with the right policy, regulatory drivers, and wholesale market designs,” explains the report, which covers only electrochemical and electromechanical storage.

    Utilities and energy storage

    “Utilities are embracing storage because they don’t see it as a threat,” Berkshire Hathaway Energy Vice President for Legislative and Regulatory Affairs Jonathan Weisgall recently observed. “It is not taking away revenue or electrons. It is enhancing what utilities are doing to deal with renewables.”

    Examples of utility involvement, according to the report, include:

    California: PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E responses to the CPUC mandatefor 1,325 MW of energy storage by 2024

    New York: ConEd and PSE&G RFPs for storage to help them defer T&D and load management infrastructure investments

    Arizona: APS and TEP 10 MW behind-the-meter procurements

    Hawaii: HECO in-front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter procurements for grid support

    Texas: Oncor study on the value of utility-controlled storage In addition, there are storage initiatives and financing from ERCOT, PJM, and numerous public agencies including New Jersey’s BPU, New York’s PSC, Oregon’s Department of Energy, Massachusetts’ CEC, and the U.S. Department of Energy.

    Cost and technologies

    Cost remains the biggest hurdle for a market that was valued at $128 million and had a weighted average system price of $2,064 per kilowatt last year, according to the report.

    “But cost is only one side of the equation,” Manghani said. “A lot of other factors determine whether storage is economic for a particular customer. It is also about the benefits and revenue streams that storage can provide.”

    “We are seeing systems at between $1.20 and $2.50 per watt,” Solar Grid Storage (SGS) CEO Tom Leyden, whose start-up was just acquired by SunEdison, recently told Utility Dive. Only a “significant revenue opportunity” justifies adding that, which is why storage is not yet widespread.

    “Price is on a downward trajectory. When the costs come down, new marketswill open up,” Leyden predicted. “A 30% price reduction is possible in the next couple of years and as much as a 50% to 60% reduction in the couple of years after that.”

    Lithium ion battery chemistries provided 70% of the capacity in 2014 and the other 30% was spread between flywheels, sodium chemistries, flow batteries, and emerging technologies, Manghani said. “Broadly speaking, we expect lithium ion to be the biggest battery technology deployed through 2019.”

    The technology and bankability are proven, he explained. “Any technology that would dethrone lithium ion would have to prove both the technology and its commercial viability.”

    Promising emerging technologies have found only pilot or early commercial deployments. “It takes two to four years of commercial data for end customers, financiers, and EPCs to buy a technology,” Manghani said. “Even those that are commercial today will take three to five years before they can compete with lithium ion.”

    The opening for new technologies will be in the increasing demand for energy storage applications that require more power for longer periods. “Lithium ion chemistries have been good for 15 minutes to 2 hours to 4 hours,” Manghani said. “For anything beyond that 4 hour window, lithium ion becomes economically much more difficult. That is where emerging technologies can start to gain share.”

    Applications like microgrids and capacity markets require 4 hours to 10 hours of storage. Once new technologies show they can perform in those applications, they might compete against lithium ion, he predicted. “But we are still a few years away from that.”

    In-front-of-the-meter and behind-the-meter

    Grid-bolstering in-front-of-the-meter energy storage is growing rapidly and constituted 90% of deployment in 2014. But the report found behind-the-meter storage deployment is growing faster and is expected to be 45% of the overall market by 2019.

    Today, behind-the-meter storage is primarily used by residential customers for power back-up and system resiliency and by commercial and industrial (C&I) customers for demand charge reduction, Manghani said.

    C&I customers have larger rooftop spaces closer to the grid and within robust feeder systems, larger peak period load profiles, and, most importantly, more financial motivation to adopt storage because of higher energy and demand charges, time-of-use rates, and demand response opportunities.

    “For an average C&I customer, 30% to 50% of their bill is the demand charge,” Manghani said. “Any reduction storage can enable makes it more affordable.”

    “Economics is the million dollar question,” Sunspec Alliance Development Director Tim Keating recently observed. “C&I is a use case for storage that you can make pencil economically now."

    A big part of the reason behind-the-meter storage is growing fast is that it will serve in-front-of-the-meter grid stabilization uses, Manghani said. “It provides backup to end customers but the grid can call on aggregated systems to perform capacity or frequency regulation services.”

    The recent Southern California Edison (SCE) procurement of five times the energy storage it solicited, California Energy Storage Alliance Senior Director Mark Higgins recently observed, “suggests even behind-the-meter energy storage systems can provide economically-competitive grid services.”

    Leyden expects to have the capability to aggregate residential and C&I storage into a virtual storage asset for frequency regulation by the end of the year, he said. “We can aggregate residential systems in New Jersey with a commercial system in Maryland for PJM. The more aggregated, the more frequency regulation we can market.”

    Storage and rate reforms

    A better economic case for residential deployments may also be emerging, Manghani noted. In anticipation of the recently imposed Salt River Project (SRP) demand charge, GTM Research ran some numbers. The analysis concluded a hypothetical, utility-introduced residential rate demand charge could, under some circumstances, make solar-plus-storage economics better than solar-only economics.

    “SRP is only one utility out of the 3,000 in the U.S. but it will not be the last utility to enforce a residential rate structure that benefits solar-plus-storage,” Manghani said. “Any kind of net energy metering reform that reduces the value of solar works in favor of storage.”


    EV SHARING COMES TO INDIANAPOLIS Groundbreaking Electric Car Sharing Program Launches in an Unlikely City

    Brad Tuttle, September 2, 2015 (Money)

    “…[T]he nation’s most ambitious electric car sharing program launches [today in Indianapolis]…BlueIndy, is being run by [France-based] Bolloré Group, which says it is investing $41 million…BlueIndy will have 25 charging stations and 50 vehicles around the city at launch, and the plan is for 200 stations and 500 electric cars in the near future. The cars themselves are small white hatchbacks made by Bolloré…Prices vary depending on the type of membership a driver opts for, and they’re charged on a sliding scale…Subscribers who sign up for a year pay $9.99 per month, then $4 for the first 20 minutes of a rental and 20¢ per minute after that. At the other end of the spectrum, a one-day membership is free, though the daily rates are much higher—$8 for the first 20 minutes and 40¢ per minute thereafter. Weekly and monthly memberships are also possible. There are no fees for parking, insurance, or gas…though drivers could incur charges for getting into accidents ($500 deductible) and things like failing to plug the car into the charger ($55)…[Indianapolis has] one of the worst public transit systems in the country…” click here for more

    NEW LINE TO MAKE MEMPHIS WIND’S GATEWAY The wind to come sweeping down the plain to Memphis

    Ed Arnold, September 1, 2015 (Memphis Business Journal)

    “…[Work will soon begin] on a $2 billion, 700-mile energy transmission line starting in [the wind-rich Northwest corner of Oklahoma and stretching across Arkansas to end in Shelby County…A wind turbine farm [in Oklahoma] can generate enough clean energy to power more than a million homes. But the area is relatively unpopulated. Much like the huge oil and gas pipelines…[the Plains & Eastern Clean Line will deliver electricity to the TVA and other Southeastern electricity providers, allowing them to] reduce carbon emissions…The project will be done in stages, with multiple segments all being built at once…[with] private capital…” click here for more

    BUFFETT UTILS, CALIF GRID TO UNIFY Brown seeks to broaden California's clean-energy reach in the West

    Chris Megerian, August 29, 2015 (LA Times)

    Plans are moving ahead on incorporating the Warren Buffett-owned regulated PacifiCorp utilities, the West’s second biggest transmission system, into the California grid, the West’s biggest system run by the California Independent System Operator (the ISO). The integrated system would allow for the sharing of generation between PacifiCorp’s six states, Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and part of Northern California, and 1.8 million customers and the ISO’s two states, California and a small part of Nevada, and 30 million customers. Bringing PacifiCorp into ISO operations is expected to open new markets for California’s growing supply of renewables and, though skeptical environmentalists fear California could end up importing PacifiCorp’s fossil fuel-generated electricity, it is expected to reduce coal use, as the 9-month old Energy Imbalance Market between the two systems has done. The new partners seem committed to eventually unifying the entire Western grid. click here for more

    Tuesday, September 01, 2015


    Integrated Distribution Planning; A holistic approach to meeting grid needs and expanding customer choice by unlocking the benefits of distributed energy resources

    Ryan Hanley, August 2015 (SolarCity)

    Key takeaways

    Takeaway 1

    Integrated Distribution Planning is a holistic approach to meeting distribution needs and expanding customer choice by modernizing utility interconnection, planning, procurement, and data sharing processes.

    Takeaway 2

    Hosting Capacity analyses should be incorporated into the interconnection of distributed energy resources to streamline and eventually automate interconnection

    Takeaway 3

    Adopting Distribution Loading Order policies will encourage the procurement of cost effective distributed energy resources before conventional distribution equipment


    Designing the electrical grid for the 21st century is one of today’s most important and exciting challenges. In the face of evolving electricity needs and an aging electrical grid that relies on centralized and polluting sources of power, it is imperative to transition to a grid that actively leverages the wave of renewable distributed energy resources proliferating across the industry. Distributed energy resources offer tremendous benefits to this new grid by actively engaging customers in their energy management, increasing the use of clean renewable energy, improving grid resiliency, and making the grid more affordable by reducing system costs. Designing a grid that fully harnesses these assets is a key undertaking for all industry stakeholders, including utilities, regulators, legislatures, and DER developers.

    Current efforts to utilize DERs to support the broader electric system, however, are hampered by the systemic failure of the industry to integrate DERs into distribution planning efforts. As the figure to the right depicts, traditional distribution planning is highly siloed and planning efforts are considered independently of interconnection efforts. To fully leverage DERs to benefit the grid, utility interconnection, planning, procurement, and data sharing efforts must be modernized.

    Challenge: Existing utility interconnection, planning, procurement, and data sharing processes do not leverage DERs to benefit the grid and enable customer choice.

    Solution: Modernize distribution interconnection, planning, procurement and data sharing processes by adopting a holistic Integration Distribution Planning framework.

    Integrated Distribution Planning is a holistic approach to meeting distribution needs and expanding customer choice by unlocking the benefits of distributed energy resources. The approach expedites DER interconnections, integrates DERs into grid planning, utilizes DER portfolios as procurement resources, and ensures broad access to critical data. Ultimately, the approach reduces overall system costs while increasing customer engagement. In the following paper, we introduce four components of Integrated Distribution Planning (Interconnection, Planning, Procurement and Data) and offer recommendations for how to seamlessly integrate distributed energy resources into the modernized process.

    We offer this paper as an initial vision for a holistic process to leverage DERs to benefit the grid. However, there are many details to develop in order to realize this vision. SolarCity continues to work on developing these details for the concepts proposed in this paper, and we welcome collaboration with industry thought leaders to do so. Our ultimate goal is to help provide the concrete recommendations and justification needed by regulators, legislatures, utilities, DER providers, and industry stakeholders to create the impetus for change needed to transition to a cleaner, more affordable and resilient grid.


    The utility DER interconnection process consists of rules and requirements that govern the connection and operation of distributed energy resources within a utility’s electric grid.

    Today’s utility interconnection processes often follow idiosyncratic rules and timelines that differ from utility to utility, suffer from a general lack of process automation, are subject to burdensome technical reviews or arbitrary requirements that slow or prevent DER interconnections. In many regions, the current interconnection process is not keeping pace with the local DER growth, threatening an inefficient backlog that will burden utilities until a more streamlined approach is adopted. As a result, customers who want to invest in energy infrastructure to play an active role in managing their energy usage are increasingly unable to expediently and cost effectively to do.

    Some utilities have begun reforming their practices to create a more efficient interconnection process, with several existing “best practices” serving as a guide for the industry. Overall process improvements have been limited in scope, however, and the pace of change is measured. A more comprehensive set of enhancements is needed to streamline the interconnection process, eliminate unnecessary costs, and expand allowable interconnections.

    Challenge: Existing utility interconnection processes can be avoidably slow, include unwarranted costs, and unnecessarily limit DER interconnections.

    Solution: Streamline the DER interconnection process, eliminate unwarranted costs, and expand allowable interconnection approvals. Streamline the Process

    There are four critical steps in interconnecting a system to the grid: application, construction, inspection, and permission to operate (PTO). Utilities control the timeline for critical elements of this process. While many states establish timeline requirements for the initial utility application review, these targets frequently are not met. For example, a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found that most utilities routinely exceed time limits for application review by 37-58%. Similarly, EQ Research published findings showing that PTO timelines increased 68% from 2013 to 2014.

    Several states have embarked on initiatives to update aspects of the interconnection process. While positive, these developments often focus on a few low-hanging fruit, such as the creation of an online portal to submit and track application review progress, rather than a more comprehensive set of improvements. Streamlining the entire interconnection process should be considered by utility engineering organizations and regulators, especially when many of these improvements have been individually implemented by various utilities across the country. A comprehensive set of best practices and recommendations are presented in the following table.

    Eliminate Unwarranted Costs

    Many utilities worried about real and perceived impacts of DERs are specifying equipment upgrades to mitigate their concerns. However, these mitigations are often based on outdated standards or made without regard to the advanced capabilities of modern DERs, which can often preempt the concerns underlying the proposed mitigations. The result is that utilities are requiring overly conservative and often unnecessary upgrades as a condition of interconnection.

    Sourced from SolarCity’s interconnection efforts across the United States, we identify below the most common utility mitigation requirements. Based on the latest body of technical research and standards available, as well as our own research into many of these topics in collaboration with utilities and national laboratories24 , we offer cost effective, safe and reliable alternatives to these upgrades when applicable, with the goal of reducing overall system costs to all customers.

    Expand Allowable Approvals…High and Low DER penetrations…Planning…Procurement…

    While DERs – or any grid resource – voluntarily responding to price signals may respond less consistently than an asset under direct utility control, utilities can quantify the expected availability of such assets. While perhaps a new concept in the distribution context, methodologies exist for assessing availability-based resources, such as Effective Load Carrying Capability (ELCC) and other probabilistic methods currently used in demand response programs.

    Data Transparency and Access…


    Electricity demands across the world are growing, yet our outdated electrical grids rely on centralized, finite sources of power. Transitioning the grid to one that leverages the wave of distributed energy resources proliferating across the industry is imperative to meet this need. Distributed energy resources offer tremendous benefits in the form of lower system costs, improved grid resiliency, and increased use of clean energy. DERs empower customers to become active participants in their energy management and fuel job creation as we collectively modernize the grid for the 21st century.

    Evolving utility interconnection and planning processes into a holistic and proactive Integrated Distribution Planning process is essential to unlocking the promise of distributed energy resources. We offer this paper as an initial vision for a holistic process to leverage DERs to benefit the grid. However, there are many details to develop in order to realize this vision. SolarCity continues to work on developing these details for the concepts proposed in this paper, and we welcome collaboration with industry thought leaders to do so. Our ultimate goal is to help provide the concrete recommendations and justification needed by regulators, legislatures, utilities, DER providers, and industry stakeholders to create the impetus for change needed to transition to a cleaner, more affordable and resilient grid.


    NEW ENERGY DEAL GETS BETTER IEA, NEA study shows renewables LCOE keeps falling

    Tsvetomira Tsanova, August 31, 2015 (SeeNews)

    “…[T]he low-end levelised cost of electricity (LCOE) for some renewable energy technologies is the same or even below that for baseload power plants [according to Projected Costs of Generating Electricity from the IEA (International Energy Agency) and the NEA (Nuclear Energy Agency)]…[T]he high-end renewables LCOE remains far above the cost of nuclear, coal or natural gas power generation, but the progress green energy has made towards becoming more competitive is notable. The LCOE for nuclear, coal and gas has increased a bit since 2010, while for renewables such as wind and solar, it keeps falling…[O]nshore wind remains the cheapest renewable energy option…[T]he cost of utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV) and onshore wind is comparable and often lower in countries featuring plentiful resources and appropriate market and regulatory frameworks...” click here for more

    PLUG-IN CARS GAIN MARKET TRACTION Electric Vehicles Continue Gaining Consumer Acceptance

    Andrew Balazer, August 31, 2015 (National Law Review)

    “…[The August 2015 Uptake of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles… shows] electric vehicles gaining a loyal finding, with the vast majority of electric vehicle owners saying that they were satisfied with their car and would recommend electric vehicles to others. While range anxiety remains an issue…private owners appear to have happily adopted their use for shorter trips, like commuting or running nearby errands…[W]here an electric car is part of a multi-car household, the electric car is used for the majority of trips…[indicating] the electric car is the primary car…Electric cars have so far been more expensive than comparable fossil fuel-powered cars; however, subsidies and tax breaks appear to be doing their job of getting people to at least consider electric cars. And once they are driving these cars regularly, consumers appear to be very satisfied…As prices for these cars fall with production costs, we can expect to see these cars taking a greater and greater share of the market…” click here for more

    BIGGEST NAMES IN HOME ENERGY MGMT Navigant Research Leaderboard Report: Home Energy Management; Assessment of Strategy and Execution for 16 HEM Vendors

    3Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “Home energy management (HEM) is a broad market segment covering technologies and services that consumers use to help them better manage and control their home energy consumption…In the 2 years since the last iteration of this report, the HEM market has seen tremendous change…Navigant Research expects steady growth for HEM products and services through 2023. The HEM market has struggled to gain traction in the past, particularly from a utility standpoint. However, it began picking up momentum in 2014, when non-utility stakeholders started making bolder moves. The initial jolt came from Google’s early 2014 purchase of Nest Labs…According to Navigant Research, the global HEM revenue is expected to peak at a little over $3 billion in 2020…” click here for more

    Monday, August 31, 2015


    The Economics Of Demand Flexibility; How “Flexiwatts” Create Quantifiable Value For Customers And The Grid

    August 26, 2015 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary

    Electric utilities in the United States plan to invest an estimated $1+ trillion in traditional grid infrastructure— generation, transmission, and distribution—over the next 15 years, or about $50–80 billion per year, correcting years of underinvestment. However, official forecasts project slowing electricity sales growth in the same period (less than 1% per year), coming on the heels of nearly a decade of flat or declining electricity sales nationwide. This is likely to lead to increasing retail electricity prices for customers over the same period.

    Meanwhile, those customers enjoy a growing menu of increasingly cost-effective, behind-the-meter, distributed energy resource (DER) options that provide choice in how much and when to consume and even generate electricity. These dual trends and how customers might respond to them—rising prices for retail grid electricity and falling costs for DER alternatives that complement (or in extreme cases even supplant) the grid—has caused considerable electricity industry unrest. It also creates a potential for overinvestment in and duplication of resources on both sides of the meter.

    Yet utility and customer investments on both sides of the meter are based on the view that demand profiles are largely inflexible; flexibility must come solely from the supply side. Now, a new kind of resource makes the demand side highly flexible too. Demand flexibility (DF) evolves and expands the capability behind traditional demand response programs. DF allows demand to respond continuously to changing market conditions through price signals or other mechanisms. DF is proving a grossly underused opportunity to buffer the dynamic balance between supply and demand. When implemented, DF can create quantifiable value (e.g., bill savings, deferred infrastructure upgrades) for both customers and the grid.

    Here, we analyze demand flexibility’s economic opportunity. In the residential sector alone, widespread implementation of demand flexibility can save 10–15% of potential grid costs, and customers can cut their electric bills 10–40% with rates and technologies that exist today. Roughly 65 million customers already have potentially appropriate opt-in rates available, so the aggregate market is large and will only grow with further rollout of granular retail pricing.

    Demand Flexibility Defined

    Demand flexibility uses communication and control technology to shift electricity use across hours of the day while delivering end-use services (e.g., air conditioning, domestic hot water, electric vehicle charging) at the same or better quality but lower cost. It does this by applying automatic control to reshape a customer’s demand profile continuously in ways that either are invisible to or minimally affect the customer, and by leveraging more-granular rate structures that monetize demand flexibility’s capability to reduce costs for both customers and the grid.

    Importantly, demand flexibility need not complicate or compromise customer experience. Technologies and business models exist today to shift load seamlessly while maintaining or even improving the quality, simplicity, choice, and value of energy services to customers.

    The Emerging Value Of Flexiwatts: The Broader Opportunity For Ders To Lower Grid Costs

    Electric loads that demand flexibility shifts in time can be called flexiwatts—watts of demand that can be moved across the hours of a day or night according to economic or other signals. Importantly, flexiwatts can be used to provide a variety of grid services (see Table ES1). Customers have an increasing range of choices to meet their demand for electrical services beyond simply purchasing kilowatt-hours from the grid at the moment of consumption. Now they can also choose to generate their own electricity through distributed generation, use less electricity more productively (more-efficient end-use or negawatts), or shift the timing of consumption through demand flexibility (see Figure ES1). All four of these options need to be evaluated holistically to minimize cost and maximize value for both customers and the grid.


    Residential demand flexibility can avoid $9 billion per year of forecast U.S. grid investment costs— more than 10% of total national forecast needs—and avoid another $4 billion per year in annual energy production and ancillary service costs.

    While our analysis focuses primarily on demand flexibility’s customer-facing value, the potential gridlevel cost savings from widespread demand flexibility deployment should not be ignored. Examining just two residential appliances—air conditioning and domestic water heating—shows that ~8% of U.S. peak demand could be reduced while maintaining comfort and service quality. Using industry-standard estimates of avoided costs, these peak demand savings can avoid $9 billion per year in traditional investments, including generation, transmission, and distribution. Additional costs of up to $3 billion per year can be avoided by controlling the timing of a small fraction of these appliances’ energy demands to optimize for hourly energy prices, and $1 billion per year from providing ancillary services to the grid. The total of $13 billion per year (see Figure ES2) is a conservative estimate of the economic potential of demand flexibility, because we analyze a narrow subset of flexible loads only in the residential sector, and we do not count several other benefit categories from flexibility that may add to the total value.

    Demand flexibility offers substantial net bill savings of 10–40% annually for customers. Using current rates across the four scenarios analyzed, demand flexibility could offer customers net bill savings of 10–40%. Across all eligible customers in each analyzed utility service territory, the aggregate market size (net bill savings) for each scenario is $110–250 million per year (see Figure ES3). Just a handful of basic demand flexibility options—including air conditioning, domestic hot water heater timing, and electric vehicle charging—show significant capability to shift loads to lower-cost times (see Figure ES4), reduce peak demand (see Figure ES5), and increase solar PV on-site consumption (see Figure ES6). In Hawaii, electric dryer timing and battery energy storage also play a role in demand flexibility.

    Utilities should see demand flexibility as a resource for grid cost reduction, but under retail rates unfavorable to rooftop PV, demand flexibility can instead hasten load defection by accelerating rooftop PV’s economics in the absence of net energy metering (NEM).

    Some utilities and trade groups are considering or advocating for changes to traditional net energy metering arrangements that would compensate exported solar PV at a rate lower than the retail rate of purchased utility energy (similar to the avoided cost compensation case discussed above). We build on the analysis presented in RMI’s The Economics of Load Defection and show that, if export compensation for solar PV were eliminated or reduced to avoided cost compensation on a regional scale in the Northeast United States, DF could improve the economics of non-exporting solar PV, thus dramatically hastening load defection—the loss of utility sales and revenue to customer-sited rooftop PV (see Figure ES7).


    Demand flexibility represents a large, cost-effective, and largely untapped opportunity to reduce customer bills and grid costs. It can also give customers significant ability to protect the value proposition of rooftop PV and adapt to changing rate designs. Business models that are based on leveraging flexiwatts can be applied to as many as 65 million customers today that have access to existing opt-in granular rates, with no new regulation, technology, or policy required. Given the benefits, broad applicability, and cost-effectiveness, the widespread adoption of DF technology and business models should be a nearterm priority for stakeholders across the electricity sector.

    Third-party innovators: pursue opportunities now to hone customer value proposition

    Many different kinds of companies can capture the value of flexiwatts, including home energy management system providers, solar PV developers, demand response companies, and appliance manufacturers, among others. These innovators can take the following actions to capitalize on the demand flexibility opportunity:

    1. Take advantage of opportunities that exist today to empower customers and offer products and services to complement or compete with traditional, bundled utility energy sales.

    2. Offer the customer more than bill savings; recognize that customers will want flexibility technologies for reasons other than cost alone.

    3. Pursue standardized and secure technology, integrated at the factory, in order to reduce costs and scale demand flexibility faster.

    4. Partner with utilities to monetize demand flexibility in front of the meter, through the provision of additional services that reduce grid costs further.

    Utilities: leverage well-designed rates to reduce grid costs

    Utilities of all types—vertically integrated, wires-only, retail providers, etc.—can capture demand flexibility’s grid value by taking the following steps:

    1. Introduce and promote rates that reflect marginal costs, in order to ensure that customer bill reduction (and thus, utility revenue reduction) can also lead to meaningful grid cost decreases.

    2. Consider flexiwatts as a resource for grid cost reduction, and not solely as a threat to revenues.

    3. Harness enabling technology and third-party innovation by coupling rate offerings with technology and new customer-facing business models that promote bill savings and grid cost reduction.

    Regulators: promote flexiwatts as a least-cost solution to grid challenges

    State regulators have a role to play in requiring utilities to consider and fully value demand flexibility as a lowcost resource that can reduce grid-level system costs and customer bills. Regulators should consider the following:

    1. Recognize the cost advantage of demand flexibility, and require utilities to consider flexiwatts as a potentially lower-cost alternative to a subset of traditional grid infrastructure investment needs.

    2. Encourage utilities to offer a variety of rates to promote customer choice, balancing the potential complexity of highly granular rates against the large value proposition for customers and the grid.

    3. Encourage utilities to seek partnerships that couple rate design with technology and thirdparty innovators to provide customers with a simple, lower cost experience.


    NEW FINANCE PLAN FOR GEOTHERMAL Geothermal Community Could Be a Game Changer

    August 27, 2015 (RenewablesBiz)

    “…[T]hermal service providers…[may be like solar leasing and] sell thousands of new homeowners on geothermal heating and cooling…[The key] is taking the highest cost of geothermal loop off the table: excavating and drilling to install the ground loop…In Orca Energy’s plan,] Orca owns (and maintains) the ground loop, while the other equipment, heat pumps and so on, are amortized over the 20-year home mortgage…[There] is little impact on their monthly mortgage, but ongoing savings on energy use for the life of the home…Orca meters the thermal BTU of the ground loop and charges [the homeowner] a rate that's lower than the local electrical rate, [creating as much as 30 percent lower heating or cooling bills…” click here for more

    SUN IN MAINE Solar advocates see bright opportunity in northern Maine

    Anthony Brino, August 30, 2015 (BDN News)

    “…[Counterintuitively,] northern Maine may be one of the best places on the East Coast to turn sunlight into electricity, and it can be affordable for the middle class…On average, across winter, spring, summer and fall, northern Maine gets 4.2 hours of daily usable solar radiation that can be converted into electricity. Mid-Atlantic states such as Connecticut, New York and Pennsylvania might be warmer, but they have more smog and less usable sunlight — about 3.5 hours on average…The cold also is an advantage…[because] silicon wafers and electrical conductors in solar panels thrive in the cold and run more efficiently in the winter, even though there are fewer hours of sunlight…According to Efficiency Maine, a 4.5-kilowatt (or 4,500-watt) photovoltaic system costs about $17,000 in total to purchase and install…[but] it’s a good investment for a long-term homeowner that almost certainly will pay off within 10 years…[and] is expected to [provide power for] 25 years…” click here for more

    CAN CA CLIMATE BILLS GET BY FOSSIL INTERESTS? Historic climate-change bills in California Legislature go down to the wire

    Jessica Calefati, August 29, 2015 (San Jose Mercury News)

    “With the deadline for lawmakers to finish their work less than two weeks away, Gov. Jerry Brown and state Senate leader Kevin de León are working feverishly to pass what they call the year's most important legislation…The bills, which would dramatically reduce the state's reliance on oil and help to combat climate change, have been praised by everyone from Pope Francis to President Barack Obama to the world's leading scientists…If enacted, the legislation would set international precedent and cement California's reputation as a leader in the fight against global warming…But standing in the way is one of Sacramento's most powerful lobbies, the oil and gas industry, which has spent millions of dollars on advertising that paints a dystopian vision of the future: an out-of-control bureaucracy that would have the power to ration gasoline, punish SUV owners and limit the number of miles Californians drive…After passing the Senate by a wide margin in June, the bills face a much tougher test in the Assembly, which is expected to take them up as early as this week…” click here for more

    Saturday, August 29, 2015

    Pictures Of Sea Level Rise

    Clearly the ocean is getting too big for its beaches. From NASA

    Change And Be Changed

    From a courageous new documentary based on a controversial book: The best chance to demand and build a better world? Yes. Change or be changed? No, that opportunity has passed. Now it is change AND be changed. From AtlanticFilmDotCom via YouTube

    Postcards From Hawaii's New Energy Struggle

    Hawaii has set its sights on 100% renewables by 2045 and its leaders and people don’t believe the proposed $4.3 billion takeover of its utility will get the state there. Here’s why. From Institute for Local Self-Reliance via YouTube

    Friday, August 28, 2015


    Nasa: sea levels rising as a result of human-caused climate change

    27 August 2015 (NASA)

    “Josh Willis of NASA explains the space agency’s announcement that a long-term satellite imaging study has shown a dramatic rise in sea levels due to climate change. He says the findings that sea levels worldwide rose an average of nearly 3 inches (8 cm) since 1992 could indicate how strongly impacted coastal populations will be in the coming century [an if, as he says, a cm of rise equals 3 feet of beach loss, 24 feet of beach loss has already occurred].” click here for more


    Israeli Solar Warms Up; The country has embraced technological innovation—except in renewable energy. Is that finally changing?

    Daniel Gross, August 7, 2015 (Slate)

    “…[After six years of development, the first utility-scale solar plant to be built in Israel went online last month. A 40-megawatt solar power plant, it is a joint venture of Arava Power and a subsidiary of Électricité de France. Though modern Israel has become known as ‘startup nation’ for the ability of its nascent tech firms to balloon to global scale in a matter of months and the country’s immense solar resources, the government-owned Israel Electric Corporation has preferred to rely on coal, natural gas, and diesel. Last year, Israel derived less than 2 percent of its power from renewable sources.] The reasons for this aversion to solar-energy innovation are very Israeli—nationalized ownership of significant resources, endemic bureaucracy, fractious politics, and a legacy of socialism…[But in] spite of the bureaucracy and the speed bumps, Israel’s desert is slowly beginning to bloom with silicon panels that help convert the sun’s rays into electrons. Arava Power’s plant won’t hold its title as Israel’s largest solar generating facility for long. Earlier this summer, construction on one of the long-delayed, 110-MW Ashelim plants began.” click here for more


    Wind forecast to help tap more power

    U. Tejonmayam, August 28, 2015 (Times of India)

    “Tamil Nadu has the enviable status of being one of the largest wind power-producing states; it also possesses more around 7,800MW installed capacity of this renewable power. Now to reap the most of this resource, the state is utilising a new wind power forecasting service…[Wind’s variability] can be rectified if the energy can be estimated beforehand for its effective management. The new prediction system developed by National Institute of Wind Energy (NIWE) in collaboration with Vortex Factoria De Calcul SL, a Spanish-based company, requires availability-based tariff (ABT) metres in wind energy pooling sub-stations. So far, these meters have been installed in 80 sub-stations in the state and by the end of this month another 40 sub-stations will have them…The system will provide the forecast every 15 minutes for up to 10 days in advance. This will help Tangedco in scheduling and dispatching electricity from wind turbine generators…” click here for more


    EU-funded project develops wireless recharging solutions for electric cars

    2015 August 28 (Xinhua)

    “The European Union-funded FASTINCHARGE [wireless electric vehicle recharging project aimed at making EVs] more appealing to consumers…[is] due for completion this year…[R]esearchers have completed the design of a new wireless charging station, with key features including simplicity of use, easy maintenance, accessibility and clear visual indications on how to position the car…The new station is also equipped to exchange charging data with the vehicle, including user ID, supplier ID, duration of charge and energy meter information, and provide communication and guidance throughout the charging process…The project also investigated en route wireless charging technologies, which have the potential to significantly increase vehicle range and reduce the size of on-board energy storage systems…The project team [is] running a series of demonstration tests of the panels in the northern French city of Douai…[to] assess the efficiency and viability of wireless charging, the benefits to EV users and the impact on the electric grid.” click here for more

    Thursday, August 27, 2015


    The sense in Republican climate-change nonsense

    Stephen Stromberg, August 25, 2015 (Washington Post)

    "Conservatives often insist that it’s pointless to cut climate change-causing greenhouse gas emissions: It would amount to unilateral economic disarmament; China and the rest of the world wouldn’t reduce pollution…This is a poor argument, mostly…It doesn’t consider the risks of not trying to fight climate change…But there’s still a nugget of wisdom buried in all the nonsense: As world negotiators meet in Paris later this year to construct a global emissions-cutting pact, they must recognize that countries will have incentives to lie and cheat the system, and they must agree on mechanisms to expose emissions-cutting fraud and other types of climate deceit…[ Perverse Effects of Carbon Markets… underscores this crucial point. Swedish researchers found that people in Russia and Ukraine took wanton advantage of a poorly implemented European emissions program…[T]he underlying lesson is a global one: You can’t just assume that various national and subnational officials will comply with their commitments in good faith…This will not be easy. The United States and Europeans will probably push hard for some kind of international emissions monitoring, review and verification at the Paris climate talks…Accountability can’t be a side issue in Paris…” click here for more


    Cost of not acting on climate change $44 trillion: Citi

    Anmar Frangoul, 18 August 2015 (CNBC)

    “Up to $44 trillion could be going up in smoke if the world does not act on climate change, according to [ Energy Darwinism II: Why a Low Carbon Future Doesn't Have to Cost the Earth from CitiGroup, which forecasts] that spending on energy will hit around $200 trillion in the next 25 years…The study then examines two scenarios: one that Citi describe as an 'inaction'…and another that looks at what could happen if a low carbon, ‘different energy mix’ is pursued…[The central case in the report is that the costs in terms of lost (gross domestic product) GDP from not acting on climate change can be $44 trillion dollars by the time we get to 2060…[The report authors see December's crucial United Nations COP21 meeting in Paris] as hugely significant, with the aim of reaching an agreement to keep global warming below two degrees centigrade…[because] all of the players are arriving with positively aligned intentions, including the big emitters: the US and China...” click here for more


    EIA expects near-term decline in natural gas production in major shale regions

    August 26, 2015 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “Natural gas production across all major shale regions in EIA's Drilling Productivity Report (DPR) is projected to decrease for the first time in September. Production from these seven shale regions reached a high in May at 45.6 billion cubic feet per day (Bcf/d) and is expected to decline to 44.9 Bcf/d in September. In each region, production from new wells is not large enough to offset production declines from existing, legacy wells…Given the substantial drop in rig counts since the fourth quarter of 2014 in each of the DPR regions and growing declines in production from legacy wells, productivity increases are less able to completely offset lower rig counts and legacy-well declines…Several external factors could affect the estimates, such as bad weather, shut-ins based on environmental or economic issues, variations in the quality and frequency of state production data, and infrastructure constraints. These factors are not accounted for in the DPR…” click here for more


    Autonomous Vehicles; Advanced Driver Assistance Systems and the Evolution of Self-Driving Functionality: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    3Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “The first combinations of advanced driver assistance features, now available in some 2016 vehicle models, offer semi-autonomous driving under specific circumstances. Cars will soon have the ability to cruise on freeways and safely navigate traffic jams with minimal driver input…[because] it is now feasible to install the multiple sensors necessary for such capability…[M]ore comprehensive self-driving features will be brought to market by 2020…While more [technology] testing is still needed to develop robustness, the biggest practical hurdles to clear before the rollout of self-driving vehicles to the public are related to liability, regulation, and legislation. In the long term, though, autonomous vehicle technology has the potential to institute major change in personal mobility, particularly in large cities. According to Navigant Research, 85 million autonomous-capable vehicles are expected to be sold annually around the world by 2035…” click here for more