NewEnergyNews: On The Road Reading - NRG Energy Prepares to Deliver $100M to California for Plug-In Car Infrastructure; Here’s how they will turn range anxiety into “range confidence”

NewEnergyNews

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

The challenge: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 28:

  • TTTA Thursday-PRESIDENT TO TAKE ACTION ON CLIMATE
  • TTTA Thursday-BIRDS AND ENERGY, THE BIGGER STORY
  • TTTA Thursday-NEW CA LAW STREAMLINES SOLAR PERMITTING
  • TTTA Thursday-DATA CENTER EFFICIENCIES CAN SAVE U.S. $3.8BIL/YR
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: THE RISKIEST ENERGY IN THE WORLD
  • QUICK NEWS, August 27: VERIZON’S $40MIL SOLAR BUY; WIND PRICES HIT RECORD LOWS; NUKE INSPECTOR SAYS DIABLO CYN IS UNSAFE
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    THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • THE STUDY: U.S. WIND RIGHT NOW
  • QUICK NEWS, August 26: CLIMATE MODELS PROVE RIGHT AGAIN; ABOUT INVESTING IN SOLAR; GM VS TESLA IN THE 200 MILE RACE

    THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • THE STUDY: NEW CALMER WINDS AHEAD FOR EUROPE
  • QUICK NEWS, August 25: JULY’S U.S. ENERGY BUILD WAS ALL NEW ENERGY; CLIMATE CHANGE FOR ENERGY INVESTORS; WIND CAN GROW FASTER THAN NUCLEAR
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: New Thoughts About New Energy For A New Climate
  • Weekend Video: Carbon
  • Weekend Video: Why Utilities Struggle With New Energy
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-WHY DENIERS’ BRAINS REJECT CLIMATE CHANGE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-CHINESE TO HELP SAUDIS GO NEW ENERGY BY 2032
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-BUILDING EFFICIENCY TO BOOM IN EUROPE
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-GEOTHERMAL SEEKS CARIBBEAN BREAKTHROUGH
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is a biweekly contributor to NewEnergyNews

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT)

    November 26, 2013 (Huffington Post via NewEnergyNews)

    Everywhere we turn, environmental news is filled with horrid developments and glimpses of irreversible tipping points.

    Just a handful of examples are breathtaking: Scientists have dared to pinpoint the years at which locations around the world may reach runaway heat, and in the northern hemisphere it's well in sight for our children: 2047. Survivors of Superstorm Sandy are packing up as costs of repair and insurance go out of reach, one threat that climate science has long predicted. Or we could simply talk about the plight of bees and the potential impact on food supplies. Surprising no one who explores the Pacific Ocean, sailor Ivan MacFadyen described long a journey dubbed The Ocean is Broken, in which he saw vast expanses of trash and almost no wildlife save for a whale struggling a with giant tumor on its head, evoking the tons of radioactive water coming daily from Fukushima's lamed nuclear power center. Rampaging fishing methods and ocean acidification are now reported as causing the overpopulation of jellyfish that have jammed the intakes of nuclear plants around the world. Yet the shutting down of nuclear plants is a trifling setback compared with the doom that can result in coming days at Fukushima in the delicate job to extract bent and spent fuel rods from a ruined storage tank, a project dubbed "radioactive pick up sticks."

    With all these horrors to ponder you wouldn't expect to hear that you should also worry about the United States running out of coal. But you would be wrong, says Leslie Glustrom, founder and research director for Clean Energy Action. Her contention is that we've passed the peak in our nation's legendary supply of coal that powers over one-third of our grid capacity. This grim news is faithfully spelled out in three reports, with the complete story told in Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves (pdf). (Disclosure: I serve on CEA's board and have known the author for years.)

    Glustrom's research presents a sea change in how we should understand our energy challenges, or experience grim consequences. It's not only about toxic and heat-trapping emissions anymore; it's also about having enough energy generation to run big cities and regions that now rely on coal. Glustrom worries openly about how commerce will go on in many regions in 2025 if they don't plan their energy futures right.

    2013-11-05-FigureES4_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    Scrutinizing data for prices on delivered coal nationwide, Glustrom's new report establishes that coal's price has risen nearly 8 percent annually for eight years, roughly doubling, due mostly to thinner, deeper coal seams plus costlier diesel transport expenses. Higher coal prices in a time of "cheap" natural gas and affordable renewables means coal companies are lamed by low or no profits, as they hold debt levels that dwarf their market value and carry very high interest rates.

    2013-11-05-Table_ES2_FULL.jpgclick to enlarge

    2013-11-05-Figure_ES2_FULL.jpg

    One leading coal company, Patriot, filed for bankruptcy last year; many others are also struggling under bankruptcy watch and not eager to upgrade equipment for the tougher mining ahead. Add to this the bizarre event this fall of a coal lease failing to sell in Wyoming's Powder River Basin, the "Fort Knox" of the nation's coal supply, with some pundits agreeing this portends a tightening of the nation's coal supply, not to mention the array of researchers cited in the report. Indeed, at the mid point of 2013, only 488 millions tons of coal were produced in the U.S.; unless a major catch up happens by year-end, 2013 may be as low in production as 1993.

    Coal may exist in large quantities geologically, but economically, it's getting out of reach, as confirmed by US Geological Survey in studies indicating that less than 20 percent of US coal formations are economically recoverable, as explored in the CEA report. To Glustrom, that number plus others translate to 10 to 20 years more of burning coal in the US. It takes capital, accessible coal with good heat content and favorable market conditions to assure that mining companies will stay in business. She has observed a classic disconnect between camps of professionals in which geologists tend to assume money is "infinite" and financial analysts tend to assume that available coal is "infinite." Both biases are faulty and together they court disaster, and "it is only by combining thoughtful estimates of available coal and available money that our country can come to a realistic estimate of the amount of US coal that can be mined at a profit." This brings us back to her main and rather simple point: "If the companies cannot make a profit by mining coal they won't be mining for long."

    No one is more emphatic than Glustrom herself that she cannot predict the future, but she presents trend lines that are robust and confirmed assertively by the editorial board at West Virginia Gazette:

    Although Clean Energy Action is a "green" nonprofit opposed to fossil fuels, this study contains many hard economic facts. As we've said before, West Virginia's leaders should lower their protests about pollution controls, and instead launch intelligent planning for the profound shift that is occurring in the Mountain State's economy.

    The report "Warning, Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" and its companion reports belong in the hands of energy and climate policy makers, investors, bankers, and rate payer watchdog groups, so that states can plan for, rather than react to, a future with sea change risk factors.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    It bears mentioning that even China is enacting a "peak coal" mentality, with Shanghai declaring that it will completely ban coal burning in 2017 with intent to close down hundreds of coal burning boilers and industrial furnaces, or shifting them to clean energy by 2015. And Citi Research, in "The Unimaginable: Peak Coal in China," took a look at all forms of energy production in China and figured that demand for coal will flatten or peak by 2020 and those "coal exporting countries that have been counting on strong future coal demand could be most at risk." Include US coal producers in that group of exporters.

    Our world is undergoing many sorts of change and upheaval. We in the industrialized world have spent about a century dismissing ocean trash, overfishing, pesticides, nuclear hazard, and oil and coal burning with a shrug of, "Hey it's fine, nature can manage it." Now we're surrounded by impacts of industrial-grade consumption, including depletion of critical resources and tipping points of many kinds. It is not enough to think of only ourselves and plan for strictly our own survival or convenience. The threat to animals everywhere, indeed to whole systems of the living, is the grief-filled backdrop of our times. It's "all hands on deck" at this point of human voyaging, and in our nation's capital, we certainly don't have that. Towns, states and regions need to plan fiercely and follow through. And a fine example is Boulder Colorado's recent victory to keep on track for clean energy by separating from its electric utility that makes 59 percent of its power from coal.

    Clean Energy Action is disseminating "Warning: Faulty Reporting of US Coal Reserves" for free to all manner of relevant professionals who should be concerned about long range trends which now include the supply risks of coal, and is supporting that outreach through a fundraising campaign.

    [Clean Energy Action is fundraising to support the dissemination of this report through December 11. Contribute here.]

    Author's note: Want to support my work? Please "fan" me at Huffpost Denver, here (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/anne-butterfield). Thanks.

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    Anne's previous NewEnergyNews columns:

  • 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

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  • Wednesday, September 12, 2012

    On The Road Reading - NRG Energy Prepares to Deliver $100M to California for Plug-In Car Infrastructure; Here’s how they will turn range anxiety into “range confidence”

    On The Road Reading - NRG Energy Prepares to Deliver $100M to California for Plug-In Car Infrastructure; Here’s how they will turn range anxiety into “range confidence”

    Herman K. Trabish, May 11, 2012 (Greentech Media)

    This is what the $100 million that NRG Energy is obligated by a legal settlement to invest in battery electric vehicle (BEV) charging infrastructure in California will buy for plug-in car owners:

    A $50.5 million investment in 200 eVgo Freedom Station sites installed at carefully chosen commercial and retail locations, each with a level-three DC fast charger as well as a level-two medium-speed charger;

    A $40 million investment in 10,000 make-ready electrical installations, upgraded to 30 amp-capable and prepared for either a level-one or level-two charger installation to be completed within 24 hours to 48 hours; and

    A $9 million investment in advanced BEV charging technology and BEV car sharing programs.

    Plug In America, a key electric vehicle advocacy group, described the infrastructure build out as an 'electric expressway' for the state.

    The eVgo Freedom Stations’ level-three DC fast chargers, each capable of putting a 50 percent charge on a fully electric vehicle in fifteen minutes, will constitute the U.S.’ biggest fast-charger network. The focus of the effort will be in the areas of Los Angeles (110 stations), San Francisco (55), San Joaquin Valley (15) and San Diego County (20), whereBEV interest is expected to be highest. NRG Energy will locate at least 20 percent of them in urban areas where they will be more accessible to low- and moderate income groups.

    Leaders in the electric vehicle advocacy community expressed satisfaction along with concern at the initial settlement. “Basically, we see that this settlement could be a good deal for California and get a lot of charging in the ground,” said Plug In America President Jay Friedland, “but the devil is in the details, especially when it comes to access and business models.”

    Many noted that a widespread and readily available network of chargers could significantly ease the range anxiety that is a barrier to greater electric vehicle adoption.

    With the announcement of these details, which include many concerns outlined by advocates such as like Friedland such as open access, interoperability and transparency, plug-in drivers will have the opportunity to judge the truth in eVgo President Arun Banskota’s asserting that “we are in the business of providing range confidence.”

    The stations will be owned and operated by NRG Energy and be much like theAeroVironment-built stations in NRG’s Houston charger network. They will be credit- and debit-card accessible. Plug-in vehicle drivers will have both pay-as-you-go and subscription access. Pay-as-you-go prices will be no more than $15 per charge during peak demand periods and $10 per charge during off-peak hours.

    The make-ready sites will be owned by the property owner and distributed in the same proportion as the eVgo Freedom Stations. Each must be in an investor-owned utility’s service territory; 35 percent must be at multi-family locations, 15 percent at workplaces, 10 percent at public interest sites like a school, a university or a hospital.

    Preparing these sites’ electrical panels, transformers and wiring for charging infrastructure, said NRG Energy’s Arun Banskota, will pave the way for the 60 percent of the public that does not live in single-family homes that are readily amenable to the addition of charging infrastructure.

    Eighteen months after installation, all charger infrastructure providers will have complete access to the make-readies. This is one of the more controversial elements of the plan, because it limits competition early on.

    Banskota noted that the $9 million investment in BEV development programs will move the technology forward and expose more people to it. A total of $5 million will go to developbattery storage for peak demand periods, very high power charging capability, or forvehicle-to-grid pilot programs. The other $4 million will go to EV car sharing programs and job training programs in the charger infrastructure field.

    According to NRG Energy, these investments resolve “all outstanding claims and disputes” pertaining to litigation between Dynegy, bought by NRG Energy in 2006, and the state, represented by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), over unsatisfactorily fulfilled electricity contracts during the 2000-01 energy crisis.

    For the entire undertaking, NRG Energy has agreed to hire local workers for the construction and for operations and maintenance. It has also agreed to comply withCalifornia programs that emphasize attention and preference to women-owned, disabled veteran-owned and minority-owned businesses.

    The first year of the undertaking, Banskota said, is likely see slow progress due to issues like permitting and distribution system interconnections. By year two, he said, there will be a ramp-up. The company expects to complete 20 percent of the Freedom Stations in year one, 30 percent in each of the next two years, and the final 20 percent in the last year.

    There will be an application process for the selection of the sites, Banskota said. It has not yet been determined.

    Vendors will be selected through a competitive bidding process, following an NRG request for proposals. All vendors will be required to build to CHAdeMo and SAE standards.

    Banskota noted that the final settlement arrangement between NRG and the CPUC must still be approved by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Likely to be little more than a formality, that approval is expected by late summer.

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