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

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  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: 'The future grid' and aggregated distributed energy resources
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Renewable Portfolio Standards offer billions in benefits
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Powered by PTC, wind energy expected to keep booming

  • TODAY’S STUDY: On The Way To 100% New Energy In Hawaii
  • QUICK NEWS, October 18: The Lack Of Climate Change In The Election; Trump And Clinton On Climate Change And New Energy; New Energy Keeps Booming

  • TODAY’S STUDY: New Energy For New Urbanists
  • QUICK NEWS, October 17: Chemical Mulitnationals Bet on Climate Solutions; World Wind Gets Bigger; SolarReserve Power Plant Possibilities Rising

  • Weekend Video: High Water Everywhere
  • Weekend Video: Chasing Extreme Weather To Catch Climate Change
  • Weekend Video: Wind Power On The Land

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Climate Change And Crazy Weather
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World Cities Thinking Urbanized New Energy
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Google’s African Wind


  • TTTA Thursday- Bob Dylan, 2001 – Highwater - For Charlie Patton
  • TTTA Thursday- Bob Dylan, 1989 – Political World
  • TTTA Thursday- Bob Dylan, 1978 – Where Are You Tonight (Journey Through Dark Heat)
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f 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




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

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  • How Climate Change Is A Health Insurance Problem
  • World Wind Can Be A Third Of Global Power By 2030
  • First U.S. Solar Sidewalks Installed
  • Looking Ahead At The EV Market

    Wednesday, July 22, 2015


    What electric reliability is actually worth and what it means for utilities; LBNL’s new numbers on the value of service reliability are revealing

    Herman K. Trabish, February 25, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    The cost of outages to utility customers is not always adequately included in utility planning, according to experts at calculating those costs.

    But Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern Company, two very different types of investor owned utilities, are among the most advanced atincluding the cost into their planning. That raises a very interesting question about the way utilities spend money.

    “Utilities usually plan to certain minimum requirements or only consider their own costs and benefits,” according to Nexant Utility Services Managing Consultant Josh Schellenberg, co-author of the just-released report, "Updated Value of Service Reliability Estimates for Electric Utility Customers" from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

    “By providing a meta-analysis to understand the customer benefits associated with various types of reliability interruptions,” Schellenberg said, “this report helps address one of the barriers to utilities incorporating the customer perspective.”

    Incorporating customer interruption costs into planning, which is known as "value-based reliability planning," leads to a much better assessment of the societal costs and benefits, Schellenberg said.

    Often the utility is comparing multiple investments, he added. If it looks only at utility costs and benefits and doesn’t incorporate the customer perspective, it could make the wrong decision because “the customer may benefit greatly from one investment and not much from another investment.”

    Who gets the costs and benefits?

    Utility benefits from reliability investments include operations and maintenance savings and lower restoration of service costs. Though the utility incurs costs for reliability investments, those costs are generally recovered from ratepayers in time.

    “Power interruptions can be incredibly costly to customers, especially to commercial-industrial customers,” Schellenberg said. “Ignoring the potential benefits to customers in the cost-benefit assessment of reliability investments can undervalue them.”

    The LBNL survey provides three key metrics for planners:

    the cost for an individual interruption for a typical customer

    the cost per average kilowatt (kW)

    the cost per unserved kilowatt-hour (kWh), which is the expected amount of unserved kWhs for each interruption and is relatively high for a momentary interruption because the unserved kWhs in a 5-minute period is relatively low.

    The national average price of residential electricity for 2014 was $0.1246 per kWh, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The average commercial electricity price was $0.1071 per kWh and the average industrial price was $0.0703 per kWh.

    The values derived from the survey, soon to be publicly acessible through the Department of Energy ICE Calculator, show customers value their electricity at “orders of magnitude larger than what they pay for the electricity,” Schellenberg said. "That shows interruptions can be highly costly to customers and utilities should incorporate those costs into planning.”

    The electricity not provided that a medium to large commercial and industrial (C&I) customer otherwise would have consumed, the survey shows, is valued at $21.80 per kWh. For the small C&I customer, the value for a one hour outage is $295 per kWh. For the residential customer, it is $3.30 per kWh.

    How to use the numbers

    Demonstrating the high value customers place on reliability to regulators can be a power lever in justifying utility spending, Scehllenberg acknowledged.

    “Tell me something a utility does that doesn’t affect reliability,” he said. "Tree trimming is about reliability. Demand response affects reliability. Distributed batteries and solar can affect reliability. Improving the call center could affect reliability.”

    PG&E incorporated interruption costs into many of their proposals for reliability investments on the transmission and distribution side in their last rate case, Schellenberg said. Southern Company has incorporated interruption costs into their generation planning for about 20 years.

    “There are two basic kinds of outage,” explained Regulatory Assistance Project (RAP) Senior Advisor Jim Lazar. RAP is a global, non-profit team led by former regulators that provides guidance on power sector economic, environmental, reliability and benefit allocation issues.

    Outages from a shortage of generation are “very very unusual,” Lazar said. “Transmission and distribution system failures are far more common. The average customer experiences one of those per year.”

    There is a supply curve for reliability services, Lazer went on.

    “The cheapest are things that can be delayed or done without for a few hours," he said. "At the high end of the scale is building utility scale generation, plus transmission, plus distribution upgrades for reliability that is only needed a few hours per year."

    Regulators must understand the supply curve and “figure out the best way to acquire the options at the cheap end of the curve,” Lazar said. "Utility scale generation, transmission, and distribution is a very, very expensive solution. It is an appropriate expenditure for providing thousands of hours of service per year but inappropriate for one hour every ten years.”

    The key question to ask about Southern Company’s use of the costs and benefits to customers of outages to justify expenditures for new generation is whether they are necessary if “substantially all outages are distribution-related and virtually none are generation related,” Lazar suggested.

    PG&E’s use of the customer perspective to justify transmission and distribution spending “is more logical,” Lazar said, “because that is where the interruptions – even the biggest ones – are coming from, and not from an insufficiency of generation.”


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