ORIGINAL REPORTING: Smart Utilities Moving To New Energy
Utility clean energy rankings reveal 'unprecedented shift' in power sector paradigms; Even among laggards, there's a growing consensus that renewables are at the center of the 21st century energy system
Herman K. Trabish, July 13, 2016 (Utility Dive)
Editor’s note: The utility investment in distributed resources continues to grow, supporting record solar growth.
Around 1920, movies were silent, black and white, and largely quite crude, though there were occasional masterpieces. It was a lot like renewable energy around 2010. As technology breakthroughs and economies of scale grew movie industry returns, the industry lured Wall Street capital that financed bigger, better, more profitable projects. That’s a lot like the history of renewables this decade. Big studios, challenged by independent producers and stronger regulation, either adapted to disruption or went broke. California utilities, perhaps inspired by the trials of the old film houses, are leading the response to demands from their “audience” for more renewable energy. The state’s three dominant investor-owned utilities (IOUs) topped the just-released Ceres/CleanEdge clean energy deployment rankings.
Though the U.S. Department of Energy forecasts solar and wind generation will grow from 2015's 227 billion kWh to almost 1 trillion kWh in 2040, utilities in many other states have yet to jump on the bandwagon. Even so, the report numbers show overall growth in utility renewables, and executives at both leader and laggard companies told Utility Dive that a paradigm shift toward cleaner energy solutions has influenced how they think about the grid. Most of the utilities in the Ceres top ten – including Sempra, Edison, PG&E, Xcel, National Grid, PSE&G of New Jersey, and Eversource – are in states that set more ambitious clean energy goals than federal policies, including renewable portfolio standards, cap-and-trade schemes and other policies. A majority of 2014’s bottom ten – Duke, Dominion, Entergy, SCANA, American Electric Power, Florida Power & Light, and Southern Company – are based in or have significant presences in the Southeast U.S., where policy drivers for renewable energy are notoriously weak… click here for more