NewEnergyNews: 05/01/2018 - 06/01/2018

NewEnergyNews

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

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-More Climate Change=Less Water=Less Sanitation=More Disease
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global Energy Transition Moves Ahead
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-EU Leaders Approve 32% New Energy By 2030
  • THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, November 15:

  • TTTA Thursday-Images Bring Climate Change Horror Home
  • TTTA Thursday-More States Doing More To Grow EVs
  • TTTA Thursday-Astonishing Things About New Energy, Part 2
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar has transformed into solar-plus-storage: What will net metering become?
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Many Values Of Solar Power Plants
  • QUICK NEWS, November 13: This Is What It Looks Like; Astonishing Things About New Energy, Part 1
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Testing Grid Modernization State By State
  • QUICK NEWS, November 12: What Big Oil Is Doing About Climate Change; A Tale Of New Energy In Two States
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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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.

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  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, November 17-18:

  • Does Anybody Know If This Lady Won?
  • From The Fire’s Front Lines
  • Now It’s Time For New Energy

    Thursday, May 31, 2018

    Art Attack On Climate Change

    Artists on climate change: the exhibition tackling a global crisis; At the Storm King Art Center in New York, a group of artists has come together to showcase works that cover a growing, and often ignored, issue

    Nadja Sayej, 30 May 2018 (UK Guardian)

    “…[At the Storm King Art Center 60 miles north of New York City, Indicators: Artists on Climate Change features over a dozen artists who tap into climate change…Instead of deploying terrifying statistics, protest placards and scientific arguments, this exhibition takes a different approach to activism…New York artist Justin Brice Guariglia shows a solar-powered LED highway message sign that reads ‘We Are the Asteroid,’] a phrase from eco-philosopher Timothy Morton, who calls out the human effect on the planet…Another piece is by the protest art group Dear Climate…[Called General Assembly, its 20 banners mimic] the circle of world flags outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York City…One flag says ‘Say hello to hurricanes’…[and] others read ‘See the sea levels,’ ‘Give me luxury or give me breath,’ and ‘Heed your greens’…[The exhibition is] meant to offer a variety of opinions and outlooks…[and it] is not to only ponder climate change, but also to consider our actions…” click here for more

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    Atlantic Coast Ocean Wind Could Power The U.S.

    ‘There Is Enough Wind Energy Capacity Off The East Coast To Power The Entire Country’

    Allie Nicodemo, May 30, 2018 (News@Northeastern)

    “…[An 800 MW wind project off the Massachusetts coast is moving forward. It] will be the first major offshore wind farm in the United States…[Research shows there] is enough wind energy capacity off the east coast to power the entire country…[but]Massachusetts is the first state to invest heavily in taking advantage of this resource…There are some important differences between the east coast and other areas where wind farms have been built…[The East Coast faces hurricanes, but] researchers have been learning much in the last several decades about safe and resilient building design for hurricanes…[There are other] environmental issues, financial and policy issues, supply chain, workforce development, and shipping issues…The Department of Energy has set a goal of 80 gigawatts by 2050 coming from offshore wind…[That would be] about 7 percent of all energy needed in the country…[but] only about 4 percent of the total capacity for wind energy on the east coast…” click here for more

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    Solar Plus Storage Coming On

    Suddenly, Solar Energy Plus Storage Is Giving Conventional Fuels A Run For Their Money; The increasingly competitive dynamic duo of solar photovoltaic plus battery storage is taking energy markets by storm

    Daniel Rothberg, May 29, 2018 (ENSIA)

    “…For years, renewable energy advocates have pushed utilities and regulators to consider adding battery storage to their electrical generation portfolios for flexibility…Until recently, it wasn’t considered a realistic option: Batteries were expensive and largely untested by utilities, and risk-averse regulators mostly let grid managers ignore them in their bids, statements and long-term planning documents…Analysts say that’s starting to change as batteries come down in price, as momentum builds behind renewables and as renewables create a natural market for storage. Utilities are increasingly looking at batteries as a tool for leveling out [the so-called “duck curve” created by high daytime solar supplies that drop off at sunset, requiring] bulky and expensive peaking power plants that have high costs but only occasionally run at or near full capacity to meet peak demand…[A preliminary analysis from Xcel Energy on 2017 project proposals showed that the median bids for battery storage projects coupled with solar and wind generation came in at about US$36 and US$21 per megawatt-hour…[That] shows, analysts say, is that utilities can use batteries without adding huge costs to renewable projects…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, May 30, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Does C-C-A Spell The End Of The Regulated Electric Utility In California?

    Does C-C-A spell the end of the regulated electric utility in California? Alternative providers may deliver more than 85% of the Golden State's electricity by the mid-2020s, and there is a lot of uncertainty about how much they will be regulated.

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 17, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: A decision from the CPUC due by the end of the summer on the PCIA (see story) will determine the economic viability of CCAs.

    One of the biggest ideas challenging today’s utility business model is the customer choice aggregation (CCA) movement in California. There were nine CCAs serving load in California at the end of 2017, and 12 more are expected this year, according to CalCCA Executive Director Beth Vaughan. By the end of 2018, CalCCA forecasts more than 4.5 million CCA customer accounts, Vaughan told Utility Dive…More than 85% of the state’s retail load could be served “by sources other than the IOUs” by the middle of the 2020s, according to a 2017 white paper from the CPUC. Dawn Weisz, CEO of CCA flagship Marin Clean Energy (MCE), told Utility Dive the movement is growing because “customers want cleaner choices” and CCAs “are building more renewable energy in California than the IOUs.”

    The CCA movement is gaining momentum, but an unlikely alliance of clean energy and consumer advocates and utilities say CCAs could impede California's nation-leading drive to build clean energy and cut greenhouse gas emissions. And the CPUC white paper raised another big issue. The limits to the commission’s authority over public power utilities has already “somewhat reduced the most optimal procurement and coordination of resources and utilization,” CPUC staff reported. “As non-IOU load-serving entities [LSE] serve an ever-greater percentage of load, the CPUC’s top-down approach to regulation will be challenged.” CPUC authority will first be tested by CCA reaction to the commission’s decision on the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), the mechanism that determines how costs should be allocated among customers who stay with their utilities and CCA customers… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The New Demand Response And The Future Of The Power Sector

    The new demand response and the future of the power sector; Utilities and system operators can do more than lower load with demand response.

    Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 11, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The role of Demand Response continues to grow and policymakers are pushing for new rules from regional grids to open more opportunities.

    Demand response (DR) was once an uncertain offer from a few big power users and residential customers to reduce load when notified by utilities or transmission system operators (TSOs). But there are now more than 13,600 MW of DR enrolled by utilities and about as much available to TSOs. Utilities reliably dispatched 78% of enrolled DR capacity — almost 10,700 MW — in 2016. DR's role is expanding and its identity is changing. It is now “reductions, increases, or shifts” in load, according to the “2017 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot", released in October by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and Navigant Research. Those load changes allow utilities and TSOs to respond to “time-varying changes in the cost of producing energy, shortages of distribution, transmission, or generation capacity, or unusually high or low voltage or frequency,” the paper reports.

    Furthermore, the new DR, which incorporates a new toolbox of distributed energy resources (DER), is increasingly being used by TSOs as a market product alongside generation, according to “Demand Response; U.S. Wholesale DER Aggregation, Q3 2017” from GTM Research. Some TSOs now offer capacity market, emergency response or ancillary services opportunities for DR, the quarterly update reports. But MISO, PJM and NYISO have joined CAISO and ERCOT in evaluating how system operators can take advantage of aggregated DER-as-DR. As TSOs open their markets to aggregated DER-as-DR, its use to meet generation shortfalls caused by network congestion or capacity limits is growing, GTM Research reports. It is being delivered by industrial, commercial and residential customers through both utilities and private sector providers… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, May 29, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Fight For Electric Vehicles Heats Up

    The 50 States of Electric Vehicles; Q1 2018 Quarterly Report

    May 15, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    Q1 2018 ELECTRIC VEHICLE ACTION

    In Q1 2018, 42 states plus DC took a total of 275 legislative and regulatory actions related to electric vehicles. Table 1 provides a summary of state and utility actions occurring during Q1 2018. Of the 275 actions catalogued, the most common were related to Regulation (85), followed by Financial Incentives (57), and Market Development (52).

    TOP ELECTRIC VEHICLE ACTIONS OF Q1 2018

    Five of the quarter’s most notable electric vehicle actions are noted below.

    Hawaii Utilities Publish Electrification of Transportation Strategic Roadmap

    The Hawaiian Electric Companies published their Transportation Electrification Roadmap in March 2018, which includes 10 major initiatives. These initiatives include education, utility fleet electrification, vehicle cost reduction, opportunities for smart charging and provision of grid services, bus electrification, medium- and heavy-duty vehicle electrification, and expansion of charging availability at multi-unit buildings, workplaces, and public locations.

    California Regulators Approve Utility Electric Vehicle Programs and Investments

    The California Public Utilities Commission issued an order in January 2018, approving a variety of electric vehicle programs and investments proposed by the state’s three major investor owned utilities. These programs comprised the utilities’ Priority Review Projects and include new rate structures, inventive programs, and infrastructure deployment. The Commission also issued a proposed decision in Q1 2018 that would approve the utilities’ Standard Review Projects.

    Maryland Working Group Proposes Statewide Electric Vehicle Portfolio

    A working group on electric vehicles, formed as part of Maryland’s grid modernization proceeding, filed its proposal for a statewide electric vehicle portfolio in January 2018. The portfolio would include a variety of new rate structures, incentive programs, and demonstration projects. The Public Service Commission opened a new docket in February 2018 to consider the proposal.

    Missouri Utilities Propose New Electric Vehicle Charging Programs

    Three Missouri utilities proposed new electric vehicle programs during Q1 2018. Ameren proposed an incentive program for third-party charging infrastructure, while Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) and KCP&L Greater Missouri Operations asked the Commission to reconsider cost recovery for their utility-owned charging network and proposed a new rate tariff for these utility-owned charging stations.

    Pennsylvania Regulators Issue Electric Vehicle Charging Policy Statement

    In March 2018, the Pennsylvania Public Utilities Commission voted to advance a policy statement clarifying that third-party electric vehicle charging does not constitute a resale of electricity. The Commission emphasized a need for greater clarity and consistency on this issue in the state. The proposed policy statement was published in May 2018 and requires electric distribution companies to expressly address electric vehicle charging in their tariffs.

    TOP ELECTRIC VEHICLE POLICY TRENDS OF Q1 2018

    States Considering Multi-Faceted Electric Vehicle Plans

    States and utilities are putting forward multi-faceted approaches to electric vehicles and related infrastructure. Broad plans were put forward in both Maryland and Hawaii in Q1 2018, which include a variety of rate design strategies, incentive programs, education and outreach efforts, and infrastructure deployment plans. California regulators considered similarly broad plans from the state’s investor-owned utilities in Q1 2018, while legislators in multiple states, including Massachusetts and Vermont, introduced bills addressing electric vehicles and charging infrastructure in a variety of ways.

    Contention Around Utility Ownership of Electric Vehicle Charging Infrastructure

    Utility ownership of electric vehicle charging infrastructure is proving to be one of the most contentious issues related to electric vehicles. Last year, Missouri regulators determined that utilities may not own charging infrastructure in the state – a ruling which is currently being reviewed by the Missouri Court of Appeals. However, Kansas City Power & Light asked the Public Service Commission to reconsider this decision in its latest general rate case and grant cost recovery for its charging network. Proposed legislation in other states would allow utility cost recovery for charging infrastructure, and the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada authorized utilities to own and operate charging infrastructure with regulations approved in May 2018.

    Considering the Role of Demand Charges in Commercial Charging Rates

    As demand charges are frequently included in commercial and industrial customer rate structures, these can often be a barrier to the development of public DC fast charging infrastructure. While this issue remains largely unaddressed across the country, states are beginning to examine the impact of demand charges on fast charger deployment and work with utilities to develop commercial charging rate structures that mitigate the impact of demand charges. The California Public Utilities Commission is addressing this issue as part of Southern California Edison’s proposed standard review projects, and a bill under consideration in Massachusetts directs utilities to file pilot commercial rate tariffs for electric vehicle charging with alternatives to traditional demand charges.

    Piloting Co-Location of Energy Storage and Electric Vehicle Charging Stations

    An emerging area of interest among states and utilities is the pairing of energy storage systems with electric vehicle charging stations in order to manage vehicle charging demand. In the Maryland electric vehicle working group’s proposed portfolio plan, utilities would pursue demonstration projects pairing battery storage with vehicle charging stations. As part of San Diego Gas & Electric’s priority review projects approved in January 2018, the utility plans to install a solar array and energy storage system at one location for shuttle charging.

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    QUICK NEWS, May 29: Artists Reveal The Climate Change Threat; New Energy Slowly Taking The Grid

    Artists Reveal The Climate Change Threat Artists deliver climate-change message that time is running out; They are increasingly sounding the alarm on global warming, through new works and collaborations with scientists

    Helen Stoilas, 28 May 2018 (The Art Newspaper)

    "A sense of urgency is at the heart of a number of climate change-themed exhibitions and projects in the US and Canada. Mel Chin, Douglas Coupland and Edward Burtynsky are among the many artists behind current and forthcoming works that look at environmental issues, and the pictures they paint of the future are stark…[Alexis Rockman has been creating ecologically minded work since the 1990s, often using materials such as soil and plants from the landscapes he depicts…

    …[Indicators: Artists on Climate Change, in upstate New York, features] works by 17 artists including Mark Dion, Maya Lin and Mike Nelson…[Mel Chin’s New York City-wide exhibition All Over the Place includes] Unmoored, an augmented reality piece that presents a flooded vision of the [Times Square] site…[Some artists] take this engagement a step further by working directly with scientists…[For the scientists, artists] can help their research reach a wider public…[The power of art has become more important as the current White House administration] works to dismantle federal regulations on industrial pollution…” click here for more

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    New Energy Slowing Taking The Grid 1st Quarter 2018: Renewables Reach 19.2% Of U.S. Electrical Generation As Non-Hydro Renewables Increase By 13.4%...

    Ken Bossong, May 29, 2018 (SUN DAY Campaign)

    “Renewable energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) accounted for 19.2% of net domestic electrical generation during the first quarter of 2018, according to a SUN DAY Campaign analysis of data recently released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration…[W]ind accounted for 7.8% of total electrical generation during the first three months of this year, exceeding - for the first time - that produced by hydropower (7.6%)…Solar alone (i.e., utility-scale + distributed PV) is now providing almost 2% (i.e., 1.8%) of the nation's electrical production…[E]lectric power output by non-hydro renewable sources increased by 13.4% compared to the first quarter of 2017. Geothermal was up by 1.0%, biomass by 1.7%, wind by 12.9%, and solar (including small-scale distributed PV) by 33.2%...[N]et electrical generation by hydropower dropped by 6.9% so the combination of hydropower and non-hydro renewables experienced a net increase of 4.4% compared to the same time period in 2017…” click here for more

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    Monday, May 28, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: Is The Rise Of Customer Choice A Crisis?

    California Customer Choice; An Evsaluation of Regulatory Framework Options for an Evolving Electricity Market Michael Colvin, Diane I. Fellman, and Raisa Ledesma Rodriguez, with Alison LaBonte and Rohimah Moly, May 1, 2018 (California Public Utilities Commission)

    Abstract

    External changes driven by an uptake of distributed energy resources, the growth of non-utility load serving entities, and policy measures taken to mitigate climate change have provided customers more options to choose how and from whom they obtain electric services. While these changes create greater choices for customers, they also pose regulatory challenges.

    Following a May 19, 2017 en banc hearing with the California Energy Commission on customer choice, the CPUC formed the California Customer Choice Project. Its mission is to aid the CPUC in making strategic, timely and informed decisions regarding California’s current electricity market transformation. Specifically, the California Customer Choice Project has been charged with analyzing a fundamental question:

    How does the increased customer choice occurring in the electric sector impact California’s ability to achieve its policy objectives of affordability, decarbonization, and reliability?

    Recognizing that these policy objectives are interwoven with one another and that there is no simple answer or obvious path, the Project approached the question by:

    1. Reviewing California’s history with customer choice;

    2. Identifying California’s energy policy goals through Core Principles and Key Questions;

    3. Defining customer choice;

    4. Evaluating representative national and global regulatory models that enable high penetration of customer choice: New York, Illinois, Texas and Great Britain; and

    5. Leveraging lessons learned from California’s history and other markets to make observations and findings on what is necessary to achieve the state’s energy policy goals.

    This draft paper sets the stage for a conversation among California energy policy decision makers and stakeholders about the need to develop a plan to address the current shift in the evolving electricity market and the next steps in managing this transition. The paper provides a holistic and strategically agnostic view of the interdependent attributes related to customer choice.

    Part I is an Introduction containing the problem statement and an overview of the key issues. Part II discusses the current status of California. Part III presents the Core Principles of affordability, decarbonization and reliability along with the Key Questions for considering customer choice. This section defines what is choice and what it is not. Part IV evaluates New York, Illinois, Texas and Great Britain’s regulatory frameworks and identifies findings for further consideration. Part V draws from the analysis of California’s history and other markets to make observations and identify considerations for California decision makers. The appendices following the paper provide more detailed background information and analysis.

    Notably, Appendix I provides a detailed history of competition and customer choice in California. The state was the first electricity market in the nation to consider full retail choice as well as the first to abandon the effort. California’s flawed plan offered lessons for other jurisdictions contemplating retail competition and market-based approaches to deliver energy services. Today, this history and these other markets provide insights based on two decades of experience to inform the assessment of California’s current electricity market and to develop a pathway forward. The paper presents findings from the different electricity markets to draw upon when deliberating policy and regulatory changes…

    Part V: Observations & Future Considerations

    California needs a clear long-term vision for its regulatory framework to address the state’s system requirements and policy goals beyond short-term fixes to stabilize immediate issues. The purpose of the paper is to serve as a catalyst to acknowledge vulnerabilities and to address them thoughtfully and strategically. New rules will need to be formulated by the CPUC under current law and--in certain instances—legislative guidance may be necessary. This paper serves as a call to action for the Legislature, our agency partners, the CAISO, stakeholders and communities to join in the conversation and develop a plan to protect against another crisis.

    Affordability: Customers Need Information, Protection and Guaranteed Service Affordability: Customers Need Information, Protection and Guaranteed Service

    Customer engagement and price transparency are critical to keep rates low in competitive markets. In New York and Great Britain, low customer engagement in switching retail suppliers has led to significant market inefficiencies and higher costs for inactive consumers.

    Educational campaigns for consumers and regularly updated data on prices are needed to support customer engagement and market transparency. California’s IOUs have a statewide energy education platform focused on customer engagement with demand-side management programs and bill reduction opportunities, and it has other resources to help customers understand the cost of rooftop solar energy. The state provides cost calculators on websites for rooftop solar, including GoSolarCalifornia.com.

    New York, Texas, and Great Britain, like California, rely on a state-focused independent system operator. However, Illinois benefits from its participation in MISO, a multi-state power market. Illinois attributes the broader grid and being part of MISO to its ability to balance its goals to increase renewable penetration and keep rates affordable.

    It is unclear if California could have similar wholesale price benefits like Illinois because it utilizes a state system operator rather than a regional transmission operator. As part of implementing SB 350, California is considering how its electric grid operations could be expanded on a regional basis across the western states. The benefits and implications of regionalization on California bill affordability are still under consideration.

    Texas does not have a uniform subsidy for low-income customers. The other markets examined in this paper administer low-income programs either through retail suppliers (Great Britain), utility programs (New York), or discounted distribution rates (Illinois).

    It is critical that low-income programs continue with expanded customer choice offerings. California offers up to 35% discount on rates to residential customers through the CARE program, and other discounts such as the FERA program. California also offers unique programs for low-income customers such as the Energy Savings Assistance Program. Recently, California has included more efforts specifically toward “disadvantaged communities”, to ensure that the benefits of transportation electrification and distributed energy resources also reach those communities.

    Decarbonization: Statewide Mandates and Programs Drive Carbon Emissions Reductions

    Climate and environmental policies are significant elements of the energy sector transformation across all markets, except Texas. There is some form of renewable portfolio standard in New York and Illinois (and formerly in Great Britain) to support renewable generation, as well as net energy metering or feedin-tariffs to incentivize solar PV. These mechanisms were tailored to meet the needs of current market designs.

    Re-examining current programs to align with changing market structures is critical. There may be an expectation that mandates and incentives advancing technologies in the electric sector will continue indefinitely. With California’s success to date, scrutiny needs to occur regarding whether to continue the programs once cost parity is achieved with conventional forms of service. Greater choice options based on statewide programs create unnecessary costs and, in some cases, stifle innovation by rewarding technologies that have become commercially viable and blocking new market entrants.

    Decarbonization efforts have been less targeted to disadvantaged communities in California, which have fewer CCAs, Direct Access options and distributed energy resources. Whether these benefits are provided by utilities or other entities, California does not intend to allow its more vulnerable populations to be left behind.

    Reliability: Operating the Grid Safely while Ensuring Reliable and Resilient Service Requires Oversight

    Approaches to providing reliable service vary by state. New York, Texas and Great Britain rely on wholesale energy markets and bilateral contracts to meet demand. Independent system operators meet reliability requirements set by the state and regional transmission organizations. New York and Great Britain also run capacity markets, and Texas adds incentives on energy prices to meet target reserve margins. In each of these markets, retail service providers compete for individual or aggregated customers with regulatory oversight.

    Statewide oversight can guarantee that reliability and safety requirements are rigorously met. Regardless of who serves as the primary LSE, the lights must stay on while adhering to high safety standards. As CCAs or other competitive providers become a larger portion of the electricity market, the quandary becomes who is responsible to ensure that these requirements are met for all of California’s citizens.

    If a central buyer has the responsibility to maintain reserves for reliability and the liability for the safe delivery of electric service, there must be adequate compensation. This is not to suggest that the utilities are to be given unfettered ability to invest and recover costs.

    Rather, this precept is based on the state’s need to balance citizen interest in selecting alternate sources of electric service with its responsibility make sure the lights are kept on. If each LSE holds a fragmented responsibility, then sufficient enforcement tools must be in place to ensure everyone complies with the standards.

    Illinois has centralized, state procurement and planning in a multi-state grid that facilitates meeting energy demand and reliability. California has historically had centralized state procurement planning for IOUs, but not on a statewide basis. As LSEs become more diverse, a centralized procurement process may help ensure that reliability requirements are met since all LSEs have the same legal obligations to comply with many of California’s energy policy mandates, including resource adequacy and the RPS.

    Question 1: How do these choice models ensure consumer protections?

    All markets ensure consumer protections through laws and/or regulations that apply to all LSEs marketing to customers.

    Standardized consumer protection materials for market participants interacting with energy customers is necessary for consumers to be well-informed about the options they have available and for market participants to compete on a level playing field. The CPUC currently plays a role in adjudicating customer complaints when IOUs and customers cannot resolve billing disputes; however we do not currently have similar authority over other LSEs.

    Question 2: How do these choice models support development and incorporation of innovations driven by customer demand?

    All markets rely on customer demand to drive innovation. In New York and Great Britain, utilities and DER market participants, or utilities alone, support innovation through ratepayer funded stipends and competitions. In Texas and Illinois, utilities are not viewed as a source for innovation; instead retail service providers are expected to develop and implement new technologies and services.

    California prides itself on its advanced technologies. Over the past two decades, the Commission has established programs to encourage the growth of utility scale renewables, rooftop solar, storage and distributed generation. Going forward, California may consider whether market forces should take the place of mandates and how innovation programs should be funded.

    Question 3: Do these choice models ensure universal electric service?

    All markets have a designated Provider of Last Resort or a process to assign a supplier of last resort. Utilities serve as providers of last resort in New York and Illinois. In Texas and Great Britain, there is a process to assign customers to a retail service provider or multiple suppliers.

    Defining and designating Provider of Last Resort responsibilities is critical if a mass transition of customers becomes necessary. Electricity is a fundamental service and everyone in California should have the right to receive it. In California, the responsibility for the obligation to serve falls on the incumbent utility. In other jurisdictions that have expanded choice, the Provider of Last Resort is an essential function and providers are fully compensated.

    The uncertainties of today’s market will need to be ameliorated by establishing an approach that keeps ratepayers on IOU default service indifferent to load migration while avoiding unfairly imposed costs. What if the CCAs failed to meet their requirements and the IOUs had to quickly fill the gap as the provider of last resort? Are there adequate customers remaining on IOU retail service for fair and equitable allocation of costs? Other jurisdictions have implemented different plans and structures to address this issue, which California decision-makers may wish to explore as more LSEs enter the market and customers leave their incumbent utility.

    Question 4: How do these choice models leverage investment necessary to finance the evolution of the electric grid?

    All markets rely on a mix of ratepayer funding and private investment to finance the evolution of the grid. New York, Texas and Great Britain use market-based approaches to incentivize new generation and energy procurement (as these markets do not have centralized procurement). The Illinois model, which buys down investment risk through centralized energy procurement, is significantly different from all the other states studied.

    Over time California energy policy will require significant new investment in generation. The success of the California RPS program relied largely on the larger utilities to invest in projects by raising low-cost capital in financial markets, and then recovering costs through sales of electricity. This method of financing capital projects may be in jeopardy as more and more customers leave the IOUs. There is a question whether the necessary capital investment needed to decarbonize the electric sector to meet the state’s 2030 goals and beyond can be financed and, if so, delivered on time if the state transitions away from a few larger buyers to many small buyers.

    Question 5: How do these choice models consider the transition of utility obligations?

    Every market has a different approach to the transition of utility obligations. In some markets, utilities are system operators and do not participate in retail financial and commercial activities (reserved for retail service providers). In others, they continue to provide bundled service.

    It is important to provide certainty by clearly defining roles and responsibilities for IOUs and other market participants. While the traditional vertically-integrated utility model no longer exists in California, the IOUs have made strides in transforming themselves to accommodate greater customer choice. California has opened certain portions of the utility business to competition to lower prices and to benefit ratepayers. Going forward, there are essential services that remain properly with the IOUs. Every option for expansion of choice, in California and in other jurisdictions, relies on statewide, regulated utilities to provide the backbone delivery service.

    Illinois and Texas have clearly designated which aspects of the electric bill are generation and transmission and distribution. Re-examining existing cost allocation methodologies for generation and distribution rates may help the state with the transition of utility obligations.

    As part of the implementation of AB 1890, the CPUC separated out the major aspects of the utility electric bill, including generation, transmission and distribution, and public purpose programs as major categories. These general categories are still in place today. It may be appropriate to re-examine if billrelated elements are in the correct category to ensure bill integrity and to promote the level of transparency achieved in other markets.

    Question 6: Do these choice models have competitively neutral rules among market participants?

    In all markets except Texas, some form of community choice aggregation exists, and customers must opt-out from these services. Unlike California, CCAs in New York and Illinois do not compete with utility service because they procure energy through alternative retail energy suppliers.

    Since the CCA procurement model in California is different than the other markets, California may need to develop its own rules to ensure competitive neutrality. The CPUC certifies CCAs plans, and there may be a need for additional monitoring to ensure continued compliance with the certification plans. Since California CCAs are different than in other markets examined, best practices may not directly transfer. It may be appropriate to “stress test” the existing rules to promote competitive neutrality under a high penetration CCA scenario to understand the impacts to both participating and non-participating customers.

    In New York, Texas and Great Britain’s retail markets, regulators have promulgated a standard set of business practices to apply to retail service providers. New York has also set forth business practices for utilities and DER market participants. In Texas, pro forma tariffs ensure that all market participants can access a large market share. Standard tariffs can help ensure competitive neutral rules to access the grid.

    Creating standards and/or guidelines that apply to all market participants selling energy to consumers ensures consistent application of consumer protection rules and business practices. California has established standards and processes for third parties to interconnect to the grid at the transmission and distribution level, as appropriate. There may need to be new standards and guidelines created for the new market participants to ensure a competitively neutral market landscape.

    Question 7: Can customers determine their level of participation and are they informed to participate at their desired level?

    For the most part, customers in all markets can determine their level of participation.177 Individual customers who enroll in a retail service plan may default into standard rates when the initial contract expires. In CCA regions in New York and Illinois, customers are automatically enrolled in their CCA and the chosen retail plan, but customers may opt out and select their own retail service provider.

    Choice policies can cause customers to be unwitting participants. By either creating default enrollment in new programs or designing rate structures that result in cross-subsidization among rate classes, customers who are not realizing the benefits of a particular choice can be subject to its impacts without actually making a choice.

    Currently in California, CCA customers can “opt-out” from becoming a customer during the formation. Since the IOUs typically provide the billing services, the role of the CCA as service provider may be cloaked to the ratepayer. The other markets with community choice aggregation have utilized a similar structure. While there are mandatory customer contacts prior to the transfer from the IOU, many customers may not understand the ramifications.

    All markets have some sort of price comparison website where customers can look at different retail service options available to them.

    A state-administered neutral website, or certification of third-party websites, for customers to compare energy service options builds price transparency and facilitates customer engagement. For California, this information may be based on the Power Content Label178. As described above, there may be additional opportunities to leverage ongoing customer engagement efforts with this type of information.

    Question 8: How do these choice models impact and benefit local communities?

    Community energy models are emerging trends in New York and Great Britain. New York promotes REV as a source of job creation unlike other market models. Meanwhile, Illinois and Texas focus on price benefits for their customers.

    CCAs have argued that having local control will yield lower rates, a greener grid, better service, more technological innovation, greater distributed resources such as BTM and more rapid response to customers’ needs. Metrics need to be established to ensure that the statewide goals are met as well.

    Another key element is how the disadvantaged communities will be serviced in the absence of mandated programs with costs allocated across a broad band of customers…

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    QUICK NEWS, May 28: Tempering The Climate Problem With Solutions; The Fight For EVs Is Expanding

    Tempering The Climate Problem With Solutions Dear media: We need more stories about resilience to climate change

    Elizabeth Arnold, May 27, 2018 (LA Times)

    “…[A] familiar narrative, about communities facing sea level rise and coastal erosion, fits into a larger pattern of climate change coverage. The threats posed to humans, polar bears and entire ecosystems are recounted on a daily basis, leading to what researchers call a ‘hope gap’…[There is still no dedicated agency or funding at the federal level to address climate-induced relocation. And while the public is slowly accepting the reality of warming, even those identified as the most alarmed say they don't really know what todo about it.] With little offered in the way of action or response, people eventually tune out…

    A surprising number of scholars are studying how the public responds to climate news….[Media and Climate Change Observatory founder Max Boykoff, recently] called attention to a ‘trend of daily fear, misery and doom’ that leaves audiences feeling powerless…This doesn't mean we should stop reporting the terrifying realities. But it does mean we need to start telling stories about effective responses…” click here for more

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    The Fight For EVs Is Expanding The 50 States of Electric Vehicles Report Released by NCCETC

    May 15, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    “…42 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q1 2018…with the greatest number of actions relating to electric vehicle fees, charging station deployment and electric vehicle studies…[NCCETC’s The 50 States of Electric Vehicles for Q1 2018 found four apparent or emerging EV policy trends:] (1) states considering multi-faceted electric vehicle plans, (2) contention around utility ownership of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, (3) examining the role of demand charges in vehicle charging rates, and (4) piloting the co-location of energy storage systems with electric vehicle charging infrastructure…A total of 275 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q1 2018 – more than were taken in the entirety of 2017 (227 actions). New York, New Jersey and Hawaii took the greatest number of actions…followed by Massachusetts, Washington and Minnesota…” click here for more

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    Saturday, May 26, 2018

    Solar For Everybody Else

    Community solar gives those of us without solar-suitable roofs the chance to buy in. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

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    What Ocean Wind Really Means

    This guy calls it “pretty cool stuff.” Hear why.From NatioonalSierraClub via YouTube

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    The Real Jurassic Park

    This is about a time when it rained for two million years and the dinosaurs took over.From PBS Eons via YouTube

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    Friday, May 25, 2018

    The World Takes Climate Change To Court

    Climate Change Warriors’ Latest Weapon of Choice Is Litigation

    Jeremy Hodges, Lauren Leatherby and Kartikay Mehrotra, May 24, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “In the global fight against climate change, one tool is proving increasingly popular: litigation…From California to the Philippines, activists, governments and concerned citizens are suing the biggest polluters and national governments over the effects of climate change at a break-neck pace…[Our Children’s Trust, a legal challenge center in the U.S.,] is involved in climate change litigation across 13 countries, including the U.S., Pakistan and Uganda…The wave of activity is about channeling the fervor of a social movement to drive change via the legal system. The arguments vary…In Europe, it’s largely governments being hammered over pollution-reduction plans that fall short of EU targets…

    [Increasingly,] cases are using human rights arguments, in which plaintiffs make the case that climate change has threatened or taken away populations’ basic rights to shelter, health, food, water and even life. From Ugandan children who sued their government for failing to protect them from climate change to hundreds of elderly Swiss women who sued the country for failure to shield them from climate change’s effects, human rights cases are a small but growing approach to this type of litigation…The strategy has paid off particularly well in the U.K. and Germany, where suits have forced significant government policy changes…” click here for more

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    Corporate New Energy Push Now In 75 Countries

    Corporate Sourcing of Renewables Growing, Taking Place in 75 Countries; IRENA study shows world market for corporate sourcing of renewable electricity reached 465 terawatt hours in 2017 – enough to power a country the size of France

    24 May 2018 (International Renewable Energy Agency)

    “Companies in 75 countries actively sourced 465 terawatt hours (TWh) of renewable energy in 2017, an amount close to the overall electricity demand of France…[W]ith the continued decline in the costs of renewables, corporate demand will continue to increase as companies seek to reduce electricity bills, hedge against future price spikes and address sustainability concerns…[According to a new study from IRENA,] renewable energy sourcing by private sector companies, made possible with the right policy framework in place, can be a key factor in the world’s pursuit of a sustainable energy transformation in line with the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement…[E]nvironmental and sustainability concerns, social responsibility and reputation management and economic and financial objectives are the three primary drivers of corporate sourcing…” click here for more

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    Thursday, May 24, 2018

    Climate Change Goes To Court

    Climate Change Warriors’ Latest Weapon of Choice Is Litigation

    Jeremy Hodges, Lauren Leatherby and Kartikay Mehrotra, May 24, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “…[In the fight against climate change, one tool is proving increasingly popular: litigation…The wave of activity is about channeling the fervor of a social movement to drive change via the legal system. The arguments vary…In the U.S., home to more cases than anywhere else in the world, many recent suits involve plaintiffs seeking to protect climate-change rules passed under former President Barack Obama…California is quickly becoming ground zero for climate cases in the U.S., where eight cities and counties are suing oil companies to recover the cost of infrastructure needed to protect against rising sea levels…The climate lawsuits aren’t all about cleaning up the environment. Last year, 27 percent of U.S. climate-related cases—largely those brought by companies—opposed protections…[For some of those, the] Trump administration has written in support…” click here for more

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    New Energy Now Beats The Market

    The Economics of Clean Energy Portfolios

    May 21, 2018 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    The US power system is one of the largest, most complicated, and most expensive machines in the world, but the grid’s core infrastructure is old and is not aging gracefully…[A]bout half of the existing thermal generator fleet (i.e., coal-, nuclear-, and gas-fired power plants) is likely to retire by 2030, leading to a gap in capacity that will need to be addressed with new investment…US electricity generators may be committing their customers and investors to as much as $1 trillion in future investment and fuel costs through 2030 as they rush to build new gas-fired power plants. Yet advances in renewable energy and distributed energy resources (DERs) offer lower rates and emissions-free energy while delivering all the grid reliability services that new power plants can…

    [A new RMI analysis] finds that, because of recent innovation and rapid cost declines in renewable energy and DER technologies, clean energy portfolios can often be procured at significant net cost savings, with lower risk and zero carbon and air emissions, compared to building a new gas plant. More dramatically, the new-build costs of clean energy portfolios are falling quickly, and likely to beat just the operating costs of efficient gas-fired power plants within the next two decades—a sobering risk for investors and customers in a market with over $100 billion of already announced investment in new gas-fired power plants…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, May 23, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Hawaii Leads New Energy Again With Solar Breakthrough

    One small step for Hawaii solar, one leap toward 100% renewables; After Hawaii regulators approved two new solar tariffs last month, solar customers in the state must now decide whether to buy, lease or pass on battery storage.

    Herman K. Trabish, November 9, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Hawaii continues to point the way to the New Energy future. It just opened a proceeding which will shift the power system's focus from utility profits to electricity customers' demands.

    A new Smart Export solar tariff ordered by Hawaii’s regulators is so popular that both distributed energy resource (DER) advocates and Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) say it was their idea. They are probably both right because the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) used ideas from nine months of workshop negotiations to shape the final Decision and Order. The ruling ends the Technical Track in Hawaii’s groundbreaking DER proceeding (Docket 2014-0192). It is, the parties agree, the logical next step toward Hawaii’s 100% renewables by 2045 goal. Smart Export is one of two new interim tariffs in the order. It and the Customer Grid Supply-plus (CGS+) tariffs will replace tariffs created in the HPUC’s landmark 2015 decision ending retail rate net energy metering (NEM).

    Each tariff has its own advantage and provides different incentives on whether to pair storage with residential solar systems. With Smart Export, owners of solar-plus-storage systems will be able to maximize their use of stored solar to offset their nighttime consumption of electricity priced at Hawaii's high retail rate. They will also earn some below-retail compensation for generation sent to the HECO grid outside peak solar generation hours. With CGS+, owners of solar-only systems will earn modest compensation for any excess generation they send to the grid, whenever the sun is shining. Solar-plus-storage system owners will be able to choose how much electricity to send to the grid and how much to store to offset the retail rate at night. HPUC's order sends policymakers and stakeholders into the docket’s Market Track. In it, they will grapple with even more complicated rate design and DER valuation questions to construct a final NEM successor tariff... click here for more

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