NewEnergyNews: 03/01/2019 - 04/01/2019


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.


  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: 'Not your grandma's DER': Distributed resources modernize, prove value to grid
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: As California leads way with TOU rates, some call for simpler solutions

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Grid Going Digital
  • QUICK NEWS, March 19: Climate Change On The Campaign Trail; A Year Of Distributed Solar Growth

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Smart Cities Adding New Energy
  • QUICK NEWS, March 18: What Students Striking About Climate Change Want; Clean Versus Renewable In The New Energy Transition

  • Weekend Video: Professor Mark Jacobson On The Green New Deal
  • Weekend Video: The Logic That Started The Trouble
  • Weekend Video: It’s Very Real

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global Youth March Demands Climate Response
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Targets Space Solar By 2050
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Big Numbers For Global New Energy
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    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




      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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  • The Leverage In The Green New Deal
  • U.S. Doubled New Energy In A Decade
  • New Energy Cuts Customer Electricity Bills

    Thursday, March 21, 2019

    The Leverage In The Green New Deal

    How the Green New Deal Is Forcing Politicians to Finally Address Climate Change

    Justin Worland, March 21, 2019 (Time Magazine)

    “…[E]nvironmental activists are being welcomed by Democratic leaders on Capitol Hill and, after years of quiet on climate change, leaders on both sides of the aisle are acknowledging the issue, despite White House denial. The] shift has been a long time coming. Scientists have understood for decades that climate change is happening and that humans are causing it…[and] more than 70% of Americans now understand that…Into this new political reality came the Green New Deal–equal parts policy proposal and battle cry…The response was mixed…But in D.C., where climate has long been relegated to third-tier status, lawmakers could no longer avoid the issue…Within weeks of the proposal’s release, Democrats competed to burnish their green credentials…

    Nearly every Democratic candidate for the 2020 presidential nomination has endorsed the Green New Deal. Washington Governor Jay Inslee entered the race on a climate-themed campaign–something unthinkable just a few years ago…[Behind the scenes, Republicans are grasping] for a solution…Love the Green New Deal or hate it, the conversation it has unleashed represents a shift in the discussion surrounding climate policy…[It may have created] an opportunity to push real legislation…A carbon tax–once anathema to the right–is an unlikely beneficiary…[M]ajor oil-and-gas companies would rather see a conservative approach [like a carbon tax] than a paradigm-shifting program like the Green New Deal…[It would be easy to dismiss] climate activists as noisy but dreamy, idealists…[But social movements, from civil rights to gay rights, look] naïve until they come to look like instigators…” click here for more

    U.S. Doubled New Energy In A Decade

    U.S. renewable electricity generation has doubled since 2008

    Cara Marcy, March 19, 2019 (Energy Information Administration)

    "Renewable generation provided a new record of 742 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity in 2018, nearly double the 382 million MWh produced in 2008. Renewables provided 17.6% of electricity generation in the United States in 2018…Nearly 90% of the increase in U.S. renewable electricity between 2008 and 2018 came from wind and solar generation. Wind generation rose from 55 million MWh in 2008 to 275 million MWh in 2018 (6.5% of total electricity generation)…U.S. solar generation has increased from 2 million MWh in 2008 to 96 million MWh in 2018. Solar generation accounted for 2.3% of electricity generation in 2018…In 2018, 69% of solar generation, or 67 million MWh, was utility-scale solar.

    Increases in U.S. wind and solar generation are driven largely by capacity additions. In 2008, the United States had 25 gigawatts (GW) of wind generating capacity. By the end of 2018, 94 GW of wind generating capacity was operating on the electric grid…[I]nstalled solar capacity grew from an estimated less than 1 GW in 2008 to 51 GW in 2018. In 2018, 1.8 GW of this solar capacity was solar thermal, 30 GW was utility-scale solar photovoltaics (PV), and the remaining 20 GW was small-scale solar PV…Growth in renewable technologies in the United States, particularly in wind and solar, has been driven by federal and state policies and declining costs…As more wind and solar projects have come online, economies of scale have led to more efficient project development and financing mechanisms, which has led to continued cost declines…” click here for more

    New Energy Cuts Customer Electricity Bills

    Renewable energy reduces the highest electric rates in the nation

    Kelley Christensen, March 14, 2019 (Phys.Org)

    “…As renewable energy technologies and access to distributed generation like residential solar panels improve, consumer costs for electricity decrease. Making electricity for yourself with solar has become more affordable than traditional electricity fuel sources like coal…[but, while utility fuel mixes are slowly shifting away from fossil fuels toward renewable sources, U.S. utilities broadly] continue a relationship with fossil fuels that is detrimental to their customers [according to new research]…[The study found that 70% of U.S. coal plants run at a higher cost than New Energy and all coal plants will run at a higher cost] by 2030…

    …[In Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, residential customers who purchase distributed solar] could see savings of approximately 7 cents per kilowatt hour. Assuming the average residential consumer uses 600 kilowatt hours of electricity monthly, this is a savings of $42 per utility bill…Downstate, the average savings per utility bill under the researchers' model is approximately $30 monthly…[A]s this study demonstrates, if utilities allow customers to generate their own power in addition to the power they consume from the grid, residential customers would see a substantial decrease in their electric rate…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 20, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: 'Not your grandma's DER': Distributed resources modernize, prove value to grid

    'Not your grandma's DER': Distributed resources modernize, prove value to grid; New, smart DER can go beyond customer benefits to help stabilize utility systems.

    Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 27, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Innovation has not stopped and regulation is falling farther behind as efforts to define locational value flounder.

    Proof is emerging that distributed energy resources (DER) can deliver services to the power system in addition to the customers who buy and install them. DER advocates say the resources can respond quickly to the grid's need to ramp generation up or down, store over-generation and control system frequency changes and local voltage fluctuations. Pilots are in place across the country to prove DER can fulfill these promises, and interest from utilities and system operators, driven by market factors and policy mandates, is growing fast. "DER is not just rooftop solar anymore, it's also storage, demand response and smart inverters, and it is smarter and costs less. This is not your grandma's DER," said Ric O'Connell, executive director of GridLab and co-author of a new paper on how DER can be used to meet grid needs. According to the paper from GridLab and GridWorks, one word explains the rising interest in DER as grid services: flexibility.

    The evolving system's variable demand and supply, and two-way power flows create an unprecedented need for the fast on-off flexibility that DER, and especially battery energy storage, offer. "Storage is changing the DER landscape," the paper reports. Commercial-industrial customers are using it to shift their usage, cut demand charges or participate in demand response (DR) programs. Residential customers are pairing storage with solar to reduce their usage when rates make electricity more expensive. The grid's use of DER falls into three broad categories. First, DER can be a non-wires solution (NWS) that replaces a more costly build or upgrade of transmission and distribution (T&D) system infrastructure. Second, customer-sited DER across a distribution system can meet system-wide frequency or ramping needs. Third, distributed generation (DG) of any kind can be paired with storage to maintain a normal production curve on systems with high renewables penetrations, despite disruptions like clouds and demand spikes… click here for more

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: As California leads way with TOU rates, some call for simpler solutions

    As California leads way with TOU rates, some call for simpler solutions; The state continues its nearly 20-year effort to get to residential time varying rates, but hurdles remain.

    Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 20, 2018 (Utlity Dive)

    Editor’s note: The big shift is now underway. It will take a year or two to see how it works out.

    California will lead by example again as its time-of-use (TOU) rates go into effect in 2019 and 2020, but it remains unclear whether the rates are workable for a larger population of residential electricity customers. Power systems are evolving rapidly, requiring the standard flat per-kWh rates residential customers had long paid for electricity to change. California’s utilities have been piloting TOU rates to meet increased costs to provide power, caused by load reduction from the surge in energy efficiency and customer-owned generation, like rooftop solar. By 2020, California's three major investor-owned utilities (IOUs) will begin rolling out the first U.S. system-wide default TOU rates to their 22.5 million residential customers.

    Some say TOU rates should be a lot simpler than those being proposed by California's IOUs and that they are not doing enough to educate customers. "Peak period demand drives the majority of system investments and can cause system overloads," Sara Baldwin Auck, Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) regulatory program director, told Utility Dive. "If customers respond to the price signals, utilities can avoid building and running expensive natural gas peaker plants that add to system costs and to greenhouse gas emissions. That is California's primary motivation." Utilities and regulators also see TOU rates as a way to manage the impacts of distributed energy resources (DER). Where overgeneration of distributed renewables is creating challenges for grid operators, TOU rates may give DER owners a reason to use battery energy storage or load control technologies to shift their electricity usage away from peak demand periods… click here for more


    Tuesday, March 19, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Grid Going Digital

    Building The 21ST Century Digital Grid

    March 1, 2019 (Zpryme and ABB)

    After a decade of investing in grid modernization, utilities are more efficient, innovative, sustainable, and customer focused than at any time in their history. Modernization through the deployment of sensors and smart grid technology has laid the foundation for a digital transformation of the power industry. This digital conversion is creating a new business model for utilities, allowing them to become flexible service operators capable of managing an increasingly complex grid. However, to secure long-term financial success, additional investment in communication networks, grid automation, IoT devices, distributed energy integration, and artificial intelligence (AI) is needed to fully optimize the increasingly “intelligent” grid.

    A digital utility will be transformed from a 20th century analog business to an enterprise that can communicate, monitor, compute, and control grid and customer operations with real-time intelligence and situational awareness. This computer-based modernization will allow for automation to enhance grid control and stability that improves decision-making, safety, security, sustainability, and reliability. A digital utility will be customer-centric, resilient, automated, and hyperconnected with collaboration between AI and human processes. Digital utilities will tackle the business challenges of aging infrastructure, a regulatory system in flux, distributed energy resources, and the convergence of information technology and operations technology (IT/OT).

    How should the industry track the progress utilities have made toward digital transformation? What are the steps utilities should take to modernize? In this report we present a Digital Maturity Curve and evaluate how prepared the industry is to move up this curve.

    Zpryme surveyed 150 utility industry professionals to understand their perspectives on digitization, digitalization, and enterprise integration. This report explores the stages involved in becoming a digital utility and the progress the industry is making toward building the digital grid. Understanding how the broad spectrum of digital technologies will impact utility business applications (business strategy, grid operations, IT and communications, and customer service) and transform the grid is essential for the industry’s long-term viability.


    • Utility type: IOU (38%), municipal (30%), cooperative (21%), and district/federal (10%)

    • Services provided: electric (95%), gas (33%), water (25%), wastewater (15%), and other (8%)

    • Organization headquarters: Midwest (24%), Southwest (17%), Southeast (14%), international (14%), Northwest (13%), Northeast (10%), and Mountain (9%)

    • Organization annual revenue: more than $1B (37%), $100M to $500M (24%), more than $100M (22%), and $500M to $1B (17%)

    • Primary role within organization: engineering (37%), operations (18%), IT (16%), executive (15%), customer service (10%), and finance (4%)

    • Level of responsibility: professional staff (40%), manager (31%), executive (14%), director (11%), administrative (2%), and other (1%)

    Key Findings

    • 91% of respondents report that embracing digital technology is crucial to the future success of their utilities.

    • Only 23% of utilities have reached a level of digital maturity where they are making capital expenditure decisions based on predictive analytics.

    • In the next 3 years, 76% of utilities expect to be able to align digital strategy with regulatory policy and fill key digital roles in their enterprise.

    The Digital Maturity Curve

    The digital maturity curve is a vision and framework for how utilities can effectively modernize to meet regulatory and business challenges. There are three major stages on the path to becoming a digital utility: digitization, digitalization, and enterprise integration. Each of these stages has three steps that help utilities define and understand the technology, systems, people, and processes that can be deployed to effectively modernize.

    Throughout this paper and our corresponding interactive infographic on the maturity curve, we will delineate the criteria found at each step and the stage as a whole. Furthermore, through survey data we will show the progress the industry is currently making toward modernization. The Digital Maturity Curve will help power industry professionals create a common vision for progress on the journey. An individual utility can use the curve to self-assess what priorities it wants to focus on to achieve the right level of maturity to meet business objectives, regulatory requirements, and customer expectations.

    For utilities to measure the progress they are making from step to step as they move through the three stages, we have established four core business areas that enterprises should focus on. At each step there will be certain defined characteristics, technologies, processes, and capabilities that would indicate a utility has reached this step. Utilities can measure their progress in each of these four core business areas to track their progress up the digital maturity curve.


    The Status of Digitization at Utilities

    The majority of utilities will be in the digitization stage for at least the next three to five years; however, the industry has made significant progress in the past decade (Figure 6). As a result of the 2004 implementation of the North American Electric Reliability Corporation Critical Infrastructure Protection (NERC-CIP) standard, cybersecurity has been a primary focus for utilities in their modernization efforts. It is not surprising that utilities have focused so heavily on modernizing their cybersecurity as they have digitized. No enterprise wants to be responsible for an operational systems breach that could create outages, damage equipment, or cause a national security crisis. The potential for negative national media attention caused by a data breach ensures that utilities are doubly incentivized to focus on cybersecurity.

    DERs have been a major focus in the industry over the past couple of years, so the lack of progress in digital integration is surprising; however, the regional variance in rooftop solar goes a long way in explaining why the majority of utilities are planning to tackle this challenge over the next decade (Figure 8). To become more responsive to customer demands for more control over their energy choice, utilities will need to focus on the deployment of software to better manage demand response (DR), electric vehicles (EVs), and DERs.

    We expect that demand response management systems (DRM) and distributed energy management systems (DERMs) will be major areas of concentration for utilities as they look to modernize to meet customer demand for sustainable energy. In addition to investments in asset modernization and software, utilities need to identify key management roles and digitize workforce management. Putting the right digital team in place can ensure that a roadmap is properly developed to solve business challenges and help spark a culture of innovation.


    Enterprise Integration

    After utilities have deployed sensors, software, and integrated communications networks throughout the grid, they will begin to experience the true benefits of digital maturity. Enterprise Integration is centered around optimizing digital processes and strategies to solve business challenges (Figure 9). An enterprise-wide digital strategy has been implemented, and the management at a utility has been flattened and empowered to make data-driven decisions. A culture of innovation and collaboration is pervasive. AI and analytics are used to optimize the use of assets between and across supply chain participants. This leads to self-healing at the grid level. Predictive and prescriptive analytics are used in CAPEX and OPEX decision-making for just-in-time asset management. Automated AI and machine learning connect all IT systems to operational and customer-facing systems, creating a 360-degree view of the customer that optimizes delivery, digital communication, and customer experience.

    No utilities have reached the final stage of digital maturity, and even the most ambitious recognize that they are three to five years away from reaching this level of sophistication (Figure 10). However, some utilities are trying to lay the foundation for the transition through people and processes while investments in technologies play catch up. Organizational silos have been a hallmark of utilities for the past 70 years, but as utilities are increasingly focused on long-term financial stability, environmental stewardship, and positive societal impacts (“triple bottom line”), the need to break down silos is more imperative. From a technology perspective, this means using data, software, and AI to prescriptively solve business challenges.

    Moving into a Digital Future

    Becoming a digital utility will not be cheap (Figure 11), and after spending billions of dollars in the past decade on grid modernization, it is reasonable to question whether utilities have the capacity to modernize as quickly as they would like. But as more utilities deploy pilots of intelligent systems, AI, and communication networks, the ROI should become more apparent.

    Utilities must work with policymakers and regulators to ensure that they can earn a rate of return on future digital technology investments. Developing this new business model will require a culture of innovation. Utilities must simultaneously hire digitally minded professionals and retain experienced talent that knows how to operate an increasingly complex grid. As utilities look to the digital future, there is a growing recognition that they must go beyond just managing the flow of electrons and focus on engaging with increasingly savvy and demanding customers. Capturing data from a variety of sources and analyzing it will allow utilities to create a 360-degree view of each customer. Such focus on the customer will permeate the culture of the future digital utility. Analytics-driven outcomes at the grid edge will focus on how to both integrate DERs and maintain the reliable power that customers demand (Figure 12).

    A customer-centric utility with a digital infrastructure will be more reliable, even as the grid becomes more complex. Being operationally nimble in a time that requires a diversification beyond commodity power delivery toward a value-added services business model will serve utilities well as they look to ensure long-term financial success (Figure 13).

    At the operational level, field crews are seamlessly connected to the assets, ensuring efficient and safe workers. From a financial perspective, a utility will be able to accurately measure asset health and optimize CAPEX decisions instead of replacing a transmission substation once every 30 years. At the customer level, usage data can be combined with an interest in renewable energy to create customized electricity plans designed to delight and engage the user. Beyond all the individual examples, at its core, a digital utility is an organization that is better able to make intelligent decisions to drive improved outcomes across the enterprise


    1. Hire digitally minded people and create a digital team that can help train existing staff and build a culture of innovation.

    2. Develop a coordinated strategic road map that is centered on how moving up the digital maturity curve will lead to improved decision-making processes.

    3. Use digitization and digitalization to take a portfolio-based approach to solving business challenges. This will allow a utility to invest in one or more use cases with the potential for strong ROI over a shorter period of time, and one or two use cases that are more strategic and require a longer time frame to see a return.

    4. Address the data requirements up front internally and with key strategic partners.

    5. Develop a communication plan that emphasizes the importance of digital transformation to employees, customers, policymakers, vendor partners, and regulators

    QUICK NEWS, March 19: Climate Change On The Campaign Trail; A Year Of Distributed Solar Growth

    Climate Change On The Campaign Trail America Cares About Climate Change Again; For the first time in years, a broad spectrum of climate advocates is playing offense.

    Robinson Meyer, March 19, 2019 (The Atlantic)

    “…[T]he loose alliance of politicians, activists, and organizations concerned about climate change is mobilizing…[and] deploying a new set of strategies…[They have not yet agreed] on an ideal federal policy or even how to talk about the problem. They do not always coordinate or communicate with one another…[and it is] too early to say whether they will result in the kind of national legislative victories that have eluded the movement…[but they are] playing offense…[Washington State Governor Jay Inslee’s newly announced presidential run is based] entirely on his decades-long climate focus…[Michael Bloomberg is not running but will fund a new campaign called Beyond Carbon for the Sierra Club…

    …[At the state level, New Mexico will join California, Hawaii, and the District of Columbia with its] goal for 100 percent carbon-free electricity…Twelve more Democratic governors have promised to mandate the same 100 percent target…[On March 15, there was] a worldwide student strike for climate action. The Sunrise Movement, a youth-led group that brought national attention to the Green New Deal in November, plans to hold 100 town-hall meetings in support of the plan across the country…[But the views of the country’s most powerful Republican] seem extremely unlikely to change…[but] environmental groups and their allies are feeling whiplash at how far the conversation has come…” click here for more

    A Year Of Distributed Solar Growth The State(s) of Distributed Solar — 2018 Update

    Marie Donahue, 12 Mar 2019 (Institute for Local Self-Reliance)

    “…[The expansion of New Energy in 2018] complements a growing number of states, utilities, and cities that have set ambitious goals to transition to 100 percent renewable and carbon-free power generation…New solar photovoltaic capacity, including from small-scale distributed solar systems (such as arrays on the rooftop of a home or business), shared community solar gardens, as well as larger utility-scale systems, has played a significant role in the overall transition…A growing number of states are making investments in solar a priority…[These investments help] build wealth locally and allow individuals and communities to take greater ownership over their energy future…

    As of 2018, 11 states now claim more than 1000 megawatts of total solar capacity, and 37 have more than 100 megawatts (states shown in yellow, orange, and red)…[Of the 11 states, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and New York] have shares of distributed generation greater than 50 percent…Burgeoning distributed solar markets in Midwestern states like Ohio and Illinois have also benefited from policies that support greater access and more local control of energy infrastructure…Unfortunately, [states that rely more heavily on larger and utility-scale solar systems do not] have policies in place that make it easy to invest in distributed and shared solar systems…[Larger scale solar projects require more capital upfront, more time to construct, and are typically left to investor-owned utilities to operate and manage…” click here for more

    Monday, March 18, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: Smart Cities Adding New Energy

    Renewables (em)power smart cities; Wind and solar energy best enable the goals of people-centered smart cities

    March 6, 2019 (Deloitte Insight)


    Cities small geographical footprint belies their significance. They cover 2 percent of the world’s landmass,1 but account for most of the world’s population, economic activity, and energy use. Here, we focus on the third aspect— energy use—as cities and renewable electricity have, respectively, become the habitat and energy of choice globally. The two are increasingly inseparable. As cities vie to attract growing businesses, talent, and innovation in an increasingly global competition, solar and wind power have become key for many in achieving their smart city goals.

    This report discusses how renewables can empower smart cities. We will start by exploring the urbanization and electrification trends that have turned cities and the grid into leading platforms for human activity. Technology can help make these platforms smarter by providing actionable data, but technology’s greatest value lies in its people-centered deployment—that is, to the benefit of all citizens/customers. The goals of a people-centered smart city are economic growth, sustainability, and quality of life, while the goals of a utility are to provide reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy. Solar and wind power are the linchpins to aligning and achieving both sets of goals. To better describe cities that recognize this and harness wind and solar energy, we developed the concept of smart renewable cities (SRCs). SRCs are already powered by solar and wind and envision the further deployment of these sources as integral to their smart city plans.

    We will discuss each of the aforementioned smart city goals from an SRC perspective, with an emphasis on utilities’ role. First, SRCs can foster economic growth because renewables are competitive with conventional sources and conducive to job creation and innovation. Second, SRCs can promote sustainability through renewable-powered buildings and electric mobility. Third, SRCs tend to offer a higher quality of life by being inclusive, healthier, and empowering places to live. Finally, we will show how SRCs implement their initiatives through an ecosystem of stakeholders, chief among which are utilities.

    The intersecting platforms of cities and utilities…From data-driven insights to people-focused strategies…

    Renewables: The linchpin of smart city and utility goals

    Smart cities and utilities share an interest in deploying two energy sources that align with their goals: solar and wind. Utilities are embracing wind and solar power as they reach price and performance parity with conventional energy sources across the world, help to cost-effectively balance the grid, and become more valuable assets thanks to increasingly costeffective storage and other new technologies (see Global renewable energy trends).4 These renewable energy sources now come closest to meeting the growing demand for reliable, affordable, and environmentally responsible energy sources that utilities seek to provide. As a result, renewables have become the preferred energy sources for key consumers such as cities. Another key consumer that is valuable to both cities and utilities is corporations, which procured record amounts of renewables in 2018.5 Unlike most energy sources, wind and especially solar power can be deployed in and by the city itself. Finally, solar and wind power are citizen/ customer-centered energy sources because many residents and businesses are demanding these renewables and are increasingly empowered to deploy them on their own properties and buildings, or purchase shares of solar and wind projects or power through community energy initiatives.

    The Biggest, Purest, and Newest smart renewable cities

    SRCs recognize that solar and wind resources play a key role in powering smart city plans. Deloitte developed the SRC framework to identify and classify cities globally that are deploying solar and/or wind power in connection with their smart city plans. SRCs are the vanguard, charting a course that all smart cities are expected to pursue as they advance toward peoplecentered goals. With solar and wind already a part of their energy mix, and a pipeline for more, SRCs are strategically positioned to leverage their shared interest in renewables with utilities to more quickly achieve these goals. Deloitte’s SRC model considers the Biggest, Purest, and Newest SRCs to showcase the range of initiatives that are being implemented or considered, and the range of roles that utilities can play in initiating, shaping, or participating in them in conjunction with other service and technology providers (figure 2). Smart city plans are typically associated with the Biggest cities, which tend to be replete with legacy infrastructure and complexity, and face some of the greatest challenges and opportunities across all areas. Meanwhile, the Purest cities show what initiatives can bring cities closest to being entirely powered by solar and wind. Finally, the Newest greenfield projects demonstrate what a fully intentional and unhindered deployment of SRC initiatives can potentially accomplish at various scales. Looking at the challenges and successes of the cities in each of these categories can help other cities and utilities determine their strategies.

    “The objective of the [Smart City San Diego] collaboration is to improve the region’s energy independence, to empower consumers to use electric vehicles, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and to encourage economic growth.”6

    “Peña Station Next [is] a smart city and community focused on mobility, clean energy, and more.”7

    “ProjectZero is the vision for making Sonderborg ZEROcarbon by 2029, creating sustainable growth and new green jobs along the road—based on ambitious carbon reduction goals and new Bright Green Business solutions. Our vision is a powerful innovation engine for new solutions and business concepts. The innovation engine will show the future use of energy, food, water, and other resources. We strive to create market-driven concepts benefitting citizens and businesses. We do this by developing new solutions and collaborative partnerships based on smart climate solutions.”8

    More specifically, SRCs can be defined as cities with a vision that integrates renewables and smart initiatives. To qualify as an SRC, the Deloitte model requires that cities have a publicly available city plan that presents a vision (see sidebar, “SRC visions integrate renewables and smart city initiatives”). In addition, it must have already deployed solar and/or wind power (at least 1 percent of its city energy mix) and plan to deploy more. If the current solar/wind power share of the energy mix is less than 10 percent, the city must also have a renewable energy or decarbonization target (note that some of these targets may involve renewables other than wind and solar, and in the case of decarbonization targets, nonrenewable energy sources such as nuclear power).

    Figure 2 presents three types of SRCs. First, the Biggest SRCs comprise all the cities that qualify as SRCs and have over a million residents (and many more nonresidents served). The highest share of solar and wind power recorded among the Biggest SRCs is in Adelaide, Australia (42.2 percent of the energy mix). The list of the Purest SRCs picks up where the Biggest SRCs leave off: It includes all the cities, regardless of size, where solar and/or wind account for over 42.2% of the current energy mix. Finally, the Newest SRCs are greenfield smart city projects entirely powered with renewables.

    Applying Deloitte’s 360-degree framework to the Biggest, Purest, and Greenfield SRCs involves identifying how the deployment of renewables contributes to smart city goals (see figure 3). The next three sections will discuss each goal from an SRC perspective, with an emphasis on utilities’ role in SRCs’ initiatives.

    Green economic growth…Sustainable buildings and transportation…Higher quality of life for all…Understanding a smart renewable city’s enabling ecosystem…


    Smart cities have a growing opportunity and imperative to become SRCs. The integration of more solar and wind power into city energy mixes can directly power their goals to be more economically competitive, sustainable, and livable. In fact, these goals cannot be achieved without a significant share of renewables. Utilities play a key role in their successful deployment as electrification powered by both utility-scale and distributed renewable energy spreads in the building and transportation sectors, unlocking new possibilities for customer engagement. The Purest SRCs have already flipped the equation, presenting smart cities as a component of their renewable energy plans, recognizing that renewable power is a starting point for smart cities. It behooves both cities and utilities to be bold in their SRC journeys, as growth is not guaranteed. Cities are competing with one another, while utilities may risk losing business and other opportunities to nontraditional electricity providers. The first cities and utilities to achieve 100 percent renewables may reap the most reward as they attract a growing number of likeminded stakeholders.

    QUICK NEWS, March 18: What Students Striking About Climate Change Want; Clean Versus Renewable In The New Energy Transition

    What Students Striking About Climate Change Want Global Climate Strike: Students around the world protest climate inaction; Here's why these young climate activists are striking

    Harmeet Kaur and Madison Park, March 15, 2019 (CNN)

    “Young climate activists are hoping to spark a widespread dialogue about climate change…And they're concerned about the inaction on this front…If human-generated greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the planet will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as soon as 2030…[According to a 2018 report from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), warming] at that temperature would put the planet at a greater risk of events like extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people…

    The common demand among students, although they vary country-to-country, is for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions…[According to the Youth Climate Strike website, U.S. students want] a national embrace of the Green New Deal…an end to fossil fuel infrastructure projects…[and] a national emergency declaration on climate change…

    …[They are also calling for a] mandatory education on climate change and its effects from K-8…a clean water supply…preservation of public lands and wildlife…[and for] all government decisions to be tied to scientific research…” click here for more

    Clean Versus Renewable In The New Energy Transition The devil's in the details: Policy implications of 'clean' vs. 'renewable' energy

    Lee Beck and Jennifer T. Gordon, March 14, 2019 (Utility Dive)

    “…Many of the proposed plans for confronting the climate crisis stress the imperative of decreasing emissions by transitioning to 100% "clean" or "renewable" sources of energy…The terms "clean" and "renewable" are often thought to be interchangeable…[but renewable] energy is derived from sources that can naturally replenish themselves — wind and sun are the two most obvious examples — while clean energy encompasses all zero-carbon energy sources…The clean energy or zero-carbon energy tent is wider; it not only leaves the door open to 100% renewables, but it also includes nuclear energy and the carbon-neutralizing impact of technologies like carbon capture and sequestration (CCS)…

    Hydrogen can be renewable if it is produced through electrolysis using renewables and water, or it can be produced from natural gas, coal, biomass and oil…Critics have pointed to a host of issues with some forms of clean energy; namely, questions abound regarding slow deployment of carbon capture technologies at a commercial level. Additionally, nuclear energy raises a number of concerns, from spent fuel storage and safety to non-proliferation…The differences between clean and renewable energy can have meaningful policy impacts…In the U.S., 38 states as well as the District of Columbia have some type of renewable portfolio standard (RPS)…If the standard includes other sources of clean energy, especially nuclear power to varying degrees, it can also be referred to as a Clean Energy Standard.” click here for more

    Saturday, March 16, 2019

    Professor Mark Jacobson On The Green New Deal

    Professor Jacobson has long made a convincing scientific and economic case for transitioning to 100% New Energy by 2050. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    The Logic That Started The Trouble

    They’re going to build a plant that spews climate change-inducing emissions and put it behind a 20-foot wall to protect against rising sea levels. This is called cutting off your nose to spite your face. From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

    It’s Very Real

    This is long but this guy makes the need for acting against climate change very real. From Democracy Now! via YouTube

    Friday, March 15, 2019

    Global Youth March Demands Climate Response

    Kids around the world plan to skip school this Friday to demand action on climate change

    Harmeet Kaur, March 13, 2019 (CNN)

    “Young people around the world are not interested in excuses when it comes to dealing with climate change…Every year of their lives has been one of the warmest recorded. Extreme weather events, including floods, wildfires and heat waves, are [their norm and many] believe that, if nothing is done to stop global warming, their generation will be left to deal with catastrophic consequences…[On March 15, tens of thousands worldwide] will be cutting class and taking to the streets to demand that elected officials act…The global climate strike on March 15 is an offshoot of the #FridaysForFuture movement…

    It began with Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old environmental activist, who in August 2018 started skipping school on Fridays to protest outside Sweden's parliament…[S]he roasted the global elite at the World Economic Forum by telling them they were to blame for the climate crisis. Before that, she delivered a damning speech at the United Nations' climate conference… Thunberg has said she won't stop…Her protests have inspired thousands of young people…Students in more than 90 countries and more than 1,200 cities around the world plan to join the strike in what could be one of the largest environmental protests in history…

    If human-generated greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, the planet will reach 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels as soon as 2030…Global warming at that temperature would put the planet at a greater risk of events like extreme drought, wildfires, floods and food shortages for hundreds of millions of people…[In an open letter, youth-led] climate activists called climate change "the biggest threat in human history" and said young people will no longer accept the inaction of world leaders…” click here for more

    China Targets Space Solar By 2050

    Solar farms in space could be renewable energy's next frontier; China wants to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050 and is building a test facility to find the best way to send power to the ground.

    Denise Chow and Alyssa Newcomb, March 9, 2019 (NBC)

    “…[China] plans to put a solar power station in orbit by 2050, a feat that would make it the first nation to harness the sun’s energy in space and beam it to Earth…Since the sun always shines in space, space-based solar power is seen as a uniquely reliable source of renewable energy…[D]eveloping the hardware needed to capture and transmit the solar power, and launching the system into space, will be difficult and costly…[A Chinese test facility would determine the best approach to the1970s idea that] advances in wireless transmission and improvements in the design and efficiency of photovoltaic cells…[may now make feasible. Details] of China’s plans have not been made public…

    [One approach would be to launch tens of thousands of [satellites covered with the photovoltaic panels] that would link up to form an enormous cone-shaped structure that orbits about 22,000 miles above Earth…[The solar energy-generated electricity] would be converted into microwaves and beamed wirelessly to ground-based receivers — giant wire nets measuring up to four miles across. These could be installed over lakes or across deserts or farmland…[S]uch a solar facility could generate a steady flow of 2,000 gigawatts of power. The largest terrestrial solar farmsgenerate only about 1.8 gigawatts…China hasn’t revealed how much it’s spending…[A small-scale test to demonstrate the various technologies would likely cost at least $150 million…[The swarming solar satellites] would cost about $10 billion apiece…” click here for more

    Big Numbers For Global New Energy

    Tenth edition of data book reveals trends in US and global renewable energy growth

    Robin Whitlock, 12 March 2019 (Renewable Energy Magazine)

    “…Installed global renewable electricity capacity also continued to increase in 2017, representing 32.2 percent of total capacity worldwide…[According to the 2017 Renewable Energy Data Book, now in its 10th edition, cumulative] global installed capacity of renewable electricity grew by 8.9% in 2017 (from 2,016 GW to 2,196 GW), which continued the steady growth of recent years (7.9% CAGR from 2007 to 2017)…Globally, hydropower comprised 50.7% of cumulative installed renewable electricity capacity, followed by wind (24.5%), solar PV and CSP (18.3%), biomass (5.6%), and geothermal (0.6%) in 2017…

    Renewable sources accounted for nearly 27% (6,584 TWh) of all electricity generation worldwide in 2017…Global solar PV cumulative installed capacity increased by 32.7% in 2017. Wind installed capacity grew by 10.7% globally…In 2017, China continued to lead the world in cumulative renewable electricity installed capacity. China also led in cumulative wind, hydropower, and grid-connected solar PV capacity. Spain led in installed CSP capacity. The United States continued to lead geothermal and biomass installed capacity and was second in cumulative renewable electricity installed capacity…” click here for more

    Thursday, March 14, 2019

    Toward An Investing Strategy For Climate Change

    Getting a handle on investing options in the age of accelerating climate change

    Kathryn McDonald, 13 March 2019 (CNBC)

    “The National Climate Assessment observes that, without significant mitigation efforts, climate change will severely damage the U.S. economy and impact all facets of life, including investment management…[Identifying future risks and opportunities requires] a deeper understanding of the growing body of research that lies at the intersection of company financial information and climate science…[Many corporations are proactively addressing climate-related challenges to] reduce future costs and gain new customers with the obvious objective of bolstering earnings. Importantly, these organizations are choosing to evolve rather than be backed into a corner by changes in regulations or technology…

    [Viewing companies through a climate lens can augment the] traditional investment view that is anchored on financial statement analysis and factor in the proactive steps that companies are taking (or not taking) to gain a more nuanced assessment of a company's fair value and future earnings potential…[It is] more critical than ever that investors think through climate impacts and understand where future [risks and] demand for products will reside…[The global impact and response to climate change] are yet to be seen…[but] there will be companies that emerge as winners, while others will lose out…[Ignoring this reality overlooks] one of the key investment questions of our time.” click here for more

    Solar Bouncing Back

    U.S. Solar Market Adds 10.6 GW of PV in 2018, Residential Market Rebounds

    March 13, 2019 (Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie)

    “For the third year in a row, the U.S. solar industry installed double-digit gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity, with 10.6 GW coming online in 2018. The amount was a 2 percent decrease from 2017. However, the forecast shows the market rebounding in the years ahead…Total installed PV capacity in the U.S. is expected to rise by 14 percent in 2019 with annual installations reaching 15.8 GW in 2021…In 2018, non-residential PV saw an annual decline of eight percent due to policy transitions in major markets. Utility-scale solar underwent a seven percent contraction in 2018, largely related to Section 201 tariffs...[While annual growth fell in both the non-residential and utility-scale solar sectors, residential solar growth stabilized in 2018 after the previous year’s contraction..

    …In total, solar PV accounted for 29 percent of new electricity generating capacity additions in 2018, slightly less than in 2017 due to a surge in new natural gas plants. However, in 2018, 13.2 GW of utility-scale solar power purchase agreements were signed, pushing the contracted project pipeline to its highest point in the history of U.S. solar…Wood Mackenzie also increased its five-year forecast for utility PV by 2.3 GW since Q4 2018…[due to] the inclusion of more solar in long-term utility resource planning and an increase in project development driven by renewable portfolio standards and growing corporate interest…” click here for more

    New Energy Steps Up In U.S. Power Mix

    Solar & Wind Take The Lead In FERC's First "Infrastructure" Report Of 2019; Renewable Generating Capacity Closing The Gap With Coal As Wind Approaches That Of Hydropower…

    Ken Bossong, March 13, 2019 (Federal Energy Regulatory Commission/Sun Day)

    “…[N]ew solar and wind generating capacity has taken the lead over natural gas and all other energy sources for the first month of 2019…18 "units" of new solar capacity (631 MW) and four units of new wind capacity (519 MW) each beat new natural gas capacity (one unit - 465 MW) in January. No new capacity additions were reported for any other energy sources…[R]enewables (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower, solar, wind) now account for 21.23% of total available installed U.S. generating capacity…[up from 16.24% five years ago, a growth of] a percentage point each year…

    Total wind generating capacity (97.18 GW) is rapidly closing in on that of hydropower (100.33 GW) and seems certain to overtake it sometime this year…[A]ll renewables combined (254.57 GW) is about to surpass that of coal (264.49 GW) - again, very possibly in 2019…[U]tility-scale solar has now surpassed 3.0% of the nation's generating capacity…[Generation and retirements by February 2021] include net capacity additions by renewable sources of 192,724 MW compared to only 42,579 MW of net new additions by coal, oil, and natural gas combined…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 13, 2019

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Critical Factor for California Customer Choice

    California customer choice at a crossroads: Regulators to weigh 3 key issues next week; The California Public Utilities Commission will consider two proposals Sept. 27 on how to calculate the price customers moving from IOUs to CCAs must pay.

    Herman K. Trabish, Sept. 18, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The turmoil in California’s power sector caused by the rise of customer choice continues.

    California regulators continue to work on how to calculate the exit fee charged to customers moving away from California’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs) to new electricity providers. The calculation could determine the near-term viability of California’s budding customer choice movement. Regulators face three big questions on how to calculate the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), a small per-kWh amount added to the bill of a departing customer that compensates the utility for investments made in anticipation of serving that customer. The first question is whether the PCIA should include the cost of high-priced utility-owned generation the IOUs might long ago have sold off. The second question is whether it should include the cost of somewhat newer but still high-priced utility-owned generation added to IOU portfolios largely for reliability purposes. And, finally, regulators must decide how, if at all, to limit the size of changes in the value of the PCIA.

    The answers could make the PCIA too high for new customer choice-inspired load serving entities (LSEs), including Community Choice Aggregators (CCAs) and direct access providers, to fulfill commitments to deliver cleaner energy at a lower cost. Or it could put the state's IOUs at financial risk. Two approaches to updating the PCIA calculation were laid out in a proposed decision by California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Administrative Law Judge Stephen C. Roscow and an alternate proposed decision by CPUC Commissioner Carla Peterman. Both found that the CPUC's current PCIA methodology cannot prevent cost shifts between customers. The final ruling between them left many of the questions raised by them undecided until the next phase of the process… click here for more

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Regulation EVs Urgently Need

    Are regulators hindering EV acceleration? Utilities and state regulators are working to scale up charging infrastructure, finding that interoperability is key.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 9, 2018 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Nothing can stop the transition to transportation electrification but there are many complications slowing it.

    The road to transportation electrification is now driven by demand from policymakers and the public through private sector automakers and charger providers to electric utilities and their regulators. Networked electric vehicles (EVs) can be a highly flexible distributed energy resource (DER) and, as a distributed storage system, support the power system's transition to low-cost, low-emissions renewables. Carmakers are rushing to meet consumer demand. And charger providers and utilities are beginning to collaborate on charger infrastructure deployment, when regulators greenlight the build-out. "Today's infrastructure is clearly inadequate to accommodate greater penetration of EVs," according to Philip B. Jones, former Washington utility commissioner and current executive director of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification.

    Not a single region or use-case is ready for the transformation that is nevertheless gaining momentum, Jones said in a September 13 webinar previewing a new paper on transportation electrification from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL). Streamlining collaboration between utilities and charger providers and standardizing communications protocols were among Jones' chief concerns. State-level guidance is needed because a disengaged White House has provided none, he added. And because "the auto industry will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 50," General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra wrote in the most recent GM annual report… click here for more


    Tuesday, March 12, 2019

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Value Of Distributed Energy

    Expanding PV Value: Lessons Learned from Utility-led Distributed Energy Resource Aggregation in the United States

    Jeffrey J. Cook, Kristen Ardani, Eric O’Shaughnessy, Brittany Smith, and Robert Margolis, November 2018 (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Distributed residential photovoltaic (PV) capacity in the United States increased from about 0.4 GW in 2010 to 10.5 GW in 2017 (GTM Research and SEIA 2018). Distributed PV and other emerging distributed energy resources (DERs) like battery storage and electric vehicles (EVs) may provide demand response, voltage regulation, and other grid services. When many DERs are aggregated and called upon to provide certain services simultaneously, they may provide the distribution grid with ancillary and other services that enhance reliability. These initiatives are often referred to as DER aggregation or virtual power plants. If nascent U.S. utility-led DER aggregation projects prove successful, new value streams could open for PV and other emerging DERs, thereby expanding deployment and transforming the energy market.

    The literature on the scope, performance, and lessons learned from utility-led DER aggregation projects is limited. This report fills the research gap by surveying such programs nationwide and then analyzing five project case studies to compare lessons learned and identify common challenges and solutions that other utilities might consider when developing next-generation pilots and programs.

    We identified 23 utility-led DER aggregation initiatives nationwide (Figure ES-1). The earliest project was launched by Bonneville Power Administration in 2009, while most were launched after 2014. There is significant geographic diversity in the programs; Arizona, California, and Hawaii are the only states with more than one utility-led DER aggregation program.

    We selected the following five projects as case studies, because they incorporated PV, published data on DER performance, and had diverse characteristics such as project capacity and types of DERs involved:

    • Green Mountain Power – McKnight Lane Redevelopment Project

    • Maui Electric Company (MECO) – JumpSmart Maui Project

    • Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) – San Jose EPIC

    Distributed Energy Resource Demonstration Projects

    • Southern California Edison (SCE) – Preferred Resources Pilot

    • Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) – 2500 R Midtown Project

    To analyze and compare the cases, we collected archival data and completed interviews with 27 subject-matter experts, including engineers, program managers, software developers, and other key partners. Overall, the unique design, scope, and timeline of each project complicates comparison of DER performance and related grid value across the projects. For example, project sizes vary from 0.04 MW of PV in the Green Mountain Power project to 51 MW in SCE’s. Even so, each project demonstrated that DER aggregation can provide grid benefits including frequency response, load shifting, and voltage regulation among others. As one example, SMUD found that controlling DERs at 10 homes provided an average load reduction of 2.66 kW per house and an aggregate 44 kW of load-shifting capability at peak.

    Despite project design differences, there were commonalities in the lessons learned across each project that may be of interest to other utilities considering new aggregation programs. Across the cases, we identified five categories of challenges relating to distributed energy resource management system (DERMS) development and implementation, customer acquisition, DER deployment, communication with DERs, and DER performance. In some cases, the utilities faced similar issues within a given category. For example, three of the five utilities had challenges with developing DERMS software to control a disparate set of DER technologies and participants. In other cases, the utilities’ experiences and challenges varied substantially. For example, Green Mountain Power, PG&E, and SCE found that DERs performed as expected, whereas the other two utilities found that the performance of different technologies varied.

    Based on this common set of challenges and the perspectives from interviewees, we offer considerations for next-generation DER aggregation programs, including the following:

    • To scale DER aggregation programs, utilities likely need to develop a DERMS and find cost-effective pathways to integrate DERs with different communication protocols.

    • To secure customer participation, utilities should consider how DER aggregation will impact or align with existing DER incentive structures so that potential customers see a net benefit of participation.

    • To reduce deployment-related delays, utilities could work proactively with AHJs to resolve permitting issues particularly for batteries.

    • To secure anticipated grid services from deployed DERs, utilities likely need to pursue methods to increase communication reliability between the utility, aggregators, and/or individual DERs.

    • To more accurately predict DER performance, utilities should evaluate how technology mix, operation protocols, and consumer behavior may impact individual DER performance…


    Despite the unique context of each DER aggregation project, the pilots shared common challenges relating to DERMS development and implementation, customer acquisition, DER deployment, communicating with DERs, and DER performance. This section summarizes those challenges, the key lessons learned, and considerations for resolving these issues in the next generation of programs.

    Table 3 summarizes the challenges faced by each of the utilities in relation to five categories. In some cases, the utilities faced similar issues within a given category. For example, three of the five utilities had challenges with developing DERMS software to control a disparate set of DER technologies and participants. In other cases, the utilities’ experiences and challenges varied substantially. For example, Green Mountain Power, PG&E, and SCE found that DERs performed as expected, whereas the other two utilities found that the performance of different technologies varied. Though these challenges can be interrelated, the remainder of this section discusses each challenge separately with perspectives from interviewees on how utilities might resolve each challenge.

    To scale DER aggregation programs, utilities likely need to develop a DERMS and find cost-effective pathways to integrate DERs with different communication protocols. In all five cases, the utility, or its partners, developed a temporary or permanent DERMS to aggregate and deploy DERs. A DERMS likely will be essential to scale aggregation programs given the need to develop situational awareness of DER performance, the ability to securely and reliably interact with those DERs, and optimally dispatch them to provide grid services autonomously. The cases demonstrate that developing a DERMS can be challenging, but Green Mountain Power and PG&E’s approach to phase in DERMS functionality may help mitigate some of these challenges. This approach could serve as a model for other utilities. Interviewees also offered some perspective on how utilities might address integration challenges, particularly when developing a program that includes DER aggregators. Ensuring the DERMS can interact with aggregator software adds complexity, costs, and cybersecurity concerns (Rodriguez Labastida and Asmus 2018). Interviewees suggested that aggregator software platforms are just emerging, so technology innovation may streamline the time and resources needed to develop, test, and integrate these systems. Several interviewees suggested that the use of open communication standards may also help developers and aggregators integrate disparate DER technologies regardless of their make and model. The IEEE 2030.5 Standard for Smart Energy Profile Application Protocol is one effort to standardize communication protocols between the utility, aggregators, and individual DERs. Widespread adoption of similar open or standardized communication protocols may reduce the time and resources needed to develop and implement a DER aggregation program.

    To secure customer participation, utilities should consider how DER aggregation will impact or align with existing DER incentive structures so that potential customers see a net benefit of participation. The MECO and PG&E cases both demonstrate the potential challenges with acquiring customers. Location, availability, and concentration of DERs are essential considerations for assessing the role these resources can play in providing grid value. Utilities need to balance these considerations and related value, with existing DER incentive structures to gauge potential customer interest in DER aggregation. MECO’s project partner, Hitachi, and PG&E faced customer-acquisition challenges. In the case of Hitachi, these challenges stemmed in part from the poor economic value proposition of PV and batteries compared with net-metered PV on MECO’s grid. As a result, utilities may need to seek alternative rate or other compensation structures to foster customer interest in DER aggregation programs. If customers do not see a reasonable return, they will be unlikely to participate. Interviewees also suggested that utilities should adequately explain program design and requirements before signing up customers to ensure that the customers make informed choices. Other utilities might wish to evaluate these factors prior to program adoption and then adjust their customer-acquisition process or program design accordingly.

    To reduce deployment-related delays, utilities could work proactively with AHJs to resolve permitting issues particularly for batteries. Hitachi did not deploy enough residential batteries to test this deployment challenge in the MECO pilot, while SMUD and PG&E faced AHJ permitting challenges. Battery permitting uncertainty can cause delays and additional costs as was the case for PG&E and SMUD. Though not evident in our cases, these challenges can also result in project termination. For example, Consolidated Edison’s (Con Ed’s) Clean Virtual Power Plant in New York was terminated after the utility could not secure approval from the New York City Department of Buildings and the New York Fire Department to install residential batteries. Con Ed remained committed to this concept and conducted a battery storage safety analysis to provide permitting authorities with more information on safe battery siting in New York City (Con Ed 2017). In addition, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has offered $8.1 million in technical assistance to support the development of energy storage permitting guidelines, model codes, and standards to streamline future permitting costs (NYSERDA 2016, NYSERDA 2018). These initiatives are similar to ongoing efforts to streamline PV permitting process and may help other utilities that are considering incorporating batteries in their DER aggregation programs. 19 Even so, utilities and other DER aggregation partners may wish to discuss battery storage deployment and permitting requirements with AHJs early in the process to address and resolve permitting issues.

    To secure anticipated grid services from deployed DERs, utilities likely need to pursue methods to increase communication reliability between the utility, aggregators, and/or individual DERs. Four utilities faced communication challenges with deployed DERs. For example, Green Mountain Power encountered issues with faulty equipment, limited communication, and the need to reset equipment manually (Donalds, Galbraith, and OlinskyPaul 2018). In addition, interviewees from this case suggested that failures in the communication chain between the individual DER, the aggregator, and the utility also impacted DER performance. Ongoing efforts to streamline communication chains could help reduce the probability of failure. PG&E, SMUD and SCE also had issues with the data they received in response from DERs, even with consistent lines of communication as demonstrated by SMUD and SCE. Utilities may want to consider these types of challenges when determining which DERs to include in their programs and when developing data-communication requirements for DERs to receive compensation for grid services.

    To more accurately predict DER performance, utilities should evaluate how technology mix, operation protocols, and consumer behavior may impact individual DER performance. Hitachi found that EV capacity varied depending on the time of day, which was due in part to the mobile nature of EVs and the MECO project’s focus on residential charging (Irie 2017). In comparison, SMUD found that smart thermostats in its program offered inconsistent demand response (ADM Associates Inc. 2014). The utility could not confirm what caused this variation, given the lack of data, and said more research was necessary to understand how reliable these resources could be (ADM Associates Inc. 2014). Thus, utilities may want to consider how DER technology performance may vary in their programs and adjust program design as necessary.