NewEnergyNews: 10/01/2016 - 11/01/2016/


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

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.



  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And The New Energy Boom
  • TTTA Wednesday-ORIGINAL REPORTING: The IRA And the EV Revolution

  • Weekend Video: Coming Ocean Current Collapse Could Up Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Impacts Of The Atlantic Meridional Overturning Current Collapse
  • Weekend Video: More Facts On The AMOC

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 15-16:

  • Weekend Video: The Truth About China And The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: Florida Insurance At The Climate Crisis Storm’s Eye
  • Weekend Video: The 9-1-1 On Rooftop Solar

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 8-9:

  • Weekend Video: Bill Nye Science Guy On The Climate Crisis
  • Weekend Video: The Changes Causing The Crisis
  • Weekend Video: A “Massive Global Solar Boom” Now

    WEEKEND VIDEOS, July 1-2:

  • The Global New Energy Boom Accelerates
  • Ukraine Faces The Climate Crisis While Fighting To Survive
  • Texas Heat And Politics Of Denial
  • --------------------------


    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish



    WEEKEND VIDEOS, June 17-18

  • Fixing The Power System
  • The Energy Storage Solution
  • New Energy Equity With Community Solar
  • Weekend Video: The Way Wind Can Help Win Wars
  • Weekend Video: New Support For Hydropower
  • 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.

  • ---------------
  • WEEKEND VIDEOS, August 24-26:
  • Happy One-Year Birthday, Inflation Reduction Act
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 1
  • The Virtual Power Plant Boom, Part 2

    Monday, October 31, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: New Rules For EVs

    Driving Integration; Regulatory Responses To Electric Vehicle Growth

    Rachel Gold And Cara Goldenberg, October 2016 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary

    The rapid growth of electric vehicle (EV) charging in the next decade will challenge traditional paradigms of regulation and policy in the electricity sector. The complexity and dynamism of emerging EV industry trends are akin to those of other fast-changing high-tech sectors, with the potential for revolutionary change. Regulators and policymakers alike will have to embrace new approaches that allow for experimentation and adaptation with new technologies, market mechanisms, and institutional arrangements in order for EV growth to benefit rather than impair the grid.

    This report explores issues policymakers, especially state utility regulators, face in forming policy and regulation in this dynamic landscape of charging companies, aggregators, municipalities, utilities, and auto manufacturers, among others. Regulators are critical decision makers because of their ability to accelerate or slow EV deployment through policy decisions. They also have an important role to play to enable effective EV integration—both for accommodating new loads from EV charging onto the grid, and for ensuring reliability as new variable resources come online. In this report, we first describe the range of possible benefits that state utility regulators can enable from smart charging beyond simply minimizing impact on peak. We then describe the cases of two leading states—California and Washington—working to unlock the benefits of EVs. Although both California and Washington have addressed EV policy in some way, neither has comprehensively prepared for the arrival of EVs en masse and their potential impacts on the transportation and electricity systems.

    Throughout the cases and in the discussion beyond, we pose six questions for regulators to use as analytical tools as they explore options and trade-offs in enabling deployment and integration of EVs. These questions help regulators think through how they will define the need and scope of their role in EV integration, design policies to support that role, and then create adaptive processes to support learning from those changes.

    1) How much of a role should utility regulators play in enabling EV integration or deployment?

    • Utility regulators should proactively consider policies for enabling the integration of EVs onto the grid where it minimizes costs to ratepayers over time and supports their core mandate to ensure the provision of safe, reliable utility service and infrastructure at reasonable rates.

    • Regulators have a role to play in planning for EVs given the challenges that unmanaged charging can create at relatively low penetrations at the distribution level and the opportunities for enabling EV integration as a tool to ensure reliable, lower cost electricity service.

    2) What factors will utility regulators have to consider when they evaluate the public interest in the context of EVs?

    • State utility regulators must balance competing public interests—such as those of utility ratepayers versus grid-interactive EV car owners—when shaping rate design, EV charger siting and planning, and the utility’s role in EV infrastructure ownership. The choice among these competing interests will be largely based on the principles of equity and cost-effectiveness for the grid as a whole, the limitations of existing law, the appropriate time horizon for considering costs to these groups, and a determination of how much public funding is necessary in addition to private investment to support market transformation.

    3) What tools do utility regulators have to encourage effective grid integration and optimal siting?

    • To capture the potential value from EV integration, utility regulators should work with utilities to provide customers access to rates and signals that incentivize charging during times of the day when energy demand is low and significant supply is available. They will need to balance grid system-oriented rates, which would encourage charging during certain times and at locations based on grid needs, and customer-oriented rates, which incentivize charging in convenient locations that influence customer adoption.

    • More broadly, utility regulators have an opportunity to proactively ensure EV integration is included in utility planning processes, including the benefit-cost analysis of planned infrastructure upgrades. This is especially true as regulators evaluate the benefits and costs of utility investments in two-way, real-time telemetry and communication systems that can send price signals and will enable optimal EV deployment.

    4) Who should own, operate, and maintain charging stations, and what types of incentives should be provided to encourage EV integration and/or deployment through those roles?

    • Several different entities could own EV charging stations. To prepare for the potential impacts and benefits of these new EV assets, regulators must determine the extent to which the “regulatory compact” with monopoly utilities should be extended to ownership of EV charging infrastructure.

    • It may be appropriate for utilities to own EV infrastructure under certain conditions: if ownership results in net benefits for ratepayers or if there are market segments that a competitive market is unlikely to serve. Where these conditions exist, regulators should design rules and incentives for utilities that encourage investment but do not unfairly promote utility involvement or raise market power concerns. Utility regulators will also have to consider other roles utilities can serve in the operation and maintenance of charging stations.

    5) What policy support is necessary to enable aggregation so that EVs can provide demand response and ancillary services?

    • To enable EVs to provide grid services, utility regulators need to first determine at what scale a resource can qualify to serve a demand response or ancillary service function, while taking into account the needs of market participants and operators and existing rules and barriers. The choice to define the EV resource as the vehicle, a charging station with an embedded submeter, or the primary facility meter will help determine who has ownership over the resource, how the resource is measured, and how communication is managed.1 State utility regulators then need to adjust rules in concert with grid operators to ensure that markets or contractual structures are available to support EV aggregation.

    6) What are the processes regulators can use to ensure that regulation is adaptive in this dynamic environment?

    • Utility regulators should support more frequent, assertive use of scalable demonstration projects to test EV integration approaches and allow solutions to evolve iteratively. Pilots that allow for alternative avenues outside the traditional regulatory framework are necessary to enable experimentation and build adaptive solutions. Pilots should be designed to allow for expansion and scaling and should be evaluated against simple, collaboratively developed metrics to support measurement of success against EV deployment, grid integration, and environmental goals.

    • Given the unpredictable nature of EV deployment, utilities should include a wide range of EV growth scenarios in distribution grid planning. We offer these questions and present options and recommendations as inspiration for regulators to proactively address the opportunities and risks created by this nascent technology.

    Why Public Utility Regulators Need to Prepare for Electric Vehicles…Grid-to-Vehicle Value Streams…Stakeholder Alignment…EV Integration and Deployment in Action: Case Studies…Key Regulatory Questions…Looking Forward…

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    QUICK NEWS, October 31: From Oil To New Energy In Texas; The Wind Boom In Iowa Gets Bigger; A New Look At Hawaii’s Wave Energy

    From Oil To New Energy In Texas Texas oil? So dated — solar and wind energy are taking over the Longhorn State; Texas is looking to remain America's energy hub in the renewable era by pioneering wind and solar production

    Matthew Rosza, October 25, 2016 (Salon)

    “…[Texas, a state synonymous with Big Oil, could] wind up leading a renewable-energy revolution...[Many] wind companies have evolved to include solar and wind because solar has become so cost] competitive with not only wind, but with fossil [fuel] generation…Texas — which produces 37 percent of America’s crude oil and 28 percent of its natural gas — [already] has more than 10,000 wind turbines, allowing it to produce more power from wind than the combined power produced by 25 other states from all energy sources…[and the state] expects more than 10,000 megawatts of solar-generating capacity to be installed across the state by 2029, which is almost the size of all the operational solar farms in the United States today.” click here for more

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    The Wind Boom In Iowa Gets Bigger Iowa reaches new high mark for wind energy; Alliant, MidAmerican Energy expanding major projects

    Erin Murphy, October 28, 2016 (Des Moines Gazette)

    “…Wind energy provided 35.8 percent of the electricity generated in Iowa in the year spanning August 2015 to July 2016…That’s the highest percentage ever for Iowa, which has the highest [percent of wind energy in its electricity mix] in the nation [and Kansas and South Dakota are next at just more than 25 percent. In 1983, Iowa approved] the first state renewable energy requirement, and U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, authored the federal tax credit for wind energy production…Iowa is second in the country to Texas in [total] wind energy production, with installed capacity of more than 6,000 megawatts, which is enough electricity to power the equivalent of more than 1.6 million average U.S. homes…Texas’ capacity is more than 18,000 megawatts…Nearly $12 billion in capital investment on wind energy projects has been made in Iowa and the industry supports roughly 7,000 jobs, according to the [most recent market report from the American Wind Energy Association]…” click here for more

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    A New Look At Hawaii’s Wave Energy Wave power still has a lot of potential

    October 30, 2016 (Republican Herld)

    “…Hawaii-based Navy researchers started feeding power from two experimental offshore wave energy devices into the grid on nearby Oahu, representing the first time the American public could access electricity derived from ocean waves. The trickle of energy from these experimental devices doesn’t amount to anything substantial yet, but…at least a quarter of U.S. electricity needs [could be generated] by harnessing wave power…[The obstacle is] the high costs of getting started, technical issues with maintaining offshore equipment, and the challenges of scaling up for mass consumption…[Two of the biggest wave energy endeavors in the world, Pelamis and Aquamarine,] went belly up recently…But [there are still] the experimental wave farm off Oahu, two larger projects are being built off the coast of the United Kingdom, while three additional projects are underway around Australia. Funding for these projects has come from not only the host governments but also the private sector…[including] American defense contractor Lockheed Martin…” click here for more

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    Saturday, October 29, 2016

    New Energy For A Sweet Halloween

    From U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

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    Elon Musk’s New Energy Home Of Tomorrow

    A true visionary unveils another glimpse of his vision in which the future’s high-end home has a solar roof, an energy storage system, and an electric car with its own charger and all are "beautiful, affordable, and seamlessly integrated." From Every Elon Musk Video via YouTube

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    13-Year-Old’s Solar,Wind Win Young Scientist Of The Year

    This brilliant young researcher’s vision of tomorrow is more innovative and more detailed than Elon Musk’s (see preceding video) but will get a lot less attention. From WhatEvver Videos via YouTube

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    Friday, October 28, 2016

    Art Shows What Science Can’t About Climate Change

    Climate change is invisible, insidious and urgent. Can the arts help us see it? The fact of climate change is beyond serious dispute, but has yet to become part of mainstream discourse in the UK or indeed beyond. Arts and climate science collaboration can help change this

    Lucy Wood, 28 October 2016 (UK Guardian)

    “Soaring mercury, sinking cities, mass extinctions…[F]aced with the sheer enormity of the climate challenge, people can tend towards despair and nihilism. For others, its seeming distance (both chronologically and, for many of us in the global north in particular, geographically) can seduce us with the easy denial that it is someone else’s problem to fix…We need to find new ways to narrate and envision a fairer, cleaner future in which we can actively participate…This year’s annual Lovelock Commission Cloud Crash by artist duo HeHe, a collaboration of Cape Farewell, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) in Manchester, is an example of how art can enable major public engagement…

    The Lovelock Commission takes inspiration from pioneering climate scientist James Lovelock’s Gaia Theory, which posits the earth as a single self-regulating organism – and this year the commission focuses on atmospherics - namely, man-made emissions…Cloud Crash seeks to make pollution – and its component part, climate change – visible, and asks some uncomfortable questions of society…The role of the scientist and that of the artist is to make the invisible visible…When it comes to climate science it is all about finding the right language…[to reframe] it as an opportunity not sacrifice, making tangible the intangible and giving agency where once there is apathy…” click here for more

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    Can’t Stop The New Energy

    IEA raises its five-year renewable growth forecast as 2015 marks record year

    25 October 2016 (International Energy Agency)

    “…[The International Energy Agency 9IEA) is] significantly increasing its five-year growth forecast for renewables thanks to strong policy support in key countries and sharp cost reductions. Renewables surpassed coal last year to become the largest source of installed power capacity in the world, [according to the IEA’s Medium-Term Renewable Market Report. It foresees] renewables growing 13% more between 2015 and 2021 than it did in last year’s forecast, due mostly to stronger policy backing in the United States, China, India and Mexico. Over the forecast period, costs are expected to drop by a quarter in solar PV and 15 percent for onshore wind…Last year marked a turning point for renewables. Led by wind and solar, renewables represented more than half the new power capacity around the world, reaching a record 153 Gigawatt (GW), 15% more than the previous year. Most of these gains were driven by record-level wind additions of 66 GW and solar PV additions of 49 GW…Over the next five years, renewables will remain the fastest-growing source of electricity generation, with their share growing to 28% in 2021 from 23% in 2015…” click here for more

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    Wind Was World’s Biggest New Power Source Last Year

    Renewable energy represented more than half of all new power capacity in '15; Wind turbine power is projected to supply up to 20% of global electricity by 2030

    Lucas Mearian, October 26, 2016 (ComputerWorld)

    “Renewable energy represented more than half the new power capacity in the world in 2015…Most of the gains were driven by record-level wind additions of 66GW and solar photovoltaic (PV) installations of 49GW, according to the latest report from the International Energy Agency (IEA)…Wind accounted for 41% of all new electrical generation capacity installed in the U.S. in 2015, according to the U.S. Department of Energy…[T]otal utility-scale solar power capacity in the U.S. grew 43% over 2014, reaching nearly 14,000 megawatts (MW)…The report also noted the price of renewables has fallen by as much as 94% in the last eight years…Renewable energy generation costs now range from $30 per megawatt hour (MWh) to $50 MWh for both onshore wind and solar PV. Utility-scale solar power costs are expected to drop by about 25% from now through 2021. Onshore wind generation costs are expected to drop 15% on average by 2021…[The U.S., India, and China are expected to be among] the world's fastest growing markets for renewables…” click here for more

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    Global New Energy Overtakes Coal, Adds A Half-Million Solar Panels Daily

    Global renewable power capacity overtakes coal as 500,000 solar panels installed every day

    Emily Gosden, 25 October 2016 (UK Telegraph)

    “Global renewable electricity capacity has overtaken coal to become the world's largest installed power source for the first time, after a record-breaking year in which half a million solar panels were installed every day…As a result, worldwide renewable capacity hit 1,985 GW, or about 31pc of global power capacity, just pipping coal-fired power, which stands at 1,951 GW, the IEA said…The IEA forecast that renewables expansion would continue apace, with 825 GW expected to be built by 2021 – 13pc more than the IEA had forecast just a year ago…That should help boost the share of renewable power in the global electricity mix to 28pc by 2021…[Recent cost reductions in onshore wind and solar panels have been termed ‘unthinkable just five years ago’ and are expected to continue]…” click here for more

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    Thursday, October 27, 2016

    Snopes Fact-Checks Scientists-Against-Climate Change Claim

    Not All Climatologists: More than 30,000 people may have signed a petition challenging the veracity of anthropogenic global warming, but you don’t have to be a climate scientist, or even a practicing scientist, to sign that document.

    Alex Kasprak, October 24, 2016 (Snopes)

    “CLAIM: 30,000 scientists have signed a petition arguing that there is no convincing scientific evidence for anthropogenic climate change…WHAT'S TRUE: A petition that has been in circulation since 1998 claims to bear the name of more than 30,000 signatures from scientists who reject the concept of anthropogenic global warming…WHAT'S FALSE: The petition was created by individuals and groups with political motivations, was distributed using misleading tactics, is presented with almost no accountability regarding the authenticity of its signatures, and asks only that you have received an undergraduate degree in any science to sign…ORIGIN: A claim has been floating around since 1998 that thousands of scientists have rejected the concept of climate change, ever since since a self-described research group by the name of the ‘Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine’ solicited signatures…

    …[It is] misleading for the signatories to be considered climate scientists or even top researchers in their field, as some suggest…[B]ased on the group's own numbers, only 12% of the signers have degrees (of any kind) in earth, environmental, or atmospheric science…Further, the petition and its creators are not neutral parties, and the major entities supporting it can easily be described as politically motivated. The petition was organized by Arthur B. Robinson, a conservative politician who founded the aforementioned Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine and who holds a PhD in biochemistry from the University of San Diego…Aside from the potential political motivations behind the petition, the misleading tactics employed to gather signatures, and the lack of verification regarding those signatures, the fact remains that the petition is open to anyone with an undergraduate background in science to sign, and a vast majority of the signatories are not climate scientists.” click here for more

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    How Much Millennials Care About Climate

    Millennials’ Strong Views on Climate Change and Other Energy Issues Could Drive Presidential Election Results

    October 27, 2016 (University of Texas)

    “A mounting perception that climate change is occurring could play a role in deciding the upcoming presidential election, particularly if significant numbers of younger Americans turn out to vote…More than 9 out of 10 survey respondents (91 percent) under age 35 say climate change is occurring, compared with 74 percent of those age 65 or older…Overall, 79 percent of respondents share that view — the highest percentage since [this] survey began tracking responses to the question more than four years ago — and 12 percent say climate change is not occurring, down from 16 percent in February…The survey shows that large majorities of Americans hold the view that climate change is occurring, regardless of political affiliation, gender, ethnicity and age…” click here for more

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    Studying Low Solar Energy Costs

    Why have solar energy costs fallen? MIT team awarded U.S. Department of Energy grant to investigate cost reductions in solar energy systems.

    October 26, 2016 (Institute for Data, Systems, and Society via MIT News)

    “MIT researchers have been awarded a grant of nearly $1.3 million through the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative to study the reasons for solar energy’s rapid and sustained cost decline and how to continue reducing costs in the future…[The study] will examine features of photovoltaic (PV) devices, public policies, and private sector efforts…[and] evaluate the mechanisms driving PV system cost reductions…[by looking at] specific past technological innovations and policies, and prospectively assess PV’s potential for future cost reduction. New datasets and modeling frameworks will provide a comprehensive picture of how specific technology and policy developments have led to the dramatic cost reduction in PV in recent decades…” click here for more

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    Kite Wind Power Rising

    Let’s go fly a kite: new technology to capture wind energy

    Chris Fitch, 25 October 2016 (Geographical)

    “…[T]here are a great number of other potential ways to harness the enormous power of the wind [besides a field of wind turbines], with as much as 95 terawatts (TW) remaining to be developed onshore, and offshore having ‘an even larger resource potential’…[One involves] the kite…[T]he idea of using kites to generate renewable energy from the wind is taking off, albeit slowly, with the recent granting of consent for a [Kite Power Solutions (KPS)] kite power technology test and development site in [Scotland. The KPS low-cost solution to harness energy from the wind using kites would fly] twin kites, attached to a generator, in strong winds as high as 450m above the ground. Specially designed to fly in a circular looping path, the kites can reach over 100mph in 20mph winds, generating strong aerodynamic lifting forces. At full-scale, the 40m kites have a two to three megawatt capacity, about the same as a 100m-tall conventional turbine…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, October 26, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Beyond Net Metering To The Value Of Location

    Beyond net metering: How location can help put a value on DERs; A new report outlines an algorithm that could help streamline value-of-solar processes

    Herman K. Trabish, February 18, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, efforts to find the best way to value the locational benefits of distributed resources like solar have accelerated.

    In the 1990s, utilities and their regulators in a number of states across the country settled on retail rate net metering as a simple and convenient way to encourage the growth of distributed solar. It seemed like a good idea at the time — consumers would earn credits equal to the retail rate of electricity for any extra energy they exported back to the grid from their rooftop solar systems. For years, the practice allowed customers with rooftop solar to significantly cut their utility bills, enhanced the value proposition of rooftop solar, and allowed renewable energy to grow without a significant impact on utility finances. But in the past few years, the situation has changed.

    Now, solar advocates and policymakers across the nation are passionately debating whether the ‘rough justice’ of a retail rate net metering credit should still apply to today’s evolving distributed energy resources (DERs) market, and what more accurate valuation scheme for DERs would be. A key question in the debates is proper value of rooftop solar, according the Q3 2015 catalogue of U.S. solar policy decisions. Value of solar (VOS) studies date to at least 2006, according to Pace Energy and Climate Center Executive Director Karl Rabago who, as an Austin Energy executive, led one of the earliest VOS implementations. Refined calculations now make VOS “a forward-looking approach that recognizes the ad-hoc use of the retail rate for NEM was rough justice and [further] analysis is appropriate,” Rabago explained. Location-based value calculations are emerging as the next step in accurate solar valuation… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Is A National Transmission System The Way To Cut Emissions?

    Is a national high voltage transmission system the cheapest way to cut emissions?; Scientists call for HVDC lines connecting the nation’s wind, solar, and power markets

    Herman K. Trabish, February 19, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The discussion about a national system has not advanced much since this story ran but efforts have increased to expand the power and reach of regional systems. Those efforts could be seen as groundwork for a national plan.

    A high voltage direct current (HVDC) grid expansion to connect the nation’s best utility-scale wind, solar, and other renewable resources to 256 electricity markets is the cheapest way achieve big emissions reductions from the power sector by 2030, according to Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on U.S. CO2 emissions. Forecast costs for wind and solar suggest carbon dioxide emissions from the U.S. electricity sector can be cut up to 80%, without an increase in the cost of consumers’ electricity, according to modeling by the National Electricity and Weather Systems (NEWS) tool.

    NEWS was programmed to optimize for the least expensive U.S. system. Conclusions depend on the variables in NEWS and not all power systems experts agree with the findings. The solution NEWS lands on incorporates wind, solar PV, natural gas, nuclear, and hydroelectric generators. It assumes the build out of a nationwide HVDC transmission network and that electrical power is provided to every market at every hour while operating within current technology limits. Key to the cost savings achieved in the NEWS model is that the wind and solar PV plants are geographically dispersed over the entire contiguous U.S. and that transmission is available to deliver their output to markets… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How Utilities Can Partner With Vendors At The Grid Edge

    Partnering for success: Utilities leverage innovative vendor relationships at the grid edge; A new study reports on opportunities utilities could seize to expand distribution system technologies

    Herman K. Trabish, February 23, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    A new high-level look at distribution system innovation makes one thing clear: Utilities that find and work with innovative private sector players benefit from reaching out. The report from GTM Research describes nine cutting edge projects involving technologies that are changing the distribution system, including energy storage, demand response, data analytics, advanced metering and solar-plus-storage. They reveal an enormous range of distribution system innovation possible for utilities to access through private sector partners.

    Variety seems the only continuous theme in the eight “sub-markets” serving the distribution system. One of the more mature technologies profiled is advanced metering infrastructure (AMI).Utilities see AMI as a pathway to lower operational costs, making managing outages more efficient, and assuring a new revenue stream. But, despite financial and policy drivers, the market is still not thriving. Where AMI deployment is standardized, the paper finds that energy storage installations are still mostly one-off deployments. The microgrid market is just beginning to mature… click here for more

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    Tuesday, October 25, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: Hooking Up With Solar

    Comparing Utility Interconnection Timelines for Small-Scale Solar PV 2nd Edition

    Chelsea Barnes, Justin Barnes, Blake Elder & Benjamin Inskeep, October 2016 (EQ Research)

    Executive Summary

    The rules and procedures that govern how a distributed solar system connects to the grid are crucial to ensuring grid safety and reliability, but standards vary widely across the United States, and procedures can be long and complicated. 1 As solar’s popularity continues to grow, solar customers and installers are experiencing longer timelines for receiving application approval and permission to operate (PTO) as utilities’ existing procedures and resources are unable to keep up with demand. Furthermore, increasing levels of distributed generation (DG) systems are beginning to put pressure on grid capacity, and more utilities are requiring expensive upgrades in order for systems to connect to the grid, adding delays and complications for customers wishing to install even relatively small systems. However, as utilities and regulators gain more experience with solar and other DG systems, technical, policy, and administrative solutions are allowing utilities to process large numbers of DG applications through quick and easy procedures.

    In the first edition of this report, published in July 2015, EQ Research quantified interconnection timelines for PV systems 10 kilowatts (kW) or less by surveying PV installers regarding timelines for PTO in 34 utilities’ service territories for 2013 and 2014. In this second edition, we collected data for 62 utilities with the highest amounts of residential PV customers, covering 20 states and Washington, D.C., and quantified both pre-construction approval timelines and PTO timelines in 2014 and 2015. Installers were asked to report the average number of days individual utilities took to approve initial applications for interconnection (i.e., pre-construction) and to grant PTO after a system installation for both 2014 and 2015, as well as the number of applications denied by the utility due to grid reliability concerns. Overall, utilities took longer to approve interconnection applications and PTO in 2015 compared to 2014, although the delay increases were much more significant for PTO than for pre-construction applications. For preconstruction waiting periods, the median utility wait time increased from 14 in 2014 to 18 in 2015; for PTO waiting periods, the median utility wait time increased from 28 in 2014 to 45 in 2015.

    Through interviews with PV installers and utility interconnection staff, we identified a number of contributing factors that cause delays, as well as best practices for streamlining the interconnection process while maintaining grid safety and reliability.2 In order to accommodate increasing application numbers, utilities must move toward online application systems and increased automation to reduce administrative burden. Additional applications may also require additional staff time and changes to employee workflow. Utilities and regulators might consider increasing the transparency of grid capacity in order to allow installers to avoid a preconstruction application and to help them avoid areas of the grid with capacity concerns. Policymakers should make improvements to regulations regarding interconnection procedure timelines, which are often unclear or absent. As states continue to work toward more aggressive renewable energy goals, comprehensive distribution planning should incorporate plans for DG growth and integration. Streamlining the interconnection process can save customers, installers, and utilities money, and can bring renewable energy to a more level playing field with traditional energy resources so that states can more easily meet energy and environmental policy objectives…


    Policymakers, regulators, utilities, installers, and customers can work together to make improvements to the interconnection process that will reduce interconnection timelines, lower costs, and improve customer experiences. Based on the findings of this study, we present a series of recommendations for policymakers, utilities, and installers, described below.


    1. Legislators and regulators should consider requiring online application and payment systems, requiring standardized application forms, and requiring utilities to post application checklists and up-to-date forms and instructions on public websites. Requirements for wet signatures should be repealed.

    2. Regulators, AHJs, and utilities should collaborate to standardize application procedures, requirements, and forms across different jurisdictions where possible. Policymakers and AHJs should implement policies and procedures to expedite permitting and inspections for PV systems, while utilities and AHJs should coordinate to streamline permitting and interconnection.

    3. Regulators and utilities should work to combine interconnection applications and PTO where possible, keeping in mind the potential for cost savings and improved customer satisfaction.

    4. Legislators and regulators should consider the impact of policy and incentive program uncertainty and “stop-and-go” incentive programs on utility resources when designing policies and incentive programs, and favor long-term step downs or gradual funding disbursements over other incentive program designs.

    5. Legislators and regulators should set clear, firm deadlines for utilities to approve interconnection applications, exchange meters when necessary, and grant PTO after all paperwork and inspections are completed, and should consider reducing those timelines when possible.

    6. Regulators should require utilities to post interconnection queues with clear project status information. Policymakers should require regular interconnection timeline performance reports.

    7. Regulators should require utilities to make grid capacity maps or data available to installers so that installers are aware of potential problem areas in advance. Furthermore, regulators should incorporate a strategy for accommodating increasing interconnection applications as part of larger distribution planning and grid modernization processes.

    8. Regulators, utilities, AHJs, installers, and customers can all benefit from the experiences and lessons learned in other jurisdictions and from communication among stakeholders. Each of these industry participants can encourage and facilitate workshops, webinars, trainings, and other education and outreach activities to enable such learning experiences. New policies and procedures should always be accompanied by education and outreach efforts.


    1. Utilities should consider voluntarily implementing online, automated application systems to simplify application and approval processes. Utilities should create online payment options for customers. Requirements for wet signatures should be repealed.

    2. Utilities that do not implement online systems should systematically improve their systems and processes to facilitate better communication between customers, installers, and utility staff. Changes to application procedures and requirements should take into account utility employee workflow and administrative procedures, and changes to internal procedures should be considered. Utilities should ensure that appropriate staff time and resources are allocated to interconnection departments especially where application numbers are rising.

    3. Utilities and regulators should work together to combine interconnection applications and PTO where possible, keeping in mind the potential for cost savings and improved customer satisfaction.

    4. Utilities should collaborate with regulators and AHJs to standardize application procedures, requirements, and forms across different jurisdictions, and to streamline permitting and interconnection processes where possible.

    5. Automatic screening for grid reliability and penetration issues should be built into utilities’ online application systems, and pre-application studies should be made available to customers, especially in higher DG penetration areas.

    6. Utilities should make grid capacity maps or data available to installers so that installers are aware of potential problem areas in advance.

    7. Utilities should ensure that an appropriate number of meters are in stock and consider initiating the meter exchange process earlier in the interconnection process.

    8. Regulators, utilities, AHJs, installers, and customers can all benefit from the experiences and lessons learned in other jurisdictions and from communication among stakeholders. Each of these industry participants can encourage and facilitate workshops, webinars, trainings, and other education and outreach activities to enable such learning experiences. New policies and procedures should always be accompanied by education and outreach efforts.


    1. Installers should systematically track utility response times in order to provide solar industry stakeholders, utilities, and regulators with clear examples of problems in the interconnection process, ultimately to inform policymaking.

    2. Regulators, utilities, AHJs, installers, and customers can all benefit from the experiences and lessons learned in other jurisdictions and from communication among stakeholders. Each of these industry participants can encourage and facilitate workshops, webinars, trainings, and other education and outreach activities to enable such learning experiences.


    As utilities continue to see strong growth in distributed solar and as policymakers continue to expand renewable energy goals, interconnection delays will likely remain a problem for the foreseeable future. Delays in connecting PV systems to the grid are costly to consumers and installers, and they hinder state and local efforts to move toward a clean energy economy. Utilities and policymakers can work together to streamline interconnection processing by improving regulations and applications, transitioning to online application systems, and allocating sufficient utility resources. Furthermore, regulators can begin to streamline the interconnection of high levels of PV by allowing installers to access grid capacity maps or data and by initiating comprehensive DG integration proceedings as part of distribution planning processes. Although interconnection delays continue to increase, technological advancements and policy changes are beginning to improve the process for customers, utilities, and installers. Smart policymaking and collaborative improvements to DG integration processes will make interconnection procedures more streamlined and less burdensome to all stakeholders.

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    QUICK NEWS, October 25: Will Voters Back Trump’s Coal Or Clinton’s Climate Action November 8?; Solar Building Corporate Balance Sheets; New Wires For More Wind Means Lower Power Prices

    Will Voters Back Trump’s Coal Or Clinton’s Climate Action November 8? The 2016 presidential election will be the biggest referendum on global climate change ever

    Valerie Volcovici and Devika Krishna Kumar (with Nichola Groom, Richard Valdmanis, Jessica Resnick-Ault, Ross Colvin), October 25, 2016 (Reuters via Business Insider)

    “…If the American voter had to choose between Republican nominee Donald Trump and his Democratic rival Hillary Clinton based on their energy policies alone, the presidential election…[would be] the biggest referendum on global climate change since the term was coined…How the country decides on Nov. 8 will have far-reaching implications for the price of electricity and gas at the pump, as well as the future of the U.S. energy industry, which employs about 10 million people...Trump's vision is an America where oil derricks pump furiously again, coal miners get back to work, and the country puts its own economy ahead of foreign nations worried about the effects of fossil fuels on sea levels, droughts, and storms.

    Clinton sees an America where half a billion solar panels power homes, cars run on electricity, oil use is cut by a third, and the clean energy sector provides a deep well of new jobs supported by government mandates and subsidies…Environmental advocates argue that a failure to agree on strong measures like the Paris accord would doom the world to ever-hotter average temperatures, bringing with them deadlier storms, more frequent droughts and rising sea levels as polar ice caps melt…Clinton says she wants to address that by making America a ‘clean energy superpower’…[by] phasing out fossil fuels, embracing clean energy sources like solar and wind, strengthening environmental protections and leading the world in curbing carbon dioxide emissions blamed for climate change…” click here for more

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    Solar Building Corporate Balance Sheets Corporate America Loves Solar Energy; Household companies like Target, Apple, and Walmart are some of the biggest solar customers in the U.S. today.

    Travis Hoium, October 24, 2016 (Motley Fool)

    “…[W]hen large companies choose to go solar, they're doing so based on the dollars and cents of the investment. You may not know if the Target or Walmart store you're shopping at has solar, but if it does, it's saving the company money. And today, U.S. corporations are installing solar energy rapidly as a way to save millions of dollars…[According to Solar Means Business 2016 from the Solar Energy Industries Association, there is] over 1 GW of solar for corporate customers, enough to power 193,000 homes. Target led the way with 147.5 MW, with 70 MW installed so far in 2016, while Walmart is using 145.0 MW. Apple's 93.9 MW and Costco's 50.7 MW means those companies are also among the top five installers…Seven out of ten among the top ten corporate customers have installed SunPower solar panels, reflecting the company's corporate focus. SolarCity, meanwhile, has Walmart as a major customer…One incredible stat from the report is that more than three quarters of the commercial solar installations and half of the capacity are at data centers…” click here for more

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    New Wires For More Wind Means Lower Power Prices New Wind Energy Study Aims to Break Transmission Barriers

    Tina Casey, October 24, 2016 (Triple Pundit)

    “As the cost of wind energy continues to fall, the U.S. wind industry is poised to continue its spectacular growth rate. There is just one problem, and it’s a big one: New wind farms can require new transmission lines, and lately some of those new transmission lines have become bogged down in the approval process…[T] he challenge is to get local property owners, other local stakeholders and the voting public firmly in its corner to approve new transmission routes…The wind industry is taking its case to consumers…[According to The Consumer Benefits of Wind Energy in Iowa, the industry is looking to Iowa as a test case for building public support for new transmission lines nationwide…Iowa already has a thriving wind industry thanks in large measure to the interest of legendary investor Warren Buffett…Adding 10,000 MW of wind beyond the amount that is currently operating and planned would save Iowa consumers about $12.6 billion on net over the next 25 years, with average annual savings in excess of $500 million…The average household would on net save $3,200 on their electric bills, while the average industrial customer would save $825,000…” click here for more

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