NewEnergyNews: 04/01/2017 - 05/01/2017/


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

    Saturday, April 29, 2017

    Finding Common Ground

    Listening is obligatory. Beer is optional. From Heineken via YouTube

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    Go To Work In Wind

    The fastest growing job in the country is wind technician, which pays a professional wage and benefits. From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

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    The Promise Of Robot Cars

    The central question: Will automated vehicles save energy? From the U.S. Dept. of Energy via YouTube

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    Friday, April 28, 2017

    Climate Change Is Driving People Nuts

    Climate Change May Lead To Poor Mental Health, New Study Finds

    Jessica Firger, March 30, 2017 (Newsweek)

    “…[A large body of research links medical conditions] to global warming…A new report finds climate change may precipitate psychological conditions including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety…Research shows that global warming is contributing to the increase in extreme weather…[and natural disasters that negatively affect living conditions, agriculture and community infrastructure. Studies] conducted in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina found approximately one in six residents living in affected areas met the criteria for PTSD, while 49 percent could be classified as having a mood disorder such as depression or anxiety…The report also found that more gradual effects of climate change, such as the frequency of extreme temperatures and rising sea levels, affect mental health in larger populations, causing problems such as food insecurity and a higher risk for certain infectious diseases…” click here for more

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    China Leading The Global Wind Boom

    China continues to lead global wind energy market, says new report

    Anmar Frangoul, 26 April 2017 (CNBC)

    “Over 54 gigawatts (GW) of wind power were installed in 2016 and cumulative capacity grew by more than 12 percent to hit 486.8 GW…[Nearly 60 GW of new wind installations are forecast for 2017 and cumulative installed capacity is expected to reach] more than 800 GW by the end of 2021 [according to the Global Wind Energy Council Annual Market Update. Asia is expected to] lead growth, with China – which installed 23 GW in 2016 – leading all markets…” click here for more

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    Harvesting The Riches Of Africa’s Deserts

    Solar Energy – A HUGE Bright Spot In The Desert; In the middle of the Moroccan desert in the Drâa-Tafilalet region, a few kilometres from the city of Ouarzazate stands the future largest concentrated solar power plant in the world.

    April 26, 2017 (Africa.Com)

    “Ouarzazate Solar Power Complex…went into operation in February 2016…[Once a filming location for Hollywood blockbusters like ‘Lawrence of Arabia,’ it] is now the location of the world’s largest concentrated solar power plant…It will supply [Morocco’s] more than one million people with electricity and avoid at least 730,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year…[Concentrated Solar Power (CSP)] is considered a future solution for producing renewable electricity [for Morocco, which now imports 90% of its energy…[Noor Ouarzazate is part of the national [four phase Noor Plan which] aims at the establishment of an electricity production capacity from the solar energy of 2000 MW by the year 2020. The project also includes training, technical expertise, research development and the promotion of an integrated solar industry. It is part of Morocco’s 2010-2030 energy strategy with the objective to improve the country’s energy security of supply to sustainably reduce the kingdom’s dependence on the imported oil and diversify production sources…” click here for more

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    Big Oil Faces Up To Cars With Plugs

    The Electric-Car Boom Is So Real Even Oil Companies Say It’s Coming

    Tom Randall, April 25, 2017 (Bloomberg News)

    “Electric cars are coming fast -- and that’s not just the opinion of carmakers anymore. Total SA, one of the world’s biggest oil producers, is now saying EVs may constitute almost a third of new-car sales by the end of the next decade…The surge in battery powered vehicles will cause demand for oil-based fuels to peak in the 2030s…[when] EVs will make up 15 percent to 30 percent of new vehicles…Other oil companies have been trimming their long-term forecasts for oil demand…[Royal Dutch Shell Plc recently reported] that oil demand may peak in the late 2020s…[and] set up a business unit to identify the clean technologies where it could be most profitable…Electric cars are beginning to compete with gasoline models on both price and performance…[B]attery prices are dropping by about 20 percent a year, and automakers have been spending billions to electrify their fleets…” click here for more

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    Thursday, April 27, 2017

    Inside The White House Fight On Climate

    The Trump White House is at war with itself about climate change

    Chis Mooney and Juliet Eilperin, April 26, 2017 (Washington Post)

    “…[White House officials are now deciding] whether President Trump should ‘cancel’ the Paris climate agreement, or allow the United States to remain a party to the global pact…Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and senior adviser Jared Kushner, who may also participate, support remaining in the agreement…Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt [wants the U.S. out of it] and Energy Secretary Rick Perry…suggested renegotiating the deal…[White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and chief strategist Stephen K. Bannon may also weigh in on a discussion of scenarios that] include pulling out of the voluntary agreement, or remaining part of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change…[Some suggest] the administration can scale back] and push countries such as China and India to commit to deeper emissions reductions. Opponents argue that strategy is unrealistic…[More than a dozen major firms, including Shell, BP, General Mills, Walmart, PG&E and Unilever have urged staying with] the accord…[The National Mining Association endorsed] a withdrawal…” click here for more

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    New Energy Is The Jobs Engine

    Today’s Energy Jobs Are in Solar, Not Coal

    Nadja Popovich, April 25, 2017 (NY Times)

    “President Trump has promised to revive the coal industry and double down on fossil fuels, creating ‘so many energy jobs,’ but…the solar industry employed many more Americans [in 2016] than coal, while wind power topped 100,000 jobs…In 2016, 1.9 million Americans were employed in electric power generation, mining and other fuel extraction activities…More than 373,000 Americans worked part or full time in solar energy…Most solar energy jobs were in installation, construction and manufacturing, as the relatively new industry continued to add capacity…The coal industry, which has shed jobs since 2012, primarily due to competition from cheap natural gas, employed just over 160,000 workers nationwide. About 54,000 coal jobs were in mining…” click here for more

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    Wind Industry Boom Getting Bigger

    Wind energy industry surging

    John Croman, April 22, 2017 (KARE-TV, Minneapolis-St. Paul)

    “The nation's wind energy industry is surging, adding jobs at nine times the pace of the US economy as a whole…[according to] the American Wind Energy Association annual report…[Wind] added over 14,000 jobs in one year…[and now employs] over 100,000 men and women…[including] 25,000 in manufacturing…President Trump last month signed an executive order loosening restrictions on coal burning power production, but in [wind-rich U.S. regions] utilities are embracing wind as a lower cost alternative that also happens to be cleaner…And as wind energy becomes more efficient, it [is expected to] translate to savings in customers' electricity bills…” click here for more

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    Funding Better Transportation

    California’s rough roads need a new kind of funding for the 21st century; New white paper finds SB1 is just the first step in bridging critical revenue gap

    “…California should consider adjusting a system that pins transportation infrastructure funding to the sale of gasoline and diesel…[because current measures are inadequate] close the critical gap between the amount of money needed to undertake the backlog of repairs to fix California’s roads… California roads are among the worst in the nation…[but] funding for repairs and improvements — which traditionally comes largely from motor vehicle fuel taxes — is declining as cars become more fuel-efficient and the state’s electric vehicle fleet grows…Inflation-adjusted fuel tax revenue declined 20 percent from 2010 to 2015, despite the fact that Californians have been driving more than ever…Fuel taxes are down in large part because low gas prices have driven reductions in tax revenue and new passenger cars and trucks have dramatically improved their fuel economy…" click here for more

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    Wednesday, April 26, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Mixed-ownership models spur utility investment in microgrids

    Public purpose microgrids: Mixed-ownership models spur utility investment in growing sector; Thinking of microgrids as public infrastructure — and financing them like it — could point the industry to new growth

    Herman K. Trabish, August 30, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Microgrid growth continues to fight against market forces.

    Rainstorm-driven floods and worsening seasonal wildfires are making companies and communities realize a backup power supply is an increasingly good bet. That trend promises to open up new opportunities for microgrid deployments that provide power on-site and without the grid. U.S. cumulative microgrid capacity is expected to reach 4.3 GW by 2020, according to GTM Research’s U.S. microgrids 2016. That represents a 116% increase in annual installed capacity from now until then. But analysts say many business opportunities remain closed off by mainstream private sector financing models, which fail to take into account the public service microgrids can play.

    Increasingly, however, utilities and other investors are using a financing tool known as private-public partnerships (P3), or “public purpose” financing. From 2010 to 2014, about 90% of microgrids were owned by the end user, but that share fell to 74% of the market in 2015 and is expected to be only 38% of the market in 2016. Utilities’ market share, which was 2% in 2014 and 5% in 2015, will jump to 18% in 2016. The big finding, however, was in mixed ownership. Though virtually nonexistent in 2013, the share of microgrids owned by multiple entities jumped to 10% in 2014 and was expected to be 38% of the market in 2016. Often these mixed ownership models include money from public institutions alongside utilities and private end users. This more diverse microgrid marketplace has two major drivers. Regulated utilities see opportunities to replace bulk power system investments with microgrid deployments. Private sector off-takers are increasingly interested in owning and operating specific microgrid assets through long-term power purchase agreements… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: How the wind industry can continue its boom into the 2020s

    Winds of change: How the industry can continue wind power's boom into the 2020s; Better grid integration and lower tech costs will be key to continuing wind's record growth, a new LBNL report finds

    Herman K. Trabish, September 1, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The wind boom goes on but the industry’s perspective on the post-2020 years has begun to shift since the Republicans took over the White House.

    Wind power is no longer an “alternative” source of energy. On many parts of the grid, it’s the cheapest energy around. In the windy regions of the U.S. interior, the average power purchase agreement (PPA) price for wind in 2009 was about $55/MWh; in 2015, it was about $20/MWh, according to the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) 2015 Wind Technologies Market Report. The low prices have attracted recent major commitments from Warren Buffett’s MidAmerican Energy and Midwestern utility giant Xcel Energy. LBNL reports numbers that describe a mainstream source of power generation, including a cumulative installed capacity at the end of 2016 of over 82 GW. Wind’s low prices are due in part to the long term extension of the $0.023/kWh federal production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2015, which will gradually phase out over the next five years. Throughout that time, wind’s growth is “projected to continue at a rapid clip,” LBNL reports.

    The big questions now are how high the system penetration can get and how low prices can drop. Beyond the five-year horizon lie questions about whether the price can remain competitive, whether the U.S. bulk power system can continue to accommodate wind’s variability, and whether solar will out-compete it. LBNL forecasts of expected capacity additions averaging over 8,000 MW per year from 2016 to 2020 proved true last year. But they also suggest a potential downturn from 2021 to 2023. The key factor in the potential downturn is the stepped phase-down of the PTC from its full value for projects which begin construction by the end of 2016 and go online by the end of 2020. It will be 80% of that value for projects that go into construction in 2017, then 60% for the next year, and 40% for projects that begin construction by 2019. Adding to wind industry concerns are low natural gas prices, limited growth in electricity demand, slowing state renewables mandates, inadequate transmission infrastructure, and competition from utility-scale solar, LBNL adds… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Rhode Island targets a common perspective on DER values

    Confidence in collaboration: Rhode Island targets a common perspective on DER values; Faced with a rate design impasse, Ocean State regulators have opened a broader docket on distributed energy valuation

    Herman K. Trabish, September 6, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Rhode Island, along with most states in New England and many others across the country, continues to work toward finding the right way to value DER.

    When it comes to defining the future of distributed energy, Rhode Island is out to prove Mark Twain right that “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog.” In 2014, the smallest U.S. state enacted its Renewable Energy Growth (REG) program to stimulate utility adoption of distributed energy resources (DERs). The REG program mandated state regulators open a proceeding in the second half of 2015 to decide if the state needed rate structure reforms to respond to growth in DERs, such as rooftop solar. The state was well along toward its initial goal for 40 MW of DER and was making plans for 160 MW more by 2019 when the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission (PUC) convened the mandated proceeding (docket 4568) in July 2015. But familiar disagreements over customer fees and the value of distributed resources quickly froze progress, with stakeholders balking at an initial utility rate proposal.

    More recently, the state has been working in a new docket regulators hope will take the heat out of DER discussions and allow the two sides to move forward. Through a step-by-step regulatory process that leverages the state’s history of power sector collaboration, stakeholders hope to settle on common expectations and measurements to evaluate future distributed energy proposals. One of the sources of dispute in the previous docket (4568) was inadequately-substantiated claims that DERs provide benefits to the grid, PUC Staff wrote in the memo. Those arguing the point failed to show how such benefits could be measured or whether they supported the goals of legislated state policies, Staff added. Docket 4600 intervenors should be especially focused on “the benefits of distributed-energy resources” and “the distribution services being provided to net-metered customers when the distributed generation is not producing electricity,” the memo instructs. They should use “equitable ratemaking principles regarding the allocation of the costs of the distribution system” and “cost causation principles” to evaluate those costs and benefits…Getting the value of DER right is essential for setting compensation rates and charges that guide economically efficient investment decisions and are fair to customers who do and do not own DER,” Pace Executive Director Karl Rabago responded… click here for more

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    Tuesday, April 25, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Way To Grow EVs With Electricity Rates

    EVgo Fleet and Tariff Analysis -- Phase 1: California

    Garrett Fitzgerald and Chris Nelder, April 6, 2017 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    Executive Summary

    Public direct current fast chargers (DCFC) are anticipated to play an important role in accelerating electric vehicle (EV) adoption and mitigating transportation sector greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. However, the high cost of utility demand charges is a significant barrier to the development of viable business models for public DCFC network operators.

    With today’s EV market penetration and current public DCFC utilization rates, demand charges can be responsible for over 90% of electricity costs, which are as high as $1.96/kWh at some locations during summer months.

    This issue will be compounded by the deployment of next-generation fast-charging stations, which are designed with more than two 50 kW DCFC per site and with higher-power DCFC (150kW or higher).

    As state legislators begin to craft legislation defining the role of utilities in deploying, owning and operating electric vehicle charging stations (EVSE) and other supporting infrastructure, it is critical that utility tariffs for EV charging support, rather than stifle, the shift to EVs. Utilities, their regulators, and EV charging station owners and operators must work together to provide all EV drivers—especially those without home and workplace charging options—access to reliable EV charging at a rate competitive with the gasoline equivalent cost of $0.29/kWh.

    Put another way, it should be possible for DCFC operators to sell power to end-users for $0.09/mile or less, while still operating a sustainable business.

    This project analyzed data from every charging session in 2016 from all 230 of EVgo’s DC fast charging stations in the state of California. From that data, we developed demand profiles for eight common types of site hosts, and analyzed the components of EVgo’s costs based on the utility tariffs the charging stations were on.

    We also created a workbook modeling tool that EVgo could use to test the effect that different tariffs would have on its network of charging stations within the territory of the three major California investor-owned utilities (IOUs): Southern California Edison (SCE), San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E), and Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). To provide context for this modeling, we created four scenarios describing the possible future evolution of the EV and public charging markets.

    These scenarios were narrative in nature, and mainly served as conceptual guides to future cost modeling.

    After modeling how different current and future tariffs affect the utility bills for each type of site where EVgo’s DCFC are located, and how those bills might look under the four scenarios in the future, we developed a critique of the various tariffs and some recommendations for future EV-specific rate design efforts.

    We concluded that, in order to promote a conducive business environment for public DCFC charging stations like EVgo’s, tariffs should have the following characteristics:

    • Time-varying volumetric rates, such as those proposed for SDG&E’s Public Charging Grid Integration Rate(GIR). Ideally, these volumetric charges would recover all, or nearly all, of the cost of providing energy and system capacity. An adder can be used to recover excessive costs for distribution capacity, but only costs in excess of the cost of meeting the same level of usage at a uniform demand rate, and ideally such an adder would be something the customer can try to avoid. The highest-cost periods of the time-of-use (ToU) tariff should coincide with the periods of highest system demand (or congestion) to the maximum practical degree of granularity.

    • Low fixed charges, which primarily reflect routine costs for things like maintenance and billing.

    • The opportunity to earn credit for providing grid services, perhaps along the lines of a solar net-metering design.

    • Rates that vary by location. “Locational marginal pricing” is conventionally a feature of wholesale electricity markets, reflecting the physical limits of the transmission system. But the concept could be borrowed for the purpose of siting charging depots, especially those that feature DCFC, in order to increase the efficiency of existing infrastructure and build new EV charging infrastructure at low cost. This could be done, for example, by offering low rates for DCFC installed in overbuilt and underutilized areas of the grid, particularly for “eHub” charging depots serving fleet and ridesharing vehicles.

    • Limited or no demand charges. Where demand charges are deemed to be necessary, it is essential that they be designed only to recover location-specific costs of connection to the grid, not upstream costs of distribution circuits, transmission, or generation. Our analysis shows that the new EV-specific tariffs proposed by SDG&E and SCE in their SB 350 Transportation Electrification applications would have far more stable and certain costs than the tariffs currently available in their territories, and would meet the objective of delivering public charging to end-users for less than $0.09/mile, in all four scenarios. This is primarily due to the lower or non-existent demand charges outlined in the new tariffs.

    We show that reducing or eliminating demand charges for the commercial public DCFC market, as these new tariffs do, is consistent with good rate-design principles and helps California to achieve its social objectives. We suggest that recovering nearly all utility costs for generation, transmission, and distribution through volumetric rates is appropriate for tariffs that apply to public DCFC, and that recovering some portion of those costs from the general customer base would be justifiable because public DCFC provide a public good. Finally, we offer some additional suggestions for how EVgo might reduce the cost of operating its network, beyond switching tariffs.

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    QUICK NEWS, April 25: Private Sector Takes Over The Climate Fight; How Sea Level Rise Would Change The Map; Wind Jobs Top 100,000 As Wind Energy Booms

    Private Sector Takes Over The Climate Fight Report: Fortune 500 Companies Accelerating Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency Efforts; Clean energy actions saving companies $3.7 billion a year, cutting annual carbon pollution equivalent to 45 coal-fired power plants.

    April 25, 2017 (World Wildlife Fund)

    “Despite efforts in Washington to sideline action on climate change, a growing number of Fortune 500 companies are taking increasingly ambitious steps to reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, procure more renewable energy and reduce their energy bills through energy efficiency…Sixty-three percent of Fortune 100 companies have set one or more clean energy targets. Nearly half of Fortune 500 companies – 48 percent – have at least one climate or clean energy target, up five percent from an earlier 2014 report…[Significant numbers of companies are] setting 100 percent renewable energy goals and science-based GHG reduction targets that align with the global goal of limiting global temperature rise to below two degrees Celsius [according to Power Forward 3.0: How the largest U.S. companies are capturing business value while addressing climate change…” click here for more

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    How Sea Level Rise Would Change The Map Animated map of what Earth would look like if all the ice melted

    April 22, 2017 (Business Insider)

    “…Sea levels have been rising at a greater rate year after year, and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change estimates they could rise by another meter or more by the end of this century…[If we keep burning fossil fuels indefinitely, global warming will eventually melt all the ice at the poles and on mountaintops, raising sea level by 216 feet. This graphic from National Geographic shows how that] would dramatically reshape the continents and drown many of the world's major cities.” click here for more

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    Wind Jobs Top 100,000 As Wind Energy Booms The US wind industry now employs more than 100,000 people

    Brady Dennis, April 23, 2017 (Washington Post via Denver Post)

    “…[Wind turbine technician is the] fastest-growing occupation in the United States…The number of workers maintaining wind turbines, a job with a median pay of about $51,000 a year, is set to more than double between 2014 and 2024, [according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics]…That’s a more rapid growth rate than that of physical therapists, financial advisers, home health aides and genetic counselors…[That growth hints at the flourishing of the U.S. and renewables industries. In 2016, for the first time, more than 100,000 people in the United States were employed in some manner by the wind industry and the] industry grew by double digits once again…[It now provides] about 5.5 percent of overall generation…” click here for more

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    Monday, April 24, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Risk Of Natural Gas Vs. The Risk Of Wind

    Using Probability of Exceedance to Compare the Resource Risk of Renewable and Gas-Fired Generation

    Mark Bolinger, March 2017 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Of the myriad risks surrounding long-term investments in power plants, resource risk is one of the most difficult to mitigate, and is also perhaps the risk that most-clearly distinguishes renewable generation from natural gas-fired generation. For renewable generators like wind and solar projects, resource risk manifests as a quantity risk—i.e., the risk that the quantity of wind and insolation will be less than expected.

    For gas-fired generators (i.e., a combined-cycle gas turbine or “CCGT”), resource risk manifests primarily as a price risk—i.e., the risk that natural gas will cost more than expected. Most often, resource risk—and natural gas price risk in particular—falls disproportionately on utility ratepayers, who are typically not well-equipped to manage this risk. As such, it is incumbent upon utilities, regulators, and policymakers to ensure that resource risk is taken into consideration when making or approving resource decisions, or enacting policies that influence the development of the electricity sector more broadly.

    This paper presents a new framework, grounded in statistical concepts related to probability of exceedance (and confidence intervals more broadly), to incorporate resource risk into decision-making processes. This framework recognizes that the same probability of exceedance concepts that are regularly used to characterize the uncertainty around annual energy production for wind and solar projects can also be applied to natural gas price projections, allowing one to develop a probabilistic range of projections for not only wind and solar capacity factors, but also natural gas prices.

    Importantly, these probability distributions have markedly divergent characteristics. Renewable resource risk is symmetrical about the mean or “P50” projection and declines when considered over longer time horizons (due to mean reversion in the inter-annual variability of the resource). In contrast, natural gas price risk is asymmetrical (skewed towards higher prices) and increases when considered over longer time horizons (reflecting the fact that it is easier to project where natural gas prices will be three months from now than three years from now). Converting these distinctly different probability distributions into directly comparable levelized cost of energy (“LCOE”) terms reveals that even when gas-fired generation is competitive with, or cheaper than, wind and solar power on an expected or P50 basis—the basis on which these resources are most often compared—comparisons that are instead based on worse-than-expected outcomes (e.g., P25 or P1) often reach the opposite conclusion: that wind and solar are cheaper than gas-fired generation.

    Figure ES-1 illustrates this concept by comparing the 25-year LCOE of a new wind project in the United States (without the benefit of the production tax credit or “PTC”) to that of a new CCGT across P-levels ranging from P50-P1 and over time horizons ranging from one to 25 years. The range of time horizons along the x-axis warrants additional explanation to avoid confusion. Every data point shown on Figure ES-1—regardless of where it falls along the x-axis—represents an LCOE that is calculated over a 25-year period (in nominal dollars). These 25-year LCOEs are based on modeling inputs that are held constant in all cases, with two exceptions—the wind project’s capacity factor and the CCGT’s levelized fuel costs vary by P-level and by time horizon. The x-axis simply represents the time horizon (in number of years) over which these two important, but uncertain, inputs into the 25-year LCOE calculation are considered.

    For example, at year 12 on the x-axis, wind’s 25-year LCOE range reflects 12-year P50 and 12-year P1 capacity factors used as inputs to the 25-year LCOE calculation; similarly, the range of gasfired LCOE reflects 12-year P50 and 12-year P1 gas price projections that are levelized over 12 years and then used as the fuel price inputs in the 25-year LCOE calculation.

    In Figure ES-1, wind (without the PTC) is more expensive than gas-fired generation on a P50 basis over all time horizons of less than 24 years (the two P50 curves converge at 24 years). But on a P25 basis, the cost of wind falls below the cost of gas-fired generation for all time horizons longer than 15 years.

    This “break-even” point—where the wind and gas-fired LCOE curves for each P-level cross—drops to 10, 8, and 2 years for P10, P5, and P1 levels, respectively.

    In other words, Figure ES-1 presents an illustrative example where wind, without the PTC, is not ostcompetitive with new gas-fired generation (except over a 24-year or longer time horizon) when evaluated on a P50 basis as is typically done. But when considering the possibility of worse-than-P50 outcomes (i.e., higher than-expected natural gas prices and/or a lower-than-expected wind resource), wind looks more competitive—particularly the lower the P-level and the longer the time horizon—and in many cases is cheaper than gas-fired generation.

    The “wedges” that begin where the respective wind and gas-fired LCOE curves at each P-level cross and then widen over longer time horizons illustrate wind’s “hedge value,” which increases with both the level of risk aversion (assumed to be negatively correlated with the P-level—i.e., a lower P-level suggests greater risk aversion) and the time horizon.

    Figure ES-2 shows much the same story for a utility-scale solar photovoltaic project. In this example, solar (with the 30% investment tax credit or “ITC”) is always more expensive than gas-fired generation on a P50 basis, regardless of time horizon shown.

    But, as with wind, worse-than-P50 comparisons reveal solar to be more competitive: the solar and gas-fired P25 LCOE curves converge at a 25-year time horizon, while the P10, P5, and P1 curves show solar’s hedge value starting to accrue at progressively shorter time horizons.

    Another related way to interpret Figures ES-1 and ES-2 is that higher-than-expected gas prices are riskier than lower-than-expected wind or solar output. This suggests that from a ratepayer perspective, we should perhaps be more concerned about gas price risk than about wind or solar resource risk. In other words, in a case where two scenarios—one focusing on higher-than-expected gas prices and another focusing on lower-than-expected wind or solar resources—may be considered to have the same probability (i.e., the same P-level), the resulting impact of the high gas price scenario may be more harmful to ratepayers than the impact of the low wind/solar resource scenario.

    Although the discussion surrounding Figures ES-1 and ES-2 has so far focused on LCOE comparisons at distinct P-levels, by definition, each P-value has an associated probability, thereby enabling a more formal probabilistic assessment. For example, although probability of exceedance does not necessarily imply probability of occurrence, the P50 outcome can nevertheless be thought of as carrying a 50% weight, while the P1 outcome can be given a 1% weight, with all other P-values that fall in between these two extremes (e.g., P49, P48, P47…P4, P3, P2) weighted accordingly (i.e., 49%, 48%, 47%...4%, 3%, 2%). Hence, within this framework, one can easily “probability-weight” the full range of outcomes across the full P50-P1 spectrum, or even some subset thereof—e.g., perhaps just the P50-P25 range for those who are less risk averse.

    The probabilistic nature of this new framework is one of its key advantages over previously proposed approaches to account for the price stability benefit of wind and solar power. Other advantages include its fairness (recognizing that wind and solar also face resource risk), familiarity (probability of exceedance is already widely used within the energy industry), simplicity (just a few key inputs are needed to set up these comparisons), and flexibility (this framework caters to any level of risk aversion over any time horizon).

    Of course, cost is only one side of the equation (value being the other), and few if any resource decisions within the electricity sector are made based on LCOE alone. Instead, the cost of competing resources must be considered along with the value that each provides, which is most often determined by sophisticated models that endogenously assess energy and capacity value as well as integration and transmission costs—all in addition to the LCOE of the generator itself. In this sense, it should be recognized from the start that this report is focused on just one side of a two-sided coin.

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    QUICK NEWS, April 24: The Health Impacts Of Climate Change; New Energy Is Everywhere; Study Shows LA Does Not Need Aliso Canyon

    The Health Impacts Of Climate Change It’s the mother of all human health issues

    Jeffrey Delviscio, April 24, 2017 (STAT)

    “…[Human civilization as we know it today is] the product of a lucky greenhouse…[Climate change is a threat and to it that] represents a set of new risks to our health, our infrastructure, our relatively stable existence…[A]ges before humans began adding to that change, the climate system created the perfect conditions for human existence during a period called the Holocene…Agriculture started, human urbanization started because there was a remarkably] long period of time, 10,000 to 12,000 years of the Holocene, in which temperatures didn’t really move that much globally…[Climate change] could introduce some nasty disruptions…Swings in temperatures, changing weather patterns, and sea level rise could all have serious effects on human health…[producing] more heat-related morbidity and mortality…” click here for more

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    New Energy Is Everywhere The Surprising List of States Leading U.S. on Renewable Energy; New report ranks states on their recent clean energy momentum, and leaders emerge among both blue and red states, although California is No. 1 overall

    Zahra Hirji, April 21, 2017 (Inside Climate News)

    “…[Different states are leaders in New Energy and they are] led by Republicans and Democrats alike…Kansas led the nation in largest increase in renewable energy generation between 2011-15. Hawaii ranked No. 1 in residential solar power. In California, electric vehicles made up the highest percentage of new car sales last year…And in Iowa, in-state companies could most easily procure renewable energy from utilities and third-party providers in 2016…[The Union of Concerned Scientists analysis used] a dozen metrics to gauge a state's participation in the clean energy industry over time. They measured a state's existing and planned adoption of renewable energy sources, the impact of the industry on jobs and reviewed policies designed to grow the industry. Every state was ranked in each category, and overall…[California was the leader overall but some smaller states and some Republican-led states] also excelled…” click here for more

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    Study Shows LA Does Not Need Aliso Canyon L.A. County study decries state claims for need of Aliso Canyon storage plant

    Ivan Penn, March 31, 2017 (LA Times)

    “A scathing Los Angeles County study has concluded that the troubled Aliso Canyon natural gas facility isn’t needed to ensure reliability of electricity and gas service in the region this summer or the coming winter…That review sharply contrasts with the dire warnings issued last summer by state regulators, who stirred up fears of blackouts and the possibility of snuffed-out pilot lights…[According to the county’s study from EES Consulting, which NewEnergyNews is attempting to obtain, the] California Public Utilities Commission and the California Energy Commission have produced reports that…[are ‘confusing and inconsistent’ on] the need for Aliso Canyon…” click here for more

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    Friday, April 21, 2017

    Bill Maher Says Make Earth Great Again

    Bill Maher says forget about colonizing Mars and focus on making earth habitable. From Real Time With Bill Maher via YouTube

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    The Electric Vehicle Highway

    This EV highway, now on its way to becoming a reality, is another gift to the future from the Obama administration. From Futurism via YouTube

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