NewEnergyNews: 03/01/2021 - 04/01/2021/


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

    Wednesday, March 31, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Tomorrow’s Power System

    Edison Reimagines California’s Distribution System

    Herman K. Trabish, January 5, 2021 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: The demands on the power system have become more clear since this story ran, making the need for future technologies more urgent.

    Distributed energy’s explosive growth makes integrating it in a way that supports the power system critical, according to a new white paper from Southern California Edison. The paper forecasts significant growth of distributed energy resources (DER) in California and “we want to have the system technologies to see and manage their impacts,” SCE VP of Asset Management, Strategy & Engineering Paul Grigaux said. SCE’s Reimagining the Grid aims to guide “where and why we should turn right or turn left in building a distribution system to address evolving needs,” he added.

    The new white paper is the next phase of a debate that started with SCE’s 2018 rate case and is leading to alignment between utilities and DER advocates, Grigaux said. Agreement is increasing between California regulators and other stakeholders about a quickly evolving future.

    SCE’s grid evolution proposal is at the “cutting edge” of distribution system planning, Vote Solar Senior Director for Grid Integration Ed Smeloff said. Both its vision and call for collaboration with other stakeholders are important, he added. Greater reliance on variable wind and solar resources and the growth of DER will require managing “challenges to safety, grid stability, asset condition, reliability and resilience.”

    That is according to SCE’s newest addition to its Pathway 2045 vision of how to meet California’s net zero emissions mandate set for 2045.

    The design and architecture of the grid have not evolved at the same pace as its component technologies. Therefore, fundamental changes are needed in how the grid is planned, designed, built and operated, according to SCE’s paper. There will be a 60% growth in electricity demand, a 40% growth in peak load, over 20 million light-duty electric vehicles, and “mass adoption of DER like solar and batteries” by 2045, it added. While electricity demand becomes more variable customers’ expectations for reliability and resilience increase.

    One of the challenges that concerns SCE is that inverter-based customer-owned technologies, such as distributed solar and batteries, can impact system voltage and frequency and threaten system stability, Grigaux said. To address it, the utility needs visibility into “how the grid is operating at any node in the system to be able to respond to disturbances or outages.” The “reimagined” system will also require “more region-specific, ‘modular’ grid designs” and better “forward radar” to foresee customer adoption of technologies and the system issues they present, the paper said. Planning must take a “multiple scenario-driven, adaptive and more proactive approach using probabilistic analyses” to create system flexibility to address future uncertainty… click here for more

    New Energy Dominated Early 2021

    Back-To-Back FERC And EIA Reports Show Strong Start For Solar And Wind In 2021: Solar Electrical Production Grows 21.7% While Wind's Output Increases 6.6%; Solar And Wind Are The Only Sources Of New Generating Capacity In January

    Ken Bossong, March 25, 2021 (SUN DAY Campaign)

    “…[New data from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) showed] solar and wind have made a strong start in 2021…[U]tility-scale solar thermal and photovoltaic (PV) plants produced 23.1% more electricity in January 2021 than they did a year earlier while estimated small-scale solar (e.g., rooftop PV systems) increased by 18.8%...[Combined, solar grew 21.7% and provided 2.4% of the nation's electrical output…[Wind increased] by 6.6% in January 2021, compared to the first month of 2020, and provided 8.6% of U.S. electrical output. Together, wind and solar increased by 9.5% and accounted for a bit more than 11.0% of net generation in January…Along with other "green" energy sources (i.e., biomass, geothermal, hydropower), renewables grew by 6.3% and accounted for more than a fifth (20.2%) of U.S. electrical production in January 2021compared to 19.6% the year before…

    …[S]olar and wind provided all of the new electrical generating capacity added in the first month of this year. Twenty-seven "units" of utility-scale solar provided 724-MW while two units of wind added 554-MW…Renewable energy sources collectively now account for 24.30% of the nation’s total available installed generating capacity…[leading] coal (19.43%) and nuclear power (8.50%)…[W]ind and solar combined account for 14.46%…[R]enewables now appear to be on track to reach - and likely exceed - 30% of the nation's total generating capacity by 2025…[and] the generating capacities of coal and oil are projected to plummet…” click here for more

    Monday, March 29, 2021

    Monday Study: The Fight For EVs In 2020

    The 50 States of Electric Vehicles: 2020 Review and Q4 2020

    Autumn Proudlove, Brian Lips, David Sarkisian, February 2021 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    Executive Summary


    In 2020, 50 states plus DC took a total of 598 policy and deployment actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. Table 1 provides a summary of state and utility actions on these topics. Of the 598 actions identified, the most common were related to financial incentives (150), followed by regulation (124) and market development (114).


    Ten states taking the greatest number of actions related to electric vehicles, or some of the most impactful actions, are noted below.

    New Jersey

    New Jersey lawmakers enacted major legislation early in 2020, adopting a requirement for 85% of light-duty vehicles sold or leased in the state to be plug-in electric vehicles by December 31, 2040. The legislation also included requirements for charging station deployment, state electric vehicle procurement, and new incentive programs for electric vehicles and charging infrastructure. State regulators also approved a shared responsibility model to advance electric vehicle adoption.


    The Governor of California signed an executive order setting a goal for 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emission by 2035, as well as a goal for 100% of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles to be zero-emission by 2045. The California Public Utilities Commission considered a draft transportation electrification framework, vehicle-to-grid integration, and electric vehicle sub-metering protocols, as well as utility incentive, rate design, and deployment proposals.

    New York

    The New York Public Service Commission established an electric vehicle make-ready initiative in 2020, which requires utilities to provide incentives for Level 2 and DC fast charging makeready infrastructure. Later in the year, utilities filed proposals for residential managed charging programs, as required by the Commission. Regulators also considered electric vehicle programs proposed by New York State Electric & Gas and Rochester Gas & Electric.


    Utilities filed their 2020 electric vehicle tariff reports and transportation electrification plans, while the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission considered many individual electric vehicle programs proposed by utilities to address particular customer segments and pilot new strategies. These programs include residential and DC fast charging rate designs, new incentive programs, and utility deployment of charging infrastructure.


    Colorado’s major utilities, Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy, filed their transportation electrification plans in 2020, including an array of programs targeting different customer segments with incentives, direct deployment, and rates. The Colorado State Energy Office also released its 2020 electric vehicle plan, and state lawmakers enacted legislation requiring new home builders to offer charging stations or pre-wiring for charging equipment.


    The Wisconsin Public Service Commission issued an order in its investigation into electric vehicle policy and regulation, encouraging utilities to file electric vehicle pilot programs. Regulators also considered programs proposed by Xcel Energy, Wisconsin Electric Power Company, and Wisconsin Public Service including new charging rates and programs leasing utility-owned charging equipment.


    The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority continued to consider zero-emission vehicles during 2020, with both Eversource and United Illuminating filing comprehensive zero-emission vehicle program proposals including a variety of incentives, as well as managed charging programs. The Department of Energy and Environmental Protection also released an electric vehicle roadmap for the state, which includes numerous policy recommendations to accelerate electric vehicle adoption.

    New Mexico

    During 2020, Xcel Energy, PNM, and El Paso Electric filed expansive transportation electrification plans, including a variety of incentives, new rate designs, and direct utility deployment. The plans include numerous programs addressing different customer segments, as well as additional incentives for low-income customers. El Paso Electric’s plan also includes an electrification grid impact study.


    In Oregon, PacifiCorp filed its transportation electrification plan, describing plans for future rate structures and incentive programs. Regulators approved new charging incentive programs proposed by Portland General Electric, as well as modifications to line extension allowance policies. The Governor signed an executive order establishing greenhouse gas reduction goals and requiring a transportation electrification needs analysis to be conducted.


    In 2020, Hawaii lawmakers considered numerous bills related to electric vehicle incentives, dedicated electric vehicle charging-enabled parking, and state procurement of electric vehicles, although these bills did not ultimately pass. The Public Utilities Commission is considering electric vehicle rate design in its distributed energy resources proceeding, while the HECO utilities proposed new pilot rates, and electric bus program, and a make-ready infrastructure program.


    Utilities Filing Expansive Transportation Electrification Plans

    A growing number of utilities are filing transportation electrification plans, including an array of programs to promote the development of charging infrastructure for different market segments and encourage vehicle charging during off-peak hours. Utilities in a number of states, including Colorado, Minnesota, Missouri, New Mexico, and Oregon filed transportation electrification plans during 2020.

    Growing Use of the Make-Ready Infrastructure Model

    States and utilities are increasingly utilizing the make-ready model for charging infrastructure deployment, with utilities supplying wiring and supporting infrastructure, and private companies supplying charging stations. Oftentimes, utilities will offer rebates for the charging stations as well. New Jersey and New York regulators issued decisions moving forward with this model, while utilities in Connecticut, Hawaii, and Michigan have proposed make-ready programs.

    State Policymakers Adopting Bold Electric Vehicle Targets

    State policymakers are beginning to adopt ambitious targets for electric vehicle or zeroemission vehicle adoption in the overall market – not just state fleet vehicles. The Governor of California signed an executive order establishing a goal for 100% of in-state sales of new passenger cars and trucks to be zero-emission by 2035. In New Jersey, lawmakers set a goal for 85% of all light-duty vehicles sold or leased in the state to be plug-in electric vehicles by the end of 2040.

    Utilities Proposing Passive and Active Managed Charging Programs

    A number of utilities are proposing managed charging programs as growing emphasis is put on off-peak charging and avoiding grid impacts. In New York, utilities filed a variety of managed charging programs for residential customers, and in Connecticut, United Illuminating proposed a passive and active managed charging pilot with three levels of participation, ranging from time-of-use rate enrollment and survey completion to active charging management by the utility.

    Utilities Committing to Electrify Their Own Fleets

    Many utilities announced commitments to electrify all or a portion of their own fleets during 2020, and Michigan regulators directed Consumers Energy to file a proposal in its next rate case. Utilities making fleet electrification announcements include Xcel Energy, Duke Energy, First Energy, Alliant Energy, HECO, Southern Company, Commonwealth Edison, PNM, and NorthWestern Energy.

    Encouraging Charging Infrastructure Development at Multi-Family Buildings

    States and utilities are paying greater attention to deploying charging infrastructure at multifamily buildings – a segment that poses some unique challenges. In 2020, New Jersey legislators enacted a bill requiring 30% of all multi-family properties to be equipped with charging infrastructure by the end of 2030. California regulators also considered a pilot proposed by San Diego Gas & Electric designed to deploy charging infrastructure at multi-unit dwellings.

    Utilities Developing Off-Peak Charging Bill Credit Programs

    Many utilities are proposing programs providing bill credits to customers for electric vehicle charging done during off-peak hours. Minnesota Power requested approval for an off-peak charging rewards pilot, and El Paso Electric included an electric vehicle charging incentive credit program in its New Mexico transportation electrification plan. In Maryland, Exelon proposed a new off-peak charging credit program as well.

    States and Utilities Offering Additional Incentives for Low-Income Customers

    Several of the electric vehicle and charging station incentive programs under consideration include additional incentives for low-income customers in order to make electric vehicle adoption more feasible. In New Mexico, transportation electrification plans filed by Xcel Energy, PNM, and El Paso Electric all include additional charging station incentives specifically for low-income customers. Black Hills Energy and Eversource have also proposed programs including additional incentives for low-income customers.

    States Preparing Electric Vehicle Roadmaps and Infrastructure Plans

    States continue to develop electric vehicle roadmaps including deployment goals and policy recommendations to achieve them. Some states are also undertaking studies to examine charging infrastructure needs and optimal siting. In 2020, electric vehicle roadmaps were released in Colorado, Connecticut, and Florida, while infrastructure needs analyses were underway in Ohio, Oregon, and Utah.

    Utilities Filing Residential Charger Leasing Pilot Proposals

    Although most utilities are proposing incentives for residential charging stations, rather than direct deployment, a growing contingent of utilities are requesting approval for pilot programs in which the utility will effectively lease chargers to residential customers. Xcel Energy proposed such pilot programs in Colorado, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. Additional utilities in Missouri and Wisconsin have filed proposals for similar programs.

    IN COMPARISON: 2019 VS. 2020

    Total electric vehicle action held steady in 2020, with approximately the same number of actions taken in 2019 and 2020. In 2020, activity increased in the Rate Design, Financial Incentives and Deployment categories, while decreasing in Studies and Investigations, Regulation, and Market Development. The number of states taking actions increased in Rate Design and Deployment as well, while declining slightly in each of the other categories. State lawmakers enacted at least 35 bills related to electric vehicles during 2020.


    In Q4 2020, 43 states plus DC took a total of 270 legislative and regulatory actions related to electric vehicles. Table 2 provides a summary of state and utility actions occurring during Q4 2020. Of the 270 actions catalogued, the most common were related to Financial Incentives (64), followed by Market Development (53), and Rate Design (44).


    North and South Carolina Regulators Approve Duke Energy Electric Vehicle Programs…California Public Service Commission Adopts Vehicle-to-Grid Integration Strategies…El Paso Electric and PNM File Transportation Electrification Plans in New Mexico…New York Utilities File Residential Managed Charging Proposals…Michigan Regulators Approve Consumers Energy PowerMIFleet Program…

    Saturday, March 27, 2021

    Community Solar – An Idea Whose Time Has Come

    This idea can deliver solar to people who don’t have solar-suitable roofs or solar-suitable bank accounts and it should as common as electrical outlets. From Bloomberg Quicktakes via YouTube

    Big Wind Breaks New Barriers

    GE is ready to put the biggest wind turbine ever to work in offshore projects. This is an engineering marvel, taller than an 85-story building and equivalent to taking 9,000 cars off the road. From Tech Vision via YouTube

    New Energy Is Red White Blue – And Green

    New Energy is not a partisan issue, it is a way to spread energy sector wealth up and down the economy.From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

    Friday, March 26, 2021

    Investors Are Moving To New Energy

    The End Of Big Oil Spending; Global spending on renewables is quickly catching up to oil and gas

    Tim McDonnell, March 22, 2021 (Quartz)

    “…[Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest state-owned oil company, reported] a 44% decline in net profits in 2020 thanks to the pandemic. With global oil demand unlikely to bounce fully back until at least 2022, the company said it will shave up to $10 billion off its capital spending plans this year… ExxonMobil announced a similarly-sized spending cut…Globally, fossil fuel companies’ spending on “upstream” activities (finding and producing oil and gas) fell by nearly one-third in 2020…Meanwhile, spending on solar and wind farms is setting new records and catching up fast. In 2019, global renewables spending was nearly 60% below upstream oil and gas; in 2021, the gap is projected to be just 22%...

    …Oil and gas spending will likely rise a bit with the post-pandemic economic recovery, but the gap to renewables will continue to narrow as oil companies contend with the long-term contraction of their market. Since the beginning of 2020, leading oil majors have written down the value of their fossil-producing assets by more than $100 billion…[They are] focusing on their lowest-cost sources of production and not hunting for new sources…Renewables, however, are in a period of rapid growth as costs fall and demand surges for zero-carbon electricity…” click here for more

    …Because The Returns Are Much Better

    Global Renewables Investment Return 7 Times Higher Than Fossil Fuels

    Felicia Jackson, March 19, 2021 (Forbes)

    “…Renewable power has a superior risk/return profile over fossil fuels both in periods of volatility and under normal conditions…[L]isted renewable power portfolios have outperformed listed fossil fuel portfolios in all markets…[and] the cost of capital remains lower for renewable energy companies than fossil fuel companies…[R]enewable power generated [over 7 times the] total returns over the last ten years, at 422.7% against 59% for fossil fuels or over 7 times the return…Annualised volatility was lower than fossil fuel portfolios in the Global and Advanced economies and higher than the fossil fuel portfolios in China and Emerging Markets & Developing Economies…[There was a] superior risk/return profile for renewable power portfolios in both typical market conditions and during global economic imbalances…

    …[T]he global renewables portfolio is less correlated to the wider market than fossil fuels…[because] the existing correlation fell during the recent economic downturn, highlighting the potential for diversification opportunities…[and because] recent economic volatility has resulted in deteriorating fundamentals within the energy sector – with renewables showing greater resilience…[That trend is] likely to continue as increasing numbers of countries set net-zero targets for 2050, and growing concern amongst investors and the public about the negative impacts of energy generation. Climate risk, both physical and in terms of policy possibilities – especially around a carbon tax – are only going to affect the sector further. But there is a long way to go…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 24, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Grid Goes West

    CAISO’s Energy Imbalance Market Has Taken Big Steps but Faces Competition

    Herman K. Trabish, Dec. 2, 2020 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: The Midwest’s grid operator continues to challenge California’s effort to develop a regional system with widening offers to prospective members.

    California’s energy imbalance market (EIM) had a good 2020. It passed $1 billion in total benefits, added two powerhouse participants, and filed its first plan for expanding into day-ahead trading. But the question of how California can share decision-making with other states continues to block that expansion and potential participants are looking at alternatives.

    The voluntary EIM was launched by PacifiCorp, a subsidiary of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy, and the California Independent System Operator in November 2014 to optimize real time dispatch. At the end of the third quarter of this year, the real-time market had generated $1.1 billion in energy savings and other benefits. The EIM operated by CAISO has 11 active participants. Xcel Enery subsidiary Public Service Co. of Colorado and Avangrid applied for entry this year, making for 11 applicants and an expected 22 participants by the end of 2022.

    After the 2018 California legislature’s third rejection of proposed CAISO governance changes to allow it to work with other states in a regional market, CAISO and stakeholders began developing a voluntary Extended Day-Ahead Market that would expand the EIM’s 5% of energy trading in the West’s 38 balancing areas to almost 100%. Multiple solutions to the two key challenges: 1) transmission planning and charges across jurisdictions and 2) guarantees among participants that they will meet their obligations have been proposed.

    But expansion will only be possible if the conundrum of market governance is resolved. The difficulty is that California leaders want to protect the state from federal regulation and other states’ control while other Western leaders require a more open CAISO governance structure that allows them to participate in decision-making. Reconciling this contradiction will require new market rules agreed to by the EIM Governing Body and the CAISO board, an October 2019 CAISO paper reported. Advocates have found no consensus on those rules but a second phase of the process is underway.

    A 2019 Brattle Group study showing greater production cost savings with CAISO’s EIM than with a proposed Southwest Power Pool Western Energy Imbalance Service was decisive, Xcel Colorado President Alice Jackson said. The CAISO’s greater resource diversity, lower administrative costs, and planned EIM expansion to “day-ahead market services” were also factors, Jackson added.

    The estimated production cost benefit for Xcel from joining the EIM are $1.98 million a year. The estimated benefits of joining SPP’s proposed energy imbalance service would be about $1.62 million a year. The difference, confirmed by newer Energy Strategies work, is due to the EIM’s size and resource diversity and the better “transfer capability” between the Colorado and California, Brattle said. But production cost benefits “are only one element of evaluating participation,” Brattle also reported. Congestion-related factors, load uncertainties, implementation, administrative, and transaction costs, and governance are also important, it added… click here for more

    Reasons To Bet On New Energy

    3 Reasons to Invest in Renewable Energy Stocks; A green-powered future isn't the only basis for adding shares of clean energy stocks to your portfolio.

    Scott Levine, March 22, 2021 (The Motley Fool)

    “…[R]enewable energy stocks helped to supercharge many portfolios in 2020…[T]he iShares Global Clean Energy ETF soared more than 140%...[while] the S&P 500 climbed 16%...[This year] the iShares Global Clean Energy ETF has dipped more than 16%...[but there are still reasons] to believe that renewable energy stocks belong in investors' portfolios…1. Green energy is a great growth opportunity…The future is poised to become increasingly green…[G]rowth investors would be well-served to consider solar energy leaders like Enphase Energy (NASDAQ:ENPH) and SolarEdge Technologies (NASDAQ:SEDG)…

    …Two of the largest solar-stocks as measured by market cap -- Enphase at $21 billion and SolarEdge at $14 billion -- have both succeeded at consistently growing revenue and cash from operations over the past three years…2. Charge up your passive income stream…Brookfield Renewable Partners (NYSE:BEP), for example, currently represents an electric opportunity, providing unitholders with a 3.04% forward yield…The company's global portfolio represents an operating capacity of 20 GW and covers a wide swath of green energy assets, including solar, wind, energy storage, hydroelectric, and distributed generation…[and] a development pipeline representing 23 GW of operating capacity…3. This investment environment is a green light for growth…

    As interest rates remain low, renewable energy companies, which frequently look to the debt markets to finance their growth plans, are able to take advantage of more favorable financing terms and pursue ambitious growth projects. Alternatively, the low interest rates afford some companies the opportunity to improve their financial health…[And] the current enthusiasm for renewable energy among politicians represents another reason why green energy stocks may be poised to prosper…” click here for more

    Monday, March 22, 2021

    Monday Study – U.S. Infrastructure Gets D Grade From Engineers

    2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure; A Comprehensive Assessment of America’s Infrastructure

    March 2021 (e American Society of Civil Engineers)

    Executive Summary


    Infrastructure supports nearly every aspect of life. Our pipes deliver drinking water to homes and hospitals. Airports, railroads, and inland waterways transport goods from farms and manufacturing plants to store shelves. The roads that crisscross the country allow us to get to work and school safely, and the network of transmission and distribution lines keeps the lights on and our electronics charged. Dams enable consistent water supply in arid climates, and levees hold back floodwaters to protect rain-soaked communities.

    Since ASCE began issuing the Report Card in 1998, the grades have struggled to get out of the D’s. However, more recently, decision-makers at all levels of government have recognized the critical role our infrastructure plays in supporting our quality of life and economy. Voters and lawmakers alike have championed smart infrastructure policy and increased investment in our multimodal freight system, drinking water networks, and more. This down payment on our infrastructure bill has contributed to modest but meaningful improvements.


    The 2021 Report Card for America’s Infrastructure reveals we’ve made some incremental progress toward restoring our nation’s infrastructure. For the first time in 20 years, our infrastructure is out of the D range.

    The 2021 grades range from a B in rail to a D- in transit. Five category grades — aviation, drinking water, energy, inland waterways, and ports — went up, while just one category — bridges — went down. And stormwater infrastructure received its first grade: a disappointing D. Overall, eleven category grades were stuck in the D range, a clear signal that our overdue bill on infrastructure is a long way from being paid off.

    While we grade 17 categories individually, our infrastructure is a system of systems and more connected than ever before. As we look at the low grades and analyze the data behind them, there are three trends worth noting:

    1. Maintenance backlogs continue to be an issue, but asset management helps prioritize limited funding. Sectors like transit and wastewater have staggering maintenance deficits, but developing a clear picture of where the available funding is most needed improves overall system performance and public safety. The drinking water sector, for example, has embraced asset management and new technology to pinpoint leaks and target repairs.

    2. State and local governments have made progress. Increased federal investment or reform has also positively impacted certain categories. Thirty-seven states have raised their gas tax to fund critical transportation investments since 2010. Ninety-eight percent of local infrastructure ballot initiatives passed in November 2020. At least 25 major cities and states now have chief resilience officers. These improvements were made by elected officials from both sides of the aisle and with strong voter support. Meanwhile, categories like ports, drinking water, and inland waterways have been the beneficiaries of increased federal funding

    3. There are still infrastructure sectors where data is scarce or unreliable. Sectors like school facilities, levees, and stormwater still suffer from a lack of robust condition information or inventory of assets. To target investments and allocate funding, routine, reliable data should be the standard.

    The elected officials and members of the public who have improved infrastructure policy and supported additional funding are applauded. We’re seeing the benefits of this action in drinking water, inland waterways, and airports. The private sector has invested in the electric grid, freight rail, and more.

    However, significant challenges lie ahead. Importantly, the COVID-19 pandemic’s impacts on infrastructure revenue streams threaten to derail the modest progress we’ve made over the past four years. In addition, many sectors and infrastructure owners are learning what it will take to make our communities climate resilient as we grapple with more severe weather. Meanwhile, many of our legacy transportation and water resource systems are still in the D range. These infrastructure networks suffer from chronic underinvestment and are in poor condition.

    We’re headed in the right direction, but a lot of work remains.


    Every four years, ASCE estimates the investment needed in each infrastructure category to maintain a state of good repair and earn a grade of B. The most recent analysis reveals that while we’ve made incremental immediate gains in some of the infrastructure categories, our long-term investment gap continues to grow. We’re still just paying about half of our infrastructure bill – and the total investment gap has gone from $2.1 trillion over 10 years to nearly $2.59 trillion over 10 years.

    As ASCE discovered in its 2021 study, Failure to Act: Economic Impacts of Status Quo Investment Across Infrastructure Systems, failing to close this infrastructure investment gap brings serious economic consequences. By 2039, a continued underinvestment in our infrastructure at current rates will cost:

    1-$10 trillion in GDP

    2-More than 3 million jobs in 2039

    3-$2.4 trillion in exports over the next 20 years

    When we fail to invest in our infrastructure, we pay the price. Poor roads and airports mean travel times increase. An aging electric grid and inadequate water distribution make utilities unreliable. Problems like these translate into higher costs for businesses to manufacture and distribute goods and provide services. These higher costs, in turn, get passed along to workers and families. By 2039, America’s overdue infrastructure bill will cost the average American household $3,300 a year, or $63 a week. When we fail to invest in our infrastructure, we pay the price.

    The good news is that closing America’s infrastructure gap is possible with big, bold action from Congress, continued financial support from states and localities, and smart investments and management by infrastructure owners.

    By 2039, America’s overdue infrastructure bill will cost the average American household $3,300 a year, or $63 a week.

    Recommendations to Raise the Grade

    To improve our quality of life and strengthen our international competitiveness, we need a strategic and holistic plan to renew, modernize, and invest in our infrastructure. This plan should make basic maintenance a centerpiece as we improve our legacy systems. Importantly, policymakers must understand we are only as strong as our weakest link — if our roadways become too rough to travel, if our bridges close to heavier traffic like ambulances, or if our levees protect one community at the expense of the one next door, the economy grinds to a halt. We all pay the price.

    ASCE urges bold leadership and action, sustained investment, and a focus on resilience to raise the national infrastructure grade over the next four years, so that every American family, community, and business can thrive.

    1) Leadership and action Smart investment will only be possible with strong leadership, decisive action, and a clear vision for our nation’s infrastructure. Leaders from all levels of government, business, labor, and nonprofit organizations must come together to: a. Incentivize asset management and encourage the creation and utilization of infrastructure data sets across classes.

    b. Streamline the project permitting process across infrastructure sectors, while ensuring appropriate safeguards and protections are in place.

    c. Ensure all investments are spent wisely, prioritizing projects with critical benefits to the economy, public safety, environment, and quality of life (e.g., sustainability).

    d. Leverage proven and emerging tech to make use of limited available resources.

    e. Consider life cycle costs when making project decisions. Life cycle cost analysis determines the cost of building, operating, and maintaining the infrastructure for its entire life span.

    f. Support research and development of innovative materials, technologies, and processes to modernize and extend the life of infrastructure, expedite repairs or replacements, and promote cost savings. Innovation should include a component of integration and utilization of big data, as well as the “internet of things.”

    g. Promote sustainability, or the “triple bottom line” in infrastructure decisions, by considering the long-term economic, social, and environmental benefits of a project.

    2) Investment

    If the United States is serious about achieving an infrastructure system fit for the future, some specific steps must be taken, beginning with increased, long-term, consistent investment. To close the nearly $2.59 trillion 10-year investment gap, meet future need, and restore our global competitive advantage, we must increase investment from all levels of government and the private sector from 2.5% to 3.5% of U.S. Gross Domestic Product (GDP) by 2025. This investment must be consistently and wisely allocated, and must begin with the following steps:

    a. Congress should fully fund authorized infrastructure programs.

    b. Infrastructure owners and operators must charge, and Americans must be willing to pay, rates reflecting the true cost of using, maintaining, and improving infrastructure.

    c. The surface transportation investment gap is the largest deficit in the categories of infrastructure that ASCE evaluates. Continuing to defer maintenance and modernization is impacting our ability to compete in a global marketplace and maintain a high quality of living domestically. Congress must fix the Highway Trust Fund.

    d. All parties should strive to close the rural/urban and underserved community resource divide by ensuring adequate investment in these areas through programmatic set-asides.

    e. All parties should make use of public-private partnerships, where appropriate.

    3) Resilience We must utilize new approaches, materials, and technologies to ensure our infrastructure can withstand or quickly recover from natural or man-made hazards. Advancements in resilience across all infrastructure sectors can be made by:

    a. Enabling communities, regardless of size, to develop and institute their own resilience pathway for all their infrastructure portfolios by streamlining asset management, implementing life cycle cost analysis into routine planning processes, and integrating climate change projections into long-term goal-setting and capital improvement plans.

    b. Incentivizing and enforcing the use of codes and standards, which can mitigate risks of major climate or manmade events such as hurricanes, fires, sea level rise, and more.

    c. Understanding that our infrastructure is a system of systems and encourage a dynamic, “big picture” perspective that weighs tradeoffs across infrastructure sectors while keeping resilience as the chief goal.

    d. Prioritizing projects that improve the safety and security of systems and communities, to ensure continued reliability and enhanced resilience.

    e. Improving land use planning across all levels of decision-making to strike a balance between the built and natural environments while meeting community needs, now and into the future. f. Enhancing the resilience of various infrastructure sectors by including or enhancing natural or “green” infrastructure…Aviation…Bridges…Dams…Drinking Water…Energy…Hazardous Waste…Inand Waterways…Levees…Ports…Public Parks…Rail…Roads…Schools…Solid Waste…Storm Water…Transit…Wastewater…

    Saturday, March 20, 2021

    New Energy Is The Best Deal In Town

    These analysts are among the best-informed experts and they agree there is no better buy in the energy marketplace than New Energy. From greenmanbucket via YouTube

    New Energy Needs New Wires

    The 21st century’s work to stop the climate crisis will require safe delivery of New Energy-generated electricity everywhere with unprecedented reliability. That will require a 21st century transmission system. From American Clean Power Association via YouTube

    The Triumph of Wind

    Fossil fools attacked wind after the Texas freeze and got caught in their own trap when the truth about wind’s growing reliability and affordability emerged in answer. From CNBC via YouTube

    Friday, March 19, 2021

    Watching The World’s Permafrost Melt

    Climate Change and Geopolitics: Monitoring of a Thawing Permafrost

    Ekaterina Uryupova, March 16, 2021 (The Arctic Institute)

    “Permafrost thaw is one of the world’s most pressing climate problems, already disrupting lifestyles, livelihoods, economies, and ecosystems in the north, and threatening to spill beyond the boundaries of the Arctic as our planet continues to warm. To examine the effects of permafrost degradation, and increase our understanding of what this phenomenon means for the future of the region (and the world), [The Arctic Institute permafrost series analyzes] the topic from scientific, security, legal, and personal perspectives…The recent massive oil spill from storage tanks on Yamal Peninsula in Russia and landslides across the Arctic have become another ‘signal’ that climate change is happening now…

    …1) Increasing temperatures and rising sea levels are observable effects of the unpredictable and rapidly changing environment. One of the most poignant climate issues concerns the state of permafrost, a hidden layer of ice below the Earth’s surface. Its rapid degradation has enormous implications for climate change.2) Researchers from different countries have been studying permafrost for decades…[but] the scientific community still has a long way to go to obtain an effective international monitoring system…[One of the most disturbing unknowns is] the dynamics of the permafrost parameters…[But it is clear that as] the Arctic warms, the permafrost is thawing, and greenhouse gases, including carbon dioxide and methane, are being released to the atmosphere…

    …[S]ome communities will be more affected than others…Indigenous peoples and coastal settlements face the brunt of the climate crisis…[but the global data is] still sporadic, records are rarely updated, and very little information about the subsea permafrost is publicly available…[T]here are national databases about the long-term dynamics of permafrost parameters in the United States, Russia, Switzerland (the Alps), Canada, and others…[but] it appears that none of them wish to share data on future offshore oil and gas exploration sites, military installations and other structures…[A]n effective global permafrost monitoring system is needed. Addressing the impacts of Arctic thawing will require political will and more global scientific collaboration and strategic partnership…” click here for more

    The Huge New Energy Opportunity In The Climate Crisis

    Renewable energy growth must speed up to meet Paris goals, agency says; International Renewable Energy Agency says $131tn investment in renewables could be required over three decades

    Jillian Ambrose, 15 March 2021 (UK Guardian)

    “Renewable electricity production needs to grow eight times faster than the current rate to help limit global heating…which could require a total investment of $131tn in renewables by 2050…[T]he gap between where we are and where we should be is not decreasing but widening…[K]eeping a lid on rising temperatures will require electricity to surpass fossil fuels as the dominant source of energy before 2050, as more economies electrify transport and heating to help cut carbon emissions…[C]lean electricity will also be in high demand to produce ‘green hydrogen’ to burn in heavy industry and manufacturing plants where direct electrification is not possible…

    …[E]lectric power will make up just over half of all energy consumed by 2050, compared with 21% in 2018. Fossil fuels have made up almost two-thirds of energy consumption in recent years but may be reduced to 10% by 2050…[In contrast with] the future modelled by the oil and gas giant Shell, which predicts that demand for gas will continue to climb until the mid-2030s at the earliest before beginning to decline…[The International Renewable Energy Agency] expects oil to decline to 4% of the world’s energy use by 2050, gas to peak in 2025 before falling to 6%, and coal to fall to 2% by the middle of the century…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 17, 2021

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Next Life Of California’s Rooftop Solar

    State Regulators Face Solar Dilemma

    Herman K. Trabish, Nov. 3, 2020 (California Current)

    Editor’s note: Commission deliberations continue to show new and different incentives for rooftop solar are needed.

    Nationally, hopes are high that California’s proceeding will offer breakthrough solutions to the troublesome successor tariff complexities that have emerged in other states as well as California.

    One is the perceived shift of system costs to non-solar-owning customers when solar owners’ bills, which include system costs, fall. The second is the grid supply-demand imbalance when solar supply drops off as the evening peak demand spikes.

    Net energy metering is the compensation rate paid to rooftop solar owners for generation their systems send to their investor-owned utilities. Senate Bill 656 passed in 1996 required owners of distributed solar in California to be paid the retail electricity rate. But there was no analysis of solar’s actual value to the private utilities. By mid-2020, California had 28,471.5 MW of solar, including 9,356 MW of net-metered projects.

    In response to that rapid growth, especially after 2008, the AB 327-driven 2015-2016 NEM 2.0 proceeding required a fluctuating time-of-use rate of all new solar customers. It also ordered the missing analysis of distributed solar’s value to private utilities, including for load reductions. The bill also directed the development of a successor tariff in the Net Energy Metering 3.0 proceeding, which launched with a Nov. 2 hearing.

    The CPUC-commissioned August 2020 draft evaluation of NEM 2.0 concluded that bill reductions to net metered residential solar owners impose costs on other customers. But net metered non-residential solar owners pay more than the cost to serve them. These conclusions drove a re-examination of the retail rate used for compensation.

    One of the key things a successor tariff would do is give distributed solar owners an incentive to invest in storage. That would make it a more flexible resource to help address the growing curtailment of renewable generation, especially of midday solar oversupply, and the increasing challenge of meeting the sharp evening demand ramp as that midday solar fades… click here for more

    California Lays Out Its Path To 100%

    California Releases Report Charting Path to 100 Percent Clean Electricity

    March 15, 2021 (California Energy Commission)

    “…[California’s] initial analysis of what will be needed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2045] finds that the goals of SB 100 can be achieved in different ways, but reaching them will require significant investments in new and existing technologies and an increased, sustained build-out of clean energy projects to bring new resources on-line…To reach the 2045 target while electrifying other sectors to meet the state’s economywide climate goals, California will need to roughly triple its current electricity grid capacity…[and] sustain its expansion of clean electricity generation capacity at a record-breaking rate for the next 25 years…

    …On average, the state may need to build up to 6 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable and storage resources annually. By comparison over the last decade, the state has built on average 1 GW of utility solar and 300 megawatts (MW) of wind per year. Over the next three years, electricity providers regulated by the CPUC will add another 8 GW of clean energy resources…

    ...[This will reduce air pollution, improve public health, and create thousands of jobs such as manufacturing and installing wind turbines and solar panels and developing new clean energy technologies…[There will be] a 6 percent increase in total annual electricity system costs by 2045, compared to the estimated cost of achieving 60 percent renewable electricity by 2030…” click here for more

    Monday, March 15, 2021

    Monday Study – The Fight Now For Tomorrow’s Grid

    The 50 States of Grid Modernization: 2020 Review and Q4 2020

    Autumn Proudlove, Brian Lips, David Sarkisian, February 2021 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)

    Executive Summary


    Grid modernization is a broad term, lacking a universally accepted definition. In this report, the authors use the term grid modernization broadly to refer to actions making the electricity system more resilient, responsive, and interactive. Specifically, in this report grid modernization includes legislative and regulatory actions addressing: (1) smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure, (2) utility business model reform, (3) regulatory reform, (4) utility rate reform, (5) energy storage, (6) microgrids, and (7) demand response.


    In 2020, 48 states plus DC took a total of 658 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, utility business model and rate reform, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response. Table 1 provides a summary of state and utility actions on these topics. Of the 658 actions identified, the most common were related to policies (160), followed by deployment (138), and business model and rate reform (105).


    Ten states taking the greatest number of particularly impactful actions are noted below.

    Connecticut - Throughout 2020, the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority had numerous proceedings open to consider different elements of grid modernization, including advanced metering infrastructure, energy storage, resilience and reliability, non-wires alternatives, innovative pilots, and rate design. State lawmakers also enacted legislation directing the Authority to adopt a performance-based regulation framework.

    Hawaii - The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission issued a decision establishing a performance-based regulation framework for the HECO utilities, including a multi-year rate period and new performance incentive mechanisms. Hawaii regulators also adopted a customer data access

    Virginia - Early in 2020, Virginia regulators issued a decision on Dominion Energy’s proposed Grid Transformation Plan, approving parts of the plan and rejecting other elements. The State Corporation Commission also considered time-of-use rate proposals from utilities. Virginia lawmakers enacted legislation establishing an energy storage target of 3,100 MW by 2035, with implementing rules also directing utilities to develop energy storage incentive programs and non-wires alternatives programs.

    Colorado - The Colorado Public Utilities Commission considered distribution system planning rules, as well as performance-based ratemaking, electric resource planning, and interconnection rules during 2020. The Commission also evaluated time-of-use rate proposals, an advanced grid rider, and a community resiliency initiative incorporating utility-owned energy storage, all proposed by Xcel Energy.

    Minnesota - In Minnesota, regulators considered proposals from Xcel Energy to adopt new performance incentive mechanisms and implement new time-of-use rate options, as well as a proposal from Minnesota Power to transition its residential customers to default time-of-day rates. Utilities also filed distribution system plans, and the Public Utilities Commission opened a new proceeding to investigate grid and customer security related to distribution grid data.

    California - In California, regulators considered a proposed decision adopting rates, tariffs, and rules to facilitate the commercialization of microgrids in the state. The Public Utilities Commission also considered changes to integrated resource planning rules, as well as distributed energy resource tariff frameworks for projects that can defer distribution system investments. Utilities also filed their 2020 energy storage procurement plans, and regulators considered modifications to the Self-Generation Incentive Program.

    North Carolina - A state working group released a report examining utility business model reforms during 2020, while Duke Energy and other southeastern utilities announced plans to implement a bilateral energy exchange market. Regulators considered Duke Energy’s proposed Grid Improvement Plan, as well as a settlement that would adopt climate resilience planning requirements. Work also continued to develop Duke Energy’s Integrated System and Operations Planning process.

    New York - During 2020, the New York Public Service Commission approved advanced metering infrastructure deployment proposals put forward by National Grid, New York State Electric & Gas, and Rochester Gas & Electric. Regulators also approved new dynamic load management programs designed to encourage the use of energy storage and help achieve the state’s energy storage target.

    Arizona - In Arizona, regulators issued a decision revising many of the state’s energy rules. The decision includes an energy storage target of 5% of peak demand to be achieved by December 31, 2035, with at least 40% being customer-owned or customer-leased distributed storage. The order also requires utilities to establish energy storage incentives and makes changes to integrated resource planning rules. The Commission also opened a proceeding to investigate performance incentive mechanisms and considered retail competition rules during the year.

    Michigan - The Michigan Public Service Commission continued its MI Power Grid initiative in 2020, establishing a new workgroup to examine new technologies and business models. The Commission also considered demand response tariffs, releasing a report making several recommendations to improve the performance of demand response resources. Regulators also approved a settlement delaying Indiana Michigan Power’s proposed advanced metering infrastructure deployment.


    Utilities Pursuing Innovative Pilot Programs

    Many utilities are proposing innovative pilot programs to test new technologies and program designs. In Wisconsin, Xcel Energy requested approval for a new pilot to provide resiliency as a service, deploying battery storage at customer locations. Tampa Electric in Florida proposed a DC microgrid pilot program that would supply power to homes with utility-owned nanogrids, and in Vermont, Green Mountain Power proposed a frequency regulation pilot that will aggregate battery storage systems to participate in the ISO-New England market.

    States Considering Utility Business Model Reforms

    Actions related to utility business model reforms were the second most common type of action taken during 2020. States considered many different types of reforms, including decoupling, performance-based regulation, and energy market reform. Hawaii regulators adopted a performance-based regulation framework during the year, while utilities in the Southeast announced plans for a Southeast Energy Exchange Market

    Regulators Requiring Utilities to File Distribution System Plans

    Regulators in a number of states are adopting distribution system planning rules and requiring utilities to file plans that include specific elements. The Oregon Public Utility Commission adopted a requirement for utilities to file distribution system plans including a hosting capacity analysis, while Colorado regulators initiated a rulemaking to develop distribution system planning rules with requirements related to non-wires alternatives

    States Requiring the Use of All-Source Competitive Procurement

    A growing number of states are requiring utilities to use all-source competitive procurement mechanisms to meet needs for energy and capacity. Arizona and Washington regulators both approved new rules requiring utilities to issue all-source requests for proposals based on needs identified in utilities’ integrated resource plans. These solicitations will allow supply-side and demand-side resources to compete on an equal basis.

    States Adopting Energy Storage Targets

    A growing number of states are adopting targets requiring utilities to procure a certain amount of energy storage capacity by a particular date. Virginia lawmakers enacted a bill in 2020 adopting a state target of 3,100 MW of energy storage by 2035. In Nevada, following a study considering the costs and benefits of a storage target, regulators approved a target of 1,000 MW of energy storage by 2030. Arizona regulators also adopted an energy storage target, with 40% of the target to be met with distributed storage systems.

    Utilities Proposing Advanced Rate Design Pilots A growing number of utilities proposed advanced rate design pilots during 2020, including elements such as time-varying rates, critical peak pricing, and peak time rebates. Residential time-of-use rate pilots were the most common, with utilities increasingly incorporating three or four time-of-use periods plus seasonal variation. Some utilities are also requesting approval to make pilot time-of-use rates permanent options, or even the default rate for residential customers.

    Growing Focus on Electric Grid Resilience

    States and utilities are increasingly focusing on electric grid resilience in the context of planning and investments. A proposed settlement in North Carolina would require Duke Energy to undertake climate resilience planning, and California regulators are developing rules to ensure reliable electric service in the event of extreme weather events. Colorado regulators approved Xcel Energy’s community resilience initiative, and Xcel proposed a similar pilot program in Wisconsin that would deploy resiliency service assets at customer locations.

    Utilities Planning Extensive Battery Storage Deployment

    Energy storage deployment led grid modernization actions for the fourth year in a row, with utilities planning numerous pilot projects, as well as more extensive deployment resulting from competitive procurements or efforts to comply with state storage targets. Many utilities are also planning to add new storage capacity in their integrated resource plans, and some utilities are even planning customer-sited storage deployment.

    Policymakers Considering AMI Opt-Out and Data Access Policies

    As more and more utilities deploy advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), policymakers and regulators are tasked with establishing rules for opting out of AMI and obtaining access to the interval data generated by AMI. Several states considered legislation concerning AMI opt-out, while regulators evaluated at least 14 utility opt-out fee proposals. Regulators in South Carolina adopted rules governing access to customer AMI interval data, while the New Hampshire Public Utilities Commission worked to develop a statewide energy data platform.

    Utilities Offering Smart Thermostat Incentive Programs

    Several utilities requested approval for smart thermostat incentive programs during 2020, including Dominion Energy, Portland General Electric, Duke Energy, Madison Gas & Electric, and Dayton Power & Light. These programs typically offer a bill credit for participation and allowing the utility to control the thermostat during peak events. Some programs also offer rebates for the thermostats themselves.

    LOOKING BACK: 2017 to 2020

    Total grid modernization action increased by about 8% over the past year, with states and utilities taking approximately 658 actions in 2020, compared to 612 actions in 2019, 460 actions in 2018, and 288 actions in 2017. In 2020, activity increased in every category tracked by this report except studies and investigations. The two categories that saw the greatest increase in activity were financial incentives (41%) and deployment (17%). The number of states taking actions increased or held steady in each category except planning and market access from 2019 to 2020.


    In the fourth quarter of 2020, 46 states plus DC took a total of 405 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, utility business model and rate reform, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response. Table 2 provides a summary of state and utility actions on these topics. Of the 405 actions identified, the most common were related to policies (93), followed by deployment (85), and utility business model and rate reform (69).