By - Jim Vess

PG&E battery project hits snag as it draws consumer and business protests

Energize Weekly, August 22, 2018 Pacific Gas and Electric Co.’s (PG&E) battery program, which would be the world’s largest, has run into opposition from a California consumer advocate, and industrial and commercial customers. The California Office of Ratepayer Advocates and the Direct Access Customer Coalition, which represents “commercial, industrial and governmental customers who have opted for direct access for some

By - Jim Vess

Coal consumption by U.S. utility industry hit a 34-year low in 2017

Energize Weekly, August 15, 2018 U.S. coal consumption for electricity generation slipped to its lowest level in 34 years in 2017, continuing a four-year skid, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The utility industry used 661 million short tons of coal in 2017, as consumption and shipments by all modes of transport declined. Almost 70 percent the power-sector

By - Jim Vess

A third of gas-fired plants on the California grid could be closed without a reliability impact, study says

Energize Weekly, August 15, 2018 Nearly a third of the natural gas-fired power plants on the California grid could be retired without impairing reliability, according to an analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). There are 89 natural gas plants on the California Independent System Operator’s (CAISO) grid. Modeling by the UCS, a non-profit environmental group, found that 28

By - Jim Vess

Tri-State G&T co-ops pressure for lower prices and more renewables

Energize Weekly, August 15, 2018 Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association, which serves 43 electric cooperatives in four Western states, is getting pressure from some of its co-ops, which are seeking better electricity prices and more renewable energy. The Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, in Taos, New Mexico, has already paid $37 million to get out of its Tri-State contract, and several

By - Jim Vess

Community banks and credit unions are playing a large role in residential solar financing

Energize Weekly, August 8, 2018 Community banks and regional financial institutions are becoming a bigger force in the financing of residential and small commercial solar installations, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). These community banks and credit unions represent a new source of capital for small-scale photovoltaic (PV) projects, and they are “experiencing positive early

By - Jim Vess

Wind power installations have a strong second quarter led by big projects in Texas, Michigan and Nebraska

Energize Weekly, August 8, 2018 A total of 626 megawatts (MW) of new wind generating capacity was installed in the second quarter of 2018—a 75 percent increase over the first quarter of 2017, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) quarterly market report. The second-quarter figure was also up 54 percent from the first quarter of 2018. So far

By - Jim Vess

Western Energy Imbalance Market posts a record quarter, cutting costs, providing benefits

Energize Weekly, August 8, 2018 The western Energy Imbalance Market, which serves seven utilities and the California grid operator, posted a record $71.2 million in benefits to its members in the second quarter of 2018, according to the organization. The market, known as the EIM, is a real-time bulk power trading market to balance electricity supply among its members and

By - Jim Vess

PacifiCorp gets green light from state regulators for $3 billion Wyoming wind plan

Energize Weekly, August 1, 2018 PacifiCorp, which serves 1.9 million people in six western states, has received state approvals to move ahead with its $3 billion plan add and wind generation and transmission lines to its system. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved the project on July 20 after the Utah Public Service Commission gave its approval in June and

By - Jim Vess

Residential storage sets a record in the first quarter of 2018

Energize Weekly, August 1, 2018 A record 36 megawatt-hours (MWh) of home energy storage systems were installed in the first quarter of 2018, according to the U.S. Energy Storage Monitor report from GTM Research and the Energy Storage Association. That was as much residential storage capacity as had been installed in the previous three quarters combined and accounted for 28

By - Jim Vess

Dominion Energy offers a $918 million grid modernization plan to Virginia regulators

Energize Weekly, August 1, 2018 Dominion Energy has submitted a $918 million plan to modernize its Virginia grid to state regulators following passage of a new law overhauling utility oversight and investment. The plan seeks to install 1.4 million “smart meters” between 2019 and 2021. An additional 600,000 smart meters would be installed by 2023. A total of 3 gigawatts

By - Jim Vess

Blockchain could help manage rooftop solar, electric vehicle and energy trades, study says

Energize Weekly, July 25, 2018 Blockchain—the decentralized digital ledger most often linked to cryptocurrencies—could have a major impact in managing rooftop solar, electric vehicle charging and energy trading, according to an analysis by the Energy Futures Initiative (EFI). The EFI study estimates there has already been $100 million to $300 million invested in more than 100 energy sector blockchain applications.

By - Jim Vess

Global investment in solar falls while wind financing soars in first half of 2018

Energize Weekly, July 25, 2018 Global solar investment faltered in the first half of 2018, as the Chinse government cut back on subsidies, but financing for wind projects soared, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Overall, clean energy investment for the first six months of 2018 was $138.2 billion, a drop of 1 percent from the same period in

By - Jim Vess

Rural co-ops are adding solar generation at a breakneck pace, survey finds

Energize Weekly, July 25, 2018 Solar generating capacity at rural electric cooperatives is growing rapidly and expected to reach 1 gigawatt in 2019—a twenty-nine-fold increase in 10 years, according to a report by the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA). “The surge in cooperative solar energy, from local community solar programs to large-scale arrays, is helping reshape the energy future

By - Jim Vess

Global energy investment dropped in 2017 and isn’t keeping pace with needs, IEA says

Energize Weekly, July 25, 2018 Global energy investment dropped 2 percent in 2017 to $1.8 trillion in 2017—a sign it is “failing to keep up with energy security and sustainability goals,” according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). It was the third consecutive year of declines in global investment with the power sector accounting for most of the drop, as

By - Jim Vess

Utility industry urges EPA to keep mercury emissions rule in place and speed reviews

Energize Weekly, July 18, 2018 The electricity power industry—from cooperatives to municipality utilities to investor-owned utilities—is urging the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to keep in place the mercury pollution rules it had for years opposed. The industry had launched legal challenges of the 2012 rule to reduce mercury emissions from coal-fired power plants, but in 2015, the Supreme Court,

By - Jim Vess

Growing off-grid renewable energy powering farms and factories in developing countries

Energize Weekly, July 18, 2018 Off-grid technologies bring electricity to farm fields and remote villages in developing countries around the world, reaching more than 133 million people, according to an assessment by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). An estimated 100 million are using solar lights, and at least nine million are connected to a mini-gird, the report said. Asia

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired generation shoulders the biggest load during summer heat

Energize Weekly, July 18, 2018 The sizzling summer that is rolling across the country is being cooled by natural gas, which is supplying the biggest share of electricity generation, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA projects that natural gas-fired generation will supply 37 percent of the electricity from June to August, near the record set in

By - Jim Vess

Cost of energy efficiency programs vary widely across the U.S., Lawrence Berkeley study finds

Energize Weekly, July 18, 2018 Utilities across the country are investing in energy efficiency programs, and the average cost of saving a kilowatt-hour in these programs is 2.5 cents—though there are sharp regional differences, according to a Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study. The study is the most comprehensive effort to quantify the costs involved in energy efficiency programs to curb

By - Jim Vess

PG&E proposes world’s largest battery storage project to replace natural gas plants

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) has proposed the world’s largest battery storage project—2.3 gigawatts—to replace three natural gas plants. The San Francisco-based utility filed its request for approval with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), which in January had given PG&E a green light to solicit bids for the project. PG&E issued a request for

By - Jim Vess

World’s biggest reinsurer will no longer deal with companies with high exposure to coal

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 Swiss Re, the world’s largest reinsurer, said that it will no longer provide services to companies with a more than 30 percent exposure to thermal coal. The thermal coal policy applies to existing and new thermal coal mines and power plants, and will be implemented across all lines of business, the insurer said. These companies

By - Jim Vess

Nation’s oldest nuclear power plant to close, but total decommissioning will take 60 years

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 The Oyster Creek nuclear power plant, the oldest operating nuclear facility in the nation, will shut down in September and be decommissioned at a cost of $1.4 billion. Oyster Creek began operations on Dec. 1, 1969, and is to close after more than 48 years on Sept. 17, 2018. While the plant will shut down

By - Jim Vess

Nuclear industry faces a bleak future without new technology or market changes, study says

Energize Weekly, July 11, 2018 The U.S. nuclear industry faces a bleak future with existing plants uncompetitive in wholesale electricity markets and no technological relief likely for another 50 years, according to analysis by university researchers. “For entirely predictable and resolvable reasons, the United States appears set to virtually lose nuclear power, and thus a wedge of reliable and low-carbon

By - Jim Vess

Moody’s downgrades U.S. regulated utility sector as cash flow is reduced by tax cuts

Energize Weekly, June 27, 2018 Moody’s Investors Service has downgraded the U.S. regulated utility sector to negative from stable due to lower cash flows and the highest debt leverage since 2008 as a result of changes to the federal tax laws. While steps are being taken by some regulators and companies to deal with the challenge, Moody’s said it could

By - Jim Vess

Utilities spent $3.6 billion on energy efficiency, saving enough electricity to power 2.5 million homes

Energize Weekly, June 27, 2018 U.S utilities reported spending $3.6 billion on energy efficiency incentives for customers in 2016 and saved 27.5 billion kilowatt-hours, enough electricity to power 2.5 million homes for a year, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Nearly half of those funds were directed at commercial customers, while residential energy efficiency programs received 43 percent

By - Jim Vess

Energy storage market posts a decline in the first quarter of 2018, but residential installations were robust

Energize Weekly, June 27, 2018 Quarter-over-quarter the U.S. energy storage market dropped 30 percent to 43.6 megawatts (MW) in the first quarter of 2018 and was down 39 percent compared the same quarter in 2017, according to an industry market report. This was in part due to a large number of utility-scale projects that came online in California in 2017,

By - Jim Vess

Clean electric generation technologies take the lion’s share of investment dollars to 2050

Energize Weekly, June 27, 2018 The pace for global investment in renewable energy will continue to grow—totaling an estimated $8.4 trillion in the next three decades—so that by 2050, half of all electricity generation will come from renewables, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). BNEF’s New Energy Outlook projects that other generation technologies that do not emit carbon dioxide,

By - Jim Vess

U.S. solar market has a good first quarter in 2018 but sales expected to be flat for the year

Energize Weekly, June 20, 2018 The solar industry posted a 13 percent year-over-year increase in the first quarter of 2018 as 2.5 gigawatts (GW) were installed, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight report. Installations for the year, however, are projected to be flat compared to 2017 with a total of 10.8 gigawatts of installations, the market analysis by GTM

By - Jim Vess

Canadian investor and Texas solar developer team up for $100 million in projects

Energize Weekly, June 20, 2018 A Canadian real estate investment company is teaming up with a Texas solar developer for $100 million in solar projects in Austin and San Antonio. Toronto-based Fengate Real Asset Investments will provide the financing for projects developed by PowerFin Partners, which has offices in Austin and San Antonio. The multi-year deal will fund the development

By - Jim Vess

Energy consumption and carbon emissions rise in 2017, the power sector lags, BP review says

Energize Weekly, June 20, 2018 Energy consumption grew worldwide 2.2 percent in 2017, about an 80 percent increase year-over-year, and the fastest growth in four years as emission of the greenhouse gas, carbon dioxide also rose for the first time since 2014. Consumption of natural gas and oil rose, and for the first time in five years, consumption of coal

By - Jim Vess

NREL study finds western grid held up as it lost 5.5 gigawatts of generation during solar eclipse

Energize Weekly, June 13, 2018 The western grid solar energy output dropped by nearly 5.5 gigawatts (GW) during last August’s solar eclipse, but the loss did not have a great impact on grid operations or costs, according to an analysis by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “The 2017 total solar eclipse came and went without causing any issues to

By - Jim Vess

NV Energy $2 billion solar program hinges on November “energy choice” ballot measure

Energize Weekly, June 13, 2018 NV Energy announced a $2 billion plan to add more than 1 gigawatt of utility-scale solar and battery storage projects, but said the investment depends upon whether Nevada voters support an “energy choice” ballot measure in the fall. On June 1, NV Energy, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, submitted a plan to the Nevada

By - Jim Vess

New York State embarks on a $250 million statewide EV charging station expansion

Energize Weekly, June 13, 2018 New York State has launched a $250 million expansion plan for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations and infrastructure with the aim of having 10,000 stations in place by 2021. The program—EVolve NY—will include initiatives by the New York Power Authority (NYPA) and private sector partnerships through 2025 to accelerate the adoption of EVs. “New York

By - Jim Vess

Xcel proposes a $2.5 billion plan to reorient its Colorado market to wind, solar and storage

Energize Weekly, June 13, 2018 Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest electricity provider, submitted a plan to state regulators June 6 seeking to invest $2.5 billion in wind, solar and energy storage projects while closing two coal-fired power plants. The proposed Colorado Energy Plan (CEP) would add 1,100 megawatts (MW) of wind power, 700 MW of solar resources and 225 MW of

By - Jim Vess

What are Key Accounts?

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 Wallace L. Barron, President, Barron & Associates, Corporate Solutions, LLC. The utility industry, along with other major industries, is undergoing never before experienced and rapid changes to their marketplaces. Those changes are driven by such things as technology and changing customer demographics along with changing customer needs, wants and expectations about doing business with your

By - Jim Vess

High levels of wind and solar on the power grid could lower wholesale electric prices

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 High levels of wind and solar on regional power grids can decrease electric wholesale prices by $5 to $16 a megawatt-hour (MWh), according to a study by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. “Increasing penetrations of variable renewable energy (VRE) can affect wholesale electricity price patterns and make them meaningfully different from past, traditional price patterns,” the

By - Jim Vess

Fossil fuel consumption in the power sector falls to a 23-year low in 2017

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 The power sector’s consumption of fossil fuels dropped in 2017 to levels not seen since 1994, as a result of closing aging coal plants and adding more efficient natural gas turbines, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). For the last four years, fossil fuel use has dropped steadily for the sector sliding to

By - Jim Vess

New Englanders used more grid electricity while sleeping than at noon on a sunny, mild April day

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 In a regional first, on a mild, sunny April day, New Englanders used more electricity from the grid while they were sleeping than they did at midday, according to grid operator ISO New England (ISO-NE). The game changer on April 21 was the 2,400 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity in the region, most of which

By - Jim Vess

Carbon pricing growing around the world as a way to cut emissions, World Bank says

Energize Weekly, June 6, 2018 The use of carbon pricing mechanisms by countries and regions, as a way to control greenhouse gas emissions, has tripled in the past decade and is poised to be more widely used in the coming years, according to the World Bank. Seventy jurisdictions—45 nations, 25 sub-national entities such as states, provinces and cities—have implemented or

By - Jim Vess

Energy sector employment grew in 2017, led by natural gas generation and energy efficiency jobs

Energize Weekly, May 30, 2018 U.S. energy sector employment increased by 2 percent to 6.5 million jobs in 2017. While power generation posted big numbers, energy efficiency and biofuels were the fastest-growing areas, according to a report by the National Association of State Energy Officials. The U.S. Energy Employment Report, based on federal Bureau of Labor Statistics data and direct

By - Jim Vess

PJM capacity auction sees renewables, coal and natural gas rise while nuclear plummets

Energize Weekly, May 30, 2018 PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, saw prices jump more than 80 percent to $140 a megawatt-day across most of its grid in the annual capacity market auction. But even with the hike, many nuclear power plants couldn’t successfully bid. The price increase was expected as a result of lower prices in energy markets, which

By - Jim Vess

Falling renewable energy prices could make $112 billion in gas-fired generation a stranded asset, RMI study says

Energize Weekly, May 30, 2018 Coal-fired generation is being supplanted, for the most part, by cheaper natural gas turbines with $112 billion in new gas-fired power plants proposed or under construction, but those plants could face the same market fate as coal, according to an analysis by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The analysis by RMI, an independent energy consultant,

By - Jim Vess

Buses and trucks ready to roll as the next big electric vehicle markets

Energize Weekly, May 30, 2018 When it comes to electrical vehicles (EV), the focus has been on cars from Chevrolet’s Bolt EV to Tesla’s Model S, but the future of the EV market may rest with buses and trucks, according to new studies and initiatives. By 2030, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts that 84 percent of all municipal bus sales

By - Jim Vess

Regional grid operators brace for summer peak demand as hot weather is forecast

Energize Weekly, May 23, 2018 Regional grid operators are bracing for a hotter-than-normal summer, but say they are prepared to meet peak demand. PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, covering parts of the mid-Atlantic region and the Midwest, said it expects a summer peak of 150,000 megawatts (MW) as the National Weather Service is predicting above-normal temperatures in the District

By - Jim Vess

The world faces an air conditioning energy crunch, the IEA says

Energize Weekly, May 23, 2018 The world could face a “cold crunch” as electricity demand for air conditioning is projected to triple by 2050—unless steps are taken to make cooling technology more efficient, according to an International Energy Agency (IEA) report. Air conditioners (AC) and electric fans already account for 10 percent of all global energy consumption. If there is

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy plan to capture stranded assets from coal-fired plant challenged at PUC

Energize Weekly, May 23, 2018 An Xcel Energy proposal to close two Colorado coal-fired power plants as part of a plan to move to 55 percent renewable power by 2026 has drawn wide support, but how the closure is to be paid for has become a bone of contention. The price tag for shutting the 660 megawatts (MW) at the

By - Jim Vess

Renewable energy jobs grow worldwide, but remain concentrated in a few countries

Energize Weekly, May 16, 2018 Renewable energy employment around the world grew by 5.3 percent in 2017 to 10.3 million direct and indirect jobs, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The strongest growth was in the solar photovoltaic (PV) and bioenergy sectors. There was a slight drop in jobs in the wind energy industry. Overall, there were 3.37

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas-fired set to dominate 2018 electricity generation additions, EIA says

Energize Weekly, May 16, 2018 Almost 32 gigawatts (GW) of new electric-generating capacity is set to come online in 2018—the most in a decade, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Natural gas-fired generation will account for two-thirds of the new capacity, a sharp difference from 2017 when renewable energy generation was 55 percent of that year’s 21 GW

By - Jim Vess

Nuclear needs financial support to survive, and some states are already heeding the call

Energize Weekly, May 16, 2018 Nuclear power plants under pressure from market forces are facing closures, but states with high concentrations of nuclear power are stepping in to bolster these generators, and there may be additional policy initiatives that can be taken, according to new studies. “Nuclear power is responsible for around 20 percent of U.S. electricity generation and more

By - Jim Vess

Global wind market set to grow 4 percent a year through 2027

Energize Weekly, May 9, 2018 Annual global wind power capacity additions are projected to average more than 65 gigawatts (GW) between 2018 and 2027, according to renewable energy consultant MAKE. That is equal to a 4 percent compounded growth rate, Aarhus, Denmark-based MAKE said in its first quarter market report. Tax supports in the U.S., a resurgent auction market in

By - Jim Vess

More than $8 billion in solar deals already announced in 2018, kWh Analytics says

Energize Weekly, May 9, 2018 Solar acquisitions and asset-financing deals worth more than $8 billion have already been made in 2018, according to the kWh Analytics Spring DealFlow report. The solar services and risk management consultant logged 36 projects since the start of 2018, including 17 asset transactions and 19 asset-financing deals. Only 21 projects disclosed the dollar value of

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