By - Jim Vess

Brazilian LNG-to-power project gets $288 million loan from International Finance Corp.

Energize Weekly, April 10, 2019 A Brazilian liquefied natural gas (LNG) power plant project, developed by an international joint venture, has received a $288 million loan from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), a sister organization to the World Bank. The 15-year loan will cover development and operation of the plant in the state of Rio de Janeiro by Geração de

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

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

Oil and natural gas production poised to set records in 2018, says EIA

Energize Weekly, January 24, 2018 Oil and natural gas production for 2018 is projected to break records as oil prices move higher and as gas prices remain firm, according to the federal Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) short-term energy outlook. U.S. crude oil production is forecast to average 10.3 billion barrels a day in 2018, which would mark the highest annual

By - Jim Vess

Wind, solar and hydro generation are becoming cost competitive worldwide

Energize Weekly, January 24, 2018 Renewable energy projects are becoming cost-competitive with fossil fuel generation around the world, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). “Bioenergy-for-power, hydropower, geothermal and onshore wind projects commissioned in 2017 largely fell within the range of generation costs for fossil-based electricity . . . Some projects undercut fossil fuels,” the agency said in its

By - Jim Vess

Heating fuel stocks hold up as arctic temperatures punish the Midwest and Northeast

Energize Weekly, January 17, 2018 Although much of the nation—from Florida to Michigan to Maine—was punished with frigid temperatures in December and January, heating fuel supplies held up well, according the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). “Current cold weather in the Midwest and Northeast United States has put some pressure on winter heating fuel stocks, though EIA’s review that regional

By - Jim Vess

FERC asked by officials in 18 states to ensure that utility tax savings go to customers

Energize Weekly, January 17, 2018 Consumer advocates and attorneys general from 18 states are calling for federal energy regulators to ensure that hundreds of millions of dollars in tax savings utilities are likely to gain from the new federal tax law are passed on to consumers. In letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the state officials asked for

By - Jim Vess

Xcel gets an unprecedented response to a call for new electricity generation projects

Energize Weekly, January 10, 2018 Xcel Energy received an “unprecedented” response to a call for new generation projects for its Colorado subsidiary with more than 430 proposals, according to a report filed by the utility with the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. “For comparison, the Company received 55 bids in the 2013 All-Source Solicitation,” Xcel said in the report. More than

By - Jim Vess

California to go it alone on electric reliability, but may try to lure other Western states to join it

Energize Weekly, January 10, 2018 In a move further fragmenting the Western power sector, the California grid operator last week announced it would become its own reliability coordinator, leaving the 14-state regional system. The move was prompted by the prospect of seven utilities and transmission operators in the Rocky Mountain region leaving the regional system, operated by Peak Reliability, to

By - Jim Vess

Regulators eye customer rate cuts as utilities get a revenue boost from new federal tax law

Energize Weekly, January 10, 2018 The federal tax overhaul may provide a windfall in tax cuts and write-offs for utilities. Now, utility commissions and state officials around the country are looking to see if some of that money ought to flow back to customers. On Jan. 4, Oklahoma Corporation Commission administrative judges recommended that five Oklahoma utilities pass along savings they

By - Jim Vess

Renewables briefly overtake nuclear and may be a sign of the future

Energize Weekly, January 3, 2018 Utility-scale renewable energy generation surpassed nuclear generation for the first time in three decades in March and April of 2017, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). While the phenomenon appears to be temporary, in 2017, it is marked by a series of trends that may realign generation sources over time. Nuclear generation has

By - Jim Vess

2017 saw upending events in the utility sector as long-term trends showed staying power

Energize Weekly, January 3, 2018 The utility industry faced a tumultuous 2017 with big policy initiatives from Washington and strong underlying trends continuing to challenge the sector. Many of the year’s big stories came from the Trump administration, but markets and corporate decisions also played a big role in defining 2017. And despite the high-profile pronouncements and politics, 2017 saw

By - Jim Vess

Coal-fired plants continued to close in 2107, and utility sector carbon emissions dropped sharply

Energize Weekly, December 27, 2017 Coal-fired power plants continued to close in 2017, and the utility industry was overtaken by the transport sector as the largest source of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, according to federal data. In all, 54 units at 27 coal-fired plants, with a total of 27 gigawatts (GW) generating capacity, closed or announced closure plans this year.

By - Jim Vess

New tax laws bring both a boost and uncertainty to the energy sector

Energize Weekly, December 27, 2017 The negotiations over tax-reform legislation in Congress were a roller coaster for the energy sector with potential plums and pitfalls appearing and disappearing as the bill made its way through committees, floor votes and reconciliation of the Senate and House versions. When the ride was finally over, the oil industry came out ahead, utilities fared

By - Jim Vess

Solar market cools in the third quarter of 2017, solar import uncertainties loom

Energize Weekly, December 20, 2017 The U.S. solar market cooled in the third quarter of 2017 with a projected 22 percent decline in installations for the year when compared with record-setting 2016, according to a report by GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). While the 2 gigawatts (GW) of solar photovoltaics (PV) installed in the third quarter

By - Jim Vess

2018 Trends in Billing and Payments: Enhancing the Customer Experience

Energize Weekly, December 20, 2017 Consumers want to pay their bills whenever, however and wherever it’s most convenient for them. Billers will spend the coming year finding new ways to enhance the customer experience by providing that flexibility. People are on the go, and their baseline expectation is that their bills can go with them. Mobile bill pay, either through

By - Jim Vess

Peak Reliability and PJM join the scramble to create wholesale power markets in the West

Energize Weekly, December 20, 2017 Peak Reliability, the reliability coordinator for the majority of the Western Interconnection, is teaming up with PJM Interconnection, operator of the nation’s biggest wholesale electricity market serving Mid-Atlantic and Midwest states, to explore creating a wholesale power market in the West. The move by Vancouver, Washington-based Peak, which oversees grid reliability in an area that

By - Jim Vess

Platte River Power Authority unveils plan to go ‘net zero’ on carbon emissions by 2030

Energize Weekly, December 13, 2017 The Platte River Power Authority, which serves part of northern Colorado, unveiled a plan Dec. 7 that would transform its generating portfolio to “net zero” carbon emission by 2030. The plan calls for ceasing all coal-burning energy production and making up the difference with increases in natural gas, hydro, wind and solar power. About 75

By - Jim Vess

Almost half of U.S. electricity customers have smart meters and the market will continue to grow

Energize Weekly, December 13, 2017 Nearly half of all electricity customers in the U.S. now have so-called smart meters, paving the way for enhanced grid management, and the pace of installations is projected to continue. Installations of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI) meters have more than doubled since 2010 with 71 million of the country’s 150 million electricity customers having one,

By - Jim Vess

States making strides in grid modernization through a variety of initiatives and approaches

Energize Weekly, December 13, 2017 Grid modernization activities, which had been focused in a few high-profile states such as California and New York, are now increasingly becoming a nationwide movement, according to an annual survey by the GridWise Alliance. The alliance—a coalition of businesses, academic institutions and organizations promoting grid development—has been issuing its Grid Modernization Index since 2014. “Many

By - Jim Vess

New York becomes fourth state to set energy storage goals

Energize Weekly, December 6, 2017 New York became the fourth state to set an energy storage target on Nov. 29 when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed an energy storage bill that was unanimously passed by the state legislature. California, Oregon and Massachusetts have already established energy storage mandates. The New York Public Service Commission (PSC) will set an energy storage target

By - Jim Vess

US faces a $177 billion funding gap in revamping aging power grid, engineering society says

Energize Weekly, December 6, 2017 The investments to overhaul an aging power grid, which is also under pressure to adapt to new technologies, are not keeping pace with the needs and face a $177 billion spending gap, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE). Transmission has become a priority item for utilities with expenditures up 16 percent between

By - Jim Vess

Link between economic growth and electricity use weakens around the world, says EIA forecast

Energize Weekly, November 29, 2017 The link between economic growth and increasing electricity consumption is weakening around the world, according to the federal Energy Information Agency’s (EIA) International Energy Outlook 2017. Economic growth, as measured in gross national product (GNP), has historically been coupled with increases in electricity demand. “More recently this relationship has been decoupling in many countries,” the

By - Jim Vess

Global market for energy storage poised for rapid growth to 2030, says Bloomberg study

Energize Weekly, November 29, 2017 The market for energy storage is set to soar in the next decade both in the U.S. and globally, according to recent market analyses. The global energy storage market will “double six times” between 2017 and 2030, according to a forecast by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). While that is robust growth, it starts from

By - Jim Vess

Renewable generation on pace to provide 50 percent of California retail electricity by 2020

Energize Weekly, November 22, 2017 California investor-owned utilities will be using renewable generation to cover 50 percent of their retail sales by 2020—10 years ahead of the state deadline, according to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC). The state originally established a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) with the portion of retail sales required to be supplied by renewable resources

By - Jim Vess

Utilities and regulators are taking an incremental approach in changing solar subsidies

Energize Weekly, November 22, 2017 After failing at frontal assaults on the “net metering” credit for residential solar arrays, utilities are adopting an incremental approach to their concerns about home rooftop solar. Small transitional steps in dealing with rooftop solar are being taken in dozens of states across the country, according to the NC Clean Energy Technology Center’s “50 States

By - Jim Vess

Federal data shows coal-fired power plant stockpiles average less than 90 days in the last decade

Energize Weekly, November 15, 2017 Federal energy regulators are considering a Trump administration proposal to give coal-fired power plants that keep 90-day fuel stockpiles a “resiliency” subsidy. But data shows that from 2010 to 2016, plants rarely kept fuel reserves that large. Since 2016, reserves have been higher, but in August 2017, the total stockpiles slipped to 144 million tons,

By - Jim Vess

Grid investments swell as utilities seek to deal with old problems and new challenges

Energize Weekly, November 15, 2017 Investment in the nation’s electric grid surged over the past decade and is set to peak in 2019, according to an analysis by energy and management consulting firm ScottMadden. Spending on distribution infrastructure grew by 8.6 percent and spending on transmission infrastructure grew by 16 percent between 2011 and 2016, according to the analysis. That

By - Jim Vess

The world is cutting carbon emissions, but not fast enough to blunt climate change, UN says

Energize Weekly, November 8, 2017 Nations around the world are cutting their carbon emissions, but not in large enough quantities or at a fast enough pace to meet the goals of the Paris climate agreement and stave off a sharp rise in global temperatures, according to two new studies. The annual “emission gap” assessment by the United Nations Environment Programme

By - Jim Vess

Solar cell imports face trade commission recommendations for tariffs and quotas

Energize Weekly, November 8, 2017 Imported solar cells and modules could be subject to new trade controls—including licensing fees, quotas and tariffs—under proposals U.S. trade officials are making to President Donald Trump. The members of the International Trade Commission (ITC) made the recommendations in a case brought by two bankrupt solar panel manufacturers—Norcross, Ga.-based Suniva Inc. and Hillsboro, Ore.-based SolarWorld.

By - Jim Vess

U.S. manufacturing becoming less energy intensive as production shifts, EIA says

Energize Weekly, November 1, 2017 The energy intensity of U.S. manufacturing is continuing to decrease, in part through energy efficiency measures and in larger part by a shift in production to less energy-intensive industries, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Manufacturing energy consumption rose 4.7 percent between 2010 and 2014, while real gross output was up 9.6 percent—resulting

By - Jim Vess

Proposed DOE coal and nuclear plant subsidy could be expensive for consumers, study says

Energize Weekly, November 1, 2017 A Trump administration proposal to provide subsidies to coal-fired and nuclear power plants for their fuel reserves could add $311 million to $10.6 billion to customer bills, with the grants going to a handful of utility companies. More than 80 percent of the subsidies for coal would go to just five companies, and nearly 90

By - Jim Vess

Global gasoline demand set to peak in 2030 as more EVs take to the road, says Wood Mackenzie

Energize Weekly, October 25, 2017 Global demand for gasoline will peak in 2030, followed five years later by oil reaching its maximum worldwide consumption, according to an analysis by Wood Mackenzie, the global energy and commodities consultant. Peak oil demand has been a rolling phenomenon in the developed world with Japanese consumption topping out in 2000, followed by Germany, Italy

By - Jim Vess

Boulder’s effort to create a municipal utility faces challenges at the ballot box and in the courts

Energize Weekly, October 25, 2017 It has been nearly seven years since the city of Boulder, nestled in the foothills of the Colorado Rocky Mountains, embarked on its quest to leave Xcel Energy and form a municipal electric utility—the next few weeks may decide the fate of the effort. The city faces tests at the polls and before the Colorado

By - Jim Vess

Businesses and institutions moving slowly toward energy planning, Harvard survey finds

Energize Weekly, October 18, 2017 There is a growing concern among business leaders about rising costs and risks in the U.S. power system, but less than a third of businesses have initiated programs to address those worries, according to a survey by the Harvard Business Review Analytic Services. The key concerns are fluctuating energy prices, the risk of business interruptions

By - Jim Vess

Lack of charging stations may be biggest hurdle in adoption of EVs

Energize Weekly, October 18, 2017 The adoption of electrical vehicles (EVs) is gathering speed, but that momentum could be blunted by a lack of charging stations to service them, according to a new report by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). While currently only 1 percent of the domestic fleet, EV sales over the last four years have grown at a

By - Jim Vess

States take the initiative on energy policy and legislation while gridlock reigns in Washington

Energize Weekly, October 11, 2017 Energy policy, legislation and initiatives are alive and bipartisan in the state houses across the country even as they are bogged down in the nation’s capital, according to the Center for the New Energy Economy at Colorado State University. More than 12,500 energy bills were introduced in state legislatures between 2013 and 2016, with 1,926

By - Jim Vess

The battery market for industrial and commercial facilities is growing across the country

Energize Weekly, October 4, 2017 The use of battery storage by business and industry to help manage electricity bills is growing rapidly and could potentially be used by millions of commercial customers across the country, according to a recent analysis. Utilities are also installing storage, sometimes coupled with solar or wind installations and sometimes in place of substations, to enhance

By - Jim Vess

Wave of pollution control installations as EPA deadline approached favored activated carbon technology

Energize Weekly, October 4, 2017 A wave of mercury control technology installations—mainly lower-cost activated carbon systems—were made at coal-fired power plants just before the final April 2016 compliance deadline for new emission standards, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA’s preliminary annual electric generator survey shows that there was an increase in installations just before the initial

By - Jim Vess

Sharp drop in 2017 solar module prices imperiled by Suniva trade case ruling

Energize Weekly, September 27, 2017 Driven by falling solar module prices, the cost of utility-scale photovoltaic installations have dropped 30 percent this year, but a federal trade ruling issued Sept. 22 could jack those prices up again. The quarterly solar benchmark study by the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) found the cost of utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) solar arrays declined

By - Jim Vess

The cost of wind power could be cut in half with better modeling and management, NREL study says

Energize Weekly, September 20, 2017 Technological improvements could cut the generating costs of wind power in half, making it as economical as natural gas generation—and the key isn’t just a new turbine, blade or tower, but a supercomputer. A new report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden, Colo., outlines an approach to maximizing wind farm efficiency through

By - Jim Vess

Residential solar market set to have its first annual decline in 2017

Energize Weekly, September 20, 2017 Solar installations were at near-record levels in the second quarter of 2017, but the rooftop solar market was weak. The forecast is that residential solar will see its first down year ever. The analysis comes from the quarterly market study by GTM Research, a Wood Mackenzie company, and the Solar Energy Industries Association, an industry

By - Jim Vess

Transmission investment rises spurred by aging infrastructure and a changing grid, survey finds

Energize Weekly, September 13, 2017 Transmission investment has become a growing focus among utility industry executives, according to a survey by Black & Veatch. “Long-term investment, reliability and aging infrastructure are three of the industry’s top five fundamental concerns,” according to the annual Strategic Directions survey done by the Overland Park, Kans.-based engineering and consulting group. The two other concerns

By - Jim Vess

Researchers increase solar cell efficiency by more than 50 percent—cost is the big hurdle

Energize Weekly, September 6, 2017 Swiss and American researchers have developed a silicon-based solar cell with efficiencies as high as 36 percent—a 50 percent increase over the best performing cells on the market. The cells were developed by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., and the Swiss Center for Electronics and Microtechnology (CSEM) and École Polytechnique

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy proposes replacing two coal-fired plants with mix of wind, solar and natural gas

Energize Weekly, September 6, 2017 Xcel Energy is proposing closing two Colorado coal-fired plants and adding wind, solar and natural gas-fired generation—raising its proportion of renewable electricity production in the state to 55 percent by 2026. “We are very committed to decarbonizing when the technology and policy choices make it possible to do so,” said David Eves, president of Xcel’s

By - Jim Vess

Four trends will reshape the global power sector, says GTM analysis

Energize Weekly, September 6, 2017 The global power sector is being transformed by four potent trends—decarbonization, electric vehicles, decentralization and extending energy access—according to an analysis by the cleantech marketing and consulting group, GTM Research. “The power sector is constantly evolving, but rarely in modern history has it seen such rapid change as it faces today,” Shayle Kann, who leads

By - Jim Vess

Cities push for 100 percent renewable electricity—whether the goal can be met still debatable

Energize Weekly, August 30, 2017 The push to reach 100 percent renewable electricity generation, led by U.S. cities, is sweeping the nation, but what that means and whether it can be done is still a subject of intense debate. Forty cities have set some sort of 100 percent renewable goal. In 2015, Hawaii adopted a renewable power target of 100

By - Jim Vess

Lawrence Berkeley study finds wind and solar may be saving lives and dollars

Energize Weekly, August 23, 2017 Wind and solar generation, in addition to becoming economically competitive, have also provided billions of dollars’ worth of clean air, decreased pollution-related deaths and reduced greenhouse gas emissions, according to a new Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study. The study—which calculates the reductions in air pollutants linked to wind and solar replacing fossil fuels between 2007

By - Jim Vess

Solar in tandem with battery storage gaining traction among utilities

Energize Weekly, August 23, 2017 The hottest couple in the utility industry these days may be photovoltaic solar generation and battery storage. The pair is being seen all over the country. Drawbacks to photovoltaic (PV) panels include their intermittent production and the difficulty of matching that production to demand. When the sun isn’t shining, utilities opt for alternative generation. When

By - Jim Vess

The future of the robust U.S. wind market is uncertain as subsidies and mandates end

Energize Weekly, August 16, 2017 The wind energy market is being spurred by declining prices and rising efficiency, but faces a challenging future with the loss of federal subsidies, competition from other types of generation and weak wholesale power markets, according to a U.S. Department of Energy report. The study, 2016 Wind Energy Technologies Market Report, was done by researchers

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