By - Jim Vess

Coal prices are competitive, but it isn’t leading to more coal-fired power in the PJM

Energize Weekly, December 19, 2018 A rise in natural gas prices has made coal more competitive, but in the PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, the usual utility switching to the cheapest fuel has been hamstrung by the closure of mines and coal-fired units. “Conventional wisdom in PJM was that at times of high demand during the winter, coal generation

By - Jim Vess

U.S. coal consumption hits a 39-year low, coal-fired power plant closures continue

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 U.S. coal consumption in 2018 is projected by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) to fall to 691 million short tons—a 4 percent drop from 2017 and the lowest level in 39 years. “The decline in coal consumption since 2007 is the result of both the retirements of coal-fired power plants and the decreases in

By - Jim Vess

PacifiCorp says it could save money closing 13 of its 22 coal-fired generating units

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 The majority of PacifiCorp’s 22 coal-fired units are more expensive to run that other power market options, the company said in a resource analysis. A total of $586 million could be saved by closing 13 units by 2022, according to the analysis, which is part of the utility’s bi-annual integrated resource planning. Running the plants

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy sets a zero-carbon electricity target for 2050, with an 80 percent cut in emissions by 2030

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 Xcel Energy has set a goal of producing 100 percent “carbon-free” electricity by 2050—making it the first large U.S. utility to set a net-zero carbon standard. The investor-owned utility, which operates in eight western and midwestern states, has set a target of an 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions, from 2005 levels, by 2030 and

By - Jim Vess

Global carbon emissions rise, cutting them will be a challenge, studies find

Energize Weekly, December 12, 2018 Global carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, driven by increased fossil fuel consumption, jumped in 2018. Even with major initiatives to curb carbon, fossil fuels are likely to hold a dominant share of energy production through 2040, according to a series of new studies. Carbon emissions worldwide rose 2.7 percent in 2018, compared to 1.6 percent in

By - Jim Vess

Japan is bringing nuclear units closed after Fukushima accident back online

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Japan is slowly bringing online nuclear power units, which were shut down in the wake of the Fukushima accident in 2011. In 2018, five units were restarted, raising the total operating units to nine. In 2013, Japan suspended its nuclear fleet—20 nuclear plants with 54 units—for mandatory safety checks and upgrades after Fukushima. In March

By - Jim Vess

New England set to meet winter electricity generation demands, though fuel issues linger

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 New England’s power grid operator—after a cold snap last winter taxed generating capacity—has put in place new programs and says it expects to have the resources to meet demand. Still, fuel constraints could pose a risk. ISO New England (ISO-NE) said in its winter outlook that it expects consumer demand to peak a 20,357 megawatts

By - Jim Vess

Coal-fired power plants quickly becoming uneconomical around the world, Carbon Tracker says

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Coal-fired power plants around the world are quickly becoming unprofitable, with 42 percent already operating in the red—a number that is projected to grow to 72 percent by 2040, according to Carbon Tracker. “Over the long-term coal power will become a net liability,” said the London-based financial think tank, which is focused on clean energy

By - Jim Vess

National climate assessment sees challenges in electric generation and higher demand

Energize Weekly, December 5, 2018 Climate change poses the dual hazard of increasing electricity demand while reducing generating efficiency, as well as producing severe weather that can damage the grid, according to a federal assessment of impacts of climate change. The Fourth National Climate Assessment, a 1,600-page analysis complied by 13 federal agencies, covers a wide range of potential impacts,

By - Jim Vess

Carbon emissions in heavy industry and transport could be could to zero by 2060, study says

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 Heavy industry carbon emissions—less of a focus and harder to curb than the power sector’s—could be reduced to zero by 2060 at cost of just a fraction of global Gross Domestic Product (GDP), according to a new study by the nonprofit Energy Transitions Commission. The challenge in reducing industrial and transportation carbon emissions is that

By - Jim Vess

Demand response programs providing U.S. utilities with 18.3 gigawatts of capacity

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 The demand response programs of the major U.S. utilities, designed to reduce peak demand, tallied 18.3 gigawatts (GW) of capacity in 2017, with more than half of it dispatchable, according to an industry survey. The 2018 Utility Demand Response Market Snapshot, which covers 155 utilities, with about 62 percent of the country’s utility customers, was

By - Jim Vess

New York set to spend $250 million on a statewide EV charging program

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 New York State plans to spend $250 million by 2025 on electric vehicle (EV) charging stations—the first step broad program to promote EVs as part of a plan to cut carbon emissions. The New York Power Authority announced it would install 200 charging stations under the plan’s first phase and the authority said it had

By - Jim Vess

Carbon capture technology success in cost and performance have been elusive, study says

Energize Weekly, November 28, 2018 Carbon capture technologies, after 15 years of research and development, remain expensive and technologically challenged and are rapidly being priced-out by renewable energy generation and natural gas, according to an Institute of Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) report. “Billions of dollars have been spent for carbon capture research and development in North America, and

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas storage in the U.S. at a 13-year low heading into winter season

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 Natural gas underground storage in the U.S. began November at the lowest levels in 13 years, 3,208 billion cubic feet (Bcf), according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The data released Nov. 8 covers storage levels in the lower 48 states. Each of seven storage regions were at their lowest levels since 2005 and

By - Jim Vess

AEP’s $33 billion capital improvement plan focuses on transmission and distribution

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 American Electric Power (AEP) is planning to invest $33 billion in capital projects between 2019 and 2023 with three-quarters of the money focused on transmission and distribution, the company said. The company will also spend $2.7 billion on renewable generation and another $2.2 billion on competitively bid contracted renewable projects. “AEP’s capital investments over the

By - Jim Vess

Oil supplies and prices remain stables thanks to increased production from U.S., Russia and Saudi Arabia

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 Oil supplies are up and prices down—despite flagging output from Venezuela and sanctions on Iranian oil—as result of increased production from key countries and a softening demand from developing countries, the International Energy Agency (IEA) said. In August, the IEA warned that losses of Venezuelan and Iranian supplies could be “challenging,” but production from Saudi

By - Jim Vess

Texas sets a record for electricity generated from wind turbines at 17,920 MW

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 Texas—the nation’s leader in wind generation—set an output record of 17,920 megawatts (MW) the afternoon of Nov. 12, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). Driven by sustained winds of 18 miles per hour (mph) with gusts up to 36 mph, measured at San Angelo, the state’s 12,500 turbines provided about 40 percent

By - Jim Vess

Thin-film solar can grow in high-value markets like aerospace and building materials, NREL study says

Energize Weekly, November 21, 2018 Silicon solar cells account for 95 percent of the global market, but there are potentially multi-billion dollar markets for flexible, thin-film cells, according to an analysis by researchers at the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). “Multiple markets are emerging for renewable, low-cost power generation including aerospace and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), portable charging, micro-integrated

By - Jim Vess

Midwest, Northeast to start winter heating season with higher fuel oil and propane prices

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 The Midwest is heading into the winter home-heating season with above average inventories, modest price increases and a forecast of a mild winter, while the Northeast is facing a decline in inventories, a sharp price hike and colder temperatures. Propane prices were up nationally 4 percent compared to prices at the start of the 2017-2018

By - Jim Vess

Sunrun sets a record for installations in Q3, but its stock slides on a $2.9 million loss

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 Sunrun, the country’s largest solar installer in 2017, set a record in the third quarter of 2018 with 100 megawatts of installations, but a $2.9 million loss for the period sent its stock plunging. The 100 MW—13,000 solar arrays—surpassed the previous record of 91 MW, set in the second quarter of 2018. The company said

By - Jim Vess

Lazard analysis shows wind and solar becoming the cheapest new generating capacity

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 The cost of building and running wind and utility-scale solar projects is now beginning to undercut the major forms of baseload generation—natural gas, coal and nuclear, according to analysis by the financial consulting firm Lazard Ltd. Lazard’s 12th annual “levelized cost of energy” (LCOE) analysis, released Nov. 8, for the first time shows large-scale wind

By - Jim Vess

Expensive Colorado ballot battle on oil drilling setbacks could lead to a compromise

Energize Weekly, November 14, 2018 In the wake of a hard-fought battle over an oil and gas ballot initiative, Colorado political and industry leaders are looking for a path to comprise. Proposition 112, sponsored by the grassroots anti-drilling group, Colorado Rising, would have created a statute requiring oil and gas facilities to be set back 2,500 feet from homes, public

By - Jim Vess

PJM could face reliability risks in early 2020s if more coal and nuclear generation is retired

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The PJM Interconnection, the nation’s largest grid, can manage the announced closures of coal and nuclear plants even in the face of severe weather—but with the loss of additional generation, “the system may be at risk.” The assessment comes from the PJM’s Fuel Security Analysis released Nov. 1, which was done as its grid, which

By - Jim Vess

U.S. wind turbine market sets construction and sales records in the third quarter of 2018

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The U.S. wind industry installed 612 megawatts (MW) of new wind power capacity during the third quarter of 2018, a 15 percent increase over the third quarter of 2017, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) quarterly market report. Project construction activity in the third quarter also set a new record with a total

By - Jim Vess

Worldwide fuel subsidies rising under pressure from higher oil prices, EIA says

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 After a sharp decline, global fuel subsidies rose in 2017—under pressure from rising oil prices, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Worldwide fossil fuel subsidies had fallen by almost half to about $250 billion between 2012 and 2016. In 2017, they rose 12 percent to $300 billion, according to data from the IEA’s World

By - Jim Vess

U.S. set record for crude oil production in August, becoming world’s leading producer for the month

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 U.S. crude oil production reached 11.3 million barrels a day in August, surpassing Russian output, and making the U.S. the world’s leading crude oil producer, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Production records were set in several states. Texas posted a record 4.6 million barrels a day, followed by North Dakota at 1.3

By - Jim Vess

Record number of coal plants to close in 2018 as utility industry carbon emissions drop

Energize Weekly, November 7, 2018 The U.S. power sector will close a record 15.4 gigawatts (GW) of coal-fired power plants in 2018, as federal data shows a steady, long-term drop in carbon dioxide emissions from the sector. An assessment by the non-profit Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis (IEEFA) projects the retirement of 44 units at 22 plants in

By - Jim Vess

Dominion Energy calls for 500 MW of onshore wind and solar projects in Virginia

Energize Weekly, October 31, 2018 Dominion Energy issued a request for bids on Oct. 24 for 500 megawatts (MW) of solar and onshore wind generation as part of a plan to develop 3,000 MW of renewable resources in Virginia. Richmond, Va.-based Dominion Energy pledged to develop the wind and solar resources, enough to power 750,000 homes, under state’s new Grid

By - Jim Vess

Colorado, the leader in community solar, set to get six more solar gardens on Western Slope

Energize Weekly, October 31, 2018 Colorado—the leading state in the nation for community solar gardens—is set to get six more of the shared arrays, with a total of 10.3 megawatts (MW) of generation, on the state’s more rural Western Slope. The sites are all located along the Interstate 70 corridor and are being developed by Pivot Energy and Standard Solar.

By - Jim Vess

Cannabis industry drives growing electricity demand, expected to soar with increased legalization

Energize Weekly, October 31, 2018 The legal cannabis industry in the U.S. is becoming a big energy consumer, using 1.1 million megawatts-hours a year—enough to power 92,500 homes— with consumption projected to grow by 162 percent between 2017 and 2002, according to a study by New Frontier Data. “As more states transition from illicit markets to legal medical markets or

By - Jim Vess

Efficiency programs, which could have a big impact on emissions, are flagging, IEA says

Energize Weekly, October 31, 2018 Energy efficiency programs could dramatically cut greenhouse gas emissions even as economic activity doubled—but those programs’ gains slowed as efficiency policies have weakened, according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). Following two years of low growth, global energy demand grew by 2 percent in 2017, the fastest increase since 2010. That growth exceeded the 1.7

By - Jim Vess

Corporate renewable power purchases set a record in 2018 with the tech sector leading the way

Energize Weekly, October 24, 2018 Corporate renewable energy power purchases—which have spurred $15 billion in capital investment in the last eight years—have already set an annual record in 2018 led by tech companies. So far this year, corporate customers have purchased 4.96 gigawatts of renewable electricity through 59 deals, according to the Business Renewables Center, a program run by the

By - Jim Vess

PJM has had the biggest growth in natural gas-fired generation of any U.S. market

Energize Weekly, October 24, 2018 The PJM Interconnection, the largest U.S. wholesale electricity market, has in the last five years added the most natural gas-fired capacity of any grid in the country, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). PJM has seen the closure or announced closure of coal-fired and nuclear plants on its grid, while steadily adding natural

By - Jim Vess

Goggle Maps adds EV charging stations around the world to its search

Energize Weekly, October 24, 2018 Google Maps is now a guide to electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in countries around the world. A search on Google Maps in the U.S. will show the stations operated by Tesla, ChargePoint, SemaConnect, EVgo and Blink Network. The five companies account for about three-quarters of the more than 21,000 charging stations in the country.

By - Jim Vess

Pipeline constraints could hurt winter energy market prices in New York, Boston and Los Angeles

Energize Weekly, October 24, 2018 A forecast for a mild winter and adequate electricity generating capacity are good news for the winter energy markets, but pipeline constraints could create risks for several major cities, according to a Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) assessment. The growing dependence on natural gas-fired generation coupled with the pipeline issues could also “have significant implications

By - Jim Vess

Wind and solar provided 10 states with 20 percent or more of their electricity in 2017

Energize Weekly, October 17, 2018 Wind and solar electric generation make up an average of only 8 percent of U.S. power supplies, but in 10 states these renewable resources provided 20 percent or more of the electricity supply in 2017, according to Federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) data. This group is led by Iowa and Kansas where wind generation respectively

By - Jim Vess

U.S. crude oil export carried by supertankers rose in first half of 2018

Energize Weekly, October 17, 2018 U.S. crude oil exports surged in the first half of 2018 as the use of the largest supertankers grew dramatically. Crude oil overtook hydrocarbon gas liquids as the biggest U.S. petroleum export product. The 1.8 million barrels a day exported was 80 percent more than the first half of 2017, according to the federal Energy

By - Jim Vess

Georgia-Pacific is the latest company seeking to leave NV Energy for the open power market

Energize Weekly, October 17, 2018 Georgia-Pacific Gypsum, which operates a gypsum wallboard and plastic manufacturing plant near Las Vegas, is seeking to leave Nevada’s largest utility, NV Energy and buy power on its own. More than a dozen other companies have left or are seeking to leave NV Energy. Georgia-Pacific (GP) filed its application with Public Utilities Commission of Nevada

By - Jim Vess

Google finds matching carbon-free energy to its data centers’ round-the-clock demand a challenge

Energize Weekly, October 17, 2018 Google has been the world’s biggest corporate purchaser of renewable energy, buying enough to cover all of its total global consumption. Now it wants to go further matching carbon-free energy to its demand for every hour of every day. One of the biggest challenges of renewable generation is providing round-the-clock reliability, particularly for the two

By - Jim Vess

New Mexico regulators OK 2,200-MW wind project covering 300,000 acres

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018 A plan to install 2,200 megawatts (MW) of wind generation—about 950 wind turbines—in central and eastern New Mexico was approved by state regulators on Oct. 3. The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission (PRC), on a 4-to-0 vote, gave the green light to San Francisco-based Pattern Energy Group’s Corona Wind project. In addition to the turbines,

By - Jim Vess

Duke Energy Florida will install up to 530 EV charging stations in three-year pilot

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018 Duke Energy said it will install up to 530 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Florida as part of a pilot in tandem with a three-year program to promote and study EV use. The “Park and Plug” program is focusing on placing charging stations for public use in areas with broad public access, such as

By - Jim Vess

Trump tariffs added $236.5 million to U.S. solar projects, EnergySage says

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018 The Trump administration’s solar tariffs have added $236.5 million to U.S. solar projects this year, according to solar marketer EnergySage Marketplace. For the average residential customer, this added up to an extra 16 cents per watt or $960 for a standard 6-kilowatt solar installation, according to EnergySage, which runs a web-based comparison-shopping market for rooftop

By - Jim Vess

Natural gas and coal-fired electric generation fell in 2017 while renewable generation rose

Energize Weekly, October 10, 2018 Natural gas-fired electric generation fell a record 7.7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, and coal-fired generation was down 2.5 percent, marking the first time in a decade both electricity sources declined—at the same time renewable electricity hit a record, according to the federal Energy Information Association (EIA). Total U.S. net electricity generation

By - Jim Vess

LNG market set to post a record in 2018 buoyed by Asian buyers

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 The market for liquefied natural gas (LNG) is poised to set a record in 2018, spurred by Asian imports, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance analysis. Demand is projected to grow 308 million metric tons per annum (MMtpa) in 2018, up 8.5 percent from 2017. “The rate of growth will slow from 2019 and

By - Jim Vess

High temperatures, fuel constraints pushed western electricity prices to a 10-year high this summer

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 High temperatures and tight fuel supplies pushed wholesale electricity prices in the western U.S. to their highest levels since 2008, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Temperatures were warmer than normal across the West. Portland, Ore., for example, posted 29 days of temperatures higher than 90 degrees from the beginning of June through

By - Jim Vess

Small reactors are the only viable path forward for nuclear energy, policy groups say

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 In order for the nuclear energy industry to survive it must move in a new—small is beautiful—direction with the help of revised federal policies and financial support, according to a new paper from the Breakthrough Institute, R Street Institute and ClearPath. The solution proposed by the three right-of-center think tanks is small reactors, each no

By - Jim Vess

Sempra sells renewable energy assets to Consolidated Edison for $1.5 billion

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 Sempra Energy has agreed to sell its U.S. non-utility operating solar assets, solar and battery storage development projects and one wind facility to Consolidated Edison Inc. for $1.54 billion in cash. “This sale represents an important step forward in the portfolio-optimization plan we announced in June to support market growth opportunities,” Joseph A. Householder, president and chief

By - Jim Vess

USDA to finance $398 million in rural electric projects in 13 states

Energize Weekly, October 3, 2018 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is providing $398.5 million in funding to upgrade electric service in 13 states, including smart grid and renewable energy projects. “Reliable and affordable electricity is undeniably a necessity in today’s world,” Anne Hazlett, rural development assistant to Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, said in a statement. “USDA is committed to

By - Jim Vess

Financing the cost of closing coal-fired power plants is a key to a clean energy transition, RMI says

Energize Weekly, September 26, 2018 A major obstacle in the transition from coal-fired power plants to cleaner energy generation is the “specter of financial losses” utility companies face in closing those plants. Solving that problem is a key to a quicker energy transition, according to the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). In “Managing the Coal Capital Transition,” the RMI attempts to

By - Jim Vess

Minnesota’s community solar leads the nation and reaches 400-MW milestone

Energize Weekly, September 19, 2018 Minnesota’s community solar program—the biggest and fastest growing in the country—reached a record 401 megawatts this summer, according to an analysis by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR). The program was launched in November 2014 by Xcel Energy, the state’s largest utility. There was a two-year lag as projects worked their way through the approval

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