By - Jim Vess

U.S. DOE to fund $105.5 million in photovoltaic and concentrating solar research projects

Energize Weekly, April 25, 2018 The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced a new $105.5 million round of funding for solar energy research, development and grid integration projects on April 17. DOE will fund about 70 projects to advance both solar photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar thermal power (CSP) technologies through its Solar Energy Technologies Office. “American ingenuity is the

By - Jim Vess

Xcel gets federal approval to inspect transmission lines and infrastructure using drones

Energize Weekly, April 25, 2018 Xcel Energy has received the first approval in the country from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) for the ongoing use of drones to inspect transmission lines and infrastructure in Colorado, according to the company. FAA granted Xcel the okay to use unmanned drones, weighing less than 55 pounds, on a stretch of line 20 miles

By - Jim Vess

Wind industry taking hold in red states in the U.S. heartland in 2017

Energize Weekly, April 25, 2018 The wind industry is having a big impact on red heartland states and rural economies, according to data from the annual report from the industry trade group, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). A total of 7,017 megawatts (MW) of new wind capacity was added in the U.S. in 2017, about 13 percent of the

By - Jim Vess

U.S. crude production in the Gulf of Mexico hit a record in 2017, output is projected to grow

Energize Weekly, April 18, 2018 U.S. crude oil production in the Gulf of Mexico hit a record 1.65 million barrels a day in 2017—and 2018 and 2019 production is set surpass that, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Gulf production hit that highest recorded annual level despite platform outages and pipeline problems in December 2017, as several new

By - Jim Vess

Cities growing solar generating capacity, survey finds

Energize Weekly, April 18, 2018 The installation of solar photovoltaic (PV) arrays is growing in cities across the country—especially in sunny ones, according a survey by the non-profit Colorado Environmental Policy Center. “As of the end of 2017, 20 cities—representing just 0.1 percent of U.S. land area—accounted for over 4 percent of U.S. solar PV capacity,” the survey said. “These

By - Jim Vess

Investment rises in repowering old wind farms to get tax credits, cut costs and boost output

Energize Weekly, April 18, 2018 Wind farms across the country are getting a makeover as rising costs, declining production and the spur of tax credits is leading to the repowering of projects built as far back as the 1990s, according to federal data and market studies. A study by the federal National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), in Golden, Colo., projects

By - Jim Vess

Southwest Power Pool sets a record for wind generation in the wee hours on March 31

Energize Weekly, April 11, 2018 In the early hours of March 31, the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) set a new wind penetration record with 62 percent of the load being served by wind generation. Wind turbines accounted for 14.5 gigawatts (GW) of the 23.2 GW load for the regional transmission organization (RTO), which operates a market that stretches across all

By - Jim Vess

Wind and solar plus storage are challenging fossil fuels worldwide, Bloomberg says

Energize Weekly, April 11, 2018 Coal and natural gas are being hard pressed to compete as the comparative cost of wind, solar and battery storage continue to fall and in concert, can meet the power grid’s key needs, according to a Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) study. “Fossil fuel power is facing an unprecedented challenge in all three roles it

By - Jim Vess

Electricity poised to provide as much as half of all energy in U.S. by 2050, EPRI says

Energize Weekly, April 11, 2018 Electricity supplies 21 percent of all the energy used in the U.S. and that share is projected to rise to about a third to half of all energy by 2050, according to an assessment by the non-profit Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI). “The economic potential for elec­trification is compelling in many applications, yet realizing this

By - Jim Vess

U.S. solar employment saw its first recorded decline in 2017, The Solar Foundation says

Energize Weekly, April 4, 2018 The solar industry lost jobs in 2017—seeing a 3.8 percent decline equal to 9,800 positions—for the first time since employment statistics were tracked in 2010 by the non-profit The Solar Foundation, the group said in its annual Solar Jobs Census. The foundation saw a host of reasons for the decline, including a slowdown in activity

By - Jim Vess

U.S. LNG exports quadruple as world market grows led by Asia

Energize Weekly, April 4, 2018 U.S. exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) quadrupled in 2017 compared to the previous year as global demand jumped 9.4 percent to 285 million metric tons a year, according to market analyses by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA) and Bloomberg New Energy Finance. After last year’s bump, the global demand is projected to rise

By - Jim Vess

Dallas Federal Reserve survey finds oil and gas operations expanding in 2018

Energize Weekly, April 4, 2018 Oil and gas activity in Texas posted growth for the sixth consecutive quarter in the first quarter of 2018 with prospects for continued expansion this year, according to the Dallas Federal Reserve Bank’s quarterly regional energy survey. The survey also found the average break-even point for drilling a new well was $52 a barrel for

By - Jim Vess

Foreign solar panel makers and American installers seek to be excluded from Trump solar tariff

Energize Weekly, March 28, 2018 More than 80 foreign solar cell and module manufactures and American companies using imported solar products are seeking exclusions from the Trump administration solar import tariff, according to filings with the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative. The arguments made by the applicants, based on a review of the filings, generally fall within three categories:

By - Jim Vess

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

Energize Weekly, March 28, 2018 Natural gas-fired electric generation fell a record 7.7 percent in 2017 compared with the previous year, and coal-fired electricity 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

Markets with high levels of renewable generation show ways to maintain grid stability

Energize Weekly, March 28, 2018 As wind and solar generation grow, so too have questions about their impact on the reliability and resiliency of the grid. However, a study of markets around world with high levels of renewables has identified keys to keep the systems up and running. The question of grid resiliency gained added heft when U.S. Secretary of

By - Jim Vess

Trump administration tariff to cut US solar market by 13 percent, prices already on the rise

Energize Weekly, March 21, 2018 The Trump administration tariffs on solar cells and modules will cut installations by 13 percent between 2018 and 2022 compared to previous projections, according to GTM Research. A total of 10.6 gigawatts of photovoltaic (PV) capacity was installed in 2017. Installations in 2018 are expected to be the same. It won’t be until 2023 before

By - Jim Vess

Southwest Power Pool approves terms for western utilities to join its wholesale market

Energize Weekly, March 21, 2018 The Southwest Power Pool (SPP) board of directors on March 13 approved the terms for utilities and transmission operators from eight Western states to join their wholesale electricity market. The proposal deals with issues of cost sharing, governance, operations and, in a number of areas, gives the Mountain West Transmission Group region some separate consideration

By - Jim Vess

Xcel Energy gets the OK from Colorado PUC to develop a clean power plan

Energize Weekly, March 21, 2018 The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) voted on March 14 to give Xcel Energy the go-ahead to develop a plan to close two coal-fired power plants and replace them with renewable or low-cost alternatives. Xcel calls its proposal the Clean Energy Plan (CEP). It would more than double the utility’s amount of electricity from renewable

By - Jim Vess

U.S. storage set to double in 2018 as market to reach 50,000 megawatts in the future

Energize Weekly, March 14, 2018 The prospects for the U.S. battery storage market, both short and long term, appear strong with capacity doubling in 2018 and reaching as high as 50,000 megawatts (MW), according to new analyses. In 2018, 1,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) of storage is set to be deployed, nearly equal to the 1,080 MWh deployed between 2013 and 2017,

By - Jim Vess

U.S. industry will be the largest consumer of natural gas through 2050, EIA forecast says

Energize Weekly, March 14, 2018 U.S. industry will be running on natural gas—consuming it as a fuel and a feedstock—and using more of it than any other sector through 2050, according to a forecast by the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA expects the industrial sector’s consumption to rise 40 percent to 13.7 quadrillion British thermal units (BTUs) in

By - Jim Vess

U.S. set to be major supplier for new global oil demand as OPEC sees slow growth in supplies

Energize Weekly, March 14, 2018 The United States, thanks to surging shale-oil production, will “dominate oil supply growth” over the next five years and is becoming “ever more dominant in the global oil market,” according to the International Energy Agency (IEA). The key exporting countries meeting demand growth along with the U.S. will be Brazil, Canada and Norway. The four

By - Jim Vess

EU renewable generation is dominated by Germany and the UK, Eastern Europe hangs on to coal

Energize Weekly, March 7, 2018 Renewable generation has overtaken coal-fired plants in the European Union, providing 30 percent of its electricity, but the growth of renewables has been uneven in the 28-nation bloc with coal hanging on in Eastern Europe. Since 2000, renewable generation has more than doubled and the combination of wind, solar and biomass accounted for more generation

By - Jim Vess

A record number of electric vehicles sold in the U.S. in 2017 as states push new programs and policies

Energize Weekly, March 7, 2018 A record number of electric vehicles (EVs) were sold in the U.S. in 2017, and 43 states took a wide range of EV policy initiatives, including financial incentives, special customer rates and building charging infrastructure, according to the NC Clean Energy Technology Center. In its annual review of state-based EV policies and actions, the center,

By - Jim Vess

Renewables can meet 80 percent of nation’s needs, getting beyond is expensive, study says

Energize Weekly, March 3, 2018 Wind and solar generation could meet up to 80 percent of U.S. electricity demand—but going beyond that toward all-renewable electricity could require trillions of dollars of investment in transmission, generation and storage, according to a new study. Researchers from the Carnegie Institution for Science, the California Institute of Technology and the University of California, Irvine

By - Jim Vess

Florida Power & Light to add “cutting-edge” battery technology to boost solar output

Energize Weekly, February 28, 2018 Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) said it is adding “cutting-edge” storage technology to a utility-scale solar facility that will boost output by half-a-million kilowatt-hours a year. FPL, the nation’s third-largest electric utility with five million customers, said that the integration of the DC-coupled battery array is believed to be the first large-scale application of

By - Jim Vess

Chinese solar imports flooded the U.S market ahead of Trump administration solar tariff

Energize Weekly, February 28, 2018 Anticipating Trump administration tariffs on solar panels, a surge of Chinese imports hit the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Chinese imports for the quarter were 11 times higher than for the first nine months of the year. Imports for the quarter were a little more than

By - Jim Vess

Court ruling on methane comes from one of 60 climate lawsuits filed against Trump administration

Energize Weekly, February 28, 2018 Trump administration efforts to roll back methane controls on oil and gas operations were blocked by a federal court ruling last week in one of the 60 lawsuits filed against the administration on climate change issues. On Feb. 22, Judge William Orrick, in the U.S. Northern District of California, granted a preliminary injunction against the

By - Jim Vess

Trump solar tariffs draw challenges from around the globe

Energize Weekly, February 21, 2018 The Trump administration tariffs on imported solar cells and modules are drawing fire from around the world. In the latest challenge, three Canadian companies—Ontario-based Silfab Solar Inc., Heliene Inc. and Canadian Solar Solutions Inc., along with U.S.-based distributor Canadian Solar (USA) Inc.—filed a complaint with the U.S. Court of International Trade in New York on

By - Jim Vess

Utility trade organization and environmental group team up on policies to spur clean energy

Energize Weekly, February 21, 2018 Politics may make strange bedfellows, but apparently, so can the utility business as the environmental group, Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the industry trade group, teamed up on 21 policy recommendations to bolster clean energy and a modern grid. The recommendations include supporting energy efficiency programs, a transition to

By - Jim Vess

Renewable generation challenges nuclear as electricity got cleaner in 2017

Energize Weekly, February 21, 2018 The restructuring of the U.S. electricity generation portfolio continued in 2017 with renewable sources coming close to nuclear, while reductions in natural gas and coal made the total kilowatt-hours consumed by Americans cleaner, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Renewable generation was up 14 percent to 717 terawatt-hours (TWhs) in 2017 compared to 2016. Renewables

By - Jim Vess

EIA forecast shows increase in oil and natural gas production, with gas playing biggest role by 2050

Energize Weekly, February 14, 2018 Oil, natural gas liquids and natural gas production are all projected to grow steadily over the next five years, with oil and gas liquids leveling off and natural gas continuing to climb slowly, according to the federal Energy Information Administration (EIA). Oil production has already surpassed the 9.6 million barrels a day record set in

By - Jim Vess

US growth in renewable energy is strong, global growth is stronger, NREL study finds

Energize Weekly, February 14, 2018 Renewable energy generation doubled in the U.S. between 2006 and 2016, reaching 18 percent of the country’s generating capacity. As strong as those numbers are, global renewable energy growth has been even greater. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) recently released 2018 Renewable Energy Data Book found that while renewable energy growth in the U.S.,

By - Jim Vess

Coal and nuclear electricity generation off to a rocky start in 2018

Energize Weekly, February 14, 2018 The prospects for coal-fired and nuclear electricity generation got off to a shaky start in 2018 with a projected record number of coal unit closures and three nuclear power plants set for shutdown. The Trump administration has been trying to find ways to bolster the two sectors. It proposed giving subsidies to plants in wholesale

By - Jim Vess

U.S. wind industry installed 7,017 MW in 2017, according to AWEA

Energize Weekly, February 7, 2018 The U.S. wind industry installed 7,017 megawatts (MW) of new generating capacity in 2017, $11 million in new investment, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) fourth quarter market report. Helping to spur project development were agreements to buy power by a growing list of corporate customers seeking clean power, including Google Energy, Facebook

By - Jim Vess

Maryland would have nation’s second largest EV charging network under $105 million plan

Energize Weekly, February 7, 2018 The Maryland Public Service Commission is reviewing a plan, proposed by the state’s utility companies, to create a statewide network of 24,000 electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. The $105 million “Statewide Electric Vehicle Portfolio” would set up the second-largest charging network in the nation. California has the largest program. Signing on to the proposal were

By - Jim Vess

People living around winds farms view them positively and see few negative impacts, survey finds

Energize Weekly, February 7, 2018 The majority of people living within five miles of a windfarm view the projects positively, although attitudes are more polarized among residents within a half-mile of the turbines, according to a survey by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. The survey of 1,700 people found that attitudes were shaped by whether residents believe the siting process

By - Jim Vess

EV growth may not affect overall residential power demand, but may impact local areas, study finds

Energize Weekly, January 31, 2018 The growth in plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) will not have a big impact on overall residential power demand, but even one vehicle charging at home could stress a local transformer, according to a study by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL). The modeling study using data for 200 Midwest homes found that the while not

By - Jim Vess

Trump solar tariff roils market, slows growth but is far from the ‘worst-case scenario’

Energize Weekly, January 31, 2018 The tariff placed on imported solar cells by the Trump administration last week is roiling markets and is projected to slow growth, but not blunt the development of the solar industry. On Jan. 22, President Donald Trump approved a four-year tariff, starting at 30 percent and stepping down 5 percent a year to 15 percent

By - Jim Vess

Utilities need to adapt to a changing market with new business approaches, RMI study says

Energize Weekly, January 31, 2018 A rapidly shifting, yet slow-growing electricity market is forcing utility executives and state regulators to redefine the role of utilities—from expanding their monopoly positions to becoming open platforms for competition, according to a study by the Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI). The question, the study by the energy consulting group said, is where to draw the

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

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