NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, February 4:

  • TTTA Thursday-CLIMATE CHANGE IS GETTING TO THE PETS
  • TTTA Thursday-THE BREEZE IN TREES CAN BE ELECTRICITY
  • TTTA Thursday-A SOLAR-POWERED VINEYARD
  • TTTA Thursday-A GEOTHERMAL HOTHOUSE
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: INSIDE MINNESOTA'S LEGISLATIVE BATTLE OVER UTILITY RATE STRUCTURES AND SOLAR
  • QUICK NEWS, February 3: ZIKA AND CLIMATE; U.S. ARMY TO BUILD WIND-SOLAR HYBRID; INTRO TO EV BUYING
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: THE PROGRESS OF GRID MODERNIZATION
  • QUICK NEWS, February 2: NEW WIRES FOR NEW ENERGY; SOLAR MAKES BIG MONEY ON WAREHOUSE ROOFS; NEW YORK CITY LIKES GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: THE BOOM IN U.S. WIND
  • QUICK NEWS, February 1: THE BURNERS MUST BE STOPPED; THERE’S NO STOPPING NEW ENERGY; TESLA CHARGING STATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: Which Climate Change Denier Will Iowa Pick?
  • Weekend Video: Here Comes Solar Plus Storage
  • Weekend Video: How Ted Cruz Manipulates Climate Data
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-REALITY BITES CLIMATE DENIERS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-IRISH WIND CAN BEAT NAT GAS
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-INDIA’S SUN BEATS COAL
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-SO. KOREA BUYS OCEAN ENERGY PILOT
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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    Your intrepid reporter

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • Friday, February 05, 2016

    MEN AND WOMEN AND CLIMATE CHANGE

    Gender sensitivity could aid climate change projects

    Jeremy Hartley, February 4. 2016 (SciDevNet)

    “Men and women living [in the undeveloped world] face different climate change impacts which, if overlooked, could further widen gender gaps in participatory development, says the preliminary findings of a continuing study…[from Practical Action Consulting East Africa in partnership with Institute of Development Studies, and the Climate and Development Knowledge Network. The findings] indicate that ignoring gender differences in climate change adaptation projects could widen gender gaps and hinder participatory development…[Men and women] have equal opportunities to participate in development projects that address the effects of climate change…[but] it is important to understand the different impacts of climate change that men and women face, and move beyond generalisations…[to enterprise-based approaches that] reduce gender disparity…” click here for more

    GLOBAL OCEAN WIND ADVANCING

    Offshore Wind Market Update; Global and Country-Level Market Analyses and Forecasts, Wind Turbine Vendor Market Shares, and Turbine Technology Trends

    1Q 2016 (Navigant Research)

    “The offshore wind energy market continues to march ahead, as 2015 represented a record year of activity with over 3.7 GW brought online…[O]ffshore wind reached nearly 12 GW of cumulative capacity by the end of 2015, up from 995 MW installed globally in 2014. Over 65% of the annual capacity was installed in Germany…[T]he United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and China [were other key markets]…The major market driver…is the demand for clean and diversified energy sources from an increasing number of governments…[and especially those] near areas of strong offshore wind potential, particularly the North Sea and Baltic Sea in Europe. Potential is also ripe along the northeastern seaboard of the United States…” click here for more

    600 MILES OF SOLAR ROADS FOR FRANCE

    France Is Paving More Than 600 Miles of Road With Solar Panels; In five years, France hopes the panels will supply power to 5 million people

    Danny Lewis, February 4, 2016 (Smithsonian)

    “…[France’s 621 mile Wattway…will be built in collaboration with the French road-building company Colas and the National Institute of Solar Energy. The company spent the last five years developing solar panels that are only about a quarter of an inch thick and are hardy enough to stand up to heavy highway traffic without breaking or making the roads more slippery…The panels are also designed so that they can be installed directly on top of existing roadways, making them relatively cheap and easy to install without having to tear up any infrastructure…The panels are made out of a thin polycrystalline silicon film and coated in a layer of resin to strengthen them and make them less slippery. Because the panels are so thin, they can adapt to small changes in the surface of pavement due to temperature shifts and are sealed tightly against the weather…[They] are even snowplow-proof, although plows need to be a little more cautious so as not to rip the panels off the ground…[French authorities] will start laying down segments of Wattway this coming spring.” click here for more

    INDONESIA INVITES FOREIGN CAPITAL FOR GEOTHERMAL

    Foreigners may own 100% of geothermal businesses

    Koirhul Amin, February 4, 2016 (Jakarta Post)

    “The government will issue a new regulation soon that will allow foreign investors to hold 100 percent ownership of [10 megawatt or larger] geothermal power plants …[as] part of the government’s program to boost investment in clean energy in Southeast Asia’s largest economy…For plants with a capacity of less than 10 MW, foreign ownership will be capped at 67 percent…Currently foreign investors may own up to 95 percent of plants with greater than 10 MW capacity…The government is aiming to increase the use of renewable energy from 6 percent in 2014 to at least 23 percent by 2025 and at least 31 percent in 2050…[The government also plans] to allow up to 49 percent foreign investment in high- and extra high-voltage power installation services, while medium- and low-voltage power installation would remain closed to foreign investors…Currently all power installation services must be fully owned by local investors…” click here for more

    Thursday, February 04, 2016

    CLIMATE CHANGE IS GETTING TO THE PETS

    Climate Change and Pets: More Fleas, More Heartworm

    Sue Manning, February 3, 2016 (AP via ABC News)

    “…[2015 was the hottest year on Earth in 136 years of record-keeping and climate change is] affecting cats and dogs…Fleas and ticks are getting smaller, but there are more of them, they eat more often, and they're causing problems in what used to be the colder months…Heartworm is spread by mosquitoes, but those mosquitoes — which used to be found only in certain regions — are now carrying the disease all over the United States…For pet-owners, those changes may mean rethinking preventive care like giving dogs flea and tick repellent and heartworm pills…Ticks cause Lyme disease in dogs as well as in humans. The bugs are most active in warm months, but with cities in the Northeast and Midwest setting record highs this past December, calendars no longer offer guidance on when pet-owners should worry and when they can relax. Dogs should be checked for ticks, just like people, and veterinarians can offer guidance on a variety of pest repellent products…” click here for more

    THE BREEZE IN TREES CAN BE ELECTRICITY

    Leafless Artificial Trees Swaying In The Breeze Can Harness Wind Energy And Generate Electricity

    Angela Laguipo, February 3, 2016 (Tech Times)

    “…[A team of engineers is] looking at leafless artificial trees to generate renewable power when they are shaken by the wind…Ohio State University engineers have discovered new information about the vibrations that happen when wind passes through artificial tree-shaped figures…[A] massive amount of kinetic energy associated with those motions that is otherwise lost…[The researchers mathematically modelled a tree-like structure and unveiled that despite large and random inputs, it is possible to maintain consistent frequency. That means] objects shaped like leafless trees made from electromechanical materials possess the ability to convert forces like winds into strong vibrations. These vibrations, in turn, can generate electricity. For this reason, the researchers propose valuable applications that serve as an alternative to other renewable energy sources such as solar energy, which is not always available…” click here for more

    A SOLAR-POWERED VINEYARD

    New Installation To Power Templeton Winery With 100 Percent Solar Energy; New solar installation will help cut electricity bills by $20,000 per month

    Yesica Lopez, January 29, 2016 (KEYT NewsChannel3/Santa Barbara, CA)

    “Castoro Cellars has completed an installation of a new solar project that will allow the Templeton winery to run 100 percent on solar power. The new installation…will have an annual production of over one million kilowatt hours…[The 625-kilowatt solar electric system] will help eliminate about $20,000 per month in electricity bills…They expect the system to pay for itself by the fifth year, and will save nearly $240,000 per year for at least the next 25 years…” click here for more

    A GEOTHERMAL HOTHOUSE

    Tropical fruit in Nebraska? Geothermal makes it possible … and cheap

    Kate Yoder, 1 February 2016 (Grist)

    “…Russ Finch, a mail-carrier-turned-farmer, is growing these tropical fruits in Alliance, Nebraska…[His] “Greenhouse in the Snow” uses the Earth’s heat to keep the temperature at a balmy 28 degrees…Perforated plastic tubes make a circuit underground outside the greenhouse in a trench 8-feet deep where Finch says the temperature remains a steady 52 degrees year-round. A fan moves air through the tubes and into the greenhouse when it gets too hot or cold…There are no propane or electric heaters, just a small motor that runs the small fan. That means the greenhouse uses very little energy, keeping costs down to about $1 a day, all but cutting out the fossil fuels needed to control the climate inside…[The construction cost was] $22,000. But with disease threatening Florida’s oranges and an ongoing drought in California, maybe it’s not such a bad idea to grow citrus in America’s breadbasket, where…water and land are relatively cheap and abundant…” click here for more

    Wednesday, February 03, 2016

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: INSIDE MINNESOTA'S LEGISLATIVE BATTLE OVER UTILITY RATE STRUCTURES AND SOLAR

    Inside Minnesota's legislative battle over utility rate structures and solar; A special legislative session is coming after the veto of a bill with contentious rate structure, solar reforms

    Herman K. Trabish, June 3, 2015 (Utility Dive)

    A budget bill with groundbreaking and contentious utility provisions was vetoed by Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton (D) after being pushed through the lower house in a midnight rush. The veto set up a one-day special session and a flurry of deal-making.

    If it had been signed into law, HF 1437, an omnibus jobs, housing, economic development, and energy appropriations bill, would have allowed Xcel Energy to realize many of the goals of a statewide utility modernization initiative by filing a multi-year rate plan with state regulators and requesting remuneration based on meeting specified performance metrics.

    It would have also allowed electric cooperatives and municipal utilities to add monthly fixed charges to the bills of customers with on-site net metered distributed energy resources.

    The bill “insufficiently funds” several agencies, and “contains changes to Minnesota’s net metering laws that will disincentivize the use of wind and solar power,” Governor Dayton wrote in his veto letter to the legislature.

    The legislative special session is expected in mid-June after key players haggle out a compromise on the bill’s controversial points. The deal that emerges will determine whether Minnesota’s co-ops and munis are pushed to follow Xcel Energy toward innovative rate structures or supported in their own push to use monthly bill fees to control distributed generation on their systems.

    “I have not heard yet what is in and what is out,” said Minnesota Rural Electric Association Director of Government Affairs and Counsel Jim Horan. “It is important that the governor mentioned the change in net metering for co-ops and munis. We were disappointed to see it mentioned that way.”

    Performance-based multi-year rates

    “The multi-year rate plan received bi-partisan legislative support and we expect that this important initiative will remain in the bill through the special session,” reported Chris Clark, President of Xcel’s Minnesota subsidiaryNorthern States Power.

    A multi-year rate plan is one of the key planks of Minnesota’s groundbreakinge21 (21st Century Energy System) Initiative. It is intended to help utilities move to a new business model through two fundamental shifts:

    The shift from providing all customers with grid electricity produced primarily with coal, natural gas, or nuclear power at large central stations to providing them with a full spectrum of energy resources and options for when and how cutomers want to use them

    The shift from dependence on returns from new central generation and escalating rates to meeting publicly preset performance metrics for energy efficiency, reliability, affordability, emissions reductions, predictable rates, and other goals that add wider benefits.

    The performance-based approach to ratemaking and incentives proposed by HF 1437 follows the e21 concept in allowing state regulators to approve a multi-year rate plan based on the utility’s long term investment projections, and a utility-proposed reasonable capital cost recovery plan. Regulators would also be able to approve a utility-proposed set of reasonable performance measures and incentives that are “quantifiable, verifiable, and consistent with state energy policies.”

    To allow for oversight of utilities with such long term authorization, the bill also establishes the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission’s privilege to establish “reasonable and prudent costs of service … and ensure that rates remain just and reasonable." It would allow the PUC to review and extend the plan if necessary, and “initiate a proceeding to determine a set of performance measures that can be used to assess a utility operating under a multiyear plan.” Distributed generation, net metering, co-ops, and munis

    “The Xcel multi-year rate was non-controversial. It passed both bodies and Xcel backed it. It was not cited by the governor in his veto letter,” said Allen Gleckner, senior policy associate at Fresh Energy, a Minnesota-based clean energy advocacy group. "But his veto letter did say the rollback of net metering disincentivizes solar and wind. He called it out specifically. That puts him face to face with the co-ops and munis.”

    In a special session, the failure to approve a budget could shut the state government down, Gleckner explained.

    “The Governor and leadership could easily decide to get the deal done by stripping out controversial issues like the net metering policy,” he said.

    But, Gleckner added, the coops and munis have been lobbying hard for it throughout the session and count powerful rural legislators among their allies.

    “If Senate leadership wants it enough, they could give up budget items to keep [the net metering changes]," he said. "The only concrete thing right now is that it was included in the veto letter.”

    In a provision long lobbied for, the bill changes Minnesota law preventing discrimination against solar owners with special fixed monthly charges. But, it also allows co-ops and munis to “charge an additional fee to recover the fixed costs not already paid for by the customer through the customer’s existing billing arrangement.”

    The bill specifies the charge on net metered distributed generation must be “reasonable and appropriate… [and] based on the most recent cost of service study.” It also requires that study to be publicly available. In a potential departure from the custom of allowing co-ops and munis to self-regulate, the bill also authorizes the commission to ensure the fixed charges are “not discriminatory.”

    Rate design is complicated, Horan said.

    “Customers with distributed generation use the system as a back-up batteryand to sell back power. That imposes costs on the utility in terms of metering and billing and interconnection costs and other on-going costs," he said. "This is not a punitive fee. We are looking for a formula to collect some of the fixed costs needed to serve that member.”

    The impact of a fixed fee will be managed by regulators’ oversight, he told Utiltiy Dive.

    “This allows net metering to continue and allows co-ops to continue to support net metering and distributed generation and allows distributed generation to grow in the state," he said. "It protects electric co-ops and protects their members from the cost shift and prevents one neighbor from subsidizing another, but still allows distributed generation to grow.”

    How to respond to distributed generation growth?

    “The co-op provision basically says we don’t know how to deal with distributed generation or accommodate it or value it so we will just slap an additional charge on their bills,” explained John Farrell, a director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and author of studies on the value of solar and the "Utility 2.0" business model.

    “The vision behind e21 is that we align the intentions of a profit making company with the social interests. The bill is trying to align the utility’s incentives with a more renewable and efficient future,” he said. “The co-ops and munis are saying they are not willing to look at how distributed generation fits into the bigger picture of electricity supply and demand on a 21st century grid.”

    Co-ops were formed in the 1930s because they realized that if they didn’t bring electricity to rural regions, nobody would. But now, Farrell echoed what Mark Vogt, CEO of the Minnesota co-op Wright-Hennepin recently told Utility Diveabout his co-op’s solar program, saying that "they know if they don't do it, someone else will.”

    There are a lot of distributed generation providers, Farrell said. “Will the co-ops response to that be the 20th century clamp-down with fixed charges? Or will they embrace distributed generation?”

    Distributed generation has definite value to the system, Horan said, and co-ops are engaged in understanding what that value is.

    The politics of the proposal

    As to the fate of the bill, Horan could only say there is “a lot of wrangling going on.”

    “I’m always amazed at the political influence of the co-ops and munis,” Farrell said, noting they get the attention of rural legislators because their boards are the most influential people in their communities.

    Watch Senate Majority Leader Tom Bakk, a Democrat from the Iron Range, Gleckner said.

    “He is not prejudiced for or against renewables and is very transactional, but his son is a co-op leader,” he explained.

    Bakk wants a provision allowing two Iron Range utilities to offer reduced electricity rates to “energy intensive trade exposed industries” and might be willing to give up something to get that, Gleckner explained. The Governor might take that deal if Iron Range legislators want to risk other ratepayers' ire.

    QUICK NEWS, February 3: ZIKA AND CLIMATE; U.S. ARMY TO BUILD WIND-SOLAR HYBRID; INTRO TO EV BUYING

    ZIKA AND CLIMATE 'Range of Zika vector will increase with climate change'; DW asks emerging pathogens expert Amy Vittor about the connection between Zika and climate change. Researchers are using dengue as a reference point, as little is known about the new virus linked to a birth defect.

    Charlotta Loma with Dr, Amy Vittor, February 3, 2016 (Deutsche Welle)

    “…Zika virus is a close relative of dengue virus. It's a mosquito-borne virus that usually causes no symptoms, or only mild illness. But…it's been associated with the birth defect called microcephaly…Zika is spread by [two] very common mosquitoes…The conditions that seem to allow Zika to thrive are the presence of very good vector mosquitoes - namely Aedes aegypti probably mostly in Brazil at the moment - and a lot of human and mosquito contact…[Warm temperatures and humidity allow the dengue virus and probably Zika] to propagate within the mosquito…

    “Taking into account [different climate change projections], it looks like the range of these dengue vectors - and Zika therefore also - will increase…The expanding range of Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus may be a result of climate change of the past decades…[It] has led to more fertile areas for disease to take hold…[and] we might see increases in disease in the future…[in] the northeast United States, certain areas of Europe, the southern areas of South America, and east Asia…” click here for more

    U.S. ARMY TO BUILD WIND-SOLAR HYBRID Fort Hood Kicks Off $100M Wind, Solar Energy Project

    January 29, 2016 (AP via CBS News)

    “…[Ground was just broken at Fort Hood, the sprawling Central Texas military installation, for the Army’s largest renewable energy project, a] $100 million hybrid solar and wind renewable energy project. The Department of Defense-related project also involves Apex Clean Energy and the White House Council on Environmental Quality…[It] is expected to produce electricity for Fort Hood with a goal of providing up to 40 percent of the post’s needs…The setup involves a solar farm that will use thousands of panels spread over about 130 acres of Fort Hood [and power from a nearby] wind turbine facility…” click here for more

    INTRO TO EV BUYING How to buy the best electric car; There's a lot to consider before buying your first electric car. Let's look at your choices.

    Wayne Cunningham, February 2, 2016 (Road Show)

    “…Despite range inferior to gasoline-powered cars, electric cars are working for the daily-driving lives of a few hundred thousand people in the US. Freedom from gas stations and low running costs are two prime reasons you might want to consider an electric vehicle (EV)… The range runs from the Tesla Model X, a roomy crossover SUV, down to the Smart Electric Drive, a tiny, two-seater hatchback. Among the middle ground for size, you will find theMercedes-Benz B-Class and Kia Soul Electric. A majority of EVs offer seating for five, with room for cargo, following the typical IC-based passenger-car model…[With up to 270 miles of range, a variant that hits 60 mph in under 3 seconds and a lithe, attractive body, not only is the [Tesla] Model S an excellent electric car, it competes well with premium gasoline-powered cars…Purpose-built as an electric car, the Nissan Leaf can go up to 107 miles on a charge. It is also widely available, giving it an edge over electrics sold only in a few markets]…” click here for more

    Tuesday, February 02, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE PROGRESS OF GRID MODERNIZATION

    3rd Annual Grid Modernization Index

    January 2016 (GridWise Alliance)

    Executive Summary

    The transformation of the electric grid in the United States continues to proceed at an unprecedented rate. The proliferation of advanced metering infrastructure (AMI), utility-scale renewable generation, distributed energy resources (DERs), energy storage, electric vehicles, and other technologies is changing the way electric power is transmitted, distributed, and managed, in both large and small ways. These changes affect the full range of grid stakeholders – utilities, regulators, policymakers, grid operators, electric service providers, and customers – in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

    This third annual Grid Modernization Index (GMI), published by the GridWise Alliance in collaboration with Clean Edge, ranks and assesses the states and D.C., based upon the degree to which they have moved toward a modernized electric “Grid of the Future.” This GMI, based on survey data collected in June-October 2015, benchmarks states on a wide range of grid modernization policies, investments, and activities. The report also provides insights into some of the relationships and connections between state policies and regulations, customer engagement, and utility investments in modernizing the grid.

    The GMI ranking system uses a clearly defined set of criteria to evaluate and convey the progress and impacts of this transformative set of improvements to the states’ electricity infrastructure. The GMI rankings consist of three broad categories:

    • STATE SUPPORT, which is based on plans and policies that support grid modernization

    • CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT, which ranks states on their rate structures, customer outreach, and data collection practices

    • GRID OPERATIONS, which benchmarks the deployment of grid modernization technologies such as sensors and smart meters, as well as the advanced capabilities they enable

    Major Developments

    • CALIFORNIA now requires its major investorowned utilities (IOUs) to submit distributed resource plans (DRPs) that detail how they will value DERs as distribution grid assets.

    • NEW YORK’s landmark Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) proceeding recognizes the need for advanced metering functionality (such as smart meters). Advanced metering functionality is one of the foundational investments that will allow New York to achieve its ultimate goal: reforming the retail market to leverage DERs to optimize the electric system. The state’s utilities are already proposing plans to provide smart meters to those customers who do not yet have them.

    • In 2015, HAWAII increased its Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS, i.e. the amount of renewable energy required) to 100 percent by 2045. Its utilities have struggled to integrate more solar photovoltaic (PV) (as well as storage and other DERs), which have grown rapidly as a result of net metering (the policy that allows customers with solar PV to be compensated for the electricity their solar panels add to the grid). In October 2015, the Public Utility Commission eliminated net metering in favor of two new rate options. (See sidebar on page 18.)

    • MASSACHUSETTS required its utilities to submit grid modernization plans by September 2015. Utilities’ proposals include additional smart meters, experiments with time of use and critical peak pricing tariffs, and DER management systems.

    • MINNESOTA has finished Phase I of its e21 Initiative, which aims to help utilities recognize the new role that customers play in electricity production and consumption, and offer new services and rates that reflect this emerging reality. In March 2014, it also created the country’s first-ever formula, or method, that helps value solar energy for utilities to use to compensate solar customers for the excess electricity they send back to the grid.

    • ARIZONA has been experiencing a major debate over net metering. To address this challenge, in October 2015, the state decided to consider both the costs and values of solar together in one Commission proceeding. Doing so is an important step, especially given that utilities and solar companies had previously been discussing whether to consider the value of solar power at all.

    Leading State Scores

    California is the highest-ranked state in this year’s GMI, with a score of 88, more than six points higher than its score in 2014. The state ranks first in the Customer Engagement category (as it did in the previous GMI), and second in both State Support and Grid Operations. California has a nearly seven-point lead over second-place Illinois, while Texas (which tied California for the top score in the previous GMI) ranks third. Maryland and Delaware (two of four states in the top 10 that lie fully within the PJM Interconnection territory) each move up a spot to fourth and fifth, respectively. This year, the top states have started to pull away from the rest of the field: in the previous GMI, the difference between first place and fifth was 15 points; now it is almost 28 points.

    The bottom half of the top 10 has gone through some significant shifts. The District of Columbia increases its ranking by two places to sixth, followed by Oregon, which adds 11 points to its overall score with big improvements in Customer Engagement and Grid Operations. Arizona and Pennsylvania are tied for eighth; the latter fell 19 points, though its ranking only fell four places. Finally, Georgia ranks 10th; Georgia’s score is the same as in the previous GMI, but it places in the top 10, due to big declines by other states. North Carolina is worth watching: It has added 10 points to its overall score and just misses ranking in the top 10.

    The top 10 states have an average overall score of 64 points. For the states ranked 11 through 20, the average is 41 points, representing a 36 percent decline from the top 10; for states ranked 21 through 30, the decline reaches nearly 58 percent (27 is the average score). These gaps between the highest-scoring states and the next two tiers are larger than they were in the previous GMI.

    Key Takeaways

    • Continuing to fund investments in grid modernization is a challenge for both utilities and regulators due to pressure to keep rates low, making the internal competition for capital more challenging.

    • A wide gap generally exists with respect to progress achieved in modernizing the grid between the leading states and those that have not yet started to make significant investments.

    • Key factors associated with high GMI scores currently include AMI penetration, electric market deregulation, and the presence of demand response programs.

    • Deployment of grid modernization technologies, such as AMI infrastructure, has progressed, but the full potential range of benefits that such technologies could provide has yet to be realized, particularly around customer education and empowerment.

    • States and utilities need to consider dynamic rate structure reforms to fully unlock the benefits offered by the smart grid.

    • The source of leadership of grid modernization efforts varies widely from state to state, including between regulators, legislatures, governors, utilities, and customers. There is no one-sizefits-all approach, but collaboration among stakeholders is essential.

    QUICK NEWS, February 2: NEW WIRES FOR NEW ENERGY; SOLAR MAKES BIG MONEY ON WAREHOUSE ROOFS; NEW YORK CITY LIKES GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS

    NEW WIRES FOR NEW ENERGY Better power lines would help U.S. supercharge renewable energy, study suggests

    Puneet Kollipara, January 25, 2016 (Science)

    “Analysts have long argued that nations aiming to use wind and solar power to curb emissions from fossil fuel burning would first have to invest heavily in new technologies to store electricity produced by these intermittent sources…But a study out today suggests that the United States could, at least in theory, use new high-voltage power lines to move renewable power across the nation, and essentially eliminate the need to add new storage capacity…Future cost-competitive electricity systems and their impact on US CO2 emissions Nature Climate Change finds an] improved national grid, based on existing technologies, could enable utilities to cut power-sector carbon dioxide emissions 80% from 1990 levels by 2030 without boosting power prices…But some observers wonder whether the U.S. power grid can rise to the renewables challenge…” click here for more

    SOLAR MAKES BIG MONEY ON WAREHOUSE ROOFS Put a Solar Panel on It; How did a warehouse company become one of America’s leaders in renewable energy?

    Daniel Gross, January 29, 2016 (Slate)

    “…Prologis, which at 97.54 megawatts trails only Walmart in the amount of installed rooftop solar capacity in the U.S…doesn't operate stores, doesn’t fret much about what upscale American consumers think about its energy use, and doesn’t even have much energy use to offset…It’s the world’s largest owner and operator of warehouses…Boasting 700 million square feet of space (about 25 square miles) in 21 countries, it has a market capitalization of more than $20 billion…[and] Prologis has figured out how to turn the ultimate waste of space—the flat roof of a warehouse—into an emissions-reducing, money-producing power plant [by selling the solar energy-generated electricity to the grid]…To date, Prologis has put solar panels on more than 100 buildings around the world, with a combined capacity of 140 megawatts. About 70 percent of its installations are in the U.S. Prologis has planted solar on only about 10 percent of its global footprint, in part because the economics don’t yet make sense everywhere it operates…The company plans to add about 15 megawatts of solar capacity per year through 2020…[and] likely add energy storage to the mix…” click here for more

    NEW YORK CITY LIKES GEOTHERMAL HEAT PUMPS New York City Passes Geothermal Energy Bill

    January 29, 2016 (Builder)

    “Following a 2013 measure to study the implementation of geothermal heat pumps, New York City Council has passed the geothermal energy bill and sent it to Mayor De Blasio to sign…The bill, Int. 0609-A-2015, will require New York City to identify and implement geothermal heat pump installations in all its new construction and retrofits when it is shown that doing so would be cost effective…This measure could be used as a blueprint for any city, town or borough in the U.S. Increased use of geothermal heat pump systems reduces energy costs for the end user, reduce peak load supporting a stronger grid, reduces emissions and creates jobs…[Geothermal advocates are working to get similar measures] passed in other major cities…” click here for more

    Monday, February 01, 2016

    TODAY’S STUDY: THE BOOM IN U.S. WIND

    U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2015 Market Report

    January 28, 2016 (American Wind Energy Association)

    Executive Summary

    The American wind industry installed 5,001 megawatts (MW) during the fourth quarter of 2015, more installations than in all of 2014, according to data released by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) today. Overall in 2015 the American wind industry installed 8,598 MW, the third largest amount ever installed in a year and a 77 percent increase over 2014.

    The U.S. now has 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines with over 9,400 MW of wind currently under construction and an additional 4,900 MW in advanced stages of development.

    Key Take-Aways

    2015 Wind Project Installations

    • During the fourth quarter of 2015, the U.S. wind industry installed 5,001 MW of wind power capacity, the second most active quarter on record. Developers installed more capacity during the fourth quarter than the first three quarters of 2015 combined, and more than the 4,854 MW installed in 2014.

    • More than 4,300 turbines were installed across 37 projects in 17 different states. The most capacity was installed in Texas with 1,307 MW, followed by Oklahoma (853 MW), Kansas (599 MW), and Iowa (502 MW).

    • Iowa is now ranked second in the nation with more than 6,000 MW of installed capacity, and Oklahoma now has over 5,000 MW installed. Connecticut installed the state’s first utility scale wind project during the fourth quarter, bringing the total number of states with online wind projects to 40 states.

    • For the year, the U.S. wind industry installed a total of 8,598 MW. This represents a 77% increase over the 4,854 MW installed during 2014, and the third highest annual total in history.

    • There are now 74,472 MW of installed wind capacity in the United States and more than 52,000 operating wind turbines.

    Construction Activity and Near Term Wind Development

    • Wind developers reported more than 9,400 MW of construction activity across 72 projects in 22 states plus Guam. This includes over 1,800 MW of new construction announcements made during the fourth quarter.

    • Texas continues to host the majority of under construction activity with over 5,000 MW reported.

    • Wind developers also reported over 4,900 MW of projects in advanced stages of development, with over 1,500 MW of new additions announced during the fourth quarter.

    Power Purchaser Activity and Project Acquisitions

    • More than 1,800 MW of PPAs were signed in the fourth quarter, contributing to the more than 4,000 MW of total PPAs signed during 2015.

    • Non-utility customers increased their investment in wind. Approximately 75% of the MW contracted through PPAs during the fourth quarter were through companies including Procter & Gamble, General Motors, and Google Energy.

    • *Utilities actively continued to buy wind, with more than 2,300 MW of installations during the fourth quarter attached to utility PPA contracts.

    • In the emerging Southeastern states market, Southern Company commissioned an Oklahoma wind project during the fourth quarter and one additional Oklahoma wind project with a Gulf Power PPA came partially online.

    • Companies completed a total of 3,733 MW in project acquisitions during 2015. SunEdison led in these acquisitions with 1,273 MW

    QUICK NEWS, February 1: THE BURNERS MUST BE STOPPED; THERE’S NO STOPPING NEW ENERGY; TESLA CHARGING STATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE

    THE BURNERS MUST BE STOPPED New Report Issues Dire Carbon Warning: Keep It in the Ground—or Else; Report examines carbon risk of fossil fuel deposits that could push world past agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold—and efforts to keep them untapped

    Nadia Prupis, January 25, 2016 (Common Dreams)

    “…[Keep It In The Ground from Greenpeace, Sierra Club, and 350.org, examines the carbon risk of fossil fuel deposits] throughout the globe that, if developed, would push the world past the agreed-upon 2°C climate threshold…In order to curb escalating greenhouse gas emissions and fend off their disastrous consequences, the ‘overwhelming majority of the large coal reserves in China, Russia, [the Arctic,] and the United States as well as more than 260 billion barrels of oil reserves and 60 percent of gas reserves in the Middle East must all remain unused [through 2050 or]…we will miss even the high-end estimated budget for a 50 percent chance of limiting warming to 2°C—three times over,’ the authors [report]…However, with such dire circumstances already under way, climate activism has taken on a new momentum, the authors state…” click here for more

    THERE’S NO STOPPING NEW ENERGY Why The Renewables Revolution Is Now Unstoppable

    Joe Romm, February 1, 2016 (ClimateProgress)

    “…Once upon a time, people imagined that replacing fossil fuels with renewables like solar and wind would jeopardize the electric grid’s reliability. Then along came some major countries who showed that it didn’t, and that there really are no limits to renewable integration…[The lead energy specialist at the World Bank recently said very] high levels of variable renewable energy can be accommodated both technically and at low cost [through an improved electricity transmission system, improved predictions of wind and solar availability, demand response, and electricity storage. Until recently, big storage has been impractical and] batteries have been too expensive…[But] the stunning drop in battery prices continues to spur exponential growth…The ‘intermittency’ problem is essentially solved. The will-power problem, however, isn’t…” click here for more

    TESLA CHARGING STATIONS MAKE A DIFFERENCE Electric Car Buyers Hugely Attracted To Tesla Supercharger Network

    Zachary Shahan, January 31, 2016 (CleanTechnica)

    “…With [the new generation of electric vehicles] that have several hundred miles of range, core destination charging is probably all you’d need…[A recent survey] found that convenient home charging was one of the key benefits of an EV lifestyle…[but] EV drivers put “more abundant EV charging” as the #1 way to promote EV adoption and advance the EV revolution (24.4% of respondents chose that option)…65% of potential owners indicated they would be significantly more attracted to a fully electric model if it had access to Tesla Superchargers or something comparable…Tesla’s Superchargers charge a car about twice as fast as the next-fastest DC fast chargers on the market…Only 11% of respondents didn’t care about having access to such a network…In a separate survey for both EV drivers and potential EV drivers, 29% of respondents indicated that DC fast charging was a requirement for them to consider a fully electric car, 25% indicated that it was very important for them, and 27% indicated it was somewhat important for them. Only 12% indicated it was “quite unimportant” and 7% “not important at all” for them…” click here for more

    Saturday, January 30, 2016

    Which Climate Change Denier Will Iowa Pick?

    Shot or poisoned – either way, the Republicans will be led by a candidate who is wrong on climate change. From The Late Show With Stephen Colbert via YouTube

    Here Comes Solar Plus Storage

    What is happening is storage now is what happened in solar 10 years ago. By the mid-2020s – or sooner – homes will be able to be self-supplying. From the U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

    How Ted Cruz Manipulates Climate Data

    This is a 9 minute master’s course that anybody can understand. Peter Sinclair turns the Ted Cruz debate gymnastics into facts that contradict the politician’s manipulations. From greenman3610 via YouTube

    Friday, January 29, 2016

    REALITY BITES CLIMATE DENIERS

    How reality silenced the climate change deniers

    Ryan Cooper, January 28, 2016 (The Week) “The data came in last week…[2015 was] the hottest year ever recorded — whether you ask NASA, NOAA, the Japanese Meteorological Agency, the UK's Hadley Centre, or Berkeley Earth — beating the previous record set only last year…The press and climate scientists gave these their typical examination, and…[concluded they were] certainly caused by humanity's release of greenhouse gases…One traditional part of this routine was missing, however: the usual chorus of climate deniers and trolls nitpicking the data and/or loudly accusing the entirety of the scientific establishment of fraud…[T]hey were notably quiet, particularly compared to previous denier frenzies like the [2009-2010] ‘Climategate’ mess…Google Trends shows a marked decline in searches for "global warming hoax," (in blue below) somewhat but only partially offset by a slight rise in "climate change hoax" (in red)…[Several papers] have found that it's basically impossible to talk somebody out of believing conspiracy theories…But reasoned argument, citation of authority, or sheer fright aren't the only ways…[Denial needs] faux-intellectual toeholds, and is palpably harmed when they are blown to smithereens [by reality]…[T]his shows that denial is not irreversible…[S]ome combination of argument, ridicule, and counter-mobilization, buttressed by undeniable empirical reality [might]…” click here for more

    IRISH WIND CAN BEAT NAT GAS

    Wind energy 'could become cheaper than gas'

    Linda Stewart, 27 January 2016 (Belfast Telegraph)

    “Onshore wind energy could become cheaper than new gas generation [in Ireland] by 2020 if the policy and regulatory conditions are right…[but the Irish renewables industry is warning] that investment and jobs will only come if the Northern Ireland Executive delivers a sustainable, secure energy system for all…Last year, one fifth of Northern Ireland's electricity was generated by wind…[It] is an economic success story that could bring even more investment and jobs…Agreement and coordination between the Executive and UK Government is also needed…” click here for more

    INDIA’S SUN BEATS COAL

    For The First Time In Modern India's History, Solar Energy Is Cheaper Than Coal

    Kunal Anand, January 27, 2016 (India Times)

    “India’s latest solar auctions have given India something to cheer about – solar energy prices have reached a record low of 4.34 rupees/kWh, and energy minister Piyush Goyal has stated that it is now cheaper than coal-fired energy generation…[The auction tender of 420MW of solar capacity [was] conducted by the Rajasthan government, and the record bid was made by Finnish group Fortum Energy (4.34 rupees/kWh for a 70MW solar PV plant)...This can provide a boost to India’s vision for 100GW generated by solar energy in 2022…The bid isn’t a fluke – it was matched by Rising Sun Energy (4.35 rupees for two blocks), France’s Solairedirect (4.35 rupees a unit for two blocks) and Yarrow Infrastructure (4.36 rupees for a 70MW plant)…” click here for more

    SO. KOREA BUYS OCEAN ENERGY PILOT

    Bureau Veritas issues OTEC approval

    29 January 2016 (ReNews)

    “Bureau Veritas has issued its first 'Approval in Principle' for the 1MW Ocean Thermal Energy Converter [OTEC] developed by the Korea Research Institute of Ships and Ocean Engineering…The OTEC will be built for installation off the coast of South Tarawa in Kiribati in the South Pacific Ocean…It consists of an octagonal 6700-tonne four deck floating platform 35 metres across moored 6km offshore in a water depth of 1.3km…A 100-metre pipe 1.2 metres in diameter will be used to pump cool water up from the depths to be fed to process plant on the platform…[Bureau Veritas said] the OTEC design is…feasible, achievable and contains no technological show-stoppers…TEC produces electricity from the difference of temperature between deep cold and warm surface seawater…A working fluid is successively vaporised and condensed in a thermodynamic cycle, with the gas phase driving a turbo-alternator producing electricity…” click here for more

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