News Update: Monday, September 8 – Sunday, September 14

Global Shale Gas Development: Water Availability & Business Risks. WRI Report.

In a recently released report, the World Resources Institute (WRI) discusses some of the water-stress issues that shale-rich nations will face in the years ahead. Shale gas extraction — principally through a process called hydraulic fracturing — is highly water-intensive, the report notes, and furthermore, many of the world’s shale deposits are not located close to freshwater, and often compete with other industries, such as agriculture, for water use. According to WRI’s report:

  • 38 percent of shale resources are in areas that are either arid or under high to extremely high levels of water stress;
  • 19 percent are in areas of high or extremely high seasonal variability; and
  • 15 percent are in locations exposed to high or extremely high drought severity.

US has sufficient resources, technology to support over 54 GW of offshore wind. Electric Light & Power.

After a three-year investigation by a team of leading energy organziations and experts, the Department of Energy-funded “National Offshore Wind Energy Grid Interconnection Study” (NOWEGIS) was released recently, with encouraging results. The study examined the technical challenges and opportunities for high levels of offshore wind energy production along the U.S. coastlines. Among the study’s findings are:

  • The U.S. has sufficient offshore wind energy resources to consider having at least 54 GW of offshore wind. Although the NOWEGIS focused on the ability to integrate up to 54 GW of offshore wind into the U.S. grid by 2030, the study concluded that resources are available for significantly larger amounts of offshore wind.
  • Appropriate technologies exist for the interconnection of large amounts of wind energy to the U.S. grid. Multiple technologies for both high-voltage AC and high-voltage DC systems exist and can be used to bring offshore wind generated electricity to the onshore grid. Some technologies also might help alleviate troublesome congestion in the onshore system.
  • At a regional or national level, offshore wind energy might provide significant value. The NOWEGIS estimated that the 54 GW of offshore wind could reduce the national annual electricity production costs by some $7.68 billion, which corresponds to some $41 per megawatt-hour of offshore wind added to the grid. This savings can help justify the high initial investment costs.
  • Reductions in the federal permitting and siting process are critical for offshore wind deployment to achieve gigawatt-scale in the next decade.
  • Research and development promise to help reduce initial capital investment.

FERC Order 1000 drives changes in competitive landscape of transmission owners. Electric Light & Power.

According to a recent study released by Moody’s, FERC Order 1000 is making the electric transmission sector more competitive. One of the drivers has been the Order’s repeal of the Right of First Refusal, which allowed incumbent transmission owners the ability to be the first, and often the only, entity bidding for a transmission project. Eliminating this incumbent-favoring policy has opened up the market for more competition and, according to the report, many utilities are creating transmission-only (transcos) subsidiaries as a means to bid for new transmission projects and take advantage of higher FERC-regulated returns.

5 Key Proposals for New York’s Grid Transformation. Greentech Media

New York’s Public Service Commission has provided some of the first details of how it plans to transform the state’s electric grid and energy markets, with proposals to turn the state’s utilities into distributed system platform providers, identify use cases for replacing grid upgrades with distributed generation, and create open markets for third-party competition.

Those are some of the highlights of the straw proposal (PDF) for New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) initiative, released late last month. The 81-page report is the first big step in a process launched by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in April to create distribution grid planning, utility ratemaking and competitive energy markets that brings distributed energy resources to the forefront.

Opower Enters Rare Partnership With FirstFuel to Expand Into Commercial Building Efficiency. Greentech Media

Study Says Existing State Policies Can Be Used to Comply With Power Plant Rules. Bloomberg BNA – Energy & Climate Report

On September 11, Stanford University released a new report detailing 12 state clean energy policies that other states could adopt as means of achieving the carbon reductions that will be required when the EPA releases its final rule on existing power plants later this year. In June, the EPA issued a proposed rule which would set carbon emission limits in each state, pursuant to Clean Air Act section 111(d), a move that could reduce existing power plant carbon carbon dioxide emissions by 30 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. Under the proposed rule, states would be free to set whatever policies necessary to achieve the emissions reductions. The report released by Stanford University, “The State Clean Energy Cookbook: A Dozen Recipes for State Action on Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy,” sets out numerous recommendations and policy suggestions that are already being implemented in other states.

 

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News Update: Monday, September 1 – Sunday, September 7

So, getting back in the saddle again! Hopefully I’ll be able to get out more regular updates.

Monday, September 1 – Sunday, September 7

“Slow down on renewables!” pleads Austin Energy. “Don’t turn us into Germany!” SmartGridNews

The municipal utility, Austin Energy, is starting to voice concerns about increasing renewable electricity grid integration. According to local reporting, Austin Energy is becoming leery in response to the city council’s new renewable energy goals, which — as Germany has amply illustrated lately — could hoist higher rates on customers when the utility has to buy costly power from the statewide grid to supplement its own supply on cloudy or windless days. Concerns over the intermittent nature of renewable energy has been a hot topic, but this represents one of the first times that a progressive, renewable-friendly, utility like Austin Energy has started showing signs of slowing down.

NRG, Green Mountain team up to design ‘energy city of the future.’ E&E Energywire.

This week, NRG Energy Inc. and Green Mountain Power announced their partnership to undertake an extensive migrogrid laboratory to advance renewable energy use in Rutland, Vermont, and eventually the whole state. GMP will use NRG technologies and strategies to bring greater customer-choice and energy management to the city. According to GMP, the project’s goal is to move Rutland “beyond the legacy grid system” with a more distributed grid system based on NRG capabilities.

A Smarter Power Grid for U.S. Utilities. Bloomberg Business Week

Since 1984, power outages in the United States have risen more than 285%, costing the economy about $150 billion every year.

Rate Design For the Distribution Edge. Rocky Mountain Institute

Researchers at the Rocky Mountain Institute recently published a white paper detailing various ratemaking designs that could help the electric utility sector regain some of its vitality and reinvent its role in the modern electric industry.

U.S. solar installations have almost tripled in 3 years — study. GreenTechMedia

U.S. solar photovoltaic installations continued at a brisk pace in the second quarter of 2014, with 1,133 megawatts of new capacity coming online in the utility, commercial and residential sectors, according to data released Friday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research. In a statement, SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch said that currently “the solar industry employs 143,000 Americans and pumps nearly $15 billion a year into our economy. This remarkable growth is due in large part to smart and effective public policies, such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), net energy metering (NEM) and renewable portfolio standards (RPS).”