Tag Archives: Consumers Energy

Can Solar Farms Help Save Bees?

By Brianna Barbu, Discover Magazine

Minnesota was the first state to adopt voluntary pollinator-friendly solar farm standards in 2016, with a scorecard laying out benchmarks for biodiversity, native plants and blooming seasons. States across the country followed suit, from Vermont to South Carolina to California. The standards are typically aimed at solar projects that are larger than one acre and tied to the electrical grid. Projects that earn enough points on their state’s scorecard can market themselves as pollinator-friendly.

More and more cities, universities and even companies like Clif Bar and Bank of America want to buy their solar energy from verified pollinator-friendly sources, says Rob Davis, the Director of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy, a Minnesota-based clean energy think tank. “it’s increasingly helpful for developers to be able to describe their projects as pollinator friendly, and then base those claims on standards.” Continue Reading Here.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Michigan vows to go carbon neutral by 2050, increase oversight of utility resource plans

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, D, on Wednesday signed an executive order committing her state to going carbon-neutral by 2050. It follows the governor’s commitment last year to reach the U.S. goals under the Paris Climate Agreement — reducing greenhouse gas emissions 26-28% below 2005 levels by 2025. Michigan’s new emissions reduction target is the most ambitious yet to come from a Midwest state, and calls for the state’s energy and environmental regulator to have additional oversight over utility integrated resource plans (IRPs). Its two largest utilities — DTE Energy and Consumers Energy — have goals to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 and 2040, respectively. Read more here.

Previously Posted News Release: Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer Joins U.S. Climate Alliance

More About The Coalition

  • United States Climate Alliance Fact Sheet
    The United States Climate Alliance is a bipartisan coalition of 25 governors committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions consistent with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The Alliance is led by state governments and is focused on state-to-state cooperation to accelerate the deployment of climate solutions needed to help each achieve their climate goals. The Alliance represents 55 percent of the U.S. population and an $11.7 trillion economy – an economy larger than all countries but the United States and China.
  • Climate Alliance Governors
  • Climate Alliance Principles

Climate Alliance Publication (PDF): Solar Deployment Guidebook: A Resource for State & Local Governments

DTE ENERGY & CONSUMERS ENERGY NEWS RELEASE

DTE Energy and Consumers Energy pledge to help build extensive Midwest electric vehicle charging network, Globe Newswire

According to the Edison Electric Institute, more than 1.4 million EVs are in use today, a number expected to grow to nearly 20 million by 2030. The Institute anticipates that a robust network of EV charging stations will be required to serve the needs of these drivers. Companies joining DTE Energy and Consumers Energy in the charging network’s memorandum of cooperation include Ameren Missouri, Ameren Illinois, Oklahoma Gas and Energy, and Evergy (covering parts of Missouri and Kansas). Additional companies have expressed interest and may soon join the collaborative effort.

MORE NEWS FROM STATES

Can solar power save rural America?, Farm and Dairy
The sun is shining in Pennsylvania and Ohio. At least, solar developers hope so. They’re flocking to the two states, seeking out land leases and pitching projects that would put more renewable energy onto the grid. Solar development is touted as a win all around. It’s not extractive. It’s renewable. It allows farmers and landowners new opportunities to make money from their properties.

Solar panels shine a light on bee habitats, Southernminn.com
September is National Honey Month, and while there’s still concern over struggling bee populations, a Minnesota project has helped establish a new approach to make these pollinators thrive again. Several groups, including Fresh Energy, have played a role in making Minnesota the first state to adopt a regional standard for pollinator-friendly habitats within solar farms.

Solar Dominates Maine’s Largest Renewables Procurement on Record, Greentech Media
Average winning contract rates were 3.5 cents per kilowatt hour, according to reporting from the Portland Press Herald. That price is competitive with incumbent power in the region, Maine PUC Chair Philip Bartlett II told the newspaper. 

Alaska’s pro-oil Republican governor is quietly pushing green energy projectsKTOO
Renewables make an especially compelling case in Alaska, where electricity costs nearly twice the national average. And the Eklutna hydroelectric concept isn’t the only renewable power idea to draw [Governor] Dunleavy’s interest. The governor has also quietly pitched Warren Buffett, the billionaire investor, on Alaska’s wind power potential, with Buffett responding in a letter that he hopes he can “join forces” with Dunleavy. Executives from one of Buffett’s companies, Berkshire Hathaway Energy, have held a series of meetings with the governor and senior administration officials.

States That Grew Rich From Fossil-Fuels Need to Figure Out What’s Next, contributed by The Conversation, U.S. News & World Report. These are very challenging times for U.S. fossil fuel-producing states, such as WyomingAlaska and North Dakota. The COVID-19 economic downturn has reduced energy demand, with uncertain prospects for the extent of its recovery. Meanwhilerising concern about climate change and the declining cost of renewable energy are precipitating a sharp decline in demand for coal in particular.

INNOVATIVE TRANSITION STRATEGY: SOLAR-FOR-COAL SWAPS

Electric co-ops lead growing wave of early coal plant retirements with ‘solar-for-coal swaps’, PV Magazine. A new white paper from Energy Innovation, an energy policy firm, suggests that one way to speed up the process may be found in the “solar-for-coal swaps” that a small number of U.S. electric cooperatives have successfully completed. As the name implies, the main idea here is for a utility to swap out power from aging coal plants for solar generation. Private sector financing for the swap allows the coal plants to be bought and then retired ahead of schedule.

UPCOMING WEBINAR

Clean Energy Group
: An Introduction to Virtual Power Plants, September 28, 12 pm to 1 pm 

Recommended Reading: Propelling the transition: The battle for control of virtual power plants is just beginning, Utility Dive

The largest power plants in the the U.S. — massive feats of engineering like the over 5,000 foot-long, 6,800-MW capacity Grand Coulee Dam — are proving to be no match in scale to the combined power of the rooftops and basements of homes and businesses across the country. Distributed energy, including rooftop solar, on-site batteries to store electricity and more, are on track to grow to nearly 400 GW in the U.S. by 2025, according to projections from Wood Mackenzie, significantly greater than the amount of coal or nuclear power capacity in the U.S. today. As virtual power plants develop, there is a growing debate about the degree to which the future of distributed energy management will be controlled by large utilities or third-party aggregators.

Photo by Sonnen: The all-electric Soleil Lofts apartment community in Herriman, Utah, a virtual power plant managed by Rocky Mountain Power, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE).

Methane, manure and a net-zero pledge

GreenBiz article contributed by Christian Roselund,
Editorial Director, Rocky Mountain Institute

Dominion is planning to tackle its methane emissions on two fronts. First, it will focus on reducing methane from three sources within its control: gas venting that occurs during maintenance and inspection activities, replacing aging equipment prone to leakage, and expanding leak detection programs. Second, recognizing that it may be unable to eliminate methane leaks entirely, it plans to offset remaining methane emissions by procuring biogas, sometimes called renewable natural gas (RNG).

The utility’s plan to reach net zero is not the same as the zero-carbon pledges of electric utilities; under Dominion’s plan, it will still sell gas to end-customers, and even if Dominion plugs all the leaks in its transmission and distribution networks, its operations still will result in emissions at the point of combustion. In addition, Dominion’s commitment does not take into account the methane emissions associated with gas production, which account for over 50 percent of the methane problem in the oil and gas value chain. The utility also remains a member of the American Gas Association, which has led the fight against building electrification. So while the hogs are now playing their part, there are bigger fish to fry. Read more here. This story first appeared on: RMI.

Christian Roselund is responsible for creating and executing Rocky Mountain Institute’s global editorial and publications strategy, managing publication production, writing content and managing both an in-house and freelance team of writers.

Image Credit: Shutterstock/AVA Bitter

DOMINION’S SOLAR SCHOOLS INITIATIVE

16 Schools Selected for Dominion Energy ‘Solar for Students’ program, WWBT – NBC12 News
Each of the schools selected will receive a 1.2-kilowatt photovoltaic system, technical support, educational materials, and training for educators. Dominion Energy says each array generates enough electricity to power up to 18 desktop computers, 40 10-gallon aquariums or 15 42-inch LED televisions.

NEWS FROM OTHER UTILITY COMPANIES

ØRSTED / ACORE NEWS

CEO of Ørsted’s Onshore Business Declan Flanagan Elected Chairperson of American Council on Renewable Energy, PR Newswire. The American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE) today announced that Declan Flanagan, Executive Vice President and CEO Onshore of Ørsted, will become Chair of the organization’s Board of Directors this coming June. “ACORE is fortunate to be able to turn to such a widely-respected leader in our industry to Chair our Board,” said Gregory Wetstone, ACORE President and CEO. “Declan Flanagan’s leadership will help take the organization to the next level as we work to accelerate America’s transition to renewable energy.”

Previously Posted

NEW REPORT

State of the Electric Utility: 2020 Survey Report, Utility Dive
The results are in, and the 7th Annual State of the Electric Utility Survey Report is here. In our 70+ page report, we’ll look more closely than ever at industry attitudes and action on climate resilience, electric vehicles, battery storage and other industry issues. We’ll also look back on how perennial topics like load trends and energy markets have evolved. The report covers: Key findings from 7th Annual Electric Utility Survey; How utilities view cybersecurity; Climate resilience, EVs, battery storage and more.

FOSSIL FUEL MAJORS IN THE NEWS

YIELDCOS 

An Avangrid Yieldco? CEO Says ‘Maybe’, Greentech Media
Investor interest in renewable energy yieldco stocks returned with a roar last year. Avangrid is paying attention. The basic idea behind yieldcos is to separate the low-risk business of operating wind and solar farms from the higher-risk business of project development. Yieldcos buy finished projects from their sponsor companies, and in doing so developers are able to recycle capital back into new projects — while investors gain access to different types of renewables assets.

INTERACTIVE POLITICAL CLIMATE PODCAST

Decarb Madness: How Would You Build a Policy Bracket to Decarbonize the Power Sector?, Greentech Media. Political Climate challenges four energy experts to build their ideal policy bracket for decarbonizing the electricity sector. The Political Climate Podcast is produced in partnership with the USC Schwarzenegger Institute.

MORE PODCASTS OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

13 sustainability podcasts that will keep your earbuds plugged in, “rounded up” by Elsa Wenzel, Senior Writer, GreenBiz Group. These 13 solutions-focused podcasts, in random order, offer provocative conversations with sustainability stars, as well as music and thoughtful editing that make you happy to let the next episode autoplay.

Analysis: New wind, solar cheaper than operating most existing coal plants

By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

Locally generated solar and wind energy could already replace almost three-fourths of electricity made by U.S. coal plants for less than the cost of continuing to operate those plants, according to an analysis released today by two clean energy research groups.

By 2025, the share of “at risk” coal generation will jump from 74 percent to 86 percent, adds the report by Energy Innovation Policy & Technology in San Francisco and Boulder-based Vibrant Clean Energy. “We’re not talking about replacing every coal plant overnight,” said report co-author Eric Gimon at Energy Innovation. “What we’re saying is every coal plant should be looked at.” How do coal plants compare to solar or wind energy in the analysis? Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading 

Photo by SoCore Energy: Kearney Solar Farm

Kathiann M. Kowalski is the author of 25 books and more than 600 articles, and writes often on science and policy issues. In addition to her journalism career, Kathi is an alumna of Harvard Law School and has spent 15 years practicing law. She is a member of the Society of Environmental Journalists and the National Association of Science Writers.

ALSO PUBLISHED BY ENERGY NEWS NETWORK

Small Iowa town hopes benchmarking makes big impact on energy efficiency, by Karen Uhlenhuth

As state lawmakers and investor-owned utilities in Iowa retreat from energy efficiency investments, Bloomfield stands in stark contrast. The building benchmarking program is part of an aggressive plan to tap efficiency and renewables to meet a goal of total energy independence by 2030 for the small town of about 2,700 people in far southeastern Iowa. Photo by Jo Naylor, Flickr, Creative Commons: Bloomfield, Iowa

Microgrid boosters hope Michigan ‘energy district’ will spur more interest, by Andy Balaskovitz

Microgrid advocates hope a Michigan utility’s proposed “energy district” can help demonstrate the technology and spur more interest in similar projects. Consumers Energy announced plans last month for a smart energy district on a 4-square-block area near the utility’s headquarters in Jackson. Though not formally a microgrid, the plan calls for developing a “smart energy community” around renewables, battery storage and electric vehicles, mirroring concepts of interconnected “smart cities.” Photo Credit: Consumers Energy

Four key takeaways from a Michigan utility’s clean energy transition

By Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

In a speech this week to a large, business-friendly crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Consumers Energy President and CEO Patti Poppe presented an economic case for solar power, electric vehicles and moving past coal. The company closed seven Michigan coal plants in 2016, cutting carbon emissions 25 percent without hurting its workforce. As the company focuses on solar in the coming years, Poppe said electric vehicles will play a growing role in the company’s “triple bottom line” principle of serving people, the planet and prosperity. Read more here.

Photo: Consumers Energy’s community solar array at Grand Valley State University.

MORE CLEAN ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

EIA says 4 GW of coal-fired capacity may retire by end of 2019, American Public Power Association. So far in 2018, 11 GW of coal-fired generating capacity has retired through September, and another 3 GW are expected to retire in the final three months of the year, based on data reported to EIA by plant owners and operators. “If these plants retire as planned, 2018 will be the second-highest year for coal retirements. Another 4 GW of capacity are planning to retire by the end of 2019,” EIA reported.

U.S. energy storage storm grows in strength, PV Magazine

A Wood Mackenzie report shows U.S. energy storage deployments tripling in capacity during Q3 ’18 versus last year’s volume, while noting that the future pipeline growth rate doubled versus prior quarters to reach a 33 GW of future projects.


NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

EV NEWS

 

New plans by VW, Tesla and BYD support predictions that EV sales are set to skyrocket, PV Magazine

 

 

Major Study Shows Electric Bikes Good For Health, CleanTechnica
There was moderate evidence that e-cycling provided physical activity of at least moderate intensity, which was lower than the intensity elicited during conventional cycling, but higher than that during walking. There was also moderate evidence that e-cycling can improve cardiorespiratory fitness in physically inactive individuals. Photo: Omaha QuikByke Kiosk

ENERGY CONSERVATION

 

Rule your attic, save on energy costs, The Wire, OPPD Blog