Tag Archives: energy markets

West Virginia’s reliance on coal is getting more expensive, and Joe Manchin’s constituents are footing the bill

By Ella Nilsen, CNN

[A report] from West Virginia University’s Center for Energy and Sustainable Development [shows] that investing in renewables would cost the state $855 million less through 2040 than continuing to invest in coal.

During the winter months in West Virginia, Felisha Chase pays more for her electricity than she does for her home. “It does feel wrong when your electric bill is more than your mortgage,” Chase told CNN. “Around here the old adage is ‘coal keeps the lights on.’ Anyone struggling to keep their electric on knows it’s more than the lights

Her electricity bill spikes every January, when Chase estimates her electricity usage increases five- or six-fold. In September, she was still paying down a remaining balance of $600 from the winter before — twice the cost of her monthly mortgage payment. Her cumulative bill has gone as high as $1,400. Continue reading here.

Image Credit: Cecelia Mason / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Nebraska’s better off without Keystone XL

Lincoln Journal Star Editorial Board

Increased investment in renewable energy — wind energy, solar power, electric vehicles, etc. — proves that America’s future will involve fewer fossil fuels going forward, a fact underscored by the growing number of financial institutions and other entities that now refuse to invest in the oil and gas industry . . . The grassroots coalition of environmentalists, farmers, ranchers and property-rights advocates who fought the pipeline tooth and nail can celebrate, knowing their efforts weren’t in vain. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading

When TC Energy said the pipeline would create nearly 119,000 jobs, a State Department report instead concluded the project would require fewer than 2,000 two-year construction jobs and that the number of jobs would hover around 35 after construction.

The market case, even before the COVID-19 pandemic sent oil prices plummeting, has also deteriorated. Low oil prices and increasing public concern over the climate have led Shell, Exxon, Statoil, and Total to either sell their tar sands assets or write them down. Because of this growing market recognition, major new tar sands projects haven’t moved forward with construction for years, despite investments from the government of Alberta, Canada. For example, in 2020, Teck Resources withdrew its ten-year application to build the largest tar sands mine in history—citing growing concern surrounding climate change in global markets.

Alberta’s Renewable Energy Growth

The Climate Emergency Is The Only Business Variable That Matters

By Enrique Dans, Senior Contributor, Forbes

Any recovery from the post-pandemic economic crisis will have to be based on renewable energies, and this will have major consequences for the business environment. The oil companies are falling out of favor: a solar and wind energy companyNextEra Energy, is already worth more than the formerly all-powerful Exxon, which has been kicked out of the Dow Jones index, and they are dragging down the industries that depended on them: last July, Tesla reached $208 billion, more than the sum of Fiat Chrysler, Ford, Ferrari, General Motors, BMW, Honda and Volkswagen combined. It is now worth almost double that, $411 billion, and defines the destinies of an industry that will have to be completely rebuilt around electric motors. Even workers in the fossil fuel industry are fleeing to renewables. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Solar the new ‘king of electricity’ as renewables make up bigger slice of supply: IEA
PARIS (Reuters) – Solar output is expected to lead a surge in renewable power supply in the next decade, the International Energy Agency said, with renewables seen accounting for 80% of growth in global electricity generation under current conditions.

SMUD aims for carbon neutrality by 2030 in new climate emergency declaration

By Kavya Balaraman, Utility Dive

The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) last week committed to delivering carbon-neutral electricity by 2030, 15 years ahead of California’s broader goal of supplying 100% of electricity from zero-carbon and renewable energy resources by 2045.

The commitment is included in a “climate emergency declaration” that was unanimously approved by SMUD’s board of directors last Thursday, setting the utility on the path to “finding reductions in the quickest way possible and investing in our most vulnerable communities,” SMUD Board President Rob Kerth said in a statement. The move reflects a broader cultural transition among the country’s utilities. Read more here.

Links to Resources on Zero-Carbon / 100% Renewable Energy

BLACK ROCK IN THE NEWS

BlackRock censures seven utility companies for lack of climate action, warns of other penalties. Utility Dive. Asset management firm BlackRock has published a list of 244 companies it says have taken insufficient action against climate change. BlackRock has taken voting action against 53 of these companies, including seven utilities, according to the report. Public censure and voting action by BlackRock sends a clear message to the firm’s portfolio companies, and may be part of a wider trend toward investor activism, analysts say. However, environmental advocates say market forces, consumer trends and other forces seem to hold more sway with utilities than action by investors.

Previously Posted 

  • BlackRock joins Climate Action 100+ to ensure largest corporate emitters act on climate crisis, Climate Action 100+ News Release. With the addition of the world’s largest asset manager, with more than $6.8 trillion USD in assets under management, Climate Action 100+ continues to grow in size and influence. BlackRock joins more than 370 global investors already participating in the initiative. The addition of funds it manages, brings total assets under management represented by investors participating in Climate Action 100+ to more than $41 trillion.
  • BlackRock Sends Huge Warning Shot at Companies Ignoring Climate Risk, GTM
    In a move that will resound across the world of energy investing, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, this week warned of a “fundamental reshaping of finance” as the impacts of climate change become better understood. BlackRock CEO Larry Fink said in an open letter that his company will end support for thermal coal, screen fossil fuel investments more closely, and redesign its own investment approach to put sustainability at its core. 

EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK

More than 53,000 Pro-Life Ohioans Signed Call for State to Transition to 100% Renewable Energy by 2030, EEN News Release, PR Newswire

Over the past several months, 53,000 pro-life Ohioans have signed a petition calling on Governor Mike DeWine and the members of the Ohio Legislature to transition Ohio to 100% clean, renewable energy by 2030. “Strong support for building a clean energy economy is a natural extension of the values that evangelicals hold most dear,” said Rev. Kyle Meyaard-Schaap, Midwest Director for the Evangelical Environmental Network, the organization that sponsored the petition.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

GTM’S ENERGY GANG PODCAST

Did Congressional Lawmakers Create the Most Complete Climate Policy Plan Ever?

A group of House lawmakers recently released a 547-page report on climate change. Reporters at E&E News called it “arguably the most comprehensive climate policy plan in American politics.” This week, we’ll discuss why this report is so significant. We’ll also look at a companion infrastructure bill from House Democrats that makes clean energy a centerpiece. Can it become a reality after the election? Then, drama for pipelines and batteries. We’ll look at a slew of legal decisions for pipelines in just two weeks, and what they mean for the future of fossil fuel infrastructure. 

ENERGY STORAGE

Long Term Value of Grid Storage Is All About Capacity, Study Finds, Greentech Media
The grid is heading in the direction of more renewables, with or without overarching policies to guide it. There’s general agreement that the ability to store electricity will become more valuable as this happens, but the exact value of energy storage in a dynamically evolving electrical system is hard to pin down. A new study from current and former MIT energy system modelers attempts to quantify this.

BLUE NEW DEAL

How a Blue New Deal charts a course for a sustainable sea change, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Director, GreenBiz Group

The Ocean Climate Action Plan (OCAP), produced by the Center for the Blue Economy at the Middlebury Institute and the nonprofit Blue Frontier, aims to fill the shortcomings of the Green New Deal, offering a four-part set of policy recommendations that, it says, “contains both conservative and liberal economic philosophies that are mutually reinforcing.”

Solar Accounts for 40% of U.S. Electric Generating Capacity Additions in 2019, Adds 13.3 GW

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX – Solar accounted for 40% of all new electric generating capacity in the U.S. in 2019, its highest share ever and more than any other source of electricity, with 13.3 gigawatts (GW) installed. Despite policy challenges and a second year of the Section 201 tariffs, the U.S. solar market grew by 23% from 2018, according to the U.S. Solar Market Insight 2019 Year-in-Review report, released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie.

“Even as tariffs have slowed our growth, we’ve always said that the solar industry is resilient, and this report demonstrates that,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “We know anecdotally that the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting delivery schedules and our ability to meet project completion deadlines based partly on new labor shortages. This once again is testing our industry’s resilience, but we believe, over the long run, we are well positioned to outcompete incumbent generators in the Solar+ Decade and to continue growing our market share.” Continue reading here.

NEW YORK’S RENEWABLE ENERGY & STORAGE DEVELOPMENT

New York taps developers for almost 1.3 GW of solar, wind and storage across upstate region, by Robert Walton, Utility Dive. The selected projects have a weighted average award price of $18.59/MW over the 20-year term of the contracts. It is the lowest average award price resulting from a NYSERDA large-scale renewables solicitation in over a decade, according to officials. The developers behind the 21 projects are: Boralex, SunEast Development, ​NextEra Energy Resources, East Light Partners, TerraForm Power, Terra-Gen, Empire Renewable​s and ConnectGen​.

 RENEWABLE ENERGY’S LONGTERM PRICE STABILITY

How Coronavirus Makes The Case For Renewable Energy, Forbes
“There has to be recognition that the increased volatility in the oil markets will stand in stark contrast to what may become the great virtue of renewable energy, which has nothing to do with its greenness, but more about the stability of cash flows from underlying assets. The relative stability of renewable energy that’s fully contracted, that already has power purchase agreements … should make it immune from deterioration.” 
– Dr Charles Donovan, Executive Director of the Center for Climate Finance and Investment at London’s Imperial College Business School

 GLOBAL NEWS

Clean Power Crowds Out Dirty Coal As Costs Reach Tipping Point, Forbes
The global economy needs power to enable it to function. For a century, the cheapest, most efficient way to do that was to burn fossil fuels to produce steam to turn a turbine. But not any more.

Uneconomic coal plants cost Michigan ratepayers millions, analysts say

By Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

“The market dynamics have changed. This notion of running power plants all out, all year round no longer makes sense.” – Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists. Daniel also argues that coal plants should no longer be considered a “base load” resource.

Uneconomic coal plants have cost a Michigan utility’s customers tens of millions of dollars a year by running at times when cheaper resources are available, according to energy analysts. Three plants owned by DTE Energy in southeastern Michigan, in particular, lost $74 million in 2017, filings show in a rate case settled last year.

The practice is known as “self-scheduling” or “self-committing,” when utilities designate certain power plants to run regardless of the price grid operators are willing to pay for the electricity. Utility regulators in Minnesota and Missouri have opened dockets on the subject, while Wisconsin advocates are putting pressure on state regulators to examine the practice there. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Fermite1 / Wikimedia Commons: The Trenton power plant in Trenton, Michigan.

About Joseph Daniel

Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, has been studying self-committing or self-scheduling generation in power markets for years. Daniel completed an analysis screening of every coal-fired power plant that operates in the Southwest Power Pool (Nebraska’s Regional Transmission Organization) and other RTOs. He describes the analysis in an interview included in the following article posted on the Union of Concerned Scientists’ blog:

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets
Markets are supposed to ensure that all power plants are operated from lowest cost to most expensive. Self-committing allows expensive coal plants to cut in line, pushing out less expensive power generators such as wind, depriving those units from operating and generating revenue.

Previously Posted E&E Articles

IN KANSAS

Report: Kansas Utilities Run Coal Plants Year-Round Even Though It Costs Ratepayers Millions, KMUW, Wichita’s NPR Station 

The way Westar Energy runs its coal plants in Kansas unnecessarily costs consumers millions of dollars a year through an obscure, if common, practice known as self-committing generation. The company essentially runs its coal plants year-round, even during the winter months when it’s not cost-effective. An analysis by the Union of Concerned Scientists, which advocates for reduced reliance on coal, says that’s been costing Westar customers $20 million a year in added fuel costs. But market operators including the Southwest Power Pool (SPP) — Westar buys and sells wholesale electricity through the organization — worry that the practice hurts the market. Regulators in Missouri, where Westar’s parent company Evergy is headquartered, have opened up an investigation to see if it’s unfairly costing consumers

IN NEBRASKA

At our state’s largest coal plant, the Gerald Gentleman Station, and all across Nebraska, renewable energy is becoming increasingly cost-effective. NPPD’s R-Project will “provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level.”

Previously Posted
On-and-Off Wind and Solar Power Pushing Coal Plants to the Brink, Bloomberg

The Gentleman coal plant was once the linchpin of Nebraska’s electricity grid, its twin smokestacks visible for miles across the prairie. Now, the state’s biggest power source is routinely pushed aside to make room for more wind and solar energy.

NPPD Photo: The Gerald Gentleman Station, located just south of Sutherland, is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant. The station consists of two coal-fired generating units which were launched into service in 1979 and 1982 and which together have the generation capacity of 1,365 megawatts of power.

NPPD’s R-Project: Reducing transmission congestion and providing opportunities for additional renewable energy 

Project Overview
NPPD’s R-Project is a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford. The new line will then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County.

NPPD’s electric grid is an essential link to ensuring service for our customers. The R-Project will increase the reliability of the transmission system, relieve congestion on the existing system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level.

Southwest Power Pool’s Role
NPPD is a member of the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization. The SPP conducted a study, also known as the Integrated Transmission Plan, to assess the needs of the entire transmission network with the SPP region over the next 10 years. The R-Project is one of numerous projects to come out of that study.

Follow R-Project’s Progress Here.

Additional Recommended Reading
Department of Energy awards funding for Phase II of carbon capture study for Gentleman Station, NPPD News Release

It will be beneficial for NPPD customer-owners to have access to data on the costs of fossil fuels and carbon capture versus renewables or renewables+storage. 

The Road To A 100% Clean Economy

The 100% clean economy won’t be made in D.C.—it will be led by our businesses, our entrepreneurs, and tens of thousands of local civic and community leaders committed to creating a better future. 

Contributor Fred Krupp, Environmental Defense Fund President, Forbes

The 100% Clean Economy Act announced this week in Congress is the roadmap America needs to drive urgent action that matches the scale of the problem. It provides a starting point and a finish line for business and government working together to solve the climate crisis.

The bill, which will soon be introduced in the House by Rep. Donald McEachin of Virginia, will commit the U.S. to achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. That means that by midcentury we’ll release no more climate pollution into the atmosphere than we can remove—across all sectors of the economy. This ambitious goal is consistent with what science tells us we need to do in order to help avoid the worst impacts of climate change. Read more here. 

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Markets and Technology May Hold Out the Real Green New Deal: Part I, Forbes
    For business, and especially for big companies with capital and the vision to use it wisely, there is no more pressing issue or greater opportunity than climate change. 
  • Markets and Technology May Hold Out the Real Green New Deal: Part II, Forbes
    There’s been heated debate about the application of environmental, social and governance (ESG) principles to investing. While the U.S. hasn’t yet caught up with Europe in adopting these measures, the tide is turning, with the percentage of American institutional investors spurning ESG outright having decreased this past year from over half (51 percent) to just over a third (34 percent), according to an annual investing survey. This means—following the ‘E’ in ESG—that more business leaders are ready to run with the notion that investing in decarbonization is not only good for the planet, it’s imperative to remain relevant in the market. 

CLIMATE CHANGE / CLIMATE ACTION NEWS

FEATURED RESOURCES

Center For Climate And Energy Solutions (C2ES): U.S. State Climate Action Plans
The Center for Climate and Energy Solutions is an independent, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization whose mission is to advance strong policy and action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, promote clean energy, and strengthen resilience to climate impacts. A key objective is a national market-based program to reduce emissions cost-effectively. We believe a sound climate strategy is essential to ensure a strong, sustainable economy.

The Center For Climate Strategies
The Center for Climate Strategies (CCS) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization located in Washington, DC with a small business subsidiary, Collaborative Systems and Strategies, LLC (CSS). It provides government officials and stakeholders worldwide with the expertise and assistance needed to develop and implement solutions that meet immediate and long-term climate, economic, energy, environmental, and equity goals. CCS serves as a catalyst for actions at the national, state, provincial, and local levels in all economic sectors to meet the unique needs of each country and region.

Community solar facility taking shape in Washington County

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

A bright summer sun shone down on 35 acres of rural Washington County as officials from OPPD, NextEra Energy Resources and AUI Partners toured the utility’s newly built community solar field. More than 17,500 panels are up and work continues on the site, the first community solar project for OPPD. The project is on track to be completed in the late fall. Continue reading here.

NEWS FROM OTHR STATES

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Scotland produced enough wind energy for double its homes in last 6 months, Treehugger

Statement: Renewables Leader Says EPA Reprieve on Coal Does Not Stop the Rapid Growth of Clean Energy

Tri Global Energy News Release, PRNewswire

DALLAS, June 21, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — In a just-released announcement from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), air-quality restrictions were lessened on coal-fired power plants in an attempt to boost the coal industry’s decline in growth. “No amount of policy is going to reverse what is happening to coal now,” says John B. Billingsley, Chairman and CEO of Tri Global Energy (TGE), one of the nation’s top five wind developers, and Sunfinity, a residential and commercial solar provider and installer. “But what needs to be clear is that coal and renewable energy are not competing,” Billingsley said. “Turning to renewables for power generation is not only environmentally smart for our planet, it is economically smart as never before.” Continue reading here.

IN NEBRASKA

Tri Global Energy is planning to develop a 100–megawatt wind farm, which will be named the Sugar Loaf wind farm in Garden County. Source: Wind Energy Generation in Nebraska,
Nebraska Energy Office

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

  • Trump to toss lifeline to coal plants. Will it work?, E&E News
    Just 99 of the American Public Power Association’s roughly 2,000 member utilities have an ownership stake in a coal plant.
  • Misguided EPA Affordable Clean Energy rule is on the wrong side of history, opinion contributed by Howard Learner, The Hill. The Midwest is making great strides in shifting to renewable energy generation from solar energy and energy storage, along with wind power. The renewable energy supply chain businesses are rapidly growing. America’s Heartland is well positioned to lead us forward in delivering climate change solutions powered by renewable energy and energy efficiency improvements. This energy sector transition is good for Midwest jobs, good for clean air and water, and good for economic growth. The new ACE Rule is misguided policy, moves our nation backward in solving climate change problems, and misses opportunities for economic growth and innovation in the global shift to renewable energy.

Howard Learner is the executive director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center of the Midwest. ELPC is the leading Midwest public interest environmental legal advocacy organization, and among the nation’s leaders, working to improve environmental quality, protect public health, and protect natural resources in ways that grow the regional economy. 

SEIA Raises Doubts About Trump Administration’s Proposed Climate Rule

Solar Energy Industries Association Media Release 

“With or without this new proposal, solar will continue to grow, power the economy and provide the clean energy that consumers want and the grid needs. When you combine low-cost and low-carbon with technology that continues to get smarter, you can compete in any market and under any regulatory regime. We pledge to work constructively with the administration to develop policies that help American consumers, add American jobs and protect the planet.”  – Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association on the Trump administration’s proposal to revise the Clean Power Plan.

Read the entire release here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING