Tag Archives: energy markets

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

Kevin Rabinovitch, Mars: “Every Movement Needs A Group Of First Movers And We Believed We Had The Capability To Step Up”

As a new RE100 leadership paper sets out guidance for companies everywhere to show leadership on renewable electricity, The Climate Group talks to Kevin Rabinovitch, Global Vice President of Sustainability, Mars  – the first US company to step up and join RE100, back in 2014. Continue reading here.

RE100 Guide for Corporate Suppliers
When RE100 reached its 100 members milestone one year ago, the nonprofit called on companies to engage their suppliers on renewable energy and produced a guide on how it’s done.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

ENERGY LOBBYING NEWS

Fossil interests, utilities spend almost 10x more than renewables industries on lobbying

INSPIRING NATIONAL SOLAR EXAMPLE
Solar Power to Help Provide 50K Meals Annually to the Lawrence Community
By Tom Duggan, The Valley Patriot

Bread & Roses, a community kitchen in the heart of Lawrence, Massachusetts, is keeping their energy local with their new solar panels installed by ReVision Energy from North Andover. The solar array, completed this past month, is a 6.7-kilowatt system consisting of 46 rooftop panels that will generate approximately 23,000 kilowatt hours per year while also offsetting 24,000 pounds of carbon pollution annually. ReVision Energy, an employee-owned company, was excited to partner with the local non-profit in an effort to transition away from fossil fuels and towards more socially-conscious, sustainable energy.

Electricity prices plunge with more renewables, study says

By David Ferris, E&E News, Wyoming Business Report

The study released by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory modeled how high penetration of solar and wind power — from 40 to 50 percent — would affect system operators in New York, the Great Plains, California and Texas . . . The study looked at four system operators: the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO), the California Independent System Operator and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), all of which neatly cover their home states. It also modeled the Southwest Power Pool (SPP), which encompasses part or all of five wind-rich states: Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma and South Dakota. Click here to read more.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

MORE REPORTS

MORE CORPORATE NEWS

EV NEWS

Residential solar power grows 11% in Q1 2018

By John Weaver, PV Magazine USA

Residential solar power grows 11% in Q1 2018

Of potential interest to Nebraska Solar Installers – In his article John Weaver references the following report:

The customer has spoken – 74% want energy storage

John Weaver is a solar developer and installer. He has sold and managed 50+ solar projects, ranging in size from 5kW to 1500kW, totaling over $25 million. More articles from John Weaver

One year along: FCS marks shutdown anniversary

By Cris Averett, OPPD The Wire

The 478.6-megawatt nuclear reactor, situated about 20 miles north of Omaha, operated as part of OPPD’s generating fleet for 43 years.

But, as the energy market shifted and operating costs continued to challenge the organization, OPPD leadership made the recommendation in May 2016 to cease operations at the site. Concurrent with that, they announced a proposal to freeze general rates through 2021.

Read more here.

Federal moves unlikely to ‘make coal great again,’ experts say at Ohio panel

Written by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

The Trump administration’s shifts in energy and environmental policy likely won’t change the downward trajectory of America’s coal sector, industry experts reported at a panel in Cleveland this week. The program at Case Western Reserve University delved into reasons why the United States’ coal industry has declined and the impacts of legal developments over the last quarter of a century. Click here to continue reading.

Photo: The General James M. Gavin coal plant in southeast Ohio.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Reports

Comparing Subsidies in One Infographic

News Stories