Tag Archives: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)

Alliant coal plant could cost Wisconsin customers $257M by 2030, report says

By Catherine Morehouse, Utilty Dive

Two Wisconsin coal plants cost Alliant Energy’s Wisconsin customers $16 million in 2019 alone, according to a report released Tuesday from the Sierra Club. Alliant on Friday announced it plans to retire one of those facilities — the 380 MW last remaining unit of its Edgewater plant — by 2022. However, the 1,023 MW Columbia coal plant has no set retirement date, and if it continues to operate the utility’s share of the plant could cost customers $257 million through 2030, according to Sierra Club. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Related: Alliant Energy looks to add 675 MW of PV and quadruple Wisconsin’s solar capacity, PV Magazine

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

ENERGY EFFICIENCY

The (energy) efficient road to small business recovery, Utility Dive
The following is a contributed article by Ralph Cavanagh, Energy Co-Director at the Natural Resources Defense Council, and John Di Stasio, President of the Large Public Power Council.

MORE ON SECRET GROUP’S FERC PETITION

24 Congressional Democrats urge FERC to reject net metering overhaul, Utility Dive
A group of Democratic senators and representatives on Tuesday wrote to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, urging the regulatory body to shut down a net metering proposal that experts say would effectively overturn the policy nationally. In the letter, Congress Members questioned FERC’s authority to make such a rule and also asked the commission to ask the petitioner, New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), to disclose its members. 

Upcoming Advanced Energy Economy Webinar


Net Energy Metering and State Authority: What’s at Stake for Advanced Energy in FERC Petition, June 3 at 2 p.m.


This webinar will explain how FERC ruling the wrong way could impact existing and emerging state and municipal and cooperative utility approaches to supporting distributed energy resources in retail markets. 

Panelists

  • Ted Thomas, Chairman, Arkansas Public Service Commission
  • Hannah Muller, Director of Public Policy, Clearway Energy
  • John McCaffrey, Senior Regulatory Counsel, American Public Power Association
  • Jeff Dennis, Managing Director and General Counsel, Advanced Energy Economy

PEAK COALITION REPORT

Dirty Energy, Big Money, by the PEAK Coalition
Subtitle: 
How Private Companies Make Billions from Polluting Fossil Fuel Peaker Power Plants in New York City’s Environmental Justice Communities – and How to Create a Cleaner, More Just Alternative

The high costs of these peaker plants—both in public health impacts and on New Yorkers’ electric utility bills—are largely hidden to the public. It is not well known, but the owners of these plants receive exorbitant payments from utilities and other energy service providers just for the plants to exist. 

UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS STUDY

The Coal Bailout Everybody Is Talking About, by Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst with the Climate & Energy program at UCS

 As we found in our new UCS report, Used but How Useful, How Electric Utilities Exploit Loopholes, Forcing Customers to Bail Out Uneconomic Coal-Fired Power Plants, utilities across 15 states right in the heart of the U.S. exploited power market loopholes, costing customers $350 million in 2018.

Previously Posted

What The Post-Pandemic World Needs Is A Solar Energy Revolution

By Enrique Dans, Senior Contributor, Forbes

One technology above all has exceeded all expectations over recent years: solar energy. Near-exponential growth has lowered manufacturing costs and efficiency of the solar cells to the point that building a solar energy generation plant is now significantly cheaper than its fossil fuel equivalent, or even maintaining an existing unit — and most importantly, leave a negligible carbon footprint

Today, virtually everything that most people think they know about solar energy, about the days when only subsidies made solar installations profitable and some generated power with diesel engines at night, is completely obsolete and outdated. The solar energy landscape has changed so much in terms of costs and performance that it requires completely new analyses. Read more here.

ON-FARM SOLAR 

Indiana farmers see benefits in on-farm solar power for grain storage systems, contributed by Emergent Solar Energy, PV Magazine. “Every morning a potential energy source rises over the horizon to the east of my farm,” said Will Harlow, owner of the farm. “It seemed a waste to not harness this daily free energy source, erasing some of what I take from the grid. The solar components’ being made in the United States was also important to me. I hope if any positive comes from this pandemic, it is that we must do what we can to get production of all kinds returning to America.”

Links to resources for solar-powering farm operations & farmhouses: 

 

 

 


Nebraskans for Solar

Department of Energy: Farmer’s Guide to Going Solar

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

NET METERING

FERC Might Rewrite Solar Net Metering. Here’s What That Could Mean, by Ben Huffman and Marc Palmer, Greentech Media

On April 14, the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA) petitioned FERC to assert jurisdiction over any on-site, behind-the-meter generation that injects energy onto the grid. If FERC asserts such jurisdiction in the manner requested by NERA, individual states could lose control over their solar net-metering policies — with myriad implications for the U.S. distributed solar market. FERC is currently accepting comments and intervenors from individuals and organizations. The period to comment or intervene ends June 15, 2020.

Ben Huffman is a partner with law firm Sheppard Mullin’s energy, infrastructure and project finance team. Marc Palmer is managing director of New Resource Solutions, a clean energy project facilitator.

 UC’S ESG INVESTMENT POLICY 

UC’s investment portfolios fossil free; clean energy investments top $1 billion, University of California Press Room

To date, UC’s new energy investments have developed and accelerated 9.2 gigawatts (GWs) of wind and solar capacity across all the platforms in which it has invested. Directly attributable to UC Investments’ share of the platforms is 1.47 GWs of wind and solar energy capacity in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan and India. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, 1 gigawatt of power is comparable to the energy produced by 3.125 million photovoltaic panels or 412 utility-scale wind turbines.

This is exactly the time to be talking about climate change

Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

This is exactly the right time to be talking about climate change. In fact, we need to be talking unapologetically about climate, the clean economy, renewable energy, resilient food systems, sustainable mobility, the circular economy and the Sustainable Development Goals with more vigor than ever. We’ll spend the next several years rebooting and rebuilding our economic wherewithal. So, isn’t this the time to talk about how that will unfold, about how to create a robust, resilient and regenerative economy for the next generation or two? And shouldn’t we be aligning our investments — and our tax dollars — in those directions? Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Corporate America, it’s your time to shine, contributed by Suzanne Shelton, President & CEO Shelton Group, GreenBiz. We have the opportunity right now — flush with evidence about the cracks in our social system and the very real ways in which we’re affecting our environment — to reimagine the Way We Do Things. The business leaders and companies who use this moment to be creative (as opposed to simply trying to get back to “business as usual”) are the ones who will not only weather this storm; they’ll also be the preferred brands of the future. Here are five things company leaders can do right now to create a sustainable future:

EPA 

  • EPA gives power plants, regulated entities pollution compliance flexibility, citing COVID-19 concerns, by Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive. Environmentalists worry the relaxed enforcement could allow facilities to be less diligent about compliance with air and water pollution standards. “This is an open license to pollute. Plain and simple,” Gina McCarthy, president and CEO of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said in a statement. “We can all appreciate the need for additional caution and flexibility in a time of crisis, but this brazen directive is an abdication of the EPA’s responsibility to protect our health.”
  • Suspending EPA enforcement during COVID-19 outbreak adds to pollution-related health risks, Environment America News Release. “As our nation struggles to contain the coronavirus, health is at the forefront of everyone’s mind, and the public cares even more deeply about the air we breathe and the water we drink. If EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler will not rescind this policy immediately, we urge Congress to exercise its oversight authority to ensure the safety of our air and water.” – John Rumpler, senior attorney for Environment America

RENEWABLE ENERGY NEWS

ENERGY STORAGE

NEW JERSEY’S CARBON-FREE LEADERSHIP

New Jersey looks to exit PJM, worried the MOPR will impede its 100% carbon-free goals, by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (BPU) wants to consider alternatives to participation in PJM Interconnection’s capacity market, and on March 27 launched an investigation into how the state can achieve its clean energy objectives that include reaching 100% carbon-free energy by 2050. The investigation is a response to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) December 2019 decision to expand the Minimum Offer Price Rule (MOPR) in the regional capacity market, effectively raising the floor prices for state-subsidized resources. Clean energy advocates believe the rule could prevent new renewable resources from competing in the wholesale market.

GREEN HYDROGEN

Policy, policy, policy: BloombergNEF’s path to hydrogen uptake, PV Magazine
A hot energy topic with little coordinated analysis, green hydrogen has finally attracted the number crunchers of BloombergNEF.

NEW GTM BLOG

GTM’s Live Coronavirus Blog: The Impact on Clean Energy
A somber tone takes hold across the American solar industry, and New York’s grid operator sequesters workers at control centers. Follow the latest developments here.

INDUSTRY RESOURCES

  • The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a Coronavirus Information & Resources page that provides updates on its impact on the American solar workforce and its effects to the global supply chain.
  •  The American Wind Energy Association has a COVID-19 advocacy and related resources page.
  • The Energy Storage Association (ESA) has created a Resource Center with updates on the organization’s actions to continue fulfilling  its mission to accelerate the widespread use of competitive and reliable energy storage systems in North America.

Arizona commission signals support for 100% clean energy by 2050

By William Driscoll, PV Magazine

Arizona could join 16 other states and territories that have targets of 100% clean or renewable electricity by 2050 or sooner. Thirty-two groups in Arizona have called for 50% renewables by 2030Read more here.

GRID INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS

Smooth sailing so far for planned Iowa-Illinois underground power line, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A high-voltage underground transmission line proposed to cross Iowa and Illinois is moving ahead without the landowner opposition that has dogged overhead transmission lines in the region. The SOO Green HVDC Link, which would span 349 miles from Mason City, Iowa, to a connection with the PJM grid at Yorkville, Illinois, has encountered no major objections at the four public meetings that have been held in Iowa and Illinois, according to project spokeswoman Sarah Lukan.

TRI-STATE 

Colorado expedites Tri-State member exit charge case, as power supplier gets ‘split decision’ on FERC jurisdiction, Utility Dive

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on March 20 accepted tariffs filed by Tri-State Generation and Transmission, meaning the agency will now have authority over wholesale rates for the cooperative’s member distribution utilities in New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming and Nebraska. In a separate order, FERC determined it does not have exclusive jurisdiction over member exit charges, allowing complaints by La Plata Electric Association (LPEA) and United Power pending before the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (COPUC) to move forward. 

CORPORATE RENEWABLE ENERGY PURCHASING

Corporate renewable energy in the age of COVID-19, by Sarah Golden, Senior Energy Analyst & VERGE Energy Chair, GreenBiz Group 

“Large energy buyers signed onto 9.33 gigawatts of renewable energy deals in 2019 and they want those projects to come to fruition,” REBA’s CEO, Miranda Ballentine, wrote in an email. “We do expect for company interests and commitments to clean energy to remain strong given they are tied to broader corporate energy goals and emissions reductions targets.”

NET METERING

Which states offer net metering?, by Kelly Pickerel, Editor In Chief, Solar Power World

Congratulations. If you live/work in one of these 34 states, D.C., or four territories, you are able to take advantage of net metering credits in some form. View the database on DSIRE for more details about your specific region.

Net Metering – Nebraska
System Capacity Limit: 25 kW

Net Metering – Iowa
System Capacity Limit: 1 MW

ADDITIONAL PV MAGAZINE POSTS

ZEV PROGRAM 

Statement: Victory! Washington adopts Zero Emission Vehicle program, Environment America
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee today signed the Zero Emission Vehicle (ZEV) program into law. The move takes aim at reducing ozone pollution and greenhouse gas emissions and makes Washington the 12th state to adopt the ZEV program. With this new law, Washington joins the entire West Coast as part of this critical program to get more electric cars on the road. Under ZEV, the Evergreen State will deploy hundreds of thousands of electric vehicles over the next decade. 

PROJECT DRAWDOWN UPDATE

Aggressive action to address climate change could save the world $145 trillion, Yale Climate Connections. A respected research group, Project Drawdown, finds that deploying solutions consistent with meeting the Paris climate targets would cost tens of trillions of dollars globally. But crucially, those outlays would also yield long-term savings many times larger than the up-front costs.

FEATURED WEBINAR LIBRARY

Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) on-demand webinars: Many of them are free.

FEATURED BOOK

Grassroots Rising: A Call to Action on Climate, Farming, Food, and a Green New Deal, Chelsea Green Publishing

Grassroots Rising offers a blueprint for building a grassroots Regeneration Movement based on consumer activism, farmer innovation, political change, and regenerative finance—embodied most recently by the proposed Green New Deal in the US.

Using regenerative agriculture practices that restore our agricultural and grazing lands, we can sequester massive amounts of carbon in the soil. Coupled with an aggressive transition toward renewables, Cummins argues that we have the power to not only mitigate and slow down climate change, but actually reverse global warming.

Commentary: With battery technology ready, regulatory framework must catch up

By Rafael Esteban, CEO of Acciona’s energy division in the
United States and Canada, Energy News Network

The energy sector sits on the cusp of a truly transformative change: Utility-scale ready battery storage technology has arrived. As is with the case with many disruptive technologies, before reaping the benefits of energy storage — which are many — we need modernization of the regulatory framework. This work is well underway. In 2018, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission issued Order 841, requiring regional energy agencies to adopt rules for energy storage.

According to the order, rules must allow energy storage to participate in the wholesale, retail and capacity markets. Then came FERC order 845, which asked for interconnection standards and clarity on how storage would participate in capacity markets. Across the nation, regional transmission organizations and independent system operators are developing plans to come into compliance with this order. Interestingly, the pitched battles at FERC around policies for fossil fuels and renewable energy have been absent from discussions about storage. Read more here.

Previously Posted 

  • ACCIONA acquires 3,000 MW in photovoltaic projects being developed in the USA, Acciona News Release, October 21, 2019. ACCIONA today announced the signature of an agreement with the [Nebraska-based] company Tenaska to acquire a portfolio of photovoltaic projects in seven states across the country.
  • ACCIONA buys solar + storage on a national scale, PV Magazine
    The Spanish company has purchased 3 GW of solar projects and 1 GW of solar + storage from developer Tenaska, with all of the projects concentrated in non-traditional solar markets.
  • The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before, PV Magazine
    Fitch Solutions Marco Research has boldly predicted the region will be a main driver towards the 100 GW of solar power capacity expected to hit the U.S. over the next 10 years. The procurement will be led by city and utility commitments to renewable energy, the falling costs of solar and the continued expansion of popular community solar programs.

Acciona & Tenaska Job Opportunities

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

GREEN CAMPUSES

These Pa. colleges are going all in on renewable energy — with a little help from a Texas solar farm, The Philadelphia Inquirer

Four Pennsylvania schools have teamed up to support a Texas solar farm that will supply them with “virtual” renewable energy, joining a trend among institutions of higher education to address climate change. Lehigh University, Lafayette College, Muhlenberg College and Dickinson College announced the partnership Monday to collectively purchase solar power. They signed a virtual power-purchase agreement to support production from a 45.9-megawatt share of a new 200-acre solar farm that will be built at an undisclosed location [in] Texas. The schools announced the agreement at Second Nature’s 2020 Higher Education Climate Leadership Summit in Atlanta.

NEW INITIATIVE ADDRESSES CLIMATE CHANGE

Inside Bill Weihl’s quest to give employees and job seekers a ‘ClimateVoice’, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

ClimateVoice, launched this weekend at the ClimateCAP conference in Charlottesville, Virginia, is the brainchild of Bill Weihl, who led Facebook’s sustainability team until leaving the company in 2018. Prior to that, he served as Google’s “energy czar” during the early days of that company’s ambitious clean-energy push. Weihl’s new initiative is aimed at activating college students and rank-and-file employees to persuade their current or would-be employers to take a public stand on federal, state and local initiatives that address the climate crisis.

NEW ENVIRONMENT AMERICA REPORT

New report provides roadmap to achieve carbon-free transportation, Environment America News Release

A new report from Environment America Research & Policy Center and Frontier Group describes how we can build a zero-carbon transportation future – all while cleaning our air and creating safer, healthier communities. Entitled Destination: Zero Carbon: Three strategies to transform transportation in America, the report looks at the factors underlying high transportation emissions, and proposes new policy solutions. Americans drive more than 10,000 miles a year on average, often in inefficient gas-burning vehicles. Poor public transit and unsafe conditions for walking or biking leave many Americans with few good low-carbon transportation options.

EV NEWS

Inside Clean Energy: Tesla Gets Ever So Close to 400 Miles of Range, Inside Climate News
The increased range is a step toward bringing EVs—and their contribution to combating climate change—into the mainstream.

Industry Vows to Continue Fight for Pro-Solar Policies, Despite Missed Opportunity This Year

SEIA News Release 

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today Congress and the White House were unable to agree on including an extension of the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) in an end of year tax package, meaning the credit will decrease at the end of this year. The measure also failed to include energy storage in the ITC. This represents a missed opportunity to take an achievable step to boost the economy, add jobs and reduce carbon emissions.

Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association on this development: 

“While I’m disappointed by this missed opportunity to boost the U.S. economy and jobs, and tackle climate change, I’m heartened that voter support for clean energy policies is at an all-time high. The solar ITC is a proven way to generate tens of billions of dollars in private investment each year, while substantially reducing carbon emissions. We will look for opportunities next year to again engage our incredibly supportive solar community and work with Congress on clean energy policies that work for all Americans.” Read the entire news release here.

Additional Recommended Reading

How far and fast can OPPD push toward ‘zero carbon’ energy future? Study seeks answers, costs

By Aaron Sanderford, Omaha World-Herald

The Omaha Public Power District is studying how far it can push toward generating the region’s electricity without the carbon emissions that scientists say contribute to a changing climate.  The study’s findings could hold significance for the future of OPPD’s coal-fired plants, including its north Omaha power plant, which burns coal and natural gas, and its plant in Nebraska City, its largest that burns coal. It might also influence which types of power plants OPPD builds in the future, whether for addressing the power grid’s needs at peak usage times or for additional capacity, board members say. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Report puts $4.5 trillion price tag on grid decarbonization, American Public Power Association

Also In The News

LevelTen News

For first time, renewable generation exceeds coal nationwide

By Jason Kuiper, The Wire, OPPD Blog

In April, U.S. monthly electricity generation from renewable sources exceeded coal-fired generation for the first time, according to a recent story by the American Public Power Association (APPA). The APPA story was based on data from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The story said renewable sources provided 23% of total electricity generation compared to coal’s 20%. Read more here.

NextEra Photo of Butler Ridge Wind Energy Center wind turbines on farm land in Dodge County, Wisconsin.

More News & Resources

News & Resources from the Department of Energy’s Latest WINDExchange Newsletter

  • 2019 Tribal Energy Webinar Series
  • Wind for Schools Brochure 2019
  • NREL Receives DOE Funding for Wind-Wildlife Mitigation Technologies
    NREL recently received DOE funding to reduce environmental impacts of wind energy by improving the effectiveness of ultrasonic acoustic deterrents technology, which emit frequencies perceptible to bats to discourage them from approaching wind turbines. Other technological innovations include thermal imaging cameras and specially developed radar technologies, both of which detect and deter wildlife from approaching wind turbine blades. Learn more about NREL’s work to identify the best wind-wildlife mitigation technologies. Eight other organizations also received funding to help reduce environmental compliance costs and environmental impacts of land-based and offshore wind energy.
  • DOE Announces Winners of Collegiate Wind Competition 2019 Technical Challenge
    DOE’s Collegiate Wind Competition aims to prepare college and university students from multiple disciplines to enter the wind energy workforce by providing real-world technology experience. The competition challenges participants with tasks including business plan development; wind plant siting; and wind turbine design, building, and testing. Twelve collegiate teams gathered at DOE’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Flatirons Campus in May to compete in the Collegiate Wind Competition Technical Challenge. Click here to see who won.

USDA Helps Farmers, Businesses and Ag Producers Cut Energy Costs

USDA News Release

Acting Assistant to the Secretary for Rural Development Joel Baxley has announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is awarding 58 grants for projects in 17 states and the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico (PDF, 146 KB) to reduce energy costs for farmers, ag producers and rural-based businesses and institutions.

USDA is providing the grants through the Rural Energy for America Program (REAP). Congress appropriated $50 million for REAP grants and loan guarantees in fiscal year 2019. Under today’s announcement, USDA is investing $1 million in renewable energy projects. USDA will make additional funding announcements in coming weeks. Read the entire news release here.

INDUSTRY NEWS

SELF-COMMITTING IN POWER MARKETS

Are old Midwest coal plants pushing renewables offline?, E&E News
The utility process of self-committing or self-scheduling power plants to run even when there’s cheaper energy available on the grid is a complex issue and opaque to outsiders. Increasingly, there are questions about whether it’s slowing a transition to cleaner energy. 

The Billion-Dollar Coal Bailout Nobody Is Talking About: Self-Committing In Power Markets, 
Union of Concerned Scientists. 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.

A radical idea to get a high-renewable electric grid: Build way more solar and wind than needed

The Conversation

Article contributed by Richard Perez, Senior Research Associate in Atmospheric Sciences Research Center, University at Albany, State University of New York and Karl R. Rabago, Professor of Law; Executive Director, Pace Energy and Climate Center, Pace University.

Excerpt: Once firmed up through a combination of overprovisioning and storage, variable renewable energy resources become effectively dispatchable – able to provide power when as needed – and functionally equivalent to traditional power plants. In this way, renewables can replace these generators without major grid reengineering.

Our team has modeled a high-solar and overbuilt solution for the not particularly sunny state of Minnesota. The goal was to determine the least costly combination of grid-connected solar, wind and storage necessary to provide round-the-clock, year-round energy services. Read more here.

Recommended Viewing: Richard Perez’s 3-minute YouTube video summarizes his scalable strategy to achieve 100 percent renewables, which he refers to as the “Perfect Forecast.”

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING 

NEW IRENA REPORT

Renewable energy costs hit new lows, now cheapest new power option for most of the world, Electrek
The findings come from the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in its new report, Renewable Power Generation Costs in 2018