Tag Archives: self-committing or self-scheduling power plants

Retired teacher, first-time elected official to join OPPD board

By Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

Mary Spurgeon said she is looking forward to working collaboratively with the existing board on its goal of moving toward heavier reliance on renewable energy. Incumbent Amanda Bogner was unopposed to represent Subdivision 1, which serves northwest and west-central Omaha. Sara Howard won in Subdivision 2, which covers central and South Omaha. Read more here.

More Election News

AMAZON’S FULFILLMENT CENTER IN SARPY COUNTY

Amazon joins list of high-profile names in Sarpy corridor, The Wire
“Partnerships like the one OPPD has with Amazon and all of our local economic development partners and local officials allows our entire area to thrive,” said Tim Burke, president and CEO of OPPD, and chairman of the Greater Omaha Chamber’s executive committee. “Helping our local economies grow, and bring jobs to the area, is just one way we honor our community.”

Additional Recommended Reading: Amazon’s Sustainability Initiatives & Partnerships

DATA CENTERS

Data center construction market continues to boom, Construction Dive
Google, Amazon and Facebook are the biggest names in data center construction in the U.S. Here’s a closer look at the state of data center construction across the country for the three internet giants.

REBA’S NEW INITIATIVE 

Additional Recommended Reading: 5 predictions for the corporate renewable energy market in 2021, PV Magazine article contributed by Rob Collier of PPA marketplace, LevelTen Energy.

SPP AND “UNECONOMIC SELF-COMMITMENT”

Time for SPP to Commit to Competitive Clean Energy, NRDC Expert Blog by John Moore, Director, Sustainable FERC Project, Climate & Clean Energy Program.

Consumers across the heartland are paying about $60 million more a year than they should for electricity to power their homes, farms and businesses. That is because of a practice employed by some coal-fired generators to the detriment of wind power producers. It’s long past time for the regional grid operator to put an end to this practice called “uneconomic self-commitment,” but, unfortunately, the Southwest Power Pool is deliberately downplaying the issue.

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

MISO: majority of coal is self-committed, 12% was uneconomic over 3 year period

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive 

The majority of coal-fired power in the ​Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) was self-scheduled and 12% was dispatched uneconomically from 2017 to 2019, according to an April analysis from the grid operator. MISO’s numbers largely support assertions made by the Union of Concerned Scientists and other advocacy groups, which have found that “bad actors” are running their coal plants uneconomically, and costing ratepayers billions of dollars, Joe Daniel, senior energy analyst at UCS told Utility Dive. Read more here.

Previously Posted

MORE UNION OF CONCERNED SCIENTISTS BLOG POSTS 

ESG LEADERSHIP

  • COVID-19, climate and the front line, by Shana Rappaport, GreenBiz
    This is a pivotal moment for corporate leaders as much as it is for political ones: to recognize frontline workers as “essential” and also to invest in them. Indeed, the health and resilience of your company’s workforce, and the broader communities you serve, are inextricably linked with the health and resilience of your business and the economy overall. Wall Street is beginning to get this. Look for major investment firms increasingly factoring pandemic preparedness and worker well-being into their ESG calculations. Of the numerous systemic failures the pandemic has laid bare, perhaps the most immoral are the interrelated crises of wealth inequality, racism and environmental degradation.
  • Public Interest Groups Unite To Form Duke Energy Watchdog, Environmental Working Group

Previously Posted

In a March article, After the age of contagion, what’s the ‘new normal’?Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor of the GreenBiz Group, spells out the massive benefits of America’s transition to a green economy, with clean and renewable energy, regenerative farming, climate action, carbon reduction and other opportunities at its core:

We at GreenBiz have reported on a spate of studies and plans that similarly align sustainability with large-scale economic development: the circular economy (a $2 trillion opportunity), carbon tech (a trillion-dollar opportunity), sustainable food and land systems ($4.5 trillion) low-carbon cities ($24 trillion), climate action ($26 trillion) and more. As I noted last fall, trillion is the new billion. And then there’s the Green New Deal, a concept that seems to have been rekindled in the age of contagion. 

BIG OIL & GAS COMPANIES IN THE NEWS

Legislation aims to block fossil fuel companies from receiving coronavirus aid, The Hill
A group of more than 40 lawmakers is backing legislation to prevent fossil fuel companies from receiving coronavirus-related aid. The sweeping Resources for Workforce Investments, Not Drilling (ReWIND) Act aims to prevent fossil fuel companies from receiving loans provided for under previous coronavirus aid packages and prevent the Trump administration from helping the companies in other ways. 

Previously PostedUnited States Spend Ten Times More On Fossil Fuel Subsidies Than Education, Forbes

ASES VIRTUAL CONFERENCE

The American Solar Energy Society announces virtual conference June 24-25, Solar Power World
Originally set in Washington D.C., participants will now be joining virtually and engaging in important discussions on policy, technological advances, finance, storage, grid interconnectivity, community solar, education and more. Learn more and register by May 29 for the Early Bird discount at ases.org/conference. The full conference schedule with speakers, sessions and moderators can be found online at ases.org/conference/schedule.

FEATURED BOOK FOR D0-IT-YOURSELFERS

DIY Solar Power: How To Power Everything From The Sun
By Micah Toll

This book teaches you everything you need to know about custom solar powered systems and creations. Learn about topics from small scale solar powered projects like portable phone chargers all the way up to large off-grid and grid-tied home solar power systems, and even mobile solar power for RVs and other vehicles and boats. – Amazon

ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES

Southern Illinois school district awaiting electric buses: ‘We’re really ready’, by Audrey Henderson, Energy News Network. The Triad school district, just outside the St. Louis suburbs, hopes to replace half of its diesel fleet over 15 years. 

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. 

Report: Kansas Utilities Run Coal Plants Year-Round Even Though It Costs Ratepayers Millions

By Brian Grimmett, 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. Continue reading here.

Photo: Joseph Daniel, senior energy analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists, who has been studying self-committing or self-scheduling generation in power markets for years. Daniel recently 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 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.
– Joseph Daniel

Additional Recommended Reading

R-Project News & Website Link