Tag Archives: U.S. energy transition

‘Stranded costs’ mount as coal vanishes from the grid

By Jeffrey Tomich, Reporter, E&E News 

study by consultants Vibrant Clean Energy LLC and Energy Innovation said the United States has reached “the coal crossover,” at which renewables could replace almost 75% of the U.S. coal fleet and at an immediate savings to customers. By 2025, the number is set to rise to 86%. But in most cases, what’s left behind as utilities pull the plug on old coal plants is more than industrial shells awaiting demolition. They’re also leaving behind millions of dollars of so-called stranded costs on the companies’ books — costs someone must shoulder . . . Environmental and consumer advocates, utilities, and regulators across other states in the coal-heavy Midwest are trying to find balance between cutting carbon and keeping utility bills affordable. A potential solution to accomplish those goals is securitization — refinancing higher-cost debt with low-interest, ratepayer-backed bonds. Read more here.

Photo Credit: We Energies

What are “stranded assets?”
Stranded assets are now generally accepted to be fossil fuel supply and generation resources which, at some time prior to the end of their economic life (as assumed at the investment decision point), are no longer able to earn an economic return (i.e. meet the company’s internal rate of return), as a result of changes associated with the transition to a low-carbon economy.
Source: Carbon Tracker Initiative

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Securitization fever: Renewables advocates seize Wall Street’s innovative way to end coal, by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

State legislation authorizing the use of securitization:

GREEN BONDS

U.S. Green Bank Act of 2019 Would Provide $10 Billion+ of Capital to State and Local Green Banks, Coalition for Green Capital. The Green Bank Act of 2019 would inject billions of dollars into the U.S. economy to accelerate clean energy deployment, grow clean energy businesses, and deliver affordable clean energy to all Americans. The members of the global Green Bank Network and the American Green Bank Consortium have already shown that public investment in clean energy deployment drives greater total investment, job growth and lower energy costs. The bill creates a new USGB as a wholly owned corporation of the U.S. government, housed within Treasury. It would be capitalized through the issuance of federal Green Bonds.

SUBSIDIES

According to the International Monetary Fund, the United States subsidizes fossil fuels at a cost of $649 billion a year.

OPINION

Thriving in a low carbon future: M&A and the new energy economy, Utility Dive
Contributed article by Mary Anne Sullivan, Sarah Shaw and Alex Harrison, Partners at Hogan Lovells.

Coal’s slide to continue in U.S. as renewables fill the gap

By the Associated Press, Omaha World-Herald

U.S. demand for coal to generate electricity will continue its slide in coming months despite efforts by the Trump administration to prop up the struggling industry, federal officials said Thursday. Renewable energy sources are expected to fill much of the gap left by coal’s decline, according to the Energy Information Administration. Continue reading here.

Wikimedia Commons Photo: Gerald Gentleman Station. The Gerald Gentleman Station is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant, located just south of Sutherland. The plant, owned and operated by Nebraska Public Power District (NPPD) consists of two coal-fired generating units (launched into service in 1979 and 1982), which together have the capability to generate 1,365 megawatts of power. Source: Wikipedia

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.

As 100% renewables goals proliferate, what role for utilities?

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Utilities and state regulators take note: As of April 1, 114 U.S. cities have officially declared they want 100% renewables for their electric power needs in the next one to two decades. That will be a big change in electricity use. And it doesn’t stop there. Over 300 U.S. localities have committed to a renewables or climate change goal, according to the World Resources Institute (WRI),  which just received $70 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies to help make that change happen. And, led by local efforts, three states have committed to 100% carbon-free. Another dozen are moving that way. Continue reading here. 

One Hundred Cities are Leading the Way to 100 Percent Clean Energy

 Written by Mayors Steve Benjamin, Jackie Biskupski,
London Breed, and Kevin Faulconer, Next City OP-ED

Over the past few years, 100 cities and towns across the country — like those we represent: Columbia, S.C.; Salt Lake City, Utah; and San Diego and San Francisco, Calif. — have committed to power our cities on 100 percent clean, renewable energy like solar and wind. Local communities are leading a national movement toward cleaner, cheaper, and more reliable sources of energy, and at the same time demonstrating there is widespread bipartisan support for modernizing our nation’s energy supply.​

Roughly 1 in 7 people — 15 percent of the U.S. population — now lives in a place that is making the transition to 100 percent renewable energy. Big cities like Atlanta and Denver and small towns like Abita Springs, La., and Hanover, N.H. — as well as the entire state of California — share this common purpose. In fact, Republican-led Georgetown, Texas, and five other cities are already running on 100 percent clean energy. Read more here.

Sierra Club Photo: Mayor Steve Benjamin of Columbia, South Carolina is one of the national co-chairs of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy Initiative.

MORE 100% NEWS

Belfast, Maine mayor joins U.S. officials demanding reduction of fossil fuel usage, Penobscot Bay Pilot. Mayor Samantha Paradis joined with more than 300 mayors, state representatives, and elected officials from 40 states in releasing a letter today calling for a nationwide plan to phase out the production and use of fossil fuels and to ramp up renewable energy as part of a green new deal approach to energy and efficiency.

DIVESTMENT 

 

As 1000+ Institutions Divest, New York State Comptroller DiNapoli Keeps Negotiating With ExxonMobil, 350.Org News Release, Common Dreams

 


ALSO IN THE NEWS

ELECTRIC VEHICLES & GRID STORAGE

How more EVs on the road can advance a renewable grid, PV Magazine
There’s an alternative future on the horizon, where instead of just drawing power from the grid, electric vehicles become a mobile grid storage resource, with drivers and utilities both reaping the benefits while providing clean power. The author, James Kennedy, engineering director and co-founder of Tritium, runs the company’s research and development team.

Midlands Voices: This is what democracy looks like

By John Crabtree, Omaha World-Herald

The writer, of Lyons, Nebraska, is the Nebraska campaign representative of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal campaign.

Democracy is at the heart of public power. By listening to their customer-owners, the Omaha Public Power District board members can honor that democratic principle and gain the collective wisdom and courage of their constituents. Today, those customer-owners are calling for less coal and more clean energy, and the environmental and economic opportunities which will follow a shift to 100 percent clean energy.

Three years ago, OPPD proposed and quickly approved one of the country’s most regressive rate hikes. The proposal significantly increased the fixed amount that every OPPD customer pays each month, burdening low-income residents and dampening a growing interest in local clean energy projects. OPPD’s board approved the rate hike despite overwhelming opposition, leaving many to wonder if the “public” aspect of public power had been lost. There is, however, a chance for redemption. OPPD is currently accepting comments on a policy, known as Strategic Directive 7, that sets goals for the utility’s environmental stewardship. Continue reading here.

Related News Stories – Previously Posted
Omaha World-Herald: Despite pleas to consider the poor, OPPD board OKs revised rate plan
Utility Dive: Nebraska municipal utilities move to increase fixed charges 

Current
PV Magazine: Utilities seek greater fees on customers who go solar

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

Sierra Club’s Ready for 100%
Currently 88 cities have committed to 100% renewable energy in Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 initiative. The Sierra Club, founded in 1892, has 3.5 million members and supporters nationwide. Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 recently teamed up with Climate Parents and Seventh Generation for 100% clean energy.
Recently Released: 2018 Case Studies Reports featuring 10 new cities that are ready for 100% clean energy!

More initiatives are posted here: 

That $3 Trillion-a-Year Clean Energy Transformation? It’s Already Underway.

Will utilities become Uber for DERs?

Utility Dive Photo

Utility Dive Photo

As the industry debates the role of the utility in a distributed energy future, utility leaders are touting a network approach, by Krysti Shallenberger, Utility Dive

It’s no big secret: The utility sector is undergoing a transformation, and new disruptive and distributed technologies are increasingly driving that change.  “We’re witnessing a convergence of old and new technologies,” Bob Stump, an Arizona utility regulator, said in a speech at Edison Electric Institute’s annual Powering the People event. “Distributed resources in some way or another are here to stay.” The majority of utility executives surveyed by Utility Dive
acknowledge the utility business model needs to change and is indeed changing, with only 5% of those surveyed saying their utility should not build a business model for distributed energy resources. Continue reading.

Berkshire Hathaway joins major renewable-energy effort

By Nancy Gaarder and Steve Jordan / World-Herald staff writers

Photo: Matt Miller / The World-Herald  Warren Buffett with a large image of himself in the lobby at UNO's Mammel Hall in 2013.

Photo: Matt Miller / The World-Herald
Warren Buffett with a large image of himself in the lobby at UNO’s Mammel Hall in 2013.

Warren Buffett is lending his name and deep pockets to the battle against climate change.

Berkshire Hathaway Energy on Monday joined a dozen major U.S. businesses at the White House in calling for robust action on global warming.

Berkshire joined Apple, Walmart, General Motors, Cargill, Bank of America and others to announce more than $140 billion in investments in low-carbon projects and other actions as they shift toward greater reliance on renewable energy.

Continue reading.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
FACT SHEET: White House Launches American Business Act on Climate Pledge