NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

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While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • TODAY’S STUDY: How New Transmission Benefits Everybody
  • QUICK NEWS, January 16: The Big Apple Takes Big Oil To Court; Solar Power 24/7 Gets Affordable; Demand For New Energy Raises Demand For New Wires
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: States Step In On Utilities' Energy Plans
  • QUICK NEWS, January 15: “Stupendously” Expensive Climate Change; New Energy Almost half Of 2017’s New U.S. Generation; Record Competitive Prices For New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • Weekend Video: Global Warming In A Cold Winter
  • Weekend Video: New Energy Jobs Booming
  • Weekend Video: Cities Unite In Climate Fight
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-What’s Happening And What To Do About It
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-World Ocean Wind To Quadruple by 2025
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Toward Europe’s Solar 3.0
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Storage For New Energy To Boom
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, January 11:

  • TTTA Thursday-Climate Change Is The Biggest Terrorist Of All
  • TTTA Thursday-Nuke Flop Sets So. Carolina Solar In Flight
  • TTTA Thursday-Denmark Demonstrates Year Of 43.6% Power From Wind Works
  • TTTA Thursday-Two Breakthroughs For Growing EVs
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, January 17:

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Lot Of Dam Potential -- With pumped storage, hydropower can grow 50% by 2050
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities Cautiously Advance EV Charger Buildout

    Wednesday, January 17, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Lot Of Dam Potential -- With pumped storage, hydropower can grow 50% by 2050

    A lot of dam potential: Renewables growth could drive massive hydro buildout; With pumped storage, hydropower can grow 50% by 2050 - if developers can get over the hurdles

    Herman K. Trabish, August 9, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Hydropower could benefit from the current administration’s relaxing of environmental regulations, which is – at best – a mixed blessing.

    U.S. hydroelectric power, the nation’s oldest and biggest renewable, could see striking growth through 2050 – if developers work around its potential harms to river ecosystems and take advantage of expected growth in wind and solar. Hydropower provided 6.2% of the nation’s electricity, 48% of all renewable electricity, and 97% of all energy storage in 2015, according to , Hydropower Vision: A New Chapter for America’s First Renewable Electricity Source from the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). That almost 101 GW of combined hydropower generating and storage installed capacity in 2015 could explode to nearly 150 GW in 2050, the report’s rigorous modeling found. But that will require technology innovations to drive the cost of project development and financing down and to solve environmental challenges.

    The key word there may be “potential.” Other studies have highlighted hydropower's room for growth in the U.S., but the power sector has largely opted for wind, solar and natural gas for capacity additions. Today's 101 GW of hydro includes 79.6 GW of generating capacity and 21.6 GW of pumped storage hydro (PSH). Investor-owned utilities, independent power producers, and private industry own 27% of it. Another 24% is owned by public utility districts, irrigation districts, states, and rural cooperatives. Federal agencies, including the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, and the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), own the remaining 49% of capacity. Through 2030, the DOE study reports, growth will come mainly from “optimizing and upgrading the existing fleet, and powering non-powered dams.” But between 2030 and 2050, the study foresees solar and wind rising to a 45% U.S. grid penetration, driving the development of a remarkable 35.5 GW of new PSH to balance the variable generation… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Utilities Cautiously Advance EV Charger Buildout

    If you build it, will they charge? Utilities cautious in plans to spur electric vehicle adoption; Utilities are well positioned to enhance EV infrastructure, but many are waiting for a push from regulators and the market

    Herman K. Trabish, August 10, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The expansion in the buildout of EV charging infrastructure has accelerated since this story ran, led by consumer EV demand and a wide-ranging recognition at utilities that it will be good for electricity sales.

    One utility's small electric vehicle charger pilot raises a big question: Why is it taking so long to build the infrastructure that could drive the plug-in car industry? Avista Utilities will spend $3 million to install, own, and operate 272 grid-integrated electric vehicle (EV) chargers at about 200 residential, workplace, and public charging sites in its Eastern Washington state service territory. The utility's intent is to understand and prepare for managing the impacts of a higher EV charging load on its system. The state of Washington had over 16,000 EVs at the end of 2015 and the Washington State Electric Vehicle Action Plan targets 50,000 plug-in vehicles by 2020…

    Washington state currently has 1,544 public charging outlets, and it doesn’t take a mathematician to divide 50,000 by 1,544 and get chaos. That is an exaggeration of the imbalance, of course, because the number of chargers will grow with the adoption of EVs. But it is emblematic of a potential national imbalance between cars with plugs and spots to charge. The U.S. has 482,217 EVs, according to Plug-in America, and there are 14,040 public charging stations and 35,006 charging outlets, according to the U.S. Department of Energy. Considering a level 2 charger’s 10 to 20 miles of range per hour of chargingrate, 35,000 chargers for more than 482,200 cars is not a formula for convenience. And, while small pilots like Avista’s are emerging, the imbalance may be growing… click here for more

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    Tuesday, January 16, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: How New Transmission Benefits Everybody

    How Does Electric Transmission Benefit You? Identifying and Measuring the Life-Cycle Benefits of Infrastructure Investment

    Julia Frayer, et. al., January 8, 2018 (London Economics International)

    Synopsis

    WIRES commissioned London Economics International LLC (“LEI”) to prepare a study demonstrating the benefits of transmission investment. The benefits of transmission are frequently seen as uncertain by many policymakers and regulators; system planners have also found it a challenge to comprehensively measure benefits and identify beneficiaries. This study shows that a variety of benefits can be quantified robustly through forward-looking, simulationbased analysis. Moreover, these benefits are substantial, widespread, and long-lasting – putting dollars in the pockets of households, businesses, and governments.

    The modeling approach LEI uses to estimate the benefits of transmission utilizes two hypothetical transmission investment projects. LEI presents the projected benefits of each transmission project by category and by beneficiary, showing as well where and over what timeframe these various benefits arise during the lifetime of a typical transmission investment. Although the hypothetical projects analyzed in this study are created to highlight the benefits of two specific types of interregional transmission investments in two diverse market settings, the methodology for estimating benefits and the overall magnitude of the benefits are indicative of all transmission investments – reliability projects, economically-motivated projects, and policy-driven initiatives. Therefore, the analytical approach illustrated in this study applies not just to inter-regional transmission projects but also to various other types of well-conceived transmission investments.

    Executive Summary

    Large transmission investments are often challenging for system planners and policymakers to assess. The benefits of such projects can be widespread, but the regional nature of system planning often overlooks the full spectrum of wide-ranging benefits that emerge during different stages of a transmission project’s life cycle. For this paper, LEI conducts a comprehensive analysis of benefits by evaluating two hypothetical, yet realistic, inter-regional transmission projects in different parts of the US. LEI analyzes these projects with well-accepted forward-looking modeling techniques to show the ways in which the benefits of transmission emerge and evolve.

    Approach

    The purpose of this study is to demonstrate that transmission benefits can be quantified, and would provide system planners and decision-makers with important baseline information to properly plan for the grid of the future. LEI’s approach for estimating the benefits of transmission is based on projections of future electricity market conditions, with and without the hypothetical transmission projects. Although the two hypothetical transmission projects are variations on inter-regional projects, the approach could easily be employed to understand the benefits of any well-conceived transmission project during its entire useful life.

    The benefit calculus in this paper is based on empirical analysis and utilizes a suite of simulationbased modeling tools. LEI’s modeling covers the construction phase of the project and the first 15 years of the operations under a “base case” or “most likely” forecast for the future electricity market conditions. LEI also examines alternative supply conditions to measure longer-term reliability benefits.

    The modeling in this study demonstrates that the uncertainties faced by transmission planners and policymakers with respect to economic impacts of these long-lived assets should not deter them from undertaking a benefit analysis. Only with a comprehensive economic examination of benefits will decision makers be able to optimize the value of transmission projects to consumers and the wholesale power market.

    Two hypothetical projects

    The hypothetical projects LEI analyzes in this study reflect two common commercial drivers for transmission investments: (i) increasing market efficiency through additional trade of electricity, and (ii) accommodating delivery of lower cost and cleaner energy resources (that may be in remote locations) to consumers. The first hypothetical project, located in the Eastern Interconnect, increases the transmission capacity between two regional markets operated by PJM Interconnection LLC (“PJM”) and Midwest Independent Transmission System Operator, Inc. (“MISO”). This “Eastern Interconnect project” aims at enhancing market efficiency through trade. The other hypothetical project involves a new transmission line extending from the Rocky Mountain area to southern California (the “Western Interconnect project”). This hypothetical project demonstrates the value of transmission investment in bringing energy and associated products and services (such as capacity and reduced carbon emissions) from new resources located at some distance from electricity consumers.

    While the primary business drivers, configuration and market conditions of these two hypothetical transmission projects are different, LEI’s findings suggest that the magnitude and variety of benefits is broadly similar for different types of transmission projects, once adjusting for the scale of the transmission project and the volume of energy deliveries. As such, this study can serve as an indicator of benefits for many types of transmission projects. Furthermore, LEI’s approach and conclusions are generalizable to other projects – interregional or intra-regional – and call out the multiple benefits that have often been overlooked as system planners focus more on reliability considerations or only narrow categories of economic benefits, like efficiency improvements to system operations (also known as “production cost savings” or, as referenced in this study, “savings from efficient production of energy”).

    Findings regarding benefits of transmission

    This study estimates the benefits of transmission chronologically: starting from the initial days of transmission project development and construction, through the first fifteen years of commercial operations1 (see Figure 1). The two hypothetical projects, like their real-world counterparts, are projected to provide electricity consumers, electricity generators, electric power markets and the economy generally with a range of benefits over their useful lives. To demonstrate the variety of benefits and diversity of beneficiaries, LEI has presented all the benefit streams individually in dollar terms. Furthermore, given the focus of this study on benefits, LEI has not netted these benefits against the costs of the project, although that would be a standard procedure in the realworld for purposes of a complete evaluation of a project.

    Benefits in the Short Term

    In the short term, properly-conceived transmission investments, like other large infrastructure projects, create benefits by boosting the local economy (commonly measured by Gross Domestic Product (“GDP”)2) and creating new jobs through local spending on construction-related services. The new jobs are not limited to the construction sector because of the “ripple effect” of investment. The short-term benefits are shown in Figure 2 below. The magnitude of these benefits is largely driven by the capital costs of a project and the amount of local spending associated with the construction of the project in the short term. The Eastern Interconnect project is estimated to cost $200 million on an indicative basis, while the Western Interconnect project is estimated to be a $3 billion project. Therefore, we observe a proportionately higher level of project benefits from the Western Interconnect project in the short term.

    Benefits in the Medium Term

    In the medium term, the modeled transmission investments create the following benefits, with results summarized in Figure 3 and further detailed in Section 4.2:

    • These transmission investments lower the costs of electricity to consumers by allowing more cost-effective energy and capacity resources to reach consumers.

    • These transmission investments also economically benefit some generators, allowing them to earn higher revenues by making possible sales to new markets consumers through the new transmission capacity.

    • Transmission investments can paradoxically both lower the market price paid by consumers for electricity and increase some generators’ revenues. This can be explained by the overall efficiency improvement in the energy market brought about by transmission investment and the expansion of the market that system operators can use to optimize dispatch of resources.

    • The lower electricity costs for consumers also catalyze another category of benefits - regional economic growth. Lower electricity costs make the local economy more attractive to industrial and commercial businesses and spur investment that then leads to an expansion of operations of these businesses. Meanwhile, lower electricity bills increase residents’ household income and increase demand for various consumer goods and services.

    • Thanks to the increased level of trading accommodated by the new transmission line, cleaner and lower-cost energy is used by consumers, which reduces carbon dioxide emissions3 in the receiving or importing region(s).

    • Achievements like reduced carbon emissions are highly valued by some residents and households. To some individuals, these achievements signal a “quality of life” improvement, creating a more favorable living environment and attracting new residents to relocate to the region. Expansion of the labor market (as people move to the region) gives rise to another wave of expansion in the local economy.

    The benefits listed in Figure 3 arise across a large geographic area. For example, as residents and local businesses in the directly affected region (where electricity costs decline) purchase additional products and services, the economies in other states that provide such additional products and services also benefit from the increased demand. In addition, as market conditions evolve, LEI’s modeling shows that transmission can accommodate changes in various external market conditions and help system operators more cost-effectively adapt to new circumstances. This does not mean that benefits of transmission are diminished as a consequence of evolving market conditions, but rather that the beneficiaries or the timing of benefits may change (see Section 4.2.1 for additional details).

    Benefits in the Longer Term

    In the longer term, well-planned transmission brings significant reliability value. For example, transmission investment can serve to dampen or neutralize the cost impacts of unexpected events in the market, much like an “insurance” policy. The insurance value of new transmission over its long term described in Figure 4 (and fully described in 4.3) is estimated by modeling the energy system with and without the new investment. The benefits of avoiding higher energy costs can be very large for consumers, as energy market costs rise quickly in the face of supply constraints. In addition, the economic consequences of avoiding supply interruptions are significant, even if such events are rare. Unexpected events can occur at any time and such events – especially if they lead to supply interruptions – can be immensely expensive. Well-placed transmission investment can reduce the frequency of supply interruptions (blackouts) and temper rising energy market costs from supply constraints. Such reliability benefits exist over the lifetime of a transmission project. LEI’s modeling results (see Figure 4) indicate that both hypothetical transmission projects can reduce the cost impacts of supply constraints and economic losses of blackouts under specific circumstances, thereby creating significant value to energy consumers and the local economy in the long run.

    Observations and recommendations

    The empirical analysis in this study demonstrates that well-conceived transmission can provide benefits that are quantifiable, substantial, widespread and long-lasting. To ensure effective decision-making and investment appraisal, system planners, policymakers, and decision-makers should consider the full spectrum of benefits provided by transmission. LEI recommends that such considerations need to be made in concert with the design and development of the project (rather than as a ‘postscript’ in the description of the project, or in response to a request of a policymaker or regulator). Quantified benefits then can be compared to the costs4 of the project to assess the investment thesis. The goal should be to build the infrastructure and deploy capital to secure an optimal range of benefits for consumers and the economy.

    LEI suggests integrating economic valuation methodologies, similar to those demonstrated in this study, within current transmission planning processes. The system planning process should not only be looking at the technical needs and engineering characteristics of new transmission (e.g., costs), but should also consider the numerous economic benefits that are derived from making the investment. When the full range of benefits is considered in transmission planning, projects can be optimized to provide the highest level of value to customers.

    The benefits of transmission investments take many forms and affect many stakeholders in different ways, over varying timeframes. Uncertainties around economic trends, technology improvements, and public policy add challenges in predicting a future world. Scenario analysis, and other probabilistic modeling techniques, can allow estimates of impacts from new investment in the face such uncertainties. Decision-makers should refrain from assuming that there are no economic benefits from transmission investment simply because of uncertainties about future conditions. Rather, rigorous analysis of the full range of short-term, medium-term and long-term benefits should provide decision-makers more confidence in selecting the most valuable transmission investments for the future.

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    QUICK NEWS, January 16: The Big Apple Takes Big Oil To Court; Solar Power 24/7 Gets Affordable; Demand For New Energy Raises Demand For New Wires

    The Big Apple Takes Big Oil To Court United States District Court Southern District Of New York…Complaint Case No. 18 cv 182 City Of New York, Plaintiff…Against BP…Chevron…ConocoPhillips…Exxon Mobil…and Royal Dutch Shell…

    January 9, 2018 (Attorney for the City of New York)

    “Plaintiff the City of New York…brings this action sounding in public nuisance, private nuisance, and trespass against Defendants…This lawsuit is based upon the fundamental principle that a corporation that makes a product causing severe harm when used exactly as intended should shoulder the costs of abating that harm. Defendants here produced, marketed, and sold massive quantities of fossil fuels—primarily oil and natural gas—despite knowing that the combustion and use of fossil fuels emit greenhouse gases [GHG]…primarily carbon dioxide…Defendants have also known for decades that GHG pollution accumulates and remains in the atmosphere for up to hundreds of years, where it traps heat, a process commonly referred to as ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming,’ and that this process would cause grave harm…WHEREFORE, the City respectfully requests a judgment against all Defendants awarding the city…Compensatory damages in an amount according to proof, for the costs already incurred…[and] the costs of actions the City is currently taking and needs to take to protect City infrastructure and property, and to protect the public health, safety, and property…” click here for more

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    Solar Power 24/7 Gets Affordable 24-Hour Solar Energy: Molten Salt Makes It Possible, and Prices Are Falling Fast Molten salt storage in concentrated solar power plants could meet the electricity-on-demand role of coal and gas, allowing more old, fossil fuel plants to retire.

    Robert Dieterich, January 16, 2018 (Inside Climate News)

    “…[The 110-megawatt concentrated solar power (CSP) plant, built and operated by SolarReserve in Northern Nevada desert is proving] the technology that drives Crescent Dunes can make solar power an affordable, carbon-free, day-and-night energy source, dispatched on the electric grid like any fossil fuel plant…[C]oncentrated sunlight heats molten salt to 1,050 degrees Fahrenheit in [a] shimmering tower; then the salt gets stored in a giant insulated tank and can be tapped [anytime] to make steam to run a turbine…

    If this plant and several similar facilities under construction, or soon to be, prove reliable, the technology is poised to take off. Solar photovoltaic (PV) panels can displace fossil fuels during the day, and wind turbines can do the same as long as it's windy. But molten salt towers may be able to meet the challenge of electricity on demand, and push more older, dirtier fossil-fuel plants into retirement…The price of the power generated at SolarReserve's second plant, to be built near Port Augusta, Australia, will be less than half that of the electricity produced by Crescent Dunes…just over $0.06/kWh…” click here for more

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    Demand For New Energy Raises Demand For New Wires GM’s Expansion, Energy Goals Hinge on Renewables’ Power Lines

    Bobby Magill, January 16, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “…General Motors is calling for greater access to wind and solar power through expanded transmission lines to feed growing demand for clean electricity by its future factories and customers…Electric power lines delivering wind and solar power are not a constraint on growth today, but, between 2018 and 2050, new transmission connecting wind and solar farms…[will be critical for the success of companies that have committed to obtaining 100 percent of their electricity from New Energy]…Available renewable power transmission and transmission planning might not meet growing corporate demand for renewable power…Companies that are part of…the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance, which includes GM, Walmart, and more than 100 other companies, plan to buy more than 60 gigawatts of renewable power by 2025. Only 9 gigawatts have been procured so far…[I]f 90 percent of renewables transmission projects currently in development are built, they would meet 70 percent of the expected demand…” click here for more

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    Monday, January 15, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: States Step In On Utilities' Energy Plans

    State Engagement in Electric Distribution System Planning

    Juliet Homer, Alan Cooke, et. al., December 2017 (Grid Modernization Laboratory Consortium of U.S. Department of Energy national laboratories)

    Summary

    Electric distribution system planning is focused on assessing needed physical and operational changes to the local grid to maintain safe, reliable, and affordable service. While electric utilities have always engaged in this activity, the planning horizon has typically been short and involvement by state utility regulators minimal.

    Safety, reliability, and affordability remain top objectives for deeper state engagement in longer-term distribution system planning. Other drivers are proposed utility investments to replace aging infrastructure and modernize grids, opportunities to improve distribution system efficiency, enabling consumers to have greater control over energy costs and sources, and integrating higher levels of distributed energy resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar, distributed energy storage, and price-responsive demand.

    This report provides a snapshot of current state engagement in distribution system planning:

    • Part 1 describes activities in states that have adopted some advanced elements of integrated distribution system planning and analysis (see Figure S-1): California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and New York.3 It summarizes the impetus for early action, goals, regulatory requirements, additional state activities related to distribution system planning, and next steps.

    • Part 2 covers a broader array of state approaches. For example, some of these states have longstanding distribution reliability and performance codes, requiring regulated utilities to report regularly on poor-performing circuits and propose investments for improvements. Other states require regulated utilities to make filings related to proposed grid modernization investments.

    A growing number of states are beginning to consider comprehensive distribution system planning processes. This report documents activities in eight states with statutory or public utility commission requirements for electric distribution system or grid modernization plans, plus four jurisdictions with proceedings on such requirements underway or planned. We also cover activities in several additional states to provide a more accurate picture of the significant variation in approaches, in part stemming from differences in electricity market structure — states with restructured markets versus states where all utilities remain vertically integrated. Table S-1 provides a summary of these approaches.

    Table S-1 provides examples of states with longstanding requirements for utilities to report on reliability and resilience metrics and plans to improve on these measures, as well as states with storm-hardening requirements. Common emerging distribution system planning elements include DER forecasting, assessing DER locational value, analyzing hosting capacity, assessing non-wires alternatives, and engaging stakeholders (including third-party service providers) to comment on proposed planning processes and filed utility plans and help identify least-cost solutions to distribution system needs. Some states also are exploring new procurement mechanisms, such as competitive solicitations, to consider DERs as non-wires alternatives for load relief and other distribution system needs.

    Among the specific reasons PUCs are adopting these new planning and procurement practices are to facilitate higher penetration levels of DERs, harness these resources to provide grid services for customers, enable greater consumer engagement, and improve review of utility investments in distribution systems, particularly with respect to grid modernization.

    States can learn from each other and tailor successful approaches to their unique circumstances. Reviewing the broad range of legislative and public utility commission activities described in this report is a useful starting point…

    Conclusions

    While most states have not yet begun to directly engage in longer-term (five to 10 year) planning for electric distribution systems, New York, California, Hawaii, Massachusetts, and Minnesota are early adopters. Several additional states, such as those featured in this report, are beginning to adopt long-term distribution system planning requirements for regulated utilities or are exploring such requirements. These efforts are building on existing distribution reliability and performance codes and PUC reviews of grid modernization investments proposed by regulated utilities.

    Beyond universal PUC interest in affordability and reliability, drivers for improved and more transparent distribution system planning processes include interest in more efficient operation of the distribution system, enabling greater consumer engagement, the need to replace aging infrastructure, opportunities to adopt grid modernization technologies for the benefit of consumers, addressing higher levels of DERs due primarily to cost reductions and public policies, and potential net benefits to customers for grid services provided by these resources.

    Approaches to state engagement in distribution system planning and grid modernization planning vary widely. They range from a cohesive set of requirements laid out in state statute or PUC orders, to an ad hoc requirement in a general rate case decision for the utility to file an initial long-term distribution system plan or grid modernization plan.

    Some PUC distribution planning processes are tied to greater utility assurance of cost recovery for proposed distribution investments that are included in approved plans.

    Common emerging distribution system planning elements include DER forecasting, assessing DER locational value, analyzing hosting capacity, assessing non-wires alternatives, and engaging stakeholders (including third-party service providers) in proposed planning processes and filed utility plans to help identify solutions to distribution system needs.

    Some states also are exploring new procurement mechanisms, such as competitive solicitations, and pricing programs to consider DERs as non-wires alternatives to meet certain distribution system needs (e.g., load relief) and ways to modify the utilities’ annual capital planning process to account for these options.

    Integration of distribution planning with other electric grid planning processes, including integrated resource planning (in states with vertically integrated utilities), transmission planning, and demand-side management planning, is of increasing interest. Such efforts are still nascent. Some early steps may include consistency in inputs, such as forecasts for loads and types and levels of distributed energy resources, scenarios, and modeling methods—updated in time—across these planning processes. The regulatory landscape is changing rapidly in this area. This report provides a snapshot of the early phase of adoption of new distribution system planning processes.

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    QUICK NEWS, January 15: “Stupendously” Expensive Climate Change; New Energy Almost half Of 2017’s New U.S. Generation; Record Competitive Prices For New Energy

    “Stupendously” Expensive Climate Change Unchecked climate change is going to be stupendously expensive

    Ryan Cooper, January 15, 2018 (The Week)

    “Climate change is first and foremost a threat to human society…[and one way that threat] is going to be expressed is through economic damage…[U]nchecked climate change is going to be terrifically expensive…[though] economic projections tend to be wildly inaccurate…[T]he amount of damage will depend greatly on what humans do in the future, and there have been few studies on what damage would be like under higher warming scenarios of 3 degrees or above…But we can say the damage is going to be very large — indeed, it's already quite bad. NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information estimates that 2017 was America's most expensive year for climate disasters of all time, with 16 disasters costing over $1 billion (more than three times the 1980-2017 average, after accounting for inflation) and a total cost of over $300 billion. That's about 1.5 percent of total GDP — or enough to pay for a $300 per month child allowance for every parent in America, with some left over…[And this] year is already off to a bad climate start…[T]he faster we move on climate policy, the cheaper it will be…[E]very year of delay adds $500 billion to the world total of necessary investment…” click here for more

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    New Energy Almost half Of 2017’s New U.S. Generation Nearly half of utility-scale capacity installed in 2017 came from renewables

    January 10, 2018 (U.S. Energy Information Administration)

    “…EIA expects about 25 gigawatts (GW) of new utility-scale electric generating capacity to have been added to the power grid during 2017, nearly half of which use renewable technologies, especially wind and solar. Another 3.5 GW of small-scale solar net capacity additions are estimated to have come online in 2017…Of the renewable capacity additions in 2017, more than half came online during the fourth quarter…[largely] because of timing qualifications for federal, state, or local tax incentives…Monthly U.S. renewable electricity generation peaked in March at 67.5 billion kilowatthours, or 21% of total utility-scale electricity generation. In late spring, the melting snowpack from a winter characterized by higher-than-average levels of precipitation increased hydroelectric generation, while strong wind resources in March also produced a peak in monthly wind generation for the year…Most renewable generation in 2017 came from the Western census division…” click here for more

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    Record Competitive Prices For New Energy This is how coal dies — super cheap renewables plus battery storage; New Colorado wind farms with batteries are now cheaper than running old coal plants

    Joe Romm, January 10, 2018 (ThinkProgress)

    “Solar, wind, and battery prices are dropping so fast that, in Colorado, building new renewable power plus battery storage is now cheaper than running old coal plants. This increasingly renders existing coal plants obsolete…Xcel Energy [just] reported dozens of shockingly low bids it had received for building new solar and wind farms, many with battery storage…The median bid price in 2017 for wind plus battery storage was $21 per megawatt-hour, which is 2.1 cents per kilowatt-hour…[which is thought] to be lower than the operating cost of all coal plants currently in Colorado…The median bid price for solar plus battery storage was $36/MWh (3.6 cents/kwh), which may be lower than about three-fourths of operating coal capacity…[T]he average U.S. residential price for electricity is 12 cents/kWh…[B]y definition, half of the bids are below the median price…[There were] 87 bids for solar plus storage…There were 96 bids for wind power alone — at a median price of 1.8 cents/kwh…What XCel Energy has shown us is that the price for battery storage is dropping so fast, adding it to a solar or wind project increases the total price only modestly. And that’s a game-changer…” click here for more

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    Saturday, January 13, 2018

    Global Warming In A Cold Winter

    As the planet’s AVERAGE temperature is driven up by the accumulation of human-spewed emissions that traps the sun’s heat within earth's atmosphere, the climate changes in many ways. Many say the most accurate label is “global weirding.” From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

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    New Energy Jobs Booming

    Both the solar industry and the wind industry are producing job growth at over TWICE the pace of home health care, the industry with the third fastest-growing job growth rate. From Climate Reality via YouTube

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    Cities Unite In Climate Fight

    New markets and new ways of procuring supply now make it possible for cities to go all-in on the transition to New Energy. From Climate Reality via YouTube

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    Friday, January 12, 2018

    What’s Happening And What To Do About It

    What is climate change? The science and the solutions; The term “climate change” is bandied around a lot this days, but what actually is it, and how dangerous are its implications?

    Emma Sims, 12 January 2018 (Alphr)

    “…[Climate change is the] fluctuation that our planet’s climate undergoes over geological time…[The global average temperature is 15C…[but it has] been both much higher and lower in the past…[Now, driven by human-generated greenhouse gases (GHGs) that trap heat within the earth’s atmosphere, it is warming faster than ever before and having] environmental ramifications (melting ice caps, rising water levels, sinking ocean beds)…[GHGs from a variety of sources, including 57% from carbon dioxide (CO2) produced by fossil fuel use, have increased by over 30% since the beginning of the industrial revolution, causing 16 of the hottest years ever recorded in the 17 years of this century…[To reverse climate change, household] energy efficiency is one easy step…[Pushing utilities for renewable energy is another. Moving from a meat-based diet will reduce] methane emission and deforestation associated with cattle-rearing…[Avoid travel-related GHGs when possible. Recycling can reduce the landfill-produced] methane and CO2…[and, finally, a big contribution can come from more people moving to] environmental activism…” click here for more

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    World Ocean Wind To Quadruple by 2025

    Offshore Wind Energy Market’s Cumulative Offshore capacity is Expected To Reach To 49,931.6 MW By 2025…

    Steve Carl, January 4, 2018 (M.C. Today)

    “…[O]ffshore wind installations reduces the impact on real estate as in onshore installations…[and] wind speed is uniform and consistent in offshore installations, which increases the efficiency of electricity generation…[That makes offshore wind energy] highly attractive and more promising in terms of power generation and grid connections…[Restraining factors include exposure] to high humidity and salt contents, which affects service life of components due to corrosion, oxidation and increased repair and maintenance costs…[O]ffshore installation costs are much higher than onshore. The repair maintenance and overhauling operations are also high cost and time consuming…[According to Global Offshore Wind Energy Market– Growth, Future Prospects and Competitive Analysis, 2017 – 2025,] the offshore wind energy market volume is expected to reach to 49,931.6 MW by 2025 [from today's 13,000 MW. Key trends include rising] investor confidence in the offshore wind energy market…[and deployment of 8MW and above wind turbine in European and Chinese farms…” click here for more

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    Toward Europe’s Solar 3.0

    Accelerating the path towards ‘solar energy 3.0’

    Stefan Degener, 12 January 2018 (EURactiv)

    “Europe is currently in the first stage of photovoltaic solar development. Moving to the next phases, 2.0 and 3.0, will require a smart new Green Deal that avoids the ‘boom-and-bust’ developments of the past and leverages private investment to achieve high renewable energy goals…[2018 could be the year in which the European Union moves toward] the recommended goal of having 35% of its electricity generated from renewable sources by 2030…By most accounts, upsizing the current commitment of 27% is the only feasible path to realising the region’s carbon-reduction obligations by 2030…[and] not unachievable…[C]oncerns remain about the so-called ‘ambition gap’…[and] shortfalls in national contributions…[A smart new Green Deal should recognize the need for new rules] for cross-border grid integration…[and] enabling the investments required…[Modernising electricity markets] would allow members states to use the power of private investment to absorb a significant amount of the expenditure needed…The next phase, 2.0, uses advanced plant control systems to strategically manage the output of a solar power plant to create spinning reserves and other ancillary grid services…[to enable] penetration of approximately 40%...Phase 3.0 delivers fully-dispatchable solar using energy storage and time-shift techniques…[with] the potential for as much as 80% penetration…” click here for more

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    Storage For New Energy To Boom

    Energy Storage for Renewables Integration; Energy Storage Integrated with Utility-Scale Solar PV, Utility-Scale Wind, and Behind-the-Meter Generation: Drivers, Barriers, and Global Market Forecasts

    4Q 2017 (Navigant Research)

    “The costs to develop new renewable energy projects continue to drop around the globe while policy incentives, target capacity mandates, and resilience demand for behind-the-meter (BTM) customers continue to increase. As a result, capacity for wind and solar PV continue to rise in all regions and market segments—from small residential systems to utility-scale systems…[But] the large-scale addition of these variable forms of generation presents challenges to an electrical grid…Energy storage systems (ESSs) can help mitigate potential grid concerns and integrate renewable energy resources without affecting grid reliability…[Asia Pacific is expected to lead all regions in deployment…[It is forecast to reach] annual installed power capacity of 11,180.0 MW in 2026…[Total annual revenue] is forecast to reach $23,201.0 million by 2026…” click here for more

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    Thursday, January 11, 2018

    Climate Change Is The Biggest Terrorist Of All

    America's Most Pressing Threat? Climate Change; The Trump administration is ignoring a huge threat to national security and global stability

    Retired Admiral James Stavridis, January 11, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “…[The newest U.S. National Security Strategy misses the mark on] the threats related to climate change and global warming, which were all but ignored…What makes climate change so pernicious is that while the effects will only become catastrophic far down the road, the only opportunity to fix the problem rests in the present…[Waiting to be ‘sure’ condemns us to a highly insecure future if we make the wrong bet…Water scarcity, droughts and resource struggles [have already led to wars and terrorism in] Syria, Sudan, Mali and the broad Arab world…Rising sea levels [are swamping] our ports and coastlines…[S]ome of our most vital military bases -- are at risk of flooding and eventually disappearing…[As Arctic ice inexorably melts, it] will generate geopolitical competition [and tension] between Russia and the five NATO countries that sit on the so-called Arctic Porch…[Economic impacts undermine] our ability to spend on defense…[The need to respond to repeated extreme weather crises] will continue to reduce overall defense readiness…[We must acknowledge the problem, re-take a leadership role, and] address climate change coherently across all agencies and departments…” click here for more

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    Nuke Flop Sets So. Carolina Solar In Flight

    Nuclear debacle energizes push for solar power expansion

    Sammy Fretwell, January 9, 2018 (The State)

    “As the fight continues over whether South Carolinians should get their [nearly $2 billion] back for [the failed V.C. Summer nuclear expansion] project, another battle is developing that could affect monthly electricity bills…South Carolina is nearing a state-set limit on solar energy that would curtail the expansion of rooftop solar systems for homeowners, industry officials say…In the next two years, SCE&G and Duke Energy are expected to reach the state-mandated limit, making it harder for people to add solar panels to their roofs…The Solar power industry is lobbying the South Carolina legislature to order state counties to give it tax breaks. The tax breaks, the industry says, are necessary to attract solar investment to the state…Since the Legislature voted in 2014 to ease some restrictions on solar power, the industry has added about 2,000 new jobs…dramatically increasing the number of home solar systems…[But the] utilities, fearful a wholesale move to solar power could cut into their profits, negotiated a limit on the expansion of solar energy…[To save jobs and grow solar, advocates say the cap must be] increased or eliminated…” click here for more

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    Denmark Demonstrates Year Of 43.6% Power From Wind Works

    Wind energy hits new record in Denmark

    8 January 2018 (Climate Action)

    “[Just-released energy statistics reveal] that in 2017 wind turbines delivered the equivalent of 43.6 percent of Denmark’s total electricity consumption, hitting a new milestone for the clean energy transition in the country…[T]otal wind output reached approximately 14,700 gigawatt-hours (GWh)…[The previous record was 2015’s] 42 percent of the country’s electricity needs…[Denmark has been] a pioneer in wind energy…[I]n 2000, wind turbines were already providing more than 12 percent equivalent of the country’s annual electricity consumption….[T]he country has a capacity of approximately 5.3 gigawatts (GW)…By 2020, wind power is anticipated to provide more than 50 percent of Denmark’s electricity consumption. Including solar and biomass energy, renewable energy sources are expected to hold a share of 80 percent in the country’s electricity mix.” click here for more

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    Two Breakthroughs For Growing EVs

    Maybe It’s Not As Hard As We Thought To Solve The Electric Charging Infrastructure Problem

    Ryan Felton, January 10, 2018 (Jalopnik)

    “…[The currently tiny EV market isn’t going to grow without a serious boom in fast charging infrastructure. But it might be an easier problem to solve than most think…It’s a weird conundrum: if carmakers want to succeed in attracting new EV buyers, there needs to be fast charging infrastructure in place…[But carmakers] aren’t keen on building infrastructure…Tesla’s the only one to really tackle the problem…[But that will] change as more EVs hit the road…[ChargePoint, the largest charging network for electric vehicles, just] integrated Amazon’s Alexa for its home charging suite…[allowing EV owners] to start and stop charging using the virtual assistant…[Most charging is done] at home or at work…[The big issue is] the gap in fast-charging highway stations…[That will be resolved by] a network that’s plotted smartly along all major highway routes…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, January 10, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: What's Missing From The 100% Renewable Energy Debate

    What's missing from the 100% renewable energy debate; Media coverage of a scholarly feud over fuel mix transition misses the broader implications of cross-sector decarbonization

    Herman K. Trabish, Aug. 3, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Following the debate highlighted in this story, the discussion has increasingly turned in the direction described.

    The news media can be distracted by stories that seem more important than they are. An example is the recent debate between Stanford professor Mark Jacobson and former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientist Christopher Clack over whether the U.S. can be powered entirely by renewable resources in 2050. The New York Times headlined it “Fisticuffs.” The Washington Post called it a “bitter and personal feud.” A 2015 paper written by a Jacobson-led team argued electrification of all U.S. energy sectors can be done by 2050 with almost 100% wind, water, and solar (WWS) resources, plus energy storage. That supply mix and demand response can keep the U.S. grid “stable at low cost,” it concluded. But Clack, now CEO of renewable energy software firm Vibrant Clean Energy, argues that 100% renewables is a “valuable hypothetical aspiration” but should not be presented as a scientific article because it overlooks “technical and economic barriers” needed to get to 100% renewables.

    Jacobson responded by arguing Clack's critique was “riddled with intentional misinformation” and does not invalidate his conclusions. Media reports focused on the dispute about the resource mix and often overlooked how the energy system is evolving. But other researchers have begun to address the possibility of coupling together the many sectors of the economy that consume energy. They are thinking about new efficiencies from using electricity generated by renewables for heating and cooling and transportation. Many power system analysts agree that a 100% renewables penetration is technically feasible, but will require technology advances and new approaches like “cross-sectoral coupling,” now emerging in Europe and states where penetrations are growing fast, will electrify the transportation, industrial, and heating and cooling sectors of the economy to make the system more efficient, economical, and reliable… click here for more

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