NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

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

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

THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, July 27:

  • TTTA Thursday-Al Gore Says Climate’s Hope Is New Energy
  • TTTA Thursday-The First Floating Ocean Wind
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Flower Blooms In Florida
  • TTTA Thursday-The Boldness Of Tesla (And Elon Musk)
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Best Way To Do Community Solar
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: What U.S. DER Can Learn Down Under
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar’s Newest Arizona Challenge
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Plan To Help Utilities Perform Better
  • QUICK NEWS, July 25: Climate Change In The Not-So-Funny Funnies; The Truth About Wind, Birds, And Bats; How Goes For 100% New Energy
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Comparing Old Energy And New Energy For The Grid
  • QUICK NEWS, July 24: It’s A Plastic World; How This President Rewards Scientists Who Speak Truth To Power; Intro To Community Choice Electricity
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • Weekend Video: How To Know It’s Getting Hotter
  • Weekend Video: Sea Level Rise To Follow Soon
  • Weekend Video: Buildings That Can Benefit The Climate
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Facing A Mass Extinction
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Takes Over The Solar World
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Pakistan Turning To Wind
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-30X Growth In Distributed Storage Over The Next Decade
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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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.

    -------------------

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

  • ---------------
  • FRIDAY WORLD, July 28:

  • The Climate Clock Is Ticking
  • Wind Is Too Good A Deal For UK To Refuse
  • Solar Lights Burundi Streets
  • 7X Decade Growth For Global EVs

    Friday, July 28, 2017

    The Climate Clock Is Ticking

    The World May Have Less Time to Address Climate Change Than Scientists Thought; A new global temperature baseline casts doubt on humanity's ability to meet the Paris target

    Scott Waldman, July 25, 2017 (E&E News via Scientific American)

    “… [The preindustrial level of atmospheric CO2 used in the Paris agreement, based on temperature records from the late 19th century, doesn't account for a potential century of rising temperatures caused by carbon dioxide emissions…[and accounting] for those gases, released from about 1750 to 1875, would add another one-fifth of a degree to the baseline temperature, [according to Importance of the pre-industrial baseline for likelihood of exceeding Paris goals…[T]he research suggests there's less time than previously believed to address global warming…[It] estimates that there may have already been 0.2 degree Celsius of warming, or 0.36 degree Fahrenheit, built into Earth…[which] means the Paris Agreement would have to be more aggressive…Before the age of industrialization, the amount of atmospheric carbon dioxide was about 280 parts per million (ppm)…The early decades of industrialization, fueled by economic growth in Europe, may have added 30 to 40 ppm of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere…Now, atmospheric CO2 is rising at a record pace and is already at 410 ppm. It's expected to climb for decades…” click here for more

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    Wind Is Too Good A Deal For UK To Refuse

    Drop in wind energy costs adds pressure for government rethink; Tories urged to look at onshore windfarms which can be built as cheaply as gas plants and deliver the same power for half the cost of Hinkley Point, says Arup

    Adam Vaughan, 23 July 2017 (UK Guardian)

    “Onshore windfarms could be built in the UK for the same cost as new gas power stations and would be nearly half as expensive as the Hinkley Point C nuclear plant…[Engineering consultant Arup found that the technology has become so cheap that developers could deliver turbines for a guaranteed price of power so low that it would be effectively subsidy-free in terms of the impact on household energy bills…France’s EDF was awarded a contract for difference – a top-up payment – of £92.50 per megawatt hour over 35 years for Hinkley’s power, or around twice the wholesale price of electricity…By contrast, Arup’s report found that windfarms could be delivered for a maximum of £50-55 per MWh across 15 years…ScottishPower, which commissioned the analysis, hopes [use it] to persuade the government to reconsider its stance on onshore windfarms…” click here for more

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    Solar Lights Burundi Streets

    Gigawatt Global: Solar street lights illuminate Bujumbura, Burundi; Bujumbura the capital of Burundi has become a little brighter thanks to a partnership with Gigawatt Global

    19 July 2017 (African Review)

    “…[S]olar-powered ‘light islands’ started appearing in the heavily congested central bus station and nearby marketplace, extending commercial hours and improving personal safety…Gigawatt Global is now in discussions to scale the solar-powered ‘light islands’ programme throughout the city and in other major Burundian towns…Gigawatt Global, which provides 100 per cent financing for its projects, pioneered commercial scale solar power plants in sub-Saharan Africa, launching the first one in Rwanda in 2014, which is supplying six per cent of the country's generation capacity. Gigawatt Global will complete a 7.5 MW solar field in the Gitega region of Burundi in the next six months, which will supply 15 per cent of the East African country's generation capacity. Similar projects are currently being developed in 10 African countries…” click here for more

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    7X Decade Growth For Global EVs

    Market Data: Electric Vehicle Charging Equipment; Level 1, Level 2, DC Fast Charging, and Wireless Charging by Market Segment: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    2Q 2017 (Navigant Research)

    “The electrification of transportation is only just beginning, and it will eventually influence every road vehicle market. Weaning the transportation sector from oil dependence has long been a goal for many nations. Yet, the suite of alternatives has failed to make marked impacts on the global automotive market due in large part to infrastructure issues…The PEV market is entering a new phase on behalf of battery cost declines, which is being realized as longer-range PEVs are offered…[This shift will drive greater interest in EV charging overall, and it creates opportunities for] stakeholders with the ability to fund large-scale deployments—such as governments, utilities, and automakers…The market is likely to reach a more truly demand-driven status after that period. According to Navigant Research, the global market for EV supply equipment (EVSE) for light, medium, and heavy duty PEVs is expected to grow from around 875,000 sales in 2017 to over 6 million in 2026…” click here for more

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    Thursday, July 27, 2017

    Al Gore Says Climate’s Hope Is New Energy

    Despite Climate Change Setbacks, Al Gore 'Comes Down On The Side Of Hope'

    Steve Inskeep, July 24, 2017 (National Public Radio)

    “Former Vice President Al Gore helped shape the conversation about climate change with “An Inconvenient Truth.’ Now he's back with a sequel — called ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power’…The movie shows Gore standing in Miami floodwater, flying over imploding boulders of ice in Greenland and in Paris — trying to push the climate agreement over the finish line…[Though the current president is working] to undo that victory…Gore is hopeful about reversing the effects of global climate change…[We have the solutions now because renewable energy like solar and wind electricity] have evolved…” click here for more

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    The First Floating Ocean Wind

    World's first floating wind farm emerges off coast of Scotland

    Roger Harrabin, 23 July 2017 (BBC News)

    “The world's first full-scale floating wind farm has started to take shape off the north-east coast of Scotland…The revolutionary technology will allow wind power to be harvested in waters too deep for the current conventional bottom-standing turbines used…The Peterhead wind farm, known as Hywind, is a trial which will bring power to 20,000 homes…Manufacturer Statoil says output from the turbines is expected to equal or surpass generation from current ones…While the turbines are currently very expensive to make, Statoil believes that in the future it will be able to dramatically reduce costs in the same way that manufacturers already have for conventional offshore turbines…The price of energy from bottom-standing offshore wind farms has plummeted 32% since 2012 - far faster that anyone predicted…The price is now four years ahead of the government's expected target, and another big price drop is expected…” click here for more

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    Solar Flower Blooms In Florida

    New solar energy device to be included at FSU science building

    Brittany Bedi, July 18, 2017 (WCTV-Tallahassee)

    “The Smartflower is a freestanding machine that fans out a series of solar panels and then tilts to follow the sun. Each panel is made of monocrystalline silicon, a material proven to be very productive in higher temperatures…Originally designed in Austria, the Smartflower is the first of its kind available in the United States…Local oceanographer and solar energy enthusiast John Winchester purchased one of the three available units…[to use] as a public and private cooperation between Simpler Solar Systems and Florida State University…” click here for more

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    The Boldness Of Tesla (And Elon Musk)

    Tesla and Elon Musk’s moment of truth with first mass-market car; Ambitious bet that Model 3 will set company on a path to profitability

    Richard Walters, July 23, 2017 (Financial Times)

    “…[Prices for the Tesla Model S start] at £62,000…[T]housands are now registered to buy] the company’s forthcoming Model 3. The first handful of the cars is about to hit the roads, with deliveries scheduled to begin at the end of [July] though the early customers will all be Tesla employees…It will be more than just another car launch…[T] he Model 3 will become the world’s first mass-market electric vehicle, transforming the automotive industry forever. And if sales meet the company’s hopes, it will finally set the chronically money-losing Tesla on the path to becoming a sustainable business that justifies, at least in part, its heady stock market valuation…[W]ould-be customers have put down deposits on more than 400,000 Model 3s…which will cost from $35,000…[C]ustomers lining up outside Tesla showrooms to register their interest drew comparisons with the rush to buy the iPhone…Boosted by its new, lower-priced model, Tesla hopes to produce 500,000 vehicles next year, before reaching a target of 1m in 2020 — almost as many as the total number of electric vehicles sold worldwide as recently as 2015…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, July 26, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Best Way To Do Community Solar

    Subscriptions or sales: Which community solar approach promises the best growth? Private developers are getting ambitious and utilities are eyeing the opportunity

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 19, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Community solar continues to grow and open new state markets.

    Community solar markets are starting to snowball as developers pick apart different strategies to find the best approach. New numbers show what policies make community solar markets thrive. Nnew community solar capacity reached over 206 MW by the end of 2016, a 400% increase over the same period the year before, bringing the national cumulative capacity to 331 MW, according to the latest market report. Markets in Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Colorado, and New York are implementing policy, and individual private sector providers have dozens of projects online, in development, and under construction. SoCCme may have hundreds of projects in their pipeline.

    Community solar, also known as community shared solar and solar garden, allows customers to purchase a share in a large central station solar array in exchange for a bill credit for any excess energy exported to the grid. Community solar’s biggest appeal lies in opening access to solar energy for all customers regardless of income or their possession of a roof. A 2015 report said 49% of households and 48% of businesses are currently unable to host a rooftop solar system. By reaching those customers, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates community solar could compose 32% to 49% of the distributed solar market by 2020, while attracting up to $16.3 billion in investment. In some states, untouched markets could be as high as 85% of residential customers and more than 50% of commercial customers, according to the Coalition for Community Solar Access… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: What U.S. DER Can Learn Down Under

    What Australia's DER revolution can teach US utilities about the age of Trump; When federal support for clean energy faltered, Australian states took the lead on the power sector transformation. Sound familiar?

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 24, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Australia continues to set the pace for DER integration.

    Policy uncertainty caused by the new administration’s initiatives and lack of them is unsettling a power sector in a profound, market-driven transition. But whether it will choose to harness or hamper the clean energy transition remains unclear. For power sector insiders looking for answers, Australia’s recent experience could provide some constructive lessons. From 2007 to 2013, federal support for renewables in Australia allowed wind and solar to significantly cut into the power mix down under. That growth stalled after 2013, when the election of a conservative government undercut federal support for utility-scale solar and wind. Even so, policies and market supports from the nation’s six states allowed distributed energy resources (DER) to reach transformative penetrations on Australia’s grid.

    Australia does not have all the answers but its distribution system operators have been pushed by unique policy and economic factors and have shown how using new technologies and new policy designs can be workable. Though polls show a majority of Australians believe in human-caused climate change, power prices averaging as high as $0.30/kWh gave traction to arguments from conservative Abbott and Turnbull governments, like those made by President Donald Trump, for coal and natural gas consumption. By the end of 2015, Australia’s resource mix was nearly 15% renewables, but Turnbull’s administration continues to lower incentives put in place by previous governments for utility-scale wind and solar. Discouraged developers have left or are thinking of leaving the country. But the high rates, along with tariff reforms, drove DER penetrations to new highs. Advocates say new ways of more accurately valuing DER, like valuation concepts being developed in the U.S., will open the door to still more opportunity…

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar’s Newest Arizona Challenge

    The lurking surprise for solar in Arizona's recent ruling to end net metering; The landmark decision in the state's value of solar proceeding could end up slashing rooftop compensation in half

    Herman K. Trabish, Jan. 26, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Arizona Public Service and other stakeholders reached a settlement in the rate case but the threat to solar owners still lurks in the new rates.

    Arizona regulators concluded a closely-watched proceeding on the value of solar by ending retail rate net metering and, to the frustration of solar advocates, siding with utility companies on most key issues. The 4 to 1 Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) vote at the end of December began a transition away from retail net metering and introduces a replacement rate design. Some solar advocates say the changes undermine the residential solar value proposition. Other advocates and stakeholders say the changes will make Arizona solar better. Few have noticed a surprise hidden in the plan.

    The ACC ruling postponed decisions on the exact value of solar incentives for future utility rate cases. But the commission did act to make rooftop solar customers a separate rate class — a change some in the industry say bodes ill for the solar sector when new utility rate proposals are considered. With increasing solar penetration on their systems, Arizona utilities have rebelled against what they perceive as an unsustainable shift of costs to non-solar owning customers caused by net metering. The December hearing sought to address that. The ACC order clarified how two different valuation methodologies prescribed by commission staff will be applied. They synthesize stakeholder-proposed methodologies made during the VOS proceeding. But the final rate will be determined in each utility’s rate case… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, July 25, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Plan To Help Utilities Perform Better

    State Performance-Based Regulation Using Multiyear Rate Plans for U.S. Electric Utilities

    Mark Newton Lowry, Matt Makos, and Jeff Deason, July 2017 (Grid Modernization Consortium/Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory/U.S. Department of Energy)

    Executive Summary

    Berkeley Lab published a report in 2016 that discussed two approaches to performance-based regulation (PBR) of electric utilities: multiyear rate plans (MRPs) and performance incentive mechanisms (PIMs).1 The authors described these approaches at a high level and in the context of growing levels of demandside management (DSM), distributed generation and other distributed energy resources (DERs).

    This report presents a more in-depth analysis of the multiyear rate plan approach to PBR for electric utilities, applicable to both vertically integrated and restructured states. The report is aimed primarily at state utility regulators and stakeholders in the state regulatory process. The approach also provides ideas on how to streamline oversight of public power utilities and rural electric cooperatives by their governing boards.

    We discuss the rationale for MRPs and their usefulness under modern business conditions. We then explain critical plan design issues and challenges and present results from numerical research that considers the extra incentive power achieved by MRPs with different plan provisions. Next, the report presents several case studies of utilities that have operated under formal MRPs or, for various reasons, have stayed out of rate cases for more than a decade. In these studies we consider the effect of MRPs and rate case frequency on utility cost, reliability and other performance dimensions. Appendices present further information on MRP plan design and some details of the technical work.

    What Are MRPs?

    MRPs are a comprehensive approach to PBR designed to strengthen general incentives for good utility performance. Two key provisions of MRPs strengthen cost containment incentives and streamline regulation:

    1. A rate case moratorium reduces the frequency of rate cases, typically to once every four or five years.

    2. An attrition relief mechanism (ARM) escalates rates or revenue between rate cases to address cost pressures such as inflation and growth in number of customers independently of the utility’s own cost.

    Loosening the link between its own cost and revenue gives a utility an operating environment more like that which competitive markets experience.

    Most MRPs feature a performance metric system that includes some PIMs. These PIMs provide awards or penalties, or both, for performance in targeted areas. PIMs are most commonly used in MRPs to strengthen incentives for utilities to maintain or improve reliability and customer service quality. Some plans also include earnings sharing mechanisms, efficiency carryover mechanisms and marketing flexibility.

    Provisions are often added to plans to strengthen utility incentives for DSM. For example, utility expenditures on DSM programs are usually tracked, and PIMs can be added to reward utilities for successful DSM programs. Revenue decoupling can mitigate a utility’s incentive to boost retail sales and reduce risks of revenue losses from rate designs that encourage DSM.

    How Prevalent Is This Approach?

    MRPs were first widely used in the United States in the 1980s to regulate railroads and telecommunications carriers, industries beset by rising competition. Early adopters of MRPs in the U.S. electric utility industry included California and several northeastern states. Use of MRPs has recently grown among vertically integrated electric utilities in diverse states that include Arizona, Georgia and Washington. Greater use of MRPs for power distributors has been slowed by their requests for accelerated system modernization, which complicate plan design. MRPs are much more common for electric utilities in Canada and countries overseas. The impetus for adopting MRPs in these countries has often come from policymakers rather than utilities.

    What Is the Rationale for These Plans?

    America’s investor-owned electric utility industry was largely built under cost of service regulation (COSR). This regulatory system traditionally adjusted rates that compensate utilities for costs of capital, labor and materials only in general rate cases. The scope of costs eligible for tracker treatment, which expedites cost recovery, has gradually enlarged and sometimes includes capital costs as well as energy expenditures.

    The efficacy of COSR varies with external business conditions. When conditions favor utilities (e.g., are conducive to realizing at least the target rate of return), rate cases are infrequent. Performance incentives are then strong and the cost of regulation is quite reasonable. When conditions are less favorable, rate cases are more frequent and more costs are tracked. Performance incentives can then be weak and regulatory cost can be high. These attributes of COSR are worrisome because business conditions today are often less favorable to utilities than in the past.

    MRPs are a different approach to regulation that is especially appealing when the alternative is frequent rate cases or expansive cost trackers. The regulatory process is streamlined and better utility performance can be encouraged due to stronger performance incentives and increased operating flexibility. Benefits of better performance can be shared with customers. Recent advances in MRPs such as efficiency carryover mechanisms and statistical benchmarking can “turbocharge” their incentive power and ensure benefits for customers.

    What Are Some Disadvantages of MRPs?

    MRPs are complex, and their adoption can involve extensive change to the regulatory system. It can be challenging to design plans that strengthen incentives without undue risk and share benefits fairly between utilities and their customers. Some kinds of business conditions (e.g., brisk inflation and declining average use) have proven easier to address using MRPs than others (e.g., capital spending surges). MRPs can invite strategic behavior and controversies over plan design.

    Case Studies

    This report discusses six case studies of utilities operating under MRPs:

    1. Central Maine Power operated under a sequence of MRPs from 1996 to 2013. The plans afforded the company unusual marketing flexibility which it used to develop special contracts with large-volume customers. These contracts helped the company retain their contributions to fixed costs of the system, for the benefit of all customers.

    2. California has the nation’s longest history with MRPs for retail services of electric utilities. The Public Utilities Commission has limited rate case frequency and staggered plan terms to avoid simultaneous rate cases. Plan provisions have provided strong incentives for utilities to embrace DSM.

    3. New York has regulated electric utilities using MRPs since the 1990s. The state’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding has considered how rate plans should evolve to regulate the “utility of the future.”

    4. MidAmerican Energy operated under a rate freeze in Iowa from 1997 to 2013. This freeze extended to charges for energy procured as well as for capital, labor and materials.

    5. Ontario, Canada, has used MRPs to regulate the dozens of power distributors since the late 1990s. Capital spending surges have posed special plan design challenges. Innovations in Ontario regulation also include incentive-compatible menus and extensive use of benchmarking.

    6. Great Britain also has a long history with MRP regulation. The current “RIIO” approach to regulation of energy utilities there has attracted the attention of many North American regulators.

    Impact on Cost Performance

    This report also addresses the impact of MRPs (and, more generally, rate case frequency) on utility cost performance using two analytical tools: incentive power analysis and empirical research on utility productivity trends. An Incentive Power Model uses numerical analysis to assess the incentive impact of alternative stylized regulatory systems. For North American case studies, we compared productivity trends of utilities operating under MRPs to U.S. norms. We also considered productivity trends of utilities that operated under unusually frequent and infrequent rate cases.

    Both lines of research suggest that the frequency of rate cases can materially affect utility cost performance. For example, the multifactor productivity (MFP) growth of the electric, gas and sanitary sector of the U.S. economy was materially slower than that of the economy as a whole from 1974 to 1985, when rate cases were frequent due in part to adverse business conditions, than in the early postwar period, when favorable business conditions encouraged less frequent rate cases. We also found that the MFP growth of utilities that operated for many years without rate cases, due to MRPs or other circumstances, was significantly more rapid than the full sample norm. Cumulative cost savings of 3 percent to 10 percent after 10 years appear achievable under MRPs.

    Conclusions

    The case studies and incentive power and productivity research presented in this report have important implications. First, utility performance and regulatory cost should be on the radar screen of U.S. regulators, consumer groups and utility managers. Our research shows that key business conditions facing utilities today are less favorable than in the decades before 1973 when COSR worked well and was becoming a tradition. Today’s conditions encourage more frequent rate cases and more expansive cost trackers. MRPs can produce material improvements in utility performance which can slow growth in customer bills and bolster utility earnings.

    Notwithstanding the potential benefits of MRPs, they are still not used in most American states. COSR is well established and there are many accomplished practitioners. It can be difficult to design MRPs that generate strong utility performance incentives without undue risk, and that share benefits of better performance fairly with customers. MRPs invite strategic behavior and controversies over plan design. Continuing innovation of COSR will occur, and this will slow diffusion of MRPs.

    However, MRPs are also evolving and remedies to problems encountered in early plans have been developed. MRPs are well suited for addressing conditions expected in coming years, such as rising input price inflation and DER penetration and increased need for marketing flexibility. For these and other reasons, we foresee expanded use of MRPs in U.S. electric utility regulation in coming years.

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    QUICK NEWS, July 25: Climate Change In The Not-So-Funny Funnies; The Truth About Wind, Birds, And Bats; How Goes For 100% New Energy

    Climate Change In The Not-So-Funny Funnies A Comic Strip Mirrors the Ravages of Climate Change

    George Gene Gustines, July 23, 2017 (NY Times)

    "The newspaper comic strip 'Arctic Circle,' by the environmentally minded cartoonist Alex Hallatt, is about talking penguins and their fellow creatures living in the north…[Now], under a caption that says ‘An Inconvenient Truth,’ the menagerie will find their world shrinking and their conversations will be about global warming. Readers will see the drawings diminish to nothing by Friday as a snow bunny muses, ‘Climate change will lead to habitat loss and the extinction of many species.’ Miss Hallatt created the strips to observe the arrival of the documentary ‘An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power,’ in theaters on Friday. The film is a follow-up to the 2006 Oscar-winning documentary featuring Al Gore. Miss Hallatt has no official connection to the film…” click here for more

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    The Truth About Wind, Birds, And Bats Bat, bird deaths focus of wind farm study

    Karl Puckett, July 21, 2017 (Great Falls Tribune)

    “Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks is leading a study of how a NorthWestern Energy-owned wind farm called Spion Kop is affecting bats and birds…One of the initial findings is that the project has been harder on bats than a pre-construction study predicted, with bats possibly mistaking the turbines for trees…But no raptor carcasses have been discovered, with NorthWestern crediting upfront investigation into the location of raptor nests prior to the siting of giant turbines with blades that can spin up to 190 miles per hour…It’s the first time a state agency, as opposed to a private developer, has conducted a so-called post-construction study, and the data on the number of birds and bats killed, usually closely guarded, will be made public when it’s completed…Utility and FWP officials say the study will lead to better understanding of how wind farms affect wildlife that could lead to improve siting and layout of future wind projects…” click here for more

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    Hawaii Goes For 100% New Energy Hawaii's Push to 100% Renewable Energy Presents Opportunity for Solar Energy Hawaii continues to push the envelope in renewable energy, providing a path for the rest of the country.

    Travis Hoium, July 22, 2017 (Motley Fool)

    “Hawaii has long been the U.S. leader in solar energy deployment, despite the fact that the state's renewable energy efforts rarely get national attention. Solar energy, in particular, makes sense in Hawaii because of the state's abundant sunshine and high electricity prices (otherwise utilities burn imported fossil fuels). Even energy storage is an area where Hawaii is charging ahead of most other states…Hawaii will be the first state to take a real crack at being powered 100% renewable energy…The Hawaiian Public Utilities Commission wanted Hawaiian Electric to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045 and had twice rejected plans it didn't feel went far enough. This month, it approved the company's plan, which is actually to reach 100% renewables by 2040…The next five years will be a key transition…As more renewable energy is built in high penetration states like California and Iowa, utilities and regulators will be looking for solutions to build a stable grid with a lot of renewables. And if Hawaii can push past 50% in five years on its way to 100% renewables in 2040 it'll be a big proving point…” click here for more

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    Monday, July 24, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Comparing Old Energy And New Energy For The Grid

    Does “Fuel On Hand” Make Coal and Nuclear Power Plants More Valuable?

    Amory Lovins, July 17, 2017 (Rocky Mountain Institute)

    On April 14, Energy Secretary Rick Perry sent a memo ordering a 60-day depart¬mental study of whether federal policies favoring an unnamed competitor—evi¬dent¬ly renewable electricity like solar and windpower—are constraining supposedly vital “base¬load” plants (impliedly coal and nuclear), to the assumed detriment of grid reliabil¬ity and resilience.

    Existing studies by grid operators (like PJM, MISO, WECC, and CAISO), their coordinating body, trade associations, numerous academics, the heavyweight Energy Transition Commission, the Department of Energy, and its National Laboratories like NREL have already shown the contrary, though their expert authors are reportedly not being engaged in this new study.

    Then-Governor Perry’s highly successful market- and policy-driven efforts helped make Texas by far No. 1 nationwide in windpower (over 20 GW and 15% of 2016 generation) and No. 6 in solar power. Texans benefitted via over 25,000 jobs, economic vitality, and cheaper electricity (hitting record low wholesale prices in 2016 thanks to gas and wind).

    Secretary Perry emphasized this story in his confirma¬tion hearing, and on March 17, tweeted his justifiable Texas pride at these accomplishments.

    Nonetheless, his memo emphasizes the need to diversify fuels rather than to displace fuels; implicitly blames coal and nuclear retirements on renewables rather than on their main cause, fracked natural gas; and adopts a “baseload”-centric view of the grid that most experts abandoned years ago as no longer useful or necessary.

    But one feature is truly novel and merits examination: the claim that power stations with “fuel on hand” contribute to “grid resilience” and hence are worth more than their market prices reflect. This notion is so new that a Google search for “fuel on hand” returns zero entries in this context. Without trying to parse what the Secretary might mean by “resili¬ence”—which my 1981 Pentagon-funded study Brittle Power: Energy Strategy for National Security explained in detail—let’s examine whether “fuel on hand” confers distinctive advantages. First we must ask which kinds of power plants have this attribute.

    They’re not wind and solar power (together 6.6% of 2016 U.S. generation) because those use no fuel. Their energy source arrives for free, with accurately forecastable variations but virtually no risk of long interruptions. (That risk isn’t exactly zero because of the small but very consequential risk of a gigantic Krakatoa-class volcanic eruption or a postwar “nuclear winter.” Cheap insurance in an all-renewable grid could come from a mothballed “strategic capacity reserve” of scarcely-ever-run fueled power plants, but if such grave contingencies occurred, energy would be far from humanity’s main problem.)

    Traditional hydropower (6.5%) may store water behind a dam, but that’s not a fuel either, nor is geothermal heat (0.4%) flowing in the earth’s crust. Among all renewable power sources, the only fuel-burners make 1.5% of U.S. electricity from municipal, in-dus¬trial, and biomass (farm and forestry) wastes—typically from fairly steady sources located onsite, like a pulp mill, sawmill, refinery, or livestock facility, or nearby, like a landfill.

    Gas-fired power plants

    The U.S. made 34% of its 2016 electricity from natural gas, chiefly in efficient and flexible combined-cycle gas turbines—almost the only nonrenewable new electric capacity being built in the United States. But typical gas-fired generators don’t keep fuel on hand at the site, relying instead on just-in-time delivery by gas pipeline from remote production and storage facilities (though a few power plants do have associated gas storage and more have multiple pipelines). In principle, power plants could store giant tanks of natural gas or smaller tanks of liquefied natural or petroleum gas (LNG or LPG respectively), akin to traditional fuel-oil storage for plants with dual-fuel capability. But oil isn’t fully reliable, as illustrated in the 2014 polar vortex when 2–3 GW of North¬eastern dual-fuel plants were constrained by oil-supply problems, such as scant inventor¬ies, limited trucks, gelled fuel, or frozen fuel lines and injectors. Onsite LPG and LNG stocks would be resisted as an extra carrying cost, and LNG boils off if not used.

    Fortunately, big pipelines normally deliver natural gas reliably—except when they don’t.

    Despite rerouting flexibility, natural gas supply via mostly old pipelines is vulnerable to weather and other disrup¬tions, and is inherently vulnerable to physical or cyberattack. More local disruptions can be significant too, like Gulf of Mexico hurricanes. Freezing weather can make fuels unavailable and power plants inoperable, and because natural gas itself is not bone-dry, it can freeze at the wellhead, in the pipelines, and in between.

    The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC), the continent’s grid reliability regulator, found that of the 19.5 GW of generating capacity disabled in the 2014 polar vortex, about 91% failed due to equipment frozen in diverse ways that took three pages to list (pp. 14–16). The frigid weather, down to 35F˚ below normal, disabled 8 of 11 GW of gas-fired generators in New England because contractual limitations blocked or exceptional space-heating demand preempted their expected supplies. As electric loads neared or surpassed all-time records, the cold disabled nearly 30% of the mid-Atlan¬tic PJM power pool’s capacity—one-fourth because gas plants couldn’t get gas at any price, the rest mainly because coal-fired plants’ coal-handling equipment or coal piles froze. The Southeast lost 9.8 GW of supply, often because the plants hadn’t been designed for such extreme cold. In the Midwest’s MISO pool, 31% of capacity went offline, a fifth of it because no gas was available. And this wasn’t the first time: the February 2011 Southwest cold snap knocked out power to 4.4 million customers in three states, and in the ERCOT power pool roughly contigu¬ous with Texas, 210 of 550 electric generating units couldn’t start, couldn’t keep running, or ran at reduced capacity.

    Natural gas is flammable and explosive, so serious mishaps can occur. The 2000 New Mex¬i¬¬co pipeline explosion exacerbated California’s electricity crisis. The 2010 San Bruno explosion and 2015 Aliso Canyon gas storage disaster revealed serious mainten-ance deficiencies, and their consequen¬ces strained California’s gas and electricity supplies. The gas and elec¬tric¬ity industries are also mutually interdependent in both supply and demand, so power-grid dis¬rup¬tions could ultimately compromise gas supplies. NERC concluded that “similar to other energy-limited resources (e.g., wind, hydro), resource adequacy assessments should also consider the fuel and capacity constraints of gas-fired generation.” NERC’s similar concerns about coal delivera¬bility mean that both gas and coal—whose plants had respectively 55% and 26% of generator forced outages in the 2014 polar vortex—need the same sort of reliability thinking as renewables whose output can vary on a shorter timescale.

    Cracking the code

    Applying to neither renewable nor gas-fired generators, “fuel on hand” is a convenient new codename for coal-fired and nuclear power plants, which respectively generated 30% and 20% of U.S. electricity in 2016. Their advocates sometimes call them “24/7/365” plants, but there is no such thing, because every kind of electricity generator can and does break down occasionally. The average U.S. coal-fired station suffers such a “forced outage” about 6–10% of the time, and for one or another reason is unavailable for about 15% of its theoretical output. The average nuclear plant has a forced outage ~1–2% of the time, plus ~6–7% scheduled downtime for refueling and planned maintenance; a modern and well-maintained combined-cycle gas-fired plant, about 5% of the time; an older condensing gas-fired plant, more.

    Such technical failures are far rarer for wind and solar photovoltaic (PV) power. PVs have few moving parts—just tracker motors and inverter fans—and are easily maintained at ground level and at night, so their forced outage rate is close to zero. Modern wind tur¬bines’ forced outage rate is 2% or less—1.8% for nearly 23,000 performance-guaran¬teed Vestas turbines in 2016, 1.1% in a Sandia database. So these dominant renewables are 98–99% technically available, but varying wind and sun held the aver¬age U.S. 2016 capacity factor to 34.7% for windpower (net of several percentage points’ curtailment) and 27.2% for PVs. For comparison, coal was 52.7% and combined-cycle gas 56.0%; renewables are gradually displacing both, while gas is displacing costlier coal.

    Does “fuel on hand,” stored onsite in substantial amounts, make fueled power stations somehow more resilient and valuable than other generators? It’s a good question with more claims than analysis, but historical experience may suggest useful insights.

    Coal

    Two-fifths of U.S. coal use comes from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin (PRB), nearly all via the 103-mile Joint Line rail corridor—the upper left part of the heavy blue line coming out of Wyoming in the map below. In May 2005, heavy rain and snow destabil-ized that line; two coal trains derailed on consecutive days. Damage to the triple rail line disrupted and reduced shipments for most of the rest of the year, so coal’s spot price more than doubled in five months. The National Academies concluded, “The rail net¬works that transport the nation’s coal—like air traffic control and electric trans-mission networks—have an inherent fragility and instability common to complex networks. Because con¬cerns about sabotage and terrorism were largely ignored until recently, existing networks were created with potential choke points [like some rail bridges over major rivers]…that cause vulnerabili¬ty…[and] the potential for small-scale issues to become large-scale disruptions.” In 2006, the Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration said: “Hardly a month goes by that delivery of PRB coal somewhere in the supply chain is not interrupted by a derailment, freezing, flooding, or other natural occurrence.” Climate change is likely to increase heat that buckles rails, floods and storms that undermine tracks, and extreme weather that spikes electric demand. Meanwhile, utilities, having cut coal inventories threefold during 1980–2000 to save cost, keep trying to squeeze out more cost, exacerbating risk.

    The extreme concentration of rail lines hauling coal from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin is the largest of a series of potential chokepoints.

    Once coal is delivered, it may not be usable. In February 2011, 50 fossil-fueled power plants in Texas, totaling 7 GW, shut down because of burst pipes, frozen coal piles, and other cold-weather problems they weren’t prepared for. (Some plants were already down for ill-timed routine maintenance.) Many Texas utilities had long promoted electric heat, so they ran short of capacity and called record-length rolling black¬outs, which among other things curtailed natural-gas shipments to New Mexico and southern California. (Some commentators blamed windpower, which in fact provided its scheduled 3–4 GW and helped support the overstressed grid, as they did again at the 2016 summer peak.) In nor¬mally cold areas like Pennsyl¬vania and Wisconsin, cold snaps have in various years frozen coal piles, stuck oil barges on frozen rivers, and kept power plants from starting.

    As weather becomes more volatile, one cannot exclude a repetition of the extra¬or¬dinary winter of 1917/18, which paralyzed most of the eastern states’ interlocking infrastructure: at one point Baltimore Harbor had three solid feet of ice (p. 202).

    Nuclear

    Nuclear construction has what drillers call a high “dry-hole risk”—investing money but getting no energy back. Of the 253 U.S. power reactors ordered during 1953–2008, 48% were cancelled or abandoned as uneconomic, 11% were perma¬nently shut down because of intractable reliability or cost issues (or in one case a melt¬down), and a further 14% had suffered at least one forced outage of a year or more. When the remaining 68 units (27% of original orders) work well despite their average age of about 37 years, their output is indeed commendably steady and dependable; when they don’t, red ink gushes. Thanks to impressive industry efforts to improve operations, the average U.S. power reactor in 2015 put out 92% of its theoretical full-time full-power output (or, say critics, nearer 84% if deeply troubled plants undergoing major repairs or preparing to shut down were counted too). But nuclear power has five largely or wholly unique reliability issues.

    First, routine refueling, usually coordinated with scheduled major maintenance, shuts down the average U.S. nuclear plant for 35 days, typically every ~18–24 months. Once begun, this process must be completed, guessing wrong when scheduling refueling for a period when operator expect low loads can put supply adequacy at risk.

    Second, in both Europe and the United States, prolonged heat waves have shut down or derated multiple nuclear plants simultaneously when sources of cooling water got too hot.

    Third, a major accident, terrorist attack, or perhaps credible threat at any nuclear plant could cause most or all others in the same country or even in the world to be shut down.

    All 17 of Tokyo Electric Power Compa¬ny’s (TEPCO’s) nuclear units were shut down for checks for many months in 2002–04, and some units for several years, after falsified safety data came to light. In 2007, the world’s largest reactor complex, with seven TEPCO units supplying 6–7% of Japan’s power, was completely shut down for 21 months by damage from an earthquake stronger than its supposedly impossible design basis. Seven units at Kashiwa¬zaki-Kariwa pro¬duced zero power through 2008, five through 2009. Five units restarted in 2009–11, then all shut down again. Restart of four units is now proposed for 2019–21 but opposed by the governor, who has veto power.

    The lost output was replaced by re¬com¬mis¬sioned and hastily finished oil-, gas-, and coal-fired plants; side-effects rippled through Japanese electric bills and world fuel markets.

    TEPCO ran in the red until 2009. Its extra cost in FY2007 alone was about $5.6 billion.

    Repairs were reported in April 2009 to have cost $1.6 billion, so the episode’s cost may ultimately total north of $20 billion, straining even the world’s #4 utility. But meanwhile TEPCO went bankrupt in all but name, crushed by the more than $200 billion cost of the 2011 Fukushima disaster. Political reactions and stricter regulation then shut down all Japan’s nuclear plants. About 34 GW have remained shut for an average of 5.5 years and counting, with only a handful restarted and many if not most likely to be abandoned. Fortunately, of Japan’s total nuclear output lost after Fukushima, 70% (or 64% if not adjusted for GDP growth) were replaced by efficiency, renewables, and other distributed resources in the five years through March 2016. By the time many more reactors could restart, their market may have been snuffed out by more-agile competitors.

    Fourth, nuclear outages tend to be prolonged, and problems costly and complex to repair, due to radiation exposure and special materials, procedures, training, and inspection requirements. These factors become more important as plants age. The U.S. has among the world’s oldest nuclear fleets, with 37 units over 40 years old. Also relevant is the challenge of safely storing spent nuclear fuel. With no repository for reliable storage over geologic periods, it’s accumu¬lat¬ing at reactor sites, generally in storage pools with serious vulnerabilities. Events at Fukushima reemphasized that at multi-reactor sites (which operators prefer because shared infrastructure and support activities save money), a serious release of radioactivity from one reactor or from damaged fuel storage can prevent operators from keeping other reactors safe.

    Fifth, unlike refueling outages scheduled one unit at a time, many reactors can fail simul¬taneously and without warning in regional blackouts, which necessarily and instantly shut down nuclear plants for safety. But in a often-overlooked attribute unique to nuclear technology, their physics then makes restart slow and delicate: certain neutron-absorbing fission products must decay before surplus neutrons suffice for restart and stable opera¬tion. That’s why, after the August 2003 Northeast blackout, the nine affected U.S. reac¬tors could regain less than 3% of their power over the first three days and 41% in the first week, and took two weeks to restore fully (see graph)— hardly a reliable resource. Cana¬da’s restart was even rougher, with Toronto teetering for days on the brink of complete grid failure despite desperate appeals to turn everything off. This character¬is¬tic of nuclear plants makes them “anti-peakers”—guaranteed unavailable when they’re most needed.

    Power ascent of nine U.S. light-water reactors after emergency shutdown in the 2003 Northeast blackout.

    New or even many existing nuclear plants’ inability to avoid carbon emissions cost-effectively makes its troubling reliability attributes seem less worth incurring.

    Windpower

    Windpower is generally designed for severe weather conditions, and shuts down only if the wind becomes dangerously strong. When the February 2011 cold snap closed dozens of Texas fossil-fueled plants, wind¬pow¬er reliably generated about 3.5 GW during the morning peak. In the 2014 polar vortex, windpower’s consistent output helped save Great Lakes and mid-Atlantic consumers more than $1 billion in two days. In the cold 2013/2014 winter surrounding that polar vortex, wind power provided substantial support to the grid, particularly in Texas, Nebraska, the mid-Atlantic/Midwest, New England, and California. And when New York’s Indian Point 3 nuclear plant failed in December 2015, the state’s wind turbines, augmented by two gas plants, offset that loss.

    In South Australia, wind power, blamed by the anti-renewables Prime Minister for causing a statewide blackout on 28 September 2016, has probably made the grid more robust. The past half-century’s worst storm overwhelmed the grid’s redundancy when violent winds, including seven tornados and 80,000 lightning strikes, felled 23 transmission towers and three of the four interconnec¬tors while disabling several gas plants. Wind was producing nearly half the state’s power. When the powerlines failed, gas-fired generation couldn’t have made up the instantaneous loss in windpower, but the blackout could have been averted by another 445 MW of wind—if different software settings to ride through voltage fluctuations had been in place and known to the grid operator, and if sufficient transmission had survived. (Three windfarms kept pro¬ducing despite the rare pattern of grid faults that stopped six others.) Of course, the failed lines not only cut off all generators in¬cluding windpower, but would also have cut off a recently closed coal plant had it still been operating, shocking the grid more severely. The state’s blackouts and shortages persisted through the summer despite reliable windpower production using less sensitive settings. A 9 Feb 2017 blackout was caused by gas generators’ failing or not being called upon. More problems still loom due to a gas supply shortage. Producers oversold gas exports, stranding domestic needs including power plants and causing the Prime Minister, to the industry’s dismay, to gain new powers to curtail exports. Such fuel-adequacy issues are no problem with windpower.

    Photovoltaics

    America’s Armed Services lead the federal government in applying renewable power, especially for effective military operations (pp. 43–49) in forward deployments, where fuel delivery bears a high cost (pp. 33–42) in blood and treasure. Less widely known is that the Services are each installing a billion watts of PV power on or near U.S. military bases, with more to come, to ensure mission continuity even if grid power and fuel logistics fail. PVs also save taxpayer money and stabilize volatile energy prices (which generally make new U.S. gas-fired power plants costlier than renewables).

    A major trend in PV deployment, often integrated with other renewable and distributed generators, is to integrate smart load controls with local supplies in “microgrids” that normally interconnect with the surrounding grid but can also isolate (“island”) and stand alone at need. This grid architecture, coupled with efficient use, is the strongest known tool for resilient power supply. In 2009, when a wildfire cut a major power line supplying San Diego, in less than a half-hour the University of California campus’s islandable microgrid, meeting 92% of the campus’s annual electricity needs at $8 million lower annual cost, switched from importing 3 MW to exporting 2 MW of power from its onsite sources, including PVs.

    So should we pay more for coal and nuclear power because it has “fuel on hand”?

    This evidence about various generators’ reliability suggests six lessons:

    Without exception, all sources of electricity sometimes fail. Their failures differ widely in cause, size, abruptness, predictability, frequency, duration, and importance. Big, lumpy failures are more awkward than small, granular ones.

    Coal- and gas-fired plants’ often-farflung fuel logistics are particularly vulnerable to disruption by weather (worsening with climate change), accident, or malice. Gas and electricity supplies are also interdependent.

    Coal and nuclear power plants, the two kinds that keep “fuel on hand,” are particularly prone to “common-mode failures” that can stop their output over large areas for substantial periods.

    Though nuclear plants require only infrequent delivery of fresh fuel, and accounted for only 3% of the forced outages in the polar vortex, they can suffer relatively infrequent but unusually long outages, can be shut down at a national scale (or more) after certain uncontrollable events, and can be slow and hard to restart after a sudden and widespread blackout, so they too have reliability shortcomings.

    Renewable power has less frequent and briefer technological failures than fueled generation, but windpower and PVs do vary (albeit very predictably) with wind and sun.

    (Other renewables, delivering half the 2016 global output of all renew¬ables other than big hydropower, are “dispatchable”—you can have them when¬ever you want.) Especially when integrated into microgrids, renewables are more resilient than generators that need fuel—even windpower and PVs if their fore¬castable variability is properly managed. That need is analogous to but probably cheaper than managing the intermittence of large thermal plants through reserve margin and spinning reserve. Making largely or wholly renewable power supply highly reliable typically needs little or no bulk electricity storage, but combines proven techniques for forecasting, diversification, integration, demand flexibility, thermal storage, and electricity storage worth buying anyway (such as in parked electric vehicles).

    All these comparisons between generators overlook a very important factor. Whether it comes from a renewable or a nonrenewable power plant, the average electron moves several hundred miles through the transmission and distribution grids before it reaches your meter. But no faraway power plant can serve you if that grid fails. Grid failures, not generator shortfalls, cause roughly 98–99% of U.S. power failures. So if you want the most reliable supply, use a nearby generator, like PVs on your roof, to bypass the grid altogether. If you can’t do that, at least consider a local micro¬grid to minimize the distance your electricity must travel. If you really want reliable and resilient (Ch. 13) power, no kind of remote central power station is a suitable choice.

    Whatever the virtues of fueled central power stations, “fuel on hand” is not one of them. The commendable impulse to diversify power sources does not require substituting one particularly brittle and costly source for another, any more than diversifying a financial portfolio will perform better if you unwisely choose costly and risky invest¬ments. To manage both cost and risk, reliability and resilience, a diverse portfolio of efficiency, load flexibility, and renewables is sufficient, smart, and winning in the marketplace—while also advancing free markets, national security, and Creation care.

    Both conservatives and progressives who share Secretary Perry’s goals of “reliability, resiliency, affordability, and fuel assurance”—where fuel is needed at all, and not other-wise—will find this a winning formula. Its prudent management of other risks is a free byproduct.

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    QUICK NEWS, July 24: It’s A Plastic World; How This President Rewards Scientists Who Speak Truth To Power; Intro To Community Choice Electricity

    It’s A Plastic World The world has made more than 9 billion tons of plastic, says new study

    Robert Ferris, 19 July 2017 (CNBC)

    “More than 9 billion tons of plastic have been made since the 1950s, and the vast majority of it has been thrown in the trash…[A]lthough plastic materials such as Bakelite were in use in the early 20th century, the material's popularity began to rapidly rise after World War II, making it one of the most commonly used man-made materials…[T]he amount of plastic in use now is 30 percent of all the plastic ever produced…While that has brought its benefits, such as lower-cost materials or capabilities like water resistance, our love of plastic has also produced [about 7 billion tons of trash…And as of 2015, only 9 percent of the plastic waste produced ended up recycled, and another 12 percent was incinerated, [according to Production, use, and fate of all plastics ever made…” click here for more

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    How This President Rewards Scientists Who Speak Truth To Power Climate Scientist Says He Was Demoted For Speaking Out On Climate Change

    Nathan Rott, July 19, 2017 (National Public Radio)

    “A former head policy adviser at the Interior Department is accusing the Trump Administration of reassigning him to a lesser position for speaking out about the dangers of climate change…Joel Clement, a scientist who was director of the Interior Department's Office of Policy Analysis for much of the Obama Administration, was recently reassigned…[and believes it was retaliation for speaking publicly about climate change dangers to Alaska Native communities.] He authorized a report to Obama in 2013 that warned the Arctic is warming faster than any other region on Earth and that the implications of the change would include ‘rapid coastal erosion threatening villages and facilities, loss of wildlife habitat, ecosystem instability... and unpredictable impacts on subsistence activities and critical social needs’…[Clement argued in a NY Times] op-ed that in the months preceding his reassignment, he had raised the issue with White House officials, senior Interior officials and the international community…” click here for more

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    Intro To Community Choice Electricity 7 Things To Understand About Community Choice In San Diego

    Claire Trageser, July 21, 2017 (KPBS San Diego Public Radio)

    “…[An alternative energy program that would bypass San Diego Gas & Electric is possible and cost-effective, according to the draft City of San Diego Feasibility Study For A Community Choice Aggregate but the program, called community choice aggregation, requires some understanding. Community choice would take the purchasing power away from SDG&E and give it to the city to] decide what energy sources to buy…[The study looked at] 98 percent of community choice customers use 50 percent renewable energy…[Community choice will be cheaper than SDG&E by 2023 if] 2 percent of customers use 100 percent renewable energy and all community choice customers use 50 percent renewable energy…[Community choice will be cheaper than SDG&E by 2027 if all] community choice customers use 80 percent renewable energy…All community choice customers use 100 percent renewable energy…98 percent of community choice customers use 80 percent renewable energy; 2 percent of customers use 100 percent renewable energy…There is other terminology that is important to understand…” click here for more

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    Saturday, July 22, 2017

    How To Know It’s Getting Hotter

    Measurements are getting more refined, more accurate, and more ominous. From Carbon Brief via YouTube

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    Sea Level Rise To Follow Soon

    It is all unfolding just as climate scientists said it would. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

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    Buildings That Can Benefit The Climate

    Net zero energy buildings are the ultimate in efficiency. From the U.S. Department of Energy via YouTube

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