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Energy storage: A market that was always years away is arriving

Journal Sentinel | Posted on May 11, 2016

Combining solar panels with batteries to keep electricity flowing when the sun isn't shining has long been the target for companies dabbling in the emerging technologies of the power grid.

This year is seeing more development in that space than ever before, thanks to falling battery and solar prices, the marketing prowess of super-entrepreneur Elon Musk, and national and international clean-energy and climate-change policies.


Carbon dioxide emissions from US energy sector fall 12% since 2005

The Guardian | Posted on May 10, 2016

Carbon dioxide emissions from the US’s energy sector fell in 2015 and now stand at 12% below 2005 levels, a drop mainly driven by the continuing collapse of the coal industry.

State regulators reopen case on San Onofre nuclear plant

Los Angeles Times | Posted on May 10, 2016

The California Public Utilities Commission said it is reevaluating the settlement agreement that left ratepayers on the hook for $3.3 billion of the cost of closing the plant. The commission is giving parties involved in the case the opportunity to comment on whether the agreement was reasonable given that representatives of the plant's primary owner, Southern California Edison, engaged in secret talks with regulators over the closed nuclear plant.

Economist explains bleak economic realities of oil crash

eenews | Posted on May 10, 2016

As a result of Alaska's full-blown dependence on oil money, the state now faces a grim $4.1 billion budget deficit. Knapp's message is simple, but sobering: "The era when we can rely on oil to pay for most of state government is basically coming to an end."

According to Knapp, the state faces four basic options for reducing the state budget deficit. "We have a problem that can really only be solved by pulling a lot of economic levers," he said. "And the essential issue we face is: How hard do we pull each one?"

First, the Alaska Legislature needs to cut the state's $5.2 billion budget, although which programs should be reduced and how large those cuts should be remains a hotly debated issue. Second, Alaska residents and businesses will have to kick in more money for state programs. This year, the state expects to receive about $1 billion in oil money and $500 million in non-oil revenues. Alaska is currently the only state in the union that doesn't charge a state income or sales tax.

Without energy, West Virginia's economy is flat, and that's a problem

West Virginia Public Broadcasting | Posted on May 10, 2016

It's possible West Virginia's coal mines might never come back. It's something both presumptive presidential nominees have been reckoning with as they campaign in the state ahead of Tuesday's primary.

But a relatively small number of West Virginians are actually in the coal business — energy is more than 17 percent of gross domestic product, or GDP, but just 4 or 5 percent of employment — so what about the rest of the economy?

In six counties, between a fourth and a third of people have lost jobs in the past few years. Plus, the decline in natural gas has been a double-whammy. And unlike Wyoming and North Dakota, most of those workers stay in West Virginia, driving up the unemployment rate, or they drop out of the workforce entirely. West Virginia already has the lowest workforce participation rate in the nation, and it leads in disability payments. And those aren't the only factors holding back employment: West Virginian workers also trail the nation in education and overall health.

Bill introduced in Ohio Senate would extend freeze on renewable-energy standards | Posted on May 10, 2016

Ohio Sen. Bill Seitz, a Republican from Cincinnati, introduced a bill on Monday that would extend a freeze on the state's renewable energy standards for another three years.

After lifting the freeze in 2019, Senate Bill 320 would phase in renewable energy goals in three-year increments through 2028. Utilities would be required to obtain 5.5 percent of their energy from renewable sources in 2022, 8.5 percent in 2025 and 11.5 percent in 2028. Starting in 2029, the goal would be 12.5 percent.

PJM Study Defends Markets, Warns State Policies can Harm Competition

RTO Insider | Posted on May 10, 2016

A PJM Energy Market analysis released concludes that the RTO’s markets are efficiently managing the entry and exit of capacity resources but warns their efforts could be hamstrung by policies to protect social, economic or political interests.“Policymakers must weigh these trade-offs, but understand that pursuing individual actions that ‘defeat’ efficient market outcomes will aggregate to a point they will altogether thwart effective operation of the market to the point it can no longer be relied upon to govern resource exit and entry and attract capital investment when needed,” it said.
The report was commissioned by the Board of Managers last summer, following efforts by money-losing coal-fired generators in Ohio and nuclear generators in Illinois to win state-backed subsidies.

The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio is grappling with how to respond to a recent FERC order requiring federal review of power purchase agreements it granted to American Electric Power and FirstEnergy.

Meanwhile, Exelon CEO Christopher Crane said in an earnings call on Friday that if Illinois legislators don’t step in and provide aid, it will decommission its money-losing Clinton and Quad Cities nuclear plants beginning next year. 

Atlantic Sunrise pipeline gets a green light from FERC and a lawsuit from enviros

State Impact - Pennsylvania | Posted on May 9, 2016

The Atlantic Sunrise Pipeline project won preliminary approval from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday, paving the way for the $3 billion expansion of the Transco system to move forward as environmentalists simultaneously filed a federal lawsuit objecting to the pipeline. FERC released its draft environmental impact statement, concluding the environmental impact would not be significant.

The project includes construction of 197.7 miles of new pipeline, most of which would be in Pennsylvania, and designed to move Marcellus Shale gas from Northeast Pennsylvania as far south as Alabama. The new lines would cross through ten Pennsylvania counties.

A Top Utility Regulator Talks About How to Prepare California for 50% Renewable Energy

Green Tech Media | Posted on May 9, 2016

As California looks to get half its electricity from renewables by 2030, energy regulators in the state have never been busier.

Among the many pressing issues facing the California Public Utilities Commission this year: how to share data between utilities and distributed energy providers; how to allow utilities to rate-base distributed energy assets like storage, rooftop solar and electric-vehicle chargers; how to design new dynamic rates to shift demand and avoid cost-shifting; and whether to allow third parties to deploy infrastructure as a service model in place of traditional generation, transmission and distribution build-out.

Renewables Swamp Natural Gas in First Quarter 2016

Renewable Energy World | Posted on May 9, 2016

Setting a new lopsided quarterly record, renewable sources outpaced — in fact, swamped — natural gas by a factor of more than 70:1 for new electrical generating capacity placed in-service during the first three months of calendar year 2016. According to the latest just-released monthly "Energy Infrastructure Update" report from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's (FERC) Office of Energy Projects, nine new "units" of wind provided 707 MW, followed by 44 units of solar (522 MW), 9 units of biomass (33 MW), and one unit of hydropower (29 MW). By comparison, only two new units of natural gas (18 MW) came on line.