By Jim Kennerly
Technological innovation and declining costs in solar PV have created irreversible momentum. A timely, clear-eyed national conversation concerning how electricity providers and consumers alike may thrive in such an environment is essential.
Introduction: The state of play
fter experiencing significant cost declines over the past decade, 64% of the cost of rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) is now associated not with the cost of the physical system hardware, but with non-hardware “soft” costs. Thus, high soft costs constitute the major remaining cluster of barriers to cost-effective rooftop solar PV.
As PV has experienced dramatic cost declines, however, electric utilities have concurrently experienced persistent cost pressure due to a sluggish economy, offshoring of manufacturing, new investments in their energy delivery infrastructure, the increasing commodity cost of coal and, to an increasing degree, customer-initiated actions to save energy and money. Some industry observers have correctly noted that these factors, if they persist and spread, could undermine the basic structure and incentives built into the regulated utility business model. This is especially true if a large amount of utility fixed costs are recovered through variable “energy” rates.
By Cynthia Mitchell
Our energy efficiency programs are not adequate to meet grid-scale and local distribution service challenges. This requires a new urgency to find more robust approaches to financing and scaling efficiency — not just in California, but across the country.
powerful verse from the Book of Ecclesiastes was turned into a moving song by Pete Seeger and popularized by The Byrds as “Turn! Turn! Turn! (To Everything There Is a Season). It seems an appropriate anthem for the utility industry today. The electric power industry in California is at a crucial season of change: meeting state and federal environmental initiatives; planning and implementing diverse resources to continue meeting the energy needs of its people and its economy, cleanly and at lowest cost; and answering novel operational challenges previously unseen in the industry.
By Bentham Paulos
A power system with large amounts of wind and solar power requires flexibility to maintain reliability. While the flexibility toolbox is well known to grid operators, policies and financial incentives to apply them to integrating renewables are sometimes lacking.
he world is heading into the next phase of a global Energiewende, the transition from fossil energy to a highly-efficient, renewable, and low carbon future. As renewable energy technologies become more mature and cost-competitive, policies to promote their use need to adapt.
By Greg Wikler, Stuart Schare, and Brett Feldman
Whatever the outcome of litigation to redress the effects of the D.C. Circuit panel’s decision voiding FERC Order 745, the economic and operational benefits of demand response are so great that many opportunities remain for this largely untapped resource.
hile the jury is still out on whether the recent D.C. Circuit panel’s decision to overturn FERC Order 745 will withstand an appeals process, many commentators have questioned whether the decision spells the end of demand response (DR) as we know it. This paper provides a number of reasons for those in the DR industry to be hopeful.
By Ann McCabe
Illinois residents are becoming accustomed to seeking the best deal for electricity service from an alternate supplier. Beginning in 2011, the ability of cities and towns to contract electric service for their residents through muni aggregation has led to two-thirds of residential customers being served by alternate suppliers.
uring the last three years, residential electric switching increased dramatically in Illinois. By the end of May 2014, more than 3 million residential customers received their electricity from a non-utility provider. These customers represent about two-thirds of all residential customers; the actual population that switched is significantly greater than the number of meters given the average household size in Illinois. Illinois has a population of 12.8 million.