Building wholesale [distributed] generation projects instead of large-scale renewable energy farms in remote areas helps consumers by avoiding unnecessary costs. If energy is generated close to where it is used, the utilities do not need to build more long-distance transmission lines, and less energy is lost traveling over those lines. Consumers also pay less in “transmission access charges,” fees for converting energy from the transmission grid to the local distribution grid. Continue reading
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The ubiquitous nature of renewable energy argues for a decentralist energy approach. Continue reading
Let’s say I built a 100 megawatt photovoltaic power plant in Blythe, in a hot desert. The same 100 megawatts in 1,000 commercial rooftops in San Diego … you would pay a bit more. However if you’re building that array out in the desert, you need to transmit it in. You need transmission to do that.
One of my main arguments against doing it in the desert is that the utilities, like SDGE make their best rate of return on new transmission lines, like the Sunrise Powerlink that’s been so controversial here. So a utility is almost reflexively saying we must put it out remotely in order to get the most cost-effective power. But if you add the cost of putting in that transmission line you’ve completely negated the economic benefit.
And, addressing another point, yes, the solar intensity in Blythe is 10 to 15 percent better than it would be on average in coastal San Diego, but the amount of losses that transmission line will incur — especially on a hot summer day when you’re trying to deal with your peak loads — is also in the 10 to 15 percent range. Continue reading
In mid October, Leon County, FL, joined Babylon, NY, Palm Desert, CA, and Sonoma County, CA, as well as the California Attorney General, Sierra Club, and Natural Resources Defense Council in suing the Federal Housing Finance Agency over their opposition to the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) municipal energy financing program. These lawsuits were complemented… Continue reading
PACE provides one of the most promising municipal energy financing tools and it’s been adopted by 22 states. But resistance from Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac has put the brakes on new programs. This presentation explores the rationale, the process, and the promise of PACE. Continue reading
Distributed generation (DG) puts energy production close to where it is consumed, often on people’s homes or in their backyards. But just having a rooftop solar module doesn’t mean that every kilowatt-hour produced from sunlight is used in the home. In fact, it’s often less than one-third, with the remaining energy production flowing out into… Continue reading
Residential solar PV in Los Angeles is getting a huge boost from a new community solar buying group. With typical residential installation costs for crystalline solar PV, residents would see a 20-year payback on a solar PV installation or a minimal 2% IRR on a 25-year investment (without factoring an inverter replacement). But what about… Continue reading
Chattanooga’s publicly owned fiber broadband network, EPBFi, is now offering the fastest broadband connections available anywhere in the US. Chattanooga operates the nations largest muni broadband network, with incredibly fast speeds at affordable rates.
The network operates in many nearby rural communities as well, ensuring that no one is left behind. Read the full coverage at MuniNetworks.org.
Decentralized renewable energy doesn’t top the climate and energy agenda in Europe or the United States, but for very different reasons. In Europe, there has already been substantial development of decentralized renewable energy, and policy makers have moved on to discussions of 100% renewable energy. In the United States, by contrast, well-heeled interest groups tend to dominate renewable energy discourse, and American energy policy reflects their paradigm of centralized generation dependent on high-voltage transmission lines.