Round 3 of Minnesota’s stakeholder process on the value of solar power (10/15/13) focused on the remaining unresolved tensions between stakeholders, and it started with a reminder of the charge, with quotes from the enabling law. A utility may apply to the Public Utilities Commission for a value of solar tariff that compensates customers through… Continue reading
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Two weeks ago, I listened – incredulously – to Minnesota’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, suggest that solar energy offers its ratepayers no value as an environmental hedge against carbon emissions or as a price hedge against natural gas fuel price fluctuations. But just three days later, Xcel was singing a different tune [docket pdf] to… Continue reading
A terrific video explains why utility investments in “baseload” coal and nuclear power plants are acting against increasing renewable energy. Credit to EnergyShouldBe, a website created by one of the technical analysts helping Boulder, CO, pursue a more local, renewable energy system. My one caveat is that flexibility of a utility system varies by utility. … Continue reading
Minneapolis MN (July 25, 2013) – In a groundbreaking agreement announced yesterday, the gas utility serving Minneapolis – CenterPoint Energy – will work with the city of Minneapolis to achieve a 30% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2025. The agreement, negotiated with the grassroots campaign Minneapolis Energy Options, secures the support of the gas… Continue reading
It’s parochial, since I’m a Minnesota resident, but I just can’t stand that our state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, is planning to use ratepayer money to buy three new natural gas fired peaking plants instead of a) installing solar power or b) supporting the proposed solar energy standard. Share the graphic below if you agree:… Continue reading
Click here for a more detailed article. ILSR Senior Researcher John Farrell presents to a big crowd at “Green Ideas and Ham,” a breakfast policy forum in Minneapolis, about the opportunity for the city to dramatically increase its control over its energy future. In a short time, the city’s monopoly energy contracts with its electric… Continue reading
Update August 7, 2012: I’d like to this this qualifies as Friedman’s response to this column. In Thomas Friedman’s latest column, he praises Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts because he “took one for the country.” Friedman sees that “America today is poised for a great renewal” if only it can get some “big, centrist,… Continue reading
Energy and Environment News has a very long story on a new angle for the federal wind tax credit debate: a phaseout. This article raises several issues, apart from that policy strategy, that are worth a quick discussion. 1. Why Would Wind Compete with Natural Gas? The article waxes long about the trials of the… Continue reading
This story on Sunday suggests that utilities are pulling back from investments in renewable energy over concerns about the cost.
“The ratepayers of Virginia must be protected from costs for renewable energy that are unreasonably high,” the regulators said. Wind power would have increased the monthly bill of a typical residential customer by 0.2 percent.
Based on what price forecast? The following chart illustrates the complexity of relying on fossil fuel prices when making decisions about renewable energy. Note that wind and solar prices are relatively stable (i.e. zero).
The chart does a good job of showing the futility of predicting natural gas prices, but the timeline smooths out coal price changes, particularly by region. Here’s a closer look at coal prices since 2007, courtesy of the federal EIA:
Utilities that are making shortsighted decisions about renewables based on current fossil fuel price trajectories are going to get burned, and so are their ratepayers.
The financial bailout bill passed by Congress may have once and for all put an end to T. Boone Pickens’ energy plan. Let me explain.
Until the financial meltdown obliterated all other news coverage, T. Boone and his energy plan were everywhere. His book, The First Billion Is the Hardest, is number two on the bestseller list. During the Republican and Democrat Conventions his press conferences were attended by a fawning media, virtually all of who filed stories with the theme "oil man turns wind energy advocate."