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APS Deploys 4MW of Energy Storage in Next Phase of Distributed Solar Study

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Arizona Public Service is advancing a study on how to manage rooftop solar production in congested areas of the electrical grid with the deployment of two 2-megawatt batteries from AES Energy Storage.

The batteries are being installed as part of the Solar Partner Program (SPP), a pilot project currently made up of 1,600 utility-owned home solar projects coupled with smart inverters. Arizona Public Service (APS) has spent the past year signing up solar customers, deploying technology and testing the ability to manage distributed energy resources from a single central utility control system.

With the systems now up and running, APS is testing various smart inverter functions to evaluate how distributed solar can be integrated at high levels without compromising grid reliability. Initial findings show that solar projects can provide some level of capacity relief.

In this next phase of the pilot, APS will conduct similar studies with AES’ Advancion energy storage units. Once construction is complete, the utility will test how the batteries charge and discharge, and how they can be used to manage peak demand. APS will also examine features like voltage regulation and power quality improvement, as well as how well the batteries provide spinning reserves.

The two lithium-ion batteries will be installed in different locations on separate feeders — one in a substation at the head of the feeder and one in the middle of the feeder — in order to collect data on how each battery’s location affects its capabilities. APS will test how well the batteries interact with traditional devices like capacitor banks and tap changers. The utility will also test how battery functions compare to smart inverter capabilities, and evaluate how each technology is adding to overall feeder reliability.

“Looking across the industry, we’ve seen a lot of [entities] installing storage for capacity reasons,” said Scott Bordenkircher, APS’ director of technology innovation. “What we’re not seeing — and I think we’re the first in doing — is a test this comprehensive.”

“The interesting thing for us is the opportunity to look at interoperability and how various technologies interact together, and compare and contrast what battery systems can do in areas of high solar production,” he added.

What value can you prove?

The SPP deployment is the first Arizona-based project for AES, which has been building grid-scale energy storage systems since 2008. The Advancion platform launched in 2014, and was opened up to third-party ownership last year. The APS project is one of the first utility-owned Advancion battery storage arrays to date.

“AES has been keenly focused on making the business case for energy storage applications and the project we’ve built,” said Kate McGinnis, Western U.S. market director at AES Energy Storage. “As we move to third-party sales, it’s extremely important that we find those business cases with our customers.”

Like many others in the electricity industry, APS is interested in quantifying the multiple value streams that energy storage can provide. The SPP battery project is all about “what value we’re able to prove, because that answer will determine the appropriate expenditure and placement for batteries in the future,” said Bordenkircher.

“Also, this informs the policy perspective on energy storage,” he said. “We hear a lot about how storage is the golden coupling for renewables to smooth out production capability when the sun’s not shining at night. Logically, that makes sense. This study allows us to have empirical data, and I think that’s key for the industry moving forward.”

As the costs of energy storage have come down, new applications for the technology have opened up, said McGinnis. Because of Advancion’s modular design, it can be sized up or down to suit a variety of use cases, she said.

In West Virginia, for instance, AES developed a 32-megawatt/8-megawatt-hour storage project at the Laurel Mountain wind power plant that enables the project to provide frequency regulation services to the PJM market, adding more revenue and operating capability. Deploying energy storage on the distribution grid to support distributed energy resources is a new application for AES, and a new opportunity, said McGinnis.

“What we think is special about this application is the opportunity to work with APS on really taking a forward-looking view of where the future of their grid is and how to integrate increasing solar penetration,” she said.

Part of a larger plan

According to Marc Romito, director of customer technology at APS, the AES battery project is just one part of a broader investigation into how APS can improve resource management on the distribution grid. The aim of the SPP has been to deploy rooftop solar, smart inverters and large-scale energy storage, as well as to develop communications protocols and centralized utility control for all of those resources. Phase 2 involves developing interoperability between distributed energy resources at the residential scale — including rooftop solar, load controllers, HVAC systems and home energy storage — under a smaller pilot called the Solar Innovation Study.

The third phase, which APS filed for earlier this month, is a $4 million proposal to look at how residential-scale batteries, intermediate-scale batteries in the 100-kilowatt size range, and thermal energy storage can help reduce peak system load.

Once all three programs are deployed, “We can compare and contrast small batteries, intermediate batteries and large batteries, [plus] HVAC control and water interactive control, just to see which one works the best,” said Romito, in an interview at GTM’s Energy Storage Summit.

While a lot of attention is paid to chemical energy storage solutions, Romito said he’s most excited about the potential to curb peak demand and address the duck curve with hot water heaters.

“It’s something nobody talks about, and it’s one of the most cost-effective ways to manage load and not impact anybody,” he said. “You can give people bill savings, and all you have to do is shift the time when their water heaters turn on and off.”

“That allows you to fill the belly of the duck, because nobody really cares when their water heater is charging, just that it’s hot when they need it, and the answer is, yeah, it will be,” he added. “You can even solve some localized distribution level issues just by adding load, which is what that will do in the middle of the day.”

A quarter of the latest $4 million energy storage proposal is dedicated to grid-interactive water heating, said Romito. That proposal is now subject to regulatory review. Construction on the two AES batteries began in November, and they are expected to come on-line in early 2017.


Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - December 10, 2016 at 6:00 am

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Trump’s Team Wants a List of Everyone at the Energy Department Who Worked on Climate-Related Issues

After one month and a couple of shakeups, the Trump transition team is finally getting to work at the Department of Energy. And staff is already nervous.

This week, the Trump team sent around a list of 74 questions to leadership asking how different organizations within the $30 billion department operate.

GTM acquired the list of 65 questions. E&E News published an additional list that included government labs. Bloomberg initially broke the story on Thursday night, but did not publish the list outright.

Many of the questions are straightforward: “Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?” Onlookers have been asking that question for some time.

Some of them suggest skepticism about the cost of renewables: “EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain backup costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?”

And a few of them are vaguely authoritarian: “Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties in the last five years?”

(If that’s not clear: The transition team wants a list of everyone in the organization who attended global climate talks. It also wants a list naming anyone who worked on identifying the social cost of carbon.)

According to one long-time DOE staffer who requested anonymity, asking for that kind of employee and contractor list “is absolutely not normal.”

“Most people I have talked to just feel really uncomfortable with the line of questioning,” said the source. 

Others within DOE say the majority of other questions are normal and thoughtful — and may be a good opportunity for the department to argue for the success of loan guarantees, advanced manufacturing, and other programs specific to renewable energy. However, they also expressed concern about the request for staff names.

Speculation about the Trump team’s energy priorities has run rampant since the election. No one within the department knows what to expect, or how to read conflicting signals from the president-elect. Thomas Pyle, the new transition team leader, only arrived at DOE last week.

The leaked list of questions offers additional insight into how Trump’s administration might run DOE. They plan to scrutinize data collection at EIA, examine ARPA-E’s investments in emerging clean technologies, open the books on loan guarantees, place a much greater emphasis on nuclear power, and place less emphasis on climate priorities. They will also likely start cutting spending immediately. 

Below is the entire list of questions. Sources say that officials are working on a coordinated response across different organizations.
1. Can you provide a list of all boards, councils, commissions, working groups, and FACAs currently active at the Department? For each, can you please provide members, meeting schedules, and authority (statutory or otherwise) under which they were created?

2. Can you provide a complete list of ARPA-E’s projects?

3. What statutory authority has been given to the Department with respect to cybersecurity?

4. What is the Department’s role with respect to the development of offshore wind?

5. Can you offer more information about the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge?

6. EIA is an independent agency in DOE. How has EIA ensured its independence in your data and analysis over the past 8 years? In what instances do you think EIA’s independence was most challenged?

7. Part of EIA’s charter is to do analyses based on Congressional and Departmental requests. Has EIA denied or not responded to any of these requests over the last ten years?

8. EIA customarily has or had set dates for completions of studies and reports. In general, have those dates been adhered to?

9. In the Annual Energy Outlook 2016, EIA assumed that the Clean Power Plan should be in the reference case despite the fact that the reference case is based on existing laws and EIA regulations. Why did EIA make that assumption, which seems to be atypical of past forecasts?

10. EIA’s assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?

11. Has EIA done analysis that shows that additional back-up generation is not needed? How does EIA analysis compare with other analyses on this issue?

12. Renewable and solar technologies are expected to need additional transmission costs above what fossil technologies need. How has EIA represented this in the AEO forecasts? What is the EIA magnitude of those transmission costs?

13. There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?

14. Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?

15. How does EIA ensure quality in its data and analyses?

16. Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?

17. We note that EIA added distributed solar estimations to your electricity data reports. Those numbers are not part of your supply/demand balance on a Btu basis. Why has that not been EIA updated accordingly?

18. How many vacancies does EIA have in management and staff positions? What plans, if any, does EIA have to fill those positions before January 20?

19. Is the EIA budget sufficient to ensure quality in data and analyses? If not, where does it fall EIA short?

20. Does EIA have cost comparisons of sources of electricity generation at the national level?

21. What is the plan for funding cleanup of Portsmouth and Paducah when the current uranium inventory designated for barter in exchange for cleanup services, is no longer available (excluding reinstating the UED&D fee on commercial nuclear industry or utilizing the USEC fund)?

22. What is the right funding level for EM to make meaningful progress across the complex and meet milestone and regulatory requirements?

23. What is the greatest opportunity for reduction in life cycle cost/return on investment?

24. Describe your alternatives to the ever increasing WTP cost and schedule, whether technical or programmatic?

25. With respect to EM, what program milestones will be reached in each of the next four years?

26. Are there plans to add staff to EM? What are your staffing priorities?

27. Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any lnteragency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, EPSA emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?

28. Did DOE or any of its contractors run the integrated assessment models (IAMs)? Did DOE pick the discount rates to be used with the IAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper discount EPSA rates used with the IAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?

29. Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?

30. What is the statutory charge to the Department with respect to efficiency standards? Which products are subject to statutory requirements and which are discretionary to the Department?

31. Can you provide a list of all permitting authorities (and their authorizing statutes) currently held by DOE and their authorizing statutes?

32. Are there statutory restrictions related to reinvigorating the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management?

33. Are there any statutory restrictions to restarting the Yucca Mountain project?

34. Does the Department have any thoughts on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporting U.S. energy technology, including but not limited to commercial nuclear technology?

35. Can you provide a list of non-M&O procurements/awards that are currently pending and their status?

36. Does DOE have a plan to resume the Yucca Mountain license proceedings?

37. Which Assistant Secretary positions are rooted in statute and which exist at the discretion and delegation of the Secretary?

38. Can you provide a list of all Schedule C appointees, all non-career SES employees, and all Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation? Can you include their current position and how long they have served at the Department?

39. Is the number of Assistant Secretaries set by statute? Does the statute establish the number as a minimum or a maximum, or is it silent on the question?

40. Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?

41. Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office’s outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?

42. Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office’s outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?

43. Can you provide a full accounting of DOE liabilities associated with any loan or loan guarantee programs?

44. The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?

45. Is there an assessment of the funds it would take to replace aging infrastructure in the complex? Is there a priority list of which facilities to be decommissioned?

46. Can you provide a list of all current open job postings and the status of those positions?

47. Can you provide a list of outstanding M&O contracts yet to be awarded for all DOE facilities and their current status?

48. What secretarial determinations/records of decisions are pending?

49. What should the incoming Administration do to balance risk, performance and ultimately completion in contracting?

50. What should this Administration do differently to make sure there are the right incentives to attract qualified contractors?

51. Can you provide a list of reports to Congress or other external parties that are due in 2017?

52. How can the DOE support existing reactors to continue operating as part of the nation’s infrastructure?

53. What can DOE do to help prevent premature closure of plants?

54. How do you recommend continuing to supporting the licensing of Small Modular Reactors?

55. How best can DOE optimize its Advanced Reactor R&D activities to maximize their value proposition and work with investors to development and commercialize advanced reactors?

56. What is the Department’s role with respect to JCPOA? Which office has the lead for the Department?

57. Can you provide a copy of any Participation Agreement under Section 1221 of EPAct signed by the Department?

58. What is the goal of the grid modernization effort? Is there some terminal point to this effort? Is its genesis statutory or something else?

59. Who “owns” the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial efforts within the Department?

60. Does or can the Department delineate research activities as either basic or applied research?

61. Is there a readily available list of any technologies or products that have emerged from DOE programs or the labs that are currently offered in the market without any subsidy?

62. If DOE’s topline budget in accounts other than the 050 account were required to be reduced 10% over the next four fiscal years (from the FY17 request and starting in FY18), does the Department have any recommendations as to where those reductions should be made?

63. How many fusion programs, both public and private, are currently being funded worldwide?

64. What mechanisms exist to help the national laboratories commercialize their scientific and technological prowess?

65. Which activities does the Department describe as commercialization programs or programs with the specific purpose of developing a technology for market deployment?

66. What independent evaluation panels does the lab have to assess the scientific value of its work? Who sits on these panels? How often do they hold sessions? Do they publish reports?

67. Can you provide a list of cooperative research and development grants (CRADAs) for the past five years? Please provide funding amounts, sources, and outcomes?

68. Can you provide a list of licensing agreements and royalty proceeds for the last five years?

69. Can you provide a list of the top twenty salaried employees of the lab, with total remuneration and the portion funded by DOE?

70. Can you provide a list of all peer-reviewed publications by lab staff for the past three years?

71. Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff?

72. Can you provide a list of publications by lab staff for the past three years?

73. Can you provide a list of all websites maintained by or contributed to by laboratory staff during work hours for the past three years?

74. Can you provide a list of all other positions currently held by lab staff, paid and unpaid, including faculties, boards, and consultancies?


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The State of US Energy Storage in 7 Slides

GTM Senior Vice President of Research Shayle Kann kicked off an extremely well-attended Energy Storage Summit 2016 in San Francisco and testified on the state of energy storage.

Energy storage has huge potential, but it’s still a small market — the U.S. is currently home to a modest 413 megawatts of the stuff.

Kann cited an NREL study which suggests that in an optimistic scenario, getting to 50 percent solar penetration in California with minimal negative societal impacts would still require 15 gigawatts of incremental energy storage in order to avoid excess curtailment of solar. That’s 30 times the current national capacity of energy storage, noted Kann.     

He said, “You could easily imagine how the total addressable market for energy storage in the U.S. is in the hundreds of gigawatts, not just tens of gigawatts.”

“So many different potential value streams”

Kann cited another report, The Massachusetts Energy Storage Initiative Study State of Charge, which looked at the overall value of storage for the state. The study found that in an optimal scenario, the state could end up with 1.8 gigawatts of energy storage — “That’s four times the total cumulative capacity in the entire country today.”

The report also claims that that amount of storage would provide $2.3 billion in benefits to the overall system — with the most value in reduced peak capacity requirements. Applying these numbers to the country as a whole (admittedly “fuzzy math,” according to Kann and his analysts) would translate to 124 gigawatts of energy storage and $161 billion in system benefits. 

But “the reality is that the market is not yet reflecting [this] value,” Kann says.

A nascent market with stark geographic concentration

Although there has been obvious growth in the U.S. (475 megawatt-hours in 2016, up from 167 megawatt-hours in 2015), the volumes are small. Residential deployments in the U.S. are measured in the hundreds, not thousands — because there is “just not an economic case for residential energy storage yet.” The commercial “market does have an economic case in some places, particularly in California, when you incorporate the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) and demand charges.”

“Front-of-the-meter deployments are measured in the ones and twos,” with two 80-megawatt-hour projects to be completed in California in the next few weeks.

There is an absolute seasonality and geographic concentration to the market — driven by the timing of California’s SGIP. California and Hawaii will continue to dominate.

All of these are signs of a very early-stage market that “looks like the solar market in 2005″ when it comes to geographical concentration.

Aliso Canyon shows what storage can do

GTM has reported on the fast-tracking of energy storage projects to compensate for the Aliso Canyon gas leak in California and its impact on peak power capacity. Kann showed a timeline of the event and noted that the whole process took just 15 months.

Kann said that there is a necessity for energy storage to prove out its capabilities in each of its use cases. With 84 megawatts/338 megawatt-hours of deployments spurred by this incident, the familiarity with energy storage provided by the Aliso Canyon event could accelerate a number of storage applications.

The dawn of energy storage policy support

“What energy storage really needs…is for the market to create the conditions that allow energy storage to compete. Which isn’t true in a lot of cases in the U.S. electricity sector — the sector just wasn’t designed with energy storage in mind,” said Kann.

“What we’re looking for are places either at the state or in some cases the ISO level where you have actions being taken that create supportive market condition for energy storage. We are starting to see that happen.

“There are a bunch of different ways that states are starting to provide mechanisms for behind-the-meter energy storage to have a real value proposition. The first are net energy metering and rate reform.”   

State mandates in California, Oregon and Massachusetts will spur front-of-meter energy storage as will grid modernization programs, “which usually include some degree of energy storage.”   

FERC yeah

Kann said that all of these policy efforts could “ultimately be dwarfed by the recent FERC proposal — the most important thing to happen to energy storage from a policy or regulatory standpoint in years.” 

“Today, energy storage mostly doesn’t play in wholesale markets” with the exception of the PJM ancillary market, to a large extent. “But there are lots of wholesale markets where energy storage doesn’t play a big role not just because of economics” but because of the lack of clarity of rules and regulations. The system wasn’t designed with energy storage in mind and therefore it’s tough to get these projects built and financed.

The FERC proposal “might solve that,” said the GTM SVP.

The proposal would allow energy storage to provide value across wholesale capacity, energy and ancillary markets. It also addresses bidding mechanisms and minimum size requirements that would enable small storage to compete. The ruling would also set guidelines that would allow DER aggregation.

This ruling would unlock immense new markets for storage. Capacity markets alone in the Northeast in 2016 to 2017 saw over 300 gigawatts, with $14 billion in payments. 

“It’s a huge opportunity to play in these wholesale markets,” stated Kann.

All the makings of a bubble?

Kann summed it up: “Growth is a foregone conclusion. This market is going to continue to expand — no question about that. Every day, energy storage gets cheaper to deploy, we start to figure out more of the use cases, we start to figure out more of the deployment models, and more financing enters the market.”

Kann added, “I think energy storage is in an interesting place,” but “it’s got all the makings of a bubble,” noting the “attention, excitement and investment being paid to a market where not that much is getting deployed yet — and that should give everyone pause.”

He asked, “Can we get this market built” before the bubble has a chance to pop?   



For more information on the state of the energy storage market, download the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor executive summary.


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Trump Tabs Another Climate Denier, This Time for Interior

U.S. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a sixth-term Republican from Washington State who is a climate change denier and an ardent opponent of regulations for greenhouse gas emissions, has been nominated by President-elect Donald Trump for Secretary of Interior.

If McMorris Rodgers is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would govern the management of more than 500 million acres of federal public lands, including more than 400 national parks.

Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash., speaks at the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2015.
Credit: Gage Skidmore/flickr

Perhaps most critically, she would oversee the development of many of America’s fossil fuels and renewables resources, including all of its offshore oil, gas and wind development. Federal land is the source of more than 20 percent of all the oil and gas and 40 percent of the coal produced in the U.S.

McMorris Rodgers would have the power to reverse Obama administration efforts to protect federally managed waters from oil and gas development as well as end the research into how coal mining affects the climate. Earlier this year, the Obama administration placed a three-year moratorium on federal coal leasing, and closed the entire East Coast and parts of the Arctic Ocean to offshore oil drilling.   


The land the Interior Department manages stores atmospheric carbon in trees and tree roots; protects biological diversity in wilderness areas, forests and national parks; and provides water for millions of people, mainly in the West.

McMorris Rodgers would also have wide-ranging influence over how the National Park Service and the U.S. Geological Survey communicate to the public about global warming, potentially troubling in light of her denial of climate change and climate science.

“Scientific reports are inconclusive at best on human culpability of global warming,” McMorris Rodgers falsely told the Spokane, Wash., Spokesman-Review newspaper in 2012. “Regardless of which theory proves correct, the goal is the same – to reduce carbon emissions, we need innovation in the private sector; not excessive government regulation to stifle some industries while rewarding others. I oppose ‘cap and trade’ and other big government schemes because they will destroy jobs while likely having minimal impact on the climate.”

McMorris Rodgers signed a 2012 pledge sponsored by Americans for Prosperity, a conservative political advocacy group funded by billionaire David Koch, promising that she would oppose any federal climate-related legislation that would raise revenue for the federal government, including a carbon tax.

Coming from Washington State, which is highly dependent on large hydroelectric dams for its electricity, McMorris Rodgers is a vocal supporter of hydropower and nuclear energy and has sponsored legislation expanding the development of small hydroelectric dams nationwide — a valuable source of renewable energy.

But she is also a major proponent of drilling public lands for fossil fuels.

The Interior Secretary oversees more than 500 million acres of public lands, including Arches National Park in Utah.
Credit: Bobby Magill/Climate Central

The League of Conservation Voters gives McMorris Rodgers a 4 percent lifetime score out of a possible 100 in their environmental scorecard because she has voted against bills that would have required the federal government to account for the social cost of carbon in administrative actions and required federally funded projects to be resilient to the impacts of climate change.

McMorris Rodgers has supported legislation that would have opened the Outer Continental Shelf to oil drilling, and opposed the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s ability to regulate greenhouse gas emissions as an air pollutant. She has also voted against tax credits for renewable electricity.

“That is not a record that is likely to inspire confidence from the environmental community,” said Mark Squillace, a natural resources law professor at the University of Colorado-Boulder. “On the other hand, I don’t sense that she has been a leading voice on public lands issues and so perhaps she will take a more conciliatory approach if she is confirmed as Interior Secretary.”

He said that McMorris Rodgers has mostly voted with other Republicans on environmental and public lands issues.

“She also serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, but again I have not seen clear signs of leadership on energy issues, other than a pattern of consistent votes in favor of fossil fuels and against taking action on climate change,” Squillace said.

In 2011, McMorris Rodgers co-sponsored a bill that would have required the Interior Secretary to sell off more than 3 million acres of public lands in 10 western states, a bill driven largely by western Republicans who believed the land served no specific purpose. Selling it would have raised more than $1 billion for the federal government, Utah Sen. Mike Lee said at the time.

As Interior secretary, McMorris Rodgers will oversee water management in much of the West. The department’s Bureau of Reclamation operates 476 dams and 348 reservoirs across the country, and it is in charge of numerous scientific endeavors and mapping the entire globe through the U.S. Geological Survey.

McMorris Rodgers has opposed the designation of new national monuments using the Antiquities Act. President Obama designated Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in New Mexico in 2013.
Credit: Bobby Magill/Climate Central

Robert H. Nelson, a professor of public policy focusing on public lands management at the University of Maryland and a proponent of the federal government transferring federal public lands to the states, said that what’s most notable about McMorris Rodgers’ nomination is that, unlike other Trump cabinet nominees, she does not appear to be a well-known activist.

“If he had done that, he would have picked someone from a state like Utah,” Nelson said, referring to Trump. “Her district, however, along with the rest of Washington State, is heavily affected by hydropower supplied from federal dams. There she has a higher profile. She has publicly supported, for example, keeping the four Snake River dams that many environmentalists would like to tear down.”

Other experts and conservationists are grim about the future of public lands under McMorris Rodgers.

“Together the pro-fossil fuel team of McMorris at Interior and Scott Pruitt at EPA is a disaster in the making for efforts to reign in CO2 before we hit truly awful tipping points,” said Jack Tuholske, director of the Vermont Law School Water and Justice Program. “Federal lands have enough coal, oil and gas to push us over any reasonable carbon threshold. President Obama has been fairly successful in limiting access to those resources, especially in his second term. All of those efforts could be undone with Trump’s team in place.”

Dominick DellaSala, chief scientist of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Ore., said McMorris Rodgers is no fan of the National Environmental Policy Act, the law that requires environmental review of new development and land management changes on federally owned land.

McMorris Rodgers is “bad but could be worse on these issues,” DellaSala said. “She’s not likely to champion public lands conservation issues.”

Gary Wockner, director of Save the Colorado, a group advocating for conservation and preservation of the Colorado River, said McMorris Rodgers has an “extreme” anti-environment voting record.

“The U.S. Senate should do everything in its power to stop her appointment and stop Trump’s impending war on the public lands, rivers, and wildlife of the West,” Wockner said.



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Alberta OKs change for 98 MW natural gas power plant

Peace River Power has an Aug. 31 approval from the commission to construct and operate this 98 MW natural gas-fired plant


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PNM asks state regulators for 14% average system rate hike

The overall 14.3 percent rate increase would be spread out over two years to soften the impact for customers


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Transcript: Tesla and Sonnen Imagine the Future of Battery Storage in 2030 [GTM Squared]


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NY Utilities Plan for the Future: What Matters Now for Distributed Energy [GTM Squared]


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States Are Decoupling Their Emissions From Economic Growth—Federal Policy Be Damned

In 2012, fresh off his win in the presidential race, Barack Obama started talking about climate change. Just not in the way his base wanted.

“If the message is somehow we’re going to ignore jobs and growth simply to address climate change, I don’t think anybody is going to go for that. I won’t go for that,” he said in his first press conference after the election.

Obama was slammed by the left for his “lame” comments implying that economic growth and climate action are mutually exclusive. (This was before John Podesta joined the White House and made climate a top-tier issue for the president.)

Although very few people realized it, by that point America had proven that cutting carbon emissions didn’t have to come at the expense of economic output. In 2006, 2010, 2011 and 2012, the U.S. grew its GDP while also reducing carbon emissions. It happened again in 2015. This year will be the same. 

From 2000 to 2015, America’s national GDP grew by 30 percent while emissions declined 10 percent.

Meanwhile, carbon emissions are flattening globally

The reasons are complex and often contested. But it’s clear that a combination of economic restructuring (good and bad), consumer behavior, and fuel switching in the energy and industrial sectors is responsible.

According to a new analysis from the Brookings Institution, 33 U.S. states have now decoupled their emissions from economic growth. And the trend is only strengthening.

From 2000 and 2014, 33 states plus the District of Columbia increased GDP while lowering carbon pollution. Collectively, these states dropped emissions by 12 percent and grew their economies by 22 percent. 

As more studies show that dozens of countries around the world are separating growth from emissions, the Brookings experts wanted to “look under the hood” to see what is driving the trend locally within the U.S. 

“Emissions decoupling has clearly become more frequent amid the ongoing large-scale switch from coal to natural gas — driven by the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) boom. At the same time, numerous other factors are clearly influencing outcomes, ranging from changes in the structure and growth of the national economy to investment decisions and technology change to land-use change and the availability of clean new energy resources, including renewables,” wrote Devashree Saha and Mark Muro, co-authors of the report. 

Their findings bring “license for a modest degree of optimism,” said Saha, a senior policy associate with Brookings and lead author of the report, in an interview.

“Changes are already underway — and market forces may actually be more important at this juncture,” she said.

By market forces, she specifically meant natural-gas fuel switching. According to the research, 60 percent of all carbon reductions in the states came from natural gas — either from retrofitting coal plants to burn gas, or an increase in consumption within the industrial sector. (A 2013 study from CO2 Scorecard suggested that efficiency accounted for two-thirds of the drop in carbon emissions nationwide in 2012, but the study was an outlier.)

“It’s impossible to overestimate the impact of coal replacement,” said Muro, a senior fellow at Brookings, in an interview.

The upside: We’re burning much less coal. That’s good for public health.

The downside: We don’t know how much this is increasing emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas 25 times more effective at trapping heat than carbon dioxide.

The shift to a service economy is also playing a role. And this is also an economic mixed bag.

“In fact, almost all of the states that experienced the largest shift toward services industries also registered large declines in their carbon emissions during 2000-2014. For example, as Maine’s service sector’s share of real GDP (in millions of chained 2009 dollars) expanded from 75 percent in 2000 to 83 percent in 2014, its carbon emissions declined by 25 percent. Similarly, Delaware, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia all experienced some of the largest relative expansions of their service sectors among states and likewise achieved substantial carbon emissions declines of 20 percent, 17 percent, 15 percent and 15 percent, respectively,” wrote Saha and Muro.

The upside: America’s service-sector shift will continue to lower emissions intensity.

The downside: Almost every service-sector job — from cashier to truck driver — is under threat from automation and artificial intelligence. The steady march of technological progress will help states decarbonize while improving output, but that may spell doom for yet another class of workers.

So where are renewables in all of this? They’re playing a surprisingly small role so far. 

Saha and Muro explain more in the study: “Wind and solar generation have yet to register as broad an impact on decoupling as might be expected — even in the green West. In this regard, while solar and wind’s share of electricity generation has been on the rise, [their] large-scale growth in some states dates only to the last decade, and so this analysis does not find a strong statistical relationship between states’ emissions reductions and solar and wind’s share of power generation.”

Even with such extraordinary growth rates, solar is still a tiny fraction of most states’ electricity generation mix. And in Midwestern states with a lot of wind installed, coal power is still a dominant source of electricity — making decarbonization harder. 

“Renewables are becoming more visible though. The question is where more decarbonization is going to come from — and renewables will come into the foreground then,” said Muro in an interview.

Assuming that America doesn’t ditch the Paris climate deal under President Trump, it will need to do more to lower emissions. The country is currently on pace to drop carbon emissions by 2.1 percent a year — but it will need to achieve a rate of 3.5 percent a year to meet international targets. There are 20 states that haven’t even hit the 2 percent decarbonization rate. 

This research started long before Donald Trump won the presidency. In the weeks since the election, federal energy policy has been thrown into uncertainty — and it appears that Obama’s signature climate plan will be dismantled

The possibility of federal policy chaos troubles Saha and Muro. But their findings do bring some hopeful signs for the coming years.

“Local factors (not just federal ones) matter a lot to how this happens. Moreover, the trends depicted here suggest that while federal policy reversals could be traumatic, progress on decarbonizing the nation’s economy will likely continue regardless of Donald Trump, driven by technology advances, market dynamics, and state policy.”

In other words: Our next president does matter, but the trend toward decarbonization will likely happen with or without his explicit support. 


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Top 10 Players Control 80% of Global PV Inverter Market in First Half of 2016

The solar PV inverter market is concentrating, with the top 10 inverter manufacturers accounting for 80 percent of global shipments in the first half of the year, according to GTM Research’s latest report.

“We haven’t seen the leading vendors hold share this high since 2010, when solar demand was highly centered in continental Europe,” said Senior Solar Analyst and report author Scott Moskowitz.

In fact, the top five vendors alone made up more than half of global inverter shipments.

FIGURE: Market Share Breakdown of Global Shipments by Vendors Ranked 1-5, 6-10, 11-20, and 20+

Source: The Global Inverter and MLPE Landscape H2 2016

The report, The Global Inverter and MLPE Landscape H2 2016, is a comprehensive analysis of the global inverter market and profiles 31 vendors in the space.

Huawei maintained its top position from 2015, shipping 17 percent of the world’s supply of PV inverters in the first half of the year. However, in terms of inverter revenue, SMA was again the leading player.

Bankable suppliers are gaining share as low prices continue to drive out competition. Inverter prices in some segments have fallen by 10 percent in just the last six months.

“Pricing pressure remains a constant, unrelenting reality in the maturing solar inverter market,” said Moskowitz. “Central inverter prices in the U.S. have fallen the most half-over-half due to increased competition from string inverters and proliferation of lower cost, 1,500-volt models”.

Global PV inverter shipments will reach a record 63.5 gigawatts (AC) in 2016 before declining 5 percent in 2017 due in part to reduced demand in the world’s three largest solar markets: China, The United States and Japan. Despite the shipment drop, inverter revenue will fall by just 1.2 percent in 2017 with gains coming in sales of residential string inverters and module-level power electronics.

The long-term outlook is more positive. GTM Research forecasts shipments to surpass 100 gigawatts by 2021, led by China, albeit a declining share. The report notes that new markets in the Middle East and South East Asia will be the fastest growing regions between 2016 and 2021.

FIGURE: Global PV Inverter Shipments by Region, 2015-2021E (MWac)

Source: The Global Inverter and MLPE Landscape H2 2016


For more data and analysis, download the executive summary here.


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