Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Big Energy's Desperate battle to stop the Future, Renewable Energy!

The Trump tax cut declared a frightening historical moment; big business was in charge.

Among the many examples to long to list here, big energy is trying to save its dying business model by getting their obedient Republican servants to pass unthinkably anti-consumer legislation.  

I also want to note this interesting twist. My Trumpian conservative friend in Milwaukee said he was shocked at the corrupting influence of corporate money in government under Trump. When I reminded him of Citizens United, where the conservative geniuses on the Supreme Court claimed unequivocally that money did not have a corrupting influence...he said they were wrong!!! Yes, things are that bad now.

Fossil Fuels Last Gasp? Here's are just a few examples from the Energy News Service that will demonstrate just how bad and irrational things might get. First up, the Politics of Resentment:
Example 1. If you’ve got solar panels on your roof, Westar Energy wants to create a surcharge on your power bill. The utility insists that if it doesn’t charge you extra, all of its other customers will get stuck with the tab of being ready with electricity when the sun lets you down ... the amount of electricity any individual solar power user produces is unreliable.

Solar power enthusiasts want the Kansas Legislature to outlaw such charges. For the utility power from solar rays is a money-losing proposition. Westar estimates the new charge could increase the bill of a customer with solar panels by as much as 50 percent.

The solar industry in Kansas employs about 500 people ... Colorado has about 6,000 workers in the field.
Good-Bye Energy Saving Programs, Jobs: Republicans never cared about jobs, they cared about their donors and exploiting the public's hunger for more and better paying jobs. But really, eliminating consumer energy star programs and allowing utilities to reward and penalize users without state approval? Hello?
Job gains and the burgeoning solar industry in Iowa could be undone by proposals under consideration in the state and federal governments.
There were more than 800 solar energy jobs in Iowa in 2017, a 45 percent increase over the previous year ... solar jobs in Iowa stands in contrast to the national picture: solar jobs declined 3.8 percent nationally from 2016 to 2017 ... a state solar tax credit has sparked roughly $166 million in capital investment across the state. Iowa is No. 42 in the country in solar jobs per capita, according to the Solar Foundation report. Minnesota has more than 4,000 jobs, an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2016 to 2017.
Iowa state lawmakers are considering a couple of proposals ... One would eliminate the requirement for energy efficiency practices altogether ... another provision would allow utility companies to make revenue-neutral changes to utility rates without approval from the state board that regulates utilities, and another that would eliminate a requirement that utilities not apply rates that discriminate against any class of customer. Solar energy advocates say they fear these proposals would allow utilities to increase the rates for solar customers. Josh Mandelbaum, an attorney with the Environmental Law and Policy Center (in) Chicago (said) “...one of the worst pieces of legislation we’ve ever seen.”

Seriously? "Their intent is to foster new programs and services for customers more quickly, not to raise rates on any customers, including those who use solar energy ... to make rates fairer."
21st Century Technology Energy Savings...but will Utilities Cooperate? It's not all Doom and Gloom. I thought this was a fascinating look at what we'll need to do in the future, if only big energy can get on board and change their business model dramatically. Note-Many utilities do welcome change and are trying to adapt:
For Indiana businesses and residents, a few cutbacks during peak energy times could save the state between $448 million and $2.3 billion over 10 years, a new report from Advanced Energy Economy (AEE) said, a national association of business leaders dedicated to making the global energy system more secure, clean and affordable, released the report, “Potential for Peak Demand Reduction in Indiana.”

The report focused on three main strategies: (1) curtailing commercial and industrial electricity demand, (2) installing more smart thermostats across Indiana’s residential sector, and (3) deploying energy storage technologies.
 Check this out:
Demand for electricity can spike for just a few hours each year ... 10 percent of a state’s electric system’s capacity is built to meet demand in just 1 percent of hours during the year, creating significant costs to consumers. One proven tool to reduce peak demand is demand response (DR) which enables grid operators and electric utilities to relieve stress on the electricity distribution system ... using connected thermostats, where utility companies would have the ability to cycle air conditioning or heaters off and on, could produce a $300 million savings.

“In a residential unit, utility companies would be able to cycle on and off a water heater, for instance. But also, in a big box store cycle off an air conditioner for 20 minutes, and no one in the store would even notice it. The businesses and residential customers would see savings on their utility bills as well.” In one scenario where 214,000 smart thermostats were utilized throughout the state, net benefits of $73 million over 10 years were estimated.

The report identified some emerging technology surrounding energy storage that could potentially save the state money, as well. Being able to store some of the power generated by the state’s wind turbine farms and solar panels would provide the state with energy to use during peak usage times.

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