Net Metering Under Threat

Posted by Ed Burke on May 28, 2020 1:22:00 PM

June2016_Solar-1

This April, the New England Ratepayer's Association (NERA) filed a petition asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to "declare exclusive federal jurisdiction over wholesale energy sales from generation sources located on the customer side of the retail meter (rooftop solar), and order that the rates for such sales be priced in accordance with public law.”

In a nutshell, this would change how the market works for residential solar panels completely. Currently, with net metering, panels generate energy that offsets use by the residence/building and the excess energy produced is "bought back" by the utility - usually via credits to a home/business owner's utility bill at a retail rate. 

The NERA petition basically objects to the "buyback" being a retail transaction and believes any utility transaction is a wholesale energy sale and should be regulated and governed in the same manner, including being processed at the same prices. The argument against this of course being that net metering is advantageous to the residential customer, and that has been a large factor in the increase in consumer level proliferation of solar panels. The flip side of that argument, which is the NERA petition's point, is that the transactions being equivalent in terms of energy transfer, but priced such that they are distinctly advantageous to residential customers means they are fundamentally disadvantageous to other players in the field. 

It's a little complicated as an issue, if you want more info, I wrote an article for Oil & Energy magazine that delves a little more into the specifics- you can read that article here: "Net Metering Under Threat"

 

 

Read More

Topics: Solar Energy, Clean Energy, net metering

Too Late for Canaries: Coal Companies File for Bankruptcy Protection

Posted by Ed Burke on Jan 9, 2020 11:49:57 AM

coal

The United States' largest privately owned coal company filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy protection in late October. Murray Energy joins at least 7 other major companies as casualties in the move toward cleaner and more sustainable energy.

2018 saw the lowest demand level for coal since 1978, so the bankruptcy filings are not very surprising - it is becoming more a matter of when companies either change focus to add in non-coal sources, or slowly dwindle on earnings. The major looming question will be how workers and other supply chain members are compensated for wages, contracts, etc as this sector of the industry reorganizes.

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy Magazine that goes into a little more detail on the subject and potential outcomes going forward. You can read that article in its' entirety here: Coal Companies Seek Bankruptcy Protection 

Read More

Topics: coal, renewable energy, Clean Energy

Massachusetts Retires Last Nuclear Power Plant

Posted by Ed Burke on Jun 25, 2019 11:33:00 AM

Pilgrim Power

May 31st 2019, the Pilgrim Nuclear Power station in Plymouth, MA shut down for the last time. Now the lengthy process to fully decommission the plant and return the site to its former condition begins. 

Pilgrim has been operational for 47 years, producing approximately 15% of the State's energy needs through nuclear power generation. The loss of power generation from the Pilgrim closure should be offset by increases from new plants, as well as a continued decline in demand, particularly during peak periods. The forecast for this years usage for example, is down 600 megawatts as compared to the prior year. 

Not everyone is on board with seeing the Pilgrim closure as a positive though. Nuclear is a reliable, zero emission power source, and market conditions mean new nuclear plants are unlikely, so the shuttering of existing plants versus running repairs and safety/regulatory upgrades essentially means Massachusetts is most likely permanently out of nuclear power generation. 

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy magazine detailing some of the cited impacts the closure will have, the decommissioning timeline, regulatory concerns, and concerns about withdrawing from nuclear in general.

You can read that article here: Massachusetts' Only Nuclear Power Plant is Retired  

Read More

Topics: Massachusetts, power plant emissions, Clean Energy

Holyoke's Mt Tom Site is a Blueprint for Success with Renewable Energy Projects

Posted by Ed Burke on Jun 6, 2019 10:43:00 AM

solar panels

Holyoke MA, the site of the last coal fired plant in MA, this year will see the smokestacks of the now closed plant taken down. The site is now home to the largest solar farm in the state, and the first large scale renewables battery storage system. By 2017, the Mount Tom site housed over 17,000 solar panels, and in 2018 Engie (formerly GDF Suez) installed 3 megawatts of battery storage on site to keep supply to the grid consistent. 

Holyoke Gas & Electric, which is the city owned utility, supplies roughly 90% of its power from carbon-free sources, including nuclear, about 2/3 of which comes from wind and solar. 

I've written a few articles for Oil & Energy magazine about the project in Holyoke, which has become essentially a template for communities moving toward more renewable power, as well as looking at workforce shifts, equitable pay outs, and job training for the changes brought by moving power sources, which Engie and Holyoke did a fantastic job with. You can read them here: Holyoke's Path Away from Coal and here Massachusetts Envisions Huge Growth in Energy Storage

Read More

Topics: Holyoke, Solar Power, Clean Energy

Storm Intensity enhances focus on Grid Resilience

Posted by Ed Burke on Dec 18, 2018 11:10:00 AM

utility

Grid Resilience is top of mind for utility companies, the DOE, and the general public these days, as we see increasingly destructive storms hit the United States. Over the past two years we had five major impact hurricanes (Irma, Harvey, Maria, Florence & Michael) and the consensus is that these will continue, or worsen, over the coming years due to Climate Change. 

The goal of resiliency is to have the power grid for an area diversified and upgraded such that it can handle extreme demands. The DOE outlines the major concepts that underlie resilience planning as: Robustness, Resourcefulness, Rapid Recovery & Adaptability. These separate but connected aims allow the grid to both better absorb shocks and more rapidly adjust different factors to respond to risks & outages. 

We got a decent look back on how upgrades and risk management planning played out in some of the storms in the past two years. I wrote an article for Oil & Energy magazine detailing each storms responses & issues, as well as more information on resiliency goals in general. You can read that article here: Hurricane Resilience 

Read More

Topics: emergency response, hurricane harvey, Clean Energy

Massachusetts Pushes Clean Energy forward in 2018

Posted by Ed Burke on Oct 17, 2018 10:59:00 AM

2016-01-20_18-21-41

2018 has been a busy and effective year for Massachusetts' quest to advance Clean Energy within the State. Here are some highlights:

  • Massachusetts surpassed 2,000 megawatts of installed solar capacity throughout the state (78,646 projects), almost half of which was installed in just the past two years. 
  • Residential energy storage increases accounted for 72% of all megawatt hours in the 2nd quarter. 
  • Community Solar projects have been gaining traction - these programs let people subscribe to solar farms and receive credits based on their share of the solar energy generated. 
  • The SMART (Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target) incentive program is now active, and is expected to generate 1,600 megawatt hours of new solar.
  • The Clean Energy Bill was signed into law by Governor Baker in August. The bill is a compromise measure that raises the renewable portfolio standard, imposes a minimum percentage of clean energy required for peak demand usage, and increases energy storage goals and requirements. 
  • SJC ruled in September that the state can enforce the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions related in a 2008 law. 

I wrote an article for Oil & Energy Magazine that gets further into detail on the SJC ruling, Clean Energy Bill, the advancements in energy storage, and changes in Solar Energy regulations. If you would like to get a more thorough picture of where Massachusetts is at the end of 2018 and what the next few years are looking like, you can read that article here:

Massachusetts Accelerates Clean Energy Agenda

 

 

Read More

Topics: Massachusetts, Clean Energy

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all