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With Sinking Storage Costs, Big-Box Solar Could Really Take Off

We know that Target, Wal-Mart, Costco, Ikea, Kohl’s, and other big-box retailers have installed a lot of rooftop solar. They’ve mostly been doing so under net metering rules, and paying the demand charges for their net load on utilities when their individual peak demands occur. Utilities may think that they are protected in this sector…

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There’s Far More Opportunity Than Crisis in California Renewables Curtailment

California curtailed renewables this spring. This sets off alarm bells in some quarters because it suggests that solar and wind are overbuilt and present a big challenge to the grid. The concerns, however, are misplaced, and solutions are at hand. Here’s the situation. The California ISO (CAISO) experienced negative power prices during the solar day,…

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The Duck is Learning to Fly in California and Hawaii

I took a look at electricity data recently from California and Hawaii and I saw a duck that was learning to fly. Well, what I saw was that the so-called Duck Curve–the load shape some grid operators expect to contend with as increasing levels of wind and solar resources create ramping challenges for conventional generation–is…

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Hot Showers and Cool Rides: Wind, Sun, and the Duck Curve

As we look out over the power sector transformation that is unmistakably upon us, there are those who warn of the sacrifices, the risks, and the costs that could come with more and more intermittent electricity generation—wind and solar energy, for example—on the grid. They show us the “duck curve” that suggests that balancing supply…

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Long Live the Duck — and May He Fly Flat

Utilities and grid operators from Germany to Hawaii have expressed concern about their ability to maintain reliable service as increasing amounts of variable renewable energy–primarily wind and solar–are added to a grid that has historically consisted overwhelmingly of “dispatchable” resources such as coal, natural gas, and hydropower units. This has been described in many ways,…

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Minimum Bills: An Effective Alternative to High Customer Charges

One wouldn’t necessarily expect the components of an electric bill to make headlines, but recent decisions in some states have caused controversy. The controversy involves the size of the monthly customer charge applied to residential consumers. Until recently, U.S. regulators generally allowed a charge of $10/month or less on residential customer bills—an amount sufficient to…