Comments Off on Decarbonizing Wholesale Energy Services
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) oversight of wholesale energy market services and transmission operations presents the agency with significant opportunities to institute policies that can accelerate the decarbonization of our electric services sector. This article (subscription or purchase required) — part of a special issue of Electricity Journal on the topic of energy optimization, guest-edited by RAP staff — explores a number of key actions FERC could undertake at the wholesale level to move our electric system to cleaner and more efficient delivery of energy services.
The actions examined range from minor modifications and clarifications of existing rules and practices, to enhanced enforcement activities and initiating full-blown rulemaking to launch new initiatives. All the actions examined are intended to increase overall system efficiency and ultimately reduce carbon output from our electric sector.
Comments Off on Power Sector Transformation in State Utility Regulation: To Boldly Go Where No Regulator Has Gone Before
A decarbonized energy sector’s many benefits include lower prices, grid resiliency and cleaner energy. However, in order to attain this goal, regulators will need to actively engage in regulatory reforms that align utilities’ actions with the public good. Tools that can advance this objective include rate design reforms, decoupling, performance-based ratemaking and other structural changes that encourage the deployment of distributed energy resources.
Comments Off on “Missing Money” and an Off-Ramp to the Capacity Debate
As weather-dependent renewables increase, energy revenues in the wholesale market diminish, even as the need for dispatchable resources remains. Such resources are otherwise compensated by forward capacity markets, but those markets are poorly matched to customers’ real needs and the operational realities of a renewable-heavy world. The solution to these issues in market design may be found in an Operating Reserve Demand Curve, intended to pay capacity when and where it is available and needed, as a complement to real-time energy pricing.
Comments Off on Transforming Our Buildings for a Low-Carbon Era: Five Key Strategies
Significantly reducing building sector greenhouse gas emissions is necessary to meet state and local climate stabilization goals. Initiatives to decarbonize home and building energy use are enabled by a new generation of advanced air source heat pumps (ASHPs) that provide efficient, comfortable heat even at low outdoor temperatures as well as highly efficient air conditioning in the summer. Coupled with thermal improvements to building envelopes and smart controls responsive to grid reliability needs, ASHPs are displacing the use of fossil fuels for comfort heating while providing a range of economic benefits. Investments to decarbonize buildings are most economical in natural market cycles of building construction, renovation and equipment replacement, and as part of community development initiatives to improve and preserve affordable housing. A growing number of state and local policies and programs are accelerating the rate of efficient electrification of home and building heating to replace fossil fuel heat with increasingly carbon-free renewable electricity.
Comments Off on The Role of Electric Vehicles in a Decarbonized Economy: Supporting a Reliable, Affordable and Efficient Electric System
Reductions in the carbon intensity of electricity generation, coupled with technological improvements in the end uses that it can power, have created opportunities for the electrification of large segments of the economy. As the largest source of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions in our economy — 29% of total 2017 U.S. energy-related emissions — electrifying transportation is a key opportunity. Although the technology needed to decarbonize ground transportation exists today, an affordable and reliable transition will require a focus on policy and regulatory changes. Accommodating and correctly managing this growth in electric transportation will be critical to the development of a low-carbon future. If not properly planned for through direct and indirect charging controls, this new load could produce major impacts on the power system and its operations. However, managed correctly, EVs can serve as a useful tool and asset for grid managers and can be accommodated even under aggressive EV adoption models.
Comments Off on Decarbonization of Electricity Requires Market-Based Demand Flexibility
To effectively decarbonize the electric sector, utilities will need to address the growing load shape challenges driven by the variability of many renewable resources. Behind-the-meter solutions, such as energy efficiency, demand response, electrification and storage, will play an important role in grid stability, but only if they can deliver changes in demand that meet the time and locational needs of the grid. Smart meter interval data, combined with open-source methods and software, can provide transparent measurement of savings load shapes (resource curves) that enable the integration of demand flexibility into energy, capacity and carbon markets, and as a transmission and distribution resource. This allows utilities to procure demand flexibility in the same way they procure other resources by leveraging a price signal and pay-for-performance to drive innovation and attract private investment.
Comments Off on Focusing and Improving Traditional Energy Efficiency Strategies
Energy efficiency can get us about half of the way to long-term climate goals. Traditional energy efficiency strategies — vehicle and appliance efficiency standards, building energy codes, utility energy efficiency programs and Energy Star — can provide about half the achievable efficiency savings (i.e., savings of about one quarter of projected 2050 energy use). However, these strategies can benefit from a variety of improvements, and other programs and policies addressing buildings, transportation and industry can achieve substantial additional savings. These efficiency policies can be combined with strategies involving no-and low-carbon energy sources to put the United States on a trajectory toward meeting long-term energy and climate targets.
Comments Off on Implementing Demand Response 2.0: Progress Toward Full Potential in the United States
Demand response can be an excellent flexible resource and can cost-effectively support a grid with high penetrations of variable renewable generation. Unfortunately, this potential has not yet been widely exploited, due to a number of obstacles at the wholesale and distribution levels. This article (subscription or purchase required) — part of a special issue of Electricity Journal on the topic of energy optimization, guest-edited by RAP staff — reviews those barriers and the prospects for better uptake of demand response.
Comments Off on Redefining Energy Efficiency: EE 2.0
Energy efficiency is key to reducing the size of the energy challenge, to accelerating the achievement of its solution, and to enhancing energy productivity, but old ideas that ignore the potential benefits of electrification and narrowly equate energy efficiency with efforts to reduce consumption of a single energy source — like electricity — need to evolve. The key to affordable decarbonization is making optimal use of low-cost, emissions-free energy sources, when and where they are available.
This article (subscription or purchase required), part of a special issue of Electricity Journal guest-edited by RAP staff, presents a new vision for energy efficiency (“EE 2.0″) based on the concept of energy optimization and lays the foundation for subsequent articles in the special issue.
Comments Off on Electricity-Centered Clientelism and the Contradictions of Private Solar Microgrids in India
Most discussions about solar microgrids focus on sustainable energy and development goals and the technical aspects of electricity generation, storage, transmission, and distribution. Very few explicitly examine the ways in which their introduction upsets and reshapes entrenched practices of electoral politics and citizen claim-making around electricity access and development. In India, as in many parts of the world, electricity represents the most visible symbol of economic development and social well-being. Democratic politics in many developing countries are linked to demands for access to electricity. The meshing of electricity, development, and democratic politics in post-independence India has produced a politics of clientelism in which parties have sought to gain voter support with promises of cheap or free electricity. Although this electricity-centered clientelism has expanded supply, it has simultaneously contributed to skewed spatial access, unreliable supply, and high debt burdens for state-owned electricity distribution companies. This article examines histories of clientelism and the contradictions emerging from the introduction of private solar microgrids in rural areas of the northern Indian state of Uttar Pradesh. It shows that although solar microgrids avoid electricity-centered clientelism, significant numbers of rural households in their supply areas are both excluded by their user-pays approach and unable to demand fair access through political representatives. The study calls for alternative governance and support programs at local levels that ensure that private solar microgrids can deliver reliable electricity to rural households.
Published in the Annals of the American Association of Geographers, this article draws on our Mapping Power research.
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