Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of February 5, 2018

Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of February 5, 2018

Date: 7 Feb 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy News:

With the impending marriage of Virginia’s Dominion Energy and South Carolina’s SCANA, our own John Farrell wrote up a commentary on the foibles of that deal; the Hawaiian island of Kauai can now be served by 100% renewable energy; and net metering limits in Kentucky are starting to take shape in an extremely negative way.

Featured Stories:

SCANA-Dominion merger a risky deal for S.C. ratepayers by John Farrell, Charleston Post and Courier

Like many electric utilities, Dominion Energy has a government-granted monopoly that shields it from competition. Like some others, it has repeatedly employed this grant of public service to extract substantial benefits for its shareholders from its captive customers. This tendency to abuse the public trust tends to get worse as companies merge and grow bigger, upsizing their economic and political power.

In a recent report I authored for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, we detail the rising tide of utility mergers across the country. In the past two decades, utility companies have grown from regional powers within states into multi-state conglomerates with dubious economies of scale but powerfully evident economies of lobbying. These mergers make big headlines and big returns for utility shareholders, but often leave customers with second thoughts about the marriage.

Hawaiian island is now a solar paradise by Bruce Lieberman, Yale Climate Connections

Report: Mergers & Monopoly: How Concentration Changes The Electricity Business by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Solar power in Kentucky is threatened. This is who’s behind the push to crush it by James Bruggers, Louisville Courier Journal

A national “consumer” group is working with Frankfort lawmakers, making phone calls to their constituents and urging Kentuckians to support a bill that would roll back incentives for solar power.

But who are they?

Not your typical, looking-out-for-the-little-guy consumer organization.

Think oil, gas, coal and trucking companies, for example. And electric utilities.

An Overlooked Solution For Competitive & Local Renewable Power by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

6 Reasons Your Next Car Should Be Electric by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Duke customers: ‘Pay for your own mistakes’ by Jessi Stone, Smoky Mountain News

As required by law, the North Carolina Utilities Commission conducted a public hearing to gather input on the corporation’s request. More than a dozen people testified during the quasi-judicial hearing held in Franklin, and a majority of the speakers were against any increase at all.

“I don’t think Duke requires an electricity rate increase — not at all, not even 1 percent,” said Selma Sparks, a Franklin resident. “I’m 86 years old on a fixed income, and I’m sure a lot of other seniors here are on a fixed income. There’s no reason customers should have to pay for Duke’s errors.”

In Small-Town Iowa, A Movement To Own The Future — Episode 50 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona

Arizona Public Service energy efficiency plan to support more electric vehicles by Electric Light & Power Editorial Board

 

California

Brown calls for 5 million electric vehicles by 2030, $2.5 billion for charging stations by Paul Rogers, Bay Area News Group

Electric Vehicles Could Be As Ubiquitous As Smart Phones By 2040 In California: Report by Jeff McMahon, Forbes

California continues to lead the way on electric vehicles by Patrick Sisson, Curbed

 

Colorado

Colorado governor releases state’s electric vehicle plans, saying “we know that we can have a cleaner option” by Jesse Paul, The Denver Post

Few EVs in rural Colorado now, but with spark that may change by Allen Best, Mountain Town news

 

Connecticut

Schneider Electric to build microgrid in Milford, Connecticut by Kathie Zipp, Solar Power World

My Turn: On net metering, it’s time for state to think bigger by Harold Turner, Concord Monitor

CT’s Clean Energy Edge: Going, Going… or Coming Back? by Jan Ellen Spiegel, Connecticut Mirror

Once a national leader in these categories, in recent years the state has slipped behind many others, including neighbors New York, Massachusetts and Rhode Island, each of which is pursuing aggressive, if not radical, clean energy agendas and taking risks with policies never attempted before.

Connecticut, some say, has lost its clean-energy edge. The bulk of the finger-pointing is at the budget and long-term financial situation and more directly at the legislature, which many believe made a bad situation worse last session by taking ratepayer funds intended for clean-energy and energy-efficiency programs and using them to help close a budget deficit.

 

Florida

In Southwest Florida, taking a shine to the nation’s first solar-powered town by Diane Daniel, Washington Post

 

Hawaii

Hawaiian island is now a solar paradise by Bruce Lieberman, Yale Climate Connections

 

Indiana

City’s net metering to expand to commercial customers by Candy Neal, Dubois County Herald

 

Iowa

Iowa lawmakers consider ditching state’s energy efficiency programs by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register

 

Kentucky

Kentucky Legislature Tries to Shut Down the Sun by Allen Bush, Daily Yonder

Kentucky’s fledgling solar industry smacked by one-two punch of U.S. tax and state bill by James Bruggers, Louisville Courier Journal

Solar power in Kentucky is threatened. This is who’s behind the push to crush it by James Bruggers, Louisville Courier Journal

A national “consumer” group is working with Frankfort lawmakers, making phone calls to their constituents and urging Kentuckians to support a bill that would roll back incentives for solar power.

But who are they?

Not your typical, looking-out-for-the-little-guy consumer organization.

Think oil, gas, coal and trucking companies, for example. And electric utilities.

 

Louisiana

Solar advocates push back against proposal to gut net metering in Louisiana by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

New Orleans Eyes Microgrid Development as Part of Smart Cities Strategy by Elisa Wood, Microgrid Knowledge

 

Maryland

Maryland Could Soon Have the Second-Largest EV Charging Network in the US by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

The $104 million program brings together a comprehensive range of 14 signatories, including utilities BGE, Delmarva Power & Light, Potomac Electric Power Company (Pepco), and Potomac Edison; environmental groups including the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club; and EV-charging companies such as Greenlots and ChargePoint. That collaborative group got together to work on EV initiatives as part of a larger commission proceeding on grid modernization.

The final proposal is one that both EV-charging companies and utilities say should act as a model for further state charging plans.

Guest Commentary: Md. Goa Should be 100% Renewable Energy by 2035 by Shane Robinson, Maryland Matters

 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts “SMART” Rates to Boost Community Solar by Ampion, PR Newswire

Will the country’s first mandatory residential demand charge slow the Massachusetts solar boom? By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

6 months after target adoption, Massachusetts sees energy storage growth, challenges by Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

Trump tariff, utility charge seen as drain on state solar industry by Statehouse News Service, Greenfield Recorder

Rep. Golden blasts utility over solar panel fee by Andy Metzger, Sentinel & Enterprise

Northbridge voters to decide on community solar district by Susan Spencer, Worcester Telegram & Gazette

Students Say Colleges Must Use 100 Percent Renewable Energy by Associated Press

 

Michigan

Zero Cities Project aims to reduce Grand Rapids’ carbon footprint to zero by 2050 by Lara Moehlman, Michigan Radio

First community solar park rising up in East Lansing by Jorma Duran, WLNS-6

Diversify state’s energy plans by Larry Ward, The Detroit News

 

Minnesota

Electric vehicles now can charge all the way from Twin Cities to North Shore by John Reinan, Minneapolis Star Tribune

A coalition of electric utilities, government agencies and environmental groups recently completed the first highway corridor in Minnesota that’s fully friendly to electric vehicles.

From the Twin Cities to the North Shore and beyond, travelers on Interstate 35 and Hwy. 61 will be able to find enough charging stations for their electric vehicles to ensure they can make the trip without running out of juice.

It won’t be the last electrified corridor. Other likely routes include I-94 from the Twin Cities to Fargo and I-90 across the southern part of the state.

Wind-Powered Electric Vehicle Program Continues In Minnesota by Joseph Bebon, North American Wind Power

 

New Hampshire

Win For Northern Pass In Mass. Could Signal Shift Away From Smaller Renewables by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

 

New Jersey

N.J. lawmakers get to work on Murphy’s environmental agenda by Nicholas Pugliese, NorthJersey.com

 

New York

New York regulators greenlight third CCA program by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

While a primary focus of the CCA movement is on clean energy, that is not the only option they consider. CCA programs may consider ways to support customer-sited energy storage systems and could establish distributed generation options allowing customers to sell excess power back to the program.

The program has gained traction in California, threatening the customer base for utilities. A new report estimates one-third of Californians could be obtaining their energy from alternative sources.

Lessons learned from New York REV: A roadmap to reduce emissions through utility reform by Rory Christian, Environmental Defense Fund

New chancellor envisions zero-carbon SUNY by Bethany Bump, Albany Times Union

 

North Carolina

Duke customers: ‘Pay for your own mistakes’ by Jessi Stone, Smoky Mountain News

As required by law, the North Carolina Utilities Commission conducted a public hearing to gather input on the corporation’s request. More than a dozen people testified during the quasi-judicial hearing held in Franklin, and a majority of the speakers were against any increase at all.

“I don’t think Duke requires an electricity rate increase — not at all, not even 1 percent,” said Selma Sparks, a Franklin resident. “I’m 86 years old on a fixed income, and I’m sure a lot of other seniors here are on a fixed income. There’s no reason customers should have to pay for Duke’s errors.”

 

Ohio

AEP Ohio to get another rate case hearing, this time with public notice by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

 

Pennsylvania

Philadelphia Aims To Smooth Way For Electric Vehicles by Pat Loeb, CBS Philly

 

South Carolina

SCANA-Dominion merger a risky deal for S.C. ratepayers by John Farrell, Charleston Post and Courier

Like many electric utilities, Dominion Energy has a government-granted monopoly that shields it from competition. Like some others, it has repeatedly employed this grant of public service to extract substantial benefits for its shareholders from its captive customers. This tendency to abuse the public trust tends to get worse as companies merge and grow bigger, upsizing their economic and political power.

In a recent report I authored for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, we detail the rising tide of utility mergers across the country. In the past two decades, utility companies have grown from regional powers within states into multi-state conglomerates with dubious economies of scale but powerfully evident economies of lobbying. These mergers make big headlines and big returns for utility shareholders, but often leave customers with second thoughts about the marriage.

This is the conservative path out of our nuclear nightmare by Matt Moore, The Columbia State

 

Texas

Is Houston Becoming A More Friendly Environment For Electric Vehicles? By Abner Fletcher, Houston Public Media

 

Utah

Op-ed: Is investing in solar still a good idea? By Ryan Evans, Deseret News

 

Vermont

Solar program changes dim economic opportunity in Vermont by Vermont Biz

 

Virginia

Facing new scrutiny in Va., Dominion Energy turns to old friends by Associated Press

 

Wisconsin

Job Growth From Renewable Energy Sparks Conservative Support by Naomi Albert, The Pointer UW Stevens Point

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Report finds 2017 was a year of utility warfare against distributed energy resources by Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World

Are electric vehicles finally taking off? Here’s what you need to know. By Jason Mathers, Environmental Defense Fund

Over the next decade EVs can become a major part of our fleet with benefits for our health, economy and environment. We can create a future that drives down global oil demand and cuts nearly 2 billion tons of climate pollution a year.

Technical innovation has opened up this path. We now must muster the conviction to take it.

Trump Administration Issues 30% Solar Panel Import Tariff by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

How many electric cars can the grid take? Depends on your neighborhood by Megan Geuss, ArsTechnica

Beyond Apple and Walmart: 5 Reasons Small(er) Biz Can Gain from Renewable Energy, Too by Alan Russo, Energy Manager Today

A No-Regrets Approach to the Distributed Energy Paradox Must Embrace Customer Value by Jeff Adams, Greentech Media

Utility customers seek a modern and digital approach to communication (including email, mobile messaging, online billing and social media outreach) from their resource providers. People flock to alternative sources when their original provider fails to deliver satisfactory, accessible and proactive service.

Utility customers are no longer just “ratepayers.” With web connectivity and mobile technology, energy customers have more information at their fingertips, and a sound customer experience is now an expectation, not a “nice-to-have.”

Indeed, the relationship between customers and utilities has fundamentally shifted, with customers taking more control over the diversifying energy sources they select to power their lives. “Value” has joined the traditional utility service pillars of security, affordability and reliability.

4 signs that Trump’s furious efforts to save coal are futile by David Roberts, Vox

Could ‘Putting A Price On Resilience’ Lead To More Solar+Storage? By Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine

It’s Time to Recognize the Value of Resilience by Seth Mullendore, The Energy Collective

After Trump’s Solar Tariffs, a Conservative Case for Solar by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

Environmentalists and Citizen Groups Are Fighting Billions in Subsidies Meant to Prop Up Aging Nuclear Plants by Tim Judson & John Parker, Alternet

To justify this, nuclear plant owners are promoting themselves as “clean energy” and “zero emissions.” They argue they should be eligible for state clean energy contracts and state credits for being carbon-free. A few state governments are going along. Illinois and New York decided to bundle nuclear subsidies with renewable energy and emissions reduction programs. Other states like New Jersey and Connecticut are considering following suit. In all four states, the measures are highly controversial, meeting with intense opposition by everyone from consumer groups and environmental, to local governments and business associations.

In 2017, solar policy debates took the industry’s future to higher ground by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

This post originally published at ilsr.org. Follow the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on Twitter and Facebook and sign-up for ILSR’s newsletters.

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Nick Stumo-Langer
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Nick Stumo-Langer

Nick Stumo-Langer was Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He ran ILSR's Facebook and Twitter profiles and builds relationships with reporters. He is an alumnus of St. Olaf College and animated by the concerns of monopoly power across our economy.