Update November 2016: From now on, we’ll keep the most recent data on the program’s development in this post I’ve been asked a lot of questions about Minnesota’s community solar program over the past couple years and it’s time to make one thing clear: Minnesota’s program is the best in the country. Why? Because there… Continue reading
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Minnesota’s largest investor-owned utility, Xcel Energy, last month reported sparse participation in a program designed to deliver value to customers who charge their electric vehicles when it’s most convenient for the grid. But despite its benefits for the grid and cost savings for customers, the initiative appears stuck in neutral.
By April 2017, a year and a half after its launch, just 95 Xcel customers had opted in to the state-mandated electric vehicle charging tariff. With nearly 1,000 plug-in vehicles registered to Minnesota drivers — a bulk of them likely in Xcel’s metro-area territory — participation numbers hover well below reasonable expectations. Why? Continue reading
The U.S. vehicle market will undergo a massive technology disruption from electric vehicles in the coming decades. Many analysts see the potential for surging sales of these efficient vehicles to enable smart grid management, but few have explored the local impact of electric vehicles: promoting energy democracy. Electric vehicles offer a natural use for solar energy, a pathway to pump more local solar power onto the grid, and a source of resilient power when the grid goes down. Ultimately, electric vehicles are another tool to miniaturize the electricity system, providing unprecedented local control.
Solar made up over a half of the added power plant capacity during the first quarter of 2016. With over 800 MW (AC) coming from distributed solar, this year is shaping up to be another banner year for renewable energy. See previous updates: 2015 Q4, 2015 Q3, 2015 Q2, 2015 Q1, 2014 Q4, 2014 Q3, 2014 Q2 Distributed… Continue reading
Ten years ago, a North Dakota cooperative stopped charging customers a premium for getting energy from the wind, because they found it wasn’t costing anything extra. The cooperative, like many utilities, used a “green pricing” program that allowed customers to voluntarily pay more to get their energy solely from renewable resources. Dozens of utilities still… Continue reading
How can a state modernize its electric system when it’s in the hands of vertically integrated monopolies? We offer some thoughts via its comments on a Grid Modernization docket being reviewed by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Background: the grid modernization docket is a relatively new requirement, asking the state’s largest investor-owned utility to explain… Continue reading
It was the biggest quarter ever for solar, which supplied one-third of over 7.3 gigawatts of new power plant capacity added to the grid. Distributed solar kept pace, with 832 megawatts (AC) added in the last three months of 2015! Important note: in prior versions of this update I made an error, forgetting to covert… Continue reading
Electric cooperatives, member-owned organizations that sell electricity to those within their service area, are perhaps the nation’s largest group of utilities that could champion clean, local power. They tend to cover enormous swaths of the most rural territory, often with excellent wind and solar resources. In one manner of renewable energy, cooperatives are leading the… Continue reading
Communities all over the country are finding ways to break the macro barriers to microgrids. As we flip from a top-down to bottom-up grid management structure, major policy barriers must be lifted in order to expand energy democracy to customers and producers. DOWNLOAD THE FULL REPORT Executive Summary The electric grid is no longer… Continue reading
In any conversation about the transition to a renewable energy economy, solar and wind advocates will eventually come up against the term “stranded assets.” It’s a misleading term, usually deployed in defense of legacy fossil fuel power plants (and their owners). But as times change, “stranded assets” can be redefined and in the next few… Continue reading