A combination of attractive incentives and utility engagement with developers is making all-electric homes the default for new residential construction in greater Sacramento. This summer, national homebuilder D.R. Horton broke ground on <a href="https://www.smud.org/en/Corporate/About-us/News-and-Media/2018/2018/SMUD-and-DR-Horton-agree-to-build-all-electric-homes" >two new all-electric projects</a> in the Sacramento neighborhood of North Natomas. D.R. Horton plans to build 104 homes complete with heat pump space heating and cooling, heat pump water heating, induction stoves, and no natural gas infrastructure in the new “<a href="http://www.drhorton.com/California/Sacramento/Sacramento/Express-Westlake-Village-Greens-1-2-3" >Independence</a>” and “<a href="http://www.drhorton.com/California/Sacramento/Sacramento/Express-Westlake-Village-Greens-1-2-3" >Juniper</a>” communities. Six model homes have been completed and construction is expected to continue throughout 2019. Under its <a href="https://www.smud.org/en/Going-Green/Smart-Homes" >All-Electric Smart Home</a> program, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), the regional community-owned utility, will provide rebates worth up to $466,000 to D.R. Horton for the installation of electric appliances and equipment at the two projects. Developers building all-electric projects can qualify for rebate packages worth up to $5,000 for new <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "All-Electric Homes Are Becoming the Default for New Residential Construction in Sacramento"
California utilities Pacific Gas & Electric and Southern California Edison are facing intense scrutiny after reporting that their power lines may have played a role in the deadly wildfires now raging in the state, the Camp Fire in Butte County and the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles County In Friday reports to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), both utilities described grid outages in the areas shortly before the blazes began. PG&E’s <a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/5032843-PG-amp-E-Reports-Electric-Safety-Incident-Near.html">filing</a> stated that on Thursday at about 6:15 a.m., the utility “experienced an outage on the Caribou-Palermo 115 kV transmission line in Butte County,” about 20 minutes before the Camp Fire was first reported. Later that day, an aerial patrol observed “damage to a transmission tower” on that line, about a mile northeast of the town of Pulga, the utility reported. As of Monday, the blaze had claimed 29 lives and burned 11,000 acres, taking <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "California Utilities Face Scrutiny, Falling Shares, Over Possible Link to Deadly Wildfires"
Air-conditioning has been getting a lot of mainstream media attention of late. It has been variously called “one of the world’s great overlooked industries” by <em>The Economist;</em> “a life-saver — and a danger” by <em>Time Magazine; </em>and “the next big equality issue” by <em>The Guardian</em>. As two people who have spent most of their careers working on the challenge of cooling and energy efficiency, the attention seems overdue. Even as recently as the Paris climate negotiations, the threat represented by this technology was massively underestimated. Since then, researchers at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and the International Energy Agency have established that air-conditioning represents one of the single biggest end-use risks to our climate. The use of energy for cooling buildings has more than tripled between 1990 and 2016, with nearly 70 percent of this increase stemming from the residential sector. According to "<a href="https://www.rmi.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/Global_Cooling_Challenge_Report_2018.pdf" >Solving the Global Cooling Challenge,</a>" <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/RMI_Global_Cooling_Challenge_Report_Air_Conditioning_Growth.png" style="max-width: 100%" /></div>
Continue reading "Air Conditioning Is Broken. Here’s How We Can (And Must) Fix It"
When you exchange electrons for the sun, what happens to the grid? This week, we’re talking about the energy profile of indoor plant factories. Indoor farming is having a moment. Venture capitalists are investing hundreds of millions of dollars into vertical farming startups growing in urban, industrial facilities. Cities are easing restrictions to encourage more plant factories. And even Elon Musk’s cousin founded a vertical farm. We’re tackling this booming business: What’s driving it, what’s the potential, and what are the energy consequences? We’re joined by <a href="https://www.linkedin.com/in/loganashcraft/" >Logan Ashcraft</a>, an indoor agriculture expert who previously served as the manager of energy & power at Plenty. She’s currently doing research on the broader impact of these operations on the energy system. “I don’t think we have seen a load profile quite as exciting or as malleable," says Ashcraft. <iframe scrolling="no" src="https://art19.com/shows/b4df7c16-a169-4be5-8bfa-6dbb20a74f6d/episodes/8ab6fb41-4ae5-44aa-8f05-fe754ac8b152/embed" style="width: 100%; height: 200px; border: 0 none;"></iframe> <em>Support for this podcast</em><em> comes from Wunder Capital. </em><em>Wunder Capital is the leading commercial <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "The Impact of ‘Plant Factories’ on the Electric Grid"
When operators of Duke Energy's control room in Raleigh, North Carolina wait for a hurricane, the mood is often calm in the hours leading up to the storm. “Things are usually fairly quiet before the activity starts,” said Mark Goettsch, the systems operations manager at Duke. “We’re anxiously awaiting the first operation and the first event. Once that begins, you get into storm mode.” Then begins a “frenzied pace” that can last for days — like when Hurricane Florence parked over Duke’s service territory in September. When an event like Florence hits, all eyes are on transmission and distribution. Where it’s available, Duke uses remote switching to reconnect customers quickly. As outages mount, the utility forecasts and balances its generation with electricity demand. The control center’s four to six operators work 12-hour shifts, while nearby staff members field thousands of calls and alarms on the system. After it’s over, <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" class="modal" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/Hurricane_Michael_Img_020.jpg" style="max-width: 100%;" /></div>
Continue reading "Can the Electricity Industry Seize Its Resilience Moment?"
The White House's failed <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/behind-the-backlash-to-energy-secretary-rick-perrys-demand-for-coal-nuclear">bailout</a> of coal and nuclear plants caused a lot of chatter about grid resilience in Washington. But the Department of Defense (DoD) and U.S. military were working on resilience-related projects long before Trump took office. A <a href="https://www.defensecommunities.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/01/Beyond-The-Fence-Line.pdf" >report</a> released Friday by the Association of Defense Communities (ADC), a membership organization comprised of communities connected to military operations, highlights many of the clean energy and microgrid installations supporting military bases across the country. The case studies offer examples on the best ways to actually build resilient energy systems. <img alt="" class="modal" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/Map_Military_Resilience2.png" style="max-width: 100%;" /> In a 2018 <a href="file:///Users/mercem/Downloads/climate-related_risk_to_dod_infrastructure_slvas_report.pdf" >report</a> on climate-related risks to DoD infrastructure, the department noted that “if extreme weather makes our critical facilities unusable or necessitate costly or manpower-intensive work-arounds, that is an unacceptable impact.” So far, installations have often focused on diesel generators or natural gas turbines — but that is increasingly shifting toward a more diverse supply mix that <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "US Military Microgrids Are Using More Renewables and Batteries"
This week, we make sense of America’s midterm elections. We've got a podcast double-header of political coverage. Listen to our <em>Energy Gang</em> analysis below. And make sure to check out <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/what-a-new-congress-could-do-on-clean-energy#gs.FCEIf5A" ><em>Political Climate's</em> episode</a> with Democratic and Republican perspectives on the results. Covered in our episode: Will Democrats do anything on energy in the House? Why did so many ballot initiatives fail? What does the score tell us about the value of running as a climate hawk? First, we’ll look at what happened in states with major ballot questions on carbon pricing, market design and renewables. Then, we'll discuss what happens over the next two years under Democratic leadership in the House. Finally, some specific races we were watching and why. <iframe scrolling="no" src="https://art19.com/shows/fd6fe153-847b-450e-acbc-5683e7340e69/episodes/4c56a291-064c-4fe5-a4fc-b568d3d3bb1f/embed" style="width: 100%; height: 200px; border: 0 none;"></iframe> The Energy Gang<em> is brought to you by GE's Reservoir, a modular lithium-ion energy storage system that can slash construction costs by 50 percent. Find out more about <a href="http://ge.com/energystorage" rel="nofollow" >what Reservoir <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Post-Election Punditry: Failed Energy Ballot Initiatives, Soaring Climate Hawks and Key Local Races"
The price of cobalt, a key material for lithium-ion batteries, could skyrocket after the output from a major mining project was halted this week. The mining giant Glencore said the export and sale of cobalt from the Kamoto project in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), owned by Glencore’s subsidiary Katanga Mining, would be suspended until further notice after the metal was found to be contaminated with uranium. The radiation levels in the cobalt hydroxide produced at Kamoto are not high enough to pose a health hazard but do exceed the limit allowed for exports. Analysts expect the setback to reverse a downward trend in global cobalt pricing, as Katanga was in the process of ramping up to become the biggest cobalt-producing asset in the world. Katanga’s operations were put on hold in 2015, to build a whole-ore leaching facility, but production restarted in March this year. Since <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Katanga Export Halt Threatens Cobalt Supply Chain for Lithium-Ion Batteries"
Shell has accelerated its transition into new energies in the last few years, particularly in the power sector. Shell is becoming one of the best examples of how oil and gas titans are diversifying asset portfolios and investing billions in clean energy. We sit down with Brian Davis, Shell’s vice president of energy solutions, to discuss the way ahead for Shell New Energies just days before he flies to Austin to join us for <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/events/live/power-renewables-summit" >Power & Renewables Summit next week</a>. There, he'll speak about the transition into the energy markets of the future alongside Austin Energy, AEP and Marathon Capital. <strong>GTM: </strong><em>What parts of the renewables value chain make the most sense for oil and gas majors like Shell to play in?</em> <strong>Brian Davis:</strong> We are looking to build on our strengths and capabilities in oil and gas production and marketing to grow our renewable power business. We already generate <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "Shell VP: ‘We Want Power to Sit Alongside Oil, Gas and Chemicals Businesses’"
California utility regulators approved Pacific Gas & Electric's proposal to build the two largest battery systems in the world. The 4-1 vote marks a landmark development in California's quest to decarbonize its electrical system by shifting from natural gas to non-emitting sources for flexible power. "Not only will this help California integrate solar and reduce the need to ramp up polluting gas plants in the late afternoon, but it will also provide local reliability needs in an area that is currently highly reliant on gas-fired generation," said Matt Vespa, staff attorney at Earthjustice, in an email Thursday. "We are getting multiple benefits, pushing gas off the system, and moving a step closer to a decarbonized grid." The vote followed from the California Public Utilities Commission's January decision to <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/pge-must-solicit-energy-storage-ders-to-replace-three-existing-gas-plants#gs.OJBoE7w">reject out-of-market payments</a> to three aging Calpine gas plants for their grid reliability services. Instead, the CPUC asked PG&E to procure <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "PG&E’s Record-Breaking Battery Proposal Wins Approval From Regulators"
Democrats have claimed the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections. It gives the party powerful new oversight authority. But will it translate to meaningful action on climate and clean energy? Several moderate Republicans were voted out of Congress this week, casting doubt on any hope of bipartisan legislation. At the same time, Democrats now have chance to block the GOP's deregulatory activity and put the climate and clean energy back the national agenda. Then there are the states, where several Democrats campaigned and won on a platform endorsing 100 percent renewable energy. Several high-profile climate-related ballot initiatives did not advance on Tuesday, but the outcome may not be as bad for clean energy as it may seem. In this episode of <em>Political Climate</em>, we debate the outcome of the 2018 midterms. Finally, we discuss the outcome of Brandon and Shane’s friendly O’Rourke vs. Cruz bet — <div class="post-limited-image"><img src="http://feeds.feedburner.com/~ff/GreentechMedia?d=yIl2AUoC8zA" border="0"></div>
Continue reading "What a New Congress Could Do on Clean Energy"
Residential solar and energy storage installer Sunrun delivered its biggest quarterly deployment ever. After producing a <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/sunrun-earnings-second-quarter-profit-lag#gs.GxQpKAQ">personal best 91 megawatts in Q2</a>, Sunrun installed 100 megawatts in Q3, the company announced in an <a href="http://investors.sunrun.com/static-files/6f7b17eb-801d-4ef5-b03f-df63808a8456" >earnings report</a> Wednesday. Deployments in 2018 are on track to deliver 15 percent growth over 2017. Cumulatively, the company has installed 1,460 megawatts. Just a few years back, as the residential market stalled and high profile players <a href="https://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/growing-pains-for-the-us-residential-solar-industry#gs.JP9byjA">pulled out or went bankrupt</a>, industry watchers questioned the viability of the national installer business model. Sunrun seems determined to prove the critics wrong. Indeed, its direct installation business grew 50 percent year-over-year (Sunrun also works with partner installers). “The big picture trend is that we’re giving people what they want, which is clean, affordable, reliable energy,” CEO Lynn Jurich told GTM. “Our advantages are accelerating as we continue to take share and separate ourselves from the rest of the <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" class="modal" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/Sunrun_Q3_2018_NPV_XL.png" style="max-width: 100%" /></div>
Continue reading "Sunrun Installed 100 Megawatts in Q3, Its Biggest Quarter So Far"
Businesses generally need to see cost savings in order to justify switching to an electric vehicle fleet. “They need the rates to be better than gas or diesel if they’re going to give up their diesel bus or truck,” said Cal Silcox, clean transportation strategy manager at Pacific Gas & Electric. Right now, there’s no guarantee that commercial customers in PG&E territory will see any fuel savings, he said. That’s largely because of the demand charges C&I customers are required to pay when their electricity use spikes — like during a high-powered EV charging event. That’s why PG&E is hoping to replace demand charges with a new subscription rate plan for customers with commercial EV (CEV) charging. The proposal, submitted to the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) Monday, allows customers to choose the amount of power they need for their charging stations and pay for it with a flat monthly <div class="post-limited-image"><img alt="" src="http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/content/images/articles/PGE_Commercial_EV_Charging_Proposal_Savings.png" style="max-width: 100%" /></div>
Continue reading "PG&E Proposes Ditching Demand Charges for Commercial EV Charging"