Data, quotes and stories of the changing energy era

Innovative rebate helps utility solve ‘duck curve’

In an effort to better align solar-energy production with peak demand, the utility in Columbia, Missouri has begun to pay higher rebates for new west-facing arrays than it does for those facing south, where the sun's most steady rays come from. The city-owned utility...
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RR exec says CSX won’t buy more coal trains

During a conference call with industry analysts last week, rail carrier CSX's new president said he thinks “fossil fuels are dead” and announced that the company will not buy any more locomotives for coal trains. Hunter Harrison stressed that he doesn't think coal...
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On Navajo Nation, coal is out and solar is in

As the owners of the largest coal-burning power plant in the West map out the details of closing in the next two years, the Navajo Nation has taken its next step in its energy development by starting operations at a new 27-megawatt solar farm not far from the source...
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Financials lead utilities to buy wind capacity

Increasingly, utilities are shunning the power-purchase agreement model of acquiring new renewable energy capacity and instead making the leap to outright ownership, which allows the companies to build purchase costs directly into their rate base and earn guaranteed...
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Data show that clean energy = reliable energy

In the wake of Energy Secretary Rick Perry's study examining the impact of wind and solar on fossil baseload power plants, two prominent energy experts have looked at data worldwide and concluded that Germany and Denmark, two countries with some of the highest levels...
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Another UK solar record falls as summer nears

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Britain’s fleet of solar panels generated a record amount of electricity as the nation basked in sunshine during the hottest day of the year to date. U.K. solar power output rose to a record 8.75 gigawatts at 1 p.m. London time on May 27, according to data compiled by... read more
“We don’t even have gas on the horizon right now; it’s all wind and solar.”

– Charles Patton, American Electric Power executive vice president of external affairs, on the utility’s moves toward clean energy

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“It’s purely economic. The plant guys tried everything they could to keep it open, but it was a money loser. In a competitive market, you’ve got to take these steps. This is a coal plant operating in a market that’s flooded with cheap natural gas.”

– Allan Koenig, a spokesman for parent company of Luminant, owner of one of Texas’ largest coal plants that is being shut down

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“It is really about the economics. From the company’s perspective, this plan is a response to our customers”
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– David Eves, President for Xcel Energy in Colorado, on plans to retire two coal-fired power plants.

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“Iowa has the most reliable electric grid in the country, and the average energy cost for all sectors here is the sixth cheapest in the nation.”

– Republican Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds, in an op-ed touting her state’s embrace of wind power, which has created 9,000 jobs and generated more than $13.5 billion in investments.

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“While it appears $4.5 billion is a big number, if you built a central-station generation facility like a coal unit or something like that, it would be as big or bigger, but much more risky.”

– American Electric Power CEO Nick Akins, commenting on his company’s plans to spend $4.5 billion acquiring an 800-turbine Oklahoma wind project, the biggest in the United States.

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“If Duke and Southern Co. couldn’t do it, who is the Navajo Nation going to find who can do it? There’s no evidence that this can be done economically or reliably.”

– David Schlissel, director of resource planning analysis at the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, reacting to statements by Navajo tribal officials that they are considering building a coal gasification plant on the site of Navajo Generating Station after it is decommissioned in 2019.

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“The only thing different between this year and previous years is that our political leaders, their lobbyist friends, and the billionaire coal tycoons are cutting safety regulations in order to make an additional dollar.”

– Gary Bentley, a former underground coal miner from Eastern Kentucky, writing about the rise in work-related coal mine deaths this year, even as the number of workers and mine output shrink. Nationally, there have already been more deaths in the first half of 2017 than in the entire previous year.

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“In the first year alone, the [Pueblo County School] District saved $35,000. Over the life of the [community solar] program, those savings will exceed $2 million. That’s enough to buy a Chromebook for 7 out of ten kids in the District. It’s enough to pay all 32 employees at Prairie Winds Elementary for a year.”

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., in an op-ed extolling the virtues of community solar programs. Bennet has introduced legislation in Congress to make permanent a Department of Energy program to promote community solar, especially in low-income communities.

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Trying to keep aging coal and nuclear plants operating “may end up raising rather than lowering the average cost of wholesale electricity for many customers.”

– from a leaked draft of a politically motivated analysis commissioned by Energy Secretary Rick Perry that was supposed to question whether renewable energy policies or regulations have harmed grid reliability and accelerated the retirement of coal and nuclear plants, but which actually showed the opposite to be true.

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“Solar reduces the cost of home ownership, it makes houses sell faster, it returns more to a builder, it makes local jobs, and most importantly, it reduces carbon emissions today to help our children and grandchildren have a better future tomorrow.”

— South Miami Mayor Philip Stoddard, whose monthly electric bill is about $10, after the city passed a measure requiring new houses to install solar panels.

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“Donald Trump has used the phrase ‘clean coal’ probably a thousand times, and it doesn’t exist in the real world right now.”

– Billionaire Tom Steyer in an interview on Bloomberg TV

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“None of our people are ever going to be building a coal plant again. It’s devoid of reality.”

– an unidentified utility executive reacting to meetings between power sector leaders and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt about the future of the Clean Power Plan and utilities’ desire to see some sort of carbon regulation rather than having the Trump Administration simply erase the CPP.

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“Because of the low natural gas prices and expanded renewable generating capacity, wholesale electric market prices over recent years have frequently been too low to merit economic dispatch of coal generating capacity.”

–  From the 20-year integrated resource plan filed by Boise, Idaho-based Idaho Power with the state’s Public Utilities Commission. The utility’s plans include retiring its shares in at least three coal-burning power plants throughout the West.

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“I don’t see any problems with reliability, and I say bring on more renewables.”

– Colette Honorable, a member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, speaking at a conference sponsored by the federal Energy Information Administration.

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“Coal is now largely irrelevant in New England.”

– Gordon van Welie, president and CEO of ISO New England in a story about grid reliability remaining stable even as coal continues to fall off as a baseload electricity generating resource.

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Eclipse: renewable energy passes test


Mother Nature provided a test of one of the more controversial ideas tossed around by the energy and environmental staff installed by President Trump. Here’s their question: Do recent changes to way power is generated in the United States — namely, more solar... read more

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