Can PUCs Lead on Distributed Renewable Energy?

If you’re like most renewable energy advocates that have interacted with a Public Utilities Commission, you probably don’t think they’re a repository of progressive policy toward distributed renewable energy.  In general, you’re right.

But it’s worth sharing a few, promising examples of Public Utilities Commissions around the U.S. that are actually making things better for distributed solar and other means of customer control over their energy future.

Community Solar Network Offering Help and Low Prices to West Virginians Who Want to Go Solar

Here is an excellent piece that ran on WV Public Broadcasting this morning. The story describes the solar co-ops in Union and Fayetteville that received help from the regional organization Community Power Network.

FE CEO Tony Alexander Admits New OH Rate Hike Is About Bailing Out Base Load Model

On The Power Line, I have often written about how the US base load/peak load model of electricity dispatch is not a hard and fast rule, but a distinct feature of our dying centralized system. Germany, and even recent renewable integration studies by PJM Interconnection, have shown that increased renewable generation will work fine if fossil fuel generators are used only to fill in during times of low renewables output.

After WV Harrison Bailout, FE looks for OH bailout of Sammis and Davis Besse

Julien Dumoulin-Smith has a new story over at the UBS site about FirstEnergy’s attempt to use a higher than market rate (where have we seen this before) power purchase agreement with its dying Sammis coal burner and is decrepit Davis Besse nuke to get OH rate payers to bailout the two loser plants.

FE seeking PPA to firm up its generation portfolio, substantially above-market

FE & AEP Attack Net Metering in OH

FirstEnergy and AEP, the holding companies that control most of the electricity systems in OH and WV, are pushing to prevent solar power producers from being paid for their contribution to PJM’s capacity needs in OH.  Using  OH’s regulatory system to underpay small producers would also allow the small producers’ energy at a discount and sell that energy at a profit to their own customers.

Here is an excellent account of the situation in OH.

With Liberty and Solar for All

For over 100 years, the American economy has been fueled by enormous expansion of fossil fuel energy. It has emitted a disproportionate share of its environmental impact (too much) and economic rewards (too few) on those less fortunate.

More than any 21st century energy source, solar can power an equitable and environmentally sound energy future.  Solar can mean reversing decades of environmental injustice.

Consider the results of the 20th century model of centralized control and generation of energy:

$1 Groupon Coupon for Rooftop Solar Energy Finds 800+ Takers

Inside Climate News, August 1, 2014

Over 800 people across the United States took advantage of a novel online deal to get a discount setting up solar panels on their rooftops.

Stagnant Demand Now Well Established in US Electrical System: Bleak, or Not Bleak?

I have been citing Rebecca Smith’s excellent reporting on falling electricity demand in the US for almost five years.  The Wall Street Journal’s editors deserve credit for keeping Ms. Smith on the electricity beat so she has the time to develop a deep understanding of the industry.  Most media outlets don’t allow this kind of growth, and their reporters simply reprint industry press releases instead of doing real journalism.