Dear Efficiency Advocates – Don’t Fear Electrification
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
For three decades, I’ve helped homeowners and businesses save energy and money through energy efficiency improvements — for the last decade through my role at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), a community-owned, not-for-profit utility that delivers energy to Sacramento area residents. In recent years, our approach to efficiency has changed from just helping our customers save energy, to also helping them change energy sources in both buildings and transportation by replacing gas-powered cars and appliances with those powered by electricity.
This week, Duke Energy and Colorado Springs Utilities announced the start of operation for a new solar energy generating facility, the Palmer Solar project. Containing more than 220,000 solar panels on about 700 acres southeast of Colorado Springs, Colorado, the 60 MW Palmer Solar will provide solar electricity to Colorado Springs Utilities’ customers. This is the largest solar project contracted by Colorado Springs Utilities to date and the first solar project to interconnect with its transmission system.
General Motors (GM) will invest in 500,000 MWh of solar energy from DTE Energy as part of DTE’s MIGreenPower program. The MIGreenPower program is available to all DTE customers who want to boost their percentage of wind and solar energy operations. GM’s investment should deliver enough clean energy to supply GM’s Southeast Michigan facilities by 2023, including the Renaissance Center global headquarters in Detroit, the GM Global Technical Center in Warren, the Milford Proving Ground in Milford, two local assembly plants at Orion and Detroit-Hamtramck, as well as several smaller sites across Southeast Michigan.
Two customers may appear, on paper, to be very similar. But scratch the surface and you find that drastic differences exist between them, making it necessary to approach and serve them in extremely different ways. Let’s say you need to generate a marketing campaign for a new service or program designed to serve low-income wage earners during this frightening time. For example, a low-interest loan or a new bill deferment program that you know will be especially useful to vulnerable customers as they navigate through the COVID-19 epidemic’s aftermath.
Last year, wind power was responsible for more than a third (39 percent) of new utility-scale power additions in the United States, with another 9.1 GW of construction leading to a total operating wind power capacity of more than 105 GW. Those figures, released this week in the Wind Powers America Annual Report 2019, show a surging wind industry that is now bringing $1.6 billion a year to states and communities with wind farms and investing $14 billion into new projects. With last year’s gains, it became the largest provider of renewable energy in the country, responsible for more than 7 percent of the country’s total electricity.
Utility PG&E finalized its contract with a battery project slated to displace a jet-fuel-burning power plant in downtown Oakland, California. The Oakland Clean Energy Initiative models a pathway for removing decades-old power plants in dense urban settings while keeping the lights on with new lithium-ion batteries. But the project’s collaborative business model also makes it potentially groundbreaking for energy storage development, by formalizing the use of the battery for discrete grid services on behalf of two different clients.
Dominion Energy and renewable energy firm Orsted have announced they are on track with the implementation of an offshore wind energy pilot project in Virginia, despite disruptions due to the coronavirus. The Coastal Virginia Offshore Wind energy pilot, comprising two 6 MW turbines developed by Siemens Gamesa in Denmark, is expected to be online by the end of this year and to power 3,000 homes. Onshore construction for the pilot project began last year in June to facilitate the interconnection of the turbines at a nearby company substation.
This series of articles seeks to explore how utilities are helping customers meet sustainability goals and facilitate a transition to a low-carbon future. This transition will be illustrated through a number of case studies showing the various ways in which utilities are enabling a clean energy future for customers through strategies such as energy efficiency, strategic electrification and enabling increased renewable energy consumption. According to the EPA, the transportation sector is now the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the country.