Xcel to Expand Minnesota Renewables Program
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission on Monday authorized Xcel Energy to expand its Renewable Connect program from a pilot program to a full-time offering and to roll its Windsource offering into that program as well. Xcel will supply the expanded program with 230 MW of new renewable resources, including 180 MW of wind and 50 MW of solar.
An assessment by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission recently found that investor-owned electric utilities Puget Sound Energy and Avista are on track to supply at least nine percent of their loads through renewable resources this year. That goal is set by the state’s Energy Independence Act, which requires utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from eligible renewable resources. Wind, solar and hydro power are all eligible under the 2006 law. In this case, both companies exceeded their approved targets.
You may have missed it on the summer festival calendar, but Indianapolis just hosted the Lollapalooza of the utility industry. In late July, hundreds of utility regulators gathered for the NARUC Summer Policy Summit. For a certain wonky set who couldn’t make the trek, trust me: the FOMO is real. Customer-centricity was a major theme of the conference, especially as the utility industry shifts from a centralized, large-scale infrastructure model to one that relies on distributed resources and an increasing array of customer choices.
Customers of FirstEnergy Corp. can get a rebate off the price of a 2019 Nissan LEAF or LEAF Plus by showing their electric bill and the official program flyer to a participating Nissan dealership. The purchaser could also qualify for up to $7,500 in federal electric vehicle tax credits and be eligible for additional state and local benefits. The LEAF retails for about $30,000, while the LEAF S Plus goes for about $36,550.
Midwest utilities’ plans for preventing electric vehicles from overwhelming the power grid are expanding beyond discounted rates for overnight charging. Time-of-use rates — still in the pilot phase for most utilities — are a big part of the strategy for keeping too many drivers from plugging in during peak hours. But with a potential electric vehicle boom on the horizon, more programs and technologies are being tested to help manage the expected load growth.
Interest in electric vehicles may stall without the implementation of a standard protocol for B2B connectivity for public charging stations. A patchwork of grant funding, settlement funds, private investment and electric companies’ pilots and programs developed the U.S. charging infrastructure. That has resulted in a vast number of divergent stakeholders involved in charging stations. Among those stakeholders are network providers that operate charging stations under a variety of business models.
A growing percentage of senior executives across the utility sectors — gas, electric, water and others — are coming to an interesting new realization when it comes to digital engagement and customer satisfaction. It is no longer just a "nice-to-have" metric that looks good on community press releases and corporate annual reports; it is becoming the key to driving down costs and laying the foundation for investments in infrastructure and utility modernization initiatives that will be critical to operations as we move into the third decade of the millennium.
The United States saw a surge in new wind capacity in the first half of 2019 with a record amount under construction, according to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Wind farm companies brought online 1,577 megawatts in the first six months, up 53 percent from the year-ago period, AWEA said in an August 1 report. Texas added 734 MW in the first half of this year and Iowa installed 536 MW, the trade group said. AWEA expects wind additions to grow in the near-term, with a record 20,900 MW under construction at the end of the second quarter.