SMUD Wants to Electrify Homes, Low-Income Included
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
“No one has more to gain from electrification than low-income and moderate-income households.” With that, Scott Blunk set the agenda for a small team that had gathered at a Utah ski resort earlier this year to address a thorny challenge: How does a not-for-profit municipal utility that has committed to eliminate carbon from buildings ensure that its most disadvantaged customers aren’t left behind during the transition?
Xcel Energy recently filed an advice letter with Colorado regulators to make permanent a residential energy time-of-use rate, following a successful pilot program that concluded in July. The pilot found customers without solar panels or electric vehicles cut their peak demand in both summer and winter by slightly more than three percent. Customers with access to distributed resources were able to produce markedly higher peak savings.
Many consumers see DERs as viable solutions for addressing their energy-related needs, but need guidance from their electricity providers throughout the process, according to the new “Distributed Energy Resources: Meeting Consumer Needs” report from the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative. The report reveals that consumers’ top concerns and expected benefits from DERs are primarily financially related. Consumers want to know upfront exactly how much money they will save by participating; 67 percent cite this need.
EPRI is accepting applications from startup companies focused on clean energy solutions, the institute announced last week. EPRI's Incubatenergy Labs will accept bids until Jan. 17, 2020 to pitch proposals to a group of 10 utilities in Charlotte, North Carolina in April. American Electric Power, Ameren and Tennessee Valley Authority will host the selected projects as pilot programs.
The climate crisis is impacting utilities through many different avenues — from project financing to consumer expectations to regional clean energy initiatives. Top-level influencers, including investors and government officials, are pressuring utilities to mitigate climate risk by adopting renewables and evaluating infrastructure vulnerabilities. Consumers are also increasingly prioritizing smart home features and becoming more conscious of the climate crisis, all while cities set ambitious clean and renewable energy targets.
Connecticut recently selected Vineyard Wind’s 804 MW Park City project as the winner in a major offshore wind solicitation, setting up the seaport city of Bridgeport to become a significant hub for the emerging U.S. market. Connecticut regulators said Vineyard won with a price “lower than any other publicly announced offshore wind project in North America.” Vineyard Wind, which competed against rival development groups backed by Ørsted and Shell, will now begin negotiating a final contract with Connecticut’s two electric utilities.
An annual report from the Michigan Public Service Commission shows that distributed energy generation continues to grow in the state, with a 57 percent growth of installations producing power tracked throughout 2018. That growth represented 1,952 renewable energy installations supplying 13,910 kilowatts more capacity to Michigan consumers. By the end of last year, that brought the total capacity for such installations to 43,481 kilowatts generated under the state’s legacy net metering program.
Enel X has completed the largest battery storage project in New York City, using an unusual business model to break through in a tough market. New York City consumes a tremendous amount of electricity in a congested part of the grid, creating potential business opportunities for batteries to store power locally, without emitting pollution. But the price of land, urban density and stringent fire safety protocols have made it nearly impossible for developers to get batteries in the ground.