Customer Education Needed for TOU Rates to Be Successful
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
As utilities consider time-of-use rates as a tool to help manage the grid, a recent survey suggests customer education could be a barrier to rolling out successful programs. The survey by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative suggests many people don’t fully understand how their electric bills work. “There is a widespread lack of awareness, and I think it’s because you can’t take your electric bill and look at it and understand it easily,” said Patty Durand, SECC’s President and CEO. “They’ve never been consumer-friendly documents.”
Entergy Arkansas and NextEra Energy Resources have teamed up to build the largest utility-scale solar energy project in Arkansas – the Chicot Solar Energy Center. The Chicot Solar Energy Center will be built on 825 acres near Lake Village in Chicot County. The facility will feature approximately 350,000 photovoltaic solar panels and will have a capacity to generate 100 megawatts of electricity. NextEra Energy Resources is developing the project, and the energy will serve Entergy Arkansas customers under a 20-year power purchase agreement.
New research from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds energy efficiency can help utilities meet peak demand at a low cost relative to the capital cost of other resources. Efficiency benefits are typically quantified based on the economic value of annual energy reductions across the life of the program or action. But with rising peak demand in many regions, researchers say the utility sector is increasingly interested in demand savings as well.
Early next month, Green Mountain Power in Vermont plans to begin offering customers a peer-to-peer platform for trading environmental attributes. The pilot program will be hosted on LO3 Energy’s platform, which uses blockchain technology, a form of digital ledger. Blockchain technology is used in cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, but it is also making inroads in a variety of industries because of its potential for securely recording and executing transaction at low costs. LO3 was one of the first companies in the U.S. to build a power project that uses blockchain technology.
Comfortably past its infancy but not yet widespread, the U.S. community solar market sits in a developmental middle zone. Advocates say the model – which, done right, can widen solar availability for the 50 to 75 percent of Americans who don't have the option of installing their own system – should play a central role in clean energy policies going forward. But first, the sector has to find a way to scale up.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is seeking to launch a program to help local governments transition to clean energy. The Clean Fleet EV Incentive program would allow local governments to purchase electric vehicles at the State Purchasing Contract price, while also allowing them to apply for grant funds. This is designed to incentivize the purchase of electric vehicles or charging stations by local governments. Specifically, local governments can apply for a $4,000 grant toward the purchase of a battery EV or $1,500 toward the purchase of a dual-port Level 2 EV charging station.
Average market prices for battery packs have plunged from $1,100/kWh in 2010 to $156/kWh in 2019, an 87 percent fall in real terms, according to a report by Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF). Prices are projected to fall to around $100/kWh by 2023, driving electrification across the global economy, according to BNEF's forecast. Customers purchasing batteries at a commercial scale for electric vehicles and energy storage, as well as using high energy density cathodes to store energy more efficiently in battery packs, are all spurring the price decline.
PPL Electric Utilities has launched a program that will help customers who are struggling to meet their electric bills. Through its OnTrack program, the company, which provides energy to residents of Kentucky and Pennsylvania, can reduce customers’ monthly payments for those who qualify. Through the program, PPL will forgive the difference between your actual bill and your lower fixed OnTrack amount. So, if the bill is $200 and the OnTrack payment is $120, then the customer gets a credit of $80.