Evergy Pledges Carbon Cuts in Line with Paris Accord
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Evergy has become the latest utility to pledge to long-term carbon cuts even though the states it serves, Kansas and Missouri, aren’t demanding them. Recently, the one-million-customer utility, formed last year by the merger of Westar Energy and Kansas City Power & Light parent company Great Plains Energy, announced plans to cut carbon emission by 80 percent from 2005 levels by 2050. While that’s not as aggressive as the zero-carbon goals being followed by utilities in states such as California, Hawaii and New York, it’s in line with meeting the terms of the Paris climate accord, the utility said.
New York has one of the most aggressive energy storage targets in the country — originally set at 1.5 GW by Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo in June 2018 and later bumped to 3 GW by 2030 in December of that year. All this falls under the state's comprehensive Reforming the Energy Vision plan, which includes energy efficiency, storage and electric vehicle targets. The target pushes the state's six investor-owned utilities to procure 10 MW of storage each by the end of 2022, except Con Edison, which must adopt at least 300 MW by that time.
SECC recently recognized Texas public power utilities Austin Energy and CPS Energy with best practices awards. The awards, now in their third year, highlight successful programs, products and strategies from electricity providers in six categories. CPS Energy was awarded the Culture Transformation Award for the “People First” philosophy that has reinforced the utility’s focus on its customers, community and employees, SECC noted. Austin Energy was awarded the Underserved Markets Award for its energy efficiency programs that are helping multifamily renters and lower-income consumers save on their energy bills.
Honolulu and New York City are top-scoring U.S. cities for incorporating energy efficiency and renewable power policies into resilience plans, according to a study from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy. They ranked “exemplary”, while Atlanta, Chicago and Washington, D.C. followed close behind. The study concluded that many cities are taking steps toward cleaner energy, but only about 20 percent include extensive initiatives toward that end in their resilience plans.
Developers added 9,143 MW of wind power capacity to the grid in 2019, the third-highest annual total ever, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s U.S. Wind Industry Fourth Quarter 2019 Market Report. Further, the report revealed that another 44,000 MW of wind projects – representing over $62 billion in investment – are under construction. In addition, 16 GW of offshore wind energy was pledged in 2019 – more than doubling the amount in the previous year.
As California and Oregon work toward their transportation electrification goals, utilities are beefing up infrastructure and engaging with customers to cope with the anticipated increase in load — and, in some cases, trying to figure out how to turn electric vehicles (EVs) into a net benefit for the grid. California is aiming to put 5 million zero-emission vehicles on the road by 2030, while Oregon Democratic Gov. Kate Brown is aiming for 50,000 registered EVs in the state by the end of this year.
California regulators have allocated $45 million to incentives for heat pump water heaters through 2025, in another step on the path toward the state's 2045 carbon neutrality goal. In a unanimous vote last month, the California Public Utilities Commission carved out 5 percent of the $830 million in new funding approved for the state's Self-Generation Incentive Program, amounting to $44.7 million in total. That includes a $4 million set-aside for low-income customers.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) filed a petition Jan. 28 with state regulators to initiate a regulatory proceeding for the authorization of a second largescale wind solicitation for at least 1 GW of offshore wind. NYSERDA plans to issue the solicitation in the middle of this year for as much as 2.5 GW of offshore wind, which, combined with earlier solicitations from three separate projects would lead to more than 4.3 GW of procured offshore wind by the end of 2020.