Con Edison Studies Climate Impacts to Energy Systems
Top consumer smart grid news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
Con Edison, in collaboration with ICF and Columbia University, released a study evaluating historical and projected climate-driven impacts on Con Edison’s energy delivery systems through the 21st century. The New York State Public Service Commission authorized the 36-month study as part of a collaborative created after Superstorm Sandy. “We recognize the global scientific consensus that climate change is occurring at an accelerating rate,” Tim Cawley, President of Con Edison, said. “While climate change’s exact pace and effects are uncertain, the study provides a strong foundation upon which to plan, design and invest in our energy delivery systems to better protect them and serve our customers.”
The board of commissioners of the Snohomish County Public Utility District has approved two new rate design plans, including a pilot time-of-day plan for commercial and industrial customers. The rates for the time-of-day program include a nights and weekends discount designed to save customers money during the off-peak hours and a morning and evening peak rate that applies from November through February. The utility intends to use the pilot program to study how effective time-of-day rates are at shifting electricity usage to off-peak hours during the winter to alleviate short-term capacity needs.
It is unsurprising to utility professionals that the uptake of DERs – such as smart thermostats, electric vehicles, solar PV, and batteries – is continuing to surge. Over the next five years, Navigant estimates utilities in North America will spend around $1B on residential DER programs, which Wood Mackenzie expects could unlock an additional 50GW of flexibility in the U.S. power system. While promising, can utilities combine the use of these resources to further maximize the benefits?
Electric utilities will seize the opportunity to expand their role in leading the clean energy transition while improving the customer experience in 2020, Deloitte forecasts in its 2020 Power and Utilities Industry Outlook. According to the report, many utilities will continue working toward meeting their own clean energy goals, while managing growing cybersecurity risks and preparing to respond to natural disasters. Deloitte expects utility capital expenses to continue to increase year-over-year because of the need to upgrade infrastructure that is aging, as well as strengthening and securing the grid against both natural and man-made threats.
Blockchain has been a rising concept in the energy space in recent years, as more utilities announce pilots and partnerships with tech companies. Several new projects were announced in 2019, and that number will likely grow in 2020. Utilities throughout the country are trying to figure out how the software can help them secure their operations as new customer-owned generation resources come on the grid, and in the future, blockchain could play an important role in enabling energy exchanges between customers in “transactive energy” marketplaces.
The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved 45 participants for its new Community Solar Energy Pilot Program. A community solar project is one where the output is divided among multiple participants or subscribers. The arrays will be located on landfills, brownfields, rooftops or parking canopies. The projects represent 77.61 MW of solar energy capacity, enough to power 15,500 homes. The approved applicants include community groups, government entities, and private developers. NJBPU reserved 40 percent of the pilot program’s capacity for projects that serve low- to moderate-income communities.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee recently introduced five new pieces of climate legislation aimed at reaching net-zero emissions by 2050, through adoption of a clean fuel standard, increased availability of electric vehicles, an extended tax incentive for low-income community solar projects, and other mechanisms. Inslee's plan calls for slashing emissions 95 percent below 1990 levels in the next three decades.
Two gigawatts of solar capacity have been installed across New York State, making it one of the fastest-growing distributed solar markets in the nation, according to the New York Energy Research and Development Authority. That represents growth of nearly 1,800 percent. The state has been able to leverage $4 billion in private investment. The solar installations have fueled nearly 12,000 jobs since 2011 and decreased the cost of solar by almost 60 percent. The state has now achieved one-third of the solar capacity needed to meet the target of six gigawatts of solar by established by Gov. Andrew Cuomo.