TVA Launches Virtual Home Energy Audits
Top consumer smart energy news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) on July 1 said it has launched virtual home energy evaluations, enabling residents across its seven-state region to benefit from money-saving energy advice, even during pandemic conditions. “Innovation is in TVA’s DNA, and we’re using new technology to provide consumers expert energy advice, while maintaining CDC social distancing guidelines,” said Frank Rapley, Senior Manager, TVA EnergyRight.
As part of its Smart Energy Plan, Ameren Missouri began installing upgrades for 1.2 million electric meters and 130,000 gas modules throughout the state last week. These efforts began in St. Charles, Missouri, but they will stretch over years to come and cover a wide spectrum of Ameren’s service area. In the end, these should lead to improved reliability, thanks to the new system’s ability to communicate two-way.
Minnesota’s community solar garden initiative continues to be the largest in the country even after dodging relentless utility opposition, a crippling pandemic and market forces that could have slowed growth. Operated by Xcel Energy after being enacted by the Legislature seven years ago, the program boasts more than 680 megawatts of operating capacity in the first quarter of 2020, more than two times the amount installed in Massachusetts, its closest competitor.
Businesses owned by minorities, women, the LGBTQ community, veterans, people with disabilities and economically disadvantaged groups are known as diverse business entities (DBE). DBEs have been experiencing extraordinary financial, operational, and change management challenges due to the economic fallout of the COVID-19 crisis. So how can utilities support energy industry DBEs now in order to build resiliency for the future?
Residential electricity sales in the United States increased 8 percent in April compared with April 2019, while the commercial and industrial sectors saw decreases of 11 percent and 9 percent in April, reported the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The reason for these numbers relates to the nationwide stay-at-home orders put in place to slow the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The April numbers were an all-time high for residential customers because most people were home in April.
Though COVID-19 has slowed tourism, the state’s effort is continuing: “This infrastructure is going to be needed for decades to come.” Tourism may be down now, but when travelers return to Maine with electric cars they’ll have more places to charge up. The state has been moving forward on a three-phase initiative using its federal Volkswagen settlement funding to increase electric vehicle chargers in key locations, especially routes frequented by travelers from Canada as well as other New England states.
Momentum is growing for giving electricity customers the kind of predictable subscription bill options that smartphone and home entertainment customers get. Fixed rates – once preferred to align costs and revenues – are losing regulatory support as variable supply and load make demand peaks the bigger concern. Dynamic rates with price signals that flatten peaks and shift load to match supply are becoming the favored rate design.
Home battery storage has grown precipitously in recent years, but it still doesn’t match the scale and accessibility of a home appliance. Orison has been trying to change that since 2013. Now, the Wyoming-based startup is preparing to ship its sleek, plug-in home battery panels in July for field tests in Australia, Europe and the U.K., where it has met the safety standards for operation.