SMUD Aims for Carbon Neutrality by 2030
Top consumer smart energy news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
The Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) recently committed to delivering carbon-neutral electricity by 2030, 15 years ahead of California’s broader goal of supplying 100 percent of electricity from zero-carbon and renewable energy resources by 2045. The commitment is included in a “climate emergency declaration” that was unanimously approved by SMUD's board of directors last Thursday, setting the utility on the path to “finding reductions in the quickest way possible and investing in our most vulnerable communities,” SMUD Board President Rob Kerth said.
Oregon public power utility Eugene Water & Electric Board is taking steps to help residential, business and nonprofit customers maintain or re-establish good account standing and to ensure all customers have access to reliable power and safe water at affordable rates during the COVID-19 pandemic. The community-owned utility on July 17 said that it is making available extended repayment plans to residential and commercial customers, including nonprofit agencies, who may be struggling to keep up with utility payments.
Franklin Energy and AM Conservation Group, the leading demand-side management firm in the utility industry, announced this week the appointment of Jim Madej as the company’s new chief executive officer. Madej succeeds founder Paul Schueller, who has served as CEO since Franklin Energy’s inception in 1994 and recently announced his transition to the company’s board of directors. Madej will guide the strategic direction and lead the executive teams of Franklin Energy and AM Conservation Group.
COVID-19 should encourage, not prevent, utility clean energy investments, Xcel Energy Chairman and CEO Ben Fowke said during the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ Summer Summit on Tuesday. “In Minnesota, we’re building solar… and we're not known as the solar capital in the United States. The fact of the matter is the technology's fallen in price so much that it works just about anywhere,” said Fowke, who is also chairman of utility trade group Edison Electric Institute.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo launched several clean transportation initiatives last week. One of them is the EV Make-Ready Program, which creates a cost-sharing program that incentivizes utilities and charging station developers to site electric vehicle charging infrastructure in places that will provide a maximal benefit to consumers. Investor-owned utilities in New York State will fund the program. The plan was approved by the state Public Service Commission, which capped the total budget at $701 million. It will run through 2025.
The COVID-19 public health crisis brought into sharp relief the importance of shifting benefits to more vulnerable communities, participants said at a Monday panel during NARUC Summer Policy Summit. Responses range from energy efficiency targets and community solar offerings to a direct cost-shift for programs that will save customers money. During COVID-19, National Grid customers no longer paid 25 percent of the cost, as the utility assumed responsibility for the customers' share of the expenses.
The rapid expansion of renewable energy in the United States has enough momentum behind it to overcome any headwinds caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, panelists at the NARUC Summer Policy Summit said on Tuesday. Optimism that the U.S. economy will bounce back relatively soon once the novel coronavirus finally does fade away means that states, and utilities will not have to alter their goals of replacing fossil fuels with clean renewables beyond a few delays and possibly some regulatory tweaks.
Enel announced a dramatic scale-up of its U.S. energy storage ambitions on Tuesday, saying it will add 1 gigawatt of storage capacity to its renewables fleet by 2022. That's a huge jump from late 2019, when the Italian utilities group and renewables powerhouse pledged to build another 14.1 gigawatts of renewable power capacity globally by 2022 through its Enel Green Power arm, along with 300 megawatts of energy storage from its Enel X unit.