Xcel Energy Plans Major Solar Expansion
Top consumer smart energy news hand-selected and brought to you by the Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative.
By 2028, Xcel Energy plans to nearly triple the amount of solar on its Upper Midwest system, through the addition of a new solar array in Becker, Minnesota, replacement of the Sherco plant site’s first coal unit and the purchasing of additional solar power from northwest Wisconsin. Sherco, likewise based in Becker, Minnesota, will have its first coal unit retired later this year.
A new era of energy efficiency is on the horizon – the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will provide millions of dollars for state-run energy efficiency programs starting as soon as this year. This level and type of funding will require tight collaboration between utility-led energy efficiency programs and state governments to maximize energy savings.
When applied to customer data, artificial intelligence (AI) can deliver insights into how and when customers use energy, the types of appliances they use and inform utilities if they have an EV. Armed with this knowledge, utilities can encourage grid-stabilizing customer behaviors and better understand the load impact on grid-facing assets, such as distribution transformers, feeders and substations.
Ameren Corp. published its annual sustainability report, which outlined the firm’s performance related to its environmental, social, governance (ESG) and sustainable growth commitments. The report, called Powering a Smart, Sustainable Tomorrow, detailed the company’s progress toward achieving net-zero Scope 1 and Scope 2 carbon emissions by 2045 across all company operations in Missouri and Illinois.
The single biggest transportation fleet in the U.S. is made up of one iconic vehicle: the school bus. It’s also run almost entirely on carbon-emitting, air-polluting diesel fuel. Replacing the U.S. fleet of roughly half a million school buses could cut carbon emissions by around eight million metric tons per year — and that’s not mentioning the benefits to local neighborhoods and the more than 20 million students who currently breathe in harmful diesel exhaust from buses.
Eying ways to offset growing demand on the power grid from electric vehicles, improve reliability, maximize renewable energy usage and potentially allow EVs to serve as backup home generators, Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) and BMW of North America have begun testing use of vehicle-to-everything technology.
Green Mountain Power (GMP) has asked Vermont regulators for permission to lift the cap on its popular residential energy storage programs to expand customer access to battery backup power. GMP’s Powerwall program, in partnership with Tesla, and its Bring Your Own Device battery backup program are capped at 500 new customers per program a year.
Vermont Gas Systems is offering to install electric heat pumps in their customers’ homes, the latest example of how state policy is nudging the utility to adapt its business model. To comply with the state’s climate mandates, the utility is building a broader portfolio of thermal systems that will help both the business and its customers make the transition to a decarbonized future.