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On A New Platform to Guide Utility Regulations that can Let Solar and Distributed Energy Flourish

Mr. Miller: I think we have enough models for how regulated utilities are responding to the opportunity or threat (depending on one's view) that solar poses to their business models. Companies such as NRG get it. Even companies such as AEP are making significant strides to embrace the cleaner potential of solar; this while companies such as Dominion Virginia Power are not, or at least not yet.


We'll see how this plays out. I like the composition of the review panel. I actually think SEPA demonstrated this is at least a credible exercise (although perhaps futile in the long run) to elicit fresh thinking.

November 28, 2014    View Comment    

On Coal Ash Waste Disposal by Utilities Set to Improve December 19th, But What About the Growing Risks of‘ 'Legacy' Pits?

Thank you Ivy for the feedback. Just about everywhere I / we turn in Virginia, solutions to energy challenges and opportunities frequently come around to why lawmakers, in this case, are reticent to address the risks of coal ash: political contributions from Dominion Virginia Power. How many more accidents such as the two outlined in my piece will it take to engage lawmakers in Virginia and in other states dependent on coal?

November 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Coal Ash Waste Disposal by Utilities Set to Improve December 19th, But What About the Growing Risks of‘ 'Legacy' Pits?

Mr. McBroom, thank you for chiming in. I'm at least curious how this newl patented technology might work for coal ash and tar sands residue. Check you email for how we can followup with each other.

November 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Coal Ash Waste Disposal by Utilities Set to Improve December 19th, But What About the Growing Risks of‘ 'Legacy' Pits?

M. van Dorp: Many thanks for spotlighting this option. Seems a no-brainer on many fronts. Curious why a private enterprise, perhaps even a venture capitalist, doesn't give it a shot.  I trust the quick answer to this, as you pointed out, is it cannot work without a breeder reactor. I think the coal ash challenge is so much bigger than spent fuel rods from today's nuclear reactors, you'd think SOMEone would devise a marketable solution.


We at The Energy Collective invite you to outline specifically how this could work. That's what we're all about. If you'd prefer, find me on LinkedIn and let's find some time to talk.

November 26, 2014    View Comment    

On Tea Party Organizer Debbie Dooley Taking Her Advocacy for Solar Energy and Against Utility Monopolies to Florida, Virginia, and Wisconsin

Bob,

Thank you for chiming in. What's resonating with Debbie Dooley's message is pretty simple. If a homeowner or a business wants to generate their own power more cleanly and without hurting the grid, he/they should be able to do so.

Solar is growing steadily, if not booming, in enough states by now to challenge the notion that consumers in other states should be able to do the same. In Virginia, EVERYwhere cleaner energy advocates turn, Dominion is one step ahead of them to block, or at least inhibit, development of solar energy.

If a utility is going to monopolize a market, Debbie Dooley asserts, then it should -- in the public interest -- at least enable solar to grow on its own merits. North Carolina gets it, so do South Carolina and Georgia. Keep your eyes on Virginia in the next few years.

November 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Virginia Utilities Pull Out of Collaboration Working on a Method to Value Solar Energy

Bob,

The U.S.  federal investment tax credit for solar expires at year-end 2016 and has served a demonstrably useful purpose in scaling up the U.S. solar industry. I seriously doubt it will be renewed. Compare that with the HUGE subsidies for new nukes. No utility CEO or CFO would pursue a new nuke without them.

Energy utilities today are where phone companies were in the 1980s. They no longer need to be monopoly providers. And if you're focused on Dominion's rates, you should start watching actual energy bills. Rates at some utilities might be higher, but there are tools there to help customers lower their monthly energy costs.

September 27, 2014    View Comment    

On Virginia Utilities Pull Out of Collaboration Working on a Method to Value Solar Energy

Nathan,

I'm not clear on what you think is UNfair about this process. Utility scale solar may be less expensive than distributed / small solar. But that says nothing about homeowners and small businesses who deserve the option to go solar to better manage their energy costs. What's not fair about generating one's own electricity and reducing the risks of almost certain future price increases?

RE: Nuclear. I don't see how it even compares -- or competes -- without massive subisidies. Look at the cost-overruns AND delays at the Vogtle complex in Georgia. Even Virginia Power is trying to pass through costs of its research into a third reactor at the now geologically-challenged North Anna plant.

What is upsetting many people in Virginia is the public face these utilities brought to the process and their abrupt withdrawal. Some of them are not feeling the first taste of real pressure from the customers they are charged, under a monopoly regime, with serving. Ratepayers deserve a LOT better. This valuation process is one small way of respecting that.

Iin case you don't know: natural gas supply is competitive in Virginia. Dominion prevented that from happening with electricity.

 

 

September 27, 2014    View Comment    

On With New Law, South Carolina Sets a Foundation for More Solar Energy

Joris,

On the cost of nuclear's 'ever-rising' regulations costs we agree. I think nuclear has a potentially bright future if the defacto way of building next-generation plants recognized the benefits of thorium-fed reactors for example. (I've written about that here.) But regulation IS a cost and at least in the U.S., it would not have any chance of holding on to its market share without massive federal subsidies -- subsidies that even low-income ratepayers help pay for -- especially in states such as South Carolina and Georgia, where solar is making inroads.

September 11, 2014    View Comment    

On With New Law, South Carolina Sets a Foundation for More Solar Energy

Joris, 

Thank you for chiming in.

To you queston about the economic benefits . . . by economic I mean: 1) reduce reliance on ever-rising fuel supply costs tied to coal, natural gas and nuclear; 2) capitalize on the steadily declining cost of solar due to growing competition among solar panel makers AND the growing number of solar installers in South Carolina and the surrounding states.

Depending on your utility, but certainly if you're a customer of SCG&E, the state's decent net metering policy is another economic factor to consider for qualifying systems. That's in part because SCG&E is the higher-cost provider of power, thus shortening the return on investments in solar energy. You can compare its policy to others in the U.S. starting on my blog at TheEnergyFix.com.

 

September 11, 2014    View Comment    

On New Study: America's Data Centers Consuming, and Wasting, Growing Amounts of Energy

Excellent post Pierre. Where can I learn about the concentration of data centers in Loudoun County, VA, about 30 miles west of Washington, DC.? If data centers there could power at least a portion of their electricity with solar and/or wind, those companies could save a significant amount of money.

August 30, 2014    View Comment    

On Utility Clean Energy Deployment: Do Enough Customers and Stakeholders Care in Virginia?

A Siegel,

Thank you for your inputs. Here is how Dominion spokesman David Botkins replied to my request for their information. I think we're missing an apples-to-apples comparison. I believe Dominion does have lower rates and bills but I hope to flesh out the relevant data.

Botkins: "My guess is that is a compiled average of all the utilities in Virginia, which also includes some co-opts…NOVa Electric Co-Op is considerably higher than us.  The latest 2014 rate numbers for Dominion Virginia Power are here: https://www.dom.com/dominion-virginia-power/customer-service/rates-and-tariffs/pdf/residential-rate-comparison.pdf"

August 6, 2014    View Comment    

On Here is One Forward-Looking and Very Ambitious Clean Energy Plan for Virginia

Robert, 

You nailed it about the absence of standardized nuclear, which I have written about previously (e.g. using thorium). BUT, the nuclear establishment in this country doesn't buy it. And thus it's not going to happen. Who can break through this mental logjam?

 

July 17, 2014    View Comment