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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    

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

M. van Dorp:


Thank you for your thoughts. If you've seen an objective, fact-based, study on markets for clean energy in the states, please do share.

About nuclear: also do share how you think the entrenched approach to nuclear in the U.S., vis a vis other approaches globally, can possibly be justified without huge taxpayer subsidies?

 

 

 

July 16, 2014    View Comment    

On EPA Rules Paving the Way for Energy Storage Technologies

Matt and/or fellow readers: Bravo for connecting all of these dots. In addition to the California energy storage mandate and EPA's draft 111(d) carbon rules now up for comment, what other policy or technology developments with the most potential to boost storage should we watch for over the next 2 years or so?
June 5, 2014    View Comment    

On 10 Key Questions for Assessing EPA's Proposed Carbon Rules Under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act

Rick,


Where do you think biomass can make the biggest difference? Among the states I would watch is Virginia, where the Northern Virginia Electric Cooperative is quick to brag about its biomass plant.

 

June 3, 2014    View Comment    

On 10 Key Questions for Assessing EPA's Proposed Carbon Rules Under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act

John,

These are all excellent questions the answers to which will contribute to the success or failure of EPA's proposed rules, especially since it will likely require a Democratic president from 2017 - 2020 to defend them.

The most important question of yours is #15: World carbon emissions are bound to increase regardless of what the U.S. does, at least for the foreseeable future. Which begs this question: How much will Germany's, and the United States' leadership, serve as an example to follow?

 

June 3, 2014    View Comment    

On Winds of Change for Cleaner Energy and More Efficiency in Virginia, How Steep is the Uphill Struggle?

Okay, so you believe in the century+ old regulated utility model. I'll get that; so we're not likely to agree on much.

As someone who learned in MD, PA, NJ and DE how solar is creating new jobs, creating new tax revenues for states and local jurisdications AND helping homeowners and businesses reduce their peak power costs with their own solar systems, I say there should be a market that makes solar a realistic option. In Virginia it's not yet.

Dominion Virginia Power and Appalachian Power are wary of how attractive that option may soon be because they're working to pass or raise "standby" charges on solar system owners, with no consideration how especially peak weekday stress on the grid is reduced by solar.

If Dominion gets its way with its latest request to raise rates 4% due to their growing exposure to natural gas fuel costs, that rate advantage might not be such a good deal. Of course, there is no such risk with solar, whose costs will continue to decline.

If we deleted all the tax benefits of fossil fuels and scrapped those for renewables sources of power, choices in the marketplace would align with both a state's and the nation's economic and environmental goals.

What is it that you do for a living? Are you a utility ratepayer in Virginia (as I am)? Have you communicated with lawmakers in the VA General Assembly about solar (as I have)? Have you testified before the State Corporation Commission (as many of my colleagues have)? If so, please share any live links. 

May 14, 2014    View Comment