Utilities

Breezing with Terabytes: Offshore Wind and Big Data

September 13, 2019 05:27
by J. Wylie Donald
The Business Network for Offshore Wind threw me a curve yesterday. Big Data, AI & Blockchain was the name of the conference held in Boston. What does that have to do with offshore wind? As it turns out, plenty. (Well, not so much blockchain.)

Wind Energy | Sustainability | Utilities

Some Real Numbers About Transitioning a Coal Plant to a Solar Farm

October 11, 2016 19:43
by J. Wylie Donald
Power density will be on display this morning in Holyoke, Massachusetts. Virtually anyway. There is a groundbreaking for a 5.8 MW solar farm beginning at 10:30. This is wonderful news. The old, inefficient, environmentally challenged, coal-fired Mt. Tom Power Station ceased operation in 2014. The community wondered whether it would be a long-lived eyesore (like the long-closed English Station in New Haven, Connecticut) or would something new come along to take its place (like the remodeling of Chester Station in Pennsylvania into Class A office space with a soccer stadium to go with it? Or would it remain true to its existential essence and continue to deliver electricity, albeit from a different source?

Renewable Energy | Solar Energy | Sustainability | Utilities

Climate Change Opinions Don't Help Business; Data Do

July 15, 2016 07:04
by J. Wylie Donald
We try to stay away from politics on the blog, so we were reluctant to take up the Sierra Club’s recent report concluding that if Donald Trump became president he would be unique among world leaders in his refusal to acknowledge climate change. Business Insider went one better back in January when it republished numerous tweets by Mr. Trump captioning climate change as a hoax, bull***, mythical and non-existent.

Climate Change Effects | Florida | Rising Sea Levels | Utilities

A Coal Plant Shutdown and the Undoing of a Wind Energy Bottleneck

July 14, 2016 11:21
by J. Wylie Donald
Everyone knows the transmission bottleneck is the boot on the neck of wind energy. The Plains States have megawatts of wind energy. Getting it to the places with megawatts of demand, like Oregon and Washington, aye, there’s the rub. If only an operating plant would expire and shuffle off its transmission lines to a wind farm.

Renewable Energy | Wind Energy | Utilities

Top 6 at 6 - Climate Change Legal Highlights of the First Six Months of 2015

July 24, 2015 03:50
by J. Wylie Donald
Some might say that the Clean Power Plan is all one needs to talk about in any highlights article on recent climate change legal issues. When final the CPP will expand the scope of the Clean Air Act profoundly, impact the electricity business fundamentally, restrict the coal industry severely and raise electricity rates for consumers by more than just pennies.

Carbon Dioxide | Climate Change Effects | Florida | Legislation | Regulation | Rising Sea Levels | Supreme Court | Utilities | Year in Review

"Capacious" Term Dooms MATS Rule - Does It Say Anything About the Clean Power Plan?

June 29, 2015 11:50
by J. Wylie Donald
The Energy Information Agency predicted the retirement of up to 60 gigawatts of coal-fired electricity generation by 2020. A significant contributor to that evolution was the Mercury and Air Toxics Standard or MATS Rule. Until today that is, when a 5-4 majority on the Supreme Court concluded in Michigan v. EPA that EPA’s failure to consider cost in deciding to regulate power plant emissions was improper.

Carbon Emissions | Legislation | Regulation | Supreme Court | Utilities

There's Gold in Them Thar Coal Plants - You Just Have to Know How to Look For It

June 15, 2015 09:20
by J. Wylie Donald
Last Tuesday night saw a few of us enjoying the charms of Virginia Beach as we recovered from a long day of coal plant demolition. (Lawyers in hard hats. Run from that.) Well, not exactly.

Legislation | Regulation | Utilities

NERC's Polite Review of the Clean Power Plan: A "Challenge"

April 30, 2015 07:11
by J. Wylie Donald
When the draft of EPA's Clean Power Plan was promulgated in the Federal Register last June, one of the critical questions raised by those in the electricity space was: what about reliability? If you shut down all those coal plants, will you have enough generation from other sources to keep the lights on? Even if you have enough generation, will you have enough natural gas at the times and places when you need it? Is there enough time to get the needed generation and resources in place under EPA's schedule?

Carbon Emissions | Legislation | Regulation | Utilities

In re Murray Energy - the First Clean Power Plan Donnybrook

April 16, 2015 20:51
by J. Wylie Donald
This morning found us at the E. Barrett Prettyman Courthouse in Washington, hoping to take in the oral argument before the DC Circuit in the first (of what is certain to be many) challenge to the Clean Power Plan: In re Murray Energy Corp. Murray Energy is the largest privately owned coal company in the country and was joined by another coal company, twelve States and numerous amici. It sued last June and claimed, under the All Writs Act, that it would be irreparably harmed by the immense dislocation to be precipitated by EPA's planned move from coal to natural gas, nuclear power, renewable energy and efficiency (i.e., the Clean Power Plan) and, therefore, the Court should stop EPA's plan in its tracks.

Carbon Dioxide | Climate Change Litigation | Legislation | Utilities

Florida’s Solar Conundrum

March 31, 2015 09:40
Despite ranking third in the nation for rooftop solar potential, the "Sunshine State" is 13th in cumulative solar capacity installed (dreary New Jersey is 3rd). This is the result of a state without a renewable energy portfolio standard (RPS) that does not permit power purchase agreements (PPAs) (Florida is one of only five states that explicitly prohibits anyone other than the big utilities from selling power). Depending on whom you ask, Florida's lack of solar infrastructure is either caused by the "monopoly" held by the State's big power companies, or the simple viewpoint that solar is a silly alternative when you compare cost to the comparatively cheap prices from more conventional generation sources. Well, the debate is scheduled to be settled soon... Environmentalists in Florida are pushing for a constitutional amendment initiative to place solar choice on the November 2016 ballot. The purpose of the ballot proposal is to expand solar choice by removing barriers that limit solar ownership models. If approved, the ballot measure would allow homes and businesses to install solar and sell excess energy they generate back into the grid. Curiously enough, much of the focus on this particular ballot proposal has been on the unlikely alliances that are now supporting the measure. Tea Party conservatives and aggressive libertarians (who advocate for free-market principles through energy choice) find themselves aligned with fundamental environmentalists and progressive liberals (who advocate for cleaner energy solutions). Opponents of course oppose taxpayer subsidies and consumer mandates. Regardless of one's viewpoint, an amendment permitting third-party sales in Florida will immediately result in a tremendous boom to the Sunshine State's solar industry. If that road is opened, expect a sea of solar developers to begin canvasing I-95 for opportunities from the Panhandle to the Keys.

Climate Change Effects | Renewable Energy | Solar Energy | Utilities | Florida | renewable portfolio standard | solar finance

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The business case for the development of renewable energy projects, from biodiesel and ethanol to wind, solar, and distributed generation, is more compelling than ever as tax and regulatory incentives combine to attract investments. Emerging issues in environmental law and increasingly recognized principles of corporate social responsibility are encouraging public companies to voluntarily reduce greenhouse gas emissions, install clean energy alternatives, and invest overseas in projects under the Kyoto Protocol to respond to climate change concerns.

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