Low Prices Always Low Prices

Low prices always low prices is the slogan taken by China’s wind and solar PV panel manufacturers.  It describes their global market strategy of flooding the market with equipment, driving down prices as a result of that glut and suctioning up feed in tariffs and other subsidies to help finance China’s export production growth.  For a while it was a winning strategy.  Then the US and EU players caught onto the game forced to act by rising deficits and rising costs of subsidies …Continue Reading »

Is California's Resource Adequacy at Risk?

California is experiencing growing concerns over resource adequacy.  The CAISO took the unusual step of objecting to the proposed shut down of the Calpine Sutter natural gas power plant at FERC saying the plant would be needed as soon as 2017 to assure resource adequacy and thus is made no sense to shut it down now. Why is Sutter being shut down? Because California electric demand is weak along with its economy, but all that renewable energy being added to the grid is classified as “must …Continue Reading »

Market Rationalization Demands Grid Parity

"In the last two years, the delivered cost of energy from PV was cut in half. NRG expects the cost to fall in half again in the next two years, which would make solar power less expensive than retail electricity in roughly 20 states. The expected drop in solar costs has the potential to revolutionize the hub-and-spoke power system, which currently makes up the power industry."    --- David Crane, CEO, NRG Energy It was not supposed to be this way, and yet here it is---the highly regulated …Continue Reading »

Grid Parity Arriving with a Fury!

For years advocates of wind and solar energy have been telling us that prices would fall and these clean, renewable technologies would be competitive with natural gas.  That sweet spot is often referred to as grid parity. Congratulations that day of grid parity success has arrived! At its December meeting the California Public Utilities Commission approved more than 500 MW of solar procurements by regulated investor owned utility and more than 294MW of those contracts were at or below the …Continue Reading »

EIPC Insufficiency

There is much to admire in Eastern Interconnection Planning Collaborative (EIPC) the consortium of over two dozen electric system planning authorities from thirty-nine US states and two provinces in Eastern Canada that make up the Eastern Interconnect, the giant power grid that covers this vast part of North America.  But scenario planning at least what we have seen to date in the EIPC phase 1 effort is nothing to write home about. EIPC’s purpose is to focus stakeholder attention on a …Continue Reading »

Renewable Energy Must Make Tax Policy Change its Friend

‘Make Change Your Friend. ’ That was the political advice of former President Bill Clinton when people would come to him seeking support for one cause of another.  It is a strategy that offers promise of political compromise, something we do not see often in Washington DC today. But it also carries risk by appealing to the worst of Washington’s modus operandi because it often results in large omnibus bills larded with earmarks and policy giveaways.  Citizens hate this but conflict is …Continue Reading »

California puts Solar PV on Utilities Christmas Shopping List

As part of its year-end approval of pending renewable energy procurement contracts the California Public Utilities Commission got some good news from the falling prices of solar PV panels. Of the 544 MW of solar projects on the CPUC’s December 15th agenda 294 MW (54%) were at or below ‘grid parity’ which is defined in California market price referent rule as the costs of building a new combined cycle natural gas fired power plant. The other projects approved were priced higher but still …Continue Reading »

How Much will Clean Energy REALLY Cost?

That is the question customers are asking as their utility rates go up to pay for the cumulative cost of the aspirations of politicians and regulators.  But until now the answer to that question was hard to get at least in California where under state law and utility regulations the costs of utility procurement of renewable energy contracts was kept confidential.  Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB 836 sponsored by Los Angeles County Senator Alex Padilla requiring that the California Public …Continue Reading »

California's 33% RPS Plan for a Clean Energy Future

As expected the California Legislature approved a bill formally enacting the 33% renewable portfolio standard into law.  Governor Jerry Brown will sign the measure. Little else changes since the 33% RPS goal was set by Executive Order by then Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.  There is widespread public support for California clean energy policies. But the 33% RPS target is just one part of the California broad clean energy and environmental strategy.  Assessing the prudence and potential of …Continue Reading »

Last Mile Problems for Renewable Energy are a Signpost of Mainstream Success

By any measure, renewable energy especially wind and solar have been real success stories. Their growth has been facilitated by the mother’s milk of Federal subsidies and state renewable portfolio standards.  The renewable industry has grown from a fragmented collection of mom and pop businesses to a consolidating web of global companies increasingly controlled by the giant Fortune 1000 firms. Thanks the insatiable desire of China for exports and its willingness to reverse engineer and then …Continue Reading »