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PV Magazine: RE+Storage Better Than a Colorado Utility’s Proposed 400 MW Gas Unit: Strategen

Posted by William Driscoll on Nov 16, 2023

PV Magazine reports on a recent analysis of the electric resource plan for Xcel Energy’s Colorado subsidiary, the Public Service Company of Colorado. The analysis, commissioned by Advanced Energy United and authored by Strategen Consulting Group, found a clean energy resource portfolio would be a more cost-effective way to power Colorado homes and businesses compared to building a new natural gas “peaker” plant. The article quotes United's Brian Turner, who speaks to the cost impact Xcel's proposed plant would have on ratepayers.

Storage and renewables projects already offered in response to an RFP from the Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo) would be more economic and provide greater capacity than a 400 MW gas peaker unit proposed by the utility, found the consulting firm Strategen in an analysis of the utility’s proposed resource plan.

The Colorado utility, an Xcel Energy subsidiary, “takes commendable strides toward decarbonization,” says the Strategen analysis, but the low cost of clean energy resources supported by the Inflation Reduction Act “could provide an opportunity to avoid additional natural gas deployment.”

Strategen analyzed a portfolio of battery storage, solar and wind projects it selected from a public list of almost 800 bids for new renewables and battery projects that were offered in response to the utility’s 2022 all-source request for proposals.

Strategen said its portfolio, sized to exceed the capacity of a 400 MW gas peaker unit the utility proposed in its resource plan, would provide savings of about $29 million in its first year of operation, with greater savings in subsequent years. Those savings do not consider grid service benefits, stranded asset risk or fuel supply risk.

Because the costs for specific RFP bids are not publicly available, Strategen’s analysis assumed that the costs of the battery storage, solar and wind projects would equal the generic costs that PSCo presented in an appendix to its resource plan.

PSCo’s plan proposes 628 MW of new gas units by 2027, representing “long-term investments that will restrict PSCo’s ability to eventually achieve a fully decarbonized grid,” Strategen’s report says.

For two of the gas units proposed by PSCo—sized at 200 MW and 28 MW—Strategen was unable to analyze the potential to substitute renewables and storage because the utility proposed those units specifically for their local reliability benefits, and the public database of projects submitted in response to the RFP did not disclose location data. Strategen said its analysis of the 400 MW gas unit may also be applicable to the 200 MW unit if locational data and local reliability analysis were made available to stakeholders.

Strategen credited PSCo with proposing in its resource plan an 80% reduction in carbon emissions from 2005 levels by 2030, retiring all coal plants in the process.

Even so, Brian Turner, a director at the trade group Advanced Energy United, which sponsored the Strategen analysis, said Xcel’s proposal to build the new gas units “is a missed opportunity to provide Colorado households and businesses the best-cost and cleanest energy.” Turner noted that last winter the price of natural gas “skyrocketed, leaving ratepayers with high bills.”

Advanced Energy United said in a statement that as the cost of renewable energy continues to decline, new gas turbines risk becoming stranded assets, leaving ratepayers to pay billions of dollars “for a resource that may one day soon no longer produce any energy.”

The trade group formally presented its concerns in comments it submitted to the Colorado Public Utilities Commission.

Read the full article here .
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Topics: State Policy, United In The News, Energy Efficiency, Colorado, Brian Turner

Advanced Energy United Endorses Bipartisan Legislation Regarding Domestic Mineral Production

Posted by Adam Winer on Nov 15, 2023

Advanced Energy United endorses The Mining Schools Act and The Good Samaritan Remediation Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Advanced Energy United (United), as part of its work to advance permitting reform and bolster domestic supply chains for advanced energy manufacturing, endorsed two pieces of bipartisan legislation, The Mining Schools Act and Good Samaritan Act, currently under consideration in the U.S. Senate.

“United is proud to support America’s transition to a 100% clean, fully electrified energy future, utilizing advanced energy technologies made right here in the U.S. when possible,” said Harrison Godfrey, Managing Director at Advanced Energy United and head of the organization’s Federal Investment & Manufacturing Working Group.

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Topics: Federal Policy, Press Releases, Harrison Godfrey

RTO Insider: 2023 Elections Bring Billions for Texas Gas, Dem Wins in Virginia, NJ

RTO Insider reports on the results of 2023 notable state elections across the country. In the article, Kim Jemaine is quoted surrounding the outcome of the Virginia election, commenting on the motivation of Virginia voters to show out and vote against extremism in the state, flipping control of the House and maintaining a Democratic majority in the Senate.

Voters Tuesday overwhelmingly approved a nearly $10 billion fund for gas generation in Texas, while handing Democrats victories in legislative elections in New Jersey and Virginia that have implications for energy policy there. 

Texas’ Proposition 7 passed by a vote of 1,641,453-886,991, gathering nearly 65% of the votes. (See $10B Fund for Gas Plants on Texas Ballot.) 

The proposition sets up the Texas Energy Fund (TEF), a $7.2 billion low-interest loan program intended for the development of up to 10 GW of natural gas plants. Some $5 billion will be set aside for 20-year, 3% interest loans to build new generation with at least 100 MW of fully dispatchable capacity. Power plants that come online before June 2029 are eligible for bonus payments. 

Another $2.8 billion will be dedicated to grants for infrastructure improvements in non-ERCOT regions and to strengthen resiliency by setting up microgrids at hospitals, fire stations and other critical facilities. The Texas Public Utility Commission will oversee the TEF and provide the grants and loans to finance the construction, maintenance, modernization and operation of the state’s electric facilities. 

Democrats strengthened their hold on the New Jersey legislature in Tuesday’s elections, retaining control of both legislative houses despite Republican efforts to paint Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy’s clean energy program — especially its offshore wind (OSW) projects — as excessive and expensive. 

With final results still to be confirmed, Democrats are expected to hold at least 24 seats in the 40-seat Senate and 51 of the 80 seats in the Assembly, adding at least five seats to their current 46. The election came two years after voters re-elected Murphy by a much narrower margin than expected, prompting speculation that the result reflected voter disapproval of his aggressive clean energy strategy

Virginia Democrats won enough seats to flip control of the House of Delegates and maintain their majority in the Senate, two years after losing the lower chamber and the governor’s office to Republicans. Gov. Glenn Youngkin (R) will finish out the last two years of his term with slim majorities for the Democrats in both houses. Initial results have the Senate split 21-19 with the House of Delegates split 51-48, with the Republican candidate leading in one close race that had yet to be called late Wednesday. 

A big motivator for voters this fall was abortion, with Youngkin backing a plan to limit abortions to the first 15 weeks of pregnancy, instead of the current law that allows abortion until the end of the second trimester. The majority of voters siding with Democrats on that issue showed they were rejecting extremism, said Advanced Energy United Policy Director Kim Jemaine. 

“I think you can essentially extrapolate from that, also, that voters are looking at some of the decisions made by Republicans in the General Assembly over the last couple of years and say that voters are also viewing climate denial and obstruction of clean energy policies in the bucket of extremism,” she added. 

She said she hoped Republicans will stop proposing bills curbing clean energy policies such as the Virginia Clean Economy Act (VCEA) of 2020, and the new Democratic majority can work with Youngkin on issues such as energy efficiency and expanding distributed generation. 

A Day 1 priority for the legislature should be filling the two empty seats on the three-person State Corporation Commission, which has operated with Chairman Jehmal Hudson as the only member for most of this year, Jemaine said. In Virginia, the General Assembly (both the Senate and the House of Delegates) elect the regulators for six-year terms with the governor only able to make temporary appointments if the legislature is out of session. 

“I think folks were waiting for the outcomes of their elections to move forward there,” Jemaine said. “And so, this presents an opportunity for Democrats to appoint judges that will hold [Dominion Energy] accountable and ensure that those decisions are in alignment with the VCEA.” 

Read the full article here .
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Topics: State Policy, Virginia, United In The News, Texas, New Jersey

Report: Xcel Energy’s proposed gas plant in Colorado is more expensive than clean energy options

Posted by Adam Winer on Nov 9, 2023

DENVER, CO – An analysis of the electric resource plan (ERP) for Xcel Energy’s Colorado subsidiary, the Public Service Company of Colorado (PSCo), found that a portfolio of clean energy resources – including solar, wind, and battery storage – would be a more cost-effective way to power Colorado homes and businesses compared to building a new natural gas “peaker” plant. The independent report from Strategen Consulting found that a clean energy portfolio would provide $28.9 million in savings compared to a new gas plant in the first year of operation, with savings in subsequent years anticipated to be even greater.
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Topics: Press Releases, Colorado, Brian Turner

Clean energy bill package advances in Michigan Legislature, would streamline siting process

Posted by Adam Winer on Nov 3, 2023

Business trade organizations applaud House passage of House Bills 5120-5123 and Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502

LANSING, MI – Advanced energy industry groups, including the Michigan Energy Innovation Business Council (Michigan EIBC), Clean Grid Alliance (CGA), American Clean Power Association (ACP), Advanced Energy United (United), and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) today applauded the House passage of legislation to streamline and improve the siting of wind, solar, and energy storage projects (House Bills 5120-5123) as well as bills to set a 100% carbon-free energy standard by 2040, enact an energy storage requirement, increase energy waste reduction, and improve customer access to rooftop (Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502). The trade organizations, which collectively represent hundreds of businesses in the clean power industry, urged the legislature to continue to move these legislative packages to the Governor’s desk for signature.

In order for Michigan to achieve our expanded clean energy goals, House Bills 5120-5123 establish a common sense process that balances local government involvement with the expertise at the Michigan Public Service Commission to make decisions regarding large utility-scale wind, solar, and energy storage projects. The bills also ensure that the benefits from projects flow to local communities, construction workers will be paid prevailing wages, and environmental protections will be upheld. This legislation will allow farmers with farmland that has been in their family for generations to keep that land and gain a new source of income. Combined with Senate Bills 271, 273, and 502, which expand renewable energy, energy storage, energy efficiency, and access to rooftop solar, this legislation will create jobs and economic opportunity across Michigan. 

“The clean energy industry employs nearly 124,000 Michiganders – which is more than in any other state in the Midwest,” said Dr. Laura Sherman, President of Michigan EIBC. “Michigan EIBC applauds the House passage of this legislation, which will support our growing advanced energy workforce and communities across Michigan.”

“These legislative packages offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the energy transition,” said Trish Demeter, Managing Director with Advanced Energy United. “With a 100% clean energy goal, and reduced barriers to building wind, solar and energy storage projects, Michigan affirms its place as a leader in the clean energy economy.”

“I congratulate the House of Representatives for displaying strong leadership on climate and clean energy by passing this package of bills,” said Peder Mewis, Regional Policy Director with CGA. “Reforming the siting and permitting process will offer a clear path forward for renewable energy development and ensure Michigan can achieve a carbon free future.”

“The leadership shown by the Michigan House of Representatives on these critical issues can serve as a model for lawmakers in other states as they seek to deliver the valuable new jobs, tax revenue and investment that clean energy can bring,” said Erika Kowall, Director of Midwest State Affairs with the American Clean Power Association (ACP).

“This legislation marks a historic step forward for Michigan’s clean energy economy,” said Markus Pitchford, central regional director for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “The package will bring billions of dollars of investments and thousands of new jobs to the state — from project development and installation to manufacturing. It features provisions to support solar and storage projects of all sizes, including a significant boost to net metering caps for rooftop solar and siting and permitting reforms that are critical for large-scale solar and storage development. The solar and storage industry looks forward to working with the Whitmer administration, as well as state and local agencies, to implement this monumental law.”

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Topics: Press Releases, Michigan, Trish Demeter

Crain's Detroit Business: 100% Clean Power Standard Clears House in Marathon Session

Posted by Dave Eggert on Nov 3, 2023

Crain's Detroit Business reports on the passage of Michigan's sweeping climate bills mandating a 100% clean energy standard by 2040, quoting Trish Demeter on the Great Lake State's affirmation of its role as a clean energy leader.

Michigan power providers would have to reach a 100% clean energy standard by 2040 under sweeping climate bills approved late Thursday and early Friday in the Democratic-led House. Legislators also voted to let renewable developers seek state permits to site large-scale wind and solar farms in communities that block the projects.

The party-line votes capped a marathon day and night of session and likely cleared the legislation’s path to Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, who wants lawmakers to act this fall. The Senate, also controlled by Democrats, passed the main measures last week and appears poised to OK the siting bills next week before legislators potentially adjourn for the year.

Under Senate Bill 271, a 15% renewable mandate, which ended in 2021, would be reinstated and rise to 50% in 2030 and 60% in 2035, when a concurrent 80% “clean energy” requirement would kick in before going to 100% in 2040. Michigan currently has a goal that 35% of electric needs me met through renewable energy and energy waste reduction by 2025.

Electric providers would have to achieve a portfolio of 100% clean or renewable energy. That could include wind, solar, dams, geothermal, biomass, nuclear, natural gas — if technology is at least 90% effective in capturing and permanently storing carbon dioxide — and potentially other types if allowed by regulators. Utilities have turned to burning natural gas as they close coal-fired plants.

Utilities and alternative suppliers could seek an extension from a renewable or clean energy deadline if they show that complying would be practically infeasible, excessively costly to customers, not produce enough electricity or cause reliability issues. The Michigan Public Service Commission could grant an unlimited number of two-year extensions.

The siting measures, House Bills 5020-5021, would let power providers and independent power producers seek construction permits for big wind, solar and energy storage operations from the Public Service Commission.

A local government with a compatible ordinance would have to approve or deny the application within four months. The applicant and municipality could agree to extend the deadline by up to four months.

It “empowers locals and puts the process directly with locals first,” said Rep. Abraham Aiyash, a Hamtramck Democrat and sponsor of the main siting bill. “Locals would now have an opportunity to set up a process and if they set up a process, so long as it matches similar state standards, a developer would be required to go through this local process first.”

Landowners, he said, should have the flexibility and freedom to voluntarily lease their land to developers. Municipal officials and residents say they should be able to determine whether to allow renewable projects.

The state certification process would be available for proposed wind farms with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts, solar farms with a capacity of 50 or more megawatts and storage facilities with a capacity of at least 100 megawatts and an energy discharge capability of 200 megawatt hours or more. The applicant would give up to $75,000 to each affected local government — no more than $150,000 total across multiple municipalities — to cover its costs to intervene in the proceeding.

The Public Service Commission would be required to grant an application if it meets certain requirements, including that construction workers are paid prevailing wages, panels and blades are minimum distances from roads and adjacent properties, developers agree to community benefits agreements and union agreements, and the facility will not unreasonably diminish prime or other farmland.

“These legislative packages offer solutions to some of the most pressing issues facing the energy transition,” said Trish Demeter, managing director with Advanced Energy United, an industry association. “With a 100% clean energy goal, and reduced barriers to building wind, solar and energy storage projects, Michigan affirms its place as a leader in the clean energy economy.”

Read the full article here .
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Topics: United In The News, Michigan, Trish Demeter

Latitude Media: Electricity markets aren’t ready for long-duration energy storage

Posted by Kavya Balaraman on Nov 1, 2023

Latitude Media reports on the need for improvement for how electricity markets and regulatory structures incorporate long-duration energy storage projects, which recently received a $325 million boost in funding from the U.S. Department of Energy. United's  Ryan Katofsky and member company Form Energy are featured in the article, which emphasizes that deploying long-duration storage at scale will require concrete market and regulatory reforms across the country. 
When the U.S. Department of Energy announced in September its plans to  earmark up to $325 million for multiple long-duration energy storage projects across the country, it was essentially making a bet. 
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Topics: United In The News, Ryan Katofsky

RTO Insider: Advanced Energy United Urges Changes Beyond Order 2023 for ISO-NE

Posted by Jon Lamson on Nov 1, 2023

RTO Insider reports on a recently released white paper, authored by Daymark Energy Advisors and commissioned by Advanced Energy United, that calls upon ISO-NE to make immediate and long-term changes to its interconnection process to avoid delaying state clean energy goals in New England.

ISO-NE should go beyond the changes required by Order 2023 to address the high costs and long delays associated with interconnection in the region, said a recent white paper commissioned by Advanced Energy United and written by the energy consulting firm Daymark Energy Advisors.

“The costs imposed by inefficiencies in the interconnection process are borne by ratepayers in the region and are one significant factor which threatens the New England states’ decarbonization goals,” Daymark wrote. Advanced Energy United represents clean energy and storage developers, owners, and operators in the region.

The report detailed specific recommendations for the RTO’s compliance filing, along with longer-term actions to take to address issues that will not be addressed in the filing.

“While it is critical that Order 2023 is addressed and that a solid compliance package is submitted to the commission, we stress that this marks the beginning of the region’s interconnection process reform efforts,” Daymark wrote. “Changing technology, policy efforts and expected FERC orders on planning and cost allocation, among others, makes continued attention to comprehensive market reform imperative.”

Regarding ISO-NE’s Order 2023 compliance, Daymark said ISO-NE should work to limit the potential for restudies and keep the cluster study window to the 150-day time frame prescribed by FERC, instead of the RTO’s proposed 270-day cluster window. (See ISO-NE Details Proposed Order 2023 Compliance.) The firm said that reducing interconnection timelines was one of the main goals of the commission’s order, and a longer cluster study window could push back subsequent clusters.

ISO-NE representatives have said it is difficult to guarantee it will be able meet the 150-day timeline, in part because of the undetermined number of projects it may need to consider in any given cluster.

Daymark also recommended that ISO-NE clarify its methodology for studying separate subgroupings of projects within a given cluster. The firm said the RTO should publish the data and assumptions used in each cluster study in conjunction with its results.

“The process the ISO intends to use in each cluster study should be known before the cluster request window opens so that interconnection customers can replicate the process, if they so choose, and make fully informed decisions,” Daymark wrote.

Regarding alternative transmission technologies (ATTs), Daymark said ISO-NE should include dynamic line ratings with the other ATTs to be considered in interconnection studies. Daymark also called on the RTO to provide transparency around how each alternative will be considered in the study process and detail the results of ATT evaluations in study reports.

Looking beyond Order 2023 compliance, Daymark called for more disclosure around expected regional interconnection costs for project developers prior to interconnection studies, saying this could reduce the number of projects that drop out mid-process.

“Hand-in-hand with providing the data is ensuring that each study cycle follows a well-documented study approach,” Daymark added. The firm also said ISO-NE and the region’s transmission owners should work to minimize uncertainty within interconnection cost estimates and advocated for an upper limit to the cost overruns that can be charged to developers.

Finally, Daymark said spreading costs among a cluster of projects is a good first step toward properly allocating costs associated with interconnection upgrades. At the same time, ISO-NE should consider further steps to share the costs of upgrades with all beneficiaries, Daymark wrote.

“The establishment of a cost-allocation structure that is simple to administer, clear to all participants and fair to interconnection customers, the TOs and ratepayers should be a reform priority,” Daymark wrote, adding that interconnection upgrades can benefit state policy goals, enable increased electrification, promote system resilience and increase market competition.

“We recommend that the ISO pursue a cost allocation rule that would recognize the headroom created by a set of network upgrades and charge the projects in the cluster only for the system capability they needed to interconnect,” the report recommended, saying this would be conducive in the long term to “more closely coordinated planning of the system to address the reliable delivery of power to load and the interconnection of projects without distorting incentives.”

Read the full article here .
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Topics: Wholesale Markets, United In The News, Transmission

New report reveals the reforms New England needs to more quickly connect clean energy projects to the grid

Posted by Adam Winer on Nov 1, 2023

Immediate and long-term changes needed to ISO-NE's interconnection process to avoid delaying state clean energy goals, finds new Advanced Energy United commissioned analysis from Daymark Energy Advisors.

BOSTON, MA – A new report from energy consulting firm Daymark Energy Advisors details both the immediate and longer-term reforms needed to ISO-NE's antiquated interconnection process, which is threatening to derail the decarbonization goals of New England states. The process by which energy generation projects connect to the region's power grid, known as interconnection, is inefficient and is driving up costs for ratepayers and preventing many clean energy projects from connecting to the grid altogether. 

“For many clean energy developers, the interconnection process in New England has been a dense, dangerous fog and these reforms can be the lighthouse that helps us navigate a better path forward,” said Alex Lawton, Senior Principal at Advanced Energy United (United), the national business association working to achieve 100% clean energy in America, which commissioned this analysis.

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Topics: Wholesale Markets, Press Releases, Transmission, New England