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William Driscoll

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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

PV Magazine: Clearway, Enel executives propose three ways to fix utility-scale interconnection

Posted by William Driscoll on May 30, 2023

PV Magazine highlights major takeaways from United's May 2023 webinar on interconnection processes and potential solutions, quoting Caitlin Marquis on the need for significant reform to make the interconnection transition more efficient.

The “efficient process solution” to interconnecting large-scale renewables and storage “is a combination of the ‘connect and manage’ interconnection approach with comprehensive regional transmission planning,” said Hannah Muller, head of markets and policy at Clearway Energy Group, on a webinar hosted by Advanced Energy United.

Greg Geller, vice president and head of regulatory affairs for Enel North America, said on the webinar that he also favors both approaches, and explained their advantages.

Advanced Energy United presented the webinar as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) is completing work on a rule aiming to increase the speed and reduce the costs of interconnecting utility-scale renewable and storage projects. Muller and Geller focused their recommendations on further improvements that could be instituted after FERC issues its rule.

Explaining the “connect and manage” approach, Geller said “assume you have a 200 MW project.” Some transmission system operators, he said, study projects based on how they will be dispatched “in real time. And if in real time that project would cause a constraint” if 200 MW were dispatched, a “connect and manage” approach would instead dispatch 100 MW for the time period needed.

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Topics: United In The News, Caitlin Marquis, FERC

pv magazine: First Solar Backs Carbon Pricing for Wholesale Electricity

Posted by William Driscoll on Jun 8, 2020

pv magazine covered First Solar's request that FERC consider carbon pricing and hold a technical conference or workshop, noting AEE made same request with stakeholder group. Read excerpts below and the entire pv magazine piece here. 

First Solar has asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) to convene a technical conference or workshop on carbon pricing of electricity in wholesale energy markets. First Solar’s request is in support of a petition, submitted by stakeholders including the American Council on Renewable Energy and Advanced Energy Economy, asking FERC to convene a carbon pricing discussion...

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Topics: United In The News

PV Magazine: Distributed Storage Could Save Texas $344 Million per Year by Deferring Transmission and Distribution Costs

Posted by William Driscoll on May 11, 2020

PV Magazine summarized findings from TAEBA’s distributed energy resources report, quoting TAEBA's Suzanne Bertin. Read excerpts below and the entire PV Magazine piece here. 

An estimated 20% of transmission and distribution investments in Texas are designed to meet load growth, and could largely be deferred by adding distributed battery storage. That’s a key finding of a report from the Texas Advanced Energy Business Alliance (TAEBA), which pegged the annual savings possible in Texas from this “non-wires solution” at $344 million per year. 

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Topics: United In The News

PV Magazine: Arizona Commission Signals Support for 100% Clean Energy by 2050

Posted by William Driscoll on Mar 27, 2020

PV Magazine reported Arizona Corporate Commission is initiating a process to establish rules for reaching 100% renewable energy by 2050, featuring AEE's 100% clean energy states tracking map. Read excerpts below and the entire PV Magazine piece here. 

The Arizona Corporation Commission has directed its staff to develop a set of rules to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050, said Commission Chair Robert Burns in a letter on Wednesday. Commissioner Sandra Kennedy wrote the same day that while she preferred a standard of 100% clean energy by 2040, because “the science is clear regarding the need for aggressive decarbonization,” she would support a 2050 deadline to achieve majority agreement.

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Topics: United In The News

PV Magazine: Minnesota groups back higher renewables mandate

Posted by William Driscoll on Sep 10, 2018

This PV Magazine article looks at the Minnesota energy roadmap recently released by AEE and CEEM plus engagement of both organizations in the state's gubernatorial campaign. Link to the roadmap here. Link to the full article here. Excerpts below:
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Topics: United In The News