Utility Regulation & Policy
Governor Ralph Northam’s new 2018 Virginia Energy Plan (VEP), released earlier this month, rounds out a busy year for clean energy policy in Virginia. It contains policy and program recommendations that will, if thoroughly implemented, deepen energy savings and expand clean energy in the Commonwealth.
Blockchain is generating a lot of buzz as a promising system to verify and track peer-to-peer transactions in the energy sector. It could have multiple applications although there is still debate about which, if any, will work well. What’s clear, however, is that companies are already exploring uses of blockchain to save energy. Let me tell you about three applications that show promise.
If 2018 were an energy-saving roller coaster, the 2018 State Energy Efficiency Scorecard would be your souvenir photo capturing a year of promising highs and a few stomach-churning lows in efficiency policy.
Electricity bills don’t make for terribly exciting reading, but as boring as they may look, there is much more going on beneath the surface. Whereas the price most people pay for electricity remains steady from month to month, electricity costs can change dramatically from one hour to the next for the utilities that send the bills. For example, weather can cause demand to spike, raising prices as well, and suddenly the cost of the electricity is much different from the price we see on our bill.
The increased prevalence of distributed energy resources is driving changes to utility planning. Our new report, The Role of Energy Efficiency in a Distributed Energy Future, found that most utilities are not currently using energy efficiency in distribution system planning, but several states are pursuing new approaches to using efficiency to displace traditional distribution infrastructure upgrades and integrate more renewables into the grid.
With a critical vote coming as soon as Monday, Iowa is at an important crossroads as legislative efforts threaten to scale back energy efficiency. In recent weeks, legislators have introduced bills that would deprive homes and businesses of valuable programs that keep energy costs down, create jobs, reduce pollution, and defer construction on costly and excessive energy generation.
During the holiday season, we are inundated with marketing messages as well as goods and services — hallmarks of our market economy. Popular products include holiday lights, once made only with incandescent bulbs but now mostly with LEDs. This shift to efficient LEDs is an offshoot of a much larger market transformation in lighting, which has saved vast amounts of energy.
A recent federal proposal puts a spotlight on an uncommonly popular topic: wholesale energy markets. Our new research shows that energy efficiency has provided steadily increasing value to grid operators and customers in two such markets. Our report, Energy Efficiency in Capacity Auctions: A Historical Review of Value, finds that since they have been included, efficiency resources have almost tripled in the Mid-Atlantic auction and almost quadrupled in a similar auction in New England.
Residents and businesses across the country are saving energy and money thanks to smart state policies. Their stories help explain why some states climbed in our 2017 State Scorecard or maintained strong standings. This year for the first time, we included stories of individuals and communities in our state-specific score sheets.