NY Gov. Announces Clean Energy Initiatives– Increasing Net Metering Cap from 3% to 6%

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   December 18, 2014  /   Posted in Net Metering, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Governor Cuomo Announces New Clean Energy Initiatives to Grow Economy and Protect the Environment

Five Milestones Reached to Further Restructure the State’s Electric System and Provide Customers with More Choice and Value

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced milestone steps taken in New York State’s comprehensive “Reforming the Energy Vision” strategy to spur clean energy innovation and investment, improve customer choice and value, and protect the environment. The actions announced today will put into motion five new reforms enabling further growth of the local clean energy industry and modernizing how the utility sector operates—critical efforts expected to bring new jobs to the state.

“These steps will help provide New Yorkers with clean, more affordable and reliable energy while also strengthening New York’s energy grid,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are investing in a sustainable, local energy future, which will help the energy industry produce more clean power and move New York’s economy forward.”

The five milestone steps taken by the Public Service Commission follow through on the State’s efforts to modernize and fundamentally transform New York’s energy system, including:

  • Increase in net metering caps from 3 percent to 6 percent in response to market uncertainty and the desire to enable local business growth. Net metering allows eligible customers to offset their energy bills with clean, on-site electricity generation from solar and other technologies. Further, the Public Service Commission ordered a swift process to engage stakeholders to develop an allowance for community net metering, a critical tool for broadening access to the benefits of clean power for those who may not be able to logistically install solar on their homes or businesses.
  • Approval of a first-of-its-kind, energy management program for Con Edison, viewed as a cutting-edge utility reform in New York and the nation. Con Edison’s “Brooklyn Queens Demand Management” (BQDM) program encourages the deployment of local energy resources in areas which provide value to the larger electric grid, offers more clean energy for customers, and promotes innovation through competition. These efforts will lower overall costs for customers while offsetting the need to build a $1 billion substation to serve customers.
  • Adoption of a resolution encouraging utilities and third parties to propose demonstration projects, including those that might be similar to BQDM. The Public Service Commission stated these demonstration projects should exhibit new, scalable business models, improve the resilience of the electric distribution system and add local energy resources and technologies to New York’s power grid.
  • Strengthened demand response programs to allow customer energy use to be dynamically managed with local energy resources. To this end, the Public Service Commission instituted a new proceeding to develop programs and tariffs for electric utilities to be implemented statewide in summer 2015. Benefits of dynamic load management include peak load reduction, reduced energy and capacity costs, deferral of the need for new generating capacity or transmission and delivery infrastructure, improved overall generator efficiency, and reduced greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Development and exploration to allow Community Choice Aggregation in New York to benefit residential and small commercial customers and lower energy costs. Community Choice Aggregation involves the aggregation of gas or electricity load by municipalities. Participating municipalities could negotiate with energy services providers to contract for the community’s energy supply. These contracts may offer attractive and stable prices as well as other public benefits. CCA programs will support the deployment of renewable generation, energy efficiency programs, home energy management, and other distributed energy resources.

Richard Kauffman, who as Chairman of Energy & Finance for New York leads the comprehensive Reforming the Energy Vision strategy on behalf of the Governor, said, “While other industries over recent decades have dramatically improved their productivity and quality through competition and innovation, the electric system has been left behind. Through our dedicated efforts we are moving forward with modernizing New York’s utilities and our statewide power grid. Building on our success of previously announced initiatives included in Reforming the Energy Vision—such as NY-Sun, NY Green Bank, Clean Energy Fund, and regulatory reform—New York is leading the nation in creating an attractive environment for businesses to accelerate and expand investment in clean energy technologies while mitigating climate change.”

Public Service Commission Chair Audrey Zibelman said, “The energy world is changing, and we are reforming regulatory policies to ensure that all customers benefit from the creation of economically and environmentally sustainable energy markets. With these initiatives, we will maximize the utilization of resources and reduce the need for new infrastructure though expanded demand management, energy efficiency, renewable energy, distributed generation, and energy storage programs. Our objective is to create market-based, sustainable products and services that drive an increasingly efficient, clean, reliable, and consumer-oriented energy industry.”

Jackson Morris, Director of Eastern Energy at the Natural Resources Defense Council, said, “These are important steps forward toward increasing clean energy options for New York’s communities. It will make it easier for all New Yorkers to benefit from clean, pollution-free solar power by easing restrictions on rooftop solar power systems. In addition, it will improve grid reliability in Brownsville, Brooklyn, using a model that could be replicated in other urban communities to make energy efficiency and clean energy more accessible. We look forward to working with the state to scale up these and other clean energy solutions as a key part of New York’s leadership on curbing global warming and building community resilience.”

Rhone Resch, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said, “This is a huge step forward in New York’s efforts to create new jobs, reduce pollution and fight climate change. Governor Cuomo and the PSC deserve a lot of credit for being forward looking and for understanding the importance of market certainty. With 338 megawatts (MW) of solar capacity already installed across the state, this action puts New York on a clear trajectory to become one of the nation’s leading solar states.”

Rory Christian, New York Director of Clean Energy for the Environmental Defense Fund, said, “New York continues to benefit from leadership driving the state towards a cleaner energy vision. The actions outlined yesterday are a tremendous step forward in preparing New York for a cleaner energy future, helping animate markets, attracting investment, and creating jobs – all while reducing the impact of energy infrastructure on the environment.”

Peter Olmsted, East Coast Regional Director of Vote Solar and President of New York Solar Energy Industry Association, said, “Strong policy leadership is combining with business innovation to fundamentally transform New York’s energy landscape for the better. Solar and other clean options are creating jobs, putting consumers in charge of their bills, and building healthier, more resilient communities. The recent collection of Commission decisions will empower more New Yorkers to participate in and benefit from the state’s growing new energy marketplace. We applaud the administration’s continued leadership and look forward working with New York policymakers to unleash more of our state’s clean energy potential.”

Under Governor Cuomo’s strategic “Reforming the Energy Vision” initiative, New York State is actively spurring clean energy innovation, bringing in new investments, improving consumer choice while protecting the environment and energizing New York’s economy at the state and local levels.

By unleashing innovation, New York is pioneering a new statewide approach, giving customers new opportunities for energy savings, local power generation, and enhanced reliability to provide safe, clean, and affordable electric service for all customers. Byunleashing markets, through statewide initiatives such as the Clean Energy Fund and $1 billion NY Green Bank, New York is moving to diversify its support of the clean energy industry to address market barriers and attract private capital necessary to achieve the State’s economic development and environmental objectives. By empowering communities and creating jobs through programs like Community Solar NY and K-Solar for schools, the $40 million NY-Prize competition for community microgrids and the $1 billion NY-Sun Initiative, New York is leveraging the power of its state institutions and government agencies to integrate local energy resources and meet the needs of New York’s communities.

Indiana OUCC Recommends Customer Rate Relief Regarding Duke Energy Edwardsport Costs

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   December 17, 2014  /   Posted in Duke Energy, Edwardsport IGCC Plant, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

OUCC

Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor A. David Stippler

For Immediate Release: December 16, 2014; Contact: Anthony Swinger 1-317-233-2747

http://www.in.gov/oucc/files/Edwardsport_Tracker_Filing_NR_12-16-14.pdf

State Utility Consumer Advocate Recommends Customer Rate Relief Regarding Edwardsport Costs

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) is recommending $114.8 million in rate relief for Duke Energy customers, in connection with ongoing cost recovery for the utility’s Edwardsport power plant.
In testimony filed Monday (12/15/14), the OUCC is asking the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to require Duke Energy to refund approximately $51.6 million to Indiana customers based on projected estimates of the plant’s expenses once it was technically “in service.” Those costs have been included in the utility’s rates since September 2013. The OUCC also recommends that the IURC disallow about $63.2 million in costs Duke Energy is currently seeking to recover from Indiana customers through rates.

Indiana law allows Duke Energy to seek rate adjustments every six months to pay for construction and financing costs for the Edwardsport integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC) generating station.

A 2012 settlement agreement among the OUCC, Duke Energy, and industrial customers caps the total construction cost amount Duke Energy may recover from ratepayers for the Edwardsport project. Among other provisions, the agreement states that costs related to “startup, testing, validation, and commissioning” should be borne by Duke Energy shareholders and not by the utility’s Indiana ratepayers.

The key disagreement in the pending cost recovery case focuses on when the Edwardsport plant was actually placed “in service.” Duke Energy, in its testimony, considers the plant “in service” and fully operational as of June 7, 2013.
However, the OUCC’s testimony contends that the plant remained in a “start-up” status before and after the alleged “in-service” date, and all throughout the periods that are currently being reviewed for cost recovery.
“While state law allows a utility to recover costs through rates for a plant that is fully operational and providing electricity to customers, these costs do not rise to that level,” said Indiana Utility Consumer Counselor David Stippler. “The Edwardsport settlement agreement specifically bars Duke Energy from billing ratepayers for testing and startup
costs. The OUCC continues to closely scrutinize all costs related to this project, and we will continue with our efforts on behalf of ratepayers to hold Duke Energy accountable to the terms of the agreement.”

Duke Energy has until January 15, 2015 to file rebuttal testimony in this case, with an IURC evidentiary hearing scheduled to start on February 2, 2015.
(IURC Cause Nos. 41134 IGCC-12 & 43114 IGCC-13)

 

The Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) represents Indiana consumer interests before state and federal bodies that regulate utilities. As a state agency, the OUCC’s mission is to represent all Indiana consumers to ensure quality, reliable utility
services at the most reasonable prices possible through dedicated advocacy, consumer education, and creative problem solving.
Visit us at www.IN.gov/OUCC, www.twitter.com/IndianaOUCC, or www.facebook.com/IndianaOUCC.

Citizen Groups Seek Relief for Duke Edwardsport Rip-off

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   December 16, 2014  /   Posted in Duke Energy, Edwardsport IGCC Plant, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Edwarsport bar graph

http://www.citact.org/fossil-fuels-and-nuclear-energy-utility-rates-and-regulation/duke-energy-edwardsport-igcc-plant/pr-12-16-14-duke-igcc-ripoff

Citizens Action Coalition * Save the Valley * Sierra Club * Valley Watch

NEWS RELEASE

For Immediate Release  December 16, 2014

Contact: Kerwin Olson (317) 702-0461 or Jodi Perras     (317) 407-0148

Citizen Groups Seek Relief for Duke Edwardsport Rip-off

Edwardsport’s abysmal performance leads to excessive rates

Plant Was Not “In-Service” as Duke Claimed in 2013

 

INDIANAPOLIS — Captive Hoosier ratepayers doled out nearly $400 million before Duke Energy’s Edwardsport coal gasification power plant delivered any net energy to the grid, according to testimony filed late Monday night by a coalition of citizen groups before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). Through the end of March 2014, consumers have paid in excess of $688 million for the scandal-ridden and problem-plagued power plant.

 

The testimony also criticizes poor operations of the Edwardsport Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle (IGCC) Project and questions Duke’s rush to declare the plant “in-service” in 2013. The citizen groups are asking the IURC to establish performance standards for the plant and set operating cost caps to protect ratepayers from being overcharged for Duke’s mismanagement and the company’s failure to keep its promises.

 

As a result of the Indiana General Assembly passing a 2002 law known as Construction Work in Progress, or CWIP, Duke Energy has been allowed to collect the up-front costs along with a rate of return while the plant is being built and not producing any energy.  CWIP charges represent nearly $627 million of the $688 million collected by Duke Energy through the end of March.

 

In this proceeding, Duke is seeking approval to recover additional amounts in excess of $370 million in CWIP and other costs related to the project during the current review period of April 1, 2013 and March 31, 2014.  Also at issue is Duke’s decision to unilaterally declare the Knox County plant “in-service” on June 7, 2013.  That decision has tremendous implications on ratepayers as a construction cost cap agreed to by Duke Energy was a key provision of the 2012 settlement with the Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, the Indiana Industrial Group, and Nucor Steel and later approved by the IURC.

 

“The Company’s declaration that Edwardsport was ‘in-service’ on June 7, 2013 was an obvious attempt to circumvent or evade the construction cost cap,” said technical expert David Schlissel of Schlissel Technical Consulting.  “The plant was not in service in any meaningful way.”

 

Duke Energy promised regulators that the plant would achieve an average capacity factor of 72% during the first 15 months of commercial operation on gasified coal or “syngas”.  Since being declared “in-service” over 18 months ago, the plant’s average actual monthly capacity factor on that fuel was a mere 21%. And in no single month, as demonstrated in the figure on the left, also included in Mr. Schlissel’s testimony, has Edwardsport achieved the level promised by Duke

 

Mr. Schlissel also testified that the plant was still in the testing phase in November 2014 and has not yet achieved “substantial completion” of construction — more than 18 months after it was declared “in service.”

 

Accounting expert Ralph Smith of Larkin & Associates said in his testimony filed on behalf of citizen groups that Duke prematurely declared Edwardsport to be ‘in service’, or ready for commercial operation, in June 2013, contrary to accounting standards.

 

“The Commission should disallow a substantial part of the actual costs of Edwardsport claimed by the Company in this proceeding and refund a substantial part of the plant’s costs previously projected and costs previously collected in customer rates for the period of April 1, 2013 through March 31, 2014,” Mr. Smith’s testimony said.

 

The expert testimony filed on behalf of the citizen groups also recommend the Commission “establish an operating expense cost cap and performance standards for the future commercial operation of Edwardsport to protect Indiana ratepayers from a continuation of the poor performance and unreasonably high costs the plant exhibited from June 2013 through March 2014.”

 

Duke recovers CWIP and other costs for the Edwardsport IGCC project on customer’s monthly bills through Rider 61, which is a bill component called an adjustable rate mechanism, or ‘tracker’.  Currently a household using 1000 kWh per month is paying on average $12.67 per month, which does not include any fuel charges attributable to the IGCC project

 

The testimony filed on behalf of the Citizen Groups is available upon request or see below.

 

####

 

Kerwin Olson, Executive Director for Citizens Action Coalition: 1-317-702-0461

Steve Francis, Chair of the Hoosier Chapter of Sierra Club: 1-574-514-0565

Richard Hill, Save the Valley: 1-812-273-6015

John Blair, President of Valley Watch: 1-812-550-3003

IndianaDG has already obtained a copy of the testimony and uploaded it here> 

43114 IGCC 12 & 13–Joint Intervenors’ Redacted Testimony and Exhibits–12-15-14–FINAL

 

Indiana Gov. Pence: “The proposed [EPA carbon]rules are ill-conceived and poorly constructed”

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   December 03, 2014  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

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Indiana leaders slam stricter greenhouse gas emission rules

Midwest Energy News: For struggling rural communities, wind farms a welcome boon

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   December 02, 2014  /   Posted in wind  /   No Comments

For struggling rural communities, wind farms a welcome boon

(Photo by Joel Rivlin via Creative Commons)

Whether a wind farm is opposed or embraced by neighbors depends a lot on where it is built.

And a new study finds that for rural Midwestern communities that often are confronted with dwindling populations and revenues, wind farms are seen primarily as a welcome economic development — even if developers’ promises don’t completely pan out.

“In other places, you see a lot of opposition to wind energy, and projects are being blocked,” said Jeffrey Jacquet, an assistant professor of sociology at South Dakota State University, and one of the researchers. A study done a couple years ago found that proposed wind farms encountered resistance in about 45 percent of cases, according to Jacquet. In a community on the outskirts of the Twin Cities, he said, people “are vigorously trying to block a wind farm from being constructed.”

It’s more of an exurban community, he said, and people as a result may have “different notions of what land should be used for.”

In an attempt to gauge residents’ views of wind turbines, Jacquet and another researcher from South Dakota State University earlier this year conducted a survey and interviews among residents in a pair of adjoining and sparsely-populated South Dakota counties with two different wind-farm stories.

In Hyde County, one wind-energy developer put up 27 turbines in 2003. In Hand County, British Petroleum planned to build what was rumored to be the largest wind farm in the world, with 1,000 turbines. After erecting 10 turbines in 2009, however, BP pulled out and focused its resources on natural-gas extraction, according to Josh Fergen, a sociology graduate student at the university and one of the researchers.

Fergen wondered if the dashed plan for a huge wind farm would sour the residents of Hand County on the wind industry, as compared to the residents of Hyde County, where a 27-turbine farm was successfully operating.

In both counties, according to Jacquet, people started out with “very positive expectations” about how the wind farms would impact the local economies. As it turned out, their expectations were not met in either case.

“The reality was that jobs weren’t as great as they expected, and tax revenue wasn’t what they expected,” Jacquet said. “However, they still had positive impressions at the end of the day.” The residents of the county where BP said it would build 1,000 turbines had higher expectations that people in the neighboring county. But in the end, he said, they were just as satisfied.

“They see any development as good development,” Jacquet said. “In a lot of rural communities there isn’t a lot of development and people are worried about economic decline and population loss. So maybe it didn’t turn out to be the over-1,000 turbines they projected, but at least they built something and the land was being used for something.”

“We’re looking at counties that are experiencing some population loss,” Fergen added. “This wind energy development provides an avenue for the county and the school district to receive some benefits. Even if it’s not what they expected, it still helps.”

It can pay off for them in another way, in terms of hometown pride, said Fergen, who grew up in South Dakota.

“It helps to put them on the map,” he said. “There’s economic development and then, “Oh, we’ve got a wind farm here.”

The 238 respondents, about evenly divided between the two counties, expressed overwhelming support for wind energy in the abstract. About 92 percent indicated they favor wind-energy development across the nation. Only slightly fewer – 91 percent of respondents – expressed support for wind energy in their locality.

In a seeming paradox, those not supportive of wind energy tended to be those who most strongly identified with environmental values.

“At first blush you’d think it would be the opposite,” Jacquet said. The opposition among those identifying as environmentalists confirms research he did earlier in Pennsylvania. Although wind turbines avoid most of the issues associated with fossil fuel use, Jacquet said some people are more concerned about “disruption to wildlife and the natural landscape.”

The research team found that aesthetics enter in in another way. They asked residents if they found the turbines beautiful when in motion, or beautiful when not in motion.

“The ones in motion were found to be much more beautiful,” Jacquet said. “The narrative emerging is, ‘Do you view the landscape as a place of economic productivity? Is that what the landscape is for,or is the landscape more for retaining natural ecosystems and that sort of thing? A lot of people in the Great Plains see the land as a place for producing things. When the turbines are in motion and producing electricity, things are getting done.”

“There is a spectrum of opinion that seems to break down along environmental attitudes and what you think land should be used for. But in general, people seem to be in favor of it.”

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