Tag Archives: energy

Colorado Gives Day

Update: We wanted to say thanks to everyone who donated to Clean Energy Action on Colorado Gives Day. We truly appreciate all of your support.

We will continue to be your voice and stand up for a stable climate. We know that we have a long way to go to get our energy system on track. There is a lot of work to do and we are doing our best to keep the conversation in Colorado focused on what would will take to rapidly shift to a clean, renewable energy society. To find out more about what we’ve been up to, see the two recent Clean Energy Action articles below.

Give Where You Live For Colorado Gives Day!

CGD 2014_Master(WORKING)
Thanks to everyone who contributed last year! Clean Energy Action was the recipient of a $5,000 1st Bank bonus due to your generosity. We are eligible again if we exceed last year’s commitments. Please be as generous as you can and we may receive an even larger bonus.

A recurring contribution set to begin on December 9th will help keep CEA healthy all year long and count toward a possible bonus. All transaction costs are covered by 1st Bank and other sponsors so that every dollar goes to our work.

Set up your recurring donation today!
Why contribute to Clean Energy Action?

We are still one of the only voices in Colorado advocating for shutting down our fossil fueled infrastructure once and for all. CEA tears down the pillars that support climate instability and builds up the pillars that support climate stability. We understand that there are both environmental and economic risks to continued fossil dependence. While many have championed the conversion of coal fired plants to gas as a result of 2010 Clean Air Clean Jobs Act (CACJA), Clean Energy Action understands that statewide we have actually committed to increasing our overall emissions in Colorado when Xcel’s investments in new coal are included.  These policies have allowed Xcel to add $1B in fossil (both gas and coal retrofits) infrastructure to its generation mix.

Our work this year to date:

Our small staff accomplishes incredible tasks thanks to your support, and our team of interns and volunteers multiply our efforts. Here is an overview of our work from 2014:

  • Our featured posts are now syndicated nationwide on The Energy Collective, including promotion to their over 45,000 followers on Twitter.
  • Our work on Xcel’s ongoing rate case (14AL-0660E) at the Colorado Public Utility Commission has revealed a trove of information:
    • We understand just how cheap Xcel’s fossil plants are compared to the fuel that they commit us to burning.
    • Xcel’s Colorado ratepayers spent ~$550M on fuel in 2013.  About $370M of that was for coal — and as we’ve long pointed out… those coal costs are not decreasing!
    • The value of Xcel’s fossil power plants is $4B today ($2.9B of which is coal) and will increase to $5B as a result of CACJA cost recovery.
    • This means we spend more on fuel every 10 years than all the fossil plants are worth today.  And for coal it’s more like every 8 years.
  • Through our Citizen Power program, CEA has communicated the truth of the fossil fuel cost pass through (aka the Electricity Commodity Adjustment or ECA) to hundreds of citizens and dozens of legislators.
    • Legislation to change this may be introduced, but the fossil lobby will fight hard for the status quo.
    • We created videos to make the wonky Electric Commodity Adjustment digestible.
  • Clean Energy Action has developed energy literacy in hundreds of students in Boulder County with our energy bike and related energy education program.
With your support, our work in 2015:
  • CEA will develop software to comb through FERC, EPA, EIA and other databases to facilitate local communities understanding the costs of fuel and plants in their own neighborhoods.
    • This data will lead others to close dirty fossil plants instead of paying for dirty fossil fuels.
    • Quickly shutting down fossil plants in every state faster than the Clean Power Plan could hope to achieve.
  • Clean Energy Action has been selected as energy educators for many political representatives in CO.
    • The economics of boom and bust fossil jobs will be easily contrasted with the lasting benefit of jobs repowering the grid.
    • We will drive understanding of the myriad risks of continued fossil dependence.
  • Xcel Colorado may submit a new decoupling proposal and CEA will be prepared to intervene to make certain it’s the best deal for a stable climate.
  • Xcel Colorado will submit their quadrennial Electric Resource Plan (ERP) in fall 2015.
    • Clean Energy Action will expose the folly of discounting future fossil fuel costs.
    • This will rapidly change the generation mix away from fossils toward fuel free renewables.
Set up your recurring donation today!

You give to Clean Energy Action because you know we’re effective. We don’t charge a membership fee and all of our events are free thanks to the community of support. Please keep giving where you live to keep us strong and viable. Your voice is amplified by CEA’s voice across Colorado and the nation.

THANK YOU!

Sample of CEA Work

Sample 2014 Featured Articles
Xcel Rate Case – Decoupling
Face the Risk – Explaining the Electric Commodity Adjustment

What is the Electric Commodity Adjustment and How Does it Relate to Your Electric Bill and Renewable Energy?

We Are Your Eyes on Xcel

Update 9/16: SAVE THE DATE 11-20-14! The Public Utilities Commission (“COPUC”) has set a public hearing for November 20, 2014. Clean Energy Action will be training folks on how to engage prior to that date.

Update 8/28: Clean Energy Action has been granted permissive intervention! We are the only party to have ever been granted intervention status with an express position of moving toward a zero carbon economy. As a party to this proceeding, we will now be able to develop a Statement of Position preceded by filing Discovery Questions, Answer Testimony and informing the public about the intricacies of the proceeding. Stay Tuned here for further updates.

Update 8/5: Clean Energy Action has filed a Motion Requesting Permissive Intervention in the rate case. We expressed our reasons for filing as mitigating climate change and rapidly moving to a zero carbon economy.

Update 7/9: Public Utilities Commission staff filed a request for a hearing on June 26th. The Commissioners granted that request today. Any petitions to intervene must be submitted by August 11th.  The hearing is set for December 2nd through December 5th, with a final ruling expected by February 13th, 2015.

On June 17th, Xcel Energy submitted a request to the Public Utilities Commission asking for a rate increase of $157 million annual increase. That could mean a 5.3% monthly increase for the average consumer.

Unlike almost everybody on earth, we are keeping an eye on Xcel and the PUC.  Xcel’s testimony alone is over 2,241 pages.  Believe it or not, those 2,241 pages are just the tip of the iceberg. Clean Energy Action is digging deeper to uncover the implications that this rate case could have on the deployment of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

We need your support to keep doing this work.

If Xcel wins, this would add $3.96 to every customer’s bill every month. Instead of paying that to Xcel, consider a monthly recurring donation to help us move them into the utility model of the 21st century.

Xcel is proposing some significant changes to their rate structure, including a proposal for decoupling, large capital investments from the Clean Air Clean Jobs Act, and restructuring the depreciation of their fossil fuel assets.

We cannot change the conversation about the future without your support.

 

Facing the Risk in Fossil Fueled Electricity

I recently wrote about how our risk tolerance/aversion powerfully affects our estimation of the social cost of carbon, but obviously that’s not the only place that risk shows up in our energy systems.  Fossil fuel based electricity is also exposed to a much more prosaic kind of risk: the possibility that fuel prices will increase over time.

Building a new coal or gas plant is a wager that fuel will continue to be available at a reasonable price over the lifetime of the plant, a lifetime measured in decades.  Unfortunately, nobody has a particularly good record with long term energy system predictions so this is a fairly risky bet, unless you can get somebody to sign a long term fuel contract with a known price.  That doesn’t really get rid of the risk, it just shifts it onto your fuel supplier.  They take on the risk that they won’t make as much money as they could have, if they’d been able to sell the fuel at (higher) market rates.  If the consumer is worried about rising prices, and the producer is worried about falling prices, then sometimes this can be a mutually beneficial arrangement.  This is called “hedging”.

Continue reading Facing the Risk in Fossil Fueled Electricity

The Myth of Price

Our society’s prevailing economic zeitgeist assumes that everything has a price, and that both costs and prices can be objectively calculated, or at least agreed upon by parties involved in the transaction.  There are some big problems with this proposition.

Externalized costs are involuntary transactions — those on the receiving end of the externalities have not agreed to the deal.  Putting a price on carbon can theoretically remedy this failure in the context of climate change.  In practice it’s much more complicated, because our energy markets are not particularly efficient (as we pointed out in our Colorado carbon fee proposal, and as the ACEEE has documented well), and because there are many subsidies (some explicit, others structural) that confound the integration of externalized costs into our energy prices.

The global pricing of energy and climate externalities is obviously a huge challenge that we need to address, and despite our ongoing failure to reduce emissions, there’s been a pretty robust discussion about externalities.  As our understanding of climate change and its potentially catastrophic economic consequences have matured, our estimates of these costs have been revised, usually upwards.  We acknowledge the fact that these costs exist, even if we’re politically unwilling to do much about them.

Unfortunately — and surprisingly to most people — it turns out that understanding how the climate is going to change and what the economic impacts of those changes will be is not enough information to calculate the social cost of carbon. Continue reading The Myth of Price

In Good Company: A Look at Global Coal Reserve Revisions

In my last post, I recounted some of the indications that have surfaced over the last decade that US coal reserves might not be as large as we think.  The work done by the USGS assessing our reserves, and more recently comments from the coal industry themselves cast doubt on the common refrain that the US is “the Saudi Arabia of coal” and the idea that we have a couple of centuries worth of the fuel just laying around, waiting to be burned.  As it turns out, the US isn’t alone in having potentially unreliable reserve numbers.  Over the decades, many other major coal producing nations have also dramatically revised their reserve estimates.

Internationally the main reserve compilations are done by the UN’s World Energy Council (WEC) and to some degree also the German equivalent of the USGS, known as the BGR. Virtually all global (publicly viewable) statistics on fossil fuel reserves are traceable back to one of those two agencies. For instance, the coal reserve numbers in the International Energy Agency’s (IEA’s) 2011 World Energy Outlook came from the BGR; the numbers in BP’s most recent Statistical Review of Energy came from the WEC.

Of course, both the WEC and the BGR are largely dependent on numbers reported by national agencies (like the USGS, the EIA and the SEC in the case of the US), who compile data directly from state and regional geologic survey and mining agencies, fossil fuel consumers, producers, and the markets that they make up.

Looking back through the years at internationally reported coal reserve numbers, it’s surprisingly common to see big discontinuous revisions.  Below are a few examples from the WEC Resource Surveys going back to 1950, including some of the world’s largest supposed coal reserve holders.  In all cases, the magnitude of the large reserve revisions is much greater than annual coal production can explain.

Continue reading In Good Company: A Look at Global Coal Reserve Revisions