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
Thanks to all those who came out to protect the environmental and economic benefits of demand side management!
We have won a strategic victory. The PUC staff have recommended a rejection of Xcel’s plan to slash the program:
Though the demand-side management (DSM) landscape in Colorado is changing, Public Service Company of Colorado’s (Public Service or the Company) DSM plans continue to be cost effective and DSM should continue to be aggressively pursued. –DSM Strategic Issues – Trial Staff’s Statement of Position
Thanks again to everyone who showed up, shared their voice and passion to this important cause.
Stand up Against Xcel’s Proposal to Cut the
Demand Side Management Program
Tuesday, May 6th, 12:00 pm – 1:00 pm
Lincoln Park, Veterans Memorial
Xcel is proposing to drastically cut their funding for their Demand Side Management (DSM) program. This program has been highly effective at deploying cost effective energy efficiency and load-shifting techniques to reduce our demand for fossil fuels.
Join us to put pressure on the PUC to not allow Xcel to defund this critical program. Jonny 5 from the Flobots will be MC’ing and providing musical entertainment!
See here a full explanation of the DSM program and Xcel’s current proposal.
This rally is a collaboration between Clean Energy Action, The Sierra Club, Frack Free Colorado, and others.
On April 9, the Commissioners of the Colorado PUC held a three hour informational meeting with presentations from Xcel, the collective solar parties, the Colorado Energy Office, the Office of Consumer Council, and Western Resources Advocates. The outlines of the process will start to firm up in May, but the parties laid out some general ideas for process and substance in PowerPoint presentations before a packed house.
As a quick recap, remember that this matter spun off from the 2014 RES compliance docket at the motion of the Colorado Energy Office. Their argument was, essentially, that if the value of solar was going to be debated it should get its own hearing instead of being stuck in the compliance plan almost as a sideshow. The CEO argued that severing the issues would “increase transparency and allow stakeholders from across the state to participate in the dialog related to incremental costs, net metering incentives, and solar energy rates.” (CEO motion 21 Jan 2014) The commissioners deliberated on the motion at their weekly meeting on January 29 and granted that motion shortly thereafter with much hand wringing about the structure of the new proceeding.
In response to that hand wringing, the commissioners held this informational meeting with the parties directed to discuss their “recommendations on the substantive issues the Commission should address in this proceeding, objectives the Commission should meet, and the best procedures satisfying those objectives.” (Decision No. C14-0294 in proceeding 14M-0235E) Continue reading Colorado PUC takes the next bite at Net Metering
Not Too Late to Urge Colorado Senators to reject the appointment of Glenn Vaad for PUC Commissioner
While Vaad’s ties to ALEC are important, most legislators may care more about his record. We also now understand that the nominee expressed an agnostic position regarding climate change. This view was given at a meeting with partner organizations and is absolutely untenable. Vaad has a record of voting against clean energy policies. He voted:
- Against increasing the Renewable Energy Standard (HB1001) in 2010
- Against Energy Efficiency Requirements (HB 1107) in 2008
- Against Prohibiting Restrictions on Energy Efficiency (HB 1270) in 2008
- Against Oil and Gas Commission Reconfiguration (HB 1341) in 2008
The PUC regulates telecom and transportation as well as utilities and his other votes indicate he won’t effectively regulate industry for the public good. To check out Vaad’s full voting record see VoteSmart.org.
Contact Your State Senator
Continue reading Continued Action Item: Speak Out Against PUC Nominee Glenn Vaad
The City of Boulder Presents Karl Rabago
Thursday, March 13th, 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm
West Senior Center: Creekside Room
909 Arapahoe Ave, Boulder, CO 80302
Update! Watch the presentation online:
The Q&A Session:
Are you wondering why solar is in the news so much these days? Is the industry in trouble? And what might changes mean for Boulder’s plans to draw more of its power from the sun?
We’ll be exploring these questions – and many more – on March 13 at a free and public event featuring Karl Rábago, a national leader and innovator on solar energy. We’d love to see you there!
This conversation is both relevant and timely. As part of the Energy Future initiative, the Boulder community has said it wants to increase opportunities for local generation of cleaner electricity. While initial modeling put an emphasis on wind, solar will undoubtedly be an important part of our resource mix. Boulder also has lots at stake in terms of the solar industry. Solar leaders that help individuals and businesses gain access to solar technology are contributing to our strong economy, positioning our community to make the type of environmental progress others dream about.
But regulatory changes are looming – and some worry solar’s golden era may be coming to an end. Locally, Xcel Energy has proposed significant changes in net metering as part of its 2014 renewable energy standard compliance plan. These issues have been severed into different dockets, but the decisions will be important nonetheless.
Few people understand the concerns and opportunities better than Karl Rábago. With more than 20 years of experience in electricity policy and regulation, energy market development and energy technology development, his perspective is deep and broad. Rábago operates an energy consulting practice, Rábago Energy LLC, providing strategic, policy, regulatory and market development consulting in the clean and innovative energy sectors. He serves as Chair of the Board of the Center for Resource Solutions, a San Francisco-based non-governmental organization that works to advance voluntary clean energy markets, and also sits on the Board of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).
- Commissioner, Texas Public Utility Commission
- Deputy Assistant Secretary at the US Department of Energy Vice President of Distributed Energy
- Services at Austin Energy Director of Regulatory Affairs for the AES Corporation and AES Wind
- Sustainability Leader with NatureWorks, LLC
- Managing Director & Principal, Rocky Mountain Institute