Notes

California’s Riverside Public Utilities Taps Ice Energy for Renewable Plan

Riverside Public Utilities in California recently awarded Ice Energy a five-year contract to provide 5 MW of behind-the-meter thermal energy storage, the company announced.

The program will kick off this spring.

The city of Riverside, the hottest climate zone in the Los Angeles basin, selected Ice Energy’s Ice Bear to align with its Utility 2.0 smart grid and renewable energy plan. The smart grid-enabled thermal energy storage technology will help Riverside Public Utilities better integrate renewable energy resources such as wind, solar and geothermal systems to maintain low energy costs for its customers.

“This is our first energy storage project launching a new era, Utility 2.0, for the city of Riverside,” said Girish Balchandran, general manager for Riverside Public Utilities. “We chose Ice Energy’s technology to improve grid reliability and to reduce peak capacity of commercial business air conditioning for many reasons. It will help to minimize infrastructure investment, help to achieve our environmental objectives, all while ensuring the lowest energy costs for customers. The project also creates an economic development opportunity whereby 30 to 40 percent of the project investment will be going right back into our community using labor and project materials sourced locally to install and operate the thermal energy storage equipment.”

The product attaches to one or more standard 5- to 20-ton commercial AC units. The Ice Bear freezes ice at night when demand for power is low and capacity is abundant. During the day, stored ice provides cooling, instead of power-intensive AC compressors. Each Ice Bear can reduce carbon dioxide emissions up to 10 tons annually.

Riverside, like other public utilities in California, is increasing its investment in renewable sources to meet Gov. Jerry Brown’s new legislation that ups the state’s goal to 50 percent renewables by 2030. Energy storage, particularly distributed, efficient and cost-effective storage, will help maintain a robust and reliable grid.

Nearly 1,000 Ice Bear units are installed in more than 40 utility service territories nationwide, surpassing 25 million hours of reliable operation.


6 UTC Rural Broadband Council Members Provisionally Selected for Rural Broadband Experiments Funding

Six members of the Rural Broadband Council (RBC), a membership section of the Utilities Telecom Council (UTC), made the list of bidders provisionally selected to receive funding to participate in broadband experiments, the Federal Communications Commission’s Wireline Competition Bureau announced in a March 4 public notice. The RBC members are:

  • BARC Electric Cooperative, Virginia;
  • City of Chanute, Kansas;
  • Douglas Services Inc., Oregon;
  • Lake Region Technology & Communications LLC, Oklahoma;
  • Midwest Energy Cooperative d/b/a Midwest Connections, Michigan; and
  • Northeast Rural Services Inc., Oklahoma.

These projects will deploy a network capable of delivering speeds of 100 Mbps downstream/25 Mbps upstream while offering at least one service plan that provides 25 Mbps downstream/5 Mbps upstream to all locations within the selected census block or blocks.

“The strong showing by RBC members in the FCC rural experiment process proves that electric utilities are poised to again transform rural America-this time with high-speed Internet service,” said Mike Keyser, CEO of BARC Electric Cooperative and RBC chairman.

Several other RBC members submitted rural broadband experiment applications but were not selected by the FCC in this round. Instead, these utilities will be able to compete for funding under Connect America Fund Phase II in those census blocks included in their rural broadband experiments proposals, removing these census blocks from the right of first refusal for price cap carriers to accept model-based support. This makes these blocks available for competitive bids from utilities that intend to provide broadband with better service than that offered by the price cap carriers.


Solar Power Gets Cheaper Than Utility Power for Some Texas Homeowners

A SolarCity-MP2 Energy partnership just made it possible for some Dallas and Fort Worth area homeowners to pay less for solar electricity than they pay for utility power for the first time without any local incentives.

Customers who sign up for SolarCity’s service and electricity service from MP2 will receive full credit for all the solar electricity they provide to the utility grid. Known as full net metering, the practice is common in most of the U.S. but available for the first time in Texas exclusively through this partnership. The program initially will be available to qualified homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The two companies expect to expand it to additional markets later this year.

Texas is the nation’s largest energy producer and among the top five energy consumers per capita, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. Texas residents traditionally have enjoyed electricity prices below the national average, and solar power adoption in the state has been limited largely to areas where local incentives drive down the cost of solar electricity. SolarCity and MP2’s ability to provide solar electricity at a discount to retail utility rates without local incentives in Texas has implications for solar adoption in a broad range of locations with comparable rates.

“With an average of 240 sunny days per year, Texas is often considered a sleeping giant when it comes to its potential for solar power, and unlocking this state has huge implications for the solar industry at large,” said Jeff Starcher, chairman and CEO of MP2 Energy. “To date, solar has only worked where there are local incentives. With this new partnership, we are making solar a practical option for residential customers in Texas.”

Under the program, SolarCity will install solar panels to provide solar electricity to Texas homeowners, and homeowners will sign up with MP2 for any additional electricity needs. MP2 will track customers’ solar energy production and consumption every month. Customers who produce more than they consume will be credited at the full retail value for excess production, including transmission and distribution service charges. Most retail electricity providers in Texas limit the credits for solar power produced-typically up to 500 kWh per month-or require them to forfeit any unused solar power at the end of the month. MP2 Energy will not implement a cap for its program and will allow customers to carry forward any excess generation to subsequent monthly bills until the customer can fully use it for the year.

“MP2’s pure net metering program is truly the first of its kind in Texas, finally making solar a viable option for residential customers,” Starcher said. “The terms of this program can allow customers to see immediate savings on solar and make government and local incentives, which have decreased in the past few years, less important. It demonstrates that the value of solar to electricity providers is increasing and is aligned with retail rates.”

While other retail electric providers increase or decrease their solar costs based on monthly energy factors, such as the price of natural gas, MP2 allows customers to lock in a fixed rate for 12 or 24 months. MP2 also will allow customers to terminate their contracts without fees or penalties, which is also a unique offer in Texas.

SolarCity will serve customers from its local operations center in Northwest Dallas. Interested homeowners can contact SolarCity directly for a free, no-obligation solar consultation or visit the company online.

MP2 Energy is a full service power company that serves some 900 MW to customers in Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania and Ohio. The top-tier company integrates capabilities across its core services from plant development, plant management, demand response and retail electric supply to end-use customers.

SolarCity provides renewable electricity directly to homeowners, businesses and government organizations for less than they spend on utility bills.


C3’s Siebel Testifies to House Energy & Commerce Committee on Energy Innovation Regulatory Challenges

C3 Energy Chairman and CEO Thomas M. Siebel testified March 4 before the U.S. House of Representatives about technology innovation and how it is reshaping the way utilities do business.

Removing regulatory obstacles, Siebel said during the Energy & Commerce Committee Subcommittee on Energy and Power hearing, could accelerate an efficient, more secure and more sustainable modern grid.

“The power grid is now undergoing one of the biggest and transformative upgrades since its beginnings, by adding hundreds of millions of sensors that make devices and other equipment remotely machine addressable-from smart meters and thermostats to transformers and distribution feeders,” Siebel said. “These systems produce massive amounts of data, some of them in millisecond timescales. To take full advantage of this, C3 Energy has developed the operating system for this smart grid. Because our technology produces far more savings than it costs, it does not need any financial assistance from the government to succeed. But that success will occur much faster if regulatory obstacles are removed and state regulators support a model rule to allow rate recovery from modern cloud computing solutions.”

As the grid becomes increasingly sensored, an unprecedented amount of data are produced, which can be addressed only using the most state-of-the-art information technology (IT). IT offerings have evolved rapidly to today’s innovative cloud computing models, including Software as a Service, Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service. With these come opportunities to leverage numerous capabilities essential to fulfilling the promise of the smart grid: continuous access to increased processing speeds and power, more flexibility and mobility, elasticity/on-demand surge capacity, and lower costs through scale. The U.S. regulatory treatment of cloud computing models, however, has not kept pace to take advantage of this technology opportunity, and utilities face undue consequences when selecting a cloud computing offering because of the current rate recovery rules.

After delivering oral testimony, Siebel answered questions from subcommittee members about the economic benefit, necessity for Congressional action and overall impact of the cloud-based software innovations that will make the smart grid smart. Seven witnesses, including Siebel, testified at the hearing, which examined how advanced grid technologies and big data energy analytics are helping build a more modern and flexible electricity system while ensuring the continued safe, reliable and affordable delivery of electricity.







FPL Volunteers Spruce up 31 Community Projects in Florida

Florida Power & Light Co.’s (FPL’s) seventh annual Power to Care week gave employees the opportunity to make a difference in the communities FPL serves.

The weeklong event included nearly 1,500 volunteers who donated more than 5,600 hours to 31 Florida charitable organizations.

“At FPL, we not only continue to provide our customers with safe, reliable electricity and the lowest residential bills in the state, we also are committed to working together with the communities we serve to make Florida an even better place to raise a family and do business,” said Pamela Rauch, vice president of development and external affairs for FPL.

Carrie Rampersad and her daughter, Mia Rampersad, walk a dog at Big Dog Rescue Ranch in Wellington on Saturday, March 7 as part of Florida Power & Light Co.’s (FPL’s) weeklong Power to Care volunteer initiative. Photo by Joe Skipper for FPL.

“Volunteering is at the heart of our business, so any chance we get to roll up our sleeves and lend a helping hand to these organizations that unselfishly serve our communities is a great day for FPL and our employees,” she said.

Power to Care spanned 13 counties and included participation from all levels of the company, including NextEra Energy Chairman and CEO Jim Robo and FPL President and CEO Eric Silagy.

Florida Power & Light Co. (FPL) volunteers descend on Sweetwater Elementary School in Miami on Wednesday, March 4. The volunteers helped with landscaping, facility cleanup and painting, as well as reading to children and building an outdoor classroom. The project was part of FPL’s Power to Care week, during which nearly 1,500 FPL volunteers participated in more than 30 projects around the state. Photo by David Adame for FPL.

This year’s Power to Care events included projects in Brevard, Broward, Flagler, Hendry, Lee, Manatee, Martin, Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Putnam, Okeechobee, Seminole and St. Lucie counties.

Volunteers helped at food banks, schools, parks and more: Barron Park House, Lake Park Elementary School, Sweetwater Elementary School, Flagler County Department of Juvenile Justice Community Garden, Broward Audubon Society, Brevard County Meals on Wheels, Feeding South Florida, Broward Addiction Recovery Center, Habitat for Humanity, Manatee Park, Manatee County Women’s Resource Center, PACE Center for Girls, Treasure Coast Food Bank/United Way of Martin County, Catholic Charities-Holy Redeemer Child Development Center, Citizens for a Better South Florida, Miami River Commission, Martha’s House, The Arc of Palm Beach County, Big Dog Ranch, Boca Raton Boys & Girls Club, CROS Ministries, Forgotten Soldiers Outreach, Loggerhead Marine Life Center, MacArthur Beach State Park, Resource Depot, Schoolhouse Children’s Museum, South Olive Community Center, Palatka Water Works Environmental Education Center, Keep Seminole Beautiful and Inwater Research Group Beach Clean-up.

FPL is the third-largest electric utility in the U.S., serving more than 4.7 million customer accounts across nearly half of Florida.

A leading Florida employer with some 8,700 employees, FPL is a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Inc.


NextEra Energy on World’s Most Ethical Companies List for 8th Time

NextEra Energy Inc. has been named a 2015 World’s Most Ethical Company by the Ethisphere Institute, an independent center of research promoting best practices in corporate ethics and governance.

It is the eighth time NextEra Energy has received this recognition. This year, only 132 companies across more than 50 industries worldwide were selected for the honor. NextEra Energy was one of only five energy and electric utility companies named to the list.

“For our nearly 14,000 employees, our core values are core business,” said Jim Robo, chairman and CEO of NextEra Energy. “As the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun, we believe that high ethical standards, a culture of innovation and how we support the communities we serve is a competitive advantage that differentiates NextEra Energy from many others. We are again very honored to be named to this list of prestigious, global leaders.”

The World’s Most Ethical Company assessment is based upon the Ethisphere Institute’s Ethics Quotient framework.

The Ethics Quotient framework has been developed over years of effort to provide a way to assess an organization’s performance in an objective, consistent and standardized way.

In considering companies for this list, the Ethisphere Institute evaluated NextEra Energy’s strategies and results in five key categories:

  • Ethics and compliance;
  • Culture of ethics;
  • Leadership, innovation and reputation;
  • Corporate citizenship and responsibility; and
  • Governance.

The Ethisphere Institute’s recognition is the latest in a series of achievements for NextEra Energy, including:

  • Fortune’s “World’s Most Admired Companies.” In February, NextEra Energy was ranked among the top 10 companies in the world in innovativeness and top 10 in community responsibility in Fortune’s 2015 “World’s Most Admired Companies” evaluation. In that same ranking, NextEra Energy also was recognized in the electric and gas utility sector as: No. 1 in social responsibility; No. 1 in innovation; and No. 1 in quality of products and services.
  • Delivery of outstanding value to utility customers. The company’s rate-regulated electric utility, Florida Power & Light Co., continues to deliver on its outstanding customer value proposition, which includes 99.98 percent reliability, award-winning customer service, one of the nation’s cleanest emissions profiles and a typical residential customer bill that for the past five years was the lowest in Florida and is some 25 percent lower than the national average.
  • Becoming the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun.The company’s competitive generation subsidiary, NextEra Energy Resources LLC, together with its affiliated entities, is the world’s largest generator of renewable energy from the wind and sun.

PG&E Customers With Natural Gas, Electric Vehicles Could Get 2016 Rebates

Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) in March filed a proposal with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to provide rebates to customers who charge their electric vehicles at home or fuel natural gas vehicles at PG&E-owned compressed natural gas fueling stations. If the CPUC approves, PG&E could begin issuing rebates in the second half of 2016.

Funding for the rebates will come from PG&E’s sale of credits that it receives under California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard (LCFS) program, not from customer rates. Estimated rebate amounts will be provided by PG&E to the CPUC in September.

For PG&E customers who own or lease an electric vehicle, PG&E proposes a one-time rebate for each vehicle. A single customer can receive multiple rebates if he or she owns several electric vehicles.

For customers who fuel their cars at one of PG&E’s compressed natural gas fueling stations, the utility will provide an annual credit on their compressed natural gas fuel bill, based on their fuel usage.

The LCFS program, administered by California’s Air Resources Board, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from transportation fuels. Companies such as PG&E receive credits on behalf of their customers for dispensing fuels-such as electricity or natural gas-with lower carbon intensities than the conventional gasoline or diesel fuels they replace. The credits can be sold in the market to entities that need them for compliance purposes.


Blackhawk Engagement Solutions: Americans Aware of Energy-efficient Products, Need More Info on Incentives for Buying

Nearly all U.S. consumers are familiar with energy-efficient products such as lightbulbs, appliances and heating and cooling equipment, but only about half of Americans are aware of the additional savings that can accompany their purchases of these products, according to new shopper research from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions.

The survey asked 2,870 Americans about their awareness of and reasons for choosing energy-efficient products and services.

“Utility companies and retailers should place a larger focus on educating consumers on the many incentives and rebates available on energy-efficient products,” said Rodney Mason, global vice president of marketing with Blackhawk Engagement Solutions. “Although consumers feel good about doing the right thing for the planet, today’s shopper is most highly motivated by price and value. The more consumers understand the many ways to save money by purchasing efficient products, the bigger the opportunity for increased sales and adoption.”

Key findings include:

  • Consumers know that energy-efficient products are available. Ninety-three percent of shoppers are familiar with LED and CFL lightbulbs and 84 percent are familiar with the government-backed Energy Star label.
  • Cost savings is the biggest purchase influencer. The top reason consumers have purchased or would purchase an energy-efficient product is because they are interested in long-term savings (81 percent). A significant but smaller percentage reported that the top reason is that saving energy is important to them (71 percent).
  • Awareness of energy efficiency incentives is lacking. Although more than 4 out of 5 shoppers know about the available products, 53 percent of them are not aware of the additional savings that can accompany their purchases. Because saving money and energy is important to these consumers, the opportunity to save even more is sure to be appealing.

The research was conducted in late 2014 and surveyed nearly 3,000 Americans representative of U.S. demographics in regulated and competitive utility markets.

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The Clarion Energy Content Team is made up of editors from various publications, including POWERGRID International, Power Engineering, Renewable Energy World, Hydro Review, Smart Energy International, and Power Engineering International. Contact the content lead for this publication at Jennifer.Runyon@ClarionEvents.com.

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