Another Step Forward for Demand Response, FERC Order 745 Case | Another Step Forward for Demand Response, FERC Order 745 Case |
Over the past several months, we’ve been providing updates on the ongoing litigation surrounding Order 745 – a vital, federal rule on demand response. As a low-cost, environmentally beneficial resource, demand response relies on people and technology, not power plants, to manage stress on the electric grid during periods of peak energy demand. Simply put, demand response pays people to conserve energy when it matters most – a win-win for people and the environment.
But this critical energy management tool has also been subject to an amazing amount of scrutiny (which we’ve covered here, here, and yes, here, as well). In short, the thorny issue boils down to this: a recent court decision found that the federal agency responsible for regulating demand response didn’t have the authority to do so.
When the decision came down, many were shocked. The general assumption had been that this agency (known as the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission or “FERC”) certainly was within its rights to issue Order 745, a set of rules for how demand response would function in our nation’s energy markets.
And last week, the United States Solicitor General sided with the “general consensus” on Order 745.
How? The Solicitor General’s office, on behalf of FERC, has formally asked the Supreme Court of the United States to review the lower court’s decision and overturn its ruling. Stating that the lower court invalidated an important rule “for ensuring the efficiency and reliability” of electricity markets, the Solicitor General argued that “the court…seriously misinterpreted” the relevant law and “misapplied basic principles” of how courts should review agency action.
What does it all mean?
“Jurisdiction” lies at the heart of this prickly debate – a word only a lawyer could love. Simply put, jurisdiction involves the question of who should be able to create a set of rules relating to an issue – the federal government or state governments. As a rule of thumb, if the issue is one that crosses state lines, the federal government is responsible for creating rules, laws, and regulations; if the issue is entirely within the state, then it’s the responsibility of the state. In the Order 745 case, the lower court found that demand response is a state-only issue, and thus FERC – a federal agency – cannot help to create a set of rules for demand response, even if those rules only applied to interstate (i.e., crossing state lines) questions.
Even states disagree with this assessment, and the Solicitor General provided a convincing argument as well, stating that Order 745 “governs only payments made by wholesale power purchasers for demand-response commitments used by wholesale-market operators to set the wholesale price.” As you may have guessed, if something is “wholesale” then it is a federal, not state, issue.
So where do we go from here?
The Supreme Court has a monumental task, with over 10,000 cases brought before it every year. Nine justices have little hope of being able to review each one, and thus have discretion to decide whether to take certain types of cases. Typically, the Supreme Court hears 75-80 cases a year, meaning that less than one percent of all appeals are actually reviewed by the Supreme Court.
Long odds, indeed. However, there is reason to believe that chances are better for this case. Because it deals with “jurisdiction” it is a particularly important case, significant for our legal system, as it deals with a question of what the government can and cannot do. Second, the case was brought by the Solicitor General, a move that improves the odds of being accepted and heard by the Supreme Court.
It’s unclear at this point whether the Supreme Court will choose to hear the case, and we won’t know more until later this year. But the Solicitor General’s decision to petition the Supreme Court to hear Order 745 is a move in the right direction. It signals the importance of this case, which will no doubt shape how demand response is valued in our energy markets, and to what extent Americans are able to reap the full benefits of this important resource.
The Article ” Another Step Forward for Demand Response, FERC Order 745 Case ” Originally Appeared in Another Step Forward for Demand Response, FERC Order 745 Case by on January 24th 2015 and can be found on the web at http://blogs.edf.org/energyexchange/2015/01/23/another-step-forward-for-demand-response-ferc-order-745-case/.
What happens when a great innovator meets Homer Simpson? Usually, lots of trouble
And based on the just-released sneak peeks from Sunday’s episode of The Simpsons with guest star Elon Musk, SpaceX and Tesla CEO, there’s little reason to believe this episode will be any different
In the episode, Musk accidentally lands in the Simpsons’ backyard, and quickly befriends Homer, who inspires a wealth of ideas
See what we mean in the sneak peek below, which you’re viewing first on Mashable.
In another clip, we see Musk’s visit to Springfield hits a snag when he meets Mr. Burns, who is baffled by the man whose ideals so starkly contradict his own Read more…
The Article ” Elon Musk is peak Elon Musk in ‘Simpsons’ sneak peek ” Originally Appeared in Mashable by Sandra Gonzalez on January 24th 2015 and can be found on the web at http://mashable.com/?p=3178983.
KeyWords: Television,The Simpsons,Entertainment,Tv
Google is close making a major investment of as much as $1 billion in Elon Musk’s SpaceX, sources told The Information and The Wall Street Journal.
Although SpaceX is most well-known for its work on reusable rockets, Google is interested in Musk’s recently announced ambitions to use satellites to beam low-cost internet around the world.
Musk told BusinessWeek he wants to create a global communications system that would be
“larger than anything that has been talked about to date,” that would take at least five years and $10 billion to build.
Google has long had similar ambitions itself. By spreading internet around the world, including to remote regions, it can boost the number of people who have access to its services.
“Internet connectivity significantly improves people’s lives,” a Google spokesperson told The Guardian in June 2014 about its $1 billion internet-spreading ambitions. “Yet two thirds of the world have no access at all. It’s why we’re so focused on new technologies—from Project Loon to Titan Aerospace—that have the potential to bring hundreds of millions more people online in the coming years.”
So far, Google has already been working with balloons, drones, and satellites to figure out how to spread internet access.
In 2013, Google launched Project Loon, which sends high-altitude helium-filled balloons equipped with internet-beaming satellites floating over rural areas. The program has had several successful tests — including bringing the internet to a school Brazil — and its balloons can now stay afloat for more than 100 days.
The company also bought solar-powered drone company Titan Aerospace in April and satellite company Skybox Imaging in June 2014.
Google said both acquisitions would, among other things, provide technology that would eventually further its goals of improving worldwide internet access.
Titan Aerospace makes drones that can stay aloft for five years at speeds of 54 mph, while carrying payloads of up ot 72 lbs:
Screenshot / YouTube
They are the world’s first atmospheric satellites powered by the sun, and are cheaper than orbital satellites:
Skybox, which provides a daily HD video satellite system, makes a high performance micro-satellite that’s roughly the size of a phone book and consumes less power than a 100 watt light bulb:
SkySat-1 is Skybox’s micro-satellite
Even combining Google and SpaceX’s achievements and technologies, though, there are still a lot of big questions and challenges around how Musk’s satellite vision will work.
Musk has discussed using optical-laser technology in SpaceX’s satellites. Lasers don’t pass through clouds as well as radio waves, but neither Google nor SpaceX has rights to the radio spectrum, according to The Wall Street Journal. Google hired satellite-industry all-star Greg Wyler in late 2013, but he left last summer to work on his own satellite venture, reportedly taking rights to radio spectrum with him.
Another big challenge would be installing ground-based antennas and computer terminals to receive the satellite signals, experts tell The Wall Street Journal.
These kinds of plans will necessarily be extremely expensive, which could be why Musk, who has been wary of taking any outside funding that would reduce his control over SpaceX, might be open to accepting a Google investment.
(3BL Media/Justmeans) – Fuel cell technology involves clean and efficient conversion of chemical energy into electrical power in an electrochemical process that is virtually free of pollutants. Due to absence of combustion, almost no harmful emission is generated by the fuel cells.
Bloom Energy Inc. is among the most well-capitalized venture-backed clean-tech companies, which employs fuel cell technology to convert natural gas into electricity. Bloom’s power-producing units are placed in office buildings, data centers and other client locations. The company enters into long-term contracts with clients to supply clean power.
While Bloom Energy appears ripe for raising funds through an initial public offering (IPO), the company has currently chosen to raise more capital through private investors. Having already raised more than $1.2 billion in equity since its inception in 2001, the company has been looking to raise $160 million in the form of convertible. Out of this amount, $130 million was already raised last month.
The company had originally raised money from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and fellow venture heavyweight firm New Enterprise Associates. Institutional investors who have invested in Bloom Energy include Morgan Stanley and Madrone Capital. Pension fund managers Alberta Investment Management Corp. of Canada and the New Zeal and Superannuation Fund have also invested in the company. Other financial backers include European utility E. ON, DAG Ventures, GSV Capital and Mobius Venture Capital.
The strong investor roster of the company reflects on the kind of confidence fuel cell clean-tech market has generated. The company has also compiled a ‘who’s who’ of board of directors, which includes AOL co-founder Steve Case and former US Secretary of State Colin Powell. As of August, 2014, the company had installed more than 130 MW of its units in the US. The company continues to strive towards its goal of having a fuel cell energy unit in every home.
Image Credit: Flickr via RCB
The Article ” Bloom Energy Raises $130 Million for Fuel Cell Expansion | Justmeans ” Originally Appeared in Bloom Energy Raises $130 Million for Fuel Cell Expansion | Justmeans by on January 24th 2015 and can be found on the web at http://www.justmeans.com/blogs/bloom-energy-raises-130-million-for-fuel-cell-expansion.
India clean energy investments bounce back, set to breach the $10bn mark in 2015 | Bloomberg New Energy Finance |
Capital inflow expected to surge this year, thanks to strong policy support and increased investor confidence
New Delhi, London and New York, 23 January 2015 – Clean energy investments in India jumped to $7.9bn in 2014, helping the country maintain its position as the 7th largest clean energy investor in the world. The upswing was driven by the newly installed government elected in May 2014 which supports clean energy reforms.
The numbers, just released by research firm Bloomberg New Energy Finance, show that the government’s ambitious plan of 24/7 power for all Indians is gaining traction. Other major initiatives: 100GW of solar installations and investment of over $100bn in clean energy in the next five years are also building momentum. Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimates that 2015 will be the second time ever that clean energy investments will pass $10bn. A record $13.1bn was deployed in 2011.
Ashish Sethia, head of South & Southeast Asia at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, said: “Interest in India from domestic and foreign investors has grown in the last six months. Early signs of policy interventions are positive. Specific yearly installation targets would further help investors.”
Bharat Bhushan Agrawal, lead India solar analyst at Bloomberg New Energy Finance, added: “After two years of continuous decline in investments, in both India and around the world, the trend reversed last year. We expect investment in India to rise in 2015 and later, particularly with the rise of solar power.”
BNEF analysis shows that India has one of the lowest levelised costs of renewable energy generation in the world. With the rising cost competitiveness of renewables and increasing interest in clean energy consumption by large commercial and industrial consumers, project installations are also expected to rise this year. BNEF expects 2,500MW of new solar capacity in 2015 – a 1.5 times increase over last year. Wind installations are estimated to reach 2,800MW ¬ – up 22% from 2014.
The government is working on introducing big ticket reforms in the power sector by amending the Electricity Act of 2003. Major reported highlights include the unbundling of power distribution, enforcement of renewable purchase obligations, and introduction of renewable generation obligations on power producers.
Sethia commented: “The planned reforms are going to strengthen renewables in India further but the federal establishment also needs to align with the state governments. That is where the projects are installed, the power generated and consumed.”
Six years of clean energy investment in India:
The post India clean energy investments bounce back, set to breach the $10bn mark in 2015 appeared first on Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
The Article ” India clean energy investments bounce back, set to breach the $10bn mark in 2015 ” Originally Appeared in Bloomberg New Energy Finance by on January 23rd 2015 and can be found on the web at http://bnef.edit.bloomberg.com/bnef2/?p=89306.
By Sam Frizell, TIME
The price of gas is plummeting like a bungee jumper without a rope.
A majority of Americans are paying less than $2 per gallon for gas for the first time since 2009, and the ever-cheapening fuel it helping put more money in consumers’ pockets and bolster the economy. About 6 in 10 U.S. gas stations are selling a gallon of gas for under $2, according to AAA. The average gas price has dropped for a record 120 consecutive days to less than $2.04 a gallon. That’s the cheapest average in nearly six years.
American consumers will benefit immensely this year from the drop: The Department of Energy predicted last week that the average American household would spend about $750 less for gasoline in 2015 compared with last year.
“It’s crazy,” Michael Noel, an economics professor at Texas Tech University who studies oil and gasoline prices, told the Associated Press of the fuel price drop. “But for consumers it’s very, very good.”
Lower fuel prices will also likely help the U.S. economy grow significantly this year. The World Bank expects the American economy to grow 3.2% this year, compared with 2.4% in 2014, and some forecasts are even higher.
The downside? Oil drillers and refineries in states like Texas and North Dakota are likely to suffer from lower gas prices. Layoffs of thousands of workers have begun in recent weeks.
The Article “Most Americans are spending less than $2 per gallon for gas ” Originally Appeared in Fortune – Fortune by TIME on January 23rd 2015 and can be found on the web at http://fortune.com/?p=959712.
KeyWords: Autos,Energy,AAA,gas prices,oil,oil prices,ROCKET FUEL,Transportation
Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz has died, royal officials have announced, weeks after he was admitted to hospital.
Abdullah, who had ruled since 2005 and was said to be aged about 90, had been suffering from a lung infection.
His 79-year-old half-brother, Salman, has been confirmed as the new king.
Within hours of his accession to the throne of the oil-rich kingdom, King Salman vowed to maintain the same policies as his predecessors.
“We will continue adhering to the correct policies which Saudi Arabia has followed since its establishment,” he said in a speech broadcast on state television.
Abdullah had suffered frequent bouts of ill health in recent years, and King Salman had recently taken on the ailing monarch’s responsibilities.
Prior to announcing Abdullah’s death, Saudi television cut to Koranic verses, which often signifies the passing of a senior royal.
A statement said Abdullah had died at 01:00 (22:00 GMT Thursday).
The Article “King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia Dies at 90″ Originally Appeared in Slant Magazine by on January 23rd 2015 and can be found on the web at http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-30945324
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the chairman of Kingdom Holdings, : Oil Will Never Be $100 A Barrel Again | Business – The Huffington Post | Harry Bradford
The world will never again see the price of oil at $100 per barrel, according to one of Saudi Arabia’s biggest investors.
Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the chairman of Kingdom Holdings, spoke with CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” following the death of his uncle, Saudi Arabian King Abdullah. While he admitted that his country—which derives 90 percent of its budget from oil—is feeling the pain of the commodity’s collapse, he predicted that Saudi Arabia would not be the first to blink.
He said that a “confluence of events” have led to the fall in oil’s price, not—as some have suggested—a Saudi plot to harm America’s energy industry.
“I can assure you that Saudi Arabia is not using the oil price right now to impact the fracking industry in the United States,” he said, adding that “there’s an oversupply and demand is not so high.”
The lack of balance between oil’s supply and demand means the road back to $60-$70 range will be “not that easy, not that quick,” he said.
Given this weakness in oil’s price, Alwaleed admitted that the global strength of the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) has weakened.
“I would not say that OPEC is dead, but I think the impact of OPEC as it was years ago is not the same for sure today,” he said.
He allowed that “there’s a game of who should cut production first” between OPEC countries and non-OPEC nations.
“Eventually there’s no doubt that some countries have to blink and reduce their production… I don’t see Saudi Arabia or the OPEC countries blinking,” he said.
Alwaleed said he thought oil’s price could lead to political turmoil in countries like Venezuela that depend so much on the commodity and “don’t have a lot of extra wealth on the side for that rainy day”—unlike Saudi Arabia and its neighbors.
Weighing in on the global currency market, Alwaleed simply said “I’m a dollar man.” As for equities, he said Kingdom Holdings will continue to maintain its diversified strategy, but that it was interested in some new company’s like China’s JD.com.
Following reports of Abdullah’s passing, former crown prince Salman bin Abdulaziz succeeded him as the new ruler of the world’s top oil exporter.
Salman is a reformer at heart, Alwaleed said, and the country will continue down the same paths of financial, social, and political reform as during Abdullah’s reign.
Alwaleed said his family had just concluded the burial of the late king, and that there would be a meeting later that night to pay allegiance to the new king and crown prince.
Reflecting on recent political turmoil in Saudi Arabia’s southern neighbor of Yemen, Alwaleed said the resignations of that country’s prime minister and president means “clearly we have seen the hands of Iran infiltrating that country through its blatant and open support of the Houthis there.”
He called it an “unfortunate situation” as Yemen’s political vacuum could eventually be a “seat of trouble” in the region.
The Article ” Saudi Prince: Oil Will Never Be $100 A Barrel Again ” Originally Appeared in Business – The Huffington Post by Harry Bradford on January 23rd 2015 and can be found on the web at http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/23/prince-alwaleed-oil-price_n_6532284.html.
Corporate Knights’ annual “Global 100 Most Sustainable Corporations Index” cited Biogen, which makes medicine for treating hemophilia, Alzheimer’s and multiple sclerosis, and Allergan, known for producing Botox, after gauging the performance of 4,609 large companies on a mix of 12 criteria.
Variables considered include revenue generated per unit of energy consumed, water conservation efforts, work time lost to injury and the ratio of CEO pay to that of a company’s average worker.
The report was released in Davos, Switzerland, where the world’s business leaders and many government heads are gathered this week to strategize on the world’s most daunting challenges.
Just as the Corporate Knights report takes a broad view of sustainability — including environmental conservation metrics along with labor and economic inequality issues — leaders gathered in Davos last week cited a range of interrelated sustainability challenges (water scarcity climate change, extreme weather) among the top global risk factors in a survey conducted by meeting convener the World Economic Forum.
“The Global 100 represent the corporate trailblazers who are forging new ways to make more with less, while raising the bar on good governance and social responsibility,” Toby Heaps, CEO of Corporate Knights, said in a statement with release of the Index.
Adidas, the German sports equipment and apparel company, ranked as the third most sustainable company, followed by the Keppel Land real estate development firm in Singapore and Kesko from Finland.
Rounding out the top 10 were German automaker BMW; then two British companies, Reckitt Benckiser Group and Centrica; followed by the French Schneider Electric and Denmark’s Danske Bank.
Companies judged in the analysis were all large, with at least $2 billion in market capitalization. None received a perfect score, with some such as Biogen ranking highly on energy and water conservation but low on diversity in management. On the flip side, others were buoyed by high scores for management and employee diversity, as well as engagement.
In addition to energy consumption, water use and greenhouse gas emissions also were criteria — measured in ratios against revenue generated — for the index. Another was executive delivery on sustainability goals. Heaps said an encouraging 85 percent of the Global 100 provided a financial bonus to executives who achieved sustainability targets. Philips Electronics, 25th, and Schneider Electric, ranked ninth, link their executives’ bonuses to reducing carbon emissions.
Firms were judged within the context of their industries, meaning that sector-specific challenges, such as worker injuries on the job for manufacturers, were weighted more heavily where applicable.
Twenty companies on the list are headquartered in the United States, with Johnson & Johnsonnamed at No. 18 and Coca Cola at No. 26. France and Canada each had 12 companies on the Global 100 list and the United Kingdom had 11.
most sustainable corporations this week by Corporate Knights, a Canadian media and research firm focused on clean capitalism.
The Article ” 100 most sustainable multibillion-dollar companies revealed in Davos ” Originally Appeared in GreenBiz by on January 23rd 2015 and can be found on the web at https://www.greenbiz.com/article/worlds-100-most-sustainable-companies-named-davos
KeyWords: Business Operations,Corporate Strategy,Green Team