Category : Uncategorized
– Dominion Energy customer shares experience after powerful thunderstorms
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– Dominion Energy customer shares experience after powerful thunderstorms
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The Energy Storage Association announced that advanced energy industry veteran Kelly Speakes-Backman will become the organization’s first CEO, effective July 1.
“As evidenced by our recent ’35 by 2025 Vision’ announcement, in which we see the potential for 35 GW of new energy storage additions to the U.S. power grid by 2025, our industry is in the midst of an explosive growth stage,” noted Praveen Kathpal, vice president of AES Energy Storage and chair of ESA’s board of directors. “As our industry expands, ESA must also expand to ensure our messages are clearly heard by regulators, industry players and other stakeholders, while also supporting our members with the insight and tools necessary to navigate the dynamic environment such growth creates. Kelly’s diverse experience as a state regulator, industry executive and trade association leader will enable ESA to take the next step in its evolution to fully support the energy storage industry as it enters this rapid expansion phase.”
“I am thrilled about the opportunity to lead ESA in service to its members and the energy storage industry overall in this era of exponential growth,” added Speakes-Backman. “For over 20 years, I have worked to help the energy efficiency, distributed energy and renewable energy sectors evolve. I’m going to do everything in my power – working closely with ESA’s members, government officials and the energy industry – to make sure energy storage becomes an integral linchpin of the modern power system.”
Speakes-Backman joins ESA from the Alliance to Save Energy, a premier trade association representing the energy efficiency sector. As the Senior Vice President of Policy and Research, she directed the policy efforts, working closely with industry and policy makers to advance energy efficiency. Prior to that, Speakes-Backman served as a Commissioner at the Maryland Public Service Commission and the Director of Clean Energy for the Maryland Energy Administration. Earlier in her career, she held strategy, marketing and sales roles at SunEdison, UTC Power, WÃ¤rtsilÃ¤ and Jenbacher.
As part of ESA’s evolution, Matt Roberts will assume the role of Vice President. In this capacity, Roberts will build upon the growth, policy impact, and market recognition that ESA accomplished under his leadership over the last three years as ESA’s first executive director.
“Working together our industry has grown tremendously, and is transforming the future of the power sector. We are very excited to build upon ESA’s successes and look forward to working with Kelly on advancing ESA’s mission to propel the energy storage sector into a multi-billion dollar industry,” said Roberts. “Now that we are at this stage I can fully devote my energies to what I have been most passionate about: growing ESA’s impact by empowering our members and educating stakeholders throughout the power ecosystem.”
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Dominion Energy Virginia on June 27 provided an update to the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) on its project that includes the Surry-Skiffes Creek 500-kV Transmission Line.
As noted in the filing, by a November 2013 order, as modified by a February 2014 order and confirmed by an April 2014 order, the SCC approved and certificated the construction and operation by Dominion Energy Virginia of the electric transmission lines and related facilities proposed by the company in its application filed in June 2012. The project also involves the Skiffes Creek switching station and the Skiffes Creek-Whealton Line.
The orders were appealed by BASF Corp. and jointly by James City County, Save the James Alliance Trust and James River Association (JCC Parties) to the Supreme Court of Virginia, which issued its unanimous opinion in those appeals in April 2015, affirming the SCC’s approval and certification of the transmission facilities, the company added.
The court’s opinion also reversed and remanded – by a 4-3 vote – the holding in the SCC’s November 2013 order that the term, transmission line, includes transmission switching stations such as the Skiffes station under Va. Code Â§ 56-46.1 F, which exempts transmission lines approved by the SCC under that section from Va. Code Â§ 15.2-2232 and local zoning ordinances, the company said.
The court in May 2015 denied petitions of the SCC and the company seeking rehearing of that aspect of the opinion, and as a result, the company is required to obtain local land use approval from James City County to build the Skiffes station. The court issued its mandate and remand in June 2015, returning the case to the SCC for further proceedings, the company added.
The company noted that it must obtain permits from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act to place fill material in the James River for construction of the transmission line towers and Section 10 of the Rivers and Harbors Act of 1899 for resulting obstructions to navigation.
The company said that it filed a joint permit application for the Corps permits in March 2012 for the Surry to Skiffes Creek portion of the certificated project and a separate application for the Skiffes Creek to Whealton portion in June 2013.
In August 2013, the company submitted a combined JPA for the Surry-Skiffes Creek Line and the Skiffes Creek-Whealton Line, and that combined JPA superseded the permit applications for each line that had been submitted.
The company added that the Corps on June 12 issued a provisional permit to the company that was conditioned upon the issuance of a permit by the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, as well as certification by the state Department of Environmental Quality that the company has obtained a Section 401 Water Quality Certification/Virginia Water Protection Permit.
The two Corps permits required for the placement of fill and obstruction to navigation prompt review under the National Environmental Policy Act, the company said, noting that the Corps has indicated that it will prepare an environmental assessment to satisfy that requirement. Among other things, the company noted that the Corps on March 30 published its updated “Preliminary Alternatives Conclusions White Paper,” which concluded, in relevant part, that based on its review, it appears that only Dominion’s proposed project and the Chickahominy-Skiffes 500-kV alternative meet project purpose and need, and are practicable.
The company noted that the Corps will make its final selection of alternatives when it issues the EA, which will accompany the permit decision.
The two Corps permits also prompt review under the Endangered Species Act, the company said. The United States Fish and Wildlife Service on April 12 concurred with the Corps’ conclusions regarding the Northern Long Eared Bat, indicating that the Corps would permit project construction without a time-of-year restriction on tree clearing. The company added that the Corps on May 11 sent out a request for the USFWS to update its concurrence for all species.
The company noted that the two Corps permits prompt review under the National Historic Preservation Act, adding that Section 106 of the NHPA requires the Corps to take into consideration the effect of permitted activities on historic properties. The company noted, for instance, that the Corps has hosted five consulting parties meetings to date to discuss alternatives to the certificated project, identification of, and impacts to, historic properties, and potential mitigation opportunities.
The company also said that it must obtain an authorization from the VMRC for encroachment on subaqueous beds of the state in James River. The VMRC considered and unanimously approved the company’s JPA at a June 27 public hearing.
The company further noted that it submitted an application to the USFWS for the removal of an inactive bald eagle nest on one of the 230-kV structures that is proposed to be replaced – that application is awaiting approval.
The company also said that consistent with the court’s opinion, it filed in June 2015 a special use permit application (SUP), a rezoning request, a substantial accord determination request, and a height waiver application for a switching station in James City County associated with the certificated project.
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Entergy’s Entergy Louisiana on June 28 said that the Louisiana Public Service Commission has voted to approve construction of the Lake Charles Power Station, which is a 994 MW, combined-cycle power plant in Westlake.
The company said that it expects to issue full notice to proceed to construction by Aug. 1.
The natural gas-fired plant, which is scheduled to be in service by June 2020, will cost about $872 million to build, including transmission and other project-related costs and contingency, the company said.
As reported last November, the proposed project site in Westlake is near the company’s existing Nelson units. The Nelson site was chosen after multiple sites were considered based on a range of considerations related to reliability, cost, and technical feasibility.
The power station is expected to use existing infrastructure and resources at the Nelson site, including transmission and cooling water infrastructure. Generation from the resource is expected to interconnect with the Midcontinent ISO (MISO) system at a 138-kV, 230-kV, and/or a 500-kV transmission switchyard located at or near the Nelson site. Furthermore, the site is located close to large load concentrations, which improves reliability and reduces losses.
An Entergy spokesperson on June 28 told TransmissionHub that the company is still going through the MISO process, so all of the details concerning the electric transmission component of the project are not finalized. Entergy’s initial estimate put the cost at about $43 million to upgrade electric transmission equipment and build a new interconnection to the switchyard at Nelson, the spokesperson said.
Entergy Louisiana President and CEO Phillip May said in the company’s June 28 statement, in part: “The Lake Charles Power Station will supply the energy we need to help the communities and customers we serve prosper.
This plant will not only provide needed generating capacity for the fast-growing region, but it’s another step in our ongoing effort to upgrade Entergy Louisiana’s plants so they operate more efficiently, affordably and with fewer emissions.”
Entergy Louisiana said that because of the plant’s high efficiency, projections are that customers will save between $1.3 billion and $2 billion over the anticipated 30-year life of the plant. Customer savings are expected to exceed the project’s construction cost in less than 10 years.
Among other things, the company said that building the unit will lower costs by reducing dependence on aging and less efficient resources; improve reliability by locating the plant in a highly industrialized area; and avoid some $600 million of transmission projects that would otherwise be needed to maintain reliability in the Lake Charles region.
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Clarksville Light & Water Co. and Scenic Hill Solar announced Thursday they’re partnering on the 40-acre project, which is expected to be completed by mid-2018. The project, which will contain more than 20,000 solar panels, is expected to be Arkansas’ third-largest solar power plant.
Scenic Hill Solar will build, own and operate the power plant on land leased from Clarksville Light & Water, which will purchase the power under a 30-year agreement.
The project is expected to produce more than 11 million kilowatt-hours of electricity in its first year of operation. A news release says the project will add more than $10 million of economic development to Clarksville.
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After years of cost overruns, missed construction deadlines and now regulatory reprimand, Mississippi Power is pulling the plug on the coal gasification operations at its troubled Kemper County power plant.
Numerous reports Wednesday evening indicated that the utility is immediately suspending those operations, which have caused the company years of troubles in trying to finish the power plant.
The plant will continue to burn natural gas for power generation “pending the Mississippi Public Service Commission’s decision on future operations,” according to a release from Mississippi Power.
The Kemper plant’s price tag has risen to $7.5 billion, more than double what was originally expected. The plant first generated power using coal syngas in December 2015.
The idea was to take locally available lignite coal and gasify it using a process called an integrated gasification combined cycle (IGCC), hopefully cutting back on the carbon emissions in inherent with traditional coal-fired generation. The process can also turn other coal power pollutants, like sulfur, into useful byproducts.
The IGCC technology is supposed to produce comparable pollution levels as a conventional natural gas-fired power plant, but since the technology was first championed as a way to clean up coal, natural gas has gotten much cheaper and the cost of IGCC technology has increased in cost.
The plant was also intended to capture about two thirds of the carbon dioxide from the burning syngas and pump it into nearby oilfields to aid extraction, but the plant’s carbon capture technology is not online.
Environmentalist group the Sierra Club has called Kemper the most expensive power plant ever built, based on capacity.
At Kemper, continuous delays and ever rising costs inspired the ire of Mississippi regulators.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission said the plant should burn only natural gas, as it has done for the most part since 2014, to help keep costs low for ratepayers.
In 2015, Mississippi Power raised rates on its 186,000 customers by $126 million a year to help pay for Kemper.
Mississippi Power is a unit of Southern Co.
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RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The future of legislation agreed upon by renewable energy interests and Duke Energy to extend the utility’s requirements to use more renewable power in North Carolina is in doubt as a key senator repeats his attempts to delay wind energy permits through 2020.
The bill to change how the nation’s largest electric utility purchases electricity through solar, biomass and other options cleared the House earlier this month by a wide margin. Bill managers had warned against making changes that could scuttle the agreement, reached after months of negotiations.
But the Senate version of the measure unveiled this week adds a moratorium on wind power facility permits sought starting last year by Senate Majority Leader Harry Brown of Jacksonville, home of Camp Lejeune. Brown wants the wait to give time for an outside group to complete maps laying out locations where high-altitude wind farms could pose a threat to jet and helicopter missions and other operations of eastern North Carolina military installations.
With the military comprising the state’s second largest “industry” and a potential round of base closings and consolidations ahead, the state shouldn’t do anything to weaken the military’s capabilities in North Carolina and threaten jobs, Brown told a Senate committee Tuesday.
“Taking a step back to make sure that there’s a balance between the military and wind —making sure that they can co-exist — is important,” Brown said before the new edition of the measure was approved by the committee on a voice vote. “To not protect that (military) resource, I think, would be a huge mistake.”
But these and other changes in the Senate now cause renewable energy and environmental groups to oppose the new measure. They call the moratorium unnecessary and restrictions that would derail two developing pending wind farm projects — one in Perquimans and Chowan counties and the other in Tyrrell County.
Duke Energy spokesman Randy Wheeless said later Tuesday the Charlotte-based utility would prefer legislators stick with the agreed-upon House measure. That bill “struck a very delicate balance for all parties involved with renewable energy in North Carolina.”
The proposed legislation would create a new competitive procurement process for Duke Energy to purchase renewable energy. Despite the Senate changes, Wheeless said the measure should still save consumers $850 million over 10 years in what it would pay for renewable energy.
Betsy McCorkle, a lobbyist for both the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association and the company developing the Perquimans-Chowan project, told the committee that military and local governments have raises no concerns about the project. Federal permitting already is required. The moratorium threatens the $500 million project, which could create up to 400 construction jobs, she said.
The updated bill “no longer moves our energy economy forward,” McCorkle said. “Instead, it adds a provision that will be costly to ratepayers and deprive rural counties of much needed investment and tax base.”
The measure next heads to the full Senate. Rep. John Szoka, a Cumberland County Republican and sponsor of the previous version approved by the House, urged senators to move the bill along in what’s expected to be the final days of this year’s General Assembly work session so that a compromise can be reached.
A large-scale wind farm near Elizabeth City producing power for Amazon to run its Virginia data centers is now operating and wouldn’t be affected by the moratorium.
Some legislators, including House Speaker Tim Moore and Senate leader Phil Berger, had written President Donald Trump’s administration urging it to shut down the wind farm because of its proximity to a radar installation. Still, Moore helped kick-start negotiations last year that resulted in the House bill.
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WASHINGTON – The Trump administration has moved to roll back an Obama administration policy that protected more than half the nation’s streams from pollution but drew attacks from farmers, fossil fuel companies and property-rights groups as federal overreach.
The 2015 regulation sought to settle a debate over which waterways are covered under the Clean Water Act, which has dragged on for years and remained murky despite two Supreme Court rulings. President Donald Trump issued an executive order in February instructing the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to rescind or revise the Obama rule, which environmentalists say is essential to protecting water for human consumption and wildlife.
In a statement, the agencies announced plans to begin the withdrawal process, describing it as an interim step. When it is completed, the agencies said, they will undergo a broader review of which waters should fall under federal jurisdiction.
“We are taking significant action to return power to the states and provide regulatory certainty to our nation’s farmers and businesses,” EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt said, adding that the re-evaluation would be “thoughtful, transparent and collaborative with other agencies and the public.”
Environmental groups denounced the move, saying it would remove drinking water safeguards for one in three Americans while jeopardizing thousands of streams that flow into larger rivers and lakes, plus wetlands that filter pollutants and soak up floodwaters.
“Clean water is vital to our ecology, our health and our quality of life,” said John Rumpler, senior attorney with Environment America. “Repealing the Clean Water Rule turns the mission of the EPA on its head.”
The EPA and the Army Corps said dismantling the Obama rule would not change existing practices because the measure has been stayed by the 6th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in Cincinnati in response to opponents’ lawsuits.
The proposed repeal is the latest in a series of Trump moves to undo President Barack Obama’s environmental legacy, including withdrawal from the Paris climate change accord, rescinding the Clean Power Plan that sought to curb carbon emissions from coal-burning power plants and reversing a moratorium on leasing federal lands for coal mining. Trump also has proposed deep cuts in the EPA budget.
No one disputes that the 1972 Clean Water Act allows federal agencies to regulate navigable rivers and lakes. Less certain is the status of some 2 million miles of headwaters and streams that flow only part of the year — 60 percent of the river and stream miles in the Lower 48 states — plus 20 million acres of wetlands that aren’t directly connected to large waterways.
Under the Obama interpretation, those waters are protected. Business groups and some Republican state officials — including then-Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, now Trump’s EPA chief — filed suit, contending the regulation gave federal officials too much authority over waters that don’t cross state lines or have a clear link to waters that are covered.
The regulation was in effect for a short period in 2015 before the appeals court issued a stay. Those legal challenges are still pending.
Response to Tuesday’s announcement largely fell down party lines, with congressional Republicans hailing the move.
The rule “would have put backyard ponds, puddles and prairie potholes under Washington’s control,” said Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., chairman of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works. “I applaud the Trump administration for working to remove this indefensible regulation.”
The Trump administration’s proposed withdrawal will require a 30-day public comment period, after which EPA and the Army Corps would have to consider the reaction and the make a final decision — which likely will draw suits from groups that favor the regulation.
In his executive order, Trump instructed the agencies to redesign the rule in keeping with a 2006 opinion by the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. He interpreted federal jurisdiction narrowly, saying only “relatively permanent, standing or continuously flowing” waters or wetlands with a surface connection to navigable waterways are entitled to federal protection.
“Farmers and ranchers across this country are cheering,” said Zippy Duvall, president of the American Farm Bureau Federation. He said the Obama rule was “a federal land grab designed to put a straitjacket on farming and private businesses across this nation.”
Rhea Suh, president of the Natural Resources Defense Council, said withdrawing the rule “would make it easier for irresponsible developers and others to contaminate our waters and send the pollution downstream. We’ll stand up to this reckless attack on our waters and health.”
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Support of utility rates and attracting consumer use of alternative energy offerings requires brand trust among residential electric and natural gas utility consumers, according to a new Cogent Reports study by Market Strategies International.
This annual study highlights a statistical relationship between brand trust and rate support, and shows customers expect utilities to expand support for new offerings and community outreach as a result of rate increases.
The study’s findings, which designates 44 utilities as “Most Trusted Brands,” can be found in the 2017 Utility Trusted Brand & Customer Engagement: Residential study.
“Building a brand that customers trust and offering products and services customers will use are the new utility challenges. Brand trust is truly the difference between customers supporting or resisting new utility income opportunities,” said Chris Oberle, senior vice president at Market Strategies International.
High brand trust scores are required to attract customer use of alternative energy offerings and to increase the preference to use utilities as providers of these products. Additionally, customers who trust their utility are twice as likely to recommend those alternative energy products to other customers.
“Our research clearly shows utility brand trust levels are closely tied to financial success, customer advocacy and market support for rate changes,” continued Oberle. “High brand trust benefits customers, shareholders and stakeholders, and positions utilities as credible players in shaping the evolving utility market.”
The study’s brand trust index has declined by one point this year to 692 (on a 1,000-point scale). The study, now in its fourth year, benchmarks brand performance of 130 utilities on a quarterly basis among 59,823 utility consumers. The brand trust index is based upon 35 rating questions that relate to a suite of emotional attachment and management performance factors.
This year, Cogent has designated 44 utilities as 2017 Most Trusted Brands. This group of utilities scores 40 points higher on brand trust than their industry peers. As a result of the brand trust garnered among customers, Most Trusted Brand utilities experience a 7 percent improvement in support for rate increases and a 27 percent boost in positive customer comments than industry peers. Additionally, Most Trusted Brands are viewed by customers as better stock investments.
The following four tables show benchmark scoring among the utilities surveyed. A score above 500 indicates positive level of brand trust.
Delmarva Power: 683
National Grid: 683
PECO Energy: 674
Con Edison: 672
PPL Electric Utilities: 718
Duquesne Light Co.: 700
Central Maine Power: 687
West Penn Power: 681
Penn Power: 679
Potomac Edison: 650
Appalachian Power: 649
PSEG Long Island: 645
Atlantic City: 644
Monongahela Power: 625
Jersey Central Power & Light: 602
New Jersey Natural Gas: 724
National Fuel Gas: 722
UGI Utilities: 709
Washington Gas: 709
Philadelphia Gas Works: 708
Columbia Gas – East: 700
South Jersey Gas Co.: 699
Elizabethtown Gas: 682
MidAmerican Energy: 730
Consumers Energy: 708
Ameren Illinois: 706
DTE Energy: 704
Alliant Energy: 694
We Energies: 694
Xcel Energy – Midwest: 691
Wisconsin Public Service: 685
Duke Energy Midwest: 684
Ohio Edison: 696
Dayton Power & Light: 691
AEP Ohio: 687
Indiana Michigan Power: 680
Indianapolis Power & Light: 671
Ameren Missouri: 665
The Illuminating Co.: 665
Toledo Edison: 654
Westar Energy: 637
Atmos Energy – Midwest: 721
Nicor Gas: 702
Columbia Gas of Ohio: 701
SEMCO Energy Gas Co.: 695
Black Hills Energy: 694
CenterPoint Energy – Midwest: 694
Citizens Energy: 692
Laclede Gas: 689
Peoples Gas: 680
Missouri Gas Energy: 679
Dominion Energy Ohio: 678
Kansas Gas Service: 678
CPS Energy: 698
Louisville Gas & Electric: 690
Georgia Power: 738
Florida Power & Light: 724
Kentucky Utilities: 717
Nashville Electric Service: 701
Public Service Co. of Oklahoma: 700
Gulf Power: 697
Xcel Energy – South: 695
Southwestern Electric Power Co.: 687
Dominion Energy Virginia: 683
Duke Energy Carolinas: 683
El Paso: 678
TECO Tampa: 677
Alabama Power: 665
Duke Energy Florida: 659
Austin Energy: 657
Mississippi Power: 656
Duke Energy Progress: 653
Kentucky Power: 600
TECO Peoples Gas: 777
Piedmont Natural Gas: 748
CenterPoint Energy – South: 734
PSNC Energy: 732
Virginia Natural Gas: 727
Columbia Gas – South: 720
Oklahoma Natural Gas: 716
Atmos Energy – South: 712
Texas Gas Service: 705
Xcel Energy – West: 699
Puget Sound Energy: 669
NorthWestern Energy: 655
Idaho Power: 729
Salt River Project: 726
Seattle City Light: 716
Pacific Power: 703
Tucson Electric Power: 701
Rocky Mountain Power: 691
Portland General: 685
Southern California Edison: 685
Los Angeles Department of Water and Power: 653
NV Energy: 652
Questar Gas 743
Cascade Natural Gas 742
NW Natural 733
Southwest Gas 726
Intermountain Gas Co.: 711
New Mexico Gas Co.: 706
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Construction is complete and the Aurora solar power plant is now delivering renewable energy to Xcel Energy customers.
The 150 MWdc (100 MWac) Aurora solar photovoltaic plant represents an investment of about $290 million in Minnesota, states Enel. The company, through its unit Enel Green Power North America, Inc. (EGP-NA), built the 16 sites throughout the state. Xcel Energy will now purchase power from Aurora as part of a long-term deal to provide solar energy to its customers. EGP-NA unit Aurora Distributed Solar, LLC, owns the project.
“Xcel Energy is pleased that the Aurora solar project is now delivering clean, renewable energy to our customers and it plays a big role in our goal to be 63 percent carbon free by 2030,” said Chris Clark, president, Xcel Energy-Minnesota. “We are on a path that more than doubles wind and solar energy options for our customers, and as we’ve learned to effectively integrate wind on to our system, we look forward to doing the same with solar.”
In addition to the Aurora project, the North Star and Marshall solar projects have come online in the past year. Together, these projects can serve, on average, more than 58,000 Upper Midwest customers.
Xcel Energy’s ultimate goal is to have nearly 10 percent of our electricity generated from solar by 2030.
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