Tag Archives: electricity

Wind and Solar 77% of New U.S. electricity generation in November 2014

And more new capacity year to date than natural gas in 2014, according to FERC’s own numbers, despite FERC betting on the wrong horse.

Joshua S. Hill, CleanTechnica, 23 November 2014, Wind & Solar = 77% Of New US Electricity Generating Capacity In November (Exclusive),

The United States Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Office of Energy Projects released its monthly “Energy Infrastructure Update” on Tuesday, and the big winners from the month of November seem to be wind and solar, which combined added up to over 70% of all new electrical generating capacity placed into service during the month. If you add in our estimate for non-utility-scale solar, the market share of solar and wind rises to 77%.

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Simon Solar Farm ribbon cutting in Social Circle, Georgia

A ribbon cutting for 30+ MW of solar power in Social Circle, Georgia, with no media coverage, other than a Georgia Power docket update buried at GA PSC. Claudia Musleve Collier says she made this first quote from email to her, and wants it shared.

Bryan Casey, with Greenavations Power sent me these photos of the recent [13 May 2014] ribbon cutting of their 38 MW solar project in middle Georgia[, Simon Solar in Social Circle]. PSC “Bubba” McDonald was present to flip the switch!

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Arrogance of (Georgia) Power —Michael Noll

Received yesterday on Smart Metering in Finland Compared to Georgia Power; also as a facebook note. -jsq

ONLY a monopoly like Georgia Power can proclaim to be “environmentally responsible” yet operate some of the worst coal power plants in the nation. Its Scherer Plant near Macon even leads the pack in regard to greenhouse gas emissions. Do they not understand the reality of global warming? Do they not notice ongoing drought conditions throughout the country (see http://droughtmonitor.unl.edu/)? And why, in the context of these drought conditions, are they still investing in technologies (e.g. coal, nuclear, biomass) that need enormous amounts of water for cooling purposes?

ONLY a monopoly like Georgia Power can claim to “care” for the well being of our society when they operate the nation’s largest biomass incinerator, run the nation’s worst coal firing plant, and are pushing for new nuclear power plants. Have they not heard of Fukushima, Chernobyl, and Three Mile Island? How can they still ignore the mounting evidence in regard to the side-effects of the vast pollution coming from their coal and biomass plants (see http://www.wiregrass-ace.org/linked/second-opinion.pdf)?

ONLY a monopoly like Georgia Power can pretend to “respect” its customers when it forces them to pay for the construction of nuclear power plants nobody wants, or when it chooses intimidation as a tool to push through “smart meters”. The notion that you can’t have electricity without “smart meters” is not only ludicrous but reminds one on “leadership qualities” you expect to find in North Korea but not in the US. By the way, one should note that states like California have given their customers the possibility (dare I say right?) to “opt out” (see http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/more-california-utilities-required-let-customers-opt-out-smart-meters.html ).

by Michael Noll on Thursday, July 26, 2012 at 12:33pm ·

PS: In case anyone wonders, I am not differentiating between Georgia Power and the entity that controls it: Southern Company.

Smart Metering in Finland Compared to Georgia Power

Georgia Power: putting customer convenience and utility last! Let’s compare how Georgia Power is “selling” its smart meters to how one of the leaders in smart metering in Europe does it. Let’s compare Finland to Georgia Power. The result may give you reason to vote in the Public Service Commissioner election going on right now.

Current Smart Meter customer benefits include:

With the Smart Meter program, your electric meter will be read remotely through communication towers. In the future, a number of new customer benefits will become available, including access to online energy usage information.
  • Reading your meter and generating your bill without having a representative visit your property on a regular basis.
  • Reducing the time needed to handle service orders, such as starting or stopping power.
  • Remotely checking a meter to ensure it is working properly.
  • Reducing the number of vehicles on the road resulting in less pollution and fuel saving because in-person meter readings are not required.
  • Power outage notification — In the event of a power outage in your area, Smart Meters help us better manage power restoration.
Future Smart Meter benefits include:
  • Accessing energy usage information online — view your hourly and daily usage.
  • Offering innovative rate options that meet your lifestyle — better manage your energy usage and control your energy bill.

All of the immediate benefits are tailored for the power company, not the customer. Sure, you might like not having a Georgia Power employee on your property, but the real benefit is to Georgia Power in reducing costs. The direct benefits to the customer are all deferred to some unspecified time in the future.

Meanwhile, for Finland, Look at page 32 of this report: European Smart Metering Landscape Report, by Stephan Renner, Mihaela Albu, Henk van Elburg, Christoph Heinemann, Artur Łazicki, Lauri Penttinen, Francisco Puente, Hanne Sæle, smartregions.net, Vienna, February 2011,

There are some minimum functional requirements for the metering system defined by the regulator in Finland:
Figure 1: Regulation and implementation of smart metering in Europe, page 14
  • Remotely readable hourly interval measurement data available next day to market actors including the customer;
  • If requested by the customer, the DSO must deliver metering equipment that has standardised connection for real-time hourly based monitoring;
  • Consumer must receive the data at the latest when the electricity seller receives it;
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Profits per Market Cap in the Forbes 2000: solar and wind still win

We saw that two out of three of the most profitable electric utilities in the world emphasize solar and wind energy: ENEL of Italy and Iberdrola of Spain, both of which operate in multiple countries, including Iberdrola claiming second most wind power in the U.S. Well, maybe those companies are small, so their profits are a fluke. Nope. We get similar results for profits divided by market cap:

ENEL of Italy is still number 1, with no nuclear and a lot of solar and wind energy. Iberdrola is #4 in profits/market instead of #3 in profits alone. However, Electricité de France (EDF) is #7 instead of #2, and Exelon is #9 instead of #4. Number 2 is Energias de Portugal (EDP), which is heavily into wind power including owning Horizon Wind Energy LLC:

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Electric Utility Profits in the Forbes Global 2000 from 2006 through 2012

Which are the most and least consistently profitable electric utilities in the world? Hint: the biggest losers all lost on nukes. But the biggest winners may surprise you.

Following up on Southern Company CEO Thomas A. Fanning’s brag that “We are a great, big company from an energy production standpoint,” I looked in the Forbes Global 2000 to see which are the biggest electricities in the world. Indeed, Southern Company (SO) is the biggest in the U.S. and number 6 in the world for 2012. But what about the rest, and what about previous years? Here’s a graph of profits for the top 40 electric utilities from 2006 through 2012. SO is the blue line muddling along in the middle:


Graph by John S. Quarterman from

What’s that dark red line dropping way below the rest? Tokyo Electric Power (TEPCO), owner of the Fukushima nuclear plants. And the red line starting at the top and ending up near the bottom? E.ON, the company that owns most of Germany’s nuclear plants, as Germany shifts away from nuclear energy, after Cheronobyl and now Fukushima. The blue line that ends up as low as E.ON? Korea Electric Power (KEP), also an owner of nuclear plants. All the big losers are nuke owners.

What about the winners? The light green line ending up second by profits is Electricité de France (EDF), also an owner of nuclear plants, but one which has not yet had a major accident.

But what’s that purple line that starts near the top and ends up at the top?

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Smart grid already in use due to heat waves

So if heat waves already require spot buys of electricity at high prices and is already enabling a market in demand responses to bring down, even while most electricity in the U.S. still comes from big baseload plants such as coal, nuclear, natural gas, and hydro, why is Southern Company saying we have to wait on a smart grid to deploy solar and wind energy?

This is from an EnerNOC Press Release of today that is all over the net:

…on Thursday, June 21, EnerNOC was dispatched by eleven grid operators and utilities across the US and Canada, including eight in Pennsylvania and New York, largely in response to a record heat wave across the northeast and mid-Atlantic regions that put strain on the grid and drove real-time energy prices in some regions to over $1,500 per megawatt hour, approximately 60 times higher than the previous week’s average prices. Demand response reduces the need for utilities and grid operators to procure additional supply at such high prices both by reducing overall demand on the grid and by targeting reductions in particularly constrained areas.

So demand response is energy conservation through energy distribution efficiency.

Well, maybe demand response duing that heat wave was on a small scale. Or not:

“Nearly 1,200 commercial, institutional, and industrial energy users in Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Ontario, and other constrained regions responded to Thursday’s dispatch, providing valuable capacity to the grid that helped to stabilize prices and reduce system strain,” said Tim Healy, Chairman and CEO of EnerNOC. “Our DemandSMART application, which streams real-time energy data from thousands of sites, showed demand quickly drop from the grid as our network was activated and allowed our customers to see the contribution they were making to grid reliability and reduced prices.

So sure, this is a press release from the company that’s doing this electricity dispatch. But it’s verifiable, starting with the customer company contacts in the press release.

FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff pointed out years ago that Continue reading

Net Metering in California: Megawatts and jobs

Net metering of solar energy works fine in California, where it increasingly provides electricity to meet peak demand. Georgia has a 2001 law that requires power utilities to do a version of net metering, but it’s a weak version and there’s a low cap on how much you can sell back to the utility.

The Georgia version, according to GEFA:

Net metering is the process whereby an energy consumer produces energy and then sells some or all of this energy to the “grid”, or major energy producers in the state. Under Georgia’s net metering laws, state residents and businesses can purchase and operate green energy capital, including photovoltaics, wind energy and fuel cells, and use this energy on-site. These residents and businesses may then sell any un-used, additional energy produced on-site to their energy provider. There is a maximum of 10 kilowatts (kW) for residential applications and up to 100 kW for commercial applications.
As you can see by GEFA’s pie chart, solar energy was too small to chart as a source of energy in Georgia as of 2004. With solar, we can burn less coal and uranium.

Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) has a report, Solar Net Metering in California,

Protecting Net energy metering (NEM) is the top policy priority of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) for California in 2012. NEM is a billing arrangement that allows utility customers to offset some or all of their energy use (up to 1 MW) with selfgenerated renewable energy.
The definition sounds the same, except for the cap: 1 megawatt is 1000 kilowatts, so California’s current cap is 100 times the Georgia residential cap and 10 times the Georgia commercial cap, with apparently no distinction between residential and commercial.

The result is this: Continue reading

Programmable electric meter —Paul Wolff 2012 02 17

Paul Wolff showed us his programmable electric meter at his house on Tybee Island.
It shows night, day, evening hours….

That’s exclusive of the solar. This is strictly what I’ve used off the grid. The solar, I keep a spreadsheet.

The still picture shows Paul and Gretchen comparing notes on solar generation and usage over time. He writes his on a pad of paper. She records hers on an iphone. Either way works.

Here’s the video:

Programmable electric meter —Paul Wolff 2012 02 17
renewable energy,
Paul Wolff, The Volta Collaborative (TVC),
Tybee Island, Chatham County, Georgia, 17 February 2012.
Videos by Gretchen Quarterman for LAKE, the Lowndes Area Knowledge Exchange.


Georgia Power peddling old disinformation about solar power

On the same day as SB 401 revived as SB 459 gets a hearing in a better committee, Georgia Power trots out the same old tired disinformation it’s been peddling for years. As if we didn’t already know that almost all solar installations in Georgia are installed by certified solar installers. Or that pretty much every inverter these days comes with built-in automatic cutoff if the grid goes down to which installers add air-gap cutoff knife switches plus breakers. And as if Georgia Power didn’t know it and EMCs could charge a percentage on electricity arbitraged across their networks, which gapower could use to finance any needed grid improvements, while retaining a hefty profit for doing not much of anything else. Meanwhile, those of us who chose to participate in solar electricity arbitrage would get lower rates for customers. We do know all that, but maybe your state senator doesn’t, so maybe you should call your senator today and tell them you want to be able to buy and sell solar power without having to get it from the utility monopoly.

Greg Roberts, Vice President of Pricing and Planning for Georgia Power in Atlanta, wrote for the Savannah Morning News today, The solar sleight of hand. I’ll only quote part of his concluding paragraph.

Georgia Power is involved in many efforts to expand the use solar energy
Usually dragged along behind reluctantly, Continue reading