DBL Investors: For States, More Renewable Energy Means Lower Power Prices

March 17th, 2015

Another day, yet another strong piece of evidence that sticking with a fossil-fuel-heavy power generation portfolio isn’t just bad for the environment and for people’s health, it’s also bad for the bottom line. This time, it’s a study by DBL Investors, entitled “Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices? WAIT, WHAT?” The key takeaway is as follows:

states with the greatest share of electricity generation from renewable sources have often experienced average retail electricity prices that are cheaper than both the national average and also states with the smallest share of electricity generation from renewable sources.

In 2013, U.S. states generated electricity from renewable sources at a variety of different levels. And yet, as the graph below demonstrates, greater generation from renewables did not mean skyrocketing electricity prices. In fact, states generating more electricity from renewables often experienced average retail electricity prices well below states producing less electricity from renewables.

Or, as this article puts it, “states boasting robust green energy programs have the nation’s cheapest electricity,” and “trend lines suggest it’s only going to get better for their consumers.” Actually, switching to renewable energy at this point is basically a no-brainer, that is if you want an inexhaustible, clean, and increasingly cheap form of power for your state. Keep in mind that:

*The cost of wind power has decreased 58% over the past 5 years, and there’s no reason to think that improvements in wind technology and cost will end anytime in the foreseeable future.

*The cost of solar power has been plummeting, down 78% between 2009 and 2014, and that trend is highly likely to continue indefinitely, utlimately leading to the “singularity”, in which “solar power will be close to free in the coming decades.”

*As for natural gas, which some people foolishly want to lock us into for decades to come, it’s cheap right now, but that is highly unlikely to continue. Also, as this article notes, the price of natural gas is highly volatile, to the extent that it “can increase by a factor of six over the course of five years, then decrease by the same amount in four years.”

*Finally, of course, energy efficiency continues to be the cheapest form of energy that exists — far, far less expensive than a new coal-fired power plant, for instance, and without any of the environmental damage that comes with coal.

As always, the lesson here is that you shouldn’t believe anything the entrenched, “incumbent” fossil fuel companies try to tell you about renewable energy, as they’ve got it exactly backwards. Of course, as Upton Sinclair said, “It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.” That certainly helps explain the disinformation coming out of the fossil fuel industry folks and their political allies. As for the rest of us, our futures depend on understanding that clean and cheap energy, not dirty and expensive fossil fuels, represent the future for our states, our country and the planet.

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/17/15)

March 17th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/17/15).

  1. Renewable Energy World debunks the utility and fossil-fuel-industry “canard”  about rooftop solar, explaining, “Rooftop solar provides substantial benefits for everyone, regardless of who installs it.”
  2. The Hartford Courant reports: “The solar industry in the Northeast has found its voice. Solar business representatives from nine states have formed a coalition with two universities to push for uniform clean energy policies.”
  3. RenewEconomy lists the “Abbott government’s 10 biggest renewable energy whoppers.”
  4. DeSmogBlog reports, “A new report by CoalSwarm and the Sierra Club provides compelling evidence that the death knell for the global coal boom might very well have rung some time between 2010 and 2012.”
  5. According to Phys.org, solar power “could meet California energy demand three to five times over.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/16/15)

March 16th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/16/15).

  1. Foreign Affairs explains “How Harnessing the Sun Got Cheap and Practical.”
  2. RenewEconomy reports, “The International Energy Agency has hailed a ’surprising’ and ‘unprecedented’ halt in the rise of global carbon dioxide emissions – an event it directly credits to the growth in solar and wind power, increased hydro, and the decline in coal-fired generation.”
  3. According to The Guardian: “The 100 global power companies most at risk from growing pressure to shut highly polluting coal plants have been revealed in a new report from Oxford University. Chinese companies dominate the top of the ranking but US companies, including Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, occupy 10 of the top 25 places.”
  4. DeSmogBlog reports, “Rail Industry Lobbied Against New Oil-by-Rail Safety Regulations The Day After Rail Accident.”
  5. NRDC’s Switchboard blog writes, “In its recently-released analysis, PJM — the operator of the world’s largest electricity market in the world which includes Virginia — concludes that Virginia can generate net revenue from the CPP as early as 2020 through a market-based allowance trading program among PJM states”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/13/15)

March 13th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/13/15).

  1. Secretary of State John Kerry delivers remarks at the Atlantic Council in which he states, “Clean energy is…one of the greatest economic opportunities of all time,” and “Gambling with the future of Earth…is beyond reckless. It is just plain immoral.”
  2. The White House releases a fact sheet on the U.S. Department of Energy report, Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States, which among other things finds that the U.S. could be “operating and maintaining a fleet of more than 400 GW nationwide through 2050, enough to power more than 100 million homes.”
  3. Bloomberg reports, “China’s emissions of climate-warming carbon dioxide fell last year for the first time in more than a decade, offering fresh evidence that efforts to control pollution in the nation of 1.4 billion people are gaining traction.”
  4. The Rocky Mountain Institute explains a transportation “paradigm shift” that could “reduce U.S. oil consumption by 50 percent (shaving off the full 2 billion barrels associated with our light-duty vehicles), and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 1 gigaton per year.”
  5. Greentech Media reports, “Colorado’s state legislature is seeking to follow the lead of states like California, New York, Hawaii and Massachusetts in revamping its utility regulations to better serve for a more distributed, customer-empowered energy future.”

Five Energy Stories Worth Reading Today (3/12/15)

March 12th, 2015

Here are five recommended reads for today (3/12/15).

  1. The New York Times argues, “To protect communities and the environment, the Transportation Department needs to act quickly to require more resilient rail cars, improve the safety of rail infrastructure and operations, and reduce the volatility of oil at the wellhead, before it is loaded onto trains.”
  2. According to RenewEconomy, “The two biggest utilities in Europe, German power giants E.ON and RWE – have further cleared the decks as they prepare to catch up with the country’s energy transition and focus on renewables and distributed energy.”
  3. Reuters reports, “EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy hit back at lawmakers who have called on state officials to ignore federal deadlines to submit plans to comply with the agency’s Clean Power Plan, saying the agency is confident its proposal will weather political and legal challenges.”
  4. According to Grist, “We’re finding out what’s in fracking wastewater, and it ain’t pretty.”
  5. Climate Progress reports, “North Carolina’s environmental agency handed Duke Energy a record fine Tuesday after finding the company let coal ash contaminants from one plant leach into groundwater over a period of several years.” However, “This proposed fine does not clean up one ounce of coal ash pollution.”