Tag Archives: renewable power

A Los Angeles Trend Worth Following for Earth Day (Video)

The City of Los Angeles set a goal to get 20% of its power from renewable sources by 2010. The program the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) put in place gives people the choice of whether the money they pay in electrical bills will go to fund coal power, or renewable energy.

The program is administered through the LADWP, and it allows consumers to sign up to get part or all of their power from renewable sources for an extra three cents per kilowatt-hour. So, if your electricity bill is $50 per month, you could get 20% renewable power for another three dollars, or 100% renewable power for $15 more per month.

In it’s 2007 annual report, the LADWP reported that more than 22,000 homes and apartments had signed up for the green power program for at least some of their power. That’s good, but it only amounts to about 6% of the city’s power. The 2008 numbers aren’t out yet, but we can count on a race against time to meet the goal of 20% by 2010. So if you are in LA, sign up and get coal off of your power bill – and your conscience. If you are not in LA, but have friends here, help us out and send this video around.

What is interesting about LADWP’s program is the way it allows the individual to take direct action to support renewable power. Rather than calling congress, or using less energy (I’m not knocking those things), people can actually choose where their money goes when they pay their electricity bill. If they care about renewable energy, and can afford a couple dollars more a month, they can directly support the renewable energy infrastructure.

If we want to slash our carbon emissions, clean up our air, and halt the construction of new coal-fired power plants, we need to expand this program to every city in America. This Earth Day, I want to invite you to join ResponsAbility X (www.responsabilityx.com) in our drive not only to get LA to its goal, but to set goals and establish programs to meet them in your city. If there already is one, sign up and get your friends to do the same (we’ll help you make a video and launch an online campaign if you want). If there isn’t, start one.

We at ResponsAbility X believe that people will make the right choice if the choice is made clear. We just need to give them the ability to choose. So I invite you to take it on. Reach out to your city council or regional electricity provider and ask them to start a program for individual consumers to pay a little for green power. We will help you do the research, find renewable power vendors who can sell to your area, and strategize how to make it happen.

We the people who consume electricity have the power to demand where it comes from. This Earth Day, follow this LA trend, and help people choose renewable power.

CPUC issues unflattering report on Prop 7

I do some work for the No on 7 Campaign.

The California Public Utilities Commission(CPUC) is something of a stodgy institution, not particularly known for making big statements. While it’s worth noting that al least one member of the PUC has a history as an executive with the utilities in California, the CPUC’s take on Proposition 7 is at least worth a look, especially now that major newspapers, like the LA Times today and the SJ Merc, and all the major environmental groups in the state, including the Sierra Club, are opposed.

The CPUC report is available in HTML . Thank you CPUC, I wish more governmental bodies and research institutions could put their reports in HTML so I’m not constantly having to open bulky PDFs which make copy and paste difficult.  Though you can still find a Word Doc here and a PDF here. So to my friends from policy school at the CPUC who might have taken part in this analysis, thanks! Sorry, end tangent.

Anyway, the report is broken down into thirteen points, but is generally pretty short. While they do not take a formal position on the initiative, as they are a governmental body, they have few words of praise and a bevy of criticism of Prop 7.  Take this for example:

[Prop. 7] will establish… [a] potentially dysfunctional, structure for the further development of renewable energy in California … [Prop 7] could lead to grid operation problems.

They take a look at each of the 13 things that the analysts at the CPUC perceive that Prop 7 will do, but begin with this summary of concerns…over the flip.

Emphasis added.

The current regulatory framework, as embodied in the state’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (“RPS”) program, which is being implemented via the Commission’s long-term procurement, resource adequacy and other related proceedings provides the Commission with the flexibility needed to address emerging technologies and the changing marketplace. However, the legal changes that Proposition 7 would impose would seriously interfere with, and delay the implementation of, the numerous renewable energy-related programs that the Commission is currently carrying out. Of particular note, Proposition 7 appears to exclude all renewable resources smaller than 30 megawatts (“MW”). Such smaller renewable facilities can be expected to provide a significant portion of the renewable energy that will be needed to meet the RPS, and their exclusion from the program would inevitably hinder, rather than facilitate, the accomplishment of the state’s RPS goals.

Furthermore, the institutional changes that Proposition 7 would impose would, in the short term, actively disrupt and slow down our ability as a state to meet the 20% RPS goal that is currently enshrined in state law, as well as the more aggressive 33% goal that has been established as a policy of this Commission and the California Energy Commission (“CEC”) and Governor Schwarzenegger, among other leading state officials. Additionally, none of the regulatory or institutional changes that Proposition 7 would make would actually facilitate the accomplishment of the state’s RPS goals in any way. For example, shifting the environmental review of transmission projects from the CPUC to the CEC would not in any way reduce the timelines needed to build new transmission. The most significant source of delay in the siting of new transmission is the environmental review process, which is a legally required step regardless of whether the CEC or CPUC is the responsible agency. Another significant source of delays in the permitting of transmission projects is beyond the control of the state, and is, rather, within the purview of the federal government or of other states.

Finally, Proposition 7 would create a conflict, because under current law, the CPUC has the responsibility for siting all transmission lines, but Proposition 7 proposes to enact a law that would only transfer transmission siting responsibility for renewable energy to the CEC. Since most transmission lines carry both renewable and non-renewable electricity, it is unclear how both agencies would be able to carry out their statutory duties. (CPUC report )

The report then goes through each of thirteen points that the commission finds of note. I won’t belabor the points here, but I’ll send you back to the CPUC report for more details, but here are there thirteen points:

     _ Establishes new, higher RPS targets for electricity providers – 40 % by 2020 and 50 % by 2025;

     _ Changes the cost cap provisions that limit electricity provider obligations under the RPS;

     _ Future amendments to Proposition 7 would require a 2/3 vote of the legislature which limits the ability of the state to respond to changes in the marketplace if a need becomes evident;

     _ Excludes renewable electrical sources under 30 MW from participating in the program set up by Proposition 7;

     _ Falsely states that it will cap rate impacts at less than 3 percent ;

     _ Incorporates a Fast-Track Plant Approval process that could undermine environmental protections and local input;

     _ Changes the process for defining “Market Price of Electricity;”

     _ Transfers some of the CPUC’s authority over the siting of transmission lines carrying renewable power from the California Public Utilities Commission (“CPUC”) to the CEC, which would be in conflict with the CPUC’s statutory duties;

     _ Directs the use of RPS penalty revenues to construct government-owned transmission facilities;

     _ Changes minimum RPS contract length from 10 years to 20 years;

     _ Makes renewable procurement requirements enforceable on publicly-owned utilities by the CEC;

     _ Sets a lower penalty rate than what is currently in statute and removes the cap on the total penalty amount for failure to meet RPS requirements; and

     _ Transfers permitting authority over new non-thermal renewable energy power plants over 30 MW from local government to the CEC.

These bullet points themselves are argumentative, and the CPUC clearly has a position, even if unspoken. So, take a moment sometime before Nov. 4 and learn about Prop 7.