MA energy policy: Cutting CO2 emissions vs reducing electricity costs

I have some initial thoughts after initial reading of Paul Levy’s piece on solar in MA, “Has the Mass. solar gamble paid off?  Like other energy bets, costs high, hidden.”   Levy’s introductory paragraph:

How much should we pay to promote solar energy in Massachusetts? Recent state government programs have resulted in the commitment of at least $10 billion of consumer funds—well over $1,500 for every man, woman, and child in the state. Is there a need for more government-directed subsidization, or have we reached a point of diminishing returns? Let’s look at the big picture.

and his conclusion:

What’s next on the list of well-intentioned financial mandates that will help reduce the risk for the developers of new energy technologies by passing along costs to the rest of us? Rest assured, the government will be asked to gamble with our money. And investors and advocates will do their best to keep things hidden so the rest of us don’t understand the costs they are asking us to bear. Some advocates now want unwarranted energy storage incentives. Some even argue for a return to expanded solar incentives. Let’s keep an eye on things and demand cost-effectiveness and transparency with regard to the amounts promised on our behalf.

There’s a lot in between.  Unfortunately, he missed the big picture.  The purpose of the “solar gamble” is to help transition us to using carbon-free (or at least carbon-neutral) energy not to save consumers money.  The latter is a fringe benefit not the primary motivation.  Levy misses the big picture because his focus is on financials.  Money matters and how the costs of transition are shared – that they’re shared equitably – is important but leading with financials sets the wrong tone.

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Power your house with your electric vehicle

Interesting article PV Magazine, California electric car culture to cheaply cook the duck curve:

Researchers at the US Department of Energy (DOE) and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) have done the math on California’s 1.5 million zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) mandate and found that the cars’ batteries can meet the goals of the state’s 1.3 GW energy storage mandates by absorbing a healthy amount of daytime overproduction and mitigating the early evening duck curve ramp.

Learn more about the duck curve here.

To make it work, it’ll mostly take controllable one-way car charging from the grid (V1G) and a small amount of two way charging/discharging from the car and the grid (V2G) to be used on the worst day of each forecast year.

That’s right, use your EV as a battery to power your house after you get home in the evening. Continue reading

Thought for the day: March 9, 2018

We have become great because of the lavish use of our resources, and we have just reason to be proud of our growth. But the time has come to inquire seriously what will happen when our forests are gone; when the coal, the iron, the oil, and the gas are exhausted; when the soils shall have been still further impoverished, and washed into the streams, polluting the rivers, denuding the fields, and obstructing navigation.

-Theodore Roosevelt (on the merits of public lands)