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load management

Full Spectrum Virtual Power Plants

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A couple timely articles and posts have dropped since I reintroduced virtual power plants (VPPs) last week. First, I'll share a LinkedIn post from Matt Golden, CEO of Recurve. He wrote:  "VPPs being defined as dispatchable loads only, is just plain wrong. Just like the grid is supplied primarily by load following and base load power plants, with a small but important amount of peak dispatchable emergency power, VPPs are a combination of long-term load modification and dispatch.  The vast majority of the potential to shape load with virtual power plants comes from things like heat pumps that provide better air conditioning and attic insulation…
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Virtual Power Plants Order in Load Management

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Virtual power plants (VPPs) represent a considerable slice of the clean energy race these days, and for a good reason: policy continues to favor intermittent renewable energy supply over baseload nuclear and dispatchable natural gas assets. Load needs to follow supply. Theoretically, we would need a lot of load flexibility for many hours and sometimes days to keep the grid energized with, mmm, 50% renewable energy. As of 2021, the renewables slice of the supply pie was around 13%, so there is a long way to go.  The DOE's Virtual Power Plants Commercial Liftoff report declares the United States needs 80-160 GW…
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Solar Wars

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A year ago, I introduced the mantle curve to illustrate California's overgeneration of solar power and the resulting need for curtailment. In 2022, California's scoping study set a target for an additional 60 gigawatts (GW) or 60,000 megawatts (MW) of solar generation to be deployed by 2030. Below are the forecast curves from last year's post in May. The system was penetrating the overgeneration region, but the net load was above zero MW. Similar forecast loads from last week are provided below. We see the net load digs below zero MW, into the mantle. Granted, the first chart represents a week in May last year, while the second represents…
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Electricity Shortages and What to Do About It

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Some folks pin excessive weight on the federal government’s influence over our efficiency and load management industries. Even though billions/trillions of dollars are allocated through the “Inflation Reduction Act” and “Bipartisan Infrastructure Law,” those funds are fleeting. What’s more enduring? Rising electricity prices and load-balancing authorities are pushing for more baseload generation and transmission-line construction – things that are always met with stiff resistance by state and local governments and stakeholder groups. Utility Dive recently reported that electricity prices outpaced the broader U.S. consumer price index. Well, gee, why would this happen? Have fuel prices increased? No. You’d think electricity prices…
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Micro Rant Harvest

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It’s fall, and that means it’s harvest season. So, this week, we’re providing a cornucopia of micro rants and information. I’m Alexa, and I’m Here to Help This headline caught my eye, ‘Alexa, I’m cold’: Government teams up with Amazon for energy saving campaign. The world’s fifth largest company, dominant retailer, data center behemoth, and tech giant partners with the government to use its in-home listening device. What could possibly go wrong? I recommend 1984, the book. EV Repair Black Market The Wall Street Journal reported, via email, that totaled Teslas from Western nations are being shipped to Ukraine and a…
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Modern Electric Rates from the Slide Rule Era

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Last week, we looked at Total Resource Cost (TRC) tests that were developed decades ago to put a high value on avoided source energy costs. That was right for the time, but not today. I demonstrated that energy costs, mostly dominated by natural gas, are near historic lows, while zero-energy-cost renewables supply more electricity than coal-fired generation. Of course, renewable sources have zero source-energy consumption. Yet, utility commissioners are laser-focused on keeping electricity prices in check and maintaining the reliability of the electric grid. Electric Rate Basics Like the TRC, most utility rates (tariffs) are stuck in the 1970s. I…
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Unheard of – Two Factors Exacerbated Elliot Power Shortages

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The Energy Rant features content you will not find anywhere else, and this week we have blazing examples featuring two unpublished (go ahead and look) contributions to the grid crisis of Christmas weekend 2022 and winter storm Elliot. A few weeks ago, Utility Dive reported that gas-fired generation represented 70% of the PJM unplanned outages during Elliot. That represented about a quarter of PJM’s capacity. The days of interest include Friday, December 23, and December 24. Here were the generation mixes for those days. Hmmm. What didn’t fail? Coal and Nuclear. Why? Because they each come with months of fuel…
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Image shows graphic of a portfolio and text "Reorganize Portfolios and Redirect Incentives for 10X Impacts."

Reorganize Portfolios and Redirect Incentives for 10X Impacts

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A couple weeks ago, I quickly read this article, Cracking the Code - Aligned Incentives, on EnergyCentral.com. It concerns incentives for high-performance employees, but my read was about incentives for efficiency programs. It applies to that too.  Myopic Focus I wrote about short-term focus many times, including last week – if your lips are chapped, stop licking them – short-term gain for longer-term pain. Efficiency portfolio administrators, typically utilities, want long-lived measures, deep energy savings, and instant savings. The demand for instant savings is like harvesting the carrots at day 30 rather than at day 70 maturity. SEM Myopathy As…
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Decarb Warriors

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Last week I read a statement from a retail energy provider. It said, “100% green rates, always.” It doesn’t work that way. An aggregation of power sources, including renewable, nuclear, coal, and natural gas, are supplying the grid at any given time. The little electrons aren’t tagged by source and routed to any given customer(s). Second, even if that were impossible, er, I mean, possible, it’s shoving more hydrocarbon electricity onto someone else. In this way, it’s the same as the net zero con. Cheap but Unreliable Generating renewable power is easy and inexpensive, but as described in the net-zero…
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Demand Management for Good

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The last few posts featured an overview and complete report card on load management to get beyond net zero to real zero, a term I discovered last week. As promised, I will describe some permanent peak load reduction opportunities this week. Like many efficiency solutions, blocking and tackling approaches are the most effective. Peak Load Reduction – New Construction I’m going to stick with some big hitters. A person could write forever on this topic. Home Envelope Single-family homes must be super-insulated to minimize heating loads in cool/cold climates. The cartoon below provides a nice example of super-insulated versus code…
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