The Clean Power Plan, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rule that seeks to reduce the United States’ carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions by 32 percent in 2030, presents state regulators and the electricity sector with new challenges as well as opportunities. Utilities and states will need to work closely to find cost‐effective means of reducing CO2 emissions from existing power plants and, in some cases, to demonstrate performance for EPA requirements. Many states may find it necessary to implement a CO2 emissions trading program.
While utilities have a history of using complex modeling and forecasting tools, state regulators are less familiar with these processes. To help bridge that communication gap, Lincoln Electric System and the American Public Power Association have developed the Clean Power Plan Modeling Tool. This model is utility-focused, making it unique among various tools available for assessing a state’s potential compliance under the final rule. Users are able to assess the potential compliance position of a specific utility, providing for much deeper insight into the potential ramifications for your company and the customers it serves.
The tool is designed to:
Provide a useful, quantitative look at potential compliance options based upon planned and/or forecast generation capacity additions and retirements
Allow public power utilities to evaluate their potential compliance position
Provide deep insight into the potential ramifications for utilities and their customers
Utilities may also find the model useful for integrated resource planning.
The Clean Power Plan Modeling Tool is free to APPA members. Upon ordering, the user will receive an email with instructions on accessing the tool.
New alternatives to conventional generation are already changing capacity planning, portfolio evaluation and resource procurement decisions. Many planners—even experienced ones—may be wondering how to address these issues while still ensuring reliable and economic operation of the bulk power system.
This course will show attendees how to plan their future resource mix in the face of uncertainty. They will gain an understanding of the effect public policies, such as environmental regulations, have on the resource mix and system operations. Presentations will cover strategies for successfully integrating variable resources, storage technologies and demand-response programs into a comprehensive plan.
The agenda is designed to offer something for professionals involved in every aspect of power delivery, from utility system planners and power system operators to emerging technology vendors. Developers of transmission, renewable energy, energy storage and demand-response projects will benefit from the course, as will regulators and lawmakers.
Learn from experts The instructors bring decades of experience in resource planning to an information-packed schedule. Attendees will learn planning basics, including commonly used calculations, from Michael Henderson, the Regional Planning and Coordination director for Independent System Operator New England. Brian Walshe, president of ION Consulting, will discuss how these principles apply to specific scenarios and how factors like regulations, environmental policies and fuel supplies can affect them.
The case of Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) offers a close look at the real-world impact of aggressive renewable energy goals on resource planning. HECO Renewable Energy Planning Director Dora Nakfuji will be on hand to share her utility’s experiences.
Here to help The EPTC will continue to be a resource to help utilities keep pace with rapid-fire changes in the electric industry. Randy Manion, Western’s Renewable Resource Program manager, will discuss plans to enhance the training center’s course offerings to include advanced renewable integration training using the EPTC’s unique model power system. Dr. Bri-Mathias Hodge, manager for the Power System Design and Studies Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will join Manion to talk about NREL’s Visually Informed Wind Forecasting Decision Making Platform Project.
“The EPTC is moving forward on several fronts to make this happen,” said Manion. “We have partnerships underway with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory involving advanced visualization tools for control room operators. We are establishing an EPTC Utility Working group with support from some of the electric utilities leading the country in actively addressing renewable integration. Also, Western is developing an EPTC roadmap with our core partners including the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers,” he added.
Resource Planning for Power Systems will take place at the EPTC in Golden, Colorado, convenient to several hotels and restaurants. The cost is $795, with discounts available for government employees, including municipalities. If you work for a government agency, wish to register multiple people, have questions or need more information, please contact the registrar at 720-491-1173.
As many California utilities scramble to replace hydropower megawatts drying up in the ongoing drought—and raise their rates sharply to pay for that electricity—Silicon Valley Power’s (SVP) more moderate increases keep their rates among the lowest in the state, thanks to a diverse portfolio.
“For utilities with more than 5,000 customers, Silicon Valley Power’s average system rate is thelowest in California [EIA – form 861, 2013 data],” stated Larry Owens, SVP customer services manager.
SVP’s decades-long investment in a diverse mix of resources saved its customers more than $100 million last year, compared to the rates paid in neighboring communities. The city of Santa Clara municipal electric utility credits the “whole portfolio” approach with its ability to maintain a rate advantage over surrounding communities during historic drought.
For 2014, more than 36 percent of SVP’s electricity came from renewable resources including geothermal, solar, landfill gas, wind and eligible hydropower. Natural gas and large hydropower from Western make up the bulk of the conventional generation, rounded out with a small amount of coal and other resources.
Diversify three ways Fuel sources are not the only thing about SVP’s portfolio that is diverse, but it is primary to their approach. Power comes from wind turbines in the state of Washington, geothermal and small hydro from all over northern California and a utility-scale solar plant in Kern County, California. In-town resources include a 147-megawatt (MW) combined-cycle plant, a 7-MW co-generation plant, 750 kilowatts (kW) of landfill gas power and 500 kW of solar.
Geographic diversity—when power resources are spread over a wide territory—helps reduce single-point-of-failure risk from extreme weather, transmission congestion and even earthquakes.
Ownership is the third aspect of the “triple diversity” strategy SVP uses to balance its portfolio. Most of the electricity is purchased through power purchase agreements and joint power agency contracts, but SVP owns or co-owns a natural gas power plant, some hydropower facilities and photovoltaic arrays. In addition to the SVP-owned local arrays at Jenny Strand Research Park and the Tasman Parking Structure at Levi’s Stadium, business and residential customers contributed 11.4 MW of installed capacity in 2014. “By not relying too much on one particular provider or one type of contract, SVP has created a very stable platform to keep rates affordable,” explained Owens.
Playing long game That was the scenario that originally motivated SVP to pursue diversification in the 1980s when it was still a full-service taker from Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E). “The first energy embargo was a wake-up call for our city leaders. They realized that moving away from a profit-motivated, sole source provider and seeking freedom from volatile fuel prices was key to providing affordable, reliable electricity to its customers,” Owens said. “Renewable energy in particular could help SVP achieve its environmental goals.”
Hydropower from Western and wind from the Altamont Pass wind turbines were the first carbon-free resources into SVP’s (power) pool in 1985, followed by geothermal power from the North Bay Area in 1988. “Geothermal is a great fit for our needs,” said Owens said. “It is such a reliable base-load resource for our customers.”
The solar power portion of SVP’s portfolio has been growing rapidly in the last few years, thanks to dropping equipment prices, the utility’s generous support for customer systems and California’s renewable portfolio standard. The state must get 33 percent of its retail electricity sales from renewables by 2020.
SVP has already met the state’s 33-percent goal, but the utility will continue to evaluate new renewable resources to meet its continued growth in retail sales and to address the expectation of even higher renewable requirements. Currently, SVP has more capacity than load, “So we can shop around for the options that best meet our ‘triple diversity’ criteria,” observed Owens. “Even though we are in a severe drought now, equipping existing small hydro dams with high-efficiency turbines is an approach that still has some potential opportunities,” he added. “With a surplus of both capacity and renewable energy, SVP has many opportunities to sell into the renewable and non-renewable markets available in California.”
Recognizing opportunity and knowing when to seize it has given Silicon Valley Power a drought-resistant portfolio, brag-worthy rates and a solid foundation for meeting future challenges. Because keeping rates low, complying with regulation and protecting the community’s resources for the next generation is simply too big a job for one resource alone.
Renewable energy technology is so diverse and evolving so quickly that it can be difficult to determine if a resource is going to be the right fit for your power portfolio. Utility resource managers can gain a better understanding of the capabilities and constraints of different renewable technologies from a new on-demand training series from the Federal Energy Management Program (FEMP).
This updated series of e-learning courses, focused on renewable energy technology applications for federal sites, will have much to offer utility professionals as well. Participants will learn how to evaluate and select the technologies that are most effective for their specific sites. Presentations will also cover integration of intermittent renewable energy into the grid. Each course offers 0.1 CEU (continuing education unit).
Covering bases The series highlights six forms of renewable energy and concludes with a course addressing interconnection.
Solar Thermal and Concentrating Solar Power Technology: Discover the non-PV applications for solar energy, such as solar ventilation air preheating, solar water heating, types of solar collectors, dish engine technology, parabolic troughs, linear Fresnel systems and power towers.
Wind Energy Technology: Learn about types of towers, and scale-oriented wind applications, and find out how to evaluate wind resources and site turbines.
Biomass Technologies: Gain an understanding of biomass sources and conversion processes, including direct combustion, gasification and pyrolysis.
Hydropower and Ocean Energy Technologies: This overview of hydropower covers dams, micro-hydro and run-of river, as well as ocean energy technologies for wave, tidal, current and ocean thermal energy conversion.
Geothermal Energy Technologies: Discover the benefits and challenges of open- and closed-loop ground source heat pumps as well as dry steam, flash steam and binary cycle geothermal power technologies.
Partnering with best
The instructor for this series is Andy Walker, Ph.D., principal engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. At NREL, Walker conducts engineering and economic analysis of renewable energy projects for FEMP and other non-governmental clients.
FEMP is hosting the series in partnership with the Whole Building Design Guide, a program of the National Institute of Building Sciences. These interactive courses are designed to support the Federal Building Personnel Training Act competencies, and to provide up-to-date information needed by federal energy, water and sustainability managers.
At your convenience Like all FEMP e-learning seminars, the Renewable Energy Technology Applications series is free to all interested individuals, and you do not need to travel to attend. The courses are available on-demand, and are self-tracking and self-paced. You will need a computer with Google Chrome, Firefox 4.0+, Internet Explorer 7.0+ or Safari, and the Adobe Flash player or Adobe Flash 9+ plug-in to participate.
There is no better time—or price—to expand your knowledge of the expanding energy choices available to utilities. Register today, or contact the FEMP training manager at 202-586-7753 for more information.