APPA News

By Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted September 14, 2017 

The Environmental Protection Agency expects EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt to sign a proposed rule related to the review of the Clean Power Plan, or CPP, this fall. According to various news reports the proposed rule will rescind the CPP and possibly signal EPA's intent to issue a new regulation on carbon emissions from power plants.

The EPA on Sept. 7 filed a 30-day status report with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit on the progress of its review of the CPP while the litigation of that rule is held in abeyance. The report states: "At this time, EPA expects that the Administrator will sign the proposed rule in the fall of 2017."

By Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted September 11, 2017 

Kevin McIntyre, President Trump’s pick to become chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, on Sept. 7 underscored the point that FERC’s role does not include choosing fuels for the generation of electricity.

He made his comments at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing convened to consider McIntyre’s nomination to serve as a FERC commissioner.

Also in attendance at the hearing was Richard Glick, a FERC commissioner nominee, as well as Joseph Balash, nominee to be Assistant Secretary of the Interior for Land and Minerals Management, and Ryan Nelson, nominee to be Solicitor of the Department of the Interior.

McIntyre is currently a partner in the Jones Day law firm in Washington, D.C., heading its global energy practice and Glick noted in his testimony that he has had the opportunity to work on a number of major energy issues over is career. Most recently, Glick has served as general counsel for the Democratic staff of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee. 

By Jeannine Anderson
APPA News Editor
Posted September 11, 2017 

On Sept. 6, the House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy held the third in its series of “Powering America” hearings, entitled “Powering America: Reevaluating PURPA’s Objectives and Its Effects on Today’s Consumers.” Electricity industry stakeholders discussed the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA, its current effects on consumers, and whether it should be updated by Congress.
 
Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich., chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, said in his opening statement that PURPA was intended to promote energy conservation and support the use of domestic energy, including renewable resources. He noted that Congress, in enacting the Energy Policy Act of 2005, made “some modest revisions” to PURPA. But Upton said that “tremendous changes” have occurred in the electricity industry over the last decade, a point that he said was underscored by the recent DOE staff report on the state of the U.S. grid.

Upton suggested opportunities for revisions to, among other things, the PURPA’s “mandatory purchase” provision, its “one mile rule,” and avoided cost calculations.

By Jeannine Anderson
APPA News Editor
Posted September 11, 2017

Over the past decade, retail electricity prices “have not closely followed the costs of fuels used to generate electricity, such as coal or natural gas,” mainly because of changes in the other costs involved with producing and delivering electricity in the United States, the Energy Information Administration said Sept. 7.

Even though the cost of natural gas — one of the main fuels for producing electricity — has declined over the last 10 years, the average retail price of electricity in the U.S. has risen, the EIA said in its Today in Energy publication.

The average retail price of electric power has gone up by about 1.5 percent a year between 2006 and 2016, about the same as the 1.6 percent per year general rate of inflation over those years, the agency said. In contrast, natural gas prices for U.S. electric generators have fallen at an average rate of 8.4 percent a year since 2006, the EIA said.

By Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted September 5, 2017 

The House Energy and Commerce Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy in September will hold hearings that will explore potential revisions to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), consider electric reliability issues and review and the Department of Energy’s recently released staff report on electric markets and reliability.

The House Energy Subcommittee announced on Aug. 30 that it will continue its “Powering America” series of hearings on electric power markets, generation, distribution, consumption, and grid resiliency with two hearings in September.

The series began on July 18 with a hearing entitled “Powering America: Examining the State of the Electric Industry through Market Participant Perspectives.” At that hearing, AMP Senior Vice President and General Counsel Lisa McAlister testified on current issues and developments in the electricity sector, and the American Public Power Association drafted a statement for the record.

By Jeannine Anderson
APPA News Editor
Posted September 1, 2017 

Investor-owned utility Xcel Energy, backed by a coalition of 14 diverse consumer and energy groups, are asking the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to approve a proposal called the Colorado Energy Plan that they say could lead to $2.5 billion in clean energy investments in rural Colorado.

Xcel Energy and the other groups — including the City of Boulder — are asking the PUC to approve a process that the company said would augment its portfolio of renewable resources and would not raise rates for Colorado electricity customers.

The proposal, called a “stipulation,” would modify Xcel Energy’s current 2016 Electric Resource Plan. In addition to expanding renewable energy, it also calls for the possible early retirement of two coal-fired generating units in southern Colorado.

By Paul Ciampoli
APPA News Director
Posted September 1, 2017 

Michigan’s Lansing Board of Water and Light and groSolar on Aug. 29 announced the start of construction of a utility-scale solar project in Michigan.

The project, first announced in December 2015, was delayed because the original site proved unsuitable for construction of the project, BWL noted in a news release.

"This solar energy project expands and diversifies our renewable energy portfolio for our customers," said BWL General Manager Richard Peffley. "Solar energy projects like this will feed directly into the BWL’s distribution system and supply power during the summer peak demand period.”

The approximately 24-megawatt AC solar array is expected to generate approximately 45,000 megawatt-hours annually. BWL customers will receive power generated by the solar array by the summer of 2018 through a power purchase agreement between groSolar, a solar power development, engineering, procurement and construction firm, and BWL.  

The project is estimated to create over 150 temporary full time construction jobs and generate approximately $5 million in wages, BWL noted.

By Lori Singleton
director of customer programs and operations support, Salt River Project
Posted on September 1, 2017

The Desert Botanical Garden, located in Phoenix, Arizona, is home to more than 50,000 desert plant displays that thrive on the sunshine of the desert Southwest. Each year more than 600,000 people visit the 140-acre garden to learn about the desert ecosystem and explore the natural setting.

Now, thanks to the generosity of Salt River Project customers, the conservation-focused organization meets some of its own energy needs through the sun.

Our Solar for Nonprofits program helped finance the installation of a solar photovoltaic system on the rooftops of four Desert Botanical Garden buildings. The systems cumulatively add up to 100 kilowatts of emission-free, green energy to the Desert Botanical Garden’s Horticulture Center, Weisz Learning Center, Marley Education and Volunteer Building, and Ottosen Gallery. The organization expects the installation will help them to save nearly $13,000 a year on their electric bills.

By Bob Matyi
APPA Contributing Writer
Posted August 30, 2017

Duke Energy Florida will spend $1 billion to add 700 MW of solar energy over the next four years and forego recovery of more than $150 million from customers for an abandoned nuclear project under a revised settlement filed Tuesday with the Florida Public Service Commission.

Among the key parties that signed onto the deal, in addition to Duke, were the Florida Office of Public Counsel, Florida Industrial Power Users Group, Florida Retail Federation and the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy.

By Jeannine Anderson
APPA News Editor
Posted August 30, 2017 

On Aug. 21, the Colorado Supreme Court granted a petition filed by the City of Boulder, Colorado, asking the high court to review a lower court’s decision in a case involving the city’s effort to create a local electric utility. The court order stems from a challenge originally filed by Xcel Energy in 2014.
 
Boulder, a city of 100,000, located 35 miles northwest of Denver, has sought for the last several years to find a way to reduce the carbon content of its energy supply and has been pursuing the option of creating a local public power utility as one way of doing that.
In a news release, Boulder outlined the history of the case.