Smart Grid: How Does It Work and Why Do We Need It?

Posted by Brad Johnson Thu, 08 Jan 2009 17:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and MissionPoint Capital Partners invite you to a lunch briefing and demonstration discussing smart grid technology, what it is, how it can be used, and what key policy issues and market barriers affect its development. The need for a smart grid is increasingly recognized as policymakers at all levels of government look for ways to improve the energy efficiency of producing and using electricity in our homes, businesses, and public institutions. Many believe that a smart grid is a critical foundation for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and transitioning to a low-carbon economy. A smart grid entails technology applications that will allow an easier integration and higher penetration of renewable energy. It will be essential for accelerating the development and widespread usage of plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs) and their potential use as storage for the grid. Certainly, PHEVs have been of great interest in the Congress. Smart meters are a key component in the smart grid system that can help utilities balance demand, reduce expensive peak power use and provide a better deal for consumers by allowing them to see and respond to real-time pricing information through in-home displays, smart thermostats and appliances.

Congress may take up provisions related to a smart grid as part of the upcoming economic recovery package. Regardless, these issues will certainly be part of policy discussion as energy and climate legislation is considered in the 111th Congress. This briefing provides an opportunity to hear first-hand from a panel of experts about some of the demonstration projects and deployments underway, and lessons learned from those experiences. It is a chance to see and participate in a “hands-on” demonstration of smart grid applications. The briefing will also discuss existing federal/state barriers and various policy options to address them. Speakers for this event include:

  • Rep. Jay Inslee (D-WA)
  • Dan Abbasi, Senior Director, MissionPoint Capital Partners
  • Bill Vogel, Chief Executive Officer, Trilliant Networks
  • Dave Mohler, Chief Technology Officer, Duke Energy
  • Mike Carlson, Chief Information Officer, Xcel Energy
  • Bob Gilligan, Vice President, Transmission and Development, GE Energy
  • Michael Butts, Director of Advanced Metering Infrastructure, Baltimore Gas and Electric
  • Dan Delurey, Executive Director, Demand Response and Smart Grid Coalition
  • Eric Miller, Chief Solutions Officer, Trilliant Networks (Moderator)

This briefing is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served. No RSVP required. For more information, please contact Laura Parsons at lparsons@eesi.org or (202) 662-1884.

MissionPoint is an investment firm exclusively focused on financing the transition to a low-carbon economy. This is the first in a series of Hill briefings that MissionPoint is co-sponsoring to describe selected pieces of the low-carbon puzzle that it has experience evaluating, backing and strategically accelerating.

Renewable Energy and Transmission: Opportunities and Barriers

Posted by Wonk Room Fri, 13 Jun 2008 14:00:00 GMT

The Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) invites you to a briefing on the opportunities and barriers facing renewable energy development in the United States with regard to the electric transmission infrastructure. Like any infrastructure, the transmission grid is aging and needs upgrading to meet future load requirements. While the country has very large low and no-carbon energy resources, including a broad variety of renewable energy resources (solar, geothermal, wind, biomass and water power), the existing transmission grid was not designed to tap into all of these resources. The Western Governors’ Association (WGA) recently said, “A critical barrier to continued expansion of renewable energy in the region has been the lack of transmission lines to areas with the greatest potential.”

There is a significant backlog of renewable energy projects waiting to sign the interconnection agreements necessary to bring power to market. According to the Independent, thousands of wind turbines in the United States are sitting idle or failing to meet their full generating capacity because of a shortage of power lines able to transmit their electricity to the rest of the grid. A proposal for $6.4 billion of new power lines linking new wind farms with Texas’ public electricity grid, whose cost will be borne mainly by consumers, is proving politically controversial. The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) recently said, “There are large backlogs of interconnection requests around the country. . . .The result is that many good projects are unreasonably delayed, harming wind development nationally and harming many states’ ability to meet renewable energy goals.” Additional transmission concerns include cost allocation for new transmission, integration of intermittent resources and energy storage technologies, high upfront capital costs, integrated regional planning, the role of energy efficiency, conservation, demand response programs and distributed generation, and whether DOE transmission studies conducted under EPACT 05 are being done in a manner that takes into account the opportunities for renewable energy. Our speakers include:

  • Jon Wellinghoff, Commissioner, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC)
  • Robert Gramlich, Policy Director, American Wind Energy Association (AWEA)
  • Raymond Wuslich, Partner, Winston & Strawn LLP

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 (P.L. 109-58) requires the Department of Energy (DOE) to complete a study of the nation’s electric transmission congestion every three years. On May 28, DOE announced that it will work with the Western Governors’ Association (WGA) to identify areas in the West with substantial renewable energy resources and to expedite the development and delivery of that energy to meet regional energy needs. On September 20, 2007, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) introduced the Clean Renewable Energy and Economic Development Act (S. 2076) which would provide additional financing options for building new transmission lines and interconnections to areas rich with renewable energy resources. By designating renewable energy zones, where natural clean resources could generate at least 1,000 megawatts of power, the bill would establish a framework for developing new renewable energy-dedicated transmission. The Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources is expected to hold a hearing on renewable energy and transmission in the near future.

This briefing is free and open to the public. No RSVP required. Please forward this notice. For more information, contact Fred Beck at fbeck@eesi.org or 202-662-1892.

Freeing the Grid: Overcoming Barriers to Clean Energy Generation

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 04 Mar 2008 19:00:00 GMT

With prices for oil and gas higher than ever, energy independence is at the forefront of almost everyone’s mind. When your constituents ask you how they can take charge of their energy future while decreasing their monthly electric bills, what do you tell them? In some states model interconnection and net metering laws help individuals and businesses become a part of the solution, but in too many parts of the country the opportunities for renewable energy investment and green job growth are held up by nothing more than senseless policy barriers.

Representatives Jay Inslee and Roscoe Bartlett invite you to attend a briefing by the authors of “Freeing the Grid,” a report that details America’s patchwork of policies that make some states leaders in the booming renewable energy industry, while other states are left behind. You will learn how good net-metering and interconnection policies can help America develop a world-class renewable energy market, strengthen our domestic economy, protect our climate and our environment, increase electric grid stability, and reduce our dependence on costly peak energy.

Our panel of experts will also address how federal legislation, like the Home Energy Generation Act (H.R. 729) can address the problems, remove discrepancies between state policies and invigorate renewable energy deployment in your state AND throughout America.

Panelists include:
  • James Rose, Network for New Energy Choices (NNEC)
  • Chris Cook, SunEdison
  • Adam Browning, The Vote Solar Alliance

We hope that you or a member of your staff can attend, and we look forward to seeing you there. For more information, contact Liz Mustin at elizabeth.mustin@mail.house.gov or 202-225-6311.

House Renewable Energy Action: HR 3221 and HR 2776

Posted by Brad Johnson Tue, 31 Jul 2007 20:28:00 GMT

On July 30, Speaker Pelosi set the agenda for her energy independence initiative, which she had originally hoped to complete by July 4th. The legislative package will be introduced to the floor in two parts:
  • the Renewable Energy and Energy Conservation Tax Act of 2007 (HR 2776) from the Ways and Means Committee, reported out at the end of June
  • and the New Direction for Energy Independence, National Security, and Consumer Protection Act (HR 3221), which needs to be signed off by the relevant committees

HR 2776 provides tax incentives for renewable electricity production, biofuels, efficient appliances, plug-in hybrids, and renewable energy bonds. It pays for these incentives buy reducing oil and gas royalties and closing the “Hummer” tax loophole.

HR 3221 is a wide-ranging omnibus, under the jurisdiction of the following committees:
  • Education and Labor (Title I: green jobs)
  • Foreign Affairs (Title II: foreign assistance and trade)
  • Small Business (Title III: small business sustainability initiative)
  • Science and Technology (Title IV: research funding—HR 364, HR 906, HR 1933, HR 2773, HR 2774, HR 2304, HR 2313)
  • Agriculture (Title V: biofuels)
  • Oversight and Government Reform (Title VI: carbon-neutral government)
  • Natural Resources (Title VII: Energy Policy Act of 2005 reforms, changes in oil and gas royalties, wind energy, CCS, wildlife, oceans)
  • Transportation and Infrastructure (Title VIII: public transportation, highways, shipping, public buildings)
  • Energy and Commerce (Title IX: appliance, lighting, and building efficiency, smart grid, renewable fuel infrastructure, plug-in hybrids)
  • Armed Services (it’s unclear which components are under its jurisdiction)

All amendments to HR 3221 must be introduced by Wednesday afternoon. The Rules Committee will convene Thursday at 3 PM to establish the debate rules and timetable.

After the amendment process and ratification, the package will then go into conference to be reconciled with the Senate energy bill, SA 1502, passed mid-June.