Today’s lede: Spending on Nevada electricity choice ballot question more than for pivotal senate contest. Politico reporters Darius Dixon and Eric Wolff report on the “billionaire’s brawl” between Warren Buffett’s NV Energy utility and Las Vegas Sands owner Sheldon Adelson to determine Question 3 on Nevada’s ballot. The tens of millions of dollars dedicated to swaying voters over the electricity choice ballot measure has topped spending for the state’s pivotal Senate race between incumbent Republican Dean Heller and Democrat Jacky Rosen, a nationally watched contest that could determine whether the Trump administration faces an opposition Senate next year.
“More than a dozen states have broken up their electric monopolies over the past quarter century in favor of competitive markets, but Nevada would be the first to do so by ballot initiative. Squashing the amendment in Nevada could help stave off similar challenges to utilities in other states where regulated monopolies have dominated — and made steady cash — for a century,” Dixon and Wolff write.
Why firefighters, law enforcement groups oppose Question 3. Nevada firefighters and law enforcement groups strongly oppose Question 3 because it’s a risky constitutional amendment that would leave Nevada consumers with higher electricity rates, fewer consumer protections and a less reliable electricity system.
Other electric industry news items of interest:
PJM to test blockchain for trading for renewables. Blockchain, the technology that underpins cryptocurrency transactions, is about to get tested in a trading system for matching clean-energy buyers and sellers in the largest U.S. power market. PJM Interconnection LLC and Energy Web Foundation are developing a digital ledger system to track electricity from wind and solar power plants as it’s produced, delivered, traded and sold, according to Jaclynn Lukach, vice president of PJM’s environmental information services unit. They expect to start a pilot program by the end of the first quarter. It’s a big test for an emerging technology that developers say has the potential to make transactions faster and cheaper, through a secure trading platform that can attract more participation than existing mechanisms.
Pa. township manager calls for legislation to prop up nuclear power. Unless our state Legislature and governor fix broken energy policy, we are less than one year away from the Three Mile Island Generating Station’s permanent closure. Unfortunately, current energy policy places nuclear energy at a disadvantage in Pennsylvania. The “clock is ticking” on a solution that will not only save 675 good-paying jobs in our community, but also protect thousands of jobs for other nuclear power plant employees and skilled laborers who work as contractors in plants across the state to keep them safely and efficiently running. Fixing our state’s broken energy policy would also keep our air clean and ensure the reliability of our power grid.
S.C. regulators begin hearings on cost recovery for failed nuclear plant. Fifteen months after two S.C. utilities abandoned their decadelong effort to build two new nuclear reactors in Fairfield County, teams of lawyers will duke it out during a month-long hearing to decide who — S.C. residents or their utility and its owners — will be stuck with those gargantuan costs. At stake when the S.C. Public Service Commission meets Thursday is how big the power bills of SCE&G customers will be in the future. The Cayce-based utility’s own future also is on the line in one of the lengthiest and most complex rate cases the PSC ever has held. A ruling that favors customers could send SCE&G — once the darling of South Carolina’s business community — spiraling toward bankruptcy.
Santee Cooper wants $351 million in merger benefits from Dominion’s SCANA acquisition. If Virginia-based Dominion Energy gets the state’s OK to purchase SCANA, making refunds to its S.C. electric customers who paid $2 billion for a failed nuclear project, Santee Cooper wants a cut, too. In a Friday afternoon filing, the state-owned minority partner in SCANA’s $9 billion V.C. Summer expansion project asked the S.C. Public Service Commission to require that Dominion and SCANA set aside $351 million for Santee Cooper. The money would go for refunds or lower power bills for the roughly 2 million South Carolinians who rely on Santee Cooper’s electricity, either directly or through a co-op, Santee Cooper spokeswoman Mollie Gore said Friday. In the filing, Santee Cooper argues the PSC can approve SCANA’s purchase only if it serves the public interest of South Carolina. But, currently, Dominion’s buyout proposal takes care of only customers of SCANA subsidiary SCE&G, Santee Cooper’s attorneys wrote.
Former Nevada regulator endorses renewable energy ballot measure. Today, we can demonstrate that that early investment continues to pay dividends. In the past decade, we have seen the price of renewable energy projects drop drastically — now cheaper than fossil fuels — with solar costs decreasing by more than 80 percent. The cheapest project proposal in this nation this year was in Nevada. We expect prices will get even lower. That’s why we need to continue our support and vote “yes” on Question 6, which will double our current standard to 50 percent by 2030.
W.Va. utilities chided for ‘power play’ aiming to ‘strangle’ solar. About eight years ago, my husband and I installed solar panels on our farm in Calhoun County. The panels provide about 35 percent of our total electricity. In our rural area, power outages are frequent and it has been common to lose power for many consecutive days. Our solar and battery storage system provides security so that our critical appliances, especially the water pump, which provides household water from the well, and the deep freezer, which preserves food that took countless hours to raise and put up, stay operational even when Mon Power’s power is out for many days at a time. Our investment is now at risk, thanks to Mon Power and Appalachian Power. These utilities are asking the Public Service Commission to drastically reduce the rate at which solar homeowners are compensated for the power we produce.
N.J. assemblyman touts state’s pivot to renewables. The people of our state overwhelmingly favor renewable energy — like wind and solar — and they want us to move to a completely clean energy future faster than we are heading today.
American Sustainable Business Council endorses bill to make D.C. carbon neutral. Hundreds of mayors throughout the United States have taken up the challenge and pledged to transition their cities to 100 percent clean energy by 2035. Here at home, Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) has pledged to move the District to becoming a carbon-neutral city by 2050. D.C. Council member Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3) introduced the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Act of 2018 in July. Let’s get going and pass this common-sense bill. Our residents and businesses deserve no less.
N.H. governor lauded for making high electricity costs a priority. Here in New Hampshire, we are faced with some of the highest electricity rates in the nation. Gov. Chris Sununu immediately recognized the need to address energy costs. In an effort to get those costs down, or at least keep them from getting any higher, he took action by eliminating the electric consumption tax in his version of the state budget. Gov. Sununu knows it is critical to tackle electric rates in whatever way possible to ensure that families don’t have to make the hard decisions about what bills to pay, and so that we keep businesses of all sizes in the state employing our people and growing our economy.
Judge rejects claim Connecticut illegally raided ratepayer funds to balance budget. A U.S. District Court judge in New Haven has rejected claims made by a coalition of utility ratepayer and consumer advocacy groups claiming that Connecticut government officials lacked the authority necessary to raid energy efficiency and clean-power programs in order to balance the state’s budget. Judge Janet C. Hall issued her 27-page ruling late Thursday. In her ruling, Hall contends the legal language which allows the state’s electric utilities to collect ratepayer money for projects that improve energy efficiency and pay for renewable energy doesn’t explicitly prohibit those funds for any other purposes.
Consumer watchdog decries re-nomination of Los Angeles ratepayer advocate. The re-nomination for a second term of the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power’s ratepayer advocate, Fred Pickel, by a city-appointed committee is a betrayal of all of the municipal utility’s ratepayers, Consumer Watchdog said today. The Mayor and City Council should reject the recommendation or abolish the Office of Public Accountability that Pickel heads, the group said. “Choosing to nominate Fred Pickel to another 5-year contract at nearly $300,000 a year without even talking to some of the most qualified applicants for the job betrays all DWP ratepayers,” said consumer advocate Liza Tucker. “It had nothing to do with picking a true ratepayer advocate to protect the interests of ratepayers and everything to do with Mayor Eric Garcetti and City Council President Herb Wesson wanting a rubber-stamper of DWP decisions.”
Officials warn area residents about door-to-door utilities scammers. An anonymous caller reported to HARCATUS Family Support staff that people are going door-to-door in Newcomerstown asking residents to let them see their utility bills to confirm that they have received their $50 gift card credit. “To our knowledge, the Ohio Percent of Income Payment Plan Plus (PIPP Plus) has not authorized this activity,” said Michele Lucas, Community Services Director for HARCATUS Tri-County CAO, Inc. “We consider it to be a scam. Please do not give personal information of any kind to strangers, who cannot properly identify themselves.”
Energy alternatives on the rise in Michigan–slowly. Residents pay less for electricity from the grid when they produce some energy themselves from solar, wind and other alternative sources, according to a recent report. But their efforts still don’t make up much of the state’s energy needs. The energy from alternative sources produced in Michigan by energy users increased from 21,888 kilowatts in 2016 to 29,571 kilowatts in 2017, according to the report by the Public Services Commission. That’s a 35 percent increase, but it makes up only 0.032 percent of Michigan’s retail electricity sales.
Portland General Electric to award 100 MW of renewables. Portland General Electric is on track to award several 20-year contracts for a cumulative 100 MW of renewable energy generation by the end of this year, with short-list proposed projects including wind, solar, and battery storage.
Sunrun challenging Tesla in the home solar business. “It is all but guaranteed that Sunrun will emerge as the top residential solar installer in the U.S.,” said Allison Mond, a senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie, which provides consulting on various issues including energy and renewables. “Tesla’s residential solar business is in rapid decline as the company has cut many sales channels.” Wood Mackenzie, which tracks and supplies solar data for the Solar Energy Industries Association, says Tesla accounts for 9.3 percent of residential solar installations nationwide this year, followed by Sunrun at 9.0 percent, in a fragmented industry. In 2015, SolarCity had one-third of the market while Sunrun had 5 percent.
Buddhist monks start electricity retail business in Japan. A company in Kyoto launched by Buddhist monks will begin selling electricity in western Japan in April next year as part of efforts to combat global warming, a representative of the business said. In cooperation with Miyama Power HD in Fukuoka Prefecture, TERA Energy aims to sell electricity generated only from renewable sources, including utilizing photovoltaic solar panels and small hydropower generation. Initially, however, the company will sell power generated from traditional, non-renewable sources.