Research

A Collaborative Vision for Clean Local Energy  

In case you missed it, collaboration is in vogue these days, despite, or perhaps because of, partisan divides. 

Collaboration among public institutions is essential when change is required.  Especially when the institutions are mutually dependent. For example, if counties and cities encourage the adoption of new technologies that use or produce energy locally, planning and delivery of energy utility services is affected. If energy utilities offer programs that engage their customers in changing the energy infrastructure inside buildings or vehicles, local governments must account for these changes in their code enforcement, project permitting, and non-energy infrastructure planning and maintenance activities.

What’s seems to move the local carbon footprint needle best and fastest is the cumulative effect of a lot of individual decisions US families and businesses are mostly free to make.  At a minimum they require good credit and modest, prudent initiative.  Local governments and energy utilities can make such decisions easier or harder.  Easier if they collaborate.  Much harder if they don’t.  What would local energy collaboration look like if it became the norm across the US?  To read more, click here.

State Policies for Local Energy Collaboration

A year ago, IRESN launched a project to identify state policies that would kick-start purposeful city/utility collaboration.  Project advisors pointed out the crucial role counties could play.  So, the project title changed to “local energy collaboration”. The Local Energy Collaboration Project illuminated ten target areas for collaboration, plus some preliminary policy ideas for consideration by states, energy utilities, counties and cities.  A draft report is under review.  For the executive summary, click here.  For the full draft report, click here.  For a webinar and slide deck covering the high points, click here and here

Integrated Energy Policy.  We plan to complete the report review process while reaching out to states.  Our first state outreach step was to comment on the scope of California’s Integrated Energy Policy Report.  To read more, click here.

Local Collaboration for Energy Resilience and Sustainability

As the energy sector in the US decentralizes, decarbonizes, democratizes, demonopolizes and digitizes, city/utility collaboration will pay huge dividends.  But there is not yet strong, explicit policy support for it in most states.  State legislatures and agencies have close relationships with state regulated utilities and local jurisdictions.  So, state policy may be the key.  States have the necessary relationships and authorities to set expectations and conditions for city/utility collaboration. 

IRESN's project to inform state policy on the topic is progressing and on track to provide initial recommendations in early 2019.  To read more, click here

Net Positive Electricity: Insights from Home, Church and City Projects

Net Positive Electricity: Insights from Home, Church and City Projects

Net zero building retrofits were identified in a Cal-IRES report as a key element of a renewable energy roadmap for Davis, California. In the past year I’ve had opportunities to smoke the devil out of the details of this vision. I purchased a PV system for our home, negotiated a solar electricity power purchase agreement for our church, and worked with a few like-minded colleagues to advocate for applying net zero as a standard for a new residential development in the city. In parallel, in the 2013 legislative session our state senator, Lois Wolk, successfully carried legislation that carved out 20MW for the city in a bill that mandates 600MW of "solar gardens" state-wide.

Can Renewables and Natural Gas (NG) Help Each Other?

Can Renewables and Natural Gas (NG) Help Each Other?

The classical planning view would be that in an electric generation mix, higher capital cost/ lower fuel cost generators and higher fuel cost/ lower capital cost generators complement one another, resulting in a least cost generation mix.  There are also other complementarities, e.g. overlapping science and technology needs (think enhanced geothermal and natural gas fracking).  Likewise, there is a potential at least for shared infrastructure (think injection of bio-methane and later hydrogen from renewable sources into gas pipelines and distribution systems).

What is Renewable Energy Integration?

What is Renewable Energy Integration?

When we use the term “renewable integration” to describe IRESN’s focus, what do we mean? Integration with what?  In what context?  

IRESN has been active in certain major dimensions of renewable integration.  They are:

  • Project integration
  • Infrastructure integration
  • Money integration
  • Societal integration

Without some examples, these terms don’t help much either.  So, for example

Smart Cities and Community Choice Energy

Smart Cities and Community Choice Energy

IRESN Comments to the California Public Utilities Commission Hearing on  Community Choice Aggregation Issues, February 1, 2017

The on-going rapid expansion of Community Choice Energy (Community Choice) in California is a breakthrough opportunity for successful deployment of economic, efficient and environmentally responsible local energy resources into competitive energy markets.

Are Renewable Energy Subsidies an Unprecedented Budget Buster?

Are Renewable Energy Subsidies an Unprecedented Budget Buster?

Subsidies from government to new technologies or industries date back hundreds of years in the U. S. The purpose of subsidies is generally to give exciting new technologies a boost in helping fund the cost of starting up until its’ cost of production is competitive with older, less desirable methods. Subsidies keep prices for consumers below market levels or for producers above market levels, or reduce costs for consumers and producers. Subsidies have also been introduced to increase production of a product whose national need has increased due to war or other national calamity.

Energy Finance: A Brief History

Energy Finance: A Brief History

Looking back through the short history of man's use of and eventually dependence upon electricity illustrates the nature and complexity of this evolution, how it's organized and how it's financed. In California as in the US, mature, centralized electrical energy grid infrastructures exist. Transitioning to clean, climate friendly and smarter electricity systems means bringing innovative, capital intensive, and increasingly decentralized power sector infrastructure on stream.

Integrated Renewable Energy for Communities

Integrated Renewable Energy for Communities

(The following article by Gerry Braun was published on September 1, 2015 in Renewable Energy World.  It included content from the executive summary of an IRESN report entitled Integrated Energy Analysis for Davis, California.  Click here for the Renewable Energy World article and here for a pdf of the full report.)

Thanks to cost-effective rooftop solar electricity, new neighborhoods in California are generating their own electricity from the start.  Likewise, local grids serving settled communities are being strengthened by deployment of local sources, smarter end use, and electricity storage.  Regulators are considering new grid architectures that allow each local grid to be operated according to its unique blend of local and imported supply and evolving usage patterns.