Renewables on the grid: Putting the negative-price myth to bed

Three years ago, the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) rebutted arguments that occurrences of negative prices at nuclear plants in Illinois were frequently caused by wind energy. That “compelling” data led FERC Commissioner John Norris, who had previously discussed his concerns about negative prices, to affirm that “the focus on negative prices is a distraction.”
More recently, we have documented that many instances of negative prices are caused by conventional power plants.

AWEA has now made our prior analysis far more comprehensive by examining full-year 2016 price data for all retiring power plants in the main wholesale electricity markets that have a large amount of wind generation: PJM, MISO, SPP, and ERCOT.

AWEA has now made our prior analysis far more comprehensive by examining full-year 2016 price data for all retiring power plants in the main wholesale electricity markets that have a large amount of wind generation: PJM, MISO, SPP, and ERCOT.
The results, which we are releasing today for the first time, confirm that any instances of renewable policies like the Production Tax Credit (PTC) and state renewable standard credits being factored into market prices have a trivial impact on retiring power plants.

Across more than 1.8 million data points, which cover all 2016 pricing intervals in the day-ahead electricity market for all retiring power plants in those regions, only 55 instances of negative prices were found that could have been set by a wind project receiving the PTC. The analysis includes market price data for all power plants that have retired since 2012 or have announced plans to retire.

Our analysis focused on the day-ahead electricity market (the results bolded below), as that is where nuclear and coal generators sell most if not all of their generation. However, the results show that wind plants almost never set prices for an additional 2.4 million data points in the real-time electricity market as well. For more background on electricity markets and how prices are set, see the last section of this post.

In PJM and MISO, which account for a large share of all power plants in wholesale markets that are retiring nationwide, only 0.003 percent of day-ahead market prices at retiring power plants were in a range that could be set by a wind project receiving the PTC, as shown on the left side of the table. Occurrences of negative prices that could be wind-related were even less frequent in SPP, at 0.0017 percent of day-ahead market price intervals. Those occurrences were slightly more common at retiring plants in ERCOT, at 0.06 percent of price intervals, but it should be noted that there is only one retiring coal power plant in ERCOT.

To underscore the trivial impact of the PTC in setting market prices, the right side of the table shows how prices would change if wind projects receiving the PTC no longer received the credit. In PJM and MISO, conservatively assuming that all negative prices in that range were set by wind projects receiving the PTC, Day-Ahead Market prices at retiring power plants would increase by an average of $0.0007, or 1/13th of a penny per megawatt hour (MWh), if operating wind projects no longer received the PTC. Retiring power plants in SPP saw an even smaller impact at 1/25th of a penny, while the one retiring coal power plant in ERCOT saw an impact of around one penny per MWh.

It is important to clarify that the PTC does directly reduce consumer electricity costs outside of the electricity market. The PTC and other incentives allow wind projects to offer lower long-term contract prices to customers and the utilities who serve them, which translates into lower electric bills for consumers on a 1:1 basis.

However, those contract payments are outside of the wholesale electricity market, so they are not directly factored into the wholesale electricity market prices received by other generators.

The facts about energy incentives

In reality, the wind PTC has been a remarkable success in driving the American innovation and efficiency that have driven a two-third reduction in the cost of wind energy since 2009. The more than 102,500 Americans working in the wind industry today are creating a new industry with a bright future, bringing tens of billions of dollars in investment to rural areas and tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to America. Production-based incentives like the PTC have driven efficiency increases that make U.S. wind projects some of the most productive in the world.

In reality, the wind PTC has been a remarkable success in driving the American innovation and efficiency that have driven a two-third reduction in the cost of wind energy since 2009. The more than 102,500 Americans working in the wind industry today are creating a new industry with a bright future, bringing tens of billions of dollars in investment to rural areas and tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs to America. Production-based incentives like the PTC have driven efficiency increases that make U.S. wind projects some of the most productive in the world.    Regardless, Congress voted in December 2015 to phase down the wind PTC, and we are now in year three of that five-year phasedown period. Despite the recent focus on incentives for renewables, cumulatively wind energy has received only 3 percent of federal energy incentives, versus 86 percent for fossil and nuclear sources, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute and other experts. Given that the wind industry’s “tax reform” is already in place with the PTC phasedown legislation, we would welcome a comprehensive look at all forms of subsidies for all electricity sources.  Market dynamics are driving retirements  Market dynamics are benefiting consumers by driving retirement of older, less efficient resources in favor of more efficient resources. A wide range of experts agree that the primary factors driving power plant retirements and economic challenges for generators of all types are cheap natural gas and flat electricity demand.  The following map, compiled from Department of Energy data, shows that most retiring coal and nuclear plants are in regions that have little to no renewable generation, confirming that renewable energy or pro-renewable policies cannot be the primary factor driving those retirements.    Rather, the primary factor driving power plant retirements appears to be low-cost shale gas production undercutting relatively high-cost Appalachian and Illinois Basin coal in the Eastern U.S., as shown below. In the regions shaded red in the map, the fuel cost of producing electricity from natural gas is significantly
Regardless, Congress voted in December 2015 to phase down the wind PTC, and we are now in year three of that five-year phasedown period. Despite the recent focus on incentives for renewables, cumulatively wind energy has received only 3 percent of federal energy incentives, versus 86 percent for fossil and nuclear sources, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute and other experts. Given that the wind industry’s “tax reform” is already in place with the PTC phasedown legislation, we would welcome a comprehensive look at all forms of subsidies for all electricity sources.

Market dynamics are driving retirements

Market dynamics are benefiting consumers by driving retirement of older, less efficient resources in favor of more efficient resources. A wide range of experts agree that the primary factors driving power plant retirements and economic challenges for generators of all types are cheap natural gas and flat electricity demand.

The following map, compiled from Department of Energy data, shows that most retiring coal and nuclear plants are in regions that have little to no renewable generation, confirming that renewable energy or pro-renewable policies cannot be the primary factor driving those retirements.

Rather, the primary factor driving power plant retirements appears to be low-cost shale gas production undercutting relatively high-cost Appalachian and Illinois Basin coal in the Eastern U.S., as shown below. In the regions shaded red in the map, the fuel cost of producing electricity from natural gas is significantly lower than the fuel cost of coal power plants, explaining why utilities in those regions are moving from coal to natural gas generation.

For the entire story on the AWEA blog, MICHAEL GOGGIN, JULY 18, 2017

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How to Select a Green Lodge when Traveling, Part 1

You are a person who puts active thought into eco-practices at home, but what happens when you go on vacation? Do you ever wonder “Where Can I Find a ‘Green’ Hotel or B&B?” or “How Can I Tell the Difference Between an Authentic Eco Lodge and One That Is Not?” or “Is There a Reliable Directory I Can Use?” If you have asked those questions, you’re in good company. But the answers are surprisingly complicated.

Here’s the reality: there is no one universal authority or definitive tool that eco-conscious consumers can turn to for sourcing “green” vacation accommodations.


With hundreds of countries around the world – all with different government agencies, infrastructure, politics, regulations, and living standards – it is a most difficult task to devise a uniform platform.

In a pinch, that’s the bad news.

The good news is that the ecotourism industry is relatively young and evolving quickly. More consumers are demanding “eco-friendly” travel options, so there will be a response in kind from the industry. More information will become available via online directories and useful apps ready to download to your smart phone or tablet.——————————————————————————————————

Costa Rica is a top-ranked destination for “green” vacations. Click here to learn more about a jungle lodge and rafting adventures down the Pacuare River in Costa Rica – https://www.ecotourlinq.com/blog/spotlight-interview-with-rios-tropicales

Photo: Rafting on the Pacuare River  Photo credit: Rios Tropicales
Photo: Rafting on the Pacuare River Photo credit: Rios Tropicales

What does a green lodge look like? Well the facility can be any number of things – a working ranch or farm, a seaside hotel, a mountain inn, a jungle lodge (on the ground or in the trees), a small village B&B, a desert bunker, a campground, or a dormitory-style hostel. Frequently these accommodations will be located inside or near a national park or possibly a World Heritage Site.
Coming up in Part 2 – Tourism Bureaus and Ecotourism Associations

Guest Writer Bio: Deborah Regen is the publisher of a website directory and blog dedicated to consumer information about ecotourism and sustainable travel. She also sends out a free monthly e-newsletter to subscribers including notices of giveaways. https://www.EcoTourLinQ.com and her email = admin@ecotourlinq.com

JAGUAR ELECTRIFIES WITH I-PACE ELECTRIC CAR

– The I-PACE Electric Vehicle accelerates to 60 mph in around 4 seconds, and features a 90kWh battery with an estimated range of 220 miles (EPA cycle)(1)
– Driver-focused all-wheel-drive performance from twin-electric motors generating 516-lb ft of torque and 400hp(1)

– To be one of the first owners go to jaguarusa.com and click the ‘I want one’ button

This Jaguar I-PACE will be on the road in 2018. Customers can register now at jaguarusa.com to be one of the first I-PACE owners.
Jaguar’s engineering and design teams have torn up the rule book to create a bespoke electric architecture, matched with dramatic design. The result is a no-compromise smart, five seat sports car and a performance SUV in one.

Ian Callum, Director of Design, said: “The I-PACE Concept represents the next generation of electric vehicle design. It’s a dramatic, future-facing cab-forward design with a beautiful interior – the product of authentic Jaguar DNA, electric technology and contemporary craftsmanship.”

Dr Wolfgang Ziebart, Technical Design Director, Jaguar Land Rover, said: “This is an uncompromised electric vehicle designed from a clean sheet of paper: we’ve developed a new architecture and selected only the best technology available. The I-PACE Concept fully exploits the potential EVs can offer in space utilization, driving pleasure and performance.”

The electric motors and 90kWh lithium-ion battery pack were designed in-house by Jaguar Land Rover to give the best possible performance and range for most daily commutes.

For rapid charging, using a public 50kW DC charging network, a full charge will take just over two hours. Enough to deliver an estimated 220 miles range (measured on the US EPA test cycle)(1).

The I-PACE transforms the electric driving experience and offers the driver-focused performance and response Jaguar is renowned for. To help deliver this, the I-PACE has electric motors on the front and rear axles. Their combined output is 400hp and 516-lb ft. of torque(1) – the same torque rating as the F-TYPE SVR.

Ian Callum said: “The interior of the I-PACE is finished with beautiful, premium materials and an unwavering attention to detail. Throughout the interior you will discover a host of beautiful details to surprise and delight. From the expansive panoramic glass roof to the sporting, beautifully finished seats, every feature bears the hallmark of British craftsmanship.

“And there is digital craftsmanship too, with two touch screens serving up information when and where you need it, limiting distraction and improving the driving experience”

The I-PACE Electric Vehicle accelerates to 60 mph in around 4 seconds, and features a 90kWh battery with an estimated range of 220 miles (EPA cycle)(1) – Driver-focused all-wheel-drive performance from twin-electric motors generating 516-lb ft of torque and 400hp(1)
“Jaguar, by embracing cutting-edge technology in this way, has created an experience rich and rewarding for its consumers. It has undoubtedly redefined the future of how automotive brands introduce their new vehicles to customers.”.

All pricing and figures for acceleration, power, speed, range and charging are Manufacturer’s estimates based on best information available at time of publication. Jaguar I-PACE production vehicles will be tested and certified prior to release, with official figures available prior to any customer order.

Sources: Jaguar http://www.jaguarusa.com and Jaguar Land Rover 

Green Homes in Texas Add $25,000 Resale Value, Study Finds

Washington, D.C. – (July 11, 2017) – A new study from The University of Texas at Austin and the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) finds that new homes in Texas built to meet green building standards like LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), the world’s most widely used green building rating system, are worth an average of $25,000 more in resale value than conventional homes. The study, “The Value of LEED Homes in the Texas Real Estate Market: A Statistical Analysis of Resale Premiums for Green Certification,” found that homes built to LEED standards between 2008-2016 showed an 8 percent boost in value, while homes built to a wider range of green standards saw a 6 percent increase in value.

“Our research shows there is a ‘green premium’ in the Texas single-family home market,” said The University of Texas at Austin’s Dr. Greg Hallman. “The average new home in our Texas MLS dataset sells for $311,000, so a 6-8% green premium represents a significant gain for home owners, developers, and real estate agents and brokers.”

The Green Homes study looked at more than 3,800 green-certified homes, including LEED-certified homes, built in Texas between 2008 and 2016 to determine if certification raised the resale value of homes. The study was conducted by the Real Estate Finance & Investment Center at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. It was based on an analysis of more than 230,000 homes in Texas and used a regression model taking into account interior floor area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages and the age of the home, as well as whether or not homes were built according to green standards including LEED.
The Green Homes study looked at more than 3,800 green-certified homes, including LEED-certified homes, built in Texas between 2008 and 2016 to determine if certification raised the resale value of homes. The study was conducted by the Real Estate Finance & Investment Center at The University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs School of Business. It was based on an analysis of more than 230,000 homes in Texas and used a regression model taking into account interior floor area, number of bedrooms and bathrooms, garages and the age of the home, as well as whether or not homes were built according to green standards including LEED.

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“As developers and buyers continue to see the value in LEED, we expect the number of LEED-certified homes to increase in the Texas market,” said Taryn Holowka, senior vice president, USGBC. “Homes that are built to meet green standards deliver more value to the seller and also ensure that buyers will have a high-value sale down the road and reap the benefit of lower utility bills while living in the home.”

LEED-certified homes benefit the triple bottom line of people, planet and profit by enhancing the health and wellbeing of occupants, saving costly environmental resources like energy and water, and providing cost savings to individual homeowners or residential building owners. On average, LEED-certified homes use 20-30 percent less energy than a home built to code, with some homes reporting up to 60 percent savings, which lowers energy costs.

The LEED Homes rating system was created in 2008 as a way for single-family homes and multi-family buildings to achieve LEED certification. LEED Homes projects undergo a technically rigorous process to become certified, including multiple on-site inspections and quality assurance. More than 1.5 million residential units are currently participating in LEED in the world. USGBC’s 2015 Green Building Economic Impact report found that the residential green construction market is expected to grow from $55 million in 2015 to $100.4 million in 2018, representing a year-over-year growth of 24.5 percent. Currently, there are more than 6,890 homes certified or pursuing LEED-certification in Texas.

To learn more about the Green Homes study, visit: https://www.usgbc.org/resources/value-leed-homes-texas-real-estate-market.

Sources: U.S. Green Building Council and the McCombs School of Business

Recycle Old Electronics While Purchasing Gifts at Same Time!

Did you know that 25% of all men suffer from “green guilt”, coinciding with the significant increase in E-Waste (used cell phones, old gadgets, old laptops, etc.) we’ve been accumulating? Those are the facts according to a new survey by Call2Recycle®! (Green Guilt is the feeling that they could and should be doing more to help the environment.) 

Father’s Day is right around the corner, so why not help dads get rid of those guilty feelings and remind them to pitch in and help out the environment? If you’re readers receive any new electronics or cell phones as gifts, they can get their dose of green in by recycling those old phones and the used rechargeable batteries from the devices they’ll be replacing. 

With the help of Call2Recycle, the only no-cost rechargeable battery and cell phone collection program in North America, dads can recycle the used rechargeable batteries from their old devices (cell phones, digital cameras, cordless power tools, laptops, etc.) at any of its drop-off locations at community collection sites and retailers nationwide such as Best Buy, RadioShack and The Home Depot.

“Our research shows that more than half of us are holding on to old gadgets in junk drawers and elsewhere rather than recycling them – in part because they don’t know how or where to recycle old technology,” said Carl Smith, CEO and president of Call2Recycle.  “Keeping electronics and used rechargeable batteries out of the waste stream is vital to the long-term sustainability of our planet.” Since 1996, Call2Recycle has diverted 70 million pounds of rechargeable batteries from landfills and established a network of 30,000 public collection sites.

Using rechargeable batteries is a simple step toward a greener lifestyle, and Call2Recycle offers up the following tips to assure the family get the most life out of their new rechargeable batteries by reducing how often they need to be replaced.

  • Follow the charging guidelines provided by the manufacturer. Each product has specific batteries charging battery charging times prior to their initial use.
  • Never return a fully-charged battery to the charger for an extra boost – it actually shortens the life of the battery!
  • Do not leave your rechargeable battery in the charger when not charging. Continuous charging can shorten battery life.
  • When they no longer hold a charge and it’s time to replace your battery, be sure to recycle your old one.

Call2Recycle is the nation’s most comprehensive rechargeable battery and cellphone recycling solution, providing a responsible and convenient way to recycle cellphones and rechargeable batteries found in electronic products, such as laptop computers, digital cameras, cordless power tools, two-way radios, mp3 players and camcorders.  There is no charge to drop-off batteries for recycling or be a collection site. For more information and to find local drop-off locations, visit www.call2recycle.org.