Advanced Microgrid Solutions and Pedernales Electric Cooperative Win $3.24 Million Department of Energy Grant to Advance Grid Integration of Solar Energy in Texas

2.2.17

SAN FRANCISCO, and JOHNSON CITY, Texas, Feb. 2, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) and Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) announced today that they were awarded a $3.24 million grant by the Department of Energy (DOE) to demonstrate the use of advanced energy storage technologies to integrate high penetrations of solar energy into the electric grid in Texas. 

The project is a collaboration among leading-edge companies in the energy storage space including AMS, Opus One Solutions and GridBright in partnership with Pedernales Electric Cooperative.  Pedernales is the largest electric distribution cooperative in the United States, serving nearly 290,000 meters over more than 8,100 square miles in Texas.

"Texas is the new frontier for integrating renewable energy into the electric grid," said AMS CEO Susan Kennedy. "The enormous penetration of wind and solar in Texas has created significant challenges in managing the distribution grid.  PEC is taking on a challenge the whole country is facing."

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Report Shows New Transmission Can Help Wind Energy Supply a Third of U.S. Electricity

1.9.17

The Energy Department today released a report which confirms that adding even limited electricity transmission can significantly reduce the costs of expanding wind energy to supply 35% of U.S. electricity by 2050. The report, titled Reducing Wind Curtailment through Transmission Expansion in a Wind Vision Future and authored by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), affirms the findings of the Energy Department’s 2015 Wind Vision, which showed that a future in which wind provides 20% of U.S. electricity in 2030 and 35% in 2050 is achievable and would provide significant economic, energy security, and health benefits to the nation.
For the study, NREL simulated operation of the electric power grid under a scenario where 35% of electricity comes from wind in the year 2050 using PLEXOS, an integrated modeling tool commonly used by utilities and transmission organizations. The study focuses on the Western Interconnection grid, which includes 11 states, two Canadian provinces, and parts of northern Mexico where the U.S. grid crosses the border. The study includes a baseline scenario assuming no significant transmission expansion across the western grid, as well as three scenarios with varying levels of transmission buildout.

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Texas Electric Cooperatives to showcase state-of-the-art energy storage system at its Master Distribution Center

1.25.17

AUSTIN, Texas and SAN FRANCISCO, Jan. 25, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Texas Electric Cooperatives, Inc. (TEC), an association representing some of the largest electricity cooperatives in the United States, today announced a partnership with cleantech leader Advanced Microgrid Solutions (AMS) to offer AMS services to its member cooperatives, and host an advanced energy storage system installed and operated by AMS at its Master Distribution Center in Georgetown, Texas.  

This partnership will allow TEC to offer its 75 member cooperatives preferred pricing for advanced energy storage systems and AMS services.  The system that TEC will install at its own 160,000 square foot Master Distribution Center will reduce TEC's peak energy demand, while providing support to the electric grid.  It will also provide training and educational opportunities for all of TEC's member cooperative electric utilities.  The project effectively demonstrates how utilities can use advanced energy storage to maximize efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance the reliability and security of their electric grids.

"Battery storage represents the next step in optimizing our use of renewable energy," said Johnny Andrews, Chief Operating Officer, TEC Manufacturing & Distribution Services.  "We are excited to provide this technology to our members and to showcase how battery storage can maximize the efficiency of their electric grid. TEC is constantly looking for new and better technological solutions to support our members in their delivery of electricity."

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Public Citizen Tom “Smitty” Smith Looks Back on a Life Well Lived

12.16.16

The appearance of Public Citizen Execu­tive Director Tom Smith at the November meeting of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club was not unusual in form. The man known universally as "Smitty" schmoozed with the group in the crowded back room of Scholz Garten, waited through the regular meeting business, and eventually walked to the speaker's platform to deliver a talk on the latest Texas and Austin developments in renewable energy. Smitty recalled, "the first time I ever lobbied ... with a bunch of Sierrans defending Barton Springs from balls of goo," and at least a few people in the room also recalled that battle.

"We're winning the war on coal," Smitty began, introducing the latest Public Citizen report on energy production in Texas, citing research that represented not only the environmental advantages of wind and solar, but the growing economic muscle of the once "alternative" energy resources. We've reached "the beginning of the end" of reliance on coal and other fossil fuels, he continued, noting the persistently low natural gas prices that have undermined the market logic of coal, the growth of wind resources, and his expectation that 12 of the 19 existing Texas coal plants will be retired by 2022, with the solar industry now the 26th largest in Texas.

Here in Austin, Smitty continued, the eventual closure of the coal-fired Fayette Power Plant has become imminent, not only because of its environmental consequences, but because his research reflects that Fayette is now losing about $30 million a year. (Austin Energy owns a one-third interest in Fayette.)

Moreover, the city of Austin has become increasingly committed to reducing its carbon emissions, with updated Resource, Generation, and Climate Protection Plans intended to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2030. Smitty also delivered a thumbnail history of the Texas environmental movement – against nukes, to protect local resources, and to fight climate change – and he credited his audience for providing the activist legwork. All of this was possible, he told the Sierrans, "because of the organizing we did in Austin and Texas."

It was vintage Smitty: the casual manner and good humor; the bar graphs reflecting resource and economic analysis, energy analytics combined with political commentary. Most especially, the optimism – the absolute conviction that with enough public spirit and hard work, all things are possible.

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TREIA President Melissa Miller: Keynote Speaker at Oil + Renewables-What Alberta Can Learn From Texas

11.17.16

Texas is an oil-producing state with a deregulated electricity market. Alberta is an oil-producing province with a deregulated electricity market. However, Texas is well ahead of Alberta when it comes to embracing the renewable energy revolution. 
It has the most wind energy installed out of any state in the nation. In March of this year wind energy provided 48 per cent of Texas' electricity needs. Just in August of this year almost 300 megawatts of utility scale solar was installed and in 2017 and there is more than 1800 megawatts of utility scale solar in the queue, ready to go. 
Renewable energy is not a red or blue partisan issue in Texas. It is business. And Alberta has a lot we can learn from our southern cousins. So how did this oil producing state with a conservative streak end up being a renewable energy leader? That's why Progress Alberta brought up Melissa Miller, president of the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance to speak. 

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Texas Tech Researchers and Innovation Showcased in Georgetown, Texas

11.15.16

Texas Tech researchers recently were represented at the Texas Renewable Energy Industries Alliance's annual conference, GridNEXT. The conference, held November 9-11 in the 100% renewable Georgetown, Texas, showcased seven winners from Texas Tech's GLEAMM Challenge held in September at the Innovation Hub at Research Park.

On display in Georgetown were TTU innovated technologies and partnerships in the field of renewable energy and grid modernization. Everything from an ensemble weather forecasting technology to a heart rate occupancy sensor were showcased. During the conference, TREIA held a reception individually showcasing and honoring each of the projects and technologies. Throughout the conference, the teams were able to network with over 200 industry attendees and draw significant outside interest in their projects.

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NREL-High Renewable Electricity Growth Continued in 2015

11.22.16

The 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book shows that U.S. renewable electricity grew to 16.7 percent of total installed capacity and 13.8 percent of total electricity generation during the past year. Published annually by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) on behalf of the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, the data book illustrates U.S. and global energy statistics, including renewable electricity generation, renewable energy development, clean energy investments, and technology-specific data and trends.
"Since it was first released in 2009, the Renewable Energy Data Book has provided useful insights for policymakers, analysts, and investors," NREL Energy Analyst Philipp Beiter said. "The 2015 version of the data book highlights the ongoing trend of growing renewable energy capacity and generation in the United States and globally."
The 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book compiles recently available statistics for the 2015 calendar year. Key insights include:
•    Renewable electricity accounted for 64 percent of U.S. electricity capacity additions in 2015, compared to 52 percent in 2014. 
•    Renewable electricity generation increased 2.4 percent in 2015. Solar electricity generation increased by 35.8 percent (11.7 terawatt-hours), and wind electricity generation increased by 5.1 percent (9.3 terawatt-hours), while generation from hydropower dropped by 3.2 percent (-8.2 terawatt-hours). 
•    The combined share of wind and solar as a percentage of renewable generation continued to grow in the U.S. in 2015. Hydropower produced more than 44 percent of total renewable electricity generation, wind produced 34 percent, biomass produced 11 percent, solar (photovoltaic and concentrating solar power) produced 8 percent, and geothermal produced 3 percent. 
•    Wind electricity installed capacity increased by more than 12 percent (8.1 gigawatts) in a year, accounting for more than 56 percent of U.S. renewable electricity capacity installed in 2015. 
•    U.S. solar electricity installed capacity increased by 36 percent (5.6 gigawatts), accounting for nearly 40 percent of newly installed U.S. renewable electricity capacity in 2015.
•    In 2015, California continued to have the most installed renewable electricity capacity of any U.S. state (nearly 31 gigawatts), followed by Washington (nearly 25 gigawatts) and Texas (more than 19 gigawatts).California has a diverse mix of renewables led by solar PV, hydropower, and wind. In Washington, the main contributor to renewable capacity is hydropower, while wind is the largest contributor in Texas.   
•    Oklahoma had the highest growth rate (30 percent) in installed renewable electricity capacity additions in 2015, followed by North Carolina (27 percent), Utah (27 percent), and Kansas (27 percent). Additions in wind capacity were the main contributor to growth in Oklahoma and Kansas, whereas additions in solar PV capacity accounted for most of the growth in North Carolina and Utah. 
•    Installed renewable electricity capacity increased to more than 29 percent of total electricity capacity worldwide in 2015. Renewables accounted for more than 24 percent of all electricity generation worldwide.

View 2015 Renewable Energy Data Book PDF

 

NREL 2016 Standard Scenarios Outlook Shows Continued Growth in Renewables and Gas in the U.S. Power Sector

11.16.16

The Energy Department's National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released the 2016 Standard Scenarios: A U.S. Electricity Sector Outlook. The outlook shows significant projected growth in natural gas and renewables through 2050 driven by abundant, low-cost natural gas and renewable energy cost declines and performance improvements. The Standard Scenarios are designed to capture a range of possible futures across a variety of factors that could impact power sector evolution. 
The report discusses four areas of recent and projected future change in the U.S. electricity sector: renewable energy cost declines and associated growth, abundance of low-cost natural gas and associated generation, rapid growth in distributed rooftop photovoltaics (PV), and power sector decarbonization. New to this year's report is the Standard Scenarios Scenario Viewer, which provides downloadable state-level capacity, generation, and other results for the scenarios included in the report.
 "We are excited to share not just an outlook that explores power sector evolution--but also the underlying scenario data we used to create that outlook," said NREL Analyst and Project Lead Wesley Cole. "The scenario data can be used by others to inform their own independent analysis while still drawing on the modeling and expertise used to create the scenarios."
Now in its second year, the Standard Scenarios consist of 18 power sector scenarios, which have been projected using NREL's Regional Energy Deployment System (ReEDS) long-term capacity expansion model and the dGen rooftop PV diffusion model. The purpose of the Standard Scenarios output data and the associated report is to provide data, context, and discussion to inform stakeholder analysis and decisions that can impact the future direction of the U.S. power sector. The work is supported by the Energy Department's Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy.

Standard Scenarios results and report products

Texas Renewable Industry Unfazed by Trump Environmental Policies

11.13.16

By Tom Kleckner

GEORGETOWN, Texas — Preston Schultz, director of development for Chicago-based Hecate Energy, says his firm is named after the three-faced Greek goddess of the crossroads. “She’s also the goddess of black magic,” he said, “but we don’t talk about that so much.”

It’s an apt enough description for where the renewables industry finds itself following last week’s election of climate skeptic Donald Trump as president of the United States: at the crossroads, and possibly needing a little magic to build upon its recent progress.

Trump, who has promised to scrap the Clean Power Plan and withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, has shown little affection for renewables but promised to “save” the coal industry and reduce restrictions on natural gas production.

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Sharyland Utilities Proposes Panhandle Transmission Expansion: the South Plains Transmission Project

10.31.16

Sharyland has actively monitored the development and financial commitment of generation resources in the Panhandle region over the past year and, given the significant increase in wind generation resources since the last ERCOT independent assessment in the region, has prepared a comprehensive Panhandle region transmission assessment. 

Based on that assessment, on September 20, 2016, Sharyland presented nine transmission expansion options with the objective of increasing the Panhandle export limit. A report summarizing those options was provided, and Sharyland recommends Option #3 (South Plains Transmission Project or “Project”) as the preferred option to address the future needs of the Panhandle region. 

The Project builds on other recent decisions concerning Panhandle transmission capacity. Based on the 2015 recommendation of the ERCOT independent assessment of the Panhandle region, at its September 24, 2015 Open Meeting the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT) recommended the construction of the second 345 kV circuit on the Alibates – AJ Swope – Windmill – Ogallala – Tule Canyon (AAWOT) line under the CREZ Order (PURA §39.904(g)) and in the summer of 2016 approved a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity (CCN) for that project. Additionally, on December 8, 2015, the ERCOT Board of Directors approved the addition of two synchronous condensers, one each at Sharyland’s 345 kV Alibates and Tule Canyon stations. The tender for the synchronous condenser has been awarded and the condensers, along with the construction of the AAWOT line, are on schedule to be completed by June of 2018. The estimated Panhandle export transfer capability with these project additions is 4,013 MW.

ERCOT’s recommendations for the addition of the second circuit and the synchronous condensers were economically justified per the ERCOT economic planning criteria. These recommendations were based on ERCOT’s independent assessment of the Panhandle region needs performed in September 2015, when the Panhandle Wind Generation Resources (WGR) capacity meeting Section 6.9 requirements of the ERCOT Planning Guide was approximately 4,305 MW. During the course of the last year, there has been a significant increase in the Panhandle capacity meeting Section 6.9 requirements, with a new total of WGR capacity of approximately 5,269 MW. 

This Sharyland assessment of the Panhandle region spans system strength, power flow, dynamic stability, and production cost based economic assessments. Numerous transmission expansion options were investigated in the Sharyland studies with the objective of expanding the Panhandle export limit to accommodate the increases in generation capacity. At the August and September, 2016 ERCOT RPG meetings, Sharyland presented updates of the wind generation interconnection activity in the region, along with a study scope to review the addition of additional shunt reactive devices and new transmission paths to increase the Panhandle export transfer capability. Comments on the scope of work and transmission options were incorporated in the study plan.

Sharyland recommends the South Plains Transmission Project as the preferred option to address the future needs of the Panhandle region. The Project includes the following three transmission additions: 

· New 67.5 mile 345 kV (double circuit capable) Abernathy – Grassland single circuit line 

· New 53.2 mile 345 kV (double circuit capable) Ogallala – Abernathy single circuit line 

· One (1) 175 MVA synchronous condenser at Windmill (minimum short circuit contribution of 1606 A at the condenser terminals) 

The South Plains Transmission Project provides the highest Panhandle export capability amongst all the options evaluated by Sharyland when taking both system strength and dynamic performance into account. 

 The capital cost estimate for the South Plains Transmission Project is estimated to be $251 Million. Assuming ERCOT endorsement by Q2, 2017, Sharyland estimates the project to be in service by the end of 2020. With the addition of the Project, the estimated Panhandle export transfer capability increases from 4,013 MW to 4,833 MW.

Comments of support are due by Monday, November 7 to ERCOT

South Plains Transmission Project Comment Form .DOC

South Plains Transmission Report PDF

ERCOT Summer Wind PDF