Utility Dive:

Ask people how they segment the energy storage industry, and you’ll often hear them divide it between customer-sited or behind-the-meter storage and “utility-“or “grid-scale storage.” But if you then ask them what they mean by “utility-scale,” you can’t get a clear answer. Is it 5 MW, 10 MW, more than 20 MW? Do they mean “front-of-meter”? Or connected to the bulk transmission system?

And whatever “scale” threshold they use rarely relates to the “utility” part of “utility-scale.” What about the size of the storage installation makes it relevant to a utility or the grid?

The reality is that energy storage of all sizes can provide useful services to utilities or grid operators. And it is past time for regulators and market operators to update their policies and programs to realize the full potential grid value from storage that hasn’t been considered “utility-scale” before.

No, we’re not calling for the end of the large-scale storage industry. We’re saying that distributed, smaller-scale storage can provide all the same value to the grid that large-scale storage can and should be explicitly encouraged to compete on playing fields that policymakers have leveled everywhere.

From non-wires solutions in New York (Brooklyn Queens Demand Management or BQDM) and local capacity in Los Angeles (Southern California Edison Local Capacity contracts), to resource adequacy (RA) and Reliability Must Run (RMR) replacement at the California ISO and forward capacity in ISO New England (SunRun’s 20 MW residential aggregation contract), distributed storage developers and operators are proving that the technology works and can be cost competitive. Where markets have been opened to allow distributed energy storage to compete, ratepayers benefit with lower energy costs.

Recognizing this, FERC first issued Order 841, requiring the wholesale markets to open up to individual storage installations as small as 100 KW, regardless of interconnection point (transmission, distribution or behind-the-meter). This immediately nullified anyone’s previous threshold for “grid-scale” storage, making the term itself meaningless. The next step for FERC will be an Order on DER aggregation, which presumably will require the ISO/RTOs to allow distributed storage aggregations to compete head-to-head with larger scale, single-site storage installations and all other wholesale market resources.

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I know I am.

Houston Chronicle:

WASHINGTON – A decade after environmentalists championed natural gas as a “bridge fuel” to get the United States off fossil fuels and combat climate change, cities across the country are beginning to question whether gas’s time has come.

Earlier this summer the California cities of Berkeley and San Jose adopted bans preventing new buildings from hooking into their natural gas distribution systems. And now communities across the country, including Seattle, Minneapolis and Cambridge, Mass., are considering similar bans.

Carolyn Berndt, program director for sustainability at the National League of Cities, which represents 19,000 cities and towns across the country, said worsening storms and flooding across many regions of the country are driving cities to promote the use of electric powered-appliances such as furnaces and stoves over gas models.

“More and more cities are committing to renewable energy goals and targets,” she said. “All-electric buildings are proving to be safer, healthier, and more affordable.”

The rising call for gas bans adds to an already difficult political climate for the natural gas industry, a mainstay of the Texas economy. Gas utilities in the New York City suburbs have put a moratorium on new gas hookups after New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s decision to block the construction of pipelines has left them struggling to meet existing demand.

The push back comes amid a surge in U.S. gas production, driving billions of dollars in investment into new pipelines, power plants and other infrastructure designed to be in operation for decades to come. Along with a surge in wind and solar energy, the natural gas boom has pushed many coal power plants out of business, helping to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions over the past decade.

But as scientists warn that if the world is to avoid the worst consequences of climate change greenhouse gas emissions need to be reduced to net-zero by 2050, the future of even lower-carbon natural gas is falling into question.

Pacific Gas and Electric, the Northern California utility, came out in support of Berkley’s gas ban as in line with the state’s climate goals.

“These are huge headwinds for this industry,” said Karen Harbert, president of the American Gas Association, a trade group representing gas utilities. “The industry needs to take all this seriously and figure out what it means. We need to help people understand the costs and trade offs if we go down the route of electrify everything.”


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I’m damn proud my 2014 video includes the clip from Dr. Jim White, who reveals that Florida state employees were not allowed to use the words “climate change” – about 4 months before the mainstream press looked into it.

With their heads so far into the Fox News universe, Republicans have been incapable of  acknowledging the rising seas, even as they lap around their ankles.  Agonizingly slowly, that’s changing.

Cowardly, ignorant bastards.

Miami Herald:

For the first time in a decade, a Florida Senate committee scheduled a meeting Monday to discuss the impact of climate change on the peninsula state.

What did senators learn?

“We lost a decade,’’ said Sen. Tom Lee, the Thonotosassa Republican who chairs the Committee on Infrastructure and Security.

He began the 90-minute hearing with three words that have not come from the lips of a Republican state senator in years: “Sea level rise.”

“There hasn’t been a lot of conversation about this. I understand that, and I understand why,’’ he continued, leaving unsaid that the words “climate change” were banned from the lexicon for much of the eight-year tenure of former Gov. Rick Scott, and the state’s response to it was not considered a priority.

But Lee, who served in the Senate for the last six years of Scott’s term, said he believes there has been “a paradigm shift” with Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis — who followed the lead of local governments in Florida and appointed a “chief resilience officer” to start talking about the effects of global warming on the state.

The new landscape comes with new political realities, Lee said. “There’s a younger generation of conservatives in this state that aren’t as much in denial.”

“The world is changing and so is the leadership in state government,’’ he said. But he stopped short of saying the Republican governor and the GOP leadership of the House and Senate, as well as the development, utility and insurance industries that finance them, will support the “paradigm shift.”

Just as Scott set the tone for little climate talk in Florida, President Donald Trump has derided climate change, avoids uttering the phrase, and has directed his top officials to reject the science. Will the Florida Legislature be willing to talk about climate change, let alone address the issue with legislation?

“It’s a little too early to predict this,’’ Lee said. “I think reality is going to set in and, if it doesn’t, it’s going to hit us right in the face.”

According to a Pew Research Center analysis, nearly 60% of Republicans between the ages of 23 and 38 say that climate change is having an effect on the United States, and 36% believe humans are the cause. Republicans over age 52 agree with those statements at half the rate.

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“Capitalism is the extraordinary belief that the nastiest of men for the nastiest of motives will somehow work together for the benefit of all.”  –   John Maynard Keynes

Philadelphia Inquirer:

It didn’t take long. Shortly after Hurricane Dorian damaged countless homes and businesses in the northern Bahamas, real estate investors started calling local agents in search of bargains.

“We’ve surprisingly had several calls,” said Colin Lightbourn, who manages real estate company Engel & Volkers’ Bahamas office in Nassau. “People are asking if there is anybody selling properties in any of those cays and to keep them on our list.”

“They say, ’I don’t want to sound heartless, but if any properties come up, I’m a buyer.’”
While the timing of the phone calls may appear awkward, the inquiries from would-be buyers is not new for a region whose island nations and territories are often roughed up by hurricanes.

In 2017, investors scanned the Caribbean for bargains after Hurricane Maria pounded St. Maarten, Puerto Rico, and even Barbuda, the latter of which was declared uninhabitable by its government.

There were discounts to be had. On Dutch St. Maarten, for example, a five-bedroom home with an ocean view was on the market for $3.5 million before the storm but was reduced to about $1.9 million in damaged condition after the storm passed through, the Wall Street Journal reported at the time.

Some of the would-be buyers include investors in search of profits, foreign nationals seeking vacation homes, or hedge fund operators who see future profits in apartment buildings and hotels.
Overall, agents say, investors are attracted by depressed prices, and a possible upside fueled by government disaster funding and new capital from the private sector.

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Circle of Blue:

It’s a gentle intruder, moving stealthily underground, out of sight but not undetected. Salt water continues to move farther inland in Florida’s Miami-Dade County, albeit at a slower rate, according to new U.S. Geological Survey mapping.

Researchers and water managers in southern Florida keep a wary eye on the ocean’s landward thrust because of the region’s precarious freshwater balance. All of Miami-Dade County’s municipal water, which serves several million residents and visitors, comes from groundwater, primarily from a thin lens of fresh water called the Biscayne Aquifer.

Rising seas are a visible threat to coastal areas. But the danger above is mirrored below in the form of rising salt concentrations in many coastal aquifers. In Miami-Dade County, the USGS study mapped the boundary where salt water meets the base of the Biscayne. Because it is less dense, fresh water sits on top of the saltwater wedge, which is thickest near the coast and thinner inland.

The leading edge of the saltwater layer in the southeastern part of the county, the area of greatest intrusion, moved inland at a pace of 102 meters per year between 2014 and 2018.

Salt water can be pushed inland because of rising seas or infiltration from the region’s drainage canals. It can also be pulled by groundwater pumping that lowers the level of fresh water in the aquifer. Rainfall plays a role, as do the geological properties of the aquifer, such as how freely water flows through pores in the sand and limestone layers.

“The balance of these factors varies throughout the county,” Scott Prinos, the USGS hydrologist who did the mapping, told Circle of Blue. The aquifer, for instance, is 275 feet thick in the county’s northern reaches, but only 80 feet in the southeast.

Miami-Dade Water and Sewer Department, which supplies 2.3 million people, is keenly aware of the threat, and it works with federal researchers to assess the risk. Salts in the aquifer are not welcome. They can spoil the supply or result in expensive treatment. For now, though, saltwater intrusion “is not a concern,” according to Jennifer Messemer-Skold, a spokesperson.

The department’s “primary wellfields are located significantly west of the salt front, and no impacts are anticipated as a result of salt water migration inland to [the department’s] drinking water supply sources,” Messemer-Skold told Circle of Blue.

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We’re used to the idea that oil and fossil fuel companies have interests in renewable energy. This makes sense for a number of reasons.

It’s good PR greenwashing. It gives them a window into emerging (competing) technology. It gives them a small lever to control and steer that technology. It hedges their bets as renewables look more and more like the onrushing wave of the future.
It might give them some ability to manage their own decline, so as to maximize their profits from the fossil and fissile resources they still hope to exploit as the world goes to sun and wind power.

And it makes them some money.

So it shouldn’t be a surprise that some of the deepest pocketed entrants into the exploding “meatless meat” market, are meat companies.

New York Times:

..with plant-based burgers, sausages and chicken increasingly popular and available in fast-food restaurants and grocery stores across the United States, a new group of companies has started making meatless meat: the food conglomerates and meat producers that Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods originally set out to disrupt.

In recent months, major food companies like Tyson, Smithfield, Perdue, Hormel and Nestlé have rolled out their own meat alternatives, filling supermarket shelves with plant-based burgers, meatballs and chicken nuggets.

Once largely the domain of vegans and vegetarians, plant-based meat is fast becoming a staple of more people’s diets, as consumers look to reduce their meat intake amid concerns about its health effects and contribution to climate change. Over the last five months, Beyond Meat’s stock price has soared and Impossible Foods’ deal to provide plant-based Whoppers at Burger King has prompted a wave of fast-food chains to test similar products. Analysts project that the market for plant-based protein and lab-created meat alternatives could be worth as much as $85 billion by 2030.

Now, at supermarkets across the United States, shoppers can find plant-based beef and chicken sold alongside the packaged meat products that generations of Americans have eaten.

“There is a growing demand out there,” said John Pauley, the chief commercial officer for Smithfield, one of the largest pork producers in the country. “We’d be foolish not to pay attention.”

In September, Nestlé released the Awesome Burger, its answer to the meatless patties of Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods. (“We do feel like it’s an awesome product,” a Nestlé spokeswoman said.) Smithfield started a line of soy-based burgers, meatballs and sausages, and Hormel began offering plant-based ground meat.

There are also blended options — a kind of faux fake meat that falls somewhere in the existential gray area between the Beyond Burger and a cut of beef. Tyson is introducing a part-meat, part-plant burger. And Perdue is selling blended nuggets, mixing poultry with “vegetable nutrition” in the form of cauliflower and chickpeas.

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Sobering warning from one of the 20th century’s most insightful human beings.  Only more vivid with passage of time and the emergence of climate change.

Video of Trump shooting media and political enemies comes to mind in the discussion of ‘projection” above.