Monday, March 30, 2015

Green Energy Good News Roundup

By Nick Lawton, Staff Attorney

Time for some good news on the renewable energy front! My blog posts often focus on complex issues around electricity regulation or updates on proposed legislation that threatens renewable energy progress. As an antidote to complexity and resistance to renewable progress, this post offers good news on the green energy front from around the globe.

Renewable Energy Does Not Drive Up Prices

An excellent report from DBL Investors, Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices, WAIT, WHAT?, reveals that states with high levels of renewable energy have not seen electricity prices rise faster than states without renewables. Rather, “states with the greatest share of electricity generation from renewable sources have often experienced average retail electricity prices that are cheaper than both the national average and also states with the smallest share of electricity generation from renewable sources.” The following chart offers an illustration:

Source: DBL Investors, Renewables Are Driving Up Electricity Prices, WAIT, WHAT?

This research provides more evidence for a similar argument I made months ago and should help counteract the misinformation campaign against renewables currently underway in many states. As the article notes, “criticism of RPS states has been overblown.” This report offers exactly the type of empirical perspective on the economic influence of renewable energy that policy makers should heed.

Texas City to Go 100% Renewable—Based on Cost

Georgetown, Texas has plans to meet all its energy needs from renewables by 2017. The city has struck deals to buy 150 MW of solar power and 144 MW of wind, which will provide clean, cost-effective power for the city for the next decades. The city’s municipal utility, Georgetown Utility Services, chose renewable energy not because it had to, but because the deals “will save on electricity costs and decrease … water usage,” according to Georgetown’s utility manager Jim Briggs. Mr. Briggs added that the deals “also provide[] a hedge against future fuel and regulatory risks.” These deals will make Georgetown the first city in Texas to become 100% renewable and will hopefully show other cities how to do so as well.

Costa Rica Has Been 100% Renewable for All of 2015—And is Saving Money

Costa Rica, which has invested heavily in renewables, is now reaping the benefits. The state energy agency, Instituto Costarricense de Electricidad (ICE), credited heavy rainfall for the increased hydroelectric productivity. The remainder of the renewable energy comes from a mixture of wind, solar, biomass, and geothermal power. The nation has excellent renewable resources, with heavy seasonal rainfall, active volcanoes, and wind that whips across the continental divide. Having developed the technologies to take advantage of those resources, Costa Rica is now seeing the rewards. In addition to a 100% renewable power supply, the nation is also seeing falling energy prices. ICE reports that it is lowering electricity rates by a whopping 12%, and that it expects rates to continue to drop later in the year. Costa Rica is showing how nations can achieve a 100% renewable power grid and stimulate economic savings all at once.

France Will Require Solar or Green Roofs—And Likely See Falling Costs

France has just passed a law requiring all new buildings in commercial zones either to include solar panels or to be covered in plants. Both solar panels and green roofs reduce urban heat islands and reduce the energy needed to heat or cool a building. As my recent report for the Green Energy Institute discussed, this type of solar building standard will likely bring significant benefits to property owners and reduce overall costs. Until now, two cities in California were the only to require solar power on all new buildings of any type. Now, France has become by far the largest jurisdiction to enact such a requirement, which will very likely prove the economic and environmental benefits of treating solar power as a standard feature on new buildings.

Good News Shows Green Energy is a Good Solution

This is just the latest batch of good news in the renewable energy field. More generally, the last five years have seen dramatically decreased prices and increased deployment. As these trends continue, the good news is likely to keep rolling in. Stay tuned for more.

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