Sign up | Login with →

Comments by Tom Plant Subscribe

On Tesla Powerwall: What Does It Mean For Renewables?

It's an interesting first generation entry into the storage market. And it's pretty.

There is tremendous benefit to the grid in being able to absorb demand spikes in the battery and sheilding those from the grid. That also releives the ratepayers of paying for additional generation to meet those demand spikes.

There's an opportunity in the markets that will exist, to arbitrage power when the grid needs it. I think there's an additional benefit of providing an alternative to net metering for solar owners in an uncertain policy environment where there are continual attacks on net metering policies.

I think Tesla has missed a couple opportunities - 1) only having DC in is great for solar systems, but if you want to grid tie your battery, you will need to buy another inverter. 2) only having AC out limits the potential efficiency of a system that could stay DC (to power lights, electronics, motors, etc...) from the solar generation to the consumption with no inverter losses. 3) Increasing intelligence in the battery to actively manage demand would be another great DR resource that could be sold to the utility along with volt/var optimization capabilities.

I think those missed opportunities are true from the information I could gleen off of the website. But it's limited information - if someone has more info, would love to hear it.

May 7, 2015    View Comment    

On Colorado Introduces Legislation to Create a New Utility Business Model

Thanks for your comments Nathan. I agree an emission standard would be a good policy guideline for states to adopt - and also would drive innovation toward the goal.

I don't think this legislation anticipates politicians micro-managing engineers' work. What it does do is establish policy objectives and then ask the commission to look at ways in which the utility revenues can be aligned with those policy objectives.

If an investor owned utility earns money for their investors by investing in infrastructure, there is - understandably - an inclination toward that solution. What the legislation suggests is that perhaps there is a better revenue model the commission may be able to identify that would both earn money for the utility's investors while accomplishing the service and policy goals of the state. Then it asks the commission to investigate those potential options.

As with your suggestion for the emissions standard - it doesn't define the methods to get there, but tries to put the right mechanisms in place such that a utility which performs well will earn on that performance - and as a result, will innovate toward performance and policy objectives.

March 11, 2015    View Comment    

On Colorado Introduces Legislation to Create a New Utility Business Model

Again, parameters for net metering laws are generally defined within policy. Some states list qualifying technologies, some say just "renewable" technologies. In Colorado, it was a part of the original RPS ballot initiative, so it includes renewable techologies as defined in statute.

March 11, 2015    View Comment    

On Colorado Introduces Legislation to Create a New Utility Business Model

Thanks for your thoughts Bob. I would imagine the language to "minimize investments in new large scale generation" is to avoid the building of new generation when there are less costly alternatives. I don't think it means "never build anything" - but the idea of effectively using the generation we do build and fully evaluating alternatives before investing ratepayer dollars in more long term infrastrucutre is a policy objective I imagine most would support. 

I'm not sure I entirely follow the rest of your thread of thoughts, but, "what's to prevent individuals from selling power back at inflated prices" - I guess that's policy. I know that the limit on net metered resources in Colorado is 120%, it's different in different places - but generally, those parameters are defined in policy. 

March 11, 2015    View Comment    

On AC/DC: In the New Current Wars, Will Edison Win Out After All?

It's great to hear there are engineers who want to be involved in development of state policy! We need more of you guys :)

February 6, 2015    View Comment    

On Iowa Ruling Shows the Way to Third-Party Solar Without Legislation

Sorry - a bit of a typo in the article - the $600k number is over 20 years - the annual estimate of sales loss is $30k.

September 2, 2014    View Comment