Xcel Energy wants to launch a pilot program in Boulder that would charge people more to turn on their lights or dry their clothes during the hours when demand for electricity is greatest.
The idea would be to get people to burn less watts between 2 p.m. and 8 p.m., and perhaps, overall. Boulder was chosen for the pilot because of its smart grid infrastructure, which would allow folks to program those dishwashers and cellphone chargers to come on in the middle of the night instead of right after work.
If the Colorado Public Utilities Commission approves the request, the pilot program would enlist about 2,000 customers and run from June 2010 through December 2011.
The idea is to encourage people to burn less wattage from 2 to 8 p.m. when demand peaks, which in turn would reduce the need for “peaking” power stations — such as the natural gas-powered unit at Xcel’s Valmont power plant east of Boulder — that are revved up to cover the spike, especially in the summertime when air conditioners are humming. Read more
Xcel Energy wants to change the way they give out incentives for customers to add solar power.
The new Solar Rewards program would give out more rebates, but the amounts will shrink over time.
Xcel Energy wants to add another 257 megawatts of solar power to the grid from on-site sources such as customer rooftops in the next decade, according to the company’s new renewable energy plan.
Last year, Xcel announced its intention to cut the Solar Rewards program — which gives rebates to customers who put photovoltaic panels on their property — by about 50 percent from 2009 to 2010. After an outcry from solar advocates, Xcel worked with the Colorado Solar Energy Industry Association and the Governor’s Energy Office to revise its plan. Read more
Here’s a Friday story for you:
Xcel applied to the Public Utilities Commission to raise rates and, to justify a rate hike, included some questionable financial items, according to the Denver Post:
Company-provided noshes at Xcel Energy — coffee, tea, bottled water, bagels and doughnuts — came to about $173,000 last year.
The utility’s Colorado unit included that sum, along with $307,000 for employee-recognition awards and parties, in its application to the state Public Utilities Commission for a $182 million rate increase.
Not so fast, said PUC officials. The costs … “are not appropriate to charge ratepayers and should be absorbed by PSCo’s shareholders.”
Bad news is, the doughnuts didn’t account for much of the total costs that Xcel sent over for a rate hike, so you’re still getting it. Get the whole Xcel donut rate hike story at the Post. Or you can spend your Friday speculating as to how much of the proposed (and forsaken) solar rate increase would have been donut-related.
More fun with utilities on BigGreenBoulder:
|Utility exec: Too many hybrids could blow up the grid!||Xcel finishes building Boulder’s smart grid|
Greenies are fighting a proposed expansion of coal mines in Wyoming’s Powder River Basin, which would feed new coal-burning power plants like the one planned by Xcel Energy outside of Pueblo.
This out today from the Associated Press:
Environmentalists are urging people to oppose the proposed expansion of Wyoming coal mines. They say the mines are the primary source of large amounts of greenhouse gas.
The U.S. Bureau of Land Management estimates that nearly 14 percent of U.S. carbon dioxide emissions originates from coal mined from Wyoming’s Powder River Basin.
Wyoming produces more coal than any other state by far. Most is burned in power plants and scientists say such plants contribute to climate change by releasing carbon dioxide.
Xcel Energy is planning to crank up a new coal-burning generator at its Comanche power plant outside of Pueblo. The new unit — which is four times the size of Boulder’s Valmont coal plant — will burn about 2 million tons of Powder River coal every year.
Boulder’s Leslie Glustrom, founder of Clean Energy Action, has been fighting the Comanche expansion tooth and nail. Check out the fact sheet she made up on the new coal-burning unit at CleanEnergyAction.org.
Having too many plug-in hybrid cars actually plugged in could blow up the grid — or at least knock out a few localized transformers.
That’s the message from one utility executive, anyway, speaking at the 2009 Plug In conference in California. But even if it’s true, Boulder’s transformation to the nation’s first smart-grid city will likely keep the local grid intact.
Here’s the story as reported in Scientific American:
“We have a lot of challenges before us to help make this market a reality,” said Ed Kjaer, director of Southern California Edison’s electric transportation advancement program.Chief among those challenges is how thousands of power-hungry vehicles would tax distribution transformers at the local level. Such transformers have historically handled electricity load for about 10 average-size homes each.
Adding a plug-in car to the grid is equal to about a third of a house, Kjaer said. And because early adopters are likely to spring up in geographic concentrations, that could mean overloaded transformers at the distribution level or plug-in cars potentially causing power outages.
“The worst imaginable situation you could have is your neighbor yelling at you because you blacked out the neighborhood,” Kjaer said.
Boulder, Colo., is a prime candidate to be a ”geographic concentration” full of early adopters (residents took to the non-plug-in Priuses like ducks to water). But even if every single Boulderite went out and bought the new Chevy Volt when it hits showrooms late next year, Boulder’s grid should not, theoretically, explode.
Read more about how Boulder’s grid will handle an influx of plug-ins after the jump, or read Scientific American’s story “Will Electric Cars Wreck the Grid?” here.
BOULDER, Colo. — In January 1923, when Western Light and Power company announced plans to spend $4 million to build a coal-burning power plant on the shores of what was then Weisenhorn Lake east of Boulder, locals were delighted.
The Daily Camera called the decision to construct the Valmont power plant “the greatest thing for Boulder that has happened in years,” as it would bring good jobs and ensure that the town would not be overlooked as Colorado continued to grow.
Today the brick walls of the 85-year-old building are covered with creeping ivy, tall trees quietly line the power station’s drive — and Boulder residents are decidedly less delighted about having a coal plant in their back yard. Read more
Boulder County is filled with solar companies — Namaste Solar, Simple Solar, Lighthouse Solar, and the list goes on — and it didn’t take long for the area’s entire community of pro-PV people to organize against Xcel Energy when the utility proposed a rate hike for new solar customers.
Xcel got so many complalints, in fact, that it withdrew its request before solar advocates could flood a public meeting planned for Wednesday.