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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Ind. Gov't. - Story shows difference between night and day in electric generation; plus more

The first story, dated Nov. 8, is out of Texas, headed "A Texas Utility Offers a Nighttime Special: Free Electricity." Clifford Krauss and Diane Cardwell of the NYTimes report:

DALLAS — In Texas, wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away. * * *

TXU’s free overnight plan, which is coupled with slightly higher daytime rates, is one of dozens that have been offered by more than 50 retail electricity companies in Texas over the last three years with a simple goal: for customers to turn down the dials when wholesale prices are highest and turn them back up when prices are lowest.

It is possible because Texas has more wind power than any other state, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the state’s generation. Alone among the 48 contiguous states, Texas runs its own electricity grid that barely connects to the rest of the country, so the abundance of nightly wind power generated here must be consumed here.

Wind blows most strongly at night and the power it produces is inexpensive because of its abundance and federal tax breaks. A shift of power use away from the peak daytime periods means lower wholesale prices, and the possibility of avoiding the costly option of building more power plants.

“That is a proverbial win-win for the utility and the customer,” said Omar Siddiqui, director of energy efficiency at the Electric Power Research Institute, a nonprofit industry group.

For utilities, the giveaway is hardly altruistic. Deregulation in Texas has spurred intense competition for customers. By encouraging energy use at night, utilities reduce some of the burdens, and costs, that the oversupply of wind energy places on the power grid.

The story goes on to describe some similar experiments underway elsewhere.

A second story, "Indiana Legislature unlikely to power up new energy rules this session," reported by Keith Bednman, appears in today's NWI Times. Some quotes:

A General Assembly interim committee on energy has offered no recommendations in its final report after hearing large manufacturers square off against the state's utilities on Sept. 2 at the statehouse.

The large manufacturers want more options to control spiraling energy costs that hurt their competitiveness, while the state's utilities say some of those options would hike electric bills for everyone else.

The chairman of the interim committee, Sen. James Merritt, R-Indianapolis, said last week so much remains unsure about federal clean air rules that making big changes in state utility regulations in the upcoming legislative session does not make sense.

However, he said the General Assembly might be able to help manufacturers like Subaru of Indiana, in Lafayette, which have expressed an interest in producing their own electricity, by allowing pilot co-generation projects.

"We will go project by project and see how we might be able to help industrials with a clean power plant," he said in speaking about setting up such a program.

Co-generation plants, also called combined heat and power, are considered clean and efficient because they recycle the heat produced in generating electricity for other industrial purposes.

Indiana's competitiveness when it comes to industrial electricity rates has slipped markedly in the last decade. From 2003 to 2014, industrial electricity prices increased 75 percent in Indiana, while only increasing 37 percent in the nation as a whole, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data.

And story today in the San Diego Union-Tribune, "U.S. Nuclear retirements challenge clean-energy dream," deserves careful reading.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on November 10, 2015 08:24 AM
Posted to Indiana Government