Saturday, March 4, 2017

All That Free Solar, Wind Energy Keeping California Electricity Prices Down -- March 4, 2017


March 6, 2017: the California duck curve.

Original Post 

There was an article earlier today from The Los Angeles Times about the excess wind and solar electricity California had. I was curious how much all that "free" electricity was saving California in utility bills.

This is the story I was referring to but from a different source: how California utilities are managing excess solar power. The article begins:
The Golden State is ramping up renewable energy as it pledges to be a bulwark against the Trump administration's pro-fossil fuel policies. But first, it has to figure out what to do with all the excess power it generates when the sun is shining and the wind is blowing.
California's solar farms create so much power during daylight hours that they often drive real-time wholesale prices in the state to zero. Meanwhile, the need for electricity can spike after sunset, sometimes sending real-time prices as high as $1,000 a megawatt-hour.
And that, folks is the problem with non-dispatchable energy, also known as fool's gold, or solar energy. It takes a lot of "daytime FREE solar energy" to offset electricity that costs $1,000 a megawatt-hour at night. Hey, by the way, when do Tesla owners charge their coal-powered cars? Yup, at night. When do kids work on their computers at home? Yup, at night.


Some links on electricity rates across the US, data for 2015, all states; least expensive to most expensive, some examples:
  • Washington, #1: 7.41
  • Wyoming, #4: 7.95
  • Iowa, #8: 8.47
  • Texas, #10: 8.63
  • North Dakota, #13: 8.85
  • Nevada, #22: 9.48
  • Minnesota, #26: 9.69
  • National average, between #31 and #32: 10.42
  • New York, #41: 15.28
  • California, #42: 15.50 (all that free solar and wind energy helping to keep prices down)
  • Massachusetts, #44: 16.86 (wow)
  • Connecticut, #46: 17.76 (wow)
  • Hawaii, #48 (dead last -- due to some ties among states, on 48 positions): 26.17
EIA: average retail price, by state, January 17, 2017 (lower 48; does not include most expensive, Alaska and Hawaii, which are "special cases"):
  • US average: 10.41 cents
  • North Dakota: 8.75
  • California: 15.42
  • Minnesota: 9.53
  • Iowa: 8.35
  • Arkansas: 8.19
  • Louisiana: 7.65
  • New York: 15.28 
  • California: 15.42 
  • New Hampshire: 16.02 
  • Rhode Island: 17.01 
  • Connecticut: 17.77
I was reminded to look up that data: there is now a concern whether California's power grid will be able to keep up with legal marijuana's demand. Very, very high use of electricity. 

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