Renewables: Give the Customers What They Want
I have little first-hand experience with live protests.
Newsreel and movies from the 60’s have given me a sense of the chaos and excitement. But only after the 2016 US presidential election did I encounter demonstrations in person.
In my city. On my street. The noise, the power, the people.
With renewable energy taking a seat in the ‘way back’ in the current administration – indeed, legislation has been introduced to abolish the Environmental Protection Agency — protests may be an avenue to consider for customers who want renewables.
“The customer’s gonna drive the change,” said Heather Bailey, Director of Energy Strategy for the City of Boulder, at a recent NG Utilities Providers Summit. “I’ve been in the utility business for 38 years. For at least that long, the US has been trying to get a national energy policy, and we don’t have one yet. All the change is being driven by the local jurisdictions as well as the states, so assuming that federal policy is going to drive what we do in the future…I wouldn’t put a lot of stock in it. The communities you serve and the state jurisdictions that you’re in will definitely have a big impact.”
And with wind and solar energy prices going down, you can expect customer demand to continue to climb.
“Renewables are on grid parody on many parts of the country with other sources of generation,” said Bailey. “In both Texas and Colorado, wind is cheaper than the other sources of generation, and solar and other sources of generation are almost on par once you get rid of the generation charges and the other costs. Localized generation has become very cheap, plus you have your customers who are financing those.”
The cost trends are not just a US phenomenon. The recent World Economic Forum reports that solar and wind power are now ‘the same price or cheaper’ then new fossil fuels in more than 30 countries. But the same report reveals that due to political uncertainties, the worldwide investment in renewables is only 25 percent of the Paris Agreement’s one trillion dollar goal.
But Bloomberg’s 2016 New Energy Outlook was still sunny. The annual report forecasts that wind and solar prices will continue to drop, with solar energy accounting for over one-third of all new power infrastructure over the next 25 years. That’s 3.7 trillion dollars globally.
Who knows? The next march in the street might turn out to be a renewables celebration.
Carla Curtsinger serves as Master of Ceremonies and On-Site Content Manager at industry summits and roundtable discussions around the world. She is also an author, university lecturer and communications trainer. Carla holds a Bachelor's degree in Communications from the University of Kentucky and a Master's certificate in Publishing from New York University. She loves movies, television and pop culture and mentions all three whenever possible.