It may not be at the top of the ticket, but key battles are being waged on many state ballots over the future of energy this year. As the influence of solar grows, that industry and the power companies are clashing. As one of the top markets in the country, Arizona is ground zero for this fight. Both sides are hoping to tip the scales in their favor by spending big money to get the right regulators elected.
The duck curve has become shorthand for the challenges that utilities face as they add more solar power and other renewables to the grid. Why are power regulators across the country talking about it more and more?
A rural electric co-op in western Colorado has started a high-stakes legal battle over putting more local renewable energy on its grid. The battled has pitted renewable energy advocates against traditional wholesale power providers, and it’s a fight that could help define the future of electricity generation in rural communities nationwide.
The people who run our electricity grids are trying to figure out what to do with solar and wind power that is generated when no one needs it. Take California – there’s enough solar there now to serve more than three million homes. But during the day, especially in the spring, demand is low and generation is high. So, that clean power has to be sent elsewhere. Right now, its going across state lines to Arizona.
The solar surge threatens centralized utilities, forcing states across the nation to search for a new model for electricity rates that works for customers and utilities. Reporter Matthew Frank looks at his own experience in Montana.
ByLauren Sommer, KQED & Stephanie Joyce, Wyoming Public Radio |
Solar energy is booming in California—so much so that on some days, there’s too much. California would like to send that extra solar to its neighbors in the West, but other western states aren’t sure they want California’s power.
It may be lights out for the solar industry in Nevada. That state is hemorrhaging jobs after a controversial decision in December to raise rates for customers with rooftop solar panels. The move has jarred the solar industry nationwide, especially in other southwestern states like Arizona.
Wyoming’s solar potential is among the best in the nation, but even as residential rooftop solar has boomed recently in places like California, Colorado and New Jersey, it’s barely made any inroads in the state. Economics and politics both play a role, but with the price of photovoltaics continuing to drop, some people are starting to ask whether momentum is building for solar in nation’s largest coal-producing state.
Inside Energy is a collaborative journalism initiative of partners across the US and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting