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?
Conventional wisdom has it that without baseload power—coal and nuclear plants running in the background at all times—the grid will become unreliable. After all, how could wind and solar keep the lights on when they are so inherently variable? But now, a growing number of people are challenging that idea. In this interview, Jesse Morris, with the Rocky Mountain Institute, argues baseload power isn’t necessary.
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.
Inside Energy is a collaborative journalism initiative of partners across the US and supported by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting