Navigant Research Blog

Deploying Energy Efficiency to Lower CO2 Emissions and Comply with the Clean Power Plan

— May 17, 2016

Cloud ComputingThis post originally appeared on the Association of Energy Services Professionals (AESP) website.

This article was co-authored by Frank Stern and Rob Neumann. Amanvir Chahal and David Purcell also contributed.

There has been a great deal of discussion on compliance with the Clean Power Plan (CPP). Surprisingly, there is little discussion of specific costs and benefits in leveraging energy efficiency (EE) to reduce CO2 and move toward complying with the CPP. Navigant investigated the effects of deploying additional EE resources to decrease CO2 emissions in two regions—California and PJM [1]. Our analysis shows that deploying additional EE for CPP compliance results in reduced CO2, as would be expected, but it also reduces costs and system congestion. Additional EE can reduce cost to serve load by 3% to 5% in California and PJM, which reduces costs annually up to $825 million in California and $1.5 billion in PJM. Another benefit of deployed EE is system congestion relief, which reduces the cost to serve load—this is important since large, urban utilities are focused on reducing congestion points, and EE can be used as a solution.

CPP and CO2 Reduction Timeline

The CPP has been stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court until final resolution of the case through the federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court may not have final resolution of the case until 2018, although it could be sooner. Regardless, many states and regions continue to move toward the CPP goals to reduce carbon emissions, plan for an advanced energy economy, and meet cleaner generation goals. It is not known at this time if the deadlines in the CPP will be modified.

Modeling EE for CO2 Reduction

Navigant has been modeling supply resources for many years and has been including EE as a modeled resource. For this analysis, we focused on modeling PJM Transmission Interconnection and the state of California. To establish our EE base case across California and PJM, we included levels of EE modeled in each of Navigant’s most recent PROMOD and POM [2] transmission model runs. The data and assumptions in these runs are updated and verified with industry experts each quarter. Variables in the model include (i) rate of EE adoption over time, (ii) amount of EE compared to new generation, and (iii) varying amounts of EE deployed. EE was modeled across CA and PJM for the three cases (high/medium/low)—each case was run for 2025 and 2030. These years are important since 2025 is the middle of the CPP implementation period and 2030 is the first year of full compliance with the rule (final goal). The low case included a 50% reduction in EE from the base case, while the high case included a 50% increase in EE from the base case—the base case in 2030 is 33 million MWh for PJM and 24 million MWh for California.

Modeled Results

Deployed EE can provide up to 8.8% of California’s and 3.6% of PJM’s overall CPP Compliance goal in 2030. There is also a reduction in the cost to serve generation load based upon deployed EE. In PJM, the cost savings from the low EE case to the high EE case results in over $1.5 billion in savings annually in 2030 (3.6% of total cost to serve load), while in California, the same metric results in up to $825 million in savings annually in 2030 (4.7% of the cost to serve load). To state it in different terms, the cost to increase EE in 2030 to assist meeting CPP requirements is approximately $900 million in PJM and $550 million in California, which results in an EE return on investment of $600 million in PJM and $300 million in California. This lowers 2030 system capacity requirements by 5.6% in PJM and 10.7% in California. The lower savings and returns in California are due to aggressive renewable and EE policies already underway today in advance of CPP compliance.

Another benefit of deployed EE is reduced system congestion, which reduces the cost to serve load. EE will lower the need for new thermal generation on the system and put downward pressure on capacity and resource prices. Our model shows that system congestion is reduced by approximately 1.5% and is seen systemwide. This amounts to cost reductions of more than $765 million a year in PJM and $270 million a year in California. This system congestion finding is important, since there are various efforts underway across the nation to improve congestion (e.g., Con Edison Brooklyn/Queens Demand Management Initiative).


CPP initiatives would benefit greatly by incorporating additional EE into the planning process. EE reduces emissions and systems costs and pushes out the need for large, costly new generation projects. Specifically, we showed that CO2 emissions would be significantly lowered in PJM and California in both 2025 and 2030, while system costs are lowered in PJM and CA by at least 3% and 5%, respectively. This all adds up to longer glide paths for meeting regulatory requirements or when state goals have to be implemented. By including EE as a resource into the resource mix, system planners and environmental offices gain significant benefits in the form of decreasing costs, flattening demand and a zero-emitting resource.

[1] PROMOD IV is a detailed hourly chronological market model that simulates the dispatch and operation of the wholesale electricity market. It replicates the least cost optimization decision criteria used by system operators and utilities in the market while observing generating operational limitations and transmission constraints. The Proprietary Portfolio Optimization Model (POM) is leveraged for regional analysis of regulatory impacts.

[2] PJM coordinates movement of electricity through all or parts of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and the District of Columbia – numerous states and diverse regions.


California’s Investments Pay Off in PEVs

— June 3, 2015

Analysis of the penetration of plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs) per capita reveals that, to the surprise of no one, California is far ahead of the rest of the United States. Based on data from Navigant Research’s recently published Electric Vehicle Geographic Forecasts report, 7 of the 20 areas with the most PEVs on the road in 2015 are in the state.

As show in the below table, California’s seven metropolitan statistical areas are near the top of the list for PEVs sold per 100,000 residents. California’s route to success has included substantial investments in PEVs and EV charging infrastructure through incentives, project grants from the California Energy Commission and other state institutions, and by providing PEV access to HOV lanes. However, the coveted HOV stickers are nearly gone, so it would not be surprising if PEV sales in the Golden State slow unless new stickers are made available.

PEVs on the Road per 100,000 Residents

John blog table, june 2(Sources: Navigant Research, U.S. Census Bureau)

The regions on this list have many things in common that make owning a PEV favorable, including demographics like age and higher average incomes that lean toward PEV ownership. All of the states wherein these regions lie have some form of incentive for buying or driving an EV or for purchasing a charging station, often in the form of tax credits or the ability to drive in HOV lanes. Also, nearly all of the areas on the list were recipients of charging infrastructure funded by the Department of Energy’s EV Project and ChargePoint America projects, which deployed thousands of Level 1-2 and direct current (DC) fast charging stations between 2010 and 2013. The exceptions that were able to also create demand in PEVs are Honolulu, Denver, and Miami, although each area has received some federal funding for EV programs.

Investments in public EV charging infrastructure by federal or state agencies (or increasingly utilities) have resulted in greater PEV awareness by the general public, as well as increased PEV sales as potential buyers feel greater confidence knowing that they can charge at familiar spots around town. Conversely, states without investments in EV charging infrastructure have seen much less PEV penetration.



California Drought Implications for Electric T&D Becoming Clearer

— June 2, 2015

The implications of climate change and the 4-year California drought are just beginning to become clear. The snowpack in the Sierras, where reservoirs and dams ultimately feed the canal system that delivers water to the Bay Area, the Central Valley, and Southern California, is at an all-time low. While strict water rationing is mandatory for some residential and commercial consumers in many parts of the state, there are other forces at play. Some are laudable, and some are not.

On one hand, many city and municipal water districts are offering new rebate programs and incentives to remove lawns that require watering and replace them with xeriscape landscapes that require little if any water. On the other hand, the agricultural economy in California’s Central Valley needs water for almonds, pistachios, and a host of other products, and the large farms are reportedly pumping down the aquifers to support their business.

Thinking Long Term

Prolonged drought could also have major effects on the electric transmission and distribution (T&D) system, as well as on the water delivery system across California.

  • The major water agencies, including the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) managing the canal system between Northern and Southern California, have for many years been not only a major end-use consumer, but also a demand response resource for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).  If the volume of water moving south through the Central Valley and over the mountains into the Los Angeles basin decreases substantially, the loss of demand response resources during peak demand conditions could be substantial.
  • With limited snowpack, major California reservoirs are now at record low levels and have limited, if any, hydropower capacity. Innovative pumped water storage projects like Pacific Gas and Electric’s (PG&E’s) Helms System, which uses off-peak Diablo Canyon nuclear power to pump water up for day-time generation use, will be at risk.
  • Recent reports in media have suggested that many locations in California’s Central Valley are sinking as a result of ongoing water pumping from the underground aquifers by all types of commercial and agricultural businesses. Not only are residential, commercial, and agricultural wells going dry, but the land itself is subsiding. This has tremendous implications for California’s Peripheral Canal system and other longstanding canals that transport water north to south through the central valley. As subsidence occurs, it is entirely possible that cement canals will fracture, and major leaks will occur, further exacerbating the water loss problem.

As in many states, the electric transmission infrastructure in California is aging. It’s clear that California’s drought will have a significant effect on the electric power market as well, degrading demand response resources, electric demand for water pumping, and hydropower resources.


The Breadbasket Running Dry

— May 22, 2015

NASA scientists recently predicted that California has just 1 year of water left to the catastrophic tune of a million Facebook users simultaneously hitting the Share button. California’s water problems are not entirely self-inflicted, coming in the middle of what is reportedly the worst drought in 1,200 years. However, some of these problems are caused by poor water management.

California’s water laws dedicate around 40% of total water to farming and agriculture—about 80% of what isn’t strictly devoted to maintaining wildlife and the environment. Farming requires a lot of water, and California water law does not improve the situation. There is a huge incentive for farmers to waste water, meaning the so-called breadbasket of America can’t sustainably keep producing the same crops it currently does. California, if it were a country, would have the eighth largest economy in the world, so shutting down the pipes is not exactly an option.

Technology to the Rescue

So, what is being done to keep lawns green in The Golden State? Water appliance standards have been enacted, which are projected to save more than 100 billion gallons per year. But even massive usage restrictions won’t be enough to keep California going. William Shatner has proposed a $30 billion Kickstarter campaign for a pipeline that could transport water, above ground, from Seattle into Lake Mead. Orange County began recharging its drinking water aquifer with purified wastewater in 2008, but the catchphrase toilet-to-tap makes this a less-than-popular option in the public eye.

One solution that appears more glamorous is the desalination of seawater. In Carlsbad, California, construction is underway on a $1 billion desalination plant, the largest in the Western Hemisphere. Due to open in early 2016, this plant could provide up to 50 million gallons of fresh water each day, supplying around 112,000 households. Desalination is, however, massively expensive and can discharge large amounts of concentrated brine directly into the ocean. Permanent desalination plants (such as the one in Carlsbad) can only treat around 35%–50% of the water they bring in, according to Stanley Weiner, CEO of STW resources.

Salttech, a Norwegian company, recently demonstrated its DyVaR Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD) water processing technology in Midland, Texas. This technology promises to recover up to 97% of the water processed, and discharge only solid salt and minerals, thus eliminating the problem of brine disposal to the ocean. Salttech has plans to begin an ocean desalination project on the coast of California. This technology also claims to be economical, reducing the cost of desalination from $1,850–$2,000 per acre-foot to $1,100–$1,350 per acre-foot, also according to Stanley Weiner. With the cost of desalinated water currently hovering around twice that of imported water, these technologies must make some major cost reductions before they can be widely adopted. Until then, California may have to start construction on Mr. Shatner’s pipeline.


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