July 22 News: During Heat Waves, Energy Companies Reward Customers Who Save Energy


As people use more energy to cool their homes during increasing heat waves, one thing utilities are trying is to reward homes for reduced energy use during peak times. [Wall Street Journal]

As residents of the East Coast cranked up their air conditioners in last week’s stifling heat wave, utility officials turned not only to every available power plant but also to increasingly popular “demand response” programs that reward customers for cutting power use at peak times.

In the energy world, where units of electricity are measured in “megawatts” or millions of watts, these peak-time conservation efforts are said to provide valuable “negawatts” that help cushion the electric grid against surges in demand that can send prices soaring and even cause outages.

In New York, for example, a program run by the state’s grid operator produced energy savings on Friday equivalent to the output of two large power plants. Electricity use that day peaked at 33,955 megawatts, beating the prior state record set Aug. 2, 2006, of 33,939 megawatts.

The program was crucial, said Tom Rumsey, vice president of external affairs at the New York Independent System Operator, which manages power flows in the state. “Every generating asset we had was working all week and we were just a couple hundred megawatts away” from running dangerously low on power.

Tokyo Electric Power has admitted that the crippled Fukushima nuclear plant has been leaking radioactive water into the ocean. [AP]

ICYMI: the Wall Street Journal finds that it many cases it now costs $0.00 to lease and drive an electric car. Not a typo. [Gas2, Wall Street Journal]

Researchers at Ohio State University want to place a working shale oil and gas well on land owned by the school to investigate what effect fracking has on air and groundwater pollution. [Columbus Dispatch]

Increased atmospheric CO2 is making poison ivy grow faster and more potent — in the last 50 years, the growth rate of poison ivy has doubled. [Pittsburgh Post-Gazette]

Washington, DC set a record for the longest period of time constantly above 80 degrees last week — more than five and a half days without break. [Capital Weather Gang]

Climate change is likely to wipe out the Iberian lynx, the world’s rarest cat, within 50 years. [Agence France-Presse]

Eight GOP governors from coastal states wrote to their congressional delegations to ask them to “champion” offshore drilling. [Fuel Fix]

Federal and local agencies are accelerating efforts to thin vegetation in Colorado in the hopes they can prevent and slow the spread of wildfires. [AP]

As Maryland looks at 6 feet of sea level rise this century, cities and towns have to make some tough decisions about how to adapt, especially when storm surges are taken into account. [Washington Post]

As the Arctic becomes increasingly ice-free, the U.S. finds itself falling behind in terms of mapping the sea floor, enforcing environmental protections, conduct search-and-rescue operations, or sending a single Navy surface ship to the area. [Climate Central]

The Mountain Fire in Southern California has burned 40 square miles but is now 68 percent contained. [USA Today]

Drought is to blame for historically low water levels in six Central Texas lakes that were dammed 80 years ago. [AP]

White House energy advisor Heather Zichal met with climate hawks on Capitol Hill to brief them on the schedule of proposed carbon regulations and how climate change needs to be talked about at the local level. [The Hill]

Texas and California lead the way in smart grid investment, according to a new report. [Greentech Media]

India’s renewable energy requirement seems to be working, as the power portion of the country’s largest industrial group announced it will finish a 28 megawatt solar power plant this year. [Bloomberg]

18 Responses to July 22 News: During Heat Waves, Energy Companies Reward Customers Who Save Energy

  1. June Roullard says:

    Alberta tar sands ongoing underground ‘spill’. It has been going on for weeks. No media or public allowed.


  2. Zimzone says:

    That article is disturbing, to say the least.

    Natives subsisting off the land will be the first & hardest hit, but nobody will pay attention because they’re ‘just Natives.’

  3. Leif says:

    Peak Solar PV works well with peak AC demand. A Value added. As noted by many others and promptly ignored by those that profit from the pollution of the commons.

  4. DRT says:

    Here’s the link to the full article:

    I’d guess the tar sands operators aren’t aware of this concept:
    “Society, as trustee of the earth, reasonably expects the natural estate to be returned undiminished at the end of each landholder’s tenure”. See Joe’s excellent post on unsufruct:

  5. DRT says:

    There’s another event in DC this coming Saturday.

    Show of hands?

  6. BobbyL says:

    A new study suggests that the East Antarctica ice sheet might be less stable than is thought.

  7. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    New capitalist definition of usufruct-‘We use you, then you’re left fructed’.

  8. Paul Magnus says:

    always has been a bit like that. affects now more pronounce with creeping resource depletion and extraction desperation.

  9. Paul Magnus says:

    The minister of the environment for Canada was invited but did not attend.

  10. wili says:

    Looks more like melt pools than open ocean to me. The markers are still in the orientation they have been in so they are still embedded in ice.

    Probably not for long, though.

  11. wili says:

    Then there’s this:

    Sea level rise: New iceberg theory points to areas at risk of rapid disintegration

    In events that could exacerbate sea level rise over the coming decades, stretches of ice on the coasts of Antarctica and Greenland are at risk of rapidly cracking apart and falling into the ocean, according to new iceberg calving simulations from the University of Michigan.

    “If this starts to happen and we’re right, we might be closer to the higher end of sea level rise estimates for the next 100 years,” said Jeremy Bassis, assistant professor of atmospheric, oceanic and space sciences at the U-M College of Engineering, and first author of a paper on the new model published in the current issue of Nature Geoscience.

    “Essentially, everything is driven by gravity,” Bassis said. “We identified a critical threshold of one kilometer where it seems like everything should break up. You can think of it in terms of a kid building a tower. The taller the tower is, the more unstable it gets.”

    … A third feature is also required for the most dramatic ice collapses to occur. Icebergs can’t float away and make room for more icebergs to break off the main sheet unless the system has access to open water. So areas that border deep, unobstructed ocean rather than fjords or other waterways are at greater risk of rapid ice loss. The researchers point to the Thwaites and Pine Island glaciers in Antarctica and the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland, which is already retreating rapidly, as places vulnerable to “catastrophic disintegration” because they have all three components.

    “The ice in those places gets thicker as you go back. If our threshold is right, then if these places start to retreat as you expose the thicker calving font, they’re susceptible to catastrophic breakup,” Bassis said.

  12. Colorado Bob says:

    Been watching the heat around the Arctic circle this year, very warm on the land masses without ice cover, drifting east, the temps in northern Russia this week are going to off the charts. It’s going to be over 90F at 70 degrees North latitude in north central Russia.

  13. Colorado Bob says:

    Watch this as a base line 2 weeks from now north and west of these fires.

    05:50 UTC

    Fires in eastern Russia

  14. Colorado Bob says:

    These events that no one sees , or measure are thawing every bit of peat, and permafrost there is right now, right here. Down to 15 meters deep.
    The models work like a fireworks display, but what we have is a fireworks accident.

  15. wili says:

    Not new, but full of crucial info.

    Tipping points are dealt with at about minute 30.

    At about minute 40, he points out that waiting till 2020 to peak global emissions means requiring a 9% reduction per year in global GDP thereafter till you hit zero carbon emissions in about 2040!

    And that’s just to have some chance of staying below the too-high 2 degree C limit.

  16. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The end-stage feeding frenzy, as the piranha turn on each other. Perhaps rats might be a better, because mammalian, comparison. Or, should we perhaps go Reptilican. There are cannibalistic snakes, are there not?