Tag Archives: Tesla

Out On A Limb:
 Energy Storage To Track
 Rapid Development
 Of Marcellus Shale, PV

Predicting the future is hard, I get it, but it shocks me how abysmally wrong some of the smartest people in the business can be, even with the best information.

For example, in a recent interview with EnergyWire John Rowe, chairman emeritus of Chicago-based Exelon Corp. and a long-time big thinker in the utility industry, acknowledged that he and his executive team essentially missed the coming shale gas revolution: “What we didn’t see, even as late as ’08, we just didn’t see what shale gas was going to do to gas prices. Some of our downside scenarios were at $4 [per mmBtu] gas. We did not see below $3 gas. … I have a wound on my neck from that one.”

Rowe is hardly alone in having missed the explosion in shale gas production. As I pointed out here, EIA’s 2004 Annual Energy Outlook didn’t even mention the Marcellus and Utica shale resources. Pity that, since output from Marcellus has jumped from basically nothing a decade ago to 16 billion cubic feet a day this year—accounting for roughly 13 percent of overall U.S. output.

Continue reading Out On A Limb:
 Energy Storage To Track
 Rapid Development
 Of Marcellus Shale, PV

Reliability Is Key Issue
 For Electric Utilities
 In Changing Market

 It’s not always about dollars and cents.

In a recent article in Utility Dive (the full piece can be found here), Tucson Electric Power’s Carmine Tilghman made a big deal about the unfavorable economics of Tesla’s current 7 kilowatt-hour Powerwall battery option, which he said would cost consumers $7,000 installed. As quoted by Utility Dive, Tilghman said: “At the average all-in electricity rate of $0.12 per kwh, the buyer saves $0.84 per day. And $7,000 divided by $0.84 per day means it will take 8,333 days or about 22.9 years to get the initial investment back for a battery that comes with a ten year warranty.”

Regardless of whether Tesla’s Powerwall actually ends up costing $7,000 installed, utility executives are kidding themselves if they think it is only about dollars and cents. Economics are important, to be sure, but reliability is, as a popular current commercial concludes, priceless.


Just this week I would have paid just about anything to have had Tesla’s battery backup (or anybody else’s for that matter) installed on the wall in my garage. Construction on a new house two down from mine necessitated the installation of a new power transformer on our street. Dominion, my provider, duly showed up, knocked the power off on my block for an hour and hooked up the new equipment. No harm, really, except that since I work out of my home that was 60 minutes of essentially wasted time.

Unfortunately, that was not the only time I wasted day. Later in the evening when I went to turn on the TV (I pay for a bundled internet/phone/TV package through Verizon) nothing happened. The menu info showed up at the bottom telling me that I was watching the Washington Nationals play the first of three games against the Cincinnati Reds—but there was no video, just a blank black screen.

An hour and a half later after the Verizon FIOS tech support guy had had me reboot, disconnect/reconnect, unplug and plug in every cable box in my house (This is standard fare for virtually all customer support these days—when a piece of electronics does not work you are almost always told to turn it off and then back on. For mystical reasons unclear to everyone, that often does the trick.) he finally agreed that I might actually need a real technician to come examine my problem.

Of course, since there seem to be only five of them in Verizon’s entire Washington, DC service territory, the earliest appointment was three days off—so much for watching any of the Nationals/Reds games. And even then, I have no guarantee that the problem, whatever it is, will be fixed.

However, if I had a battery backup installed at my house, none of this would have happened. Dominion would have turned off the power on my block, my battery would have kicked into operation, the power surge that apparently killed my FIOS video feed never would have occurred and I likely would not even have known that the power company was working just two houses away.

Now that truly would have been priceless.

–Dennis Wamsted


The Solar Scenario:
 Utilities Can Profit
 By Embracing The Future

The utility industry has been waging a spirited campaign against state net metering policies for months (see my earlier post here), arguing that these programs unfairly benefit residential solar users and force new costs onto both non-solar customers and the companies themselves. However, judging by a recent report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, those arguments are largely moot—solar is going to win regardless. The real question, RMI said, is whether the industry is going to continue fighting the last war—or start figuring out how to profit from this new reality.

The RMI report, The Economics of Load Defection (which can be downloaded here), modeled the costs of solar and solar plus batteries and compared them with today’s utility costs and expected cost increases going forward. What they found was eye-opening:

 “Smaller solar-only systems are economic today in three of our five geographies, and will be so for all geographies within a decade.”

The five areas studied by RMI were Westchester, NY, Louisville, KY, San Antonio, TX, Los Angeles, CA and Honolulu, HI. The residential results from the study are shown in the chart below.


Continue reading The Solar Scenario:
 Utilities Can Profit
 By Embracing The Future