While social justice issues and international terrorism dominated the headlines this week, here are the stories that we through energy consumers might be interested in. Most notably, the Great American Eclipse.
The solar eclipse of August 2017 is being closely followed not just by amateur astronomers but also by electric utility administrators who see this event as a major test of the solar energy grid. Managers of the Texas solar energy grid, one of the largest in the country, have already calculated how much electricity will fail to generate during the eclipse: 600 megawatts, which are enough to power 120,000 households during periods of peak demand. Engineers do not foresee a problem because the eclipse would be equivalent to shutting down one plant for temporary maintenance, something that is done regularly in the Lone Star state without major repercussions.
On August 18, Wall Street analysts issued concerns over the state of the energy economic sector as shares of oil producing companies showed no signs of rebounding after months of poor performance. The situation is being described as an energy sector meltdown and a bloodbath due to its negative impact on other companies such as utilities and even shale gas producers. The problem is mostly centered on OPEC and its failed attempts to increase crude oil prices; this problem is exacerbated by the sheer abundance of shale and crude oil at a time when demand is being eclipsed, so to speak, by rising interest in renewable energy sources.
The Trump administration has experienced difficulty in promoting a return to the production of fossil fuels such as crude oil and coal for energy generation, and it seems as if this effort is going to get harder with the formation of a massive lobbying group that intends to influence clean energy legislation. According to a report by the Associated Press, more than a dozen organizations that work to advance clean energy projects are joining together as a significant lobby group. The first effort that this group intends to undertake will be a public awareness campaign to include the declaration of National Clean Energy Week in September.
In the Vancouver metropolitan area of Washington State, landlords and property managers are being urged to increase the energy efficiency of their rental units as a way of making them more attractive to prospective renters. According to a recent report published by The Columbian, a newspaper based in Clark County, the local public utility often gets requests from renters who would like to learn their options after an energy audit, but there is only so much they can do as tenants. Utility administrators recommend that landlords make improvements such as insulation, modern heat pumps, and smart thermostats.
Drivers in Stockton, Modesto and other communities of California’s Inland Empire will likely be paying close to $3.00 per gallon of gasoline by the end of 2017. The last time drivers in the Golden State found some relief at the pump was during the Fourth of July; since then, gas and diesel prices across California have experienced gradual increases. As of mid-August, average gas prices in Modesto stood at $2.83 per gallon, and analysts believe that more increases are on the horizon for drivers in the region, a sentiment shared by local gas station operators.