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Creating VALUE in the clean energy space.

 

 

 

Plant Vogtle Decision Point: Time To Chart A Different Course

Construction on new nuclear units at Plant Vogtle in Georgia has been underway for 8 years. Now, with the prime contractor in bankruptcy and the project in jeopardy, it’s worth asking the question: is this project still a good idea?

Nuclear expansion at Vogtle was approved when electricity demand was growing quickly.

However, post-Recession, the economy has gotten more energy-efficient; strong GDP growth is happening without an increase in electricity consumption.

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Source: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission; US Bureau of Economic Analysis

We won’t need the new nuclear power for grid reliability.

Georgia Power carries a 16% reliability buffer called a “reserve margin” to ensure a dependable power supply; even if growth is 50% faster than expected, Georgia Power's reserve margin stays above the 16% requirement without adding the new nuclear units.

Source: Georgia Power Company, Georgia Public Service Commission, US Energy Information Administration, Author’s calculations

The economics of electricity have changed since the Vogtle expansion was approved.

At this stage, clean energy options like energy efficiency and utility-scale solar are significantly cheaper ways to meet electricity demand. If a future energy need arises, new nuclear is not, and will not be, the most cost-effective option.

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Source: Georgia Power Company, US Energy Information Administration, Georgia Public Service Commission, Solar Energy Industry Association, Author Calculations

Energy efficiency and solar can scale quickly to meet new needs without overbuilding the system.

Ongoing efficiency programs approved by the Commission and administered by Georgia Power are saving customers 2 billion kWh this year, and will result in 15 billion kWh-saved in total. Similarly, decisions made at the Commission have helped make Georgia a national leader in utility-scale solar generation.

Source: Georgia Power Company, Georgia Public Service Commission, Wall Street Journal

It is going to be expensive to finish the new nuclear units at Vogtle.

Over $5 billion has been spent on the Georgia Power part of the project to date, but it could take at least that much again to complete.

Source: Georgia Power Company, Southern Company, Georgia Public Service Commission, Author's Calculations

The average residential customer pays about $100 a year for Vogtle already, and this number is only going to increase. That kind of money could do a lot for customers without increasing the average bill at all.

Investing just one month of Vogtle’s $30 million monthly tab into efficiency programs would reduce customer bills by $250 million over the next decade. With one year of the current Vogtle spending, Georgia could add more than 320 MW of new solar to the grid, resources that could be online and generating carbon-free electricity in just two years.

The bottom line is that Plant Vogtle has priced itself out of the market.

At this stage, it is no longer the most cost-effective way of delivering low-carbon energy to Georgia’s grid.  Customers would be better served by abandoning the project and devoting even a fraction of the ongoing costs toward additional investments in energy efficiency and solar.

 

Grounds for Optimism: Options for Empowering Ohio's Energy Market

 
 

Ohio policymakers have expressed interest in a set of renewable energy and efficiency policies that would maximize financial benefits to the state, while keeping Ohio on track to meet potential future environmental regulations. To evaluate the most effective mix of resources that would meet these two objectives, the Greenlink Group, in consultation with Runnerstone, produced four forecasts of the state’s electricity market: a baseline case that models an extended freeze of Ohio’s renewable and energy-efficiency standards, and three scenarios based on varying, but achievable, levels of renewable energy and energy efficiency.


Each of the three alternative scenarios would meet potential federal carbon reduction
regulations as well as provide financial benefits to the state. Responding to concerns of Ohio policymakers regarding existing law, each of the scenarios – Accelerated Efficiency, Intermediate Pathway, and Expanded Renewables – also reduces the efficiency and renewable standard levels established in Senate Bill (S.B.) 221/310 and is based on clear trends and achievable targets within the state’s growing clean energy industry. Our analysis found that the Accelerated Efficiency scenario offers the most economic and environmental benefits of the three options, while Expanded Renewables offers the greatest economic development opportunities.

Read the Full Report Here

Read the Executive Summary Here

 
 
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Solutions happen when evidence drives action

 

The way we interact with energy, water, and the greater environment is changing. Understanding how the decisions we make today impact the generations of tomorrow is complicated, to say the least. Understanding how to make smart, sustainable decisions into profitable solutions is even harder.

Greenlink's award-winning modeling tool, ATHENIA evaluates the most pressing questions of today's energy market for every hour, every city, state, and every utility in the United States. ATHENIA is Greenlink’s proprietary, integrated modeling platform developed to support energy system analysis at multiple levels. It is distinguished in the market by its capacity to integrate hourly supply- and demand-side dynamics of local electric system, offer increased temporal and geographic resolution, and monetize environmental and economic impacts of a changing energy mix.

ATHENIA produces dynamic maps and graphics to allow clients to visualize the impact of their actions. 

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What's your footprint?

Greenlink used ATHENIA  to evaluate the energy intensity and carbon footprint of every major metro area in the United States from 2000-2010. 

See how your city performed:

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Recent Work 

 

Review of Electric Utilities Grid Modernization Proposals in Massachusetts; Client: Energy Freedom Coalition of America

Review of National Grid's Rate Design Proposal in Massachusetts;  Client: Energy Freedom Coalition of America

Review of National Grid's Rate Design Proposal in Rhode Island; Client: The Alliance for Solar Choice

Review of Georgia Power Company's Integrated Resource Plan; Client: Georgia Interfaith Power and Light & Southface Energy Institute

 

The Greenlink Group started with a conversation at Georgia Tech’s School of Public Policy. After years of modeling systems for the likes of the Department of Energy and Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Matt asked Caroline, “What if we really tried to figure out the value of an electron- to the grid, to the utility, and to the customer?” Caroline replied, “What if we integrated all of the water use, economic, health, and air quality impacts?” To which Matt responded, “ So just model the entire system? I like it.” Two years later the ATHENIA model was ready and the pair were presenting their award-winning research all over the country. Now, with a suite of integrated modeling tools, and a team of interdisciplinary experts, The Greenlink Group is solving the toughest problems of energy, water, and sustainable economic development.

The Greenlink Group has produced dozens of scientific publications investigating policy, economic, and engineering solutions to pressing energy, water and environmental problems. Their research and advice has helped craft and inform energy and environmental policies and strategies, from the local to the international scale.

Our Team

 

Matt Cox, PhD: Founder, Chief Executive Officer

Xiaojing Sun, PhD: Chief Technical Officer

Misha Golin: Director of Engineering

Caleb Robinson: Lead Analyst

 

 

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