Archive for the ‘ micro power ’ Category

Feed Tariff’s – The next step in California’s journey is in the mail …

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

We received a nice surprise in the mail this week. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has sent a letter to all Net Energy Metering (NEM) customers. This letter provides clarity on the path California is taking with the passage of Assembly Bill 920 – Huffman – Solar and Wind Generation. Before AB 920, residential power production can feed energy into the grid, get credits for that energy, but received nothing if more power went into the grid that was pulled out of the grid.

This model was a counter incentive to more solar installations in the the state. Home owner’s were not motivated to invest in site generated power (solar and wind) nor continue with maximized efficiencies to put more power into the grid. AB 920 changed this model. 2010/2011 are the transition years where the home owner gets paid at the year end “true-up” period (true-up allows for the averaging of the year’s power productions – compensating for day light hours and other seasonal impact).  Now a home owner will get paid for the excess power sent into the grid.  Feed-in tariffs are now real in California.

For those who are interested, I’ve transcribed the letter.

January 29, 2010

Subject: Assembly Bill 920 and Your New PG&E Net Energy Metering (NEM) Options

Dear Laina Greene:

PG&E would like to let you know about a Net Energy Metering (NEM) program enhancement that goes into effect this year. Late in 2009, Governor Schwarzenegger approved a new program feature (Assembly Bill 920 – Huffman – Solar and Wind Generation) that provides a new compensation option to your basic NEM program.

If you provide more energy to PG&E’s electric system (PG&E grid) than you receive on a 12 month basis, you will be identified as a “net generator.” As a result, you will have the ability to receive a once-per-year compensation for the excess electricity you supply to the PG&E grid. Starting in 2011, this compensation will be calculated at the time of your normally scheduled, annual true-up.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) still has to determine the details before the new enhancements to the NEM program are fully implemented. In the meantime, you will automatically be enrolled in the new program and the 12-month period that determines your eligibility for compensation will start on your regular 2010 true-up date. For example:

  1. If you qualify as a net generator at the end of your 12 month true-up period starting in 2010 (and ending in 2011), you will qualify or compensation for your net excess electricity. PG&E will automatically notify you at that tie of your compensation options.
  2. If you do not qualify as a net generator at the end of your 12 month true-up period, you will not be eligible for compensation for that period and there will be no change from the current NEM program. If you should become a net generator in a subsequent 12-month true-up, PG&E will then notify you of your compensation choices.

If you would like to move up the 2010 start date of your 12 month true-up period, you may elect to do so by providing the information requested below and submitting it to PG&E at

NEM Compensation Program

PC Box 770000

MC B12CSan Francisco, CA 94177

If you do not choose to move up your upcoming 2010 true-up date, PG&E will perform a true-up of your account once we receive your request. However, your surplus electricity, if you have any associated with the previous true-up period, will be zeroed out.

In summary, you do not need to take any action to be eligible for the new program, and PG&E will automatically notify you of your compensation options if you qualify as a net generator. You may want to periodically check for updates on the new features at our solar energy website (, or feel free to call our Solar Customer Service Center at 1-877-743-4112.

We appreciate your ongoing business and will continue to inform you of any significant updates or changes to the NEM program as they occur.


Felecia K Lokey

Senior Director

Customer Engagement

Pacific Gas and Electric Company

Al Gore speaks about the communications industry role in Climate Change

Saturday, April 4th, 2009

Al Gore was received with a standing ovation at the recent CTIA Wireless conference in Las Vegas. People lined up outside the doors of the conference hours before his speech, and came running in to get good seats. It was indeed quite a rare site to see so many mobile professionals eagerly waiting to hear what the former Vice President had to say.

Unlike his previous speeches on Climate Change, he directed his focus on the communications industry and the role it can play to help the Planet with Climate Change. He indulged the audience in a history lesson of the Internet, communications technologies such as how Samuel Morse was apparently wanted to spare others the same misfortune he had faced (how he received news of his wife’s illness from a messenger on horseback and so he returned home  too late). When people are driven by serving than just making money, i.e driven by emotion, he felt, we often see true innovation.

What I found particularly pertinent in his speech, was he talked about how we face 3 major crisis today- The Economic Crisis, Climate Crisis and a Security Crisis.

That all three have a common thread, i.e. our absurd overindulgence and dependence on carbon based fuels. If you pull this thread, all three will unravel. We have finally come to a stage where there is more or less a bi-partisan approach to seeing this connection. Hence today there is a more sustainable political will to do something about this. He emphasised that it is key that we finally realize “that the solutions to the economic crisis is the same sort of solutions to the Climate Crisis”. Today, it does not cost but saves money to go Green. Unforunately, it is often the short term/quarterly based outlooks of companies that stop them from exploring these green solutions. 3- 5 years returns do not look attractive to companies who are afraid of being penalized byt the market for missing their targets even by a few pennies by even just one quarter. We clearly need a more long term view to recognize that investing now for the future has many advantages such as saving money, and keeping competitive edge.

We are at a rare moment in our history when putting in infrastructure to help stimulate the economy and keep our long term competitive edge could enable us to redesign whole systems and make them a green infrastructure. The closest analogy can be tapped from how the Internet evolved from connecting supercomputers over a distance to the decentralized small computers we have today. Energy technologies are also going through major innovation and it is possible to scale down and connect a network of microgrids. Wireless has a key role to play here as the last mile to connect these microgrids to the universal smart grid. In fact, the developing world without an electrical grid or communications grid, have the opportunity to leapfrog with wireless and offer a new form of intelligent energy information systems.

Climate Change is an important issue. The Planet has a fever which is getting higher and higher. We generate 70million tonnes of C02 everyday. 3,000 scientist around the world are unanimous in their findings that the ice is melting, our drinking waters are challenged, the thawing of the frozen Thundra will release more methane into the air making things worse and we are already seeing climate refugees in countries such as Bangladesh (they used to have major floods once every 20 years and not they have it once every 3-4 years-not enough time to rebuild).If we have a one metre level rise, we will see about 100 million refugees, 6 metre rise could lead to 450 million refugees and so forth. We are already seeing tropical diseases emerge in temperate climate zones and doctors say that this could lead to a health crisis beyond proportion.We could be facing an 11 degree Farenheit increase of temperature in this century. 

He strongly stressed that the time to act is now and we have to act together. Now is the time for business to take the lead and the wireless industry can play a key role moving forward.

Very interesting talk indeed and good points. Personally I was hoping to hear a little more and thought he might have spoke a little about the “Energy Internet” that Thomas Friedman referred to in his book. I think Al Gore having facilitated the way forward for the Internet world and now doing the same on the issue of Climate Change, can do much to enhance the conversation around how the communications industry can be a key tool to issues around reducing its own carbon footprint, play a role in the intelligent information energy systems, and  being a tool to help reduce the footprint of other industries. I do hope he will lead the path forward to have ICT play a key role in discussions at the upcoming Climate Conference in Copenhagen.


Google announces step into power metering and elaborates on Green@Google at the CTO breakfast in Palo Alto

Tuesday, February 10th, 2009

Google made an announcement this morning that they will soon launch a free website called PowerMeter that users can use to track power consumption in their homes and businesses. This requires an ecosystem of smart meter and grid technology companies, utility providers and regulatory bodies working together to tap data into the PowerMeter. Energy efficiency is a low hanging fruit in the fight against Global Climate Change and Energy Dependence issues.

According to, a Google spokesman Jamie Yood said that Google plans to release the “application programming interface” to allow outside developers to innovate. This could really drive further innovation in the move to energy efficiency and open up new markets for players in this space. The NY times also reported that “the stimulus bill now going to a House-Senate conference committee has allocated $4.4 billion for “smart” technologies, including four million of these next-generation monitors, called smart meters.” Google serves as an active advisor to the Obama administration and has contributed to the formulation of the new admistration’s green agenda. All good news

This discussion was part of the Clean Tech Open (CTO) ( breakfast series, which was launched today at Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati offices. The room was packed with clean tech professionals, CTO alumnus and 2009 Open contendees.

The keynote speaker for the morning was Kevin Chen, Green Energy Strategist at Google. He shared a very interesting wholistic presentation looking at the total sustainability picture of Google. The four main areas involve: employees; buildings, datacenters, and grid. For example, where employees are concerned, he spoke about initiatives such as rewarding employees for riding a bike to work, offering organic food from local farms, using non-toxic materials for carpets, furniture,etc. Green buildings included putting up one of the largest solar panel installation of 9,212 Sharp PV modules for 1.6MW of energy. They also have solar carports for efficient use of space and places to charge plug in hybrids car.

What makes Google even more exciting is that they work on practicing what they preach and driving innovation so that the cost of renewable energy becomes less than that of fossil fuels. At their data centers for instance, Google using water evaporation techniques to reduce cooling power usage coupled with a good water reuse program. They also recyle, reuse or repurpose about 65% of their server materials. Google also has been working on locating datacenters close to energy sources (to avoid loss of energy in power transmission) and also using more Green energy to power them. Not to stop at that, Google actively participates in standards bodies and also helped create industry consortiums such as Climate Savers Computing ( ) to focus on transforming the industry by making the design and use of computers more energy efficient.

To ensure we meet the growing energy needs of the future at a cost less than fossil fuels, Google has major investments in cutting edge renewable energy companies. One such company is Makani for instance, which taps into high altitude wind (1,200 feet and higher) using kite technology. This is supposed to help create much more power than a traditional wind turbine can and with less intermittency. Google investments include: $10M in esolar (solar thermal), $10M in Brightsource (solar thermal), $10M in Makani (high altitude wind), $6.5M Altarock (geothermal), and $4M Potter Drilling . These and other exciting initiatives definitely makes Google ahead of the game and a  leader on the Green front. Google has also shown that it makes good business sense to go Green (they expect a 7-8 year ROI on their Green Buildings investments), after which much of their overall OPEX decreases significantly.

For more information about Green@Google, check out their website at