Mint Energy 2015 Highlights
Rates rising for winter
Capacity can’t meet demand
MA to purchase natural gas pipeline capacity
Pilgram Nuclear Power Plant shuts down
Northeast has great solar opportunity
PV Capacity By Country in 2014
The solar industry – thriving & expected to grow
National Grid (MA)
National Grid (RI)
Central Maine Power
Mint Energy 2015 Highlights
This quarter Mint hit record timing with pricing, credit and contract turn-around
We’ve implemented an internal blend and extend tool, allowing us to alert channel partners when there’s an opportunity to extend a contract and reduce a rate
Mint now offers utility consolidated billing in all markets we serve, except CT UI,which is actively being tested
W’ere in the final development stages for two new products, which we are eager to discuss with our channel partners in the coming months
We’re also in the final stages of development of our online historical proposal tool for our partner channel
Our office has expanded to include another suite, and is on track to double the company’s growth by 2016
Two new direct sales representatives have been hired, and we’re still looking to fill two more positions as well
Our matrix pricing threshold has been increased to 1,000,000 kWh/year
Rates Are Rising For Winter, Fortunitely Not As High As Last Winter
This winter, National Grid customers will see about a 20% rise in their electric bill, come November. Fortunately, the increase won’t be as high as last winter’s, when National Grid rates jumped about 40%, and was described as a “major trauma” by the president of National Grid (Massachusetts.) Even still, as many as 3% of National Grid’s 1.3 million customers are paying off electricity bills from that period.
New England’s recent high prices are the result of a basic supply and demand issue. Natural Gas is used to generate more than half the electricity in Massachusetts and pipeline capacity for gas transmission into the
region has not kept pace with demand. In past years the insufficient pipeline capacity sent prices soaring, hurting power genterator’s profits.
Last year, anticipating more natural gas shortages, power generators bid much higher prices, which led to the
jump in electric rates.
Due to rising costs of other materials, as well as additional expenses, more increases are likely to be on the way. National will be filing a request with the state Department of Public Utilities to increase its distribution rates. The size of the proposed increases have not yet been determined, but approved, would go into effect in late 2016.
“This winter’s customer bills will be down, absolutely down”
(Source: Woolhouse, Megan. “National Grid’s Electric Rates Going Up For Winter” Boston Globe. Boston Globe Media Partners, Sept.15, 2015. Web.)
Pipeline Capacity Can’t Meet Demand, New England Prepares
The lack of infrastructure in New England causes energy prices to be higher than in most other regions.
This is because natural gas is used to generate more than half the electricity in Massachusetts and pipeline
capacity for gas transmission into the region has not kept pace with demand. In past years the insuffi cient
pipeline capacity sent prices soaring, hurting power genertator’s profits.
Although transmission ratings and maximum generation output is higher during the cold weather and peak
load is lower, the ability to import power is a major concern.
As the winter season approaches, other regions discuss increasing their efforts for the winter, while for New
England preparation occurs throughout the year. ISO-NE will again rely on the winter reliability program it
has used for the last two winters.
A Pay-for-Performance program will go into effect in 2018, which rewards successful generators and penalizes those who fail to meet their commitments. Additionally, generators will also be allowed to change offers on an hourly basis in the day-ahead and real-time markets, improving incentives for following dispatch
Although ISO-NE stated that significant disruptions in gas supply or pipeline capability will create major challenges for ISO operations, Peter Brandien, ISO-NE’s vice president of system operations has said that he feels comfortable going into the winter, and stated “we have insight into all of the challenges, that we have
the right communication, that we have the right emergency procedures and that we’ll be able to implement
any operational actions in time.”
(Source: Opalka, William. “ISO-NE: Little Room for Error in Winter.” RTO Insider. RTO Insider, September 24, 2015. Web.)
Electric Companies in Massachusetts May Purchase Natural Gas Pipeline Capacity
The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities has ruled that electric distribution companies in Massachusetts may contract for natural gas capacity to fuel power generation, and pass the cost on to consumers. This is a victory for natural gas pipeline expansion advocates, who support Northeast Energy Direct and the interstate line proposed by Kinder Morgan.
The DPU found if the electric companies could prove that a contract would result in cost savings for ratepayers, and otherwise satisfy various standards, that the contracts for pipeline capacity would be consistent with state law. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission looks at financial viability and market need when it considers whether to grant certificates for interstate pipelines. Kinder Morgan will apply for a FERC certificate this fall.
This is not the only pipeline expansion proposed for Massachusetts. National Grid and Eversource both provide both natural gas and electricity services, but have not been able to purchase gas pipeline capacity for power generation since 1999, when the energy industry was restructured by the state. Access Northeast has
also proposed, and has been planned by Spectra Energy, Eversource and National Grid, to expand an existing line entering eastern Massachusetts from Rhode Island and Connecticut. A spokesperson from Eversource confirmed that an application will be submitted to FERC by 2016.
(Source: Serreze, Mary. “Massachusetts DPU Rules Electric Companies May Purchase Natural Gas Pipeline Capacity.” MassLive. MassLive, Inc., October 07, 2015. Web.)
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant No Longer Financially Viable, Plans to Shutdown
Pilgrim Nuclear Power Station, which has supplied power in New England for four decades will close no later than June 2019. Officials stated that the plant is simply “no longer financially viable.” The announcement, came after Pilgrim was named one of the nation’s three least-safe reactors by the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Questions have been raised how Massachusetts will replace the source of energy, which is free of carbon emissions. Pilgrim supplies an average of about 5% of the New England’s energy, and accounts for about 84 percent of the state’s noncarbon emitting energy. The closure of the plant could make it substantially more difficult to meet the goal of cutting its carbon emissions.
The state, which has cut its emissions by 14% below 1990 levels, will need to make up for the zero-emissions power that Pilgrim supplied, said Jack Clarke, director of public policy at the Mass Audubon. He urged state officials to invest more into solar energy and offshore wind farms.
Governor Charlie Baker believes the shutdown of Pilgrim may potentially lead to an energy shortage for Massachusetts and New England. Developing cleaner, more reliable energy sources for the state will be a focus. “Our administration will work closely with Pilgrim’s leadership team and federal regulators to ensure that this decision is managed as safely as possible” Baker said.
(Source: Abel, David. “Costs Lead Officials To Pull the Plug on Pilgrim.” BostonGlobe. Boston Globe Media Parners, LLC., October 13, 2015.)
Could the Rise of Renewables Shutdown Cause More Generation Plants to Retire?
There has been a rise in the generation of renewables as federal and state policies attempt to cut carbon
emissions. According to the ISO-New England, by the end of 2014 the region had achieved 900 MW of solar photovoltaic (PV) resources. The grid expects market penetration to rise, and are anticipating 2,500MW of solar generation by 2024.
Expected growth in renewables could cause more nuclear and coal plants to retire, which may deplete energy revenues that sustain power production plants that generate the power needed to satisfy minimum demand in the region. Federal tax credits and state subsidies allow renewable generators to offer their energy at low prices and still earn a profit. For that reason, additional renewables would reduce energy prices in the region.
(Source: ISO New England Discussion Paper. “The Importance of a Performance Based Capacity Market to Ensure Reliability as the Grid Adapts to a Renewable Energy Future.” ISO New England. ISO New England, June 3, 2015. Web.)
Large Investment Opportunity For Commercial Solar Throughout The
There is more opportunity in the Northeast for mid-scale commercial solar than one might think, despite not being the sunniest region of the U.S. Renewableenergy investment firm, Wiser Capital, measured market capacity in nine states (Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Vermont.) The report evaluated that there is a large investment opportunity throughout the region.
“Many people assume that sunny states like Texas or Florida are automatically good markets for solar, but that’s simply not the case,” said Nathan Homan, executive director of Wiser Capital. “Adequate sun for solar electricity exists across the U.S. The Northeast is a prime market for solar due to available commercial roof space, higher-than-average utility rates and regional incentives.”
To be more specific, they found more than 274,000 buildings in the region that are capable to host commercial solar. That equates to more than 94,700MWs of potential solar installations, assuming a system size of 350 kilowatts.
Massachusetts, in particular, is a viable market because of their incentive structure. The attractiveness of solar is helped by the state’s strong Solar Renewable Energy Credit (SREC) market and its considerably lower escalator rates for a solar PPA over historical utility cost increases.
(Source: Pyper, Julia. “The Northeast Represents a $67.5B Market for Mid-Scale Commercial Solar.” Greentech Media. Greentech Media, October 5, 2015. Web.)
PV capacity by country in 2014
PV Capacity By Country
Rest of Europe (5.6%) Australia (2.4%)
South Korea (2.3%) South Africa (2.1%)
India (1.6%) Canada (1.3%)
Thailand (1.2%) Italy (1.0%)
Chile (0.9%) Rest of the World (1.4%)
The Solar Industry is Thriving in the US, and Expected to Grow
The United States is currently leading country in solar. Although not number one, they are making great strides and on track to hit a big milestones. While solar still makes up a small part of the United States’ renewable resources, it has largely increased in past decade. And the solar industry is expected to keep growing in the following decades.
In 2014, the United States Solar industry achieved another record year, growing by 34% from 2013, and installing approximately 7,000MW of solar electric capacity. Within the photovoltaic sector, over 6,200 MW of capacity was installed.
The concentrating solar power segment experienced its largest year ever with 767 MW of capacity installed. Combined, the solar industry installed 32% of all new electricity generating capacity in the U.S. – second only to natural gas.
Growth is expected to continue. An estimated 20,000 MW of solar capacity is predicted to be installed over the next 2 years, doubling the United States’ existing solar capacity. Over 16 states are expected to top 100MW, come 2016. This is increased up from 9 states in the year 2014.
Data collected from SEIA’s annual Solar Means Business report shows solar is being implemented in many Fortune 500 companies in the US, including IKEA, Macy’s, and Walmart. The top 25 corporate solar users have more than doubled their solar capacity since 2012, having installed over 569MW of capacity at 1,100 different facilities across the US, as of these company save money on their electric bills.
(Source: Solar Energy Industries Association. “Solar Industry Data.” Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar Energy Industries Association, 2014. Web.)
Look for info about Mint Energy’s new solar product!
We’re in the final development stages, and are eager to discuss it with our channel partners in the coming months!