(Photo from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.)
(Photo from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.)

INSTITUTE INDEX: Nervous fossil-fuel giants turn to the sun

Month in which the Edison Electric Institute (EEI), the trade group representing investor-owned U.S. utilities, released a report warning that the growing number of solar panels on homes and businesses would allow customers to become independent of the electric grid, causing "irreparable damages to revenues and growth prospects": 1/2013

Month in which CEO Jim Rogers of North Carolina-based Duke Energy, the nation's largest utility, said the declining cost of solar panels represents "a potential threat to us over the long term": 3/2013

Number of such distributed solar generation systems Duke Energy currently operates at North Carolina homes, schools and businesses as part of a demonstration project created in response to a 2007 state law establishing a renewable energy portfolio standard, which has been under attack this year in the state legislature: 25

Month in which the CEO of NRG Energy, the top power provider to U.S. utilities with operations based in Houston, said it was beginning to install solar panels on the rooftops of homes and businesses and would eventually offer natural gas-fired generators to kick in at night: 3/2013

Number of power plants in which NRG holds a stake: 94

Percent of the generating capacity of those plants driven by fossil fuels: about 98.5

Month in which Virginia regulators gave electricity giant Dominion Resources permission to start installing solar panels on the rooftops of commercial and industrial customers: 11/2012

Amount Dominion plans to spend this year and next installing those solar panels: about $80 million

Date on which NextEra Energy Inc., which owns Florida's largest utility, closed a deal to acquire rooftop solar developer Smart Energy Capital: 5/23/2013

Rank of NextEra among the largest U.S. producers of renewable energy: 1

Megawatts of utility-scale solar plants NextEra expects to have in operation by the end of this year: about 900

Month in which executives of Atlanta-based Southern Co. and Ohio-based American Electric Power, which also serves customers across the South, said their companies were also considering providing rooftop solar: 5/2013

Number of U.S. companies that now provide rooftop panels at no upfront cost to customers, who typically make fixed monthly payments under decades-long contracts: about 12

Total megawatts of U.S. solar panel installations in 2000: 4

In 2012: 3,113

Percent of the U.S. electricity market currently represented by distributed solar power: less than 1

Percent of compound annual growth in distributed solar forecast by Bloomberg Energy Finance: 22

Given that projection, percent of the total power load in certain areas of the U.S. that could be coming from distributed solar by 2020: 10

If that happens, percent increase in electricity prices that EEI anticipates for traditional utility customers, further driving the move to distributed solar power: 20

Number of "insurmountable long-term constraints" that the National Renewable Energy Laboratory identified for the U.S. to move to a future where 80 percent of its electricity generation comes from solar and other renewable sources: 0

(Click on figure to go to source.)

Image: 
(Photo from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.)
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