California’s Wind Power Season is Here!
California’s Energy Supply and Demand
It’s May, and that means it’s the start of Wind Power Season in California. California has worked for years to build a sustainable energy system with solar and wind, and now consumers can start reaping the rewards in terms of air quality, and in terms of lower energy costs. For the year to date, California has curtailed about one-quarter million MegaWatt Hours (MWh) of solar and wind power. If that sounds like a lot, it is and it isn’t. It’s 250 Million kWh of clean energy that could’ve gone into homes like yours if you knew it was there and how to use it. With 11 million homes though, that’s only about 22 kWh per household, or about a day’s worth of electricity for each household. That number will grow each year now, until demand shifts and batteries soak up the good, clean energy.
As California transitions to time of use rates, clean energy costs less and less. Residential customers will transition to time of use rates in 2019, but many can start saving today. Prior to this year, time of use rates offered discounts during the overnight and weekend hours, but these rates have become altered by California’s abundant solar power. California has about 15 gigawatts of solar on both sides of the meter. Now there is a demand spike in the morning, and a larger spike in the afternoon. The size of this spike varies with the seasons. Rates are higher when demand spikes, although current time of use rates only charge more in the afternoon. Electric vehicle owners have even more options with utility rates.
As the interior of California heats up, it creates a natural phenomena that generates wind power. Cold air along the coast is dense and drawn inland towards less dense hot air. The state’s wind farms are located in areas optimal for wind power generation and power transmission in this natural system of air movement. Wind power is strongest during this warm season during the afternoon, overnight, and early morning hours. By contrast, wind power tends to die down during the daytime hours, as the heat builds to start the cycle all over again. It’s quite predictable, though weather and electric power demand can lead to electric price fluctuations.
The Wind Number shows you when your power supply is cleaner and costs less. It’s defined as the ratio of power coming from wind over power from fossil fuels, times 100. A Wind Number of 100 means that equal amounts of your power are coming from wind and fossil fuels, which is pretty clean. The Wind Number takes into account both solar and wind, because when it’s sunny, solar power production reduces fossil fuel consumption. Since solar power is cranking when wind power is dropping off in California on most days, the two renewable energy resources balance each other well, but not perfectly. There is that morning peak in demand, and a much larger afternoon peak in demand. This is the time when natural gas peaker plants are cranking up to meet that demand, and when California’s energy supply is dirtiest and most costly.
How Can I Control When I Use Power?
There are a surprising number of ways to change your home’s load for the better. The easiest is to replace your lighting with LED light bulbs. Using the delay button on your dishwasher or clothes washer is another easy thing to do. Own a pool? Try running the pool pump during the early morning hours, or just after the morning peak. If you have air conditioning, you might try raising the temperature a degree or two when that last natural gas peaker plant is cranking up. That’s when energy is dirtiest (usually around 9 pm in the Summer), and you probably won’t even feel a difference in your comfort. Switching your hot water heater, dryer, or cooktop to gas eliminates their electric power demand, and it’s more efficient. If you do have an electric hot water heater, it can be controlled to heat the water off-peak. As we automate with the Internet of Things in our homes, you’ll be able to hit auto and run your appliances, charge your car, or take other measures to increase your clean energy consumption relative to your fossil fuel consumption. That’s the definition of the Wind Number, and if you contact us, we’ll be happy to tell you more ways to save. Clean Energy Costs Less!
California’s Clean Energy Ecosystem- Part 1
California Leads Our Nation in Clean Energy
California has created an energy ecosystem that is among the cleanest in the world. With ever increasing amounts of solar and wind power generating electricity, electric power pricing is becoming increasingly variable depending on whether it’s sunny or windy. When it’s sunny and windy and fewer people are using electric power, prices turn negative to provide an incentive for people to use the electric power. This is reflected in the Wind Number, which trends higher during these periods. We provide daily clean energy forecasting to energy consumers so that you can save money using energy when it’s cleaner.
Great consumer brands are emerging in this new ecosystem. These companies solve global warming while providing value to energy consumers. You may already have some of their products in your home, but as we’ll see, you don’t need a shiny new “smart thing” to use cleaner energy. If you want to reduce your energy consumption, use energy when it’s cleaner, and save money while helping the environment, these are the names that you need to know.
There are dozens of wifi-enabled thermostats now, but none has a more loyal following than Nest. Wifi-enabled thermostats increase your comfort control, but also give the thermostat company data that can help you to save money using a range of automated controls. For example, homes that have two cooling systems can stagger compressor operation to decrease maximum household load. They can also shift a kWh or two to either side of the peak load for the day without affecting comfort. In the case of Nest, you get a monthly report providing energy insights that can reduce your bill by up to 10%.
Teslas are popping up everywhere in the country now, which is remarkable given their price, which ranges from $60,000 to $138,800. When Tesla offered a mid-price vehicle in 2016, people jumped at the chance to wait more than a year to get one. The fuel costs are negligible using an electric vehicle, and maintenance costs are smaller too. The new Chevy Spark is set to be the cheapest form of transportation next to taking public transportation. Since electric power is now cheapest when it’s cleanest, your transportation can be environmentally friendly, if you charge your vehicle when Wind Numbers are high.
There are hundreds of ways to go solar in California, but as the first company to offer a residential power purchase agreement, SunRun has always been at the top of the pack. Now in California, you can add battery storage to your system to power your home in the morning and late afternoon when natural gas peaker plants are cranking up. There is so much solar on both sides of the electric meter in California, that when’s it’s sunny during periods of low demand, prices often turn negative due to a surplus of electric power. That’s especially true when it’s sunny and windy at the same time! These are great times to stock up on clean energy, and when used in conjunction with the Wind Number, allow double the pay back. Using clean energy is a great way to save money, whether the solar is on your roof, someone else’s, or out in a sunny field in another part of the state. If you have a sunny rooftop, now is the time to get a quote!
Cree LED lighting
Replacing any incandescent lighting you still have in your home with LEDs is the best clean energy investment you can make. An LED light bulb can last for more than 10,000 hours, and save about 50 watts per bulb. What would you have paid for that 500 kWh per bulb? In California, it’s more than $100, which proves that LEDs are a great return on investment. Since there is a strong correlation between lighting needs and the time of day when peaker plants are cranking out pollution to meet demand, there is also a significant reduction in your home’s carbon footprint when you make the switch. That’s why Sabreez often gives away free LED lighting to our subscribers.
Appliances have featured delay buttons for years, but did you know they can be used to operate your appliances on cleaner energy? Now GE offers an App to take control to the next level. You can control when to pre-heat your oven or see when your laundry is done, among a plethora of other features. To reduce your carbon footprint, you can also clean your dishes or clothes when Wind Numbers are higher; soon you’ll just hit “auto” to run them on cleaner energy!
General Electric might not be the first brand you think of when you think of “smart home,” but GE has been a leader in the shift toward energy-efficient appliances. They even make the wind turbines that provide the wind power!
The Wind Number Method
All of these great new technologies work with our patent-pending Wind Number Method to increase your clean energy consumption, lower your energy bill, and decrease your impact on the environment. As we introduce more and more clean energy into the system, it becomes increasingly important to consider Mother Nature’s natural energy production schedule. Once solar and wind power generators are installed to harvest energy when it’s available, it saves money to use cleaner energy.
There are many ways to use the Wind Number clean energy information system. When combined with your utility’s new time-variable electric rates, it’s easy to save 10-20% on your bill. Download our app, follow us on social media, or subscribe to our newsletter today and start saving.
Sailing Away from Fossil Fuel Energy Production
California is Sailing Away from Fossil Fuel Energy Production. Are You Onboard?
A Message From our Founder;
I love sailing. It takes some effort, but there’s nothing like harnessing the wind to get where you want to go. Even though modern sailboats have a motor, sailors rely on the wind whenever possible, and constantly trim the sails to increase speed as well as comfort. Being over-powered when it’s too windy doesn’t help our progress, so we trim the sails to stay upright. As a skilled sailor, I can usually travel 90% of the distance using my sails. But, when there is no wind at all, I need the motor. This is a great analogy for understanding California’s Smart Grid and its abundant natural energy.
California’s Electric Power System Runs on Several Energy Sources
California’s electric power system runs on multiple energy sources, just like a sailboat. The state is getting much of its power from natural resources like wind and solar and balancing out electric power demand with fossil fuels. The state continues to invest in modernizing the power grid, just like nautical engineers constantly improve their designs. To manage its renewable energy resources, California is installing smart meters, new distribution systems, and other infrastructure that consumers will never see.
In terms of electric power generation, wind power in California has played a major role for more than a decade. Over the last five years, most of the investment has been in solar, both on building rooftops and through solar farms. California has over 4 gigawatts (GW) of potential wind power and over 8 GW of potential solar power, not including what’s on the other side of the meter. Take a look at the Windnumber on our website or the get the data directly from the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) to see how much power is coming from various resources in real time.
America’s Coal Plants are Lagging Far Behind in Energy Efficiency
While California’s renewable energy system is state-of-the-art, America’s Coal Plants are ancient by comparison. More than 90% of them are more than 30 years old. Until recently, there were coal plants operating in this country that were 100 years old. It’s like powering your boat on a coal-fired steam engine, not very efficient. We don’t see steamers on our waterways, so we shouldn’t expect to preserve coal-fired power plants to feed our homes.
Many of these coal plants are being replaced with natural-gas-fired power plants using the most efficient combustion technology. Combined-Cycle Natural Gas (CCNG) Plants produce half of the carbon pollution and a small percentage of the other pollutants compared to coal plants. However, the natural gas turbines (peaker plants) used to balance power generation with California’s electric power consumption are not as clean burning and are expensive to operate.
Navigate Your Home’s Energy Use with Smart Technology
California has plenty of fossil fuel generating plants that can be turned on to meet your energy needs, but they’re not good for the environment and can cost a lot to operate at certain times of the day. The most efficient plants are running for most of the day; the least efficient plants run for less than an hour. In this system, cleaner energy costs less.
Your home can help to integrate renewables or it can work against them. More and more people are adopting connected devices to enhance control, safety, and efficiency in their home. The smart thermostat can be controlled by your phone. Imagine turning on your home’s heating system from bed on a cold morning, or making sure it’s off when you’ve already left for work or to go shopping. Cameras, sensors, door locks, and other security devices have apps that allow you to monitor the safety of your home. Lighting controls can automate settings within your home, and with the new LEDs that use less than 10 watts per bulb, why not light it up? Now mid-range appliances also have wifi chips in them to allow you to run them whenever you choose. There are electric water heaters and pool pump controls with similar control functions.
You Can Help “Trim the Sails” on California’s Electric Power System
Add home solar and battery storage to these connected devices and you have a Smart Home. Solar is obviously only generating power when it’s sunny, and that goes for your home solar unit as well as the one in a field somewhere (or on your neighbor’s roof). Overall system-wide wind power production and state-wide demand effect how clean your energy supply is as well. When it’s both sunny and windy, the system can be overpowered, much like our sailboat. How do you trim the sails when California is over-powered? By running your appliances, water heater, pool pump, or charging the batteries on cleaner energy.
Sabreez was created to make this system more efficient; to foster “smooth sailing.” We accomplish this by showing energy consumers when their energy supply is cleaner. We also show people how to use this cleaner energy, often using the existing technology in their home.
Knowledge is Power with the Wind Number
It’s all rather complex isn’t it? A simple rule of thumb is that the electric power supply in California is dirtiest in the afternoon around sunset, and in the morning around sunrise, but there are daily and seasonal variations depending on how sunny and windy it is. Now that we’re getting so much of our power on both sides of the meter delivered on “mother nature’s” schedule, there’s a profound feedback mechanism being established that significantly lowers wholesale prices when natural power is abundant.
This is why we created the Wind Number. The Wind Number is proportional to your power supply coming from wind versus fossil-fuel burning plants. Adjusting when you use power to times of day when the Wind Number is high will save money as the state transitions to time of use pricing for consumers. Read our blog to see how this change may affect you.
All this information leads us to the following conclusion; knowledge is power. People want to use cleaner energy, they just don’t know when their energy supply is cleanest. And many people are not aware of the technologies and life-hacks available to realize the goal of using cleaner energy. It’s as easy as hitting the delay button on your appliances; but there’s so much more. Wouldn’t it be nice to know when the “wind’s up” and you don’t have to “rely on the motor?”
Follow our updates to learn more about the Wind Number. Our free services tell you when your energy supply is cleaner and cheaper. Questions? Leave us a comment below.
W Scott Hoppe, Founder