Upgrade the Grid

The grid serves a basic purpose—moving electrons—but needs an upgrade to keep pace with modern clean energy technologies.


Flexible demand programs can boost renewables integration at the neighborhood and grid level. Credit: Dennis Schroeder/NREL

One Way to Boost Renewables? Let Flexible Demand Lend a Helping Hand

, Senior Energy analyst

The power grid has been designed, operated, and financially oriented around fossil fuels for decades. The legacy runs deep. Which makes a key topic in the energy transition “renewables integration,” or the technology, policy, and market changes needed to bring, and keep, ever higher levels of renewables online. One such switch? Fully valuing and mobilizing flexibility in electricity demand, the subject of a new issue brief from the Union of Concerned Scientists. Read more >

Dennis Schroeder/NREL
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As we change the power grid, we need to keep the standards that have guided good utility practice. Photo: Mike Jacobs

There is a Standard for Comparing Power Plant Closings with Energy Shortages; Let’s Use it!

, Senior energy analyst

The debate about modernizing our energy system has been marred by shifting claims that we need old power plants. We are replacing fossil fuels with steady and rapid adoption of clean renewable energy, and more efficient buildings and appliances and we need to keep the basic reliability principles front and center. The latest analysis from the electricity grid operator in the Mid-Atlantic US, leaves out a crucial piece.

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Photo: Mike Jacbos
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Here’s an Energy Savings Plan: Buy When Prices Are Lower

, Senior energy analyst

Shopping for a discount makes sense, right? Let’s see what we can save if we try this with electricity. Read more >

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Electricity Rates Are Sorely Outdated. Let’s Give them an Upgrade.

, Senior Energy analyst

Last month, to great and enthusiastic email fanfare, my utility presented me with a redesigned electricity bill. One meant to help me better understand the various costs and components that make up the final amount due. In an entirely relatable manner, my household met such news with chortles of joy. What a day!

But the utility’s trick? Colors and a stacked bar chart. They were nice colors, and yet…it proved a letdown. If our electricity bills contained just a bit more of the right information, we could collectively be saving billions of dollars a year, reducing air pollution all around us, and helping to bring ever more renewables online—a true step forward toward our vision of the modern grid. Now tell me that’s not a neat trick. Read more >

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California Dreamin’ of a Clean Electricity Grid

, Senior energy analyst

My daughter is almost a year old, so lately I’ve been reading a lot of books about farm animals. It’s been fun to practice animal noises, but it has also felt a little strange to teach my daughter about a lifestyle that fewer and fewer Americans experience. It’s gotten me thinking about what else in our daily lives might look different by the time my daughter is a teenager. Read more >

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