Thursday, January 26, 2017

Overall annual cost to London from traffic delays on busy roads is £5.5 billion ($6.8 Billion)

The overall annual cost to London from traffic delays on busy roads is £5.5 billion. This figure represents a huge 30 per cent increase in just two years (£4.2 billion in 2012/13).  The cost of delays for an average vehicle is £20.83 per hour.

The London Assembly Transport Committee report ‘London Stalling’ released today calls on the Mayor to reform the Congestion Charge and ultimately replace with it road pricing. The Committee suggests a way of charging people for road usage that is targeted at areas of congestion, at the times congestion occurs.  

It’s a popular idea, with over half of road users responding to a Committee survey saying they support road pricing - only a fifth were opposed.

In the short-term, the Congestion Charge should be reformed to better reflect the impact of vehicles on congestion. The daily flat rate should be replaced with a charging structure that ensures vehicles in the zone at peak times, and spending longer in the zone, face the highest charges.

The report also recommends:
  • reducing restrictions on night-time deliveries
  • piloting a ban on personal deliveries for staff
  • reconsidering ‘click and collect’ at Tube and rail stations
  • devolving Vehicle Excise Duty to the Mayor
  • piloting a local Workplace Parking Levy
Traffic congestion
The full report is available at:
The survey is available at 
City of London
Press Release dated 19 January 2017

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1st Comprehensive Cost/Benefit Study of Climate Policies in San Joaquin Valley Finds Over $13 Billion in Economic Benefits, Mostly in Renewable Energy

Amid concerns about the economic and employment impacts of California’s ambitious climate policies, the first comprehensive, academic study of their effects in the San Joaquin Valley has found a total economic benefit of $13.4 billion. The study, The Economic Impacts of California’s Major Climate Programs on the San Joaquin Valley, addresses compliance and investment costs as well as the benefits across the region, and finds a net boost to the Valley’s economy from the state’s major climate programs, including the creation of tens of thousands of jobs.  The Valley is especially vulnerable to air quality problems that climate policies tend to alleviate. But it also faces more socioeconomic challenges than other parts of the state and is less equipped to take chances with its economy.
“This report shows that even in one of the poorest and most disadvantaged regions of the state and nation, California’s existing climate policies can provide net economic benefits,” said Ethan Elkind, who coordinated the report for the Center for Law, Energy and the Environment (CLEE) at the UC Berkeley School of Law. Researchers looked at three key California climate and clean energy policies: 1) cap-and-trade, which established a market designed to reduce carbon emissions from major polluters; 2) the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), which calls for California to get 33 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020, growing to 50 percent by 2030; and 3) energy efficiency programs run by investor-owned utilities and overseen by the Public Utilities Commission....
After accounting for compliance and other costs, the UC researchers estimate the cap-and-trade program had a direct economic benefit of $119 million to the San Joaquin Valley, and boosted the economy by $200 million when you include indirect and induced economic benefits. If you include spending that has been allocated but not yet disbursed, those numbers rise to $1 billion in direct economic benefits and $1.5 billion when including indirect economic benefits.
orange groves and other agriculture
Proceeds from carbon auctions disbursed in the region so far have largely gone towards initial work on the state’s high-speed rail project, affordable housing, irrigation modernization and electric vehicle incentives. The study found that industries benefiting from the investment of cap-and-trade revenue, such as construction, generate more economic activity in the region than those industries bearing the costs of cap-and-trade compliance.
Researchers calculated a potential negative impact on 400 jobs due to compliance, but found that on a net basis, more than 700 jobs were created directly, and more than 1,600 supporting service and industry jobs were created indirectly, from 2013 through 2015. In the same period, state and local tax revenues received a $4.7 million boost.
Renewables Portfolio Standard
A lot of attention is paid to the state’s carbon cap-and-trade program, but in terms of the San Joaquin Valley’s economy, the state’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) has had a bigger impact so far. Construction on renewable energy projects has resulted in $11.6 billion in total economic activity in the Valley.
The San Joaquin Valley is home to 24 percent of the state’s solar generation and 54 percent of the state’s wind generation, providing significant employment opportunities in the region.
“Building and operating renewable energy facilities means jobs,” Jones said. From 2002 to 2015, renewable programs created about 31,000 direct jobs in the San Joaquin Valley – for people building and operating renewable energy facilities, for example – and created another 57,000 indirect and induced jobs for suppliers, supporting businesses and the like, for a total of 88,000 jobs. “Most of these direct jobs are the well-paid, local, career-track jobs the Valley really needs,” concluded Jones.
Energy Efficiency Programs
The report found energy efficiency programs overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) are cost-efficient vehicles for families, businesses and institutions to save energy and money year after year. By cutting demand, efficiency efforts also reduce the need for costly new power-generating infrastructure.
Energy efficiency programs in the San Joaquin Valley are the most cost-effective in the state, according to the report authors’ analysis of data reported by the CPUC. The report’s researchers found these programs in the Valley have provided net economic benefits of $248 million since 2010.
“Energy efficiency programs are job creators,” Jones said. “From 2006 to 2015, utility energy efficiency programs created 6,700 direct jobs, two-thirds of them in the construction industry and 10,700 indirect and induced jobs in the Valley, for a total of 17,400 jobs.“

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Natural Gas and Wind are the Lowest-Cost Generation Technologies for Much of the U.S., New UT Austin Research Shows

Natural gas and wind are the lowest-cost technology options for new electricity generation across much of the U.S. when cost, public health impacts and environmental effects are considered, according to new research released today by The University of Texas at Austin.

University researchers assessed multiple generation technologies including coal, natural gas, solar, wind and nuclear. Their findings, as depicted in a series of maps illustrating the cost of each generation technology on a county-by-county basis throughout the U.S., are featured in a new white paper titled “New U.S. Power Costs: by County, with Environmental Externalities.”

The paper is part of a comprehensive study coordinated by UT Austin’s Energy Institute titled the “Full Cost of Electricity (FCe-),” an interdisciplinary project that synthesizes expert analyses from faculty members and other researchers across the university — from engineering, economics, law and public policy.

The research team adopted a holistic approach to probe the key factors affecting the total direct and indirect costs of generating and delivering electricity. Their work resulted in the production of a series of authoritative white papers that provide an in-depth assessment and examination of various electric power system options.

Researchers categorized the electricity system into three principal components: consumers; generation technologies; and the wires, poles, storage and other hardware required to connect end users and generators. Taken as a whole, the white papers assess the interaction among these three components, as well as costs often considered external to the electricity system, such as environmental effects and public health impacts.
Energy Institute
“These are complex, interrelated issues that cannot be adequately addressed from one perspective,” said Dr. Tom Edgar, director of the Energy Institute. “We assembled a cross-disciplinary team to provide a fuller understanding of these costs and their policy implications.”

For the white paper on power generation costs, researchers used data from existing studies to enhance a formula known as the Levelized Cost of Electricity (LCOE). In addition to including public health impacts and environmental effects — which the LCOE typically does not — the research team used data to calculate county-specific costs for each technology.

The team also developed online calculators to facilitate a discussion among policymakers and others about the cost implications of policy actions associated with new electricity generation.

Dr. Joshua Rhodes, postdoctoral research fellow at the Energy Institute and lead author of the paper, said the cost estimates are based on a series of assumptions that researchers debated at length. “We think our methodology is sound and hope it enhances constructive dialogue,” Rhodes said. “But we also know that cost factors change over time, and people disagree about whether to include some of them.  “We wanted to provide an opportunity for people to change these inputs, and the tools we’ve created allow for that,” he added.

Researchers analyzed data for the most competitive sources of new electricity generation. Wind proved to be the lowest-cost option for a broad swath of the country, from the High Plains and Midwest and into Texas. Natural gas prevailed for much of the remainder of the U.S.; nuclear was found to be the lowest-cost option in 400 out of 3,110 counties nationwide.

The FCe- study examined numerous factors affecting the cost of electricity generation, including:
  • Power Plant Costs (both operating and capital costs)
  • Environmental and Health Costs (air quality, greenhouse gases)
  • Infrastructure Costs (transmission & distribution lines, rail, pipelines)
  • Fuel Cost (variability, full fuel cycle)
  • Integration of renewable and distributed energy resources
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Government financial support for electricity generation (subsidies)

The calculator at looks like this:
Depending upon the existing capacity of the grid and incremental quantity of generation added, transmission interconnection costs for new generation can be negligible to significant (e.g., 0-600 $/kW in ERCOT).  
No power plant (ultimately) has zero interconnection costs. All grid-connected power plants depend upon transmission and distribution to deliver electricity to consumers. The costs of building and operating the grid are non-trivial at 700-800 $/yr per customer, or approximately 3 cents/kWh.
The current long-term forecast ... indicates that the market expects natural gas prices to remain relatively low (under $4.35 per Million Btu) through 2025.
The number of customers in a utility’s territory is the single best predictor for annual TD&A costs. Between 1994 and 2014, the average TD&A cost per customer was $119/ Customer-Year, $291/ Customer-Year, and $333/CustomerYear, respectively, for a total of $700- $800 per year for each customer 
In general, renewable energy sources such as utility-scale solar and wind energy require more bulk transmission system expansion because the best wind and solar resources tend to be located further away from electric load. As an example, the bulk long-distance renewable transmissions lines used to connect the Electric Reliability Council of Texas’s (ERCOT) Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) in north and west Texas costed approximately $6.9 billion in total, or $600/kW, which is more than conventional greenfeld and brownfeld generation projects.
Distribution system costs have been roughly constant since the late 1970s, with typical costs near $290/Customer-Year since 1994...

Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Local Economic and Welfare Consequences of Hydraulic Fracturing

Exploiting geological variation within shale deposits and timing in the initiation of hydraulic fracturing, this paper finds that allowing fracking leads to sharp increases in oil and gas recovery and improvements in a wide set of economic indicators. At the same time, estimated willingness-to-pay (WTP) for the decrease in local amenities (e.g., crime and noise) is roughly equal to -$1,000 to -$1,600 per household annually (-1.9% to -3.1% of mean household in-come). Overall, we estimate that WTP for allowing fracking equals about $1,300 to $1,900 per household annually (2.5% to 3.7%), although there is substantial heterogeneity across shale regions.
Using a new identification strategy based on geological variation in shale deposits within shale plays, we estimate the effects of fracking on local communities. There are four primary findings. First, counties with high fracking potential produce roughly an additional $400 million of oil and natural gas annually three years after the discovery of successful fracking techniques, relative to other counties in the same shale play. Second, these counties experience marked increases in economic activity with gains in total income (4.4 - 6.9 percent), employment (3.6 - 5.4 percent), and salaries (7.6 - 13.0 percent). Further, local governments see substantial increases in revenues (15.5 percent) that are larger than the average increases in expenditures (12.9 percent) though the increased expenditures seem largely aimed at supporting the new economic activity, with little effect, for example, on per pupil expenditures in public schools. Third, there is evidence of deterioration in the quality of life or total amenities, perhaps most notably marginally significant estimates of higher violent crime rates, despite a 20 percent increase in public safety expenditures....
Image result for Hydrofracking epa
by Alexander W. Bartik, Janet Currie, Michael Greenstone and Christoper R. Knittel
The University of Chicago Becker Friedman Institute for Research in Economics
Working Paper 2016-29; December 21, 2016
Keywords: Public Policy, Environment, fracking, economic impact, economic growth

Rooftop Solar Arrays on Five Fire Stations Expected to Reduce Electric Costs 30% for Less Than $1,500

The Dubuque City Council recently approved agreements with Eagle Point Solar of Dubuque for the installation of rooftop solar arrays on five of the City’s six fire stations. The project is expected to reduce electricity costs at the stations by more than 30 percent.

The contract award follows a request for proposal process which generated responses from five firms. The City Council unanimously approved a power purchase agreement and a collateral assignment agreement with Eagle Point Solar for the installation of rooftop solar arrays....

Once installed, the arrays are expected to permanently reduce the City’s cost of each kilowatt hour (kWh) of electricity utilized in the five fire stations by more than 30 percent. Specifically, the terms of the contract include a $0.085/kWh initial rate with a three percent inflation rate. This compares with the current aggregate Alliant Energy rate for the fire facilities of $0.116/kWh. The only upfront funding required for this project from the City is for equipment upgrades to allow internet connectivity for the solar arrays, not to exceed $1,500.The percentage of electricity use offset and carbon dioxide offset at each station varies, due to available roof space and usage at that site:

  • Headquarters 66.15 kW Electric Offset 37% CO2 Offset 1,651 tons
  • Station 2 35.28 kW Electric Offset 96% CO2 Offset 887 tons
  • Station 3 27.72 kW Electric Offset 55% CO2 Offset 697 tons
  • Station 4 15.75 kW Electric Offset 26% CO2 Offset 377 tons
  • Station 5 5.04 kW Electric Offset 28% CO2 Offset 128 tons
  • Total System Size 150.8 kW Carbon Offset 3,740 tons
According to Eagle Point Solar, the combination of the five solar arrays, over their lifetime, will offset the equivalent of: planting 87,141 trees, the reduction of 7.48 million automobile miles driven (or 381,480 gallons of gasoline), recycling 11,818 tons of waste rather than landfilling it, displacing carbon dioxide emissions from the annual electricity use of 425 homes, or 1,822 tons of coal burned.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Defensive Investments and the Demand for Air Quality: Evidence from the NOx Budget Program

The demand for air quality depends on health impacts and defensive investments that improve health, but little research assesses the empirical importance of defenses. We study the NOx Budget Program (NBP), an important cap-and-trade market for nitrogen oxides (NOx) emissions, a key ingredient in ozone air pollution. A rich quasi-experiment suggests that the NBP decreased NOx emissions, ambient ozone concentrations, pharmaceutical expenditures, and mortality rates. Reductions in pharmaceutical purchases and mortality are valued at about $800 million and $1.5 billion annually, respectively, in a region covering 19 Eastern and Midwestern United States; these findings suggest that defensive investments account for more than one-third of the willingness-to-pay for reductions in NOx emissions. Further, the NBP’s estimated benefits easily exceed its costs and instrumental variable estimates indicate that the estimated benefits of NOx reductions are substantial.
nitrogen oxide cycle
by Olivier Deschenes 1, Michael Greenstone 2 and Joseph S. Shapiro 
1. University of California, Santa Barbara - College of Letters & Science - Department of Economics;
1. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); IZA Institute of Labor Economics
2. University of Chicago - Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER)
3. Yale University, Department of Economics; National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER); Yale University - Cowles Foundation
Social Science Research Network (SSRN) www,
June 1, 2016, Number of Pages in PDF File: 74
Keywords: willingness to pay for air quality, cap and trade, ozone, pharmaceuticals, mortality, compensatory behavior, human health