Are Large-Scale Renewables Ready for 'Competitive Pricing'?

Published On
Jun 12, 2018

Last week, at the International Mayors Climate Summit in Boston, Mayor Martin Walsh of Boston announced his plans to issue a request for information (RFI) for competitive pricing of large-scale renewable energy projects and encouraged mayors from other cities to join him in the initiative.

The RFI, which is expected to be completed later this summer, will compile the energy demand data across participating cities and ask renewable energy developers for price estimates for projects that would meet the collective energy demands of the participating cities.

"Our effort on renewable energy will not only help cities cut carbon emissions and get us closer to the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement, it will help power our cities and create more clean energy jobs," Mayor Walsh said. "We can do more than just address the problem of climate change. We can build a healthy, thriving future by working together."

The City of Boston is already working with some existing partner cities to compile the collective energy load data for the RFI. Cities already on board with Boston's plan are Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, Orlando, Portland (Oregon), and Evanston (Illinois).

"Cities wield the power to create demand and transform the energy market, and when we get our act together, we can show the world that environmental stewardship and economic prosperity go hand in hand," said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

"I applaud Mayor Walsh for taking aggressive steps to bring down carbon emissions levels in Boston and for bringing cities together to protect the environment and grow jobs across the country," said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, which has committed all of Chicago's municipal buildings to be 100 percent renewable by 2025.

The timing of the mayors' initiative seems ideal, according to a new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute. "The Economics of Clean Energy Portfolios" notes that, while coal and nuclear energy have seen their market share undercut by cheaper natural gas in recent years, natural gas may soon find itself in the same position, being replaced by competitively priced large-scale renewable energy—primarily a combination of renewable energy generation, storage and distributed energy resources, the prices for which, according to the report, have fallen precipitously recently. Combined into clean energy portfolios, these resources can, notes the report, "provide the same services as power plants, often at net cost savings."

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