Our feature image this week is not an homage to Mary Poppins. It does show that for all the big investments that are made in our electric grid, sometimes simple things can have a big impact.

The photo is from the Vail (Colorado) Daily newspaper. “A gust of wind picked up a patio umbrella from a home along Valley Road in Gypsum on Wednesday afternoon, and around 1,900 electric customers felt the consequences,” said reporter Pam Boyd, who gave us the okay to use her photo.

The outage lasted about an hour.

There has already been one storm that brushed the Carolina coast. Lash down your yard ornamentia for storm season!

A “no-brainer” is what one energy regulator called a request from four Florida utilities, according to an Orlando news outlet.  Energy customers will get a break on upcoming electric bills. Said the news report, “The state Public Service Commission on Tuesday unanimously approved proposals that will lead to one-time savings in May for customers of Florida Power & Light, Duke Energy Florida and Gulf Power and savings spread over a longer period for customers of Tampa Electric Co.”

The reason is lower-than-expected costs for natural gas for the power plants. “Utilities are required to pass along savings to customers when fuel costs drop, but the money typically goes to customers gradually. Under the plans, FPL, Duke and Gulf will lump together fuel savings this year into one-time bill reductions in May, while Tampa Electric will provide chunks of the savings to customers from June through August and then smaller savings through the rest of the year.”

These actions are referred to as fuel adjustments. “Utility officials said they wanted to accelerate the savings for customers dealing with job losses and other economic problems related to the coronavirus.” Cool deal for a hot state.

Most everyone has heard of electric vehicles, but how about vehicles made with renewable energy? General Motors and the Tennessee Valley Authority have partnered to power GM’s Spring Hill manufacturing plant with solar energy. Says Solar Industry, “For such a large and complex operation, going carbon-neutral presents a lot of challenges; GM has set 2030 as its neutrality goal. But at its Spring Hill, Tenn. manufacturing facility, the solar solution will commence operation much sooner through TVA’s Green Invest program. There, operations will be 100% powered by renewable energy by 2022.”

TVA’s president is Jeff Lyash, who is a Carolina utility veteran. The GM project is the third major solar project this year. TVA is increasing solar energy capacity in 2020 by 44%, adding 484 megawatts. (Source)

Green me up

Since we are on the subject of vehicles, have you seen the debate about US Postal Service vehicles? In debate now is more than $6 billion of business to build as many as 180,000 delivery vans as new Post Office trucks. At least that was until the pandemic. (Source) (Source) (Source)

The current fleet of USPS vehicles was expected to serve the nation until 2017. (Ahem) These circa 1990-built vehicles are not going to be as good with fuel as new vehicles (ten mpg with the existing fleet). So there can be a cost savings there.  Maintenance costs are reported to be high now, too.

Why mention USPS trucks in an energy column? Well, the fuel savings, for one. Energy is a major cost of mail delivery. Better emissions profile, too? Also, from reports we have seen the companies vying to make the new trucks are in Michigan, Ohio, and even Turkey. Anyone know of a Southeastern state or two that may be into building vehicles? Save the nation some fuel (maybe electrify the fleet) and bring in dollars (paychecks) to the Southeast. If we missed something, let us know.