NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

Memorial Day 2017 -- Never forgotten.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

WEEKEND VIDEOS, May 27-28:

  • How Climate Scientists Know/a>
  • Save The Fish
  • Making Going Solar Go Easier

    THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Obama Talks Global Food In A Time Of Climate Change
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Global New Energy Jobs Keep Booming
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Record-Breaking Solar Sales In India
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-China Wind Will Re-Train U.S. Coal Workers
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, May 25:

  • TTTA Thursday-New Study Explicitly Refutes Trump EPA Head’s Denial
  • TTTA Thursday-Solar Jobs Lead U.S. Economy
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind Gets Endorsement From U.S. Utility Giant
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Surging, States Responding
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Solar-Residential Solar Face Off
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Hard Road To A New Solar Paradigm In Montana
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Most Energy Efficient Cities Right Now
  • QUICK NEWS, May 23: How To Tell Kids About Climate Change; California Takes A New Look At Wind; Mercedes Benz Goes Solar – With Batteries
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Solar For Everybody Else
  • QUICK NEWS, May 22: The Plan To Beat Climate Change; Ready For The Offshore Wind Boom; Solar Research Faces Trump Cuts
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    Anne B. Butterfield of Daily Camera and Huffington Post, f is an occasional contributor to NewEnergyNews

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    Some of Anne's contributions:

  • Another Tipping Point: US Coal Supply Decline So Real Even West Virginia Concurs (REPORT), November 26, 2013
  • SOLAR FOR ME BUT NOT FOR THEE ~ Xcel's Push to Undermine Rooftop Solar, September 20, 2013
  • NEW BILLS AND NEW BIRDS in Colorado's recent session, May 20, 2013
  • Lies, damned lies and politicians (October 8, 2012)
  • Colorado's Elegant Solution to Fracking (April 23, 2012)
  • Shale Gas: From Geologic Bubble to Economic Bubble (March 15, 2012)
  • Taken for granted no more (February 5, 2012)
  • The Republican clown car circus (January 6, 2012)
  • Twenty-Somethings of Colorado With Skin in the Game (November 22, 2011)
  • Occupy, Xcel, and the Mother of All Cliffs (October 31, 2011)
  • Boulder Can Own Its Power With Distributed Generation (June 7, 2011)
  • The Plunging Cost of Renewables and Boulder's Energy Future (April 19, 2011)
  • Paddling Down the River Denial (January 12, 2011)
  • The Fox (News) That Jumped the Shark (December 16, 2010)
  • Click here for an archive of Butterfield columns

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, May 29:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Action In Grid Modernization Right Now
  • QUICK NEWS, May 29: 100 Things To Do About The Climate; Hints About The DOE Grid Study Emerging; Farmers, Tree Huggers Unite Behind Wind

    Monday, May 29, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Action In Grid Modernization Right Now

    50 States of Grid Modernization; Q1 2017 Quarterly Report

    Autumn Proudlove, Brian Lips, David Sarkisian, Achyut Shrestha, May 2017 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)

    Overview

    What Is Grid Modernization?

    Grid modernization is a broad term, lacking a universally accepted definition. In this report, the authors use the term grid modernization broadly to refer to actions making the electricity system more resilient, responsive, and interactive. Specifically, in this report grid modernization is intended to be inclusive of the following topics: (1) smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure, (2) utility business model reform, (3) regulatory reform, (4) utility rate reform, (5) energy storage, (6) microgrids, and (7) demand response…

    Actions Included

    This report focuses on cataloguing and describing important proposed and adopted policy changes related to grid modernization and distributed energy resources, excluding solar technologies. While some areas of overlap exist, actions related to distributed solar policy and rate design are tracked separately in the 50 States of Solar and are generally not included in this report.

    In general, this report considers an “action” to be a relevant (1) legislative bill that has been introduced or (2) a regulatory docket, utility rate case, or rulemaking proceeding. Only statewide actions and those related to investor-owned utilities are included in this report. Specifically, actions tracked in this issue include:

    Studies and Investigations

    Legislative or regulatory-led efforts to study energy storage, grid modernization, utility business model reform, or alternative rate designs, e.g., through a regulatory docket or a cost-benefit analysis.

    Planning and Market Access

    Changes to utility planning processes, including integrated resource planning, distribution system planning, and evaluation of non-wires alternatives, as well as changes to state and wholesale market regulations enabling market access.

    Utility Business Model and Rate Reform

    Proposed or adopted changes to utility regulation and rate design, including performancebased ratemaking, decoupling, time-varying rates, and residential demand charges. Time-varying rate and residential demand charge proposals are only documented if they are being implemented statewide, the default option for all residential customers of an investorowned utility, or a notable pilot program intended to soon become a default option. Actions related to inclining or declining block rates are not included in this report.

    Grid Modernization Policies

    New state policy proposals or changes to existing policies related to grid modernization, including energy storage targets, clean peak standards, and energy storage compensation policies.

    Financial Incentives for Energy Storage and Advanced Grid Technologies

    New statewide incentives or changes to existing incentives for energy storage, microgrids, and other advanced grid technologies.

    Deployment of Advanced Grid Technologies

    Utility-initiated requests, as well as proposed legislation, to implement demand response programs or to deploy advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid technologies, microgrids, or energy storage.

    Actions Excluded

    This report excludes utility proposals for grid investments without a modernization component, as outlined above, as well as projects that have already received legislative or regulatory approval. Actions related exclusively to pumped hydroelectric storage or electric vehicles are not covered by this report. While actions taken by municipal utilities and electric cooperatives are not comprehensively tracked in this report, particularly noteworthy or high-impact actions will be covered. The report also excludes changes to policies and rate design for distributed generation customers; these changes are covered in the 50 States of Solar quarterly report.

    The U.S. Electricity System In Transition

    The U.S. electricity grid is in a state of transition. The system has traditionally been a “one-way street”, with power flowing from utility-owned centralized generation, via utility-owned transmission and distribution lines, toward end-use customers. However, the electric system is increasingly becoming more of an interconnected web, with small but growing numbers of enduse customers also generating electricity with small-scale, distributed systems that are capable of providing various services to the grid.

    Technology is making rapid advancements, continuing to offer new benefits to the electric system. Policy, however, has not kept pace with the speed of technical energy advancements, with most U.S. electricity policy still focused primarily on the traditional one-way, centralized system model and its institutions. This is changing, though, with more and more states initiating investigations into advanced grid technologies and proposing policy and regulatory changes intended to enable the development of a modern electric system.

    Grid Modernization

    Grid modernization is an expansive topic, capturing the many individual pieces of the transition occurring in our nation’s energy system. A major element of this transition is the deployment of new technologies, such as advanced metering infrastructure and smart grid technologies, including communications and control technologies for managing distributed energy resources of all kinds. These technologies offer the opportunity to bring new benefits to both utilities and consumers, including economic, environmental, reliability, security, and consumer experience benefits.

    The deployment of advanced grid technologies is already underway. The market for distributed generation, namely solar photovoltaics, is already scaling rapidly, while the energy storage market is expected to grow from an expected 6 GW of annual installed capacity in 2017 to over 40 GW in 2022.1 Utilities had already deployed nearly 65 million smart meters by the end of 2015, covering over 50% of U.S. households, and more installations are underway.

    But before advanced grid technologies can be utilized to their fullest extent, regulatory structures must be reformed in order to remove existing barriers to deployment. By reexamining regulatory frameworks, business models, and rate designs, an energy system that allows for fair evaluation of technological options, greater market participation, and full and open compensation may be created.

    Over half of U.S. states are currently examining these regulatory frameworks or actively working to deploy advanced grid technologies. This activity is expected to continue, much like the ongoing evaluation of state solar policies, as states and utilities conduct studies, try new approaches, and learn from each other to achieve a more modern grid…

    Top Five State Grid Modernization Developments of Q1 2017

    Maryland Legislature Advances State Tax Credit for Energy Storage

    The Maryland State Senate passed a bill adopting a state tax credit for energy storage systems in March 2017, which the State House later passed in early April and the Governor signed into law in May. The credit would be equal to 25% of installed costs, up to $5,000 for residential systems and $500,000 for commercial systems.

    Illinois and Ohio Launch Grid Modernization Proceedings

    In March 2017, the Illinois Commerce Commission initiated a grid modernization proceeding – called NextGrid – aimed at creating a 21st century regulatory model that supports innovation, empowers customers and communities, drives economic development, and optimizes the electric utility industry. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio also launched a grid modernization proceeding, called PowerForward, in March 2017. PowerForward is aimed at charting a path forward for grid modernization projects and innovative regulations to improve the consumer experience.

    New Hampshire Completes Multi-Year Grid Modernization Investigation

    In March 2017, New Hampshire’s Grid Modernization Working Group submitted its final report to the Public Utilities Commission. The report includes many areas of consensus among stakeholders, as well as distinct stakeholder viewpoints on areas of non-consensus. The proceeding covered distribution system planning, advanced metering functionality, rate design, customer data and education, and utility cost recovery and financial incentives.

    Washington Commission Issues Draft Policy Statement on Energy Storage in Integrated Resource Planning

    Washington’s Utilities and Transportation Commission issued a draft policy statement on the role of energy storage in the integrated resource planning process in March 2017. In the statement, the Commission noted that utilities will be required to fully evaluate the costs and benefits of energy storage as an alternative to new resource investments, and the state will move forward with a transition to sub-hourly modeling.

    New York Public Service Commission Issues Monumental Order on DER Compensation

    The New York Public Service Commission issued an order in its Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER) proceeding in March 2017, which includes examination of compensation for behind-the-meter energy storage systems that are paired with renewable generation. While these systems will not be compensated through the VDER tariff yet, the intent is for new installations at some point to be compensated with a value-based approach.

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    QUICK NEWS, May 29: 100 Things To Do About The Climate; Hints About The DOE Grid Study Emerging; Farmers, Tree Huggers Unite Behind Wind

    100 Things To Do About The Climate 100 Practical Ways to Reverse Climate Change; You know some of them—use renewable energy, eat less meat—but others will surprise you.

    Simon Worrall, May 28, 2017 (National Geographic)

    “…Drawdown: The Most Comprehensive Plan Ever Proposed to Reverse Global Warming [brings] together geologists, engineers, agronomists, climatologists, biologists, botanists, economists, financial analysts, architects, NGOs, activists, and other experts…[and offers 100 actionable] solutions to reverse global warming…[Hawken says the tendency has been] to silver bullet the problem, which is to look for the big solution…[which leaves out] a great number of salient, important solutions…[One of Hawken’s favorites is repopulating the mammoth steppe, the subarctic region that used to stretch from Alaska across Europe to Russia, with animals that were originally there to reduce the temperature of the soil in the subarctic and enhance the ability of that area to retain its permafrost…” click here for more

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    Hints About The DOE Grid Study Emerging What We Know So Far About Rick Perry’s Power Grid “Study”

    Jim Marston, May 26, 2017 (Environmental Defense Fund Blog)

    “…[Many are concerned that Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s 60-day] ‘study’ of whether any policies or regulations have led to the premature retirement of coal or nuclear plants…60 days is barely enough time to fill job vacancies in a new administration, much less conduct a thorough analysis of America’s complex energy policies…Perry’s coal propaganda has nothing to do with reliability and everything to do with giving the pollution industry what it wants. The ‘grid reliability’ angle is a ruse, and one Perry used a decade ago when he tried to fast track new coal plants in Texas. This issue has been studied relentlessly by grid operators and government agencies around the country, and the grid is handling coal’s decline just fine. The Trump administration is using the reliability argument as cover to distract the American people from their close ties with the coal industry…[Perry’s] Chief of Staff, who will manage the study, worked for the Edison Electric Institute – where he led its anti-solar campaign…” click here for more

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    Farmers, Tree Huggers Unite Behind Wind Wind Energy Unites Enviros And Farmers

    Gregory Dennis, May 28, 2017 (Vermont Digger)

    “…[Environmentalists] put a priority on preventing damage to the ecosystems that support us. Property rights [advocates remind] us that there should be limits to what the government can force owners to do…But as Vermont moves haltingly toward cleaner energy, ‘Greens’ and some property rights advocates, especially farmers, now find themselves on the same side…[Both oppose regulatory constraints on sound levels of] wind turbines…[Greens want to push the state rapidly toward its 90% renewables by 2050 goal and farmers and others want to be able to erect low-noise wind turbines to meet their energy needs…A group of 40 farms last year called on Vermont officials to protect property owners’ rights to install solar and other energy…Wind already employs over 325 workers in Vermont and could provide many more jobs if there’s a market…” click here for more

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    Saturday, May 27, 2017

    How Climate Scientists Know

    They arrive at the same answer over and over again because ice has no ideology, it just melts. From YaleClimateConnections via YouTube

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    Save The Fish

    There are all kinds of good reasons to fight to turn back climate change – and NO good reasons not to. From ONgov via YouTube

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    Making Going Solar Go Easier

    This is about how SunShot backed an online marketplace that streamlines the buying and selling of solar. It is also about what will be lost if the Energy Department pulls its support for New Energy. From U.S. Department of Energy/SunShot via YouTube

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    Friday, May 26, 2017

    Obama Talks Global Food In A Time Of Climate Change

    Barack Obama on food and climate change: ‘We can still act and it won’t be too late’; The former president addresses the greatest challenges facing the world, and what we can do about them

    Barak Obama, May 25, 2017 (UK Guardian)

    (Editor’s Note: President Obama’s essay is worth reading in its entirety)

    “During the course of my presidency, I made climate change a top priority, because I believe that, for all the challenges that we face, this is the one that will define the contours of this century…No nation, whether it’s large or small, rich or poor, will be immune from the impacts…We are already experiencing it…Our changing climate is already making it more difficult to produce food, and we’ve already seen shrinking yields and spiking food prices that, in some cases, are leading to political instability. And when most of the world’s poor work in agriculture, the stark imbalances that we’ve worked so hard to close between developed and developing countries will be even tougher to close. The cost will be borne by people in poor nations that are least equipped to handle it…[T]he good news is that there are steps we can take that will make a difference…The path to a sustainable food future will require unleashing the creative power of our best scientists, and engineers and entrepreneurs, backed by public and private investment, to deploy new innovations in climate-smart agriculture. Better seeds, better storage, crops that grow with less water, crops that grow in harsher climates…” click here for more

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    Global New Energy Jobs Keep Booming

    Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017

    May 2017 (International Renewable Energy Agency)

    “…Jobs in renewables excluding large hydropower increased by 2.8%, to reach 8.3 million in 2016. China, Brazil, the United States, India, Japan and Germany accounted for most of the renewable energy jobs [according to Renewable Energy and Jobs – Annual Review 2017]. The shift to Asia continued, with 62% of the global total located in the continent…Solar photovoltaic (PV) power was the largest employer, with 3.1 million jobs, up 12% from 2015. The growth came mainly from China, the United States and India, whereas jobs decreased for the first time in Japan, and continued to decline in the European Union. New wind power installations in the United States, Germany, India and Brazil, meanwhile, contributed to the increase in global wind employment by 7%, to reach 1.2 million jobs…Liquid biofuels (1.7 million jobs), solid biomass (0.7 million) and biogas (0.3 million) were also major employers, with jobs concentrated in feedstock supply. Brazil, China, the United States and India were key bioenergy job markets…” click here for more

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    Record-Breaking Solar Sales In India

    2 Solar Power Records In 2 Days In India

    Saurabh Mahapatra, May 25, 2017 (Cleantechies via Cleantechnica)

    “Two marathon competitive auctions for a cumulative solar power capacity of 750 megawatts yielded new record-low solar tariff bids in India this month…[Both auctions for solar power capacity offered at the Bhadla solar power park in the western state of Rajasthan] beat the previous lowest tariff bid of Rs 3.15/kWh (4.9¢/kWh)…The first auction, for 250 megawatts, received at least 14 bids in the range of Rs 2.62/kWh (4.1¢/kWh) and Rs 3.59/kWh (5.6¢/kWh). South Africa’s Phelan Energy and India-based Avaada Energy secured 50 megawatts and 100 megawatts at Rs 2.62/kWh (4.1¢/kWh) while SoftBank-backed SB Cleantech won rights to develop 100 megawatts at Rs 2.63/kWh (4.1¢/kWh)…These bids were 9.2% lower than the previous lowest solar power tariff in India…Within two days, the record of Rs 2.62/kWh (4.1¢/kWh) was shattered…Acme Cleantech Solutions secured 200 megawatts at Rs 2.44/kWh (3.8¢/kWh) while SB Cleantech won rights to develop 300 megawatts at Rs 2.45/kWh (3.8¢/kWh)…” click here for more

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    China Wind Will Re-Train U.S. Coal Workers

    Chinese company offers free wind energy training to former US coal miners

    Jacob Snyder, May 25, 2017 (WISTV)

    “…[Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer Goldwind Americas, looking for workers to take permanent jobs on the Wyoming wind farms they supply, is planning] a free training program for one of the United States' fastest-growing jobs: the wind farm technician. The program is aimed at former coal miners who are having trouble finding work, as well as professionals from other industries. It's called ‘Goldwind Works,’ and will begin next month with a series of informational seminars and safety training at a wind farm in Montana…Goldwind Americas has an agreement to supply nearly 850 wind turbines to a site in Wyoming, where the state's first coal mine opened a century ago. After construction is finished, up to 200 workers will be needed to work at the plant…The Bureau of Labor Statistics expects the national employment for miners and geological engineers will grow by 6 percent over the next decade, while those working in wind energy will enjoy a growth rate of 108 percent.” click here for more

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    Thursday, May 25, 2017

    New Study Explicitly Refutes Trump EPA Head’s Denial

    Scientists just published an entire study refuting Scott Pruitt on climate change

    Chris Mooney, May 24, 2017 (Washington Post)

    “In a sign of growing tensions between scientists and the Trump administration, researchers published a scientific paper…conceived and written as an explicit refutation to an assertion by Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt about climate change…[It tests Pruitt’s claim that data shows warming has leveled “over the past two decades” and refutes it. After reviewing temperature trends contained in three satellite data sets going back to 1979, the paper concludes that the data sets show a global warming trend — and that Pruitt was incorrect…The study wades into an ongoing and highly fraught debate over how to interpret the temperature records of the planet’s lower atmosphere, or troposphere, provided by polar orbiting satellites…[T]he new study finds that all of the three satellite data sets — kept by Remote Sensing Systems, the Center for Satellite Applications and Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, and the University of Alabama at Huntsville — show a long-term warming trend in the middle to upper part of the troposphere…” click here for more

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    Solar Jobs Lead U.S. Economy

    Report: Solar jobs grow 17 times faster than US economy; Cost of solar energy comes down dramatically

    Matt Egan, May 24, 2017 (CNNMoney via CentralIllinoisProud)

    “…Solar employment expanded last year 17 times faster than the total U.S. economy…Overall, more than 260,000 people work in the solar industry, up by 24 percent from 2015…[According to a new report, the] solar business has benefited from the falling cost of solar energy and generous federal tax credits that make it more affordable for businesses and homeowners to install solar panels…Awareness is also up as Americans concerned about climate change look for cleaner energy options…Most solar workers are in the installation business…Other leading jobs include manufacturing, project development, sales and research-and-development…Men have most of the jobs in solar, but that is starting to change, especially in the sales business. Women now hold 28 percent of solar jobs, up from 19 percent in 2013…” click here for more

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    Wind Gets Endorsement From U.S. Utility Giant

    Wind energy's watershed moment; U.S. cumulative wind and hydro energy capacity, 1900-2016

    Amy Harder, May 25, 2017 (Axios)

    “…[Xcel Energy CEO Ben Fowke said high penetrations of wind do not threaten the reliability of the grid and is “very comfortable” with getting over a third of his utility’s power from wind. He was answering] questions appeared aimed at preemptively rebutting an Energy Department study examining the reliability of the U.S. electric grid in a way that the administration has presented as favoring fossil fuels and nuclear power over intermittent sources like wind and solar…Xcel Energy is one of the more forward-thinking power companies…[and daily balances] wind with natural gas, hydropower and other sources of electricity. It has a goal to achieve 35% wind in its mix by 2021, [up from today’s] 17%. Coal still dominates its mix at 37%...” click here for more

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    New Incentives To Grow Battery Energy Storage GTM: Policy study focuses on energy storage incentives in Hawaii and Maryland

    Danielle Ola, 22 May 2017 (Energy Storage News)

    “…[California’s Self-Generation Incentive Programme (SGIP) will boost energy storage but] new bills from Hawaii and Maryland provide insights on how state storage incentives are moving beyond the Golden State…Hawaii is already an ideal market for solar-plus-storage projects; with its rural Island grid connectivity issues and high penetration of solar and equally high electricity rates. Therefore, there is definitely market demand for storage incentives…[Its proposed] incentives increase IRR between 110 basis points and 140 basis points with a net present value by almost US$1,000 for a typical residential customer…Secondly, Maryland’s SB 758 earmarks US$750,000 annually in tax credits for behind-the-meter energy storage systems, which could amount to 150 residential or 10 commercial systems (or a mix of both)…[It] would really establish Maryland’s energy storage market, with the state most well-known for its community solar efforts…” click here for more

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    Wednesday, May 24, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Solar Surging, States Responding

    As the solar industry matures, business gets a little more complicated; While solar got a much-needed boost when Congress extended the 30% ITC, state policy changes are slowing down growth in the residential market

    Herman K. Trabish, October 6, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the new administration in Washington has provoked a completely new look at the role of states in the future of New Energy.

    The solar industry is quickly maturing and moving with unprecedented speed into the mainstream energy world. But while business is getting better, it’s not getting any easier. Growth in the residential solar market continues to slow. Solar got a much-needed boost when Congress extended the 30% investment tax credit (ITC) at the end of 2015, but state-level policy changes are impeding the market. Reducing solar’s net energy metering (NEM) and other incentives have damaged thriving solar markets like Hawaii and Nevada. California policy changes are fundamental to the slowed growth, setting the stage for potential implications as similar policy changes continue to be debated in many other states.

    California’s eventual transition to time-of-use rates as part of its NEM 2.0 proceeding is one major policy change. Explaining how rates can vary by times of the day and how they will affect the return on new systems complicate the rooftop solar sales discussion with homeowners. Such complications also make it difficult to set the right price for loans and leases. “The more there has to be policy in the sales pitch to the homeowner, the more complicated it becomes," said GTM Research Senior Solar Analyst Cory Honeyman. Complications could be harder to overcome if potential new customers are no longer the more easily convinced early adopters, Honeyman added. The addressable market in sunny California is still big but the “low hanging fruit” may have already been picked… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Big Solar-Residential Solar Face Off

    Solar split: How a new petition is dividing rooftop and utility-scale installers in SEIA; Rooftop installers want a bigger voice in the trade group, but stress unity is still the priority

    Herman K. Trabish, October 12, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Since this story ran, the contending factions have not resolved but have set aside their differences and formed a working relationship.

    An emerging movement in the solar industry is calling for rooftop installers to get a bigger voice in the sector’s largest trade group, and threatening trouble if they are denied. Small solar installers within the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) started the turmoil by demanding their policy priorities be considered on equal footing with those of larger, utility-scale developers, whose deep pocketbooks give them leverage within the group. The demands show how diverging policy priorities could pull factions of the solar industry apart, but leaders on both side of the debate insisted to Utility Dive they recognize the importance of keeping the industry unified and are reaching out to those who feel under-represented.

    The split has been aggravated by a significant cost difference between utility-scale and DG solar. At the core of the SEIA dissension is a simple but deep failure by DG installers and utility-scale developers to understand how interdependent they are, Shah said. SEIA is a diverse association with diverse interests and its biggest challenge is getting its members to explicitly recognize that every member of the industry helps every other member, said VP Dan Whitten. How the solar industry resolves its internal divides is sure to have an impact on the entire utility sector. SEIA's Kraemer added that rate design and net metering policy fights are symptoms of larger questions about the right utility business model for the future and how to properly compensate utilities for commodity sales and infrastructure investments... click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: The Hard Road To A New Solar Paradigm In Montana

    Big Sky solar: On the long, hard road to net metering reform in Montana; Years of legislative wrangling have yielded little, but recent closed-door policy talks could point a way forward

    Herman K. Trabish, October 13, 2016 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The Montana settlement, like many the New Energy industries and utilities have made in recent months, is partial and tentative but represents work in the right direction.

    After more than a year of contentious discussions between legislators, utility leaders and the solar industry, Montana lawmakers formed a special legislative committee — the Energy and Technology Interim Committee (ETIC) — to address how to encourage distributed solar growth without putting stress on the utility system or shifting costs to the rest of the customer base. In forming the ETIC, legislative leaders asked Northwestern Energy (NWE) and Montana Renewable Energy Association (MREA) to work together. When they submitted widely divergent cost-benefit analyses of net metering in Montana, the ETIC asked the MPSC staff, the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), and the Legislative Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) to review the analyses.

    The ETIC process five proposed bills. Amid the political turmoil, NWE CEO Bob Rowe decided to take the initiative. The Community Sustainable Energy Workshops he convened were not to deal with net metering specifically, but to engage stakeholders. As the group worked on designs for pilot projects Rowe said he would take on, the workshops turned into an opportunity for the renewables advocates to learn more about utility concerns and for the utility to learn those of renewables advocates. None of the participants interviewed by Utility Dive fully endorsed the idea that the workshops specifically advanced the ETIC process. But each said that collaboration had contributed to understanding between the utility and renewables advocates… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, May 23, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Most Energy Efficient Cities Right Now

    The 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard

    David Ribeiro, Tyler Bailey, Ariel Drehobl, Jen King, Stefen Samarripas, Mary Shoemaker, Shruti Vaidyanathan, Weston Berg, and Fernando Castro-Alvarez, May 2017

    (American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy)

    Executive Summary

    Energy efficiency is one of the least expensive, most abundant, and most underused resources for local economic and community development. Saving energy can make communities more resilient while also protecting human health and the environment. Energy efficiency investments also save money for households and businesses, catalyze local reinvestment, and create local jobs.

    Local governments around the United States can influence energy use in their communities in many ways: through land use and zoning laws, building codes, public finance, transportation investment, economic and workforce development, and in many cases the provision of water and energy. Local and metropolitan energy efficiency initiatives give visible benefits to residents, directly improving the communities where they live and work.

    The 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard compiles information on local policies and actions to advance energy efficiency, comparing cities across five policy areas. This third edition of the City Scorecard ranks 51 large cities, the same as in our previous edition. 1 To reflect the current and near-future policy environment, the City Scorecard considers implemented policies and those that have been adopted but are just beginning to be implemented. The resulting scores identify cities that are excelling and those that have room for improvement. We provide examples throughout the report of best practices used by leading cities. As a result, the Scorecard serves as a road map for local governments aiming to improve their cities’ energy efficiency.

    Key Findings

    The 2017 City Energy Efficiency Scorecard compares cities across five policy areas:

    • Local government operations

    • Community-wide initiatives

    • Buildings policies

    • Energy and water utilities

    • Transportation policies

    Boston earned the top spot for the third City Scorecard in a row. It received 84.5 out of a possible 100 points, an improvement of 2.5 from its 2015 score. As in the 2015 edition, Boston scored well in all policy areas and excelled in buildings policies and energy and water utilities. The city continues to implement its building energy benchmarking requirements, enforce the Massachusetts Stretch Energy Code, and partner with its energy utilities through Renew Boston. The utilities serving the city have made substantial investments in electricity and natural gas efficiency programs and offer comprehensive lowincome and multifamily programs.

    Joining Boston at the top of the rankings are New York and Seattle, followed by Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon in a fourth-place tie. All have wide-ranging efficiency policies and programs. Los Angeles entered the top five (and the top ten) for the first time. Los Angeles’s 25-point improvement in this edition paired with its 20-point improvement in the 2015 City Scorecard fueled its rise into the top five.

    Rounding out the top tier are Austin, Chicago, and Washington, DC, followed by Denver and San Francisco in a ninth-place tie. These cities, each of them a repeat top-ten performer, continue to demonstrate their commitment to efficiency.

    Los Angeles, San Diego, Kansas City, and Phoenix are the most-improved cities compared with the last edition, with all showing double-digit scoring improvements. All these cities have made real strides in efficiency. For example, Los Angeles’s Existing Building Energy and Water Efficiency (EBEWE) program consists of energy audit, retrofit, and benchmarking requirements for commercial and residential buildings, as well as water efficiency measures. San Diego is another good example. The city’s Climate Action Plan established goals to reduce energy use by 15% per housing unit in 20% of all such units and to reduce community-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 15% by 2020.

    Thirty-two cities improved their scores, many with significant point increases. In addition to the four most-improved municipalities, seven others improved their scores by at least 10 points. These cities are Austin, Philadelphia, Denver, Pittsburgh, Orlando, Raleigh, and Portland. Several of the 11 cities with double-digit improvement are currently ranked between 11th and 20th overall. If they maintain their momentum, they may reshuffle the top-ten rankings in future City Scorecards.

    Cities have taken positive steps since the 2015 edition, especially for buildings policies. Eight cities have adopted benchmarking and transparency policies since the last edition, and several have either updated their building energy codes or advocated for the state to do so. More cities have also established community-wide goals to save energy and/or reduce their GHG emissions, and a growing number are on track to achieve these goals. Thirty-five cities in the 2017 edition have either energy or climate goals, whereas only 30 had such goals in 2015.

    Leaders in efficiency in local government operations are Denver, New York, Philadelphia, Portland, and Washington, DC. All have set policies to increase efficiency in city government, procurement, and asset management.

    The top-scoring cities in community-wide initiatives are Austin, Minneapolis, Portland, and Washington, DC. They have efficiency-related goals for the whole community and strategies to mitigate urban heat islands. They also have policies or programs to plan for future efficient distributed energy systems.

    Leading cities in buildings policies include Boston, Austin, Los Angeles, and New York. These cities have adopted or advocated for stringent building energy codes, devoted resources to building code compliance, established requirements and incentives for efficient buildings, and increased the availability of information on energy use in buildings.

    The leading cities in the energy utilities area are Boston and Providence. The energy efficiency programs of the utilities serving these cities offer high levels of savings and reach underserved markets, including low-income and multifamily households. Austin, Boston, Columbus, Denver, Los Angeles, New York, and San Diego are the leading cities in tackling efficiency in their water systems and water uses. Ratepayers in these cities have access to efficiency programs designed to save water and energy simultaneously.

    Finally, cities with the top transportation policies scores include Portland and New York. Their initiatives include location efficiency strategies, shifts to efficient modes of transportation, transit investments, efficient vehicles and vehicle infrastructure, and energyefficient freight transport.

    All cities, even the highest scorers, have significant room for improvement. Boston was the only city to earn at least 80 points. Only 18 cities earned over half of the possible 100 points. All 51 cities can improve their efficiency initiatives to increase their scores.

    While cities can improve across all policy areas, cities have the most room for growth in transportation policies. In most policy areas, at least one or two cities earned more than 90% of the available points. In transportation policies, however, only two cities earned more than 70% of the available points…

    Strategies For Improving Efficiency

    As noted above, every city we analyzed has considerable room for improvement. We offer the following recommendations for cities that want to improve their energy efficiency and their ranking in the City Scorecard.

    Adopt energy savings targets. Develop and codify energy efficiency goals for public and private-sector energy savings. Goals to reduce energy use, both community-wide and in government operations, can lay the foundation for further policy activity (Chapters 2 and 3).

    Lead by example by improving efficiency in local government operations and facilities. Integrate energy efficiency into the day-to-day activities of local government. Adopt policies and programs to save energy in public-sector buildings and fleets and in standard practices such as procurement (Chapter 2).

    Actively manage, track, and communicate energy performance, and enable broader access to energy use information. Tracking and reporting progress toward goals will reveal opportunities for improving energy plans, such as revising time lines, targets, or program strategies. Work with utilities to improve local government access to energy use data to better manage progress toward goals. Help increase energy data available to residents and businesses to encourage them to take their own efficiency actions (Chapters 2, 3, and 5).

    Adopt policies to improve efficiency in new and existing buildings. To improve the efficiency of new buildings, ensure that building energy code enforcement and compliance activities are effective and well funded. If the city has authority under state law, adopt more stringent building energy codes; if not, advocate for the state to do so. To improve energy efficiency in existing buildings, provide incentives for efficient buildings, require energy audits, and implement energy performance requirements for certain building types. Encourage better integration of energy information into local real estate markets by requiring energy benchmarking, rating, and transparency (Chapter 4).

    Partner with energy and water utilities to expand access to energy efficiency programs. Because utilities are the primary funders and administrators of efficiency programs in most places, partner with them to develop and administer an energy-saving strategy, plan, or agreement. As part of this, work with utilities to design energy efficiency programs to reach historically underserved markets such as low-income and multifamily households (Chapter 5).

    Decrease transportation energy use through location-efficient development and improved access to additional travel modes. Use location-efficient zoning and integrate transportation and land use planning so residents can access major destinations via energy-efficient transportation. Expand transportation choices for residents, including those in low-income or affordable housing. Use complete streets policies and car- and bicycle-sharing programs to encourage a switch from driving to other modes of transportation.2 Create neighborhoods that support safe, automobile-independent activities (Chapter 6).

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    QUICK NEWS, May 23: How To Tell Kids About Climate Change; California Takes A New Look At Wind; Mercedes Benz Goes Solar – With Batteries

    How To Tell Kids About Climate Change Climate change predictions can be scary for kids. What can you say?

    Kirsten Clark, May 22, 2017 (Louisville Courier-Journal via USA Today)

    “…Climate change — as well as other environmental issues like deforestation and wildlife extinction — have the potential to be scary for children. The implications of climate change can contribute to stress, depression and anxiety for everyone, but especially for kids…[Experts say parents should approach these topics in several ways. First, encourage actions like a recycling and help] them brainstorm ways to have a larger-scale impact…Talk about animals to get them] talking more and learning more about environmental issues…Be in nature to allow them to see they’re also a part of the natural cycle and what they] do affects the environment…[Examine daily habits and learn from the] kids...[They often care more] than adults do…” click here for more

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    California Takes A New Look At Wind California is falling behind in producing wind power

    Danielle Osborne Mills, May 22, 2017 (Sacramento Bee)

    “American renewable energy was born in California…[But] California is at risk of falling behind…[It has fallen to fourth in installed wind capacity behind] Texas, Iowa and Oklahoma…[T]his is a bad time to fall behind…California’s leadership has been clear in its direction to the state’s energy agencies and utilities. In 2015, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León led the passage of a law requiring [50% renewables by 2030 and a 40% cut in] greenhouse gas emissions from 1990 levels by 2030…Agencies are devoting significant resources to the development of an all-encompassing planning process…[New renewable energy investment is needed] and a diverse set of technologies from a larger geographic footprint will reduce ratepayer costs…[A] new bill also authored by de León, Senate Bill 100, proposes moving the 50 percent target up to 2026 and eventually hitting 100 percent clean energy by 2045…” click here for more

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    Mercedes Benz Goes Solar – With Batteries Mercedes-Benz and Vivint Solar partner to compete with Tesla in home energy

    Robert Ferris, 18 May 2017 (CNBC)

    “Mercedes-Benz is partnering with U.S.-based Vivint Solar to compete with Tesla and similar companies in residential solar energy and storage…[Beginning in Q2, Mercedes-Benz Energy will offer] its 2.5 kilowatt-hour energy storage batteries with Vivint's rooftop solar to make a combined product for [California] homeowners…[A] similar program has already been successful in Europe…Costs will vary depending on the system, but a fully installed 2.5 kWh battery system, when paired with a solar energy system will cost about $5,000…A 20 kWh home energy storage system — made of several connected batteries —will cost about $13,000 fully installed…The offering includes the complete package: batteries, inverter, all required technical components, professional installation, permitting, system design and consultation with Vivint Solar. The installation of the entire system, including the solar panels and the battery, typically takes one to two days, once permits are secured…[Tesla] has touted the benefits of selling energy storage batteries with solar panels…” click here for more

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