U.S. electric utility companies plan new or additional renewable energy investments, particularly in solar, thanks to the enacted Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which retained renewable energy development incentives, according to industry analysts . . . Among the many shared renewable energy models is the utility-sponsored model in which utilities provide customers with the option to purchase renewable energy from a shared facility at a fixed rate (which might be a bit higher than the current retail rate) for a set term (usually a number of years, say 10 or 20 years) that’s designed to provide protection and stability against rising rates for grid electricity, SEIA says. Brian Newton, city administrator and general utility manager for the City of Fremont, Neb., convinced local officials and residents with tweaks to the utility-sponsored model that the adoption of renewable energy was a smart choice for their rural town, which is located about 35 miles northwest of Omaha, population roughly 27,000. Read morehere.
Photo Courtesy of Troy Schaben, Assistant City Administrator, Fremont Department of Utilities: Fremont’s First Solar Farm. The city’s second solar farm is being built by GenPro Energy Solutions.
SEPA Case Study: Inside the City of Fremont, Nebraska’s Community Solar Program
Based on multiple interviews with citizens of Fremont, Nebraska, this case study describes how program design and a latent demand for solar power led to selling out the 1.5 MW solar farm in seven weeks. This case study also includes insight into the commercial and industrial demand in small town Nebraska.
WattTime: A 2018 World Changing Idea, RMI Newsletter WattTime, a Rocky Mountain Institute subsidiary organization, has been honored by Fast Company as one of the finalists for the World Changing Ideas Awards. Out of 1,400 submissions, 240 entries made it to the final round of judging. View the full list of 2018 World Changing Ideas Award finalists, and learn more about how WattTime’s automated emissions reduction capabilities are changing the energy landscape for the better. Scroll down to “Energy” awards.
Interfaith Power & Light’s 2018 Faith Climate Action Week starts tomorrow, April 14th. A kit accompanies this event, which includes everything faith communities need to implement Climate Action Week activities. The kit can be used any time during 2018. Everyone who participates in Faith Climate Action Week will receive an invitation to a special webinar with Happening filmmaker Jamie Redford and Climate Champion NV State Senator Pat Spearman on April 20th.
To learn more and download the free kit, click here.
The Rocky Mountain Institute believes the Community-Scale Solar (CSS) segment sits in an economic sweet spot in the market and represents an economic opportunity of as much as $30 billion. Read more here.
Thinkstock Photo – RMI
NEWS FROM OTHER NEIGHBORING STATES
Chisago County has become a case study in the possibilities and politics of solar energy in Greater Minnesota, Minnesota Post. At the end of 2017, according to the state Commerce Department, 94 solar gardens were up and running across Minnesota, producing 286 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power roughly 285,000 homes. In Chisago County, farmers and other landowners have put up a dozen solar gardens, with another four in the planning stages. (The county is also home to the massive 100-megawatt North Star Solar – a 440,000-panel, 1,100-acre power utility near North Branch).
BP backs 20 MW solar project in Kansas, PV Magazine Under a 25-year power-purchase agreement with the Mid-Kansas Electric Company, which is comprised of six electrical cooperatives in the state, the newly formed Lighthouse BP company will build a 20 MW solar farm which, when completed, will be the largest solar farm in The Sunflower State.
The initiative could have a particularly profound impact for on-site or smaller community-scale projects ranging from 1 megawatt to 10 MWs in size, according to the RMI team. “The corporate buyer will get a lower cost over time,” said Kiernan Coleman, senior associate at
RMI . . . RMI CEO Jules Kortenhorst likened the effort to the Department of Energy’s highly successful SunShot Initiative — formed back in 2011 with the aim of cutting the costs of solar energy by 75 percent. Read more here.
Photo: Kearney Community Solar
RMI Press Release Announcing The Initiative 2018 Solar Cost Reductions Will Offset Impact of New Tariffs on Panel Prices
Modular, pre-engineered and pre-assembled solar product to lower costs by additional $0.20/Wp in 2018, according to Rocky Mountain Institute and industry leaders.
Boulder, Colorado – Rocky Mountain Institute and 35 solar energy industry leaders committed to develop an ultra-low-cost solar product able to operate in a variety of environments at fully installed costs as low as $0.50/Wp. Participants at the Rocky Mountain Institute-hosted event, representing at least 15 gigawatts of solar capacity—equivalent to the capacity of 25 average-sized coal plants—identified an opportunity to reduce costs by $0.20/Wp in 2018 alone. Reducing costs at this scale would mitigate the effect of newly applied trade restrictions on solar components, keeping the solar energy industry on a maintained cost-reduction pathway. Continue reading here.
Wp (watt peak capacity) = a solar panel’s maximum power output under optimal conditions. 1,000 Wp = 1 kWp.
Almost 60% of consumers said they would switch electricity providers if they could gain access to renewable-energy sources . . . And the report says the solar revolution is being driven in large part by the much-maligned “millenials.” Almost two-thirds (64%) told Deloitte they are either “extremely” or “very” interested in installing solar panels – a 611% increase over last year. More than half of them are “extremely” or “very” interested in participating in a community solar installation . . . Businesses want to get in on the action, too. According to Deloitte, 60% of businesses want to have some form of on-site generation, nearly double the percentage from last year. Read more here.
DETROIT— General Motors has made its largest renewable energy procurement to date, purchasing enough wind power to equal the electricity needs of 16 of its U.S. facilities, including business offices in Fort Worth and Austin, Texas, a major assembly and stamping complex in Arlington, Texas, and 13 parts warehouses east of the Mississippi River . . . “GM’s commitment to renewable energy is helping transform the way electricity is produced, distributed and consumed around the world, and we’re doing it in a way that makes our company and communities stronger,” said Rob Threlkeld, GM global manager of Renewable Energy.
Photo: Wind farm from which General Motors procures green energy through a power purchase agreement for the corporation’s manufacturing operations in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Business Renewables Center General Motors is a founding member of the Business Renewables Center (BRC), an organization backed by the Rocky Mountain Institute. The mission of BRC’s nearly 160 members is to streamline and accelerate corporate purchasing of large-scale wind and solar energy. Nearly two-thirds of Fortune 100 and nearly half of Fortune 500 companies have set ambitious renewable energy or related sustainability targets. General Motors has the goal of sourcing 100% of its energy from renewables.
The Tesla-SolarCity proposed merger is really just the tip of the energy cloud: “This emerging energy cloud landscape, a concept that borrows from cloud computing, represents a range of technical, commercial, environmental, and regulatory changes that challenge the traditional hub-and-spoke grid architecture.” [Elon Musk]. Click to read more.
In an upcoming webinar titled The Integrated DER Ecosystem, Navigant Research and two industry leaders, SolarCity and Generate Capital, will discuss how these bundling trends, in addition to other advances in the DER landscape, present opportunities and challenges in the market. The transition to the energy cloud is a bumpy path, but it is already redefining the grid architecture and customer relationships of the future.
The city of Beatrice is taking the first step in planning a local wind power generation facility. The City Council approved an application at its Monday meeting for Nebraska Public Power District to do a review of electrical capacity and transmission, in order to assess the feasibility of a wind generation facility. The application was originally recommended by the Board of Public Works at a prior meeting and is the first step in what will be an ongoing process. Click to read more.
Photo: Wind-farm turbine near the small, centrally-located city of Broken Bow. Credit: Caroline Jezierski
Minnesota climate activists say they are “pleasantly surprised” after Minneapolis-based U.S. Bancorp issued a new environmentalpolicy in June that will reduce lending for coal-fired power plants, coal mines and other environmentally harmful projects. Two bank officials have been meeting with MN350 members for the past several months on a new environmental policy that would discourage lending to fossil fuel interests. Advocates say the policy move — which they add could be stronger — is important because U.S. Bancorp (the parent company of U.S. Bank) is one of the largest financial services companies in the United States. Click to read more.
Photo: Climate activists outside U.S. Bancorp’s headquarters in Minneapolis. Credit: MN350
By Kieran Coleman and Laurie Guevara-Stone. Posted on Green Biz. First published by Rocky Mountain Institute
Communities are a critical actor in the global effort to combat climate change. More than 1,000 locally elected officials from around the world were present at the Paris Climate Conference talks. Their voices, representing distant communities, were widely recognized as drivers of the international agreement. In the United States, communities and governments continue to drive toward more sustainable, inclusive economies by leveraging local solar power — most recently, in the form of community-scale solar. A unique benefit of community-scale solar projects is their very community orientation, which enables “community-supported development.” . Continue reading.
Photo: Aerial view of Boardman Hill Solar Farm in Rutland, Vermont.
Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance / World Resources Institute
The Corporate Renewable Strategy Map reveals where large energy buyers can access the renewable energy they want at the scale they need through their utility. This interactive tool tracks their options in different states.
Companies can use this map to consider siting new facilities and to prioritize their renewable energy purchasing strategies. It highlights green tariff programs and other utility energy products that allow customers to meet their clean energy goals and lower electricity costs.
It compares each product to the Corporate Renewable Energy Buyers’ Principles.
Buyers’ Principles signatories, including Amazon, Google, Microsoft, GM, Yahoo, IKEA and approximately 100 others, need to buy nearly 44 million megawatt hours of renewable energy across the US by 2020. States that offer products can compete for this economic development, and companies can more effectively access this information using the interactive Corporate Renewable Strategy Map and other Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA) resources.