Monthly Archives: August 2017

Why we should call ourselves solar companies, not ‘energy’ companies

In this latest PV Magazine op-ed, solar marketing master Solar Fred talks about how solar businesses’ descriptions of themseves matters, and why solar is one of the best brands out there.

The solar industry’s brand is very strong, with huge bipartisan public support, so when I see solar installers and manufacturers referring to themselves as simply “energy companies,” the industry is unintentionally diminishing its brand. While I don’t believe solar companies are trying to hide their solar roots, I’d like to offer four reasons why industry marketers and communicators should elevate the word “solar” in our company brands and communications as much as possible. Read more here.

 “Solar Fred” Valenza is senior strategy adviser for Kiterocket’s renewable energy practice and a communications consultant for other solar and renewables brands.


New NREL and Clean Energy Group Analysis: Five Million Commercial Customers Could Cut Costs with Battery Storage

First public survey of utility rates details economic potential for
commercial behind-the-meter battery storage market

Table: A summary of demand charges for the states with the
highest utility demand charge rates in the U.S. (NREL)

The U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and Clean Energy Group (CEG) have released the first comprehensive public analysis detailing the potential size of the commercial behind-the-meter battery storage market in the United States.

NREL analyzed over 10,000 utility tariffs in 48 states, finding that more than five million of the 18 million commercial customers across the country may be able to cost-effectively reduce their utility bills with battery storage technologies.

These findings, grouped by utility service territory and state and illustrated in a series of maps and tables, are presented in NREL and CEG’s white paper, Identifying Potential Markets for Behind-the-Meter Battery Energy Storage: A Survey of U.S. Demand Charges.

The analysis determined that economic opportunities for storage exist not only in first-mover states like California and New York, but also across the Midwest, Mid-Atlantic, and Southeast. For example, tens of thousands of commercial customers in Georgia, Alabama, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio may be subject to utility tariffs with sufficiently high demand charges to make storage a viable economic investment. Anticipated future declines in battery storage costs would enlarge the market potential in these and other states.

“With this analysis, we have identified the areas where customers have the greatest potential to benefit from investments in battery storage,” said Seth Mullendore, coauthor of the paper and a project director at CEG. “Utilities know where these opportunities exist, and now the rest of us have that information too.”

Nearly all medium to large commercial customers in every state are subject to utility demand charges, yet customers often do not understand how these charges are structured or accounted for.

For more information about demand charges, see the accompanying fact sheet.

The charges affect private and nonprofit businesses, as well as a wide array of additional customers, including community facilities, public buildings, and multifamily housing properties. In many cases, these demand charges can comprise anywhere from 30 to 70 percent of a customer’s utility bill.

NREL and CEG will host a webinar on Tuesday, September 19th to discuss the findings of the report. Authors Joyce McLaren and Seth Mullendore will present their research and answer questions from the audience. For more information on this free webinar and to register, click here: Identifying Potential Markets for Commercial Behind-the-Meter Battery Storage

New Lab Report: How to Cut the Cost of Wind Energy in Half

Department of Energy’s Wind Energy Technologies Office

Click image to watch a brief video about DOE’s Atmosphere to Electrons initiative.

New energy science and technological breakthroughs could cut the cost of wind energy in half by 2030—making it fully competitive with the fuel cost of natural gas.

This new finding is outlined in a report by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) that examines the future of wind power plants—backed by the supercomputing power of the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) national laboratories.

It’s part of DOE’s Atmosphere to Electrons initiative, which focuses on maximizing efficiencies at the plant level (i.e. how wind turbines interact with one another and the atmosphere) rather than treating each wind turbine as an individual unit. The next step is for DOE to apply high-performance computing to this grand challenge of better understanding the complex physics that control electricity generation by wind plants. Continue reading here.

Additional Department of Energy Reports
Wind Energy Continues Rapid Growth in 2016
During American Wind Week, August 6–12, the Energy Department released three wind market reports demonstrating continued growth in wind energy nationwide. The reports cover the following market sectors: land-based utility-scaleoffshore, and distributed wind. America’s wind industry added more than 8,200 megawatts (MW) of utility-scale wind capacity last year, representing 27% of all energy capacity additions in 2016. 14 states now get more than 10% of their electricity from wind.

Wind farm breaks ground

By Mark Gaschler, Seward County Independent

For nearly a decade, landowners in western Saline County have tried to bring energy developers into the county to build a wind farm. On Aug. 17, those plans finally came to fruition when Aksamit Energy Development broke ground on a 74-megawatt wind farm that will cover 21 square miles of western Saline County south of Friend.

“This project is being sold to buyers out of state at half of what Nebraskans are paying for electricity.” – Gary Aksamit, president of Aksamit Energy Development

Read more here.

Photo: Over 50 landowners, including those shown in the picture, attended the groundbreaking ceremony for Aksamit Energy Development’s Milligan 3 wind farm project. Credit: Mark Gaschler

Aksamit Resource Management’s Website
Milligan 3 will be the company’s first completed and operational project. Milligan 3 will connect to a 115 KV line at the Friend, Nebraska substation. The project will produce enough energy to power 30,000 homes. Aksamit Energy Development is a a wholly-owned Aksamit Resource Management subsidiary.


National Clean Energy Week

Leading clean energy organizations have announced their participation in the first annual National Clean Energy Week, which will take place from September 25-29, 2017.

National Clean Energy Week will bring together industry associations, businesses, non-profits, and advocates in the clean energy space for activities in Washington, D.C. and across America to showcase how they are helping to make the industry stronger, and influence the discussion around common sense clean energy solutions that directly address America’s need for abundant, reliable forms of energy.

Learn How You Can Get Involved
Highlight your organization’s work by becoming a National Clean Energy Week Partner. Signing up is easy and involves hosting an event or promoting National Clean Energy Week through a preexisting or new program in your home state or city in September.
Learn more about clean energy and help spread the word to elected officials in Washington and your state capital via email, letters to editors and social media to raise awareness of the benefits of, and need for, clean energy.

Will the U.S. Ever Build Another Big Coal Plant?

 By Benjamin Storrow, E&E News 
Posted by Scientific American

“There are two big risks for coal generation right now. One is gas prices stuck at low levels for a long time. Second, developers take on a lot of environmental risk in the future,” said Travis Miller, who directs utilities research at Morningstar Inc. “So environmental risk might not be a risk for four years, obviously referring to the presidential administration, or eight years. “But when you’re building 30- to 50-year-type assets,” he added, “they’re certainly a high risk for carbon.” Read more here.


City of Fremont Works for a Second Solar Farm After the First Sells Out

By Kari Lawrence, US92, Nebraska News Channel

FREMONT – Due to the first solar farm in Fremont selling out, and the overwhelming response from the community, the City of Fremont is planning a second farm. The City of Fremont is working toward a grant to help fund the making of the second solar farm in Fremont. The grant would come from The Nebraska Environmental Trust, which Executive Assistant of Communications and Grants, Lottie Mitchell says made the most sense. Read more here.

To learn more about Fremont’s First Solar Farm, click the following links:

Fremont Business Park, Greater Fremont Development Council

  • 80 acres municipally-owned, shovel ready; Olsson Associates master planned site
  • 10MW power available with ability to grow with customer
  • Power rates in the 4.5 to 4.9 cent range per kWh – Municipally-owned utilities
  • Fixed rate period up to 5 yrs. available per Nebraska State law and dependent on size and scope of project
  • Municipality has two sources for power backup; NPPD & OPPD through automatic interconnect agreements

Earlier Articles Showing the Solar Farm’s Progression

It’s time for solar, wind and energy storage to jointly campaign for 100% renewables by 2050

Opinion by Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza  PV Magazine

Solar, wind and energy storage industry communicators and advocates, it’s time for us to jointly and individually state a very public goal of attaining 100% renewable energy in the United States by 2050. Read the entire opinion here.

Tor “Solar Fred” Valenza is senior strategy adviser for Kiterocket’s renewable energy practice and a communications consultant for other solar and renewables brands.

Staying below 2 degrees is “possible and practical” says RMI

Video: How the smart grid is changing the job market in Illinois

By Craig Duff, a Chicago-based video journalist whose work has appeared on The New York Times, NBC News and MSNBC.
This video explores how evolving grid technology, as well as new and existing state policies, have contributed to clean energy job growth in Illinois.

Watch at Midwest Energy News or YouTube


Michigan State University taps parking lots for renewable energy and big savings

Michigan Radio

MSU is covering parking spaces (5000 of them) with solar panels to provide shade, reduce emissions, and save money. Pictured is about 10% of the project during early construction in June.

Read more here.

Photo by Wolfgang Bauer