Category Archives: Solar Schools

Learning about renewable energy: New curriculum brings solar to the classroom

By Theresa Bourke, Brainerd Dispatch

About 60 school districts in Minnesota use solar energy, and they now have access to a complementary curriculum to go along with their arrays. The Rural Renewable Energy Alliance, along with other community partners, recently developed a kindergarten through eighth grade curriculum aimed at teaching students about solar energy as a clean, renewable option for the future.

Based in Backus, the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance is a nonprofit aimed at bringing solar and other renewable energy sources to Minnesota communities. The organization’s new curriculum is a natural extension of its Solar Schools project, a partnership with the Region Five Development Commission to install solar panels with 1.5 megawatts of solar capacity at schools in Pine River-Backus and Pequot Lakes, along with both the Brainerd and Staples campuses of Central Lakes College. Continue reading here. 

For more information about the Rural Renewable Energy Alliance’s solar energy curriculum, visit rreal.org/knowledge-is-power.

ZOO IN KANSAS TEACHING BY EXAMPLE

100% green energy and 6 other changes Sedgwick County Zoo has for its 50th birthday, The Wichita Eagle

The Sedgwick County Zoo will ring in its 50th birthday on May 27 with an unveiling of its new entry building and zoo store, both of which will run on 100% renewable energy. The zoo also plans to announce six additional environmental initiatives to reduce the zoo’s carbon footprint. “I think the role of the modern zoo and aquarium is more important today than it’s ever been,” said Dr. Jeff Ettling, the zoo’s executive director. “We all need to take action now because we’re seeing the dramatic impact that climate change is having here at home. We really need to walk the talk. It’s one thing to talk about conservation, it’s another to actually put it into action.”

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

APPLE NEWS RELEASE

Apple commits $430 billion in US investments over five years
Apple today announced an acceleration of its US investments, with plans to make new contributions of more than $430 billion and add 20,000 new jobs across the country over the next five years. To date, nearly 60 of Apple’s US sites are LEED certified. Apple is carbon neutral for all of its operations in the US and around the world, and last year committed to be 100 percent carbon neutral for its entire supply chain and products by 2030. Apple’s $430 billion US investments include working with more than 9,000 suppliers and companies large and small in all 50 states, supporting American job creation across dozens of sectors, including silicon engineering, 5G, and manufacturing.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA

Statement: Biden moves toward allowing states to return to setting stricter vehicle emission standards
Vehicle tailpipes are a major source of health-harming air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions. After seven years of decline, air pollution started rising in 2016. By 2018, 108 million Americans lived in areas that experienced more than 100 days of degraded air quality. U.S. PIRG and Environment America had called on Biden to strengthen federal fuel economy and vehicle emission standards, and restore state authority, in theFirst Things to Fixreport, which outlined 20 environmental protections the president should enact when beginning his time in office.

Environment America Initiatives include: Mayors for Solar Energy
Environment America’s Mayors for Solar Energy project is helping city leaders take concrete steps toward this brighter, healthier future by building a broad, bipartisan community of mayors and giving them the tools they need to tap into the power of the sun.

Environment America Priorities

Alton couple power home with solar energy

By Lydia Hansen, The N’West Iowa Review

“Ric has helped install more than 200,000 panels in five years, and none
have needed to be replaced because of hail damage.”

ALTON—It’s not always easy being green, but Ric Hansen is making a second career out of it. Ric, who is 64 and lives with his wife, Janet, on a small farm north of Alton, has been installing solar panels for businesses and residential customers since 2016. One of his first customers was himself.

He got his introduction to solar five years ago when longtime friend Wayne Williams hired him to do engineering, installation and quality control for his solar company in Central City, NE. The business, called Interconnection Systems Inc., does large solar installations in nine states. Ric started his own business, Solar and Automation Controls Solutions, shortly afterward. Read more here.

RIC HANSEN’S OMAHA PROJECTS INCLUDE:

The Duchesne Academy

Ric installed this 10-kilowatt solar array at the Duchesne Academy in 2019 for Interconnection Systems Inc. Established in 1881, Duchesne is located at 3601 Burt Street.

The energy generated by the solar system powers multiple classrooms, including the school’s science, technology, engineering, arts and math lab. where students can integrate data from the solar system into coursework.

The solar array is part of the school’s overall sustainability initiative. Duchesne Academy has the inspiring goal to be a net positive energy school by 2030. The school’s other sustainability program goals include zero waste by 2030, having a sustainable food system, and sustainability curriculum integration.

Heartland Hope Mission – A Green Watts for Good Project

As the winning bidder of our joint Request for Proposals (RFP), Ric Hansen worked with Nebraskans for Solar and Heartland Hope Mission on this 5-kilowatt Interconnection System Inc project, installed on the nonprofit’s building at 2021 U Street last year. 

Heartland Hope Mission leaders had planned to meet with their board and request a matching 5-kilowatt PV system, but the pandemic put that objective on hold. This initial 5-kilowatt solar project was funded through direct contributions to Nebraskans for Solar’s Green Watts for Good program and donations to our December, 2019 Giving Tuesday campaign sponsored by SHARE Omaha. 

Top Photo Credit: Lydia Hansen

Illinois energy bill proposes ‘green bank’ as national movement builds

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Illinois would get a “green bank” to finance equity-focused clean energy investments under the latest version of the Clean Energy Jobs Act pending in the state legislature. If the proposal passes, Illinois would join more than a dozen states including Florida, New York and Connecticut that use publicly funded green banks to leverage private investment for renewables, energy efficiency and other projects, especially in communities that have been underrepresented in the clean energy economy.  The state-level proposal comes as a federal bill with bipartisan support would create a national green bank — dubbed the Clean Energy Accelerator —  that would work in tandem with state banks. Continue reading here.

Photo by Jim Bowen / Creative Commons

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED STUDY

Recognition of and response to energy poverty in the United States, Nature Energy

Abstract
A household is energy poor when they cannot meet energy needs. Despite its prevalence, the US has not formally recognized energy poverty as a problem distinct from general poverty at the federal level, which limits effective responses. In this review, the authors examine the measurement and evaluative metrics used by the two federally-funded energy programs focused on reducing high energy bills to understand how program eligibility requirements and congressional funding appropriations have shaped the national understanding and implementation of energy poverty assistance. We find that current measurement and evaluative metrics hinge on the distribution of government resources and the number of vulnerable households assisted, rather than improving household well-being and reducing overall energy poverty.

SOLAR+STORAGE GUIDE

Understanding Solar+Storage: Answers to Commonly Asked Questions About Solar PV and Battery Storage, Clean Energy Group Publication

The guide is informed by more than six years of experience through Clean Energy Group’s work with property owners, developers, nonprofits, and communities to advance solar+storage in underserved communities. The questions and topic areas addressed in the guide are based on feedback from nearly one hundred stakeholders who submitted questions about solar+storage.

The information presented in the guide focuses primarily on customer-sited, behind-the-meter solar+storage installations, though much of the information is relevant to other types of projects as well, including storage-only projects and front-of-the-meter solar+storage projects. It is meant to serve as a starting point to establish a foundation of knowledge and understanding for individuals and organizations beginning to explore solar+storage options for their homes, businesses, or community facilities.

A Spanish-language version of this guide is available here.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

NYC installing solar at nearly 50 public schools, other facilities, PV Magazine
The 22 MW of solar projects are expected to include some energy storage systems and help New York City and the state meet sustainability goals.

ELECTRIC MACHINES & VEHICLES

AFFORDABLE ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES 

Report: Accelerating The Transition To Electric School Buses: How schools, lawmakers, and utilities can work together to speed the transition to zero emission buses. Released by the U.S. PIRG Education Fund.

The vast majority of school buses in the United States run on diesel, a fossil fuel that has been shown to cause numerous health problems, including asthma, bronchitis, and cancer. Diesel exhaust is also a greenhouse gas, which contributes to climate change.

However, there is an alternative: zero-emission battery electric school buses. The technology is here, and electric school buses are ready to roll, but the question remains: how do schools pay for them? While electric buses can save schools money over the lifespan of the bus, the initial price tag of a new electric bus can turn many schools off to the idea of electrification.

Particularly promising options are vehicle-to-grid technology and Pay-As-You-Save (PAYS) programs. By pairing them, “each electric bus could save school districts up to $130,000 per electric bus.”

Download the Report.

FEATURED LEGAL ACTION

Midwest Renewable Energy Association Files Lawsuit to Open Solar and Other Clean Energy Opportunities for Wisconsinites, Earthjustice News Release

STEVENS POINT, WI — The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) filed a lawsuit in Wisconsin Circuit Court to remove barriers preventing Wisconsinites from accessing the benefits of local clean energy development. MREA’s filing asks the court to ensure that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSCW) sticks to regulating monopoly utility companies and does not illegally interfere with competitive clean energy alternatives for Wisconsin families and businesses.

MREA’s lawsuit specifically challenges two unlawful policies that stifle Wisconsin’s clean energy economy. First, MREA challenges guidance documents from the PSCW that preclude financing options available in most other states where solar energy is more affordable. MREA also challenges a PSCW order that unlawfully prohibits Wisconsin homes and businesses from utilizing market incentives to reduce their power consumption during peak hours and thereby reduce power costs for everyone.

About Earthjustice

Earthjustice is the premier nonprofit public interest environmental law organization. We wield the power of law and the strength of partnership to protect people’s health, to preserve magnificent places and wildlife, to advance clean energy, and to combat climate change.

About The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

The Midwest Renewable Energy Association promotes renewable energy, energy efficiency, and sustainable living through education and demonstration.Together with partners around the Midwest, we work to expand renewable energy adoption through innovative programs, renewable energy training, and educational events. MREA is a nonprofit organization.

Midlands Voices: Renewables provide a sound energy path for Nebraska

By Chuck Hassebrook, Omaha World-Herald

Gov. Ricketts’ statement blaming wind energy for electric outages was misleading and his proposed solution of reliance on coal profoundly misguided. It would ultimately worsen the problem. We all agree that electric outages are unacceptable. But to prevent them, we need to understand what caused them.

Continue reading here. Requires a digital subscription.

Chuck Hassebrook, of Lincoln, works in solar power development and is a former regent of the University of Nebraska.

 

NEW FERC PROCEEDING

FERC to examine threat of climate change, extreme weather to reliability, American Public Power Association

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Feb. 22 said that it will open a new proceeding to examine the threat that climate change and extreme weather events pose to electric reliability.

THE GREEN ACT

New Green Act Could Extend and Create New Credits for Renewable Energy, Energy Storage, Carbon Capture, and Electric Vehicles, National Law Review

On 5 February, the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Select Revenue Measures announced the reintroduction of theGrowing Renewable Energy Efficiency Now (GREEN)Act. The bill was previously introduced in June 2020. If passed, the legislation would provide for a host of incentives across the renewable energy, energy storage, carbon capture, and electric vehicle industries. Some notable provisions include:

BROOKINGS INSTITUTION REPORT

How renewable energy jobs can uplift fossil fuel communities and remake climate politics, Metropolitan Infrastructure Initiative, by Adie TomerJoseph W. Kane, and Caroline George

The U.S. transition to a low-carbon economy is already underway, and some of the most striking progress is within the energy-generation sector. As the cost of solar, wind, and other renewable sources continues to fall, market forces will continue to encourage renewable energy generation and lead to the closure of fossil fuel extraction and generation activities. 

MICHIGAN TECHNOLOGICAL UNIVERSITY STUDY

Study shows homeowners with PV are subsidizing their neighbors, Renewable Energy World

For years some utility companies have worried that solar panels drive up electric costs for people without panels. Joshua Pearce, Richard Witte Endowed Professor of Materials Science and Engineering and professor of electrical and computer engineering at Michigan Technological University, has shown the opposite is true — grid-tied solar photovoltaic (PV) owners are actually subsidizing their non-PV neighbors.

SOLAR TARIFFS

America’s Clean Energy Leaders Urge President Biden to Repeal Trump Solar Tariff Proclamation, SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Seventeen leading renewable energy CEOs are calling on President Biden to rescind the Trump Administration’s October 2020 solar proclamation, which improperly increased tariffs on solar panels and rescinds the exclusion for bifacial solar panels. Led by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and supported by the American Clean Power Associationthe letter calls attention to the proclamation’s impact to existing solar contracts and discusses how harmful the Section 201 tariffs are to the U.S. economy and the industry’s ability to address climate change. Importantly, the CEOs are asking the President to return the tariffs to status quo and restore business certainty.

SEPA MICROGRIDS REPORT

Smart Electric Power Alliance: Voices of Experience / Microgrids for Resiliency

Despite increasing customer demand, microgrids are sometimes challenging to justify economically, especially with regards to resiliency. SEPA partnered with NREL and DOE to bring you a guide to help you navigate the opportunities and challenges of microgrids.


Key takeaways from the report include:

  • What is a Microgrid? How you define it matters.​​​​​
  • Accounting for the value of resiliency.​​​​
  • The role of utilities in microgrid development.
  • Insights from utilities on siting a microgrid.
  • The challenges and opportunities around the economics of microgrids.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Student leads effort to get solar panels at Athens Drive Magnet High School, WRAL
RALEIGH, N.C. — What started as a student project has now turned into one school’s journey to reduce the use of fossil fuels through solar energy. Athens Drive Magnet High School is the first school in Wake County to have a solar array system, consisting of 12 solar panels, through NC GreenPower Solar+ Schools, a non-profit grant. Rocco Nociti, a former student, transformed his homework into a real-life application of renewable energy. Determined to get his high school using renewable energy, he applied for the grant.

GREENBIZ INTERVIEW

Bill McDonough at 70: A look back … and ahead, by Joel Makower, Chairman & Executive Editor, GreenBiz Group

Architect, designer and author William McDonough is well-known to many in sustainability — as a pioneer in green building; as the erstwhile “green dean” of architecture; as co-author of the seminal 2002 book “Cradle to Cradle”; as a designer of breakthrough buildings and materials; as a deep thinker about how design relates to a healthy and abundant future; and as an enthusiastic framer of the concepts and language that have become part of the sustainability lexicon.

On the occasion of his 70th birthday this month, I caught up with McDonough to discuss his journey and some seminal moments in his life and career, and how they influenced his work. And to take a peek into where he may be headed next.

Cradle to Cradle Institute

What the Biggest Corporate Energy Buyers Want from Federal Clean Energy Policy

By Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

On Monday, a notable subset of the largest U.S. corporations signed on to a statement from the Renewable Energy Buyers Association (REBA), laying out their top federal policy priorities to help them meet their own aggressive decarbonization goals. Among the 34 signatories are tech giants like Amazon, AppleFacebookGoogle and Microsoft, manufacturing heavyweights including Cargill, Clorox and General Motors, and global retail and consumer brands like Disney, Johnson & Johnson, McDonalds, Target and Walmart. Many of these companies have already pledged to zero out their carbon footprints in the next decade or two, whether internally or across their supply chains. Read more here.

ESG & SUSTAINABLE FINANCE

Welcome to a new era of ESG and sustainable finance, by Joel Makower, Chairman and Executive Editor, Green Biz Group

A vast ecosystem is in play. Investors have awakened to the notion that how companies manage environmental and social issues is nearly as key to their risk profile and profitability as are financial fundamentals. Banks and insurers are factoring climate risk and social issues into their products and portfolios, accelerating a shift that’s been gearing up for years.

Companies are warming to a world of deeper transparency and disclosure demands by investors, lenders, customers and others, and are trying to keep up with the dynamic world of standards and frameworks with which they’re being asked to comply. Oh, and it’s the dawn of a new U.S. presidential administration that sees virtue in assertive action on a range of social and environmental issues.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

KELLY SPEAKES-BACKMAN

Biden-Harris Administration picks Energy Storage Association CEO to join senior DoE leadership, Energy Storage News

A former utility commissioner in her home state of Maryland, Kelly Speakes-Backman has been leader of the ESA during a period of fast growth and rapid scale-up for energy storage in the US, with more than 2GW installed during that time.

In a recent interview for Energy-Storage.news, the now former ESA CEO said that the association expected to see at least 3.6GW of storage installed during 2021, and ESA published ‘Vision 2030’ a while ago, citing that the deployment of at least 100GW of energy storage on the grid is both desirable and achievable.

EV CHARGING 

EVgo Seeks $2.6B Public Market Valuation in SPAC Reverse Merger, Greentech Media
The LS Power subsidiary is the second major EV charger company in the U.S. seeking public capital to meet rocketing demand.

HOME HYDROGEN BATTERY

World-first home hydrogen battery stores 3x the energy of a Powerwall 2, New Atlas

To get off the grid with home solar, you need to be able to generate energy when the Sun’s out, and store it for when it’s not. Normally, people do this with lithium battery systems – Tesla’s Powerwall 2 is an example. But Australian company Lavo has built a rather spunky (if chunky) cabinet that can sit on the side of your house and store your excess energy as hydrogen.

SOLAR SCHOOLS

Solar Landscape to Provide Cost-Free Electricity to Asbury Park Schools, Renewable Energy Magazine
Entering into a 15-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), Solar Landscape will provide electricity to the Asbury Park School District at no cost for the entire term of the agreement. This will result in a critical cost savings of more than $120,000 a year for Asbury Park schools.

What is a solar power purchase agreement?, Solar Energy Industries Association 

 

FEATURED WIND ENERGY RESOURCES

Wind Workforce Webinar Series Offers Insights, Information, and Solutions
To help industry recruit the best and brightest people and to provide students with the essential resources to set them on a path toward a rewarding career in the wind energy workforce, NREL, in partnership with the Investment Tax Credit (ITC), hosted a three-part Wind Workforce Webinar Series as part of American Wind Week 2020.

KidWind Launches the Power Grid Kit
The KidWind Project recently launched the Power Grid Kit—the first large-scale, functioning grid model that provides educators with a one-of-a-kind opportunity to explore power grid systems and solutions with students of all ages. The kit models the flow of electricity from generation sources like nuclear, coal, natural gas, wind, hydropower, and solar power through substations before being distributed to industrial, commercial, and residential consumers. It also models distributed generation in the form of solar panels and residential wind turbines to demonstrate the broad range of energy options possible in the future.

Source: Department of Energy’s WINDExchange Newsletter

Solar Market Forges Ahead in Q3 as Residential Installations Recover and Utility-Scale Pipeline Grows

SEIA News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. and HOUSTON, TX — U.S. solar companies installed 3.8 gigawatts (GW) of new solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity in Q3 2020, a 9% increase from Q2 installations as the industry experienced a recovery from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the U.S. Solar Market Insight Q4 2020 report, released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and Wood Mackenzie, solar accounts for 43% of all new electric generating capacity additions through Q3 2020, more than any other electricity source. The report projects a record 19 GW of new solar capacity installations in 2020, representing 43% year-over-year growth from 2019. Continue reading here.

US Large-Scale Solar On Track for a Record 2020, Greentech Media
New Solar Market Insight report shows that, coronavirus-related hiccups aside, the utility-scale solar sector is set for growth.

ALSO IN THE NEWS

SOLAR SCHOOLS

21 Virginia Schools Now Using Solar to Lower Carbon Footprint, by Emily Holbrook, Environment + Energy Leader. Twenty-one schools across Virginia are reducing their carbon footprints by powering their operations with solar energy through a partnership between BrightSuite Solar, a subsidiary of Dominion Energy, and Sun Tribe. This partnership brings together two of Virginia’s leading renewable energy companies and their expertise in financing and installation to help school divisions meet their clean energy goals.

ENVIRONMENT AMERICA PAPER

 

Moving Forward Together: A transpartisan agenda to rebuild trust and tackle America’s biggest challenges

This paper outlines 12 areas of policy where the potential exists for real reforms that bridge the partisan divide and restore Americans’ faith and trust in one another and in their government.

 

EDF REPORT

Climate Risk In The Electricity Sector: Legal Obligations to Advance Climate Resilience Planning by Electric Utilities, by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Sabin Center for Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School.

Authors: Romany M. Webb, Michael Panfil and Sarah Ladin

This paper explores two legal doctrines, public utility law and tort law, which we argue obligate electric utilities to plan for the impacts of climate change on their assets and operations. Public utility law requires electric utilities to meet, among other things, prudent investment and reliability standards. Tort law establishes a duty of care that obligates electric utilities to, among other things, avoid foreseeable harm when performing acts that could injure others. We argue that, as climate science becomes more precise and predictive, these legal standards take on new meaning and require electric utilities to engage in climate resilience planning. Read a two-page summary here.

Additional Recommended Reading: Why Electric Utilities Must Engage In Climate Resilience Planning, Climate Law Blog, Sabin Center For Climate Change Law at Columbia Law School

5 Major US Utilities That Haven’t Promised to Fully Decarbonize: Some of the holdouts will surprise you.

By Julian Specter, Greentech Media

Electric utilities all over the place are promising to eliminate or net out their carbon emissions — here’s GTM’s look at the top five. Such promises were unthinkable for utilities just a few years ago. But the trend took off when Xcel Energy figured out it could retire coal plants, build clean power plants, and make more profits while keeping electricity costs down. The combination of positive public perception, a bigger rate-base and greater appeal to sustainability-minded investors turned the carbon-free commitments into the rule, not the exception, for the utility sector.

“They’re really trying to appease a nascent but quite powerful movement of [environmental, social and governance focused] shareholders and institutional investors,” said David Pomerantz, executive director of utility watchdog group Energy and Policy Institute, which tracks carbon targets. “Once it started taking off…it became awkward if a company didn’t have a goal.” A few exceptions do remain, though — holdouts that have not promised to eliminate their greenhouse gas emissions. Continue reading here.

Photo: NextEra Energy constructed Nebraska’s 35-acre, 5-megawatt solar array east of Fort Calhoun, which became operational in late December of 2019. NextEra contracted with OPPD to sell the power it produces to the utility for at least 20 years.

Previously Posted

  • NextEra is also pursuing a 423-megawatt solar project in Nebraska. It has acquired land rights and now is waiting to find a buyer and to hear what the Southwest Power Pool would charge for a connection to the grid. That figure is critical in developing renewable projects. [Phil Clement, who directs projects in Nebraska for NextEra] said that although it’s not now in the plan, storage could become a part of a Nebraska solar array as well. NextEra always builds solar projects “with storage in mind,” he said. Source: Solar-storage project would be ‘game-changer’ for Kansas City region, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network
  • NextEra, Nebraska farmers aim to build largest solar farm in the Midwest, by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

NEBRASKA-BASED VALMONT INDUSTRIES IN THE NEWS

Convert launches new PV tracker control system, contributed by Convert, PV Magazine

Solar PV tracking manufacturer, Convert, is launching its TRJ-AI Tracker Control System. The company says its new TRJ-AI innovation provides the industry the opportunity to easily control, manage, and monitor tracking systems from digital devices reliably and remotely to optimize the energy production of solar plants.

“Technology is ever-evolving and our commitment is to guarantee a better solution and a higher performance than the current standards, every time. Today with the innovative TRJ-AI Tracker Control System, the customers are able to take control when and where they want,” says Yury Reznikov, vice president and general manager of global solar for Valmont Industries, Inc, the Nebraska-based company that acquired Convert in 2018. “This means having complete control of your solar photovoltaic plant while increasing yield, minimizing risks, and optimizing O&M costs at the same time.”

Valmont Industries Website
Valmont Careers

MORE ON NEW SOLAR SCHOOLS STUDY & SOLAR POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

Virginia jumps to head of the class on school solar installations, report shows, by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

California is still the runaway valedictorian of solar-powered K-12 schools nationwide, but a recent renewable energy policy evolution in Virginia has propelled the state to head-of-the-class status. Since 2017, Virginia schools leapfrogged an impressive 12 spots — from 20th place to eighth place — in solar capacity installed, according to a report released Tuesday by a Charlottesville nonprofit.

Generation 180 collaborated with the Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association to compile Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools. The organization was founded in 2016 to equip individuals and communities across the country to play a role in the transition to 100% clean energy. Report co-author Tish Tablan is the program director for Solar for All Schools, a Generation 180 initiative.

 About Power Purchase Agreements

Solar Power Purchase Agreements, Solar Energy Industries Association 
A solar power purchase agreement (PPA) is a financial agreement where a developer arranges for the design, permitting, financing and installation of a solar energy system on a customer’s property at little to no cost. Schools all across the country are using Solar Power Purchase Agreements to solar power their buildings for free or at minimal cost.

New Report Shows Steep Increase in School Solar Power Drives Savings on Energy Bills, Frees Up Resources during Pandemic

Generation180 News Release, PR Newswire

As school districts struggle to adapt to a nationwide budget crisis brought on by the COVID-19 outbreak, many K-12 schools are shoring up budgets with a switch to solar power, often with minimal to no upfront capital costs. Since 2014, K-12 schools saw a 139 percent increase in the amount of solar installed, according to a new report from clean energy nonprofit Generation180, in partnership with The Solar Foundation and the Solar Energy Industries Association.

The report finds that 7,332 schools nationwide utilize solar power, making up 5.5 percent of all K-12 public and private schools in the United States. Over the last 5 years, the number of schools with solar increased by 81 percent, and now 5.3 million students attend a school with solar.  The top five states for solar on schools—California, New Jersey, Arizona, Massachusetts, and Indiana—helped drive this growth. Continue reading here.

Download the report: Brighter Future: A Study on Solar in U.S. Schools, 3rd Edition

Generation 180 Resources

  • The How-To Guide for Schools Going Solar offers step-by-step advice for going solar and includes an introduction to solar finance.
  • The Solar Schools Campaign Toolkit is an organizing guide for students, parents, teachers and community members who want to catalyze solar energy at their schools.
  • The Virtual Help Desk provides a library of resources, answers frequently asked questions and offers personalized support.

Learn More Here
Generation180.org
SolarforAllSchools.org

The Solar Foundation Initiatives 

Solar Energy Industries Association Website 

Solarize Chicagoland group-buy program bears fruit even in rough times

By Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

As Dan Orum grilled dinner one night in early June, through an earbud in one ear he learned the ins and outs of how to get a solar installation on his home in the Chicago suburbs and collect state and federal incentives before they expire. A few days later, he had signed a contract to be part of Solarize Chicagoland, a group-buy program that has been popular in its second year, despite the pandemic’s chilling effect on the economy and the larger solar industry. 

Orum had long been interested in solar because of the environmental benefits, but had never found the time or motivation to wade through all the options and requirements. The webinar he listened to while cooking that night made it clear that the group-buy program would offer him a good price for solar with support at every step of the process, working with a developer vetted and chosen by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and other partners. Continue reading here.

Photo by Solarize Chicagoland group-buy participant Andre Pavkovic of his home’s PV system installed by GRNE Solar, based in Lincoln, Nebraska. GRNE also has offices in Illinois, Indiana and Iowa. “Last year, the program included 124 installations for a total of 870 kW, with GRNE Solar doing the installations.”

Additional Information
Solar Group Buy Resources, Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA)

MIDWEST SOLAR SCHOOLS & POWER PURCHASE AGREEMENTS

Why America’s Schools Are Turning Into Solar Power Stations, Huff Post


Primergy, an Oakland, California, solar company nstalled the photovoltaic arrays at Galesburg, Illinois and 32 other schools in the state, including a college. The schools have power purchase agreements (PPA) with the company, meaning Primergy owns, operates and maintains the arrays. They then sell the electricity they generate exclusively to the schools, at a lower rate than they were paying for conventional electricity from the local utility company. Primergy leases the space required for the installations, too, which is extra revenue for the schools on top of their energy cost savings. Over the last few years, the vast majority of U.S. schools getting into solar have gone the PPA route.

Photo: An acre of solar panels in an old soccer practice field will power Galesburg High School.

Additional Information About PPAs
What is a solar power purchase agreement?, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) Resource

One Way to Retire Coal Plants: Buy Out the Owner

By Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

Municipal and cooperative utilities may have an easier time retiring coal plants early.

In 2016, New Mexico’s Kit Carson Electric Cooperative left its long-standing power supply relationship with Colorado’s Tri-State Generation & Transmission Association behind. Kit Carson paid nearly $40 million to sever its relationship with Tri-State, after realizing it could save its customers even more money — $50 to $70 million — and get access to more renewables by contracting with Guzman Energy, a wholesale power provider. Since Kit Carson made a run for the door, numerous Tri-State members have considered the same.

Think tank Energy Innovation, in a new analysis released Tuesday in partnership with energy modeling company Vibrant Clean Energy, is elevating Kit Carson’s flight as a model for coal retirement that allows third-party, private financiers — including energy providers such as Guzman, investors or renewables developers — to push municipal and co-operative utilities toward more renewables. Continue reading here.

Energy Innovation: Policy and Technology LLC is a nonpartisan energy and environmental policy firm. 

MORE GTM ARTICLES OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

  • Microsoft Eyes New Tool in Decarbonization Quest: Green Hydrogen
    The tech giant announced Monday that it recently powered a row of data center servers for 48 hours using nothing but hydrogen fuel cells, which it believes to be the longest such test in the world for a data center operator at that scale. Microsoft is expanding its hydrogen testing and intends to leverage its vast size and energy consumption to help the green hydrogen industry scale up, Brian Janous, the company’s general manager for environmental sustainability, said in an interview. Last week NextEra Energy, the largest U.S. generator of wind and solar power, revealed plans to build its first green hydrogen facility in Florida, to be fueled by solar power.
  • Trump Administration Announces Long-Delayed Nomination of Democrat to FERC
    Nomination of NRDC attorney Allison Clements alongside Virginia utility regulator Mark Christie could restore political balance to key U.S. agency.
  • FirstEnergy CEO Defends Utility Amid Bribery Scandal Questions
    The utility’s share price and credit ratings have taken a hit after it was implicated in an Ohio nuclear and coal bailout corruption investigation.

NEW WORLD RESOURCES INSTITUTE REPORT

41 states have reduced their carbon emissions while growing their economies, Fast Company
Since 2005, 41 states and Washington, D.C., have increased their GDPs while reducing their carbon emissions, debunking the myth that economic growth can only happen at the expense of our environment. A new report from World Resources Institute (WRI) analyzes how states have decoupled their GDP growth from emissions, which Devashree Saha, a senior associate at WRI, says is “a hopeful sign for the United States and for the planet.” 

MORE ON NEW EIA DATA

Renewables have outpaced nuclear and coal to start 2020, PV Magazine
In the latest edition of Electric Power Monthly, Energy Information Administration (EIA) data shows that renewable resources have generated more electricity through May 31st than both coal and nuclear power.

AGGREGATED COMMUNITY SOLAR PROJECTS

First downstate project through Illinois community solar program underway, Energy News Network. The first community solar project in downstate Illinois facilitated by the state’s 2017 Future Energy Jobs Act is now being built, showing both the potential of the wildly popular program and the challenges of implementing it. Washington D.C.-based Summit Ridge Energy won the rights to sell renewable energy credits for 18 projects in downstate Ameren utility territory and 23 in ComEd’s territory in northern Illinois. So far it’s signed up 8,479 customers to participate in the community solar installations — just over half the subscribers it needs to be fully subscribed. 

MIDWEST SOLAR SCHOOLS

C2 Energy Capital Works with Solar Partners to Guide a School Solar Project to Successful Completion, C2 Capital News Release, PRNewswire

“The average price of a school solar installation has dropped 67% in the last ten years, making solar energy a smart decision for schools’ budgets. The most important factor for a successful solar installation in a school is an experienced team. Together, our partners have installed solar on dozens of schools in the Midwest and we are proud of the level of expertise, quality, and service we can offer,” says Richard Dovere, Co-founder and Managing Member of C2 Energy Capital.

The partnership between C2 Energy Capital, First Solar, and SP&L took a value-driven approach that resulted in cost-savings and reduced project risk for the school through strategic technology procurement, employing local and Ohio resources, and arranging ongoing project performance analysis. 

EVANGELICAL ENVIRONMENTAL NETWORK

Can an evangelical group change Ohio lawmakers’ minds on clean energy?, Energy News Network

An evangelical group has a stark message for Ohio lawmakers: If you care about unborn children, clean up the air their mothers breathe. “As a pro-life Christian, I believe pollution harms the unborn, causing damage that lasts a lifetime,” reads a petition signed by more than 53,000 Ohioans in support of moving the state to 100% clean electricity by 2030. The petition, circulated by the nonprofit Evangelical Environmental Network, was delivered to lawmakers on July 16. Its potential political impact was unclear then and is even more so now after federal authorities arrested the speaker of the Ohio House and others as part of an alleged $60 million bribery scheme

SUNPOWER BIFACIAL SOLAR PANELS

SunPower to launch 625 W shingled module, PV Magazine
SunPower, which is majority owned by French energy giant Total, is planning to launch a new shingled module series with 625 watts of power output. Group spinoff Maxeon Solar Technologies will commercialize the Performance 5 line in the fourth quarter. The high-efficiency, bifacial mono-PERC solar panels will be made with large format eight-inch G12 wafers and will have an efficiency of 21.2%.

AWEA WEBINAR SERIES

Renewables 101 series: Wind recap, look out for solar, by Lauren Rudolphi, Into The Wind
As someone new to the renewable energy industry, this month’s Wind 101 Webinar Series offered an insightful and well-rounded look into the world of wind. From an overview of the market, to wildlife, siting & permitting, I walked away from the series feeling informed and excited to learn more! Below is a recap of my key takeaways.