Tag Archives: Environmental Law & Policy Center

Tri-State takes significant steps to increase member flexibility, sets contract termination payment methodology

Tri-State News Release

Under the new contract, utility members can self-supply up to 50% of their load requirements, subject to availability in the open season, in addition to the current 5% self-supply provisions and a new community solar provision. In late 2019, the board of directors approved the Contract Committee’s recommendation to expand member opportunities for community solar projects. Read more here.

Additional Recommended Reading
The Delta-Montrose Electric Association (DMEA) will terminate its membership in Tri-State on June 30, 2020, Tri-State News Release. The parties have entered into a membership withdrawal agreement in accordance with a July 2019 settlement agreement. As part of the membership withdrawal agreement, DMEA or a third-party will pay $88.5 million to Tri-State, and in addition, forfeit $48 million in patronage capital. “The withdrawal agreement aligns with our settlement and is a negotiated agreement unique to DMEA,” said Duane Highley, chief executive officer of Tri-State.

Nebraska Tri-State Members

FINANCING NEWS

Engie North America launches financing plan for renewable projects, Daily Energy Insider
Engie North America initiated a major tax equity financing plan for its renewable energy portfolio. With this action, the company has secured financing through tax equity commitments of up to $1.6 billion on various renewable projects through Bank of America and HSBC. The projects will be funded as they are commissioned starting in April 2020.

Previously Posted Interview
Engie’s renewables chief on scaling corporate contracts, hydrogen hopes and offshore wind, GreenBiz Many new renewable contracts Engie intends to sign will include clauses for making sure renewables are available 24/7, which means they’ll be hybrid arrangements that include a mix of clean (or cleaner) power sources such as solar, wind and hydro and, increasingly, some sort of storage — Engie has big aspirations in green hydrogen. Heather Clancy interviews Gwénaëlle Avice-Huet, executive vice president in charge of the global renewables and green hydrogen business line for Engie, and president and CEO of the Engie North America operation.

More About Engie Previously Posted

MORNING CONSULT

Let’s Deploy Local Solar for All to Help Restart Our Economy, by Luis Davila
As we face a once-in-a-lifetime crisis due to the effects of the coronavirus, we also have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to reform our energy system to one that is cleaner, safer and more equitable. This improved system can deliver local, affordable and clean energy options to all energy customers, especially low-income families who will be disproportionately affected by the effects of the coronavirus. Thankfully, prior to this crisis, we had already started to take steps to pursue this improved energy system. It is time to accelerate our transition to a more decentralized, resilient energy system.

Luis Davila is a clean energy policy advocate and former director of campaigns and advocacy at Sunrun, and before that, he was a campaign leader at the U.N. Climate Change secretariat in the lead up to the Paris Climate Agreement.

Morning Consult welcomes op-ed submissions on policy, politics and business strategy in their coverage areas. Updated submission guidelines can be found here.

FEATURED RESOURCE

Low Income Solar.Org
Utilities are in a powerful position to facilitate the transition to clean energy for all and can play a vital role in expanding solar access and choice for low-income households. However, special care must be taken to ensure utility owned projects are designed to meet the needs of low-income households and underserved communities. In considering the roles utilities can and should play in making solar available for low-income households and underserved communities, Principles and Recommendations for Utility Participation in Solar Programs for Low-Income Customers from The Environmental Law & Policy Center, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar outlines three interrelated sets of guidelines and considerations for policy makers and regulators to review.

HYDROPOWER

Life After Covid-19, Part II: Secret Renewable Energy Weapon Lurks Beneath Waters of the US, by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica. For all the nice (and not-so-nice) things people say about hydropower, the chances of building a new fleet of hydropower dams in the US are slim to none. However, there is still plenty of untapped renewable energy to be scoured from running water — and the US Department of Energy is determined to pry it loose with $38 million for a newly announced research program. The new announcement lends additional support to the prospects for deploying renewables as an economic recovery strategy in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis.

DOE News Release: Department of Energy Announces $38 Million to Support Hydrokinetic Turbine Technology Development

VIRGINIA LEADERSHIP

MODEL REGIONAL INITIATIVE

The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative
The Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) is the first mandatory market-based program in the United States to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. RGGI is a cooperative effort among the states of Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont [and now Virginia] to cap and reduce CO2 emissions from the power sector.

APPA RELIABILITY AWARDS

APPA recognizes member utilities for reliability efforts, American Public Power Association
The American Public Power Association recently honored more than one hundred public power utilities with a “certificate of excellence” for reliable performance in 2019, as shown by comparing their outage records against nationwide data gathered by the Energy Information Administration (EIA). The utilities that were recognized by the Association have been keeping track of their reliability data via the Association’s web-based subscription service, called eReliability Tracker, which lets utilities collect, categorize and summarize their outage information. The complete list of awardees is available here.

Nebraska Award Recipients
Fremont Department of Utilities
Grand Island Utilities Department

OPPD THE WIRE

Show off your knowledge about line work, by Laura King-Homan
April 13 is Lineworker Appreciation Day in Nebraska. OPPD is proud of all the line technicians who work hard every day to keep our communities powered. But how much do you know about the work they do? Take the quiz below and find out!

ESG

Amid plunging stock prices, ESG leaders are holding their own, by contributor Sara E. Murphy, GreenBiz

Jeff Meli, global head of research at Barclays, said companies should expect more questions from investors about their resilience and contingency planning, according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Many observers believe that strong ESG performance indicates better management, which translates into stronger long-term returns. The idea is that management teams that do a good job of minimizing their environmental footprint, promoting good employee relations and creating resilient governance structures are more likely to be adept at running all other aspects of a company’s business. “ESG funds tend to be biased towards higher-quality companies with a stronger balance sheet, companies that are run better and operate more efficiently,” Hortense Bioy, director of passive strategies and sustainability research at Morningstar, told the Financial Times.

TESLA’S PILOT VPP IN AUSTRALIA

Tesla’s Virtual Power Plant Is Already a Success, Popular Mechanics
Like the large energy storage facility Tesla operates in South Australia, the goal of the virtual power plant is to both collect energy and store it to be fed back into the grid. The pilot virtual plant is distributed across the rooftops of 1,000 low-income homes in South Australia, and Tesla says its goal is to eventually have 50,000 solar rooftops there. That number might sound small, but South Australia only has about 1.6 million residents.

Solar, storage and active energy management will be key to innovative eco district project

By Jean Haggerty, PV Magazine USA  

Avista Utilities and the construction engineering company McKinstry are testing a series of solar-plus-storage solutions, active energy management techniques and smart building technologies at a Spokane, Washington-based eco-district that the partners say will be home to the smartest five blocks in the world. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Nick Kelly / Faithlife Corporation

NEW TVA REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

TVA accepting proposals for 200 MW of renewable energy, Solar Power World
TVA procured more than 1,300 MW on behalf of customers through similar requests for proposals in 2018 and 2019. Large-scale solar costs 80% less than private-scale solar and delivers the best value for renewable energy across TVA’s seven-state service territory. While TVA does not have a need for more base-load energy, the utility is investing in renewables in response to customer demand for cleaner energy and economic development opportunities to attract companies with sustainability goals.

MORE INDUSTRY NEWS

SMART THERMOSTATS

Can smart technology shape rate design and drive consumer savings?, Utility Dive
The following is a contributed article by Nathan Shannon, Deputy Director, Smart Energy Consumer Collaborative, and Rob Kelter, Senior Attorney, Environmental Law & Policy Center

MORE ON SEIA & WOODMAC ANNUAL REPORT

2019 Was a Record Year for U.S. Solar Power: California saw major growth; Pennsylvania and Colorado could be the next markets to take off, by John FialkaE&E News, Scientific American

The expansion of solar-powered electricity in the U.S. broke major records last year, accounting for nearly 40% of all new generating capacity. And total installed photovoltaic (PV) power is expected to more than double in the next five years, according to an annual report released by the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie, a global energy research and consulting firm. The U.S. growth, a 23% jump over 2018, was led by California, where concern over forest fires and solar requirements for newly built homes pushed up PV demand. It was followed by dramatic solar growth in the Northeast and in sunny Texas and Florida.

CAP-AND-TRADE NEWS

Federal court upholds California’s cap-and-trade agreement with Quebec, American Public Power Association

California established its cap-and-trade program in October 2011, using recommendations from the Western Climate Initiative, which also became the administrator of the program, a role that does not include authority over policy. The program establishes limits and issues allowances for greenhouse gas emissions for covered entities. In an effort to increase the program’s impact and market liquidity, California also created a mechanism to link its program with other jurisdictions. Those linkages, however, do not alter the cap-and-trade program in other jurisdictions. In December 2011, Quebec created its own cap-and-trade program and, in January 2014, the California and Quebec programs were linked.

ELECTRIC BUSES

4 Lessons From a California Transit Authority’s Bus Electrification Rollout, Greentech Media
The Antelope Valley Transit Authority will soon be the first U.S. public transit agency to operate a 100 percent e-bus fleet. Here’s what they’ve learned.

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

How embracing renewable energy can help India achieve its target of becoming a $5 trillion economy by 2024-25, Economic Times. India’s rapid economic growth has benefited the country in a lot of ways but it has been clouded by a degrading environment and natural resource scarcity. According to the 10th EPI (Environmental Performance Index) report produced by researchers at Yale and Columbia Universities in collaboration with the World Economic Forum (WEF), India ranks 177 out of 180 countries in terms of overall environmental quality.

Lincoln Journal Star Letter: Commit to clean energy

Written by Alison Krohn

The City of Lincoln and Lincoln Electric System have taken steps towards a sustainable future through multiple efforts. The Lincoln Environmental Action Plan (2017-2018) calls for a 25% reduction in carbon emissions by 2025 while increasing the use of renewable energy 50%.

LES offers several incentives for renewable energy generation and energy efficiency improvements. The utility obtains approximately 40% of its distributed power from renewable sources. But are these goals and incentives enough? Continue reading here.

Photo: Telesis Inc’s solar array on top of the former Meadow Gold Dairy House at Seventh and M Streets in Lincoln’s historic Haymarket.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

FEATURED RESOURCE: LOW-INCOME SOLAR POLICY GUIDE

Best Practices for Utility Ownership
In considering the roles utilities can and should play in making solar available for low-income households and underserved communities, Principles and Recommendations for Utility Participation in Solar Programs for Low-Income Customers from the Environmental Law & Policy Center, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar outlines three interrelated sets of guidelines and considerations for policy makers and regulators to review.

NEBRASKA GRID INFRASTRUCTURE NEWS

USDA Invests $8.2 Million For KBR Rural Public Power District, USDA News Release
The power district serves 4,847 customers over 2,604 miles of line in five counties in north central Nebraska.

APPA ANNUAL REPORT

Wind, solar, natural gas dominate capacity in development, American Public Power Association
Wind, solar, and natural gas are the three dominant sources in the development pipeline for electricity generation in the US, according to a report from the American Public Power Association. America’s Electricity Generating Capacity, 2020 Update is the Association’s 14th annual look at the country’s current and future capacity. Wind, natural gas, and solar projects account for 94% of all capacity under construction, which is consistent with additions over the past five years, of which 97% came from these three resources.

ENERGY STORAGE

US Storage Industry Achieved Biggest-Ever Quarter and Year in 2019, Greentech Media
“Storage is being deployed all across the country now, at megawatt-scale, in more than half of U.S. states,” said Kelly Speakes-Backman, CEO of the Energy Storage Association. Eight states now contain utility-scale storage facilities adding up to more than 50 megawatts. Another 11 states operate more than 10 megawatts each. Only 15 states have yet to adopt any advanced storage in front of the meter, according to WoodMac’s data. Overall, U.S. storage installations are expected to nearly triple in 2020 and more than double in 2021. Residential numbers, in particular, will triple this year compared to last year.

NEW 500-WATT SOLAR PANELS

How the new generation of 500 watt panels will shape the solar industry, PV Magazine
There are two solar module manufacturers, Risen Energy and Trina Solar, that have unveiled first-of-their kind 500W, 50-cell, PV modules. “For applications where you have a lot of area, particularly commercial and especially utility-scale, it’s really significant,” CEO of Cinnamon Energy Systems Barry Cinnamon told pv magazine. “You could just use fewer modules, it reduces handling costs and overall balance-of-system costs go down.” If there are less modules needed to reach the capacity specifications of a project, that means overall project costs will go down as these modules become economically viable. A significant area that will see cost reduction will come from the racking and trackers.

NREL’S FREE DATABASE

WattBuy to automate and expand NREL’s utility rate database, PV Magazine
With this new, free database, WattBuy can help residential homeowners more accurately calculate the return on investment (ROI) on a solar and/or solar-plus-storage system and make a more informed decision, Hood said. For solar financiers and energy efficiency companies, the new data will be useful for targeting new markets and for tracking projects’ ROI, he added.

EV NEWS

INTERNATIONAL NEWS

Project developers can secure cash from new IRENA funding pot, PV Magazine
The Climate Investment Platform launched by three multilateral bodies in September is now open for business and renewables companies in developing nations could qualify for help with clean energy facilities, renewables-related grid improvements and energy efficiency schemes.

Report: Utilities could help connect low-income customers with solar

Written by Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Recently the Environmental Law & Policy Center and national groups Grid Alternatives and Vote Solar called on utilities to do more to facilitate solar access for their low-income customers nationwide. Last month they released a low-income solar policy guide, which makes recommendations and highlights best practices including programs by Xcel Energy in Minnesota and Colorado and others in California and Washington, D.C.

But in the heart of the industrial Midwest — Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan towns and cities hugging the Great Lakes — low-income people have little access to solar. And some utilities have even tried to turn low-income people against solar, framing rooftop solar as the purview of elites that leaves others paying more to keep up the grid. Read more here.

 

Principles and Recommendations for Utility Participation In Solar Programs for Low-Inome Customers. Prepared by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, GRID Alternatives, and Vote Solar

 

Top Image Credit: National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL)

Iowa cities can drive climate action with Paris Accord in flux

By Howard A. Learner, Opinion Contributor, Des Moines Register

Des Moines, Dubuque, Fairfield, Iowa City, Cedar Rapids and other municipalities have pledged to seize opportunities to reduce greenhouse gas pollution. Growing local solar energy, storage and energy efficiency creates jobs, saves money, attracts investment and avoids carbon pollution. Local energy production keeps energy dollars in our communities, instead of paying to import electricity generated by coal, gas and uranium. Clean electric vehicles and buses in municipal fleets reduce fuel and maintenance costs, and avoid pollution. Improving energy efficiency in city buildings saves taxpayer money, reduces pollution and lessens maintenance costs. Read more here.

Howard A. Learner is the Executive Director of the Environmental Law & Policy Center, a leading environmental progress and economic development organization in the Midwest.

Environmental Law & Policy Center Website
ELPC Launches Climate Cities Campaign

 

Top Photo:  Solar panels on the roof of St. John the Apostle Catholic Church in Norwalk, Iowa.
Credit: Michael Zamora / The Register

ALSO IN IOWA
How to Get Wyoming Wind to California, and Cut 80% of U.S. Carbon Emissions, MIT Technology Review

Starting in the 1950s, some companies and countries began to deploy next-generation high-voltage DC transmission lines . . . For the past two years, James McCalley, an engineering professor at Iowa State University, has been studying the best way to tie together those massive grid systems as part of the Department of Energy’s $220 million Grid Modernization Initiative.
A national direct-current grid could also help lower emissions, by as much as 80 percent below 1990 levels within 15 years, all with commercially available technology and without increasing the costs of electricity, according to an earlier study in Nature Climate Change.