Tag Archives: Grid Alternatives

Lots of ‘renewable’ options for energy consumers, but why are so few of them any good?

By Ivy Main, Virginia Mercury

Virginia residents who want to do right by the planet are confronted with a bewildering array of renewable energy and “green power” options. Unfortunately, few of these programs actually deliver renewable energy. People who want the gold standard — electricity from new wind and solar projects — are completely out of luck if their utility is Dominion Energy Virginia or Appalachian Power. 

To understand how there can be so many options and none of them good, we first have to talk about renewable energy certificates.  RECs are a topic that is way more interesting than it sounds because — well, it would have to be, wouldn’t it? RECs are how we know that some electricity can be attributed to a renewable source. If you want to know what kind of renewable energy your utility is buying, or if you yourself want to buy renewable energy, RECs matter. Read more here.

About Ivy Main


Ivy Main is a lawyer and a longtime volunteer with the Sierra Club’s Virginia chapter. A former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency employee, she is currently the Sierra Club’s renewable energy chairperson. 

 

Top Photo: Dominion Energy’s Whitehouse solar farm in Louisa County. Under the Virginia Clean Economy Act, after 2025 most of the Renewable Energy Certificates retired by Dominion Energy Virginia and Appalachian Power will come from Virginia wind and solar facilities.

Recommended Resource: State Renewable Portfolio Standards and Goals, National Conference Of State Legislatures

IN NEBRASKA

Did I mention I’m a certified solar installer?

Contributor Meredith McClintock, Head of Business Development at Aurora Solar, PV Magazine

Solar is one of the best technologies we have to fight climate change, and it’s awesome to see how much traction it has gained. The increasing urgency of achieving global sustainability plus the industry’s rapid growth have attracted many more women and people of color. And I’m proud to be at Aurora Solar, a refreshingly diverse and mission-driven solar software company that’s willing to be introspective about how it can do better.

Unfortunately, for a supposedly progressive, world-changing industry, solar has a lot of work to do. According to the Solar Foundation, women are significantly under-represented in solar compared to the U.S. workforce, and then under-represented again in management and in senior executive roles. The wage gap between women and men is larger in solar. Not surprisingly, job satisfaction is significantly lower for women. This is all bad business. Study after study has documented that diversity is good for the bottom line. Companies with above-average diversity, especially in leadership, generate higher revenues and better profitability, innovate more, and attract and retain more top talent than below-average ones. Read more here.

Meredith McClintock’s accomplishments include:

  • Generating over $100 Million in new revenue
  • Sales to both major accounts and early adopters exceeding $75 Million
  • Multi-industry product marketing achievement, including successful new product introductions in product portfolios from first launch to over $40 Million
  • Demonstrated success building high-performing, multi-functional teams, leveraging consulting best practices, project management, and leading change
  • Awarded 3 patents

McClintock has dedicated the past 15 years to improving our environment by:

  • Founding, building and selling a solar equipment company,
  • Improving revenue and margins by re-engineering operations and doubling the partner
    network for an energy efficiency startup,
  • Consulting to sustainability-related companies to define markets, introduce new products and grow their businesses, and
  • Volunteering for climate non-profit and educational organizations.

Source: LinkedIn

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

MORE TRADE ORGANIZATIONS

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.

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)

Education Dive Awards 2019 – Partnership of the Year: Grid Alternatives

By Linda Jacobsen, Education Dive

Kanyon Martinez, a member of the Bishop Paiute Tribe, was about to graduate from Bishop Union High School in Bishop, California, last year when he heard about an internship possibility with Grid Alternatives — a nonprofit organization that brings solar installations to low-income communities, including tribes.

Martinez was glad for the chance to gain some work experience, but now that opportunity has grown into much more. First, he participated in Solar Futures, Grid Alternatives’ five-hour educational program, which teaches K-12 and community college students about the solar industry and gives them some basic skills related to installation. Continue reading here.

The K-12 Education Dive Awards for 2019

Photo Credit: Grid Alternatives

Nicole Steele: Solar power offers a cleaner, better energy future

Guest Columnist, The Virginian-Pilot

Dominion Energy recently announced a request for proposals for up to 500 megawatts of wind and solar under Virginia’s Grid Transformation & Security Act, and the 2018 Virginia Energy Plan — released by Gov. Ralph Northam on
Oct. 1 — calls for the addition of 3,000 megawatts of solar and wind in the state by the year 2022. It’s an exciting turning point, but as we move forward, we need to make sure Virginia’s transition to clean energy includes and benefits all of our communities. Equitable solar policies targeting low- and middle-income households will keep money in the local economy, allow communities to build wealth and create local jobs. Read more here.

Nicole Steele is the executive director of nonprofit GRID Alternatives Mid-Atlantic. GRID Mid-Atlantic, serving Washington, D.C., Maryland, Virginia and Delaware, is a leader in making clean, affordable solar power and solar jobs accessible to low-income communities and communities of color.

NEWS FROM OTHER STATES

Minnesota’s largest solar farm project moving ahead in far southwestern corner, Duluth News Tribune. A Minneapolis-based renewable energy development company continues to work with landowners in Rock County in far southwest Minnesota on what could be the state’s largest solar farm covering 1,600 acres. Geronimo Energy is proposing a 150- to 200-megawatt solar farm. The largest solar farm currently in operation in the state is 150 megawatts. 

Kansas’ Cloud County Community College adds 200-kW solar array to pro-renewables campus, Solar Power World. The installation of an on-campus solar site commences new solar energy classes of Cloud County Community College’s Solar Energy Technology program. The site will service the campus’s energy needs, and will be installed by students enrolled in the program. Historically focusing on wind energy, solar was a natural transition. 

Residential solar co Freedom Forever enters Colorado market, Renewables Now. According to Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), solar energy production is expected to surpass 1,800 MW in Colorado in five years.

Related:
 Clean Energy Experts: 100% Renewable Energy Could Come Before 2040, CBS Denver

MORE ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

America’s Wind Farms Are Ready to Go It Alone, Bloomberg
For a quarter-century, the industry has been supported by federal tax credits that helped it attract $250 billion in investments and create 100,000 jobs, according to the American Wind Energy Association. That support ends next year, but analysts and executives say the credits have done what they were supposed to do: make the industry competitive. AWEA Public Domain Photo.

The Vision for U.S. Community Solar: A Roadmap for 2030

Despite clear consumer interest and immense market opportunity, the model hasn’t yet achieved scale because most states lack community solar policies – and those that do are still largely not adequately reaching and serving a diverse customer base.  Transformative growth of community solar will not happen overnight. But improvements in program design and implementation, financing solutions, and customer-focused offerings can expand solar access to all customer types.

To help state policymakers, market participants, and advocates address these gaps and expand community solar options, GTM Research conducted a study to evaluate the community solar market potential and identify pathways for community solar adoption nationwide by 2030. The study was supported by Vote Solar, GRID Alternatives, and Coalition for Community Solar Access. Read more here.

Photo: South Sioux City’s 2.3-megawatt array (1,200 panels) located on a 21-acre solar park south of the city, alongside C Avenue. The array generates enough energy to provide 5% of South Sioux City’s electrical needs. This is the first Nebraska project for California-based developer Solar City, a Tesla Motors subsidiary. See Solar Examples for more information.
Recently posted: $1.6 million 2 megawatt energy storage unit project in South Sioux City
Credit: Tim Hynds, Sioux City Journal

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

The Top Distributed Solar Policy Actions Of Q2, by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry

According to the report, The 50 States of Solar, the greatest number of actions related to residential fixed charge or minimum bill increases, net metering policies and community solar policies:

The report identifies three trends in solar policy activity taken in Q2 2018: (1) states working to increase low-income customer participation in community solar programs; (2) state legislatures considering bills effectively undoing or amending regulatory decisions; and (3) regulators approving residential fixed charge reductions. NCCETC says regulators in three states approved residential fixed charge decreases in Q2 2018 – representing a notable departure from previous quarters. Read more here.

Solar industry, NAACP partner for more than 30 installations

Posted by Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

GRID Alternatives, Solar Energy  Industries Association, Sunrun, United Methodist Women, Vote Solar joined the NAACP to kick off a solar equity campaign focused on low-income communities and creating jobs . . . Called the “Keeping it Green While Living the Dream”, the coalition has made a year-long commitment to train 100 people, install solar on 20 households and 10 community centers and strengthen laws in at least five states that strengthen equity in solar-access policies. Read more here.

Photo: Grid Alternatives

NAACP’s JUST ENERGY TOOLKIT
Just Energy Policies and Practices Action Toolkit
The toolkit contains modules to help guide individuals and communities move towards an energy economy that is sustainable, equitable, and just for all its members. It includes a section on how to pass net metering, distributed generation and community shared renewable energy policies, a fact sheet on advancing equity, inclusion, and leadership in the solar industry, and a fact sheet on solar consumer protection. The toolkit is designed to operate in conjunction with the NAACP’s Just Energy Policies: Model Energy Policies Guide, which contains specific information for people wanting to change policy.

Updated low-income solar guide designed to accelerate deployment

By Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

National non-profits GRID Alternatives  and Vote Solar  have updated their online tool, the Low-Income Solar Policy Guide, which they first released last year as a one-stop resource for those interesting in democratizing solar energy. Read more here.

Low-Income Solar.Org

ALSO IN THE NEWS