Tag Archives: Herman K. Trabish

Utilities take note: Next generation utility-led community solar is emerging

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive
Flexible subscriptions and solar-plus plans “push the envelope” of utility programs.

[Smart Electric Power Alliance Utility Strategy Manager Dan] Chwastyk said the success of the Municipal Utility of Freemont, NE, SunShares program may be one version of next generation community solar. Fremont worked with SEPA on a survey to understand what customers wanted, Department of Utilities General Manager Brian Newton told Utility Dive . . . Newton said the utility decided the best way to capture the interest was to offer two kinds of subscriptions.
Read the entire article here.

Photo by Mike Kruger: Construction began in October on Fremont’s first solar farm, which sold out in 7 weeks and is expected to go online in December. A second solar farm already has a waiting list of 70.

To learn more about Fremont’s innovative community solar program, click the following links:


Nebraska town can’t get enough of community solar: Smart program design drives sold-out project, Smart Electric Power Alliance

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

Why utilities are more confident than ever about renewable energy growth

Concerns about integrating high levels of wind and solar are waning,
Utility Dive’s sector survey shows. By 
Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive  

At the turn of the millennium, only wide-eyed dreamers in the power sector would have claimed renewable energy would play a major role on the U.S. grid. Wind and solar were simply too expensive and too difficult to integrate. Fast-forward to 2017, and that dream is becoming a reality, according to a survey of more than 600 utility professionals. More than 80% of North American utility employees expect renewable energy to increase moderately or significantly in their service areas over the next decade, according to Utility Dive’s fourth annual State of the Electric Utility (SEU) survey.

Continue reading.

In discussing consumer sentiment as a factor pushing utilities toward clean energy, the author mentions OPPD’s new renewable energy tariff  “to lure tech companies to its service area,” and Puget Sound Energy’s novel green tariff.

Utility wind rush set to strengthen as low prices allow resource to spread across nation

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

“It is a buyer’s market for utilities in wind right now,” said Tammie McGee, spokesperson at Duke Energy Renewables, a wind and solar developer. “They can still get 80% of the production tax credit [PTC] benefit before it is stepped down to 60% at the end of this year. And power purchase agreement [PPA] prices are now in many places competitive with fossil fuel generation, so it is a cost-effective way to diversify an energy portfolio.”

Total investments in U.S. wind deployments hit $13.8 billion last year, according to Hannah Hunt, senior analyst at the American Energy Wind Association (AWEA), the wind trade group. They came from a “diverse geography of investor-owned utilities, public power utilities, electric cooperatives, and private sector off-takers,” she added. Read more.

Photo by Jamie Vesay: Petersburg Wind Farm in Nebraska


Solar split: How a new petition is dividing rooftop and utility-scale installers in SEIA

Rooftop installers want a bigger voice in the trade group, but stress unity is still the priority. Written by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive


The petition — An Urgent Plea to the Solar Industry — was written and posted by [Jigar Shah, founder of solar giant SunEdison and co-founder of renewables finance specialist Generate Capital] and Spice Solar founder Barry Cinnamon, a 14-year SEIA Board member.

It describes the 200,000 jobs, one million solar roofs, and 16 GW of installed capacity the distributed solar industry now represents. It also reminds readers that the industry faces state-level policy fights across the country in defense of net energy metering (NEM) and other crucial supports while it searches for a new SEIA CEO. Click to read the entire article.

Photo Credit: Flickr / Walmart 

With new control technology, demand response set to become operational tool for utilities. Guest post written by Brett Feldman, principal research analyst at Navigant Research.

The DER pivot: Grid Edge Forum illustrates utility shift toward a distributed grid

Utility Dive 3

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

There is a reason attendance at the Grid Edge World Forum 2016, a leading distributed resource convention, doubled from 2015 to 2016, prompting organizers to move it to a conference center next year.

A fundamental transition is underway in the utility system, GTM Research Grid Edge Director Steve Propper told the audience. Increasingly, the old grid model one-way power flows from centralized generation to the customer is being supplanted by a more distributed energy system, where consumers produce and store their own energy, as well as manage their usage. Read more here.

USDA provides $52 million in electrical co-op loans to bolster rural efficiency, by Robert Walton

Robert Walton

Robert Walton

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will make $52 million in loans available to rural electric cooperatives through an energy program which aims to boost efficiency by offering low-interest loans for projects. Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley (D) said the Rural Energy Savings Program is helping to create jobs and reduce energy waste. The lawmaker introduced the legislation to create RESP in 2010. Click to continue reading.

USDA’s Energy Efficiency and Conservation Loan Program

Merkley: Rural co-ops gain $52 million for energy efficiency loans

The Rural Utilities Service: How the USDA is building a clean energy future for rural America

A little-known federal program has billions to dole out for renewables and efficiency projects for underserved populations.

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive


From the best-kept secrets file: There is a little-known $6.25 billion federal fund offering low interest loans and guarantees to utilities looking to build rate-based infrastructure. It gets better: Along with the funding, utilities can work cost-free with knowledgeable staff anxious to get applicants successfully through the process of building the kinds of renewable energy, smart grid, and efficiency projects utility customers are clamoring for . . . There is a catch: While the funding opportunity is available to all types of power providers, the projects have to meet the needs of underserved communities with populations of 20,000 or less. Read more.

“While most of the capacity from RUS projects is currently in wind and biomass, interest in solar is increasing fast, especially among co-ops.” Rural Utilities Service (RUS) Fact Sheet

Photo: Central Iowa Power Cooperative’s utility solar project, the largest in the state.. Credit:  Azimuth Energy

The corporate green team: Utilities partner to meet renewables demand from large US firms

Buyers Principles

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

“Nearly half of Fortune 500 and 60% of Fortune 100 companies have established aggressive climate and clean energy goals,” a new white paper from the Edison Electric Institute and leading environmental groups notes. “An increasing number are setting 100% renewable energy
goals. . . “ Last month, the Renewable Energy Business Alliance (REBA) summit in Seattle drew a full house of 300 participants, [Letha Tawney, Director of Utility Innovation at the World Resources Institute], said. Some had to be turned away . . . The ultimate goal is to see 60 GW of renewables contracted by corporate buyers by 2025. Read the entire article here.

Nebraska legislature advances bill to ease wind development

Wind farm, NEBy Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

The unicameral Nebraska legislature moved LB 824 to its third and final debate and vote by passing it as amended in a 32 to 8 vote and preventing a filibuster by its opponents. The bill will allow developers to more easily build in the wind-rich state and export the electricity to other states.

Bill supporters say the law would attract development capital to a state that has the third highest wind potential in the country but only gets 8% of its electricity from wind. Iowa, by contrast, gets 31% of its power from wind, Oklahoma gets 18.4%, and Kansas gets 23.9%, according to American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) numbers.

Continue reading here.

Community solar poised for growth as utilities gain confidence, familiarity

Image Credit: Clean Energy Collective

Image Credit: Clean Energy Collective

Two new reports detail a bright future for community solar as utilities get more experience and realize the resource’s potential

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

“Increasing the use of solar power” was among the top three energy-related issues for 64% of household decision makers in a 2015 Deloitte survey, up from 58% in 2014 and 50% in 2013.

Yet as many as three-fourths of all residential households may not be suitable for solar, according to a GTM report from last year. Increasingly, investor-owned utilities (IOUs), municipal utilities, and rural electric cooperatives are discovering they can fill that gap with community solar, according to Alternative Energy Leader Marlene Motyka, lead author of “Unlocking the value of community solar,” a recent report from the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions.

Read more here.

Solar garden backers may seek bill to improve accessibility, Denver Post
Kansas State’s first community solar array sells out, The Hays Daily News
Indiana cooperative to offer leases on pilot community solar array, Utility Dive
REPORT: Community Solar Market In US Could Be Worth $2.5 Billion In Revenue By 2020
REPORT: Accelerating Adoption of Community Solar

How utility collaboration can cut community solar costs up to 40%

Image Credit: Clean Energy Collective

Image Credit: Clean Energy Collective

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) Manager Joseph Goodman left a position in the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) SunShot program for the opportunity to show how to make community solar markets happen, he told Utility Dive in an interview.

Under Goodman’s leadership, RMI is now working with community-based organizations, rural electric cooperatives and public and investor-owned utilities to demonstrate that it is possible to deploy community solar installations at prices up to 40% lower than installations today.

Read more here.

RMI Insight Brief: Community-Scale Solar: Why Developers and Buyers Should Focus On This High-Potential Market Segment