Tag Archives: Robert Walton

Report: Utility-scale solar prices drop below $1/watt for first time

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Solar capacity additions are continuing to amass while the installed price-per-watt falls, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association’s (SEIA) latest U.S. Solar Market Insight Report.

Continue reading.

Photo Credit: Greentech Media

Pay As You Save: Co-ops are reaching new customers with a novel way to pay for efficiency

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Spruce Financial

“The Pay as You Save system has been active in the power sector for nine years now, but the leaders who have been demonstrating its efficacy have been in a part of the power sector that’s little tended and not particularly well known,” said Holmes Hummel, founder of Clean Energy Works, which advocates for the use of PAYS . . . “Electric cooperatives have been by far the leaders in this innovation and the reason for that is the alignment they have between shareholder interests and customer interests,” said Hummel. “Electric co-ops are, frankly, more nimble. They’re relatively efficient organizations.” Read more here.


Getting to net zero: Organizations are looking beyond lightbulbs to smart energy technology

UCSD microgrid

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

That interest in energy efficiency is growing rapidly is not surprising, as organizations seek to reduce their carbon footprint while lowering costs. But the story has moved beyond simple improvements like lighting retrofits, with more companies showing an interest in generating all of their energy and installing microgrids for the best available resiliency. Continue reading 

Photo: University of California San Diego microgrid. Credit: UCSD

Municipal Solar and Microgrids: A PV Market, Renewable Energy World
Whether driven by the desire to be more disaster-proof or just to save money, municipalities are turning to the promise of solar PV and microgrids all over the world.

Work to Begin on $2.1 Million Microgrid Research and Testing Facility, St. Thomas Newsroom
Professor Greg Mowry, a St. Thomas School of Engineering faculty member who has extensive experience with microgrid power systems, will oversee the center’s operation. He said the new center will be able to conduct research and test distributed energy resources such as fuel cell, solar, wind, biodiesel and battery applications.“The center will offer tremendous flexibility and will be among the most comprehensive microgrid testing facilities in the central region of the country.”

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

White House initiative targets 1.3 GW of energy storage

 By Robert Walton, Utility Dive


Last year, the United States doubled its installed advanced energy storage capacity to 500 MW, and the White House said that “key resource” is projected to grow quickly. To aid that growth, the Obama administration announced it will host “Summit on Scaling Renewable Energy and Storage with Smart Markets,” including a broad range of actions that could result in 1.3 GW of new storage being installed within the next five years. Read the entire post here. 


The White House: FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces Federal and Private Sector Actions on Scaling Renewable Energy and Storage with Smart Markets

More Utility Dive Posts
‘Should have started yesterday’: Why better transmission planning is urgently necessary for tomorrow’s grid. The power mix is changing fast and it will cost ratepayers if transmission planners don’t catch up, according to a new report from the Brattle Group.

Beyond rate reforms: Bundling strategies could resolve net metering battlesAn NREL study evaluated four common strategies used in these debates to find a solution for both sides

Never heard of the Clean Power Plan? You’re not alone.

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

epaA national poll released this week by a group called Voice of the People revealed 70% of Americans have never heard of the Clean Power Plan, but most do believe restricting greenhouse gases should be a high priority, ClimateWire reports.  A new Texas poll returned similar results; released by the Texas Clean Energy Coalition (TCEC), it found 85% of respondents did not know about the law. After being briefed on the law and its goals and impacts, about 69% of respondents said they supported the emissions restrictions: 89% of Democrats supported the rule, while just under half of Republicans did.  Continue reading.

EPA Resource: Clean Power Plan for Existing Power Plants
EPA FACT SHEET: Clean Power Plan

Nebraska lawmakers pass PACE bill to open up efficiency, renewable generation

By Robert Walton, Contributing Editor, Utility Dive

The legislation includes a $5 million cap on any single PACE bond, but allows for municipalities to fund larger projects following a referendum  . . . The market could take hold quickly in Nebraska, Midwest Energy News reports. Two lenders have already indicated an interest in helping fund projects: Pace Equity, focused on commercial projects, and Renovate America, which handles residential PACE loans. Read the entire article here.

About the Author
Robert Walton

Robert Walton has spent more than 10 years covering policy, regulation and business in Washington, D.C., with a focus on the natural gas and electric utility industries. In addition to a journalism degree from the University of South Carolina, he has a culinary diploma from the Art Institute of Washington and recently completed a 15,000-mile road trip shooting photographs across the United States.


Midwest Energy News: Nebraska hopes to close efficiency gap with PACE legislation

Residential battery storage startup touts ‘microgrid ecosystem’ approach

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Photo: AES Energy Storage

Photo: AES Energy Storage

ElectrIQ has become the latest company to offer a home energy storage solution, the IQ System home battery and software, which offers customers access to battery data, appliance usage stats and an overview of connected solar resources.

“We’re taking an iPhone approach, where all of these different components are in one box,” CEO Chadwick Manning told Greentech Media.

Read the entire post here.  

Utilities want to make money at the edge of the grid, but how?

Utility Dive’s third annual survey of electric utilities shows utilities are looking to
everage new revenue streams

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Click image to download survey.

Click image to download survey.

The top emerging revenue streams areas represent a pivot away from traditional rate-based business models, and in many ways, is an embrace of factors which were supposed to contribute to a “death spiral” for utilities. Energy efficiency and demand management services topped the list of emerging revenue streams, with 66% of respondents saying they are pursuing new money-making opportunities in that sector. Community solar and electric vehicle charging infrastructure came in second and third, each noted by more than half of respondents. When you add in distributed storage (40%) and residential rooftop solar (36%), the list of new revenue streams utilities are pursuing looks a lot like the factors once thought to signal their
demise . . . “Solar in general, and community solar in particular, is a hot topic,” said Navigant Senior Analyst Brett Feldman. “That is developing with or without the utilities, so they might as well get a piece of the action and have more control over it.”

Read the entire article here. 

Colorado utilities to test 5 rural, low-income solar models

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Image Credit: Sandia National Laboratories

Image Credit: Sandia National Laboratories

Continuing to grow solar energy resources will ultimately mean finding ways for all utility customers to have access, not just those with a perfect roof or credit score, according to Colorado stakeholders.

“Colorado has always been a leader in renewable energy, and now we take another innovative step forward as we create community solar models that are more affordable and available to Colorado rural electric cooperatives and the low-income communities they serve,” Colorado Energy Office (CEO) Director Jeff Ackermann said in a statement.

Read more here.  

Clean Technica: 5 Low-Income Community Solar Projects Announced In Colorado