Tag Archives: The Solar Foundation

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 

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

10th Annual National Solar Jobs Census: Solar Jobs Up Nationwide and in 31 States After Two Years of Losses

News Release, The Solar Foundation

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. solar industry employed nearly 250,000 workers in 2019, an increase of more than 5,600 jobs (or 2.3%) since 2018, according to the 10th annual National Solar Jobs Census released today by The Solar Foundation. This marks a resurgence in solar industry employment following two years of job losses in 2017 and 2018.

The Solar Foundation, a nonprofit educational and research organization, issues the National Solar Jobs Census each year to provide comprehensive and reliable data on the U.S. solar workforce. Since the first Solar Jobs Census was published, American solar jobs have increased 167%, from just over 93,000 jobs in 2010 to 249,983 jobs in 2019.

Read the entire news release here.

Links to More Information

Photo Credit: The Solar Foundation

Additional Recommended Reading

Renewable Energy Prices Hit Record Lows: How Can Utilities Benefit From Unstoppable Solar And Wind?

By Silvio Marcacci, Communications Director at Energy Innovation

Over the last decade, wind energy prices have fallen 70% and solar photovoltaics have fallen 89% on average, according to Lazard’s 2019 report. Utility-scale renewable energy prices are now significantly below those for coal and gas generation, and they’re less than half the cost of nuclear. The latest numbers again confirm that building new clean energy generation is cheaper than running existing coal plants.

In other words, it is now cheaper to save the climate than to destroy it. Capacity installation trends reflect this economic reality, with new wind and solar generation coming online at a breakneck pace. Wind power capacity in the U.S. has more than doubled since 2010 and reached nearly 100 GW in 2018. Read more here.

ØRSTED NEWS

Global 100 Index: Ørsted Is the World’s Most Sustainable Company, Ørsted News Release, CSR Wire
Having completed a fundamental business transformation from fossil fuels to renewables over the past decade, Ørsted urges all countries and companies to reduce their carbon emissions to help limit global warming to 1.5°C. The global leader in offshore wind outperformed more than 7,300 global companies with billion-dollar revenues to rank #1 in Corporate Knights’ 2020 index of the Global 100 most sustainable corporations in the world. Ørsted becomes the first-ever energy company to top the index.

Previously Posted

100% CLEAN ENERGY NEWS – PLUS NEBRASKA DATA

MICROSOFT’S NEW CARBON NEGATIVE PLAN

How Microsoft’s new carbon-negative plan will test the idea of a climate economy, CNBC
Microsoft’s plan to make up for every bit of carbon it has put into the atmosphere since it was founded in 1975 will require a mix of old and new solutions. 100% renewable electricity by 2025, electric vehicles on campuses and alternate sources of business travel are familiar pledges. But soaking up all the carbon in the air already is a new corporate goal and will require novel technology, such as direct air capture. Microsoft is counting on everything from planting massive numbers of trees to soak up carbon and using technologies to capture carbon and sequester it in soil — burying it, essentially — to more exotic technologies.

EV NEWS

Tesla can sell vehicles in Michigan under legal settlement, Associated Press News
Tesla will be able to sell and service its vehicles in the backyard of Detroit’s three automakers under a lawsuit settlement, a person briefed on the matter says. The deal between the state of Michigan and Tesla is likely to be announced Wednesday, said the person, who asked not to be identified because terms of the deal have not been made public.

FEATURED NATIONAL INITIATIVE

SolSmart is a national designation program recognizing cities, counties, and regional organizations that foster the development of mature local solar markets. The program is led by the International City/County Management Association and The Solar Foundation.

To help communities achieve designation, SolSmart provides no-cost technical assistance from a team of national experts who work to evaluate programs and practices that impact solar markets, and identify high-prospect opportunities for improvement. A select number of communities also hosted SolSmart Advisors: fully-funded, experienced staff who work in communities for periods of up to six months. All cities, counties, and regional organizations are eligible to join SolSmart and receive no-cost technical assistance to achieve designation.
Learn more: Why Should You Apply?
Meet the SolSmart team

Lincoln, Nebraska SolSmart Gold Designee
City Receives National Recognition for Promoting Solar Energy, City of Lincoln Mayor’s Office News Release, September 9, 2019

Multinationals pushing governments to enable renewable energy deployment

By Robin Whitlock, Renewable Energy Magazine

RE100, the global corporate initiative led by The Climate Group in partnership with CDP, has now counted 200+ multinational companies targeting 100 percent renewable electricity, by 2028 on average; with one in three already above 75 percent renewable. One in two are preparing to use their influence with stakeholders, such as policy makers and utilities, to push for faster transition to renewables. RE100 membership has grown by over a third in the last year, with the energy-critical Asia Pacific region accounting for over 40 percent of new joiners. Three more companies joining today include the Ralph Lauren Corporation. Read more here.

For additional information: RE100

FEATURED SOLAR SCHOOLS REPORT

Powering A Brighter Future: A Report on Solar Schools in Virginia, Generation 180
Power purchase agreements (PPAs) are the primary method Virginia schools use to finance solar installations. Nationwide, PPAs account for nearly 90% of K-12 solar school installations since 2014.4 Through a PPA, a third party purchases, owns, and maintains the solar panels, and the school or district agrees to buy the electricity produced by the system for the length of the agreement, often 25 or more years. PPAs are popular with schools because they make it possible to install solar with little-to-no upfront investment or ongoing maintenance costs. In addition, the school or district typically pays a lower electricity rate than it previously paid the utility, resulting in immediate energy cost savings.

MODEL CHARITABLE SOLAR PROJECTS

Solar field, pre-K both examples of public-private fund-raising efforts, The Toledo Blade
Charitable projects with both public and private roots took center stage in Toledo on several occasions during 2019, with the most recent being the official start of a solar-energy project on the former Jeep factory site whose revenues will benefit nearby neighborhoods.

BLACK HILLS ENERGY

Colorado utility sees “opportunistic window” to save money with solar and wind plus storage, PV Magazine. Black Hills Energy is seeking 200 MW of solar power or wind plus energy storage capacity as part of an RFP, driven – not by any requirements – but by 2019 summertime bids solar and solar plus storage bids of 2.4¢/kWh and 3.6¢/kWh and the pending step down of the 30% investment tax credit.

Black Hills Energy serves 1.2 million customers in eight states: Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Dakota and Wyoming.

MORE ENERGY TRANSITION NEWS

This Energy Transition Is Different. Here’s Why, by contributor Andy Stone, Forbes
Renewable energy employment already far surpasses employment in fossil fuels, and the gap will continue to grow.  Economics clearly favor an energy transition. All of this serves to show that conditions are in fact ripe for us to reach the goals outlined under the Paris Accord.  Despite arguments to the contrary, at our time of existential crisis when rapid change is required, we have the tools at hand to get the job of energy transition done.

Andy Stone is producer and host of the Energy Policy Now Podcast from the University of Pennsylvania’s Kleinman Center for Energy Policy, and consultant on policy and communications issues with energy sector advisory firms.

FEATURED SOLAR WORKFORCE RESOURCES

  • The Solar Training Network is a workforce development program led by The Solar Foundation and funded by the Department of Energy. Through original research, solar-focused career fairs, regional employer-instructor summits and an online interactive directory, the Solar Training Network improves understanding of the solar jobs landscape and lays the groundwork for a better qualified and more diverse solar workforce.
  • The Solar Energy Industries Association: Careers in Solar Energy

Demand from first-time, repeat buyers powers new era of large-scale renewables growth

By Monica JaburgDeputy Director, Communications and Media,
Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance. Published by GreenBiz.

Large-scale energy buyers are driving the energy landscape shift by collectively voicing their demand for accessible clean energy options to decrease their carbon impacts. In 2018 alone, the group accounted for 6.3 gigawatts in announced renewable energy deals — an amount equal to over 60 percent of all new renewables generation added in the United States last year.

However, the U.S. commercial and industrial sector is still the most energy-intensive, accounting for about 50 percent of all power consumption and 34 percent of all greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. So what’s next for this community when it comes to advance its clean energy and GHG emissions reduction mandates? Read more here.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING

TRI-STATE NEWS

IN NEBRASKA

  • Excelsior to buy 109 MW of Nebraska wind capacity from Invenergy, Renewables Now
    Prairie Breeze II and Prairie Breeze III initiated operations in late 2015 and early 2016, respectively. They have 25-year power purchase agreements (PPA) in place with Lincoln Electric System and City of Grand Island. The transaction is seen to be completed next month. Bank of America Merrill Lynch is the tax equity investor in the projects, the announcement says.
  • Wind costs’ decline aids rural Nebraska, Letter to the Editor, Lincoln Journal Star, by Cody Smith, Ames, Iowa Policy associate, Center for Rural Affairs

OF POTENTIAL INTEREST TO NEBRASKA SOLAR BUSINESSES

Solar Jobs Census: The Solar Foundation is again collecting data for their annual National Solar Jobs Census. This confidential survey will take fifteen minutes of your time and will provide essential feedback to ensure that your company’s contributions to our economy are well
understood by policymakers and the general public. Deadline: November 15, 2019.
Complete the survey here.

LEGISLATION

  • SEIA garners industry support and lobbies for ITC extension, Solar Power World
    Solar contractors are on a time crunch to fit as many installations into 2019 as they can, because in 2020 the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) starts to lose its effectiveness. The ITC is a federal tax subsidy that, in its current capacity, gives solar system owners a 30% return on a solar project’s total tax liability in any market segment. In 2020 the ITC is slated to drop to 26%, 22% in 2021 and in 2022 it will decrease to a 10% subsidy for commercial and utility markets, and zero for residential, indefinitely. That is, unless, the renewables subsidy receives another extension. SEIA’s Campaign: Defend the Solar ITC
  • Legislation aims to accelerate geothermal energy development, American Public Power Association

EV NEWS

GM sells shuttered Ohio plant to EV truck start-up, Reuters

INSIDE CLIMATE NEWS – EXXON TRIAL

Exxon’s Climate Fraud Trial Nears Its End: What Does the State Have to Prove to Win?
With only days left before the two sides deliver their closing arguments, here’s a look at what the attorney general needs to prove and how Exxon is fighting the claims.

See Also

Previously Posted

Yale University Survey: Yale Poll Finds Majority of Americans Think ExxonMobil, BP, Chevron and Other Fossil Fuel Companies Should Pay for Climate Change Damage, Union of Concerned Scientists Blog. new survey by Yale University’s Program on Climate Change Communications and supported by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) finds that most Americans (57 percent) think fossil fuel companies should pay for the damages caused by global warming.

Interactive Map – Click link and scroll down: This tool maps variations in Americans’ opinions about existing or potential lawsuits against fossil fuel companies.

Nebraska Data

  • A search by state shows that 50% of Nebraskans surveyed hold fossil fuel companies responsible for the local damage of global warming.
  • Several searches by county show the following results:

Cherry County: 58%
Colfax County: 56%
Dawes County: 57%
Douglas County: 56%
Lancaster County: 55%
Thurston County: 61%

Now Over 300 SolSmart Communities Nationwide!

SolSmart News Release

From Anchorage, Alaska, to Sarasota, Florida, more than 300 local governments have now received SolSmart designation for encouraging the growth of solar energy and removing barriers to solar market development. SolSmart has now achieved its goal to designate at least 300 local governments as SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze, for a total of 328 communities and counting.

The 328 SolSmart designees include cities, counties, small towns, and regional organizations in 40 states and the District of Columbia, representing 82 million people. One in four people in America now live in a SolSmart-designated community. More information on these communities and examples of their solar achievements can be found here.

Read the entire news release here.

Lincoln is a SolSmart Gold Designee – the highest achievement!

City Receives National Recognition for Promoting Solar Energy, City of Lincoln Mayor’s Office Media Release. The national SolSmart program has awarded the City of Lincoln a Gold designation for its efforts to make it faster, easier and more affordable for homes and businesses to go solar. SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

SolSmart Resources

House and Senate Introduce Legislation for 5-Year Extension of the Solar Investment Tax Credit

Solar Energy Industries Association News Release

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senator Catherine Cortez Masto (D-NV) and Representatives Mike Thompson (D-CA), Paul Cook (R-CA), and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) have introduced companion bills with a five-year 30% extension of Section 48 and Section 25D Solar Investment Tax Credits (ITC). The Renewable Energy Extension Act will call for the extension of the tax credits.

Following is a statement from Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association, urging lawmakers to pass this critical legislation:

Continue Reading Here.

MAYORS FOR SOLAR ENERGY

 

More than 250 mayors nationwide sign letter calling for increased solar power, Environment America News Release
Municipal leaders from all 50 states support more clean energy from the sun.


MORE NEWS & OPINION

NEBRASKA IN THE NEWS HERE

SOLSMART NEWS

Southwest Virginia Communities Achieve National Recognition for Advancing Solar Energy Growth, News Release, Appalachian Voices. Eight Southwest Virginia communities have achieved designation under the national SolSmart program for encouraging the growth of local solar energy markets, at a time when several major solar installations on schools, businesses, and community centers are poised to begin across the region. These communities were each awarded a SolSmart designation for taking local action to reduce the time and expense required to install solar energy systems. 

OPPD Focused On Continued Investment In Our Communities

Omaha Public Power District News Release
February 14, 2019

Omaha Public Power District is committed to investing in the communities it serves. Furthering that effort, today, the OPPD Board of Directors approved a labor contract for streetlight
conversion work within its service territory to replace current technology with light emitting
diode (LED) technology.

This is part of the district’s five-year plan, officially beginning next month, to replace nearly 100,000 existing high-pressure sodium fixtures within its service territory. To date, OPPD has
converted approximately 400 burned out streetlights to LED. The district is utilizing a contractor alongside OPPD employees due to the volume and time frame of work taking place.
Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading
NDEQ Co-hosting Nebraska Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Conference on March 25, NPPD News Release

NEWS FROM OTHER CITIES & STATES

The nuclear city goes 100% renewable, PV Magazine
Yesterday Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel unveiled the city’s
Resilient Chicago plan, which in action 38 is a commitment to
“transition to 100 percent clean, renewable energy in buildings community-wide by 2035”. 

TRI-STATE NEWS