Setting the right course on climate change in Annapolis

Author: Mike Tidwell and Karla Raettig Published: March 8, 2019 Washington Post

Mike Tidwell is executive director of the Chesapeake Climate Action Network. Karla Raettig is executive director of the Maryland League of Conservation Voters.

When it comes to climate change, Maryland is like a fragile ship caught in a big storm. Great swells of rising water buffet the state in the form of sea-level rise. And dark, howling skies keep opening up, triggering 1,000-year floods such as the ones that recently devastated Ellicott City twice in 22 months.

Any rational captain and crew would bail water and steer rapidly to harbor in such a storm. That’s precisely what the Maryland General Assembly is being asked to do right now in Annapolis. How? By joining other states and countries in moving rapidly toward clean energy, thus reducing the source of the storm itself: greenhouse-gas emissions from fossil fuels.

The Clean Energy Jobs Act, now before the Maryland Senate and House, would mandate that 50 percent of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources by 2030. It would create a plan to get to 100 percent clean power by 2040. Large majorities of lawmakers in both chambers have said they will vote for the bill, but a few representatives want to wait. “Let’s take action next year,” they say. “Or the year after that.” Which begs the question: What ship captain, seeing water spilling over the gunwales and into the galley, with rain crashing overhead, tells his crew, “Drop the lines! Let go of the rudder. We’ll steer clear of the storm later”?

A growing body of scientific evidence justifies the nautical image. Last October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the largest scientific collaboration in human history, announced that the world has barely more than 10 years to cut global greenhouse-gas emissions essentially in half. Failure to do so would commit the entire planet to perpetually rising seas and bigger storms.

A preview of that alarming world is on full display in Annapolis itself right now. Last month, a groundbreaking study by Stanford University researchers showed that, in 2017, downtown merchants in the waterfront capital lost up to $172,000 due to “nuisance flooding.” In short, rising tides linked to climate change keep pushing water up — yes, up — the drains in the City Dock district, flooding a key parking lot and streets, and keeping customers away.

Those same merchants are represented by powerful House Speaker Michael E. Busch (D-Anne Arundel), long a champion on climate action. Several of them sent Busch a letter late last month urging him to set a bold example by pushing Maryland further past fossil fuels. “Our families have less money” because of climate change, they wrote. “Our downtown waterfront is losing its future, and commercial spaces are literally growing vacant with ‘for lease’ signs out front.”

Making matters more urgent is President Trump. His reckless tariffs on solar panels and on steel and aluminum — combined with other factors — are putting solar workers out of business in Maryland. Last year, the state lost 800 solar jobs, according to the Maryland-Delaware-D.C. Solar Energy Industries Association. The industry says that, without passage of the Clean Energy Jobs Act, many hundreds more jobs will be lost in 2019. These are vital crew members on our collective ship, but they are being swept right off the decks. We need to rescue them, grow their numbers and put them to work.

Inevitably, there are those legislators who ignore the economic costs of climate change and instead complain about the cost of clean energy. Thankfully, another Republican administration, that of Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, has settled that matter. Hogan’s top environmental agency commissioned recent studies that show the Clean Energy Jobs Act, combined with other reasonable climate policies, would expand employment in the state and grow our economy. Win, win, win.

In Annapolis, 2019 is already shaping up to be a good year for the environment. A bill to ban foam food containers is likely to pass, and so is one that would preserve oyster sanctuaries in the Chesapeake Bay. But with climate scientists shouting alarms from the crow’s nest, it would be shocking if Maryland did nothing more.

There is no other choice. From shopkeepers to solar workers to NASA scientists, the voices of reason keep rising above the storm, urging the General Assembly to take its biggest step yet on climate change: Pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act. And do it now.

How to Value a Solar Development Pipeline, Part 2

LESLIE HODGE, JOE SONG MARCH 15, 2019

A look at the second pillar of solar project success: interconnection.

Recently, in a quiet moment between energy transactions, I pondered: When does a solar project become a solar project?

It’s a philosophical question, perhaps. Thankfully (and not surprisingly), my colleagues in engineering had a few opinions. While no two opinions were the same (also not surprising), each opinion did tie to one concept — interconnection.

In this second installment of How to Value a Solar Development Pipeline (read Part 1 here), we will explore the second pillar of project success: interconnection.

It is estimated that there are about 150 gigawatts of solar projects in interconnection queues across the United States. Compare that to the 12.1 gigawatts expected to be installed in this year. Clearly, a queue position is not in itself an indicator of project success. Interconnection provides the physical path to deliver power and imposes the physical constraints of such delivery. Interconnection also represents one of the critical fixed costs of a project.

These features naturally lend themselves to old-fashioned wildcat speculation. While some developers chase power-purchase agreements in search of demand for their power, other developers seek out ideal localities (or nodes) from which to supply their power. Skilled developers can do both.

In order to determine a pull-through rate for a project and to properly value a pipeline, we will explore strategic considerations related to interconnection development and evaluate the various stages of the interconnection process. Finally, we’ll consider trends that may factor into the interconnection process in the years ahead.

Interconnection as a strategy
Because interconnection costs do not have a one-to-one correlation to system size and are even less tied to revenue, projects with low interconnection costs provide distinct advantages. Developers with site control and low-cost interconnection may speculate on these queue positions and wait for projects to find them, in a sort of “if-you-interconnect-it,-they-will-come” strategy.

There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic. Module prices and build costs continues to fall. Corporate offtakers are buying at record rates and becoming increasingly more comfortable with contracts for differences (see Part 1, Pillar 1, Revenue Streams). Political will at the municipal and state level continues its steady push to incentivize renewables development.

The strategy may be sound. Nevertheless, site control and interconnection are but two of four pillars of project success.

The value of assets without offtake and permitting ought to reflect the outstanding binary risks and associated pull-through rates. For investors with the patience and appetite to warehouse or hold assets, this style of development may provide long-term, outsized returns. For investors looking for a quarterly or annual returns on capital and/or investors with high carrying costs, on the other hand, this strategy may be too risky.

Alternatively, investors looking for a platform that does both (recycles capital with near-term gains and places a few long-term strategic bets) may consider pipelines that combine varying levels of interconnection speculation.

Stages of interconnection
Within a single development pipeline, you may encounter projects of various stages of interconnection development:

Application submitted
Feasibility study
System impact study
Facilities study
Interconnection agreement executed
Commencement of construction of interconnection facilities

Each of these stages vary from utility territory to utility territory. Nevertheless, there are some technical and economic commonalities. A typical progression for territories in the Pacific Northwest, Southwest, Northeast, Mid-Atlantic and Southeast may look like this:

Application submitted: With a basic level of design and engineering, a developer may submit an application to the utility to interconnect a system. At this stage, the project is assigned a queue position. For congested feeders, this queue position is valuable, but it is just the beginning.

It is important to recognize that, while utilities are governed by public service commissions and while interconnecting to the grid may be a matter of right where technically feasible, the utility maintains broad discretion to determine what is and is not technically feasible.

The utility’s primary function as an interconnecting authority is to ensure the safety and reliability of the grid. That focus will shape its responses (and response times). Upon its review of the application, a utility will either suggest a study or (for lucky behind-the-meter projects) move straight to the interconnection agreement.

Feasibility study: At this stage, the utility will do a high-level assessment as to whether the project could interconnect to the grid. The utility’s engineering team will analyze the impact of the generation on existing grid infrastructure and may determine where thermal, voltage, or short circuit contributions would shape the manner in which the project is to be interconnected.

This study will inform the scope and contours of a system impact study, if necessary.
System impact study: This study will determine if any upgrades to the grid (on the utility’s side of the meter) are necessary in order to interconnect the project. If upgrades are necessary, the utility will provide a cost and schedule estimate for any work related to such upgrades.

This provides insight into the earliest date by which the system may achieve commercial operation. With a schedule and costs now in hand, developers may refer to interconnection at this stage as “de-risked.”
Facilities study: Certain utilities may perform a separate study known as a “facilities study.” This study may be required or optional and may be performed concurrently or following a system impact study. The purpose of this study is to devise equipment lists, technical specifications, a detailed schedule of costs and a granular construction schedule, which will be incorporated into the interconnection agreement.
Interconnection agreement executed: The project must execute the interconnection agreement within a certain period of time from receipt of the system impact study and/or facilities study in order to maintain its queue position. And generally, execution of the interconnection agreement requires a deposit or down payment on the necessary upgrades. For many developers, this stage provides an inflection point for monetization of the asset.

Commencement of construction of interconnection facilities: If utility upgrades are required, the utility will likely commence its work upon receipt of the full estimated interconnection costs (plus a characteristically conservative contingency). For larger utility-scale projects, interconnection costs may be paid on milestones agreed to by the utility and project.
Time and money
Money: Before System Impact Study, High Risk

Before the system impact study is completed, a developer may have a view on interconnection costs and the utility may have a view, as well. A developer may input its view into the financial model and a utility may express its view on paper. However, until a utility has performed a full system impact study, interconnection costs are unknown. The critical features of the system impact study are that (a) the project pays for the study, (b) the study’s results are the work product of an engineer (typically a third-party engineer), and (c) the utility sets a dollar value for the anticipated costs. If the developer’s financial model reflects a value for interconnection costs before the system impact study has been completed, consider it a hopeful placeholder.

Time: Before the Interconnection Agreement Is Executed, High Risk
When reviewing any timelines or Gantt charts of a development pipeline, it is important to ask where the dates come from. These dates may have their basis in law or tariff. A utility or the public service commission may set timelines within which the utility is to review and/or provide responses. Given this statutory patina, these dates feel reassuringly firm. They are not; they are aspirational. A utility may fully comply with the timelines, but the process is iterative at nearly every stage.

A response from a utility may call for a new submission or clarification, and you will suddenly find that the clock has started over again. Other times, a utility may miss a deadline by a few days (or weeks). These slips hardly rise to the level of a public service commission hearing, and there is generally no practical recourse for these slips that does not have the perverse effect of delaying the project further.

Therefore, it is critical to understand what development milestones are tied to utility action. Questions to ask include (a) whether utility action is a gating item for another development task on the project schedule (e.g., the execution of interconnection agreement is a condition precedent to application for an incentive), (b) whether utility delay could present a binary risk (e.g., tax equity deadlines), or (c) whether utility delay could present a cost adder (e.g., liquidated damages in the offtake agreement).

Once an interconnection agreement is executed, the utility may be contractually bound to act within set timelines. Most typically, utilities take these contractual obligations seriously. Therefore, dates based on an executed interconnection agreement are more truly firm. Before the executed interconnection agreement is in hand, however, time may not be on your side.

Trends: Congestion, Storage and Additional Revenue Streams Congestion is of particular concern for distributed generation projects. Certain regional markets that have fostered renewable development for many years have high concentrations of systems net-metered to the grid. In these areas, utilities may impose export restrictions. Even rooftop systems now face such restrictions.

In such cases, a storage solution may preserve project value. If storage is too expensive, developers need to weigh the economics of downsizing capacity against building beyond the export restriction, using a combination of reverse power relays and/or inverters that are programmed to self-curtail energy.

Developers that choose the latter path will need to convince the utility of the effectiveness of such a solution. (This is just one area in which in-house engineering is a critical value-add.) Even if a utility greenlights the larger capacity, the utility still may require that a utility-owned reclosure device be installed to ensure that the system is curtailed when it reaches the export limit. It is important to model out such curtailment when financing such a system.

The race is on to pair storage with solar at scale. It is important to consider what information was submitted in the interconnection application and what systems were studied, if the project has been studied, to determine if adding any particular type of storage would require a revised application or study. Either case may result in a loss of queue position.

Solar assets are expected to produce revenue for decades. It would be rather shortsighted to assume that the grids to which they connect will remain static. As more renewable assets come online, grid operators will need generation that can be flexible and respond in a second (or split second) to signals from the regional transmission organization.

Most grids have already monetized such services. Historically, this has been assumed to be where “baseload” power (e.g., natural gas or nuclear) steps in. However, a solar project (especially where paired with storage) can be incredibly flexible and responsive to the intermittency of other generators on the grid. It’s a “clean get cleaner” sort of world. Therefore, early engineering should contemplate flexibility with respect to the grid and interconnection applications should build in as much optionality as is commercially reasonable.

Bonus: Note on interconnection agreements
Interconnection agreements, by and large, are form agreements. Their legal terms are concise at best, lacking at worst. Nevertheless, with certain exceptions, there is generally no opportunity to negotiate. For investors looking to cover over any and all risks associated with the interconnection agreement, it is important to note that seeking an executed estoppel from a utility can be a lengthy and fruitless process. If an estoppel is not forthcoming, the business team ought to find alternative ways to confirm that the utility is ready to work with the project company.
So, if the legal terms are sparse, there is no room to negotiate, and an estoppel is out of the question, should your lawyer skip over the “interconnection” folder in the data room? No.

Legal diligence is necessary to determine the mechanics and ramifications of milestone dates and cliff dates, particularly with regard to deposit payments and placed-in-service dates. Your legal team should also read the interconnection agreement in the context of the applicable utility tariff.

Finally, interconnection agreements are peppered with various obligations during construction and operations, which should be considered when drafting the various construction contracts and operation and maintenance agreements for the project. Keep your lawyer out of this data room at your own peril.

***

Leslie Hodge is an associate at Mintz, Levin, Cohn, Ferris, Glovsky and Popeo. Her practice focuses on energy project finance, general commercial transactions, startup and corporate matters and contract disputes.

Joe Song, vice president of project operations at Sol Systems, also contributed to this

PACE Programs Near You That Can Create Financing Wealth Opportunity for HBCUs, African American Solar Development and Installation companies, commercial property and Private Farm Land Owners

Author:Ronald Bethea Published: 3/15/19 PCPC LLC

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http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pcpcllc/2019/03/13/mid-atlantic-pace-alliance-mapa

Is the Utility-Scale Solar Industry in a Finance Bubble?


PACE programs offer long-term private financing for renewable energy and energy efficiency upgrades to homes and businesses. PACE-enabling legislation is active in 36 states plus D.C., and PACE programs are now active (launched and operating) in 20 states plus D.C. Residential PACE is currently offered in California, Florida, and Missouri. Click your state below to find PACE programs operating in your area.

Using Commercial and Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) as a national organizing tool to increase market share for African American owned Solar Development and Solar Installation Company working with African American Mayors Association.

Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) is a government financing policy that classifies energy-saving upgrades as a public benefit -like a sewer,road extension, etc.

Enables 100% of hard and soft projects to be fund by private industry and repaid via surcharge on the property tax bill

Payback periods match equipment life (often 20+ years)

Financing is based on the value of the property, which allows the home owner to borrow from 20% up to 35% of the home owner property value.

This eliminates the issue of credit and equity in the property.

For roof repair to get more DC resident roof repaired to qualify for Solar for All Program

*What Mayor Browser Has To still Do.

Appoint the seven voting members of the Green Bank’s governing Board for the Council to confirm — by April 2019.

Continue reaching out to financial and clean energy experts and community leaders to inform the Green Bank’s design and portfolio of projects — throughout 2019.

Hire an Executive Director and other key staff — by Summer 2019.

Establish accountability structures, performance targets, financing tools, and clean energy programs for the Board to approve — by Fall 2019.

Author: Jay Wilson, RA, LEED AP BD+C  Published: Date: Tue, Oct 9, 2018

The District of Columbia Green Finance Authority Establishment Act of 2017 (GFA bill) was unanimously approved by the Council of the District of Columbia (Council) in June 2018 and completed Congressional review on August 22, 2018. The Act will establish the District of Columbia Green Finance Authority (GFA or DC Green Bank) as an innovative quasi-public instrumentality of the District government that will facilitate private investment in clean energy technology and green infrastructure by leveraging private capital, removing upfront costs, and increasing the efficiency of public investment in sustainability.

The District Department of Energy and Environment, Office of the Director is pleased to announce the publication of a Request for Proposals seeking one or more grantees to identify, formulate, and develop the critical deliverables necessary to lay the groundwork for the DC Green Bank, building on work completed over the last year. Successful applicants will provide innovative and thoughtful solutions to the following challenges:

What steps, tools, and information are needed to prepare for the successful launch of the Green Bank and how can the grantee assist DOEE and the DC Green Bank in conducting those activities?

The deadline for applications is November 5th, at 4:30pm. 
The Request for Application and support documents can be found on the DOEE website, https://doee.dc.gov/node/1360726. Additional
information and questions may be emailed to 2018GFAdevelopment.grants@dc.gov.

An informational Conference Call and opportunity for Question and Answers will be held on 10/11/2018, at 11:00 a.m. The call-in number is: 1-877-784-3995; and Conference Code is: 3127831.

Green Banks

*Financing  For Green Bank of Washington DC total 256.6 million 

 

Testimony of Betty Ann Kane, Chairman Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia before the Committee on Transportation & the Environment Council of the District of Columbia On Bill 22-904, the CleanEnergy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 October 9, 2018 passed by the DC Council October 18,2018 and signed into law by Mayor Browser January 18, 2019.

 

ISSUE 5: SETF COLLECTIONS Section 201(b) sets forth an annual increase in the SETF fee from Fiscal Year 2020 through Fiscal Year 2032 and every year thereafter. Attachment 6 provides estimated annual SETF fee collections from electric and gas customers for these years and shows the disbursements to the DC Sustainable Energy Utility (“SEU”) and the Green Bank as prescribed under the legislation. As you will see the amount of the SETF fees collected annually from gas customers will more than triple from under $4 million to $13 to $14 million and nearly double for electricity customers from $16 – $17 million to over $30 million in FY 2020. These are significant increases in the costs paid by residential and small and large commercial customers. They constitute additional rate increases that in many instances are larger than the rate increases that the Commission, after full hearing and deliberation, has approved in recent years. When added to the other costs associated with this legislation that we have outlined, the Commission is concerned that they will have a major negative impact on the affordability of electricity and gas service and supply for DC ratepayers. Finally, if you review the last column on the far right of this chart you will see that there will be an average of $12 million annually for a total of $156.6 million in surplus SETF funds after payments to the DC SEU, DOEE and the Green Bank. The Commission questions whether such surpluses will prove too tempting and been diverted, as has unfortunately happened in the past, to pay for services and budget shortfalls unrelated to the purpose of this legislation.

 

1-The Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance (MAPA

Author: MAPA   Published: 3/13/19

The Mid – Atlantic PACE Alliance (MAPA) is a regional partnership to advance Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (CPACE) financing solutions. MAPA is supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy.
MAPA Partner Organizations: Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy , District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment, Maryland Clean Energy Center, Clean Energy Solutions, Inc., PACE Financial Servicing, Urban Ingenuity, Virginia Energy Efficiency Council, The Solar
Foundation, Abacus Property Solutions, Arlington County, VA, Williams -Mullen,Northern Virginia Regional Commission, Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments, Sustainable Real Estate Solutions, City of Charlottesville, VA, Johnson Controls, Inc., Trane, and PACE Equity.
What is the PACE Alliance?

The Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance is a partnership between stakeholders in Virginia, Maryland, and the District of Columbia to accelerate the implementation of Commercial PACE programs and projects in the region.

The Mid-Atlantic PACE Alliance is a collaboration between the Virginia Department of Mines, Minerals, and Energy (DMME), the District of Columbia Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE), the Maryland Clean Energy Center (MCEC), and other industry and non-for-profit partners.

Our goal is to be a comprehensive resource on all things Commercial PACE for local governments, property owners, energy contractors, and capital providers working in the DMV region.
Where is PACE in the Mid-Atlantic?

Virginia enabled local governments to implement PACE programs in 2015.  A growing number of governments, businesses and organizations, including Arlington County, the Virginia Energy Efficiency Council (VAEEC), Abacus Property Solutions, Sustainable Real Estate Solutions (SRS), and DMME, are actively providing education and outreach for PACE in Virginia.  Working together through MAPA, we engage local governments, contractors, lenders and building owners to build support for PACE in the Commonwealth. To learn more about the specific roles of MAPA stakeholder organizations in Virginia, please click on the VA-PACE button below.

 Arlington County and its C-PACE program administrator (Sustainable Real Estate Solutions) launched Virginia’s first C-PACE Program in January, 2018. Arlington’s C-PACE Program is designed to enable other Virginia local governments to quickly and efficiently set up their own local PACE programs at low cost to the jurisdiction. In November 2018, Fredericksburg passed a commercial pace-enabling ordinance, and now has an active C-PACE program. In February 2019, Loudon County also passed PACE-enabling ordinance.   As other local governments establish C-PACE programs in Virginia, we will update this information.

In just a few short years, 17 jurisdictions in Maryland have enabled C-PACE programs. Of these, 15 have opted in to the MD-PACE program, a statewide program offered by the Maryland Clean Energy Center and PACE Financial Servicing. Montgomery County and Prince George’s County operate their own C-PACE programs, Montgomery County in partnership with PACE Financial Servicing.

Jurisdictions with C-PACE Programs:

  • Allegany County

  • Anne Arundel County

  • Baltimore County

  • Baltimore City

  • Carroll County

  • Cecil County

  • Charles County

  • Frederick County

  • Garrett County

  • Harford County

  • Howard County

  • Kent County

  • Montgomery County

  • Prince George’s County

  • Queen Anne’s County

  • Talbot County

  • Wicomico County

ABOUT THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY AND ENVIRONMENT

The Department of Energy and Environment (DOEE) is the leading authority on energy and environmental issues affecting the District of Columbia, and works to promote a more sustainable urban environment.

DOEE implemented the DC PACE Program to provide an attractive financing solution that will help District property owners implement energy efficiency improvements.

Projects financed by DC PACE:

  • Spur job creation and economic development in the District of Columbia
  • Increase energy security for residents and businesses in the District
  • Reduce greenhouse gas and other noxious emissions in the metropolitan region

Learn more about DOEE.

ABOUT URBAN INGENUITY

Urban Ingenuity, the program administrator for DC PACE, provides innovative solutions to develop and finance advanced energy projects, building retrofits, and state of the art clean energy infrastructure.

Whether you’re a building owner, property manager, investor or project developer, Urban Ingenuity can help you cut costs, enhance financial performance, and fund your capital improvement—all while promoting environmental stewardship and increasing the resilience, security, and comfort of your property. With special expertise in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing and other tools of public and private financing, Urban Ingenuity brings new capital resources to support deep energy efficiency retrofits of commercial and multi-family buildings, and to support project development of clean-energy micro-grids, co-generation facilities, and solar installations.

Learn more about Urban Ingenuity or Contact Us.

OUR TEAM

Tommy Wells

Director, DOEE

Kenley Farmer

Associate Director, DOEE

Bracken Hendricks

Chief Executive Officer

Ian Fischer

Chief Operating Officer

Upasana Kaku

Senior Program Analyst

Brian Levy

Marketing Director

Solar advocates suspect Iowa utility is behind group critical of net metering

Author: Karen Uhlenhuth  Published: March 11,2019  Energy News Network

The REAL Coalition claims to represent farmers, consumers and businesses, but its message echoes utility talking points.

Iowa clean energy advocates suspect the state’s largest utility is secretly behind a new organization claiming to represent farmers, consumers and businesses that oppose the state’s solar policies.

A spokeswoman for MidAmerican Energy did not directly answer a question about its role in the group, but solar industry supporters said the timing and similarities in messaging suggest a link.

“This group didn’t exist until the utilities, particularly MidAmerican, started pushing a bill that would decimate the distributed solar industry in Iowa,” said Josh Mandelbaum, a lawyer with the Environmental Law & Policy Center.

In late January, a few weeks before the introduction of two bills that would impose new costs on solar customers, a website and Facebook page surfaced for an organization calling itself the REAL Coalition, which claims it “gives voice to Iowa consumers, farmers and businesses on the energy issues affecting our state.”

The website decries what it calls the “solar cost shift,” and urges legislators to “keep the interests of ALL your constituents in mind and vote YES” on bills moving briskly through both chambers that would impose substantial new fees on electricity customers who generate some of their own power.

MidAmerican Energy was heavily involved in drafting the bills and issued a press release in support of them. The utility neither confirmed nor denied a role in setting up the group.

“MidAmerican Energy is supportive of the SOLAR Act’s proposed policy — to ensure customer fairness by eliminating the shifting of costs from one customer onto another. We are supportive of organizations that also stand for customer fairness and other smart energy policies, as the REAL Coalition does.”


Read more: Iowa looks to be the next battleground for solar net metering policy


The legislation offers four alternatives to the state’s current net metering policy. Customers could continue net metering with a flat minimum fee if their utility bill falls below a certain threshold. They could choose to accept a new demand fee on top of current charges. They could adopt a dual-meter, buy-all-sell-all model earning wholesale instead of retail rates for unused solar. Or they could accept a “cost of service” rate that’s yet to be determined.

The solar industry has predicted that the bill likely would upset the economics of on-site solar generation enough to decimate the industry.

The organization has left little trace of its real identity. The Des Moines law firm of Steven Wandro filed incorporation papers and is the only name associated with the organization in records filed with the Iowa Secretary of State.

Wandro said another attorney in his firm completed the process to create the organization on Jan. 23. Wandro added that he knows almost nothing about it, “which is typical.”

The lack of transparency is the major problem here, as Mandelbaum sees it.

“They’re allowed to make their case,” he said. “But they’re trying to make it look like the public is behind what they’re doing.”

The REAL Coalition also has been calling people with its message that solar-owning customers are being subsidized by the others, and should pay more, according to Kerri Johannsen, who directs the energy program for the Iowa Environmental Council. “People should know who they are receiving a message from. In this case, there’s no way to tell.”

The group’s Facebook “likes” ballooned from 8 on Wednesday to more than 500 by Thursday. Meanwhile, at least a dozen comments critical of the group or the anti-solar bills were deleted from its Facebook page.

“You know that FB users can see that you are deleting the comments off your posts,” one user wrote in a comment Wednesday.

The bills continue to move ahead. HSB 185 was reported favorably out of the House Commerce Committee on Tuesday and could be debated on the floor at any time. A subcommittee of the Senate Commerce Committee on Feb. 27 recommended passage of SSB 1201.

 

Trump budget to include funds to restart Yucca Mountain process

Author:   Published: March 11, 2019 – 3:04 am  

The south portal of Yucca Mountain near Mercury on Saturday, July 14, 2018. (Chase Stevens Las Vegas Review-Journal @csstevensphoto)

The Trump budget, set for release Monday, will include $116 million in the Department of Energy budget to restart licensing for the Yucca Mountain project and fund a “robust interim storage program,” an administration official familiar with the budget told the newspaper. The first two Trump spending plans allotted $120 million to restart licensing for the repository.

The spending blueprint also will include $39 million for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to work on licensing the controversial project located 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas.

Both the Trump budget and the Yucca items are likely to be treated as dead on arrival at Congress, where such spending outlines have been routinely rejected for decades.

In 2017 and 2018, the GOP Senate dropped Trump’s funding for Yucca Mountain, which was designated by Congress in 1987 as the sole site to permanently store nuclear waste.

Nevada politicians from both parties, however, have tended to oppose the facility.

The state’s two U.S. senators, Catherine Cortez-Masto and Jacky Rosen, both Democrats, oppose licensing the project, which was halted under President Barack Obama in a move widely seen as at the urging of then-Nevada Sen. Harry Reid, also then the Senate majority leader.

Former GOP Sen. Dean Heller, and former Gov. Brian Sandoval, both Republicans, also opposed Trump’s efforts to resume plans on the issue.

Trump’s position has been harder to define.

In October 2016, as he campaigned for the presidency, the GOP nominee told KSNV-TV that he did not have a position on Yucca Mountain, but he expected to take a stand before the November election. That did not happen.

But then in March 2017, the Office of Management and Budget slated $120 million for Yucca and interim storage.

Mick Mulvaney, then the OMB director and now White House chief of staff, later told the Review-Journal, he put Yucca Mountain in the budget because, “We have to put this stuff someplace.”

“I’m surprised it got that much attention as it did,” Mulvaney added. “It’s only to explore the possibility of licensing.”

Then in October as Trump was campaigning in Elko for Heller, who later lost his bid for re-election, he suggested he might oppose the nuclear waste project.

“I think you should do things where people want them to happen,” Trump told KRNV News 4. “So I would be very inclined to be against it and we will be looking at it seriously over the next few weeks. And I agree with the people of Nevada.”

Now funding for the nuclear waste repository will be back in Trump’s spending plan.

Application hearings must be held to hear challenges by Nevada and other stakeholders and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission must determine whether Yucca Mountain is safe for long-term storage, and issue a license for Energy to build the repository.

Contact Debra J. Saunders at dsaunders@reviewjournal.com or 202-662-7391. Follow @DebraJSaunders on Twitter.

DC PSC Announces Streamlined Process for Renewable Energy Generators

Author:  Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia Published:  January 2, 2019

Renewable Portfolio Standard

(Washington, D.C.) The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia (Commission) announces the
launch of its online application process for individuals and businesses to become certified renewable energy
generators in the District. The new Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard Portal (RPS Portal) is a convenient and
secure online tool for users to submit and track RPS applications.
In December, the Council of the District of Columbia (Council) passed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus
Amendment Act of 2018, which implements a 100% RPS target for the District by 2032. The Commission is
required to report annually to the Council on the status of RPS implementation, including the number of renewable
generators approved by the Commission; the availability of renewable resources; and the certification of the
number of credits generated by the utilities meeting the requirements of law, which outlines the minimum
percentages for certain renewable resources.
The Commission’s new RPS Portal will provide key benefits to users by:
1. Reducing the processing time for RPS applications;
2. Improving data gathering for more accurate RPS reporting;
3. Decreasing errors; and
4. Enabling two-way communications between the Commission and applicants.
The RPS Portal will also provide a monthly update of certified renewable generators in the District, and features
an interactive map for users to view all certified renewable generators in the District.
“Working collaboratively with industry stakeholders, the Commission delivered today on a commitment to start
streamlining our processes. And, more importantly, the new RPS Portal will help achieve the District’s climate
policy goals by making it easier to approve and track renewable resources in the District. I applaud the work of
everyone who contributed to this important project, especially our dedicated staff who worked long hours over
the holidays to meet the December 31st deadline,” stated Chairman Willie L. Phillips.
New users must register for a user ID and password through the Commission’s e-Docket system:
https://edocket.dcpsc.org/account/register. Current users should not be impacted and do not need to re-register.
For questions, please email RPSHelp@psc.dc.gov or visit the Commission’s website at www.dcpsc.org.
The Public Service Commission of the District of Columbia is an independent agency established by Congress in 1913 to
regulate electric, natural gas, and telecommunications companies in the District of Columbia.
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Is Endless Clean Energy Even Possible?

Author:  Briton Ryle  Published: Mar. 10, 2019 Wealth Daily

In the next 10 years, a fuel source that is so cheap and efficient could replace oil, coal, and natural gas. This could very well be the fuel source of the future, and there’s one $4 stock that’s positioned right at the center of this energy revolution.

Top secret military research lab announces massive world-changing discovery:

ENDLESS CLEAN ENERGY

One tiny company holds the key to this $1.2 trillion energy revolution. And investing in it could show you 1,587% profits!

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Municipal broadband internet: The next public utility?

Initiatives across the country seem to be gaining steam as cities look to encourage equitable access — but pitfalls around cost and taxpayer risk remain.

As the need for equitable internet access becomes increasingly important to leaders, some cities are taking matters into their own hands and setting up municipally owned and operated networks.

ERCOT sees increased chance for emergency capacity with record demand forecast this summer

Dive Brief:

  • The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) does not anticipate the need to impose rotating outages due to summer peak conditions, despite the risk posed by historically low reserve margins, according to forecasts released by the grid operator on Tuesday.
  • ERCOT expects an increased chance of energy emergency alerts, given the large electric use predicted in its preliminary assessment of June through September 2019. Declaring an alert gives ERCOT access to resources restricted to conditions of scarcity, such as demand response products, calls for voluntary conservation and additional generation.
  • “At this point, we have no specific indication” that rotating outages would be needed this summer, Dan Woodfin, senior director of system operations at ERCOT, said on a media call. But this forecast could be impacted by factors such as extreme weather and high demand, he added.

Dive Insight:

ERCOT’s current planning reserve margin for the summer is at 7.4%, nearly half of the state’s target of 13.75%. The low reserve margin dropped to this expected level after a municipal utility informed the grid operator in January about its plans to purchase cheaper energy on the open market this summer, mothballing its 470 MW Gibbons Creek coal plant.

The preliminary version of ERCOT’s summer 2019 Seasonal Assessment of Resource Adequacy (SARA) does not indicate the need for brownouts, or rotating outages — the grid operator’s last resort under the energy emergency alert program.

“Although, having reserves at this level does increase the likelihood that [rotating outages] could be needed if we have extreme weather or above-normal forced outages of generators, or very low wind output or very high demand on a particular day,” Woodfin said.

When benchmarked against the weather in 2011, the most extreme conditions that the grid operator faced in recent history, the summer 2019 SARA report showed a range of potential risks requiring more reserve capacity than the 3,301 MW forecast to be available.

Graphic by Iulia Gheorghiu
Credit: ERCOT

While it’s “still too early to forecast what type of peak load conditions” will be experienced, the 2011 estimate includes drought conditions that are not anticipated this summer, Peter Warnken, resource adequacy manager at ERCOT, said Tuesday on a media call.

The grid operator would take “measures to maintain operating reserves at a level that support grid reliability” following an energy emergency alert, Warnken said.

First, ERCOT would fully utilize available generation capacity, and then “if necessary, we’d deploy contracted emergency resources as well as demand response programs,” he said.

According to Woodfin, the demand response programs’ capacity forecast for this summer includes:

  • Approximately 900 MW available through the emergency response service (ERS) program, the demand response program administered by ERCOT;
  • Between 200 and 300 MW from load management programs set up by utilities with their consumers; and
  • “Anywhere from 1,100 to 1,500 MW,” according to Woodfin, from large industrial facilities that can manage their grid load during hot periods, based on 2018 data.

The ERS is procured on a seasonal basis, expected to be locked down in mid-to-late May for the summer session, while ancillary services would be procured daily in ERCOT’s day-ahead market.

Demand response programs between retail energy providers and their consumers might exist as well, but ERCOT does not monitor them, Warnken said.

The grid operator would also request support during energy emergencies from ERCOT’s neighboring grid and make voluntary calls for public conservation, he added.

“We aren’t generally planning on requesting conservation unless it’s absolutely necessary to maintain reliability,” Woodfin said.

In January, ERCOT implemented a change to its operating demand reserve curve, under the direction of the Public Utility Commission of Texas (PUCT), to increase power prices as the system begins to encounter capacity scarcity conditions. “This is expected to help incentivize generation owners and developers to provide more capacity for the ERCOT market,” Warnken said.

The final spring 2019 SARA, also released Tuesday, included estimates of delayed generation projects, including approximately 500 MW of wind primarily in West Texas and the Panhandle. The delays are “not uncommon” or greater than observed in the past, and are reported by developers for various reasons, Warnken said, with “delays of several months up to a year.”

ERCOT expects 162 MW of new wind and 172 MW of new solar capacity this summer.

The grid operator is seeing solar and wind development in West Texas, as well as interest in pairing with battery storage technology, although “a lot of these projects are in the early study phases,” Warnken said. He added that there’s interest in smaller gas peaker units, while large combined-cycle projects have been postponed as “developers are looking at the future market conditions.”

More generation might exist in the region from small distributed systems.

ERCOT staff is compiling the results of a survey of distributed generation, focused on non-opt in entities, Warnken said, “to get a better handle on what might be out there,” specifically regarding small facilities such as rooftop solar. The survey is in response to a request from the PUCT to calculate available distributed power in the state.

Interview with Terry Travis President and Founder of Evnoire and EVHybridNoire

Author: Ronald Bethea Published: March 7,2019

http://www.blogtalkradio.com/pcpcllc/2019/03/06/edison-ev-charging-infrastructure-plug-america-evnoire-and-whats-ahead

EVNoire is a Mobility Consulting Group that works with Utility Companies, Non Profits, Government Agencies, Public Health Groups, Regional & National EV organizations, Developers as well as Auto Manufacturers on all facets of E-Mobility.   We have a proven track record of creating innovative programming and initiatives to address the needs of our partners. In addition, we approach our work from a social justice lens that provides creative solutions as well as equitable outcomes.

EVNoire also founded EVHybridNoire, a non profit that is the Nation’s Largest Network of Diverse Electric Vehicle (EV) Drivers and Enthusiasts, and serves as the voice of diverse communities in the Mobility space. We are the first national, multicultural organization focused on energy, transportation and environmental equity, providing access for all to next generation vehicles [Electric, Connected, Shared and Autonomous vehicles]. Our focus involves expanding charging infrastructure, education, public policy advocacy as well as providing resources and access to under served and diverse communities around affordable clean and sustainable energy vehicles and platforms.

Save The Date: Be apart of History with us at Drive The Future – HBCU Tour 2019, Friday, April 12, 2019 
@ The Atlanta University Center – On The Campuses of Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta 
University & Morehouse School of Medicine. This event will focuses on clean sustainable transportation, transportation,
environmental and energy equity. These prestigious Historically Black Colleges & Universities and surrounding community.
Engaging & Educating diverse students, faculty and staff on Electric, Connected, Autonomous, Shared Vehicles and
Charging Infrastructure.
 

NASEO Just Released 2019 Energy & Employment Report

Author: Denise Fairchild Published March 6,2019

 

Key Findings: https://naseo.org/data/sites/1/documents/publications/USEER-2019-US-Energy-Employment-Report1.pdf

  • Job Growth exceeds Nat’l GDP: – The traditional energy and energy efficiency sectors continued to outperform the economy as a whole, creating 7 percent of all new jobs nationwide.
  • In the Fuels industry overall, oil and gas production added the most new jobs in the traditional energy sectors.
  • Energy Efficiency jobs exceeded jobs in all other energy sector -: In 2018 the Energy Efficiency sector continued to produce the most new jobs of any energy sector and employers report a projected growth rate of 8% in 2019
  • Severe shortage in skilled workers continues at all levels of the industry: – Hiring difficulty was highlighted by virtually all sectors – 3 in 10 employers noted difficulty in hiring.
  • Diversity remains a challenge: – Women in these sectors ranged from 23 to 33 percent compared to the overall economy where women make up 47%

 

 

How Oncor is preparing for a wave of large electric fleet vehicles

The largest utility in Texas says growth of large EVs — like electric delivery vans and semi trucks — could necessitate “major investments” to its distribution grid.

The biggest utility in Texas is casting a nervous eye at the future as it prepares for a wave of large electric vehicles that could demand “major investments” in its power grid.

“The individual owner of an [electric] sedan or SUV is not our major problem at the moment because they’re going to be distributed all across our system,” said David Treichler, director of strategy and technology at Oncor Electric Delivery. “We’re going to have points of investment … but it’s not a major revolution or transformation of our system.”

The issue, Treichler said, comes with larger EVs, like Class 6 and Class 8 trucks used for deliveries, and larger electric semi trucks being piloted by Volvo and Tesla. Those could necessitate transformative changes to parts of Oncor’s distribution grid due to their charging needs.

“Recently, our friends at Amazon bought 20,000 Daimler Sprinter vans to deliver their packages in one year,” Treichler told an audience at the DistribuTECH convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, this month. “They’re all gas today, but once you start converting all of those 20,000 vans per year into electric, how do we as Oncor, a utility, get ahead of that issue?”

Imminent shift

Oncor, which serves more than 10 million people in and around Dallas, Texas, is preparing for that shift to begin soon. The utility expects large EVs could be cost competitive with traditional gas-fueled options in the early to mid 2020s, Treichler told Utility Dive after the event. Amazon, for instance,bought 100 EV vans from Mercedes for its German operations last year, and this month invested $700 million in the EV startup Rivian.

Already, Treichler said, Oncor is getting inquiries about vehicle charging from its commercial customers.

“The things around trucks are starting to happen,” Treichler told the conference audience. “One of the things that brought this whole issue to our attention was about six or eight weeks ago, we got an inquiry from a company that wants to build a logistics center just outside of Dallas.”

At the outset, Oncor expects most large electric vehicles will operate during the day and come back to a central depot to charge at night, creating big pockets of electricity demand that were not there before. For the logistics company, Oncor calculated that charging all of its 325 fleet vehicles would add 40 MW to the customer’s power demand — a huge increase over the 0.5 MW load the utility typically sees from a commercial ratepayer.

And that’s just one company of many, Treichler stressed.

“What do you see when you fly into Dallas? A sea of warehouses as far as you can see,” he said. “Every one of them has a fleet.”

HBCU Student Opportunities

Author: U.S._Department_of_Education Published: Thu, Feb 28, 2019 9:58 am

HBCU Student Opportunities

Summer Internship: U. S. Department of Education, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities

The Department of Education (ED) offers internships for interested students seeking valuable work experience in government and federal education policy and administration. Student volunteers have the opportunity to make meaningful contributions to the Department’s mission to promote student achievement and preparation for global competitiveness by fostering educational excellence and ensuring equal access.

 ED offers internships in the fall, winter/spring, and summer. Typically interns are with the Department for eight to ten weeks (some can stay shorter or longer depending on circumstances). Go to the student intern page on ED.gov for more details.

 If you are interested in interning at the Department of Education, White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities please send your resume and interest statement to Elyse Jones at: Elyse.Jones@ed.gov no later than March 11, 2019.

WHIHBCU Competitiveness Scholar Nomination Form NOW AVAILABLE!

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (Initiative) is excited to announce that the 2019 HBCU Competitiveness Scholars nomination period is now open! Last year we had 63 scholars representative of 54 HBCUs and this year we expect an even greater turn out!

This student recognition program is designed to honor current HBCU students for their competitiveness, i.e., successfully preparing to compete for top opportunities that improve standards of living in their communities. For the specified academic school year, Scholars will serve as representatives to the Initiative of their respective institutions and communities. The Initiative will provide outreach and engagement opportunities for Scholars as well as information and resources to disseminate among their fellow students. Scholars will participate in regional events, webinars, and monthly web chats with Initiative staff and other professionals from a wide range of disciplines.  Scholars also will have opportunities to engage with one another to showcase individual and collective talent across the HBCU spectrum.

The President or Chancellor will determine the nominee from their institution. The Initiative will accept no more than one nominee per school. Although each HBCU is allowed one (1) nominee, institutions may appeal to the Initiative for one (1) additional nominee. The WHIHBCU will work with the President or Chancellor on a case-by-case basis to review, approve or deny each appeal. The HBCU Competitiveness Scholar nomination form must be endorsed and submitted by the President, Chancellor or designated surrogate. The Initiative will electronically collect nominations and narrative responses.

 More information on how to apply and eligibility is attached and can be found HERE all nomination forms must be sent to: hbcuscholars@ed.gov by the submission deadline April 30, 2019.

 NOMINATE YOUR COMPETITIVENESS SCHOLAR TODAY!

MPAA Sponsored Contest for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) Students

This year, as part of their commitment to support emerging creators from diverse backgrounds, the MPAA is holding a contest (this “Contest”) to design the cover of its annual report on the global Theatrical and Home Entertainment Market Environment (“THEME”). For the first time ever, eligible students in creative disciplines at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are invited to exercise their creativity and compete for cash prizes.

The contest rules can be found here.  We do ask for your apologies for the seemingly short turnaround period but as this is the very first contest of this nature. The winner will be announced in the upcoming weeks as the report goes to print at the end of March.

The White House Initiative on Historically Black Colleges and Universities