Are regulators hindering EV acceleration?

Utilities and state regulators are working to scale up charging infrastructure, finding that interoperability is key.

Editor’s Note: GM announced Nov. 26 that it is doubling resources devoted to electric and autonomous vehicles over the next two years. In addition, the Edison Electric Institute plans to host an event Nov. 30 marking the 1 millionth electric vehicle on U.S. roads. But as EV investments and sales rise, challenges remain to even greater penetration in the marketplace. The following piece, from earlier this fall, looks at some of those challenges.

The road to transportation electrification is now driven by demand from policymakers and the public through private sector automakers and charger providers to electric utilities and their regulators.

Networked electric vehicles (EVs) can be a highly flexible distributed energy resource (DER) and, as a distributed storage system, support the power system’s transition to low-cost, low-emissions renewables. Carmakers are rushing to meet consumer demand. And charger providers and utilities are beginning to collaborate on charger infrastructure deployment, when regulators greenlight the build-out.

“Today’s infrastructure is clearly inadequate to accommodate greater penetration of EVs,” according to Philip B. Jones, former Washington utility commissioner and current executive director of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification. “Much more needs to be done quickly by electric utility commissions to set the policy and regulatory framework to meet the needs of this unique transformation.”

Not a single region or use-case is ready for the transformation that is nevertheless gaining momentum, Jones said in a September 13 webinarpreviewing a new paper on transportation electrification from Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL).

Streamlining collaboration between utilities and charger providers and standardizing communications protocols were among Jones’ chief concerns. And “there is no guidance on these things at the federal level because this administration is not interested,” he added in an interview with Utility Dive. “State commissions need to act.”

“The auto industry will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 50.”

Mary Barra

Chair and CEO, General Motors

The emerging market

“The auto industry will change more in the next 5 years than it has in the last 50,” General Motors Chair and CEO Mary Barra wrote in the most recent GM annual report.

The numbers agree with Barra. In 2017, annual global sales of EVs passed 1 million and could reach 4.5 million, 5% of the global market, by 2020, according to business consultant McKinsey. That will grow to 11 million in 2025 and 30 million in 2030, Bloomberg New Energy Finance forecasts.

The price of batteries, the EV’s most expensive component, fell from $1,000/kWh in 2010 to $227/kWh in 2017 and is forecast to fall to near $100/kWh by 2020, McKinsey also found. In response to rising demand and falling prices, automakers are expected to introduce an estimated 340 new EV models around the world in the next three years, the consultant added.

EVs could reasonably reach a 20% U.S. market share by 2030, Jones said. That would require an estimated 600,000 level two charging plugs and about 27,500 direct current fast charging plugs (DCFCs), according to a 2017 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study.

In 2017, there were only about 43,000 plugs in the U.S., NREL reported. And McKinsey found infrastructure growth is falling behind EV deployment: there were 12.4 EVs in 2015 for every U.S. charging station, and 13.2 EVs per station in 2016.

U.S. charging infrastructure needs to “far exceed current investment plans,” according to Jonathan Levy, VP for strategic initiatives at leading charger installer EVgo. Private sector providers have expanded their reach but still find it’s “too hard to charge.”

To scale transportation electrification, “it makes sense for utilities to be more than mere stakeholders in the process,” he added in the LBNL paper.

But utility action requires regulatory approval. Some regulators, like those in California, Massachusetts and Hawaii, have encouraged utility proposals to advance charger infrastructure build-outs. But most have left it to utilities, resulting in little progress, according to Jones.

Coopetition

Levy, speaking for private vendors, and Jones, speaking for utilities, both acknowledged there is a debate between their industries over the role of utilities in financing, owning and operating charging infrastructure. And both agreed utilities, overseen by their regulators, can accelerate growth.

Arguments that commission-approved utility participation will stifle innovation, lead to an overbuild and stranded assets or prevent private provider growth are wrong, Jones said. “There is room in this nascent market for everybody.”

“[T]he biggest role utilities and their regulators can play is in tariff reform in general and in preventing demand charges from being an impediment.”

Jonathan Levy

VP for strategic initiatives, EVgo

Levy agreed with some qualifications. “The relationship between utilities and EV charging companies is likely to be one of ‘coopetition,'” he wrote. As roles emerge, utilities may take some market share away from charger providers, but they also may become charger providers’ customers, “shar[ing] risk and upside.”

Utilities bring a strong motivation to drive customer demand for electricity and expertise in installing infrastructure, Levy acknowledged. But “the biggest role utilities and their regulators can play is in tariff reform in general and in preventing demand charges from being an impediment.”

Demand charges, especially those already in place for commercial and industrial (C&I) customers with fleets of medium- and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs), can be a serious obstacle to electrification.

A demand charge is a price signal to C&I customers to limit sharp demand spikes because it can increase a C&I customer’s bill 50%. This is problematic for early adopters of MHDVs. A demand charge bill spike in an otherwise flat usage pattern caused by vehicle charging could discourage a transition to MHDV electrification.

Rate designs developed by utilities and their regulators should “reflect the economic reality of demand charges inhibiting economic viability,” Levy wrote.

Well-designed time of use (TOU) rates can also drive EV growth by cutting costs for drivers, Levy wrote. They can benefit utilities through increased kWh sales and by shifting utility loads away from peak demand periods and toward times when more renewables are in the power mix.

The other form of coopetition is in charging infrastructure deployment. “There is largely industry and stakeholder consensus — even among those who oppose utility ownership of EV chargers — around the importance of utilities installing make-ready infrastructure,” Levy wrote. A make-ready is all the hardware, from a utility’s distribution system to the customer, that readies a site for a charger.

“The debate over whether utilities should own and operate chargers has been counterproductive and there would be a lot more EVs on the road if there had been consensus around the need for utility investment earlier.”

Lang Reynolds

Manager of electric transportation, Duke Energy

Not all utilities are satisfied with this business model. A pilot announced August 29 by Xcel Energy will be for residential customers but the utility plans to eventually have different charger build-out models for different market segments, Xcel Electric Vehicle Product Developer Mathias Bell told Utility Dive.

Xcel’s plan calls for it to own and operate chargers for its residential customers but will build make readies for public chargers, he added. It will use both models with fleet customers.

Duke Energy’s recently announced Florida pilot will have the utility own and operate 530 level 2 chargers and DCFCs “to test different types of hardware,” electric transportation manager Lang Reynolds told Utility Dive. “The debate over whether utilities should own and operate chargers has been counterproductive and there would be a lot more EVs on the road if there had been consensus around the need for utility investment earlier.”

Utilities benefit by rate basing the make readies, and charger providers benefit from utilities “buying down the costs of installing the rest of the charging equipment,” Levy said. “Private capital and public capital have different risk appetites and goals, and there is an opportunity for them to complement one another.”

Where rates or adoption curves impede the payback needed by private providers, rate-based utility capital expenditures can take over. Where rapid market expansion makes streamlined responsiveness to customer demand important, “utilities should work in partnership with experienced EV charging partners,” Levy said.

Transportation electrification “is going to be so big, so substantial, and so critical to our nation’s economy and infrastructure that the commissions have to oversee it,” Jones said. The problem of greatest concern to Jones may require an especially hard push from state regulators.

Interoperability

Drivers need “a consistent charging experience,” Levy wrote. They may be alienated if there is not “a reliable and easy to understand user interface and customer service approach.”

Pilot projects have moved the industry past early adoption and into “the early majority stage,” Jones agreed. “We now need strong rules on interoperability because consumers are going to get very upset if they can’t move seamlessly and simply between proprietary networks.”

Multiple proprietary charging and communications systems are being deployed, but they do not communicate easily with other networks, preventing “a truly open system,” he added.

The first thing needed for an open system is a universal plug that connects the charger to the car, Jones wrote. Another is an automated secure universal payment procedure that matches what consumers are used to at gas pumps.

The biggest hurdle may be charger providers’ balkanized network management systems. Each is a complex software platform “that remotely controls the charging stations deployed in the field and collects large amounts of data from both the EV user and the vehicle,” Jones wrote. The data is protected because it is key to the provider’s marketing of services or products.

It is built on the internet protocol through which a charging system can, via the internet, become a DER and deliver grid services like energy storage and demand response. Most industries that function through such software platforms guard this intellectual property vigilantly.

Only interoperability, like that achieved for computers with USB ports, will give EV drivers easy, reliable and uniform charging at every charging station, Jones wrote. Network management systems must interact seamlessly without compromising vendors’ intellectual property.

Utilities and vendors “are gravitating toward” open standards and Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP), Jones wrote. OCPP allows drivers to charge at any participating vendor’s station without compromising proprietary data in the same way that different vendors’ cell phones can connect with each other. It was developed through the globally-based Open Charge Allianceand has been demonstrated internationally to be flexible and secure.

“If the federal government is unwilling to act, states need to do so,” Jones said. It would not resolve the issue nationally, but state commissions could begin the process by requiring utilities to specify in solicitations that charger providers use OCPP to make their networks interoperable.

“Waiting for the market to get the system in place and scale it will not work. Utilities have to start investing and commissions have to take the lead.”

Philip B. Jones

Executive director, Alliance for Transportation Electrification

Southern California Edison is building a $22 million, 3,500 plug make-ready pilot and has proposed a $760 million, 48,000 plug make-ready build-out. Private providers will install all chargers, SCE President Ron Nichols told Utility Dive.

But SCE’s solicitation requires bidders to use interoperable systems that include the open standards and protocols Jones is calling for, Nichols said. “As we get more charging infrastructure in place, this will ameliorate concerns about interoperability.”

In Avista’s early pilots, it has solicited partnerships with private providers specifically to assure network interoperability through open communication protocols like OCPP, Avista’s electric transportation manager, Randall Farley, emailed Utility Dive.

Ideally, the industry would select one of the three types of DCFC connectors now in use and one from among the current variety of user-charger station interfaces to further improve the customer experience, he added.

The electric power and automotive industries are at a tipping point, Jones said. “Waiting for the market to get the system in place and scale it will not work. Utilities have to start investing and commissions have to take the lead.”

The most important DER

In California, which leads the U.S. in EV use and charging station deployments but still has a very low share of the car market, “EVgo has dispensed over 1 GWh each month for the last 12 months,” Levy said. As carmakers introduce new models and charging infrastructure becomes more common, “the numbers will grow.”

Executives and regulators reluctant to support investment in transportation could cost utilities customers if they miss out on this “huge opportunity to fuel the transportation future,” Jones wrote.

They should instead be “planning the necessary infrastructure upgrades and doing the necessary cost-benefit analyses,” he added. “This is not just about load growth, it is about an asset to utility distribution systems that can absorb renewables over-generation and meet system demand spikes. It is about utility access to what could be the grid of the future’s most important DER.”

High-speed hurdle: Designing a fast-charging network for electric buses

Bus manufacturer New Flyer has just the ticket: planning deployment and charging stations by route.

As states focus on goals to lower their carbon emissions, cities and municipalities are increasingly expressing interest in clean transportation, including electric bus fleets. Utilities are also becoming more involved as transit agencies consider pilot programs and technological improvements promise longer battery ranges and faster charging.

The growing interest in electric buses over the last two years has led investor- and public-owned utilities alike to focus on accommodating charging infrastructure.

Electric bus charging adds a new layer to the infrastructure puzzle that utilities are trying to solve with consumer electric vehicles through planning and installing. One bus manufacturer, New Flyer, is parlaying its understanding of bus performance and capabilities to craft strategies for deploying bus charging equipment.

“The very essence of having a successful electric bus system is really understanding how the bus is going to operate,” David Warren, New Flyer’s director of sustainable transportation, told Utility Dive.

The company has helped supply buses to transit agencies around the country, including a pilot for New York City Transit (NYCT) featuring five electric buses that never have to make their way back to the depot.

Transit agencies are evaluating the charging strategies they want for their bus lines, including combinations of depot charging (typically at the end of the day) or en route charging. The latter is the basis of New Flyer’s NYCT charging system, which promises to utilize a 24/7 bus route most economically.

However, choosing to deploy high-powered energy chargers en route needs to be done carefully to ensure stations have high utilization, according to Warren. The careful planning is rewarded by favorable economics for the chargers as utilities craft special demand charges for electric vehicle charging.

Importance of working with a utility

Looking down the barrel of multi-sector electrification — from transport, building heating and industrial operations — utilities are trying to understand the best way to affordably increase much-needed charging infrastructure.

“The demand for high-powered, fast en route charging [for electric buses] can be on the order of hundreds of kilowatts,” Nick Nigro, founder of Atlas Public Policy, told Utility Dive.

Atlas’ EV Hub tracks deployment and EV policy, including the upswing in adoption of electric buses. State agencies are allocating a sizeable share of the billions acquired in the settlement of the Volkswagen emissions cheating scandal for electric buses, Nigro said. Nearly all the public funding awards for electric bus development come from the Federal Transit Administration’s Low or No Emission Vehicle Program, Nigro said.

Credit: Atlas EV Hub

Buses with longer routes will need to be recharged en route.

“Some transit agencies are going to want to test the [charging] technology in heavy duty use cases, in order to assess its viability,” Nigro said.

“The bus loads are quite large, you know, compared to their traditional facility loads,” Lang Reynolds, Duke Energy’s electric transportation director, told Utility Dive. “And so we want to make sure that we’re helping them get through the [deployment] process in a way that’s quick and also cost effective.”

If fast-charging en route infrastructure for buses is set in locations with infrequent visits from fewer buses, transit agencies could be losing money for the high-powered hubs. This makes planning essential to guarantee high-traffic charging locations.

“The whole economics [of transitioning to electric buses] can turn upside down if you’re not careful about demand charges,” Warren said.

Planning for a fully electric fleet has been difficult as utilities and transit agencies are focused on first adding initial charging infrastructure. A recent report from the Union of Concerned Scientists highlighted 11 utility-led programs to advance transit and school bus charging infrastructure.

Beyond advancing initial deployment, utilities and transit agencies are considering risks such as poorly maintained sites or losing a charging vendor because they’re going out of business, Reynolds said.

“The key for transit agencies is going to be to utilize these charging stations so that [the costs to charge vehicles] can be spread over a lot of buses, and so those costs can go down and can be very reasonable,” Warren said.

In January, New Flyer unveiled a new program, Connect 360, which is currently being used in the NYCT pilot. The data program will show a particular bus run and how much energy the vehicle consumed, the range of the vehicle that remains and other information like the low voltage (lighting, electric doors) and high voltage (air conditioning) accessories in the bus.

Planning New York City’s pilot

New Flyer’s value, according to Warren, is partly rooted in its expertise in designing charging systems as well as buses. Transit agencies do not need to hire the bus manufacturer with their own established plans of en route or depot-based charging: New Flyer makes recommendations based on routes. The company launched a new service in January, New Flyer Infrastructure Solutions, to support infrastructure planning and development as well as energy managemen

“When we started working with New York City, for instance, they told us exactly what routes the [electric] bus was going to operate on,” Warren said.

NYCT’s electric bus pilot, the M42, runs from the East River to the Hudson, right through areas known for traffic congestion, like Times Square and Grand Central Station.

New Flyer’s buses can be seen operating in Manhattan every day.
Credit: NYCT

It’s technically a short distance, but the route selected for the pilot is notoriously tedious due to congestion, determined to be the slowest bus line in NYC for five non-consecutive years, according to the NYPIRG Straphangers Campaign and TransitCenter.

Based on the routes and the speeds of the bus, New Flyer determined the best method to charge the bus. The company brought engineers to observe the bus operation and performance and began to run simulations of electric buses on those routes, according to Warren.

New Flyer provides a recommendation and suggests alternatives for the size of the battery on the bus. Based on the shorter, congested ride, the five electric buses in New York have 150 kWh batteries paired up with en route charging. Other buses, like the ones New Flyer is developing in Minnesota have 450 kWh.

Each design configuration for electric bus and charging system will be unique based on the bus’s typical use.

“Our goal is to put the right amount of batteries on the bus to match that sort of environment simulation,” Warren said.

Once the customer agrees on the approach — including benefits from the engineering simulations New Flyer develops — New Flyer engages with the utility and construction firms on building the charging system.

“Utilities are a lot more engaged in this now,” Warren said.

New Flyer typically invites utilities to participate in site walks in the first phase of a project, sharing power requirements and getting their input on capital investments.

“It’s amazing how much can be done by being there, having your boots on, walking the site… really understanding where the power is coming from, where the chargers are going to go,” Warren said.

When New Flyer entered the electric bus market three to four years ago, “all parties were essentially inexperienced on how to expedite the permitting,” but now a lot more collaboration takes place among utilities and transit agencies, said Warren.

In NYC, New Flyer worked with ConEdison and Siemens, one of the charger suppliers that meets the company’s requirements. The actual infrastructure in the city can take two and a half years to complete, which is more than double how long it takes to acquire buses, according to Warren.

NYC closely regulates the design of charging infrastructure, which qualifies as “street furniture,” adding more time for the design process of a charging system. Above is one of the batteries and overhead charging platform for the M42 to charge as passengers board.
Credit: NYCT

“We’ve taken a very conservative approach to how we’ve done these projects,” Warren said, in order for New Flyer to maintain market leadership.

Utilities understand that early communication with charging developers and transit agencies is a key priority for them.

“We definitely like to be involved as early as we can so we can help the transit agency to develop an effective plan and also understand how any kind of service upgrades might need to be done from the electric system,” Reynolds said.

Within Duke’s service region, North Carolina’s Greensboro Transit Authority (GTA) is already working on incorporating electric buses. Duke is carrying out work to connect charging stations to electrical lines via underground trenches, according to GTA.

Greensboro, North Carolina, doubled the number of power sources at GTA’s maintenance facility by adding five more chargers, according to a November update. The Depot is also installing overhead fast-charging for the buses.

Long-haul planning

Buses don’t need to be constantly charging throughout the day if they have bigger batteries. Many electric bus pilots are models that are meant to carry out their routes and then charge in the bus depot.

“Overnight charging in almost every circumstance is the preferred way of charging in most grids because of the existing assets that are on the grid that are idle,” Nigro said.

One advantage of this form is that all of an agency’s buses would be using the charging infrastructure at the same time, reducing the likelihood that the charging station is underutilized, especially once the electric fleet is developed.

“We’re looking at having long-haul buses with off-peak charging,” Darren Springer, general manager of Burlington Electric Department, told Utility Dive.

Vermont’s largest municipally-owned utility is working with Green Mountain Transit to deploy electric buses in August in a pilot. Focusing on buses with long-duration batteries will ensure the buses don’t need to recharge between different routes.

“I think the feeling is that the current electric bus fleet has the capability of running all the different routes that they would run in their system, whether they’re local routes or commuter routes, from Burlington to Montpelier and back, and that there would not be the need to charge during the day,” Springer said.

Investor-owned utilities are also seeing increased interest in electric buses. Within Duke’s service regions, interest has really taken off in the last two years.

“Now, pretty much all of our transit agencies have expressed some level of interest, if not actually going ahead and buying buses already,” Duke’s Reynolds said.

“The fact that you now see California committing to basically transition their entire public transit fleet to only purchasing zero emission vehicles by 2030… that’s your market signal for the investor, the investor in this technology,” Nigro said.

However, some electric bus orders have been canceled in the U.S.

A notable example is Albuquerque, New Mexico, where a deal for 18 electric buses, 15 of which had already been delivered, got scrapped last November. Democratic Mayor Tim Keller cited safety concerns raised by the buses since October 2017 and problems with the vehicles’ batteries and chargers. The rollout of the program has been delayed until August, 2019, as the transit authority seeks a deal for 10 electric buses with a new U.S.-based manufacturer.

However, Atlas’ Nigro warns that the electric bus industry is too new to regard examples like Albuquerque’s or NYC’s as definitive ‘case studies.’

“The challenge with those case studies, I think, is that you want to have some years under your belt before you look back… It’s still so early that there aren’t that many examples,” Nigro said.

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Utilities, charger vendors find interconnection best practices to propel EV growth

Collaboration and transparency pioneered in solar interconnections can fast-start delayed transportation electrification ambitions

Gasoline-fueled vehicles would not get far without easy-to-access gas stations and, for the same reason, electric vehicles (EV) will need easy-to-access charging stations for the U.S to transform its transportation system.

Transportation electrification is widely seen as crucial to decarbonizing the U.S. economy. But charging vendors say avoiding utility interconnection delays is necessary to maximize EV deployment. Such delays remain common, they add, but best interconnection practices are emerging

Best interconnection practices begin with the utility making clear what information it needs to prepare the site, charger builders told Utility Dive. Utilities must also be clear about when the site will be ready for installation of the charging infrastructure. Finally, charger builders and utilities must have clear channels of communication throughout the process.

Interconnection challenges

“One of the first things EV buyers want to know is where charging stations are,” EVgo Executive Vice President of Business Development Julie Blunden told Utility Dive. With 1,100 chargers in 66 metropolitan markets, EVgo has seen “tremendous uptake” in both EVs and public charging, but resolving utility interconnection issues is “critical” to maintaining that pace, she said.

“California needs 7 million electric vehicles by 2030 to meet its climate goals, and we need to move faster to make charging infrastructure available for that transportation electrification.”

Katie Sloan Director of eMobility, Southern California Edison”Bottlenecks” in interconnection have delayed projects anywhere from six months to “well over a year,” said Blunden. But it’s not just charging station vendors who want more build-outs sooner. Some utilities are also pushing for quicker deployment.

“California needs 7 million electric vehicles by 2030 to meet its climate goals, and we need to move faster to make charging infrastructure available for that transportation electrification,” Southern California Edison(SCE) Director of eMobility Katie Sloan told Utility Dive.

Though some utilities have been obstructive, SCE’s interconnection procedures “have evolved into best practices,” according to Blunden. Its procedures include clear application requirements, predictable timelines and access to utility authorities when clarifications are needed.

As EV penetrations rise, other utilities “can leapfrog some of the trial and error by using those best practices,” said Ram Ambatipudi​, vice president of business development and utility engagement at EV Connect, an EV charging company.

The streamlining of distributed solar interconnections demonstrated the problem-solving potential of utility-private sector collaborations, utility spokespeople and charger vendors told Utility Dive, and stakeholders could take those lessons and apply them to current EV charging challenges.

Though EV charging interconnections can be more complicated, the opportunity for new utility revenue streams makes collaboration “a win-win,” Blunden said. More charging will allow the EV industry to thrive and utility involvement could mean growth in electricity demand.

The need

EV sales momentum is accelerating. By the end of January this year, the U.S had sold over 1.1 million plug-in vehicles and California had sold over half a million, according to tracking from industry trade organization Veloz.

A 2018 Executive Order from California Gov. Jerry Brown, D, set a goal of 5 million zero emission vehicles (ZEVs) and 250,000 public chargers, including 10,000 direct current fast chargers (DCFCs), by 2030.

The state had 14,000 public charging stations, including 1,500 DCFCs, by the end of 2017, according to a 2018 National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report.

Most public charging stations have multiple level two (L2) ports, which provide charging at twice the rate of home ports that deliver a full charge in about eight hours. DCFCs draw current even faster and can charge an EV battery in 30 minutes.

The market needs both L2 and DCFC charging stations much sooner than Brown proposed, NREL reported to the California Energy Commission(CEC) in March 2018. To reach just 1.3 million EVs in 2025, California needs between 229,000 and 279,000 chargers, including 9,000 to 25,000 DCFCs.

“We added six stations in six weeks in SCE’s territory because it has become very competent in the process elements, but not all utilities make that possible.”

Julie Blunden EVP of Business Development, EVgo For the 7 million EVs SCE sees as necessary by 2030 for California to achieve its climate goals, the utility estimates the state will need about 350,000 ‘away-from-home’ ports located in public areas.

California’s U.S.-leading EV growth made it one of the first to discover the challenges of charging station interconnections. With the growth of demand for EVs, emerging markets are now beginning to look at their interconnection procedures. An example is the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Exelon subsidiary Pepco, which serves parts of D.C. and Maryland, is now piloting a charging station program with 187 L2s and DCFCs, PEPCO Manager for Smart Grid and Technology Rob Stewart told Utility Dive. It will soon add 1,000 chargers in support of Maryland’s 2025 goal to deploy 300,000 EVs and 5,000 charging stations, and is “actively developing best practices,” Stewart said.

Charger providers and utilities need to work as “allies,” EVgo’s Blunden said. “We added six stations in six weeks in SCE’s territory because it has become very competent in the process elements, but not all utilities make that possible.”

Delays impose financial pain on charger vendors when revenues are held up until the utility completes and electrifies the station, EV Connect’s Ambatipudi added. “It is more from inexperience than irresponsibility, but learning best practices can prevent repeating the same mistakes.”

California’s significant need for charging

Best practices

Only SCE and Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) “are dealing with interconnections at scale today,” EVgo’s Blunden said. “What is needed is basic transparency about the process steps, the timelines and what is needed from the charger company. SCE has a published a flowchart that is explicit about those elements.”

Transparency cannot eliminate inevitable delays in construction, but it can reduce charger vendor-utility tensions, she added.

EVgo asked PG&E for an equivalent version of SCE’s flowchart, but didn’t feel the timeline was as well laid out, something “critical” to their operations, said Blunden, while acknowledging PG&E is currently tied up in a bankruptcy proceeding that has put it in a “legitimately difficult situation.”

EV Connect’s Ambatipudi agreed, but added that PG&E has “retooled its program” and expects to deploy “a lot more charging stations this year.”

Since September 2017, PG&E has installed 644 public L2 ports and 446 DCFCs and has over 2,800 L2 ports and over 1,300 DCFCs queued, PG&E spokesperson Paul Doherty emailed Utility Dive.

Collaboration is critical “because the customer’s focus is on their needs and aesthetics, while our focus is the utility infrastructure requirements.”

Katie Sloan Director of eMobility, Southern California Edison

When there was less charging on PG&E’s distribution system, safe interconnections were often possible without hardware upgrades, Doherty said. To meet new demand for chargers requiring system upgrades, PG&E is working “to standardize interconnection procedures” but also “to balance the speed of interconnection” with “safety and reliability.”

Charger providers who are “fully prepared with site details often are interconnected the most quickly,” he said. Unplanned changes made during construction, like relocating chargers to be nearer substations or nearer handicapped-accessible parking, can “set the interconnection timelines back considerably.”

Both SCE and PG&E have effectively engaged with the transportation electrification industry “to expedite interconnections,” Ambatipudi said. EV Connect’s installation of over 3,000 ports in the course of a decade also “went smoothly” with ConEd and National Grid in New York, as well as Sacramento and Imperial County public utilities in California.

SCE’s detailed flowchart and timeline
Credit: Southern California Edison (used with permission)

Collaboration

SCE has built and interconnected 1,000 public charging ports as part of its Charge Ready pilot, most of which are L2s, Sloan said. About 300 private vendor interconnections are completed or pending. Its $760 million proposal for a four-year infrastructure build-out of 48,000 more charger ports awaits regulatory approval.

SCE has a planning team that works directly with customers’ engineers on location, design and construction, giving them “one single point of contact at the utility,” Sloan said.

Collaboration is critical “because the customer’s focus is on their needs and aesthetics, while our focus is the utility infrastructure requirements,” she said. The utility is focused on the least-cost project, but “if the customer wants a more expensive choice, we do it if it is technically feasible.”

“Like SCE, utilities need to be properly staffed and have processes in place. Charger companies can make the process better by using standard specifications that meet utility requirements.”

Ram Ambatipudi​ VP of business development and utility engagement, EV Connect The Sacramento Municipal Utility District’s (SMUD) process also begins with utility-vendor collaboration. “Working with the utility often results in savings for the charging company because we know where electrical access is cheapest,” SMUD Supervisor of Electric Transportation Bill Boycesaid.

SCE operates under a three-stage process: project design, construction and energization. A similar process of collaboration is described across multiple power providers Utility Dive spoke to, including SMUD, PG&E and San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E).

Interconnection times vary, but “best-case scenarios” may take three to six months, Doherty said. With complications, that timing could double or triple, he added. SDG&E interconnections generally take between six and 12 weeks, said SDG&E spokesperson Helen Gao.

Coordination is the key, said EV Connect’s Ambatipudi. “Like SCE, utilities need to be properly staffed and have processes in place. Charger companies can make the process better by using standard specifications that meet utility requirements.”

The main thing charger vendors can do is “engage early and often with the utility about the plans it is making,” SCE’s Sloan said. “The sooner the utility knows what and where the charger provider wants to build, the sooner we can be ready.”

But other delays are beyond the control of utilities or vendors.

The solar solution and beyond

Siting and interconnection issues can create tension between the utility and the vendor, but “delayed permit approvals from [authorities having jurisdiction] are a much bigger factor in project implementation,” EV Connect’s Ambatipudi said.

SCE sped up this part of the process by understanding how to “navigate” permitting agencies and meet their requirements, “and our experience with solar may show how to do even better,” SCE’s Sloan said.

“Rooftop solar interconnections initially took a few months and now take a few days,” she said. “We cannot complete charger installations in a few days, but we can make interconnections more routine, which is something that we learned in solar.”

“…an EV charger interconnection is more like a 2 MW solar array. And interconnecting DCFCs will be an order of magnitude more challenging.”

Bill Boyce Supervisor of Electric Transportation, SMUD  The California Solar Initiative guidebook “includes timelines for solar installers and utilities,” Blunden said. “Utilities can use that example to reduce interconnection and permitting delays, as they did for solar.”

The solar industry accelerated permit approvals by convincing key agencies to adopt a comprehensive standard policy, Ambatipudi said. “That kind of coordination between [authorities having jurisdiction] and the private sector can happen again.”

Residential rooftop solar interconnections got much faster at SMUD when they became “standard and repetitive,” Boyce said. “But an EV charger interconnection is more like a 2 MW solar array. And interconnecting DCFCs will be an order of magnitude more challenging.”

Pepco is transferring its utility industry-leading solar interconnection process to charger interconnections, Stewart said. “But we’ll have to get engineering involved for the bigger loads that come with fast charger interconnections.”

SMUD and SCE are also anticipating challenges from interconnecting the much bigger loads from medium- and heavy-duty vehicle fast-charging. An SCE medium- and heavy-duty vehicle pilot will launch this year and the utility is working with fleet operators now “to better understand the significant differences in the bigger loads,” Sloan said. “We expect a lot of learning.”

Correction: An earlier version of this article incorrectly named how many EV charging stations EV Connect has installed and misrepresented Sloan’s title. EV Connect has installed 3,000 chargers and Katie Sloan is the director of eMobility at SCE.

Tesla Looks to Regain Its Luster in Solar Energy by Slashing Prices

Author: Ivan Penn and Peter  Eavis  Published: April 30, 2019 The New York Times

A solar panel on display at the Tesla store in Westfield Century City in Los Angeles. Tesla plans to require customers to order panels online.CreditCreditRozette Rago for The New York Times

Tesla, which lost its status as the nation’s leading rooftop solar company last year, says it has figured out how to get back in the game — by slashing prices.

The company plans to announce on Tuesday that it has started selling solar panels and related equipment for up to 38 percent less than the national average price by standardizing systems and requiring customers to order them online. Tesla executives said these changes should put to rest concerns that the company, better known for its luxury electric cars, has neglected its residential solar business.

But it is not clear whether the strategy will work or is even feasible. Tesla and its chief executive, Elon Musk, have struggled to deliver products on time that they announced with great fanfare, including a $35,000 version of its Model 3 electric sedan. The company has also struggled with quality problems.

Last week, Tesla reported a $702 million loss in the first quarter as deliveries of cars and solar systems tumbled. The company’s stock price is down by more than 27 percent so far this year, and many analysts believe it will soon need to raise money by selling shares or bonds because its cash holdings dropped by about $1.5 billion in the first three months of the year.

The solar industry is known for intense competition and low profit margins. In the first three months of the year, Tesla fell to third place behind Sunrun and Vivint Solar in installations, according to Wood Mackenzie, a research and consulting firm.

Sanjay Shah, who runs Tesla’s solar business and previously worked at Dell and Amazon, said solar companies, his included, have struggled to make money because they have made buying solar panels too complex. Most installers develop and sell solar systems that are customized for each home.

“We spent hours and hours and days and days on the process,” Mr. Shah said. “It adds cost. It adds time. We needed to have a very streamlined process.”

He said Tesla would now offer systems only in increments of 4 kilowatts, a measure of how much electricity the panels can generate in ideal conditions, or 12 panels. The average system in the United States can generate about 7.6 kilowatts.

To further reduce costs and complexity, customers will be asked to do many of the tasks Tesla employees used to do. Homeowners will photograph electric meters, circuit breaker boxes and other equipment and send the images to the company, reducing the need for site visits.

As a result of these changes, Mr. Shah said Tesla customers could expect to pay $1.75 to $1.99 per watt, depending on where they live. The average residential solar customer pays $2.85 per watt, including $1 for permitting and inspections, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.

Workers installed photovoltaic panels on the roof of a house in San Leandro, Calif., for SolarCity in 2013. Tesla acquired SolarCity in 2016.CreditThor Swift for The New York Times

“It’s not sexy to talk about, but soft costs are kind of the biggest barrier to getting the next level of costs down,” said Bernadette Del Chiaro, executive director of the California Solar and Storage Association. “If they’ve come up with some new ways to lower soft costs, that would be a game changer.”

Allison Mond, a senior analyst at Wood Mackenzie, said most solar companies had been automating tasks like using online digital images to assess customers’ roofs, but Tesla’s new approach had the potential to reduce labor costs substantially more than what other companies had achieved.

Mr. Musk pushed Tesla into the solar business by acquiring SolarCity in November 2016, arguing that it would fit naturally into the company’s mission of providing sustainable transportation and energy. Some investors said Tesla was paying too much for SolarCity, which was founded by two of Mr. Musk’s cousins.

Since the acquisition closed, Tesla has struggled to expand the solar business or even figure out its strategy. In February 2018, the company said it would sell panels in 800 Home Depot stores. But in June of that year, Tesla said it was ending that partnership because it wanted to sell solar systems online and in its own stores.

Mr. Musk also promised to replace the boxy solar panels with solar shingles that look like ordinary roofing materials but can generate electricity. More than two years since he made that announcement in late 2016, Tesla has mostly taken reservations for that product.

Mr. Shah said the company hoped to push sales of those shingles, which Tesla calls a “solar roof,” in the second half of this year.

Tesla’s struggles with the solar business mirror its larger financial problems. After weak car sales caused the company to lose money in the first quarter, the company said it did not expect to turn a profit until the third quarter of this year. In January, Mr. Musk said that he was “optimistic” that the company would be profitable every quarter.

The company has said its financial results would improve this year as it overcomes the logistical problems of getting cars to Europe and China. But Tesla’s large first-quarter loss has revived concerns among investors that the company is not making enough money to finance its operations and expand.

Tesla’s solar business had a particularly bleak first quarter during which revenue plunged 21 percent compared with the same period a year earlier. The division’s gross profit was just 2.4 percent of revenue, down from 8.5 percent a year earlier. The company said the changes it was making to its solar business should help revive sales and profits.

Tesla produces solar products at a factory in Buffalo. As part of a pact with New York State that included significant subsidies, Tesla has to comply with certain hiring and investment requirements. In a financial filing on Monday, Tesla said it expected to meet those targets on time, but added that failure to do so could obligate the company to pay “significant amounts” to the state.

Mr. Shah said he was optimistic about Tesla’s chances, pointing out that just two million homes nationally, or about 3 percent of the total, have solar panels today. More people will adopt solar energy as they realize that the panels pay for themselves over time in the form of lower electricity bills and sales of electricity to local utilities.

“It’s practically a money-printing machine on their roofs,” Mr. Shah said.

Duke solar procurement taps 602 MW with first projects from 2017 North Carolina renewables law

Dive Brief:

  • North Carolina’s Competitive Procurement of Renewable Energy (CPRE) program, developed as part of the state’s 2017 comprehensive renewable energy law, has resulted in 14 solar projects being selected in the Carolinas via an independently judged Tranche 1 bidding process.
  • Duke Energy announced the procurement last week, saying it will “produce or purchase” a total of 602 MW under the CPRE process. The law allows Duke to bid alongside other developers, and the utility says it was awarded six projects totaling about 270 MW. Duke did not name developers of the other eight projects in its announcement.
  • A report by Accion Group, the independent procurement administrator, said proposals for Duke Energy Carolinas (DEC) averaged $36.93/MWh, while projects in the Duke Energy Progress territory averaged $31.24/MWh.

Dive Insight:

The solar bids in North and South Carolina do not break any low-cost records, but they do demonstrate the continuing decline in the cost of renewable energy and the benefits to customers.

Accion Group estimates customers will see savings of around $375 million over the 20-year contract period versus the price at which many solar contracts had been set prior to the CPRE program.

There is “robust” interest in the CPRE program, and “given the response, we are expecting the next phase of the program to also bring cost savings to customers,” Accion President Harry Judd said in a statement.

There were a total of 78 projects submitted in the Tranche 1 process, and the 14 most competitive were selected through a process approved by the North Carolina Utilities Commission. North Carolina will host 10 of the solar projects, with four in South Carolina. Two of the projects will include battery storage.

Duke was awarded almost 45% of the total capacity, and said it already has 40 solar projects in the state North Carolina.

The results are “a strong reflection of how competitive we are in the open market at building renewable energy projects,” said Rob Caldwell, senior vice president and president of Duke Energy Renewables and Business Development. The company operates more than 20 wind facilities and 60 solar facilities in the United States.

“As solar energy expands in the Carolinas, the competitive bidding process will lead to better prices and more geographic diversity of projects,” Caldwell said

Despite strong interest from developers, the Accion report notes that the procurement fell short of the CPRE Tranche 1 goals in the Duke Energy Carolinas territory, procuring 515 MW of a 600 MW target. However, for Duke Energy Progress, the goal was 80 MW and Accion recommended entering into power purchase agreements with two projects for a total of 87 MW.

The procurements combined for 602 MW across the two Duke territories.

Accion also estimated that the cost of transmission system upgrades for all of the selected proposals will be approximately $5 million. Most projects are targeted to be online around the end of 2020, according to Duke, though the utility cautioned the dates may vary “depending upon local approvals and any construction delays.”

Accion’s report on the procurement also includes possible improvements to the process. The Tranche 1 procurement “succeeded in further clarifying the need to address ways to permit ‘shovel ready’ renewable projects to move to development without delay,” the report concluded.

Several market participants declined to advance their projects despite being ranked competitively during the process, Accion said. That suggests that “a number of projects holding positions on the transmission queue are not ready to be developed.”

Bipartisan group of lawmakers proposes extending tax credits for electric, fuel cell vehicles

Dive Brief:

  • A bipartisan group of lawmakers has introduced a measure to extend the federal tax credit for electric vehicle (EV) purchases, citing the need to reduce emissions and continue to support development of the emerging technology and clean energy economy.
  • The current $7,500 tax credit begins to phase out as individual manufacturers sell 200,000 vehicles. So far, only Tesla and General Motors have maxed out their credits, but this legislation would give buyers of an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer a chance at significant savings.
  • The Drive America Forward Act would also extend the hydrogen fuel cell credit for ten years, through 2028. The measure has broad support from clean energy and environmental advocates, as well as vehicle manufacturers.

Dive Insight:

Supporters of the new legislation have 60 organizations behind them and lawmakers from both sides of the aisle.

If the tax credit extension does go through, it would be a major boon to the nascent EV industry, which is widely seen as a crucial step in reducing emissions and meeting environmental goals.

The new legislation would allow purchasers of an additional 400,000 vehicles per manufacturer to be eligible for a $7,000 tax credit. And consumers will be able to receive the full credit through the calendar quarter after the 600,000th vehicle is sold, after which the credit will halve before being phased out entirely after six months.

The original $7,500 tax credit would remain in place for the first 200,000 units a manufacturer sells.

The primary sponsors of the bill are U.S. Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn.; Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; and Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich.

In a statement with lawmakers, Ford President of Global Operations Joe Hinrichs said the bill will help the company to grow its electric vehicle portfolio. The company is investing $11 billion in electrified vehicles through 2022, he added.

“Expanding the existing framework gives our U.S. plants the ability to produce smarter, fuel-efficient vehicles for years to come,” Hinrichs said. “It also ensures that American manufacturers can stay competitive in this new automotive era.”

The Alliance to Save Energy issued a statement following the bill’s introduction, noting electrified transportation is “still not yet a mature market” and calling on Congress to “step up and pass an update of the electric vehicle tax credit.”

“Study after study has found that tax incentives are working to make them accessible to more Americans and encourage their sales,” said ASE President Jason Hartke. “We’re really starting to see the emergence of an electric vehicle economy across the country.”

Other groups supporting the measure Include: Advanced Energy Economy, the  Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Edison Electric Institute, Electrify America and a host of vehicle manufacturers and environmental groups.

Both General Motors and Tesla, the only two companies to have maxed out the credit by selling 200,000 vehicles, support the measure.

Asked how the measure could help the company, Tesla pointed to a statement from the EV Drive Coalition, of which it is a member: “The American auto industry has made great strides in delivering cost-competitive EVs that benefit consumers, our environment, and our economy – the Stabenow-Alexander proposal is the next logical step to capitalize on our efforts to deliver global dominance in this critical industry.”

PJM won’t delay capacity market order despite FERC impasse over rule changes

Dive Brief:

  • The PJM Interconnection will not delay its August capacity market auction, CEO Andy Ott announced Wednesday, despite a lengthy delay in approving new rules for the market from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
  • FERC invalidated PJM’s current market rules last year but has not yet issued a decision on proposed changes. Ott said PJM will run the auction under current rules unless directed otherwise by FERC.
  • PJM last month warned FERC that it was nearing a number of deadlines to prepare for the auction and needed a decision soon. FERC regulators have repeatedly declined to comment on deliberations over rule changes, which force them to consider how state clean energy subsidies should be handled in wholesale markets.

Dive Brief:

  • The PJM Interconnection will not delay its August capacity market auction, CEO Andy Ott announced Wednesday, despite a lengthy delay in approving new rules for the market from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
  • FERC invalidated PJM’s current market rules last year but has not yet issued a decision on proposed changes. Ott said PJM will run the auction under current rules unless directed otherwise by FERC.
  • PJM last month warned FERC that it was nearing a number of deadlines to prepare for the auction and needed a decision soon. FERC regulators have repeatedly declined to comment on deliberations over rule changes, which force them to consider how state clean energy subsidies should be handled in wholesale markets.

How to increase your competitiveness with adaptive system design

 Sponsored by: Fronious  Published:  April 9, 2019 Utility Dive

Imagine you are a local solar installer in Southern California, one of the most established solar markets in the country. You had successful years with many installations, but you realize that customer acquisition has become more difficult, as the low-hanging fruits have mostly been harvested. It’s not that there is a lack of solar awareness and there is actually a solid lead pipeline and a good number of quotes. However, winning these customers became more difficult – conversion rates are decreasing, which increases the need for more leads, thus more investment in customer acquisition.

Improve the bottom line

While increasing the number of leads helps a bit, you realize that the conversion rate itself should grow as well, in order to really improve the bottom line of your business. You start thinking about price reductions to win more customers who compare quotes from different installers. But your margins are already declining and the recently imposed tariffs on solar modules are not making it easier either. So what should you do?

This is where differentiation can help. From conversations with colleagues and homeowners who went solar with a competitor, you realize that everyone is quoting the same solar equipment. This makes it easy for solar shoppers to compare, but it’s not adding value to the systems or giving customers a product choice. From the other perspective, by quoting the same equipment to all of your prospects, it leads to a one-size-fits-all approach that is simply not efficient – every roof, every system is unique. For example, why offer DC optimizers that only increase cost, labor and complexity of a system, when shading is not even an issue?

A better solution

Time to look at alternatives. New technologies like Adaptive System Design, which is different to straight string systems and traditional MLPE systems, make it possible to adapt a system to the specific needs of a customer, cost-optimizing how the entire system is built. This simplifies most of the systems because they require fewer components and reduce both cost and labor – making it a more competitive option for your prospects.

By providing a real alternative to your prospects, you can differentiate yourself not only on price, but also on value, as you are able to tailor-fit systems to your specific customer’s needs. This relieves the pressure on your margin, while positively impacting your customer acquisition cost and bottom line.

Conclusion

The Fronius Smart Solution is the first adaptive system design solution for solar. Due to the modularity of the Fronius Smart Solution, it adapts to specific needs of any customer. With the power of differentiation, the Fronius Smart Solution can help you to stay competitive and to improve your conversion rate. As the sole installer, you have the ability choose only the components you actually need and optimize your entire system design, while maintaining a minimal number of components. To learn more about the Fronius Smart Solution contact pv-sales-usa@fronius.com.

Report: PG&E sanctioned for physical and cybersecurity-related violations

Reports shows that physical and cybersecurity-related violations cost are being passed on to rate payers which is impacting the poor and communities  of color.

Dive Brief:

  • Pacific Gas & Electric, DTE Energy and City Utilities of Springfield, Missouri, have been sanctioned for violating critical infrastructure protection rules designed to protect the country’s electric system from cyber and physical attacks, the Wall Street Journal reported, citing newly release documents.
  • The violations, recorded from 2014 to 2016, coincided with a Russian campaign attempting to infiltrate American utility defenses, the report said citing federal officials.
  • In February, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) fined Duke Energy $10 million, the largest cybersecurity-related penalty for a utility in history. The violations have led to questions about the regulatory system that encourages self-disclosure by utilities.

Dive Insight:

Boosting the resiliency of the U.S. energy sector is an issue of national security. And while utilities and regulators state their desire to improve cyber defense capabilities, repeated violations by some of the country’s biggest players have raised questions about the integrity of those efforts, as well as their enforcement.

The San Francisco-based PG&E was also involved in a separate case in which it broke the same critical infrastructure protection rules, along with Detroit’s DTE Energy, the report said, citing newly released documents and people familiar with the cases.

Issuing sanctions for security violations is not uncommon, about 250 penalty cases have been filed against U.S. utilities for failing to protect critical infrastructure in the past decade. However, due to the regulatory system’s design, only few violators have been publicly identified by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

The agency tries to keep names of the companies confidential to encourage self-disclosure within the industry.

“The confidentiality of the violation reporting process promotes self-reporting,” PG&E spokesperson Jason King told Utility Dive in an email.

Though well intentioned, the current regulatory system appears to fall short of its goal. David Ortiz, deputy director of FERC’s Office of Electric Reliability, told the Wall Street Journal that even though cyberattacks happen in large numbers, utilities almost never report successful breaches.

“In an average day, WAPA’s firewalls are pinged nearly 200,000 times by suspicious or potentially damaging events,” Mark Gabriel, administrator and CEO of Western Area Power Administration (WAPA), said during a recent cybersecurity conference.

In February, Duke Energy was fined $10 million by NERC for security violations between 2015 and 2018, it was the largest cybersecurity-related penalty in history. Shortly after, Duke Energy filed a request for approval with FERC in which it seeks to recover $137.4 million in capital investments from ratepayers for its cybersecurity program.

Advocacy group Public Citizen filed a protest with FERC over the timing of Duke’s rate-recovery request. In addition to seeking clarity, the watchdog group wants FERC to scrutinize such requests more closely, especially given Duke’s track record when it comes to the oversight of its cybersecurity initiatives, Tyson Slocum, director of Public Citizen’s Energy Program, told Utility Dive last week.

Despite having incurred over $1.2 million in fines for two separate security violations in 2014 and 2016, PG&E said its cybersecurity measures are “robust and consistent with the best practices being employed in the industry.”

The California investor-owned utility did not want to respond to Tuesday’s report as “any comment on non-public NERC CIP violations may jeopardize national security by exposing potential grid vulnerabilities,” according to King.

Building Out the US Offshore Wind Supply Chain—a $68 Billion Opportunity

A towering opportunity for U.S.-based manufacturing.

The U.S. is home to some of the world’s largest offshore wind zones and most ambitious targets. What does that mean for supply chain investors?

Over the past two years, states along the U.S. East Coast have announced increasingly ambitious targets to build offshore wind projects.

In January of this year, to cite the most consequential recent example, New York nearly quadrupled its offshore wind target to 9,000 megawatts by 2035.

But what do the gigawatts’ worth of state-level commitments mean for companies unsure whether to commit resources to become part of the supply chain for offshore wind projects?

In January of this year, to cite the most consequential recent example, New York nearly quadrupled its offshore wind target to 9,000 megawatts by 2035.

But what do the gigawatts’ worth of state-level commitments mean for companies unsure whether to commit resources to become part of the supply chain for offshore wind projects?

A new report from the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW) at the University of Delaware aims to provide “first-of-its-kind granularity” into the U.S. offshore wind supply chain. The report forecasts 18.6 gigawatts of U.S. offshore wind procurements through 2030, which represents a $68.2 billion opportunity for suppliers.

Potential supply chain investors need “a much greater level of clarity and transparency on the U.S. market and how it is likely to unfold, especially in the near term,” Stephanie McClellan, SIOW director and report author, told Greentech Media in an interview.

McClellan said research from SIOW going back to 2015 affirms that “the quickest way, and the most impactful way, to reduce the cost of energy for offshore wind was providing market visibility to the industry.”

If projects are seen as one-offs, with no visible pipeline, she said, “We are likely to have very limited competition, not only among developers but in the supply chain for folks like turbine manufacturers and other [original equipment manufacturers] who might say, ‘If we don’t know that there’s a market there, why should we spend our time there when we could spend our time in Europe?’”

Moving beyond big targets and lease areas

Here’s how the report breaks down the $68.2 billion U.S. offshore wind build-out through 2030. The market is likely to install at least:

  • 1,700 offshore wind turbines and towers (worth $29.6 billion)
  • 1,750 offshore wind turbine and substation foundations ($16.2 billion)
  • 5,000 miles of power export, upland, and array cables ($10.3 billion)
  • 60 onshore and offshore substations ($6.8 billion)

In addition, the market is likely to see $5.3 billion invested in marine support, insurance and project management activities.

The report provides a state-by-state, year-by-year forecast for offshore wind power contracting. Connecticut and New York, for instance, are each forecast to schedule procurements totaling in the hundreds of megawatts every two years through 2030.

In talking to suppliers, McClellan said, she would often hear, “We know the lease areas. We know how much acreage has been leased. We know the project developers who have leases. We have seen timelines of proposed projects and their estimated time for operating and being in the water. And we know the large [state] goals.”

But, they added, “None of that means anything to us in trying to understand what it means in terms of a business opportunity.”

McClellan said the supply chain report is intended to close that gap and answer questions such as: “Will there be a big boom-and-bust cycle? Are there going to be a lot of turbines or foundations or substations procured in the early years but maybe there might be a five-year dry period?”

“We were responding to the supply chain’s need for that kind of information, so they can go back and make the business case to their companies, to their management,” according to McClellan.

“Visibility and a better understanding of the timing and pace of projects allows companies to seriously consider diversifying into the industry, and to make human capital and equipment investments required to establish a U.S.-based offshore wind supply

 

Artificial intelligence and machine learning move to the edge

Smart technology puts intelligence where it’s needed

We often associate artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) with exotic applications – self-driving cars, speech and facial recognition, robotic control and medical diagnosis – all powered by massive rows of servers filled with CPUs or GPUs, at some distant data center. But in fact, AI and ML are getting closer and closer to all of us.

That’s because companies such as Google, Microsoft, Nvidia and others have recently introduced technologies, platforms and devices that can cost-effectively extend AI and ML capabilities to the edge of the network. Working in concert with cloud services, these devices are capable of processing large volumes of data locally, and enabling highly localized and timely “inference,” industry jargon for AI- and ML-driven predictions executed at the edge after having been trained in the cloud; where data storage and processing power are plentiful and scalable.

Previously, if you wanted to deploy machine learning capability you had to run it on some kind of server. Detecting a pattern required that the data go from the device to the cloud in order to generate the inference. Putting intelligence onboard a device has key advantages:

  • minimal latency, since AI and ML functions are no longer dependent on an internet connection;
  • data communication can be filtered, prioritized or summarized based on communication constraints;
  • security and data privacy can be enhanced by keeping sensitive data on the device.

Coral – the key to developing proper deep learning models

Coral is Google’s new developer platform for local AI. It is powered by the company’s Edge TPU (tensor processing unit) chip and is specifically designed to run machine learning models for edge computing. Coral features a tiny integrated circuit on a credit-card sized development board surrounded by an aluminum housing, with a USB connection to any Linux-based system. In other words, everything a developer needs to prototype applications for on-device machine learning inference.

Small, but powerful: two Google Edge TPUs on a penny.

Coral provides a perfect illustration of how cloud and edge work together to put intelligence where it’s needed. The heavy lifting for developing a machine learning model and its subsequent training happens in the cloud where massive amounts of computing and processing power are needed to refine the vast amounts of data required to develop a proper deep learning model. The result of this training is then compressed and distilled into smaller and faster applications that can be applied quickly to new data at the edge using specialty hardware designed to perform this task.

Implications for utility companies and grid management

Google’s initial performance benchmarks for an image classification application with a remote camera using edge AI show a 70-100x faster performance than a CPU-based approach. Speed and low-latency will be key criteria for utility grid management using AI and ML.

Bringing this technology to the power grid domain requires expertise in developing specific use cases and applications that would deliver new value to utilities. Many industry vendors – from smart metering to distribution automation to demand response – are beginning to integrate edge intelligence into their product lines.

But as many are finding out, this is a complex endeavor, both technologically and culturally. By engaging with vendors and system integrators to communicate their requirements and define their use cases for edge intelligence, utilities are in a position to drive a technology revolution in the industry that will unlock new benefit streams and empower customers with more energy choices.

The more data that is collected in the cloud, the better the training models become, resulting in a smarter, faster and more accurate inference – all of which enables edge intelligence to be a true business differentiator for utilities.

For more information, please visit: https://engage.atos.net/nao-iot-utility-2019

How Inclusive Contracting Can Produce the Infrastructure We Need

Author: Denise Fairchild Published: SEPTEMBER 20, 2018 AT 6:15 AM

Construction workers digging into pipeline.

There’s a lot that governments can do to connect disadvantaged communities to economic opportunities.

For decades, many state and local officials have thought that they had to choose between developing their economies and protecting the environment. But the reality is that we have an opportunity to do both, creating jobs in struggling communities while building green, resilient 21st-century infrastructure. To make that happen, though, we need the right contracting and procurement policies in place.

The litany of challenges is familiar. Our infrastructure is deteriorating, just as climate change places new stresses on our aging roads, dams, sewer systems and power plants. And the much-vaunted economic recovery has left too many people behind, especially in communities of color.

State and local governments play an increasingly important role in infrastructure construction. Each year, they spend at least $250 billion on public infrastructure, including transportation, energy and water/sewer system upgrades. But a recent report by the Emerald Cities Collaborative and PolicyLink shows that infrastructure spending will not automatically “lift all boats,” especially in historically marginalized communities.

The report highlights the multi-layered challenges that minority-, women-, disadvantaged- and veteran-owned business enterprises (or MWDVBEs) face in competing for infrastructure contracts. To overcome those challenges, governments must be purposeful about connecting local and underrepresented businesses to economic opportunities. That’s where inclusive procurement and contracting comes in.

Of course, there is no one-size-fits-all inclusion policy. Inclusive procurement and contracting policies evolved over a 60-year history into a complex maze of standards and requirements that differ by the procurement agency, the level of government, and the local and state political environment. But a few strategies apply broadly:

• Prioritize local procurement, especially for underrepresented businesses. Small and medium-sized local businesses, those with fewer than 500 employees, are major engines of job growth. In fact, nearly half of the nation’s private sector is employed at a small business, and small businesses are responsible for two out of three net new jobs. They are the secret sauce for spurring the local economy. But these enterprises are often cut out of infrastructure contracts, which favor large prime contractors. That’s doubly true for MWDVBEs, which bear a legacy of discrimination in lending, contracting and business ownership. To level the playing field, states and localities should ensure that infrastructure investments give priority consideration to local contractors, including those historically excluded from public-sector opportunities.

• Adopt accessible project delivery methods. Water, energy, transportation and other climate-resilient infrastructure projects are large-scale, multibillion-dollar, long-term endeavors. The process for bidding on these complex projects has become increasingly difficult for smaller contractors. More than three dozen state legislatures have given local governments authority to use public-private partnerships and other innovative project delivery methods to help cut the time, cost and the complexity of these projects. But P3s can undercut local economic development goals. Because they are designed to maximize efficiency and investment returns, P3s tend to bid out large contracts to national or international firms rather than “unbundling” bids to match the capacity of smaller, local contractors.

One alternative is for public authorities to move beyond low-bid methods to values-based contracting, in which local procurement is one of the articulated project goals. Governments need to ensure that these goals are embedded in the program design and throughout the construction process.

• Build a robust small-business ecosystem. Finally, success requires improving support systems to help local businesses effectively compete. This includes streamlining the multitude of local, state and agency certification programs and sharing regional data on MWDVBEs available to collaborate on large projects. It is also critical to increase small businesses’ access to bonding, insurance and capital; prime contractors can be awarded extra points for helping their smaller subcontractors obtain these essentials. In addition, a small assessment on an infrastructure project can readily capitalize collateral pools to provide credit enhancements for small contractors.

Of course, these strategies run the risk of modestly increasing program costs. But if the axiom that “you get what you pay for” is true, then-if you want good jobs for local residents-you will have to pay for it. With major new infrastructure investments on the horizon, state and local governments are uniquely positioned to put the jobs-vs.-environment myth to rest.

Electric Vehicle Program Approved

Author: DCPSC Published: 4/25/2019

ev1

The DCPSC approved in part Pepco’s Application for a Transportation Electrification (TE) Program (Formal Case No. 1130, Order No. 19898).  The DCPSC allowed Pepco to deploy infrastructure to support 55 public electric vehicle (EV)  charging stations and additional infrastructure to support the charging of electric taxis, rideshare vehicles, and buses. This action fosters the expansion of a competitive EV charging market in the District, and helps to achieve the District’s clean energy plan and climate change commitments.
Additionally, the Order includes approval for the rollout of a Residential Time-of-Use rate for home EV charging, which will encourage the charging of EVs at off-peak hours — a critical element of any successful TE  initiative.
The DCPSC will monitor these programs, as they are implemented, and study the effects of TE on the electric grid as the EV market expands.

LETTER FROM MAYOR MURIEL BOWSER ON Sustainable DC 2.0 Sustainable DC 2.0.

Author: Muriel Bowser : Publisher:  DOEE  Date 4/24/2019

SETTING THE SCENE

Five years ago, the District Government released a plan to make the District of Columbia the most sustainable city in the country. At the time, the Sustainable DC plan was one of the most innovative, ambitious sustainability plans in the country. While the District remains at the forefront of innovation in sustainability, a lot has changed in the past five years.

We have seen major economic, political, and social change in the District and across the country, and we need a sustainability plan that reflects the reality of 2018. We need a plan that takes advantage of new opportunities and addresses new challenges that have arisen—a plan that meets the needs of our changing city and the 700,000+ residents who call the District home.

That is why I directed my team to update the Sustainable DC plan into a strategy for 2018 of which we can all be proud. I call it Sustainable DC 2.0. Sustainability planning can not happen in a vacuum. Sustainable DC 2.0 focuses on making the District the healthiest, greenest, most livable city for all District residents, but there are many forces at play in the city in which that work is happening.

The population of Washington, DC—both in how many people and who lives in the District—is rapidly changing. The population of the District is projected to reach almost 900,000 by 2032, the final year of this plan’s scope.

  • The demographics of Washington are also changing. Known for decades as “Chocolate City,” DC is now just 47 percent black.
  • At the same time, the District’s white, Latino and Asian populations are growing with 37 percent of the city identifying as white
  • 11 percent Latino
  • 4.3 percent Asian. Increased diversity brings new opportunities and benefits, but also brings new challenges for many residents.

While Washington, DC is one of the best educated cities in America and enjoys a relatively high median household income of almost $73,000 (compared to the national average of $55,000), prosperity is not enjoyed by all residents.

In 2017, the median household income in Ward 8 was $32,000 while in Ward 3 it was $110,000.  Almost 17 percent of District residents live under the poverty rate. Ninety-four percent of white residents hold a bachelor degree or higher education  while only 36 percent of black residents do.

While the District Government has made affordable housing a top priority, the pressure of rising housing costs is felt by many residents: more than 40 percent of District residents spend over a third of their monthly income on housing costs.

Sustainable DC 2.0 is the final product of a 20-month intensive community engagement process
involving thousands of residents. Not every action will work as anticipated and inevitably,
we will need to adjust our strategies as Washington, DC continues to change.

If you have any suggestion for how to implement one of the actions, your advice would be appreciated.
Making the District of Columbia the healthiest, greenest, most livable city in the country
will require the ideas and energy of our entire community. I invite you to get involved at                  www.sustainabledc.org.

HOW TO USE THE DOCUMENT
The Sustainable DC 2.0 plan is broad. It contains 167 actions and 36 goals across 13 separate topics. This document has been designed to be read either cover-to-cover if you are feeling ambitious or as individual sections if you are interested in a specific topic.

If you would simply like a summary of what each topic covers, a time frame for implementation, and which District Government agencies are responsible for implementation, you can turn to the chart at the very end of this document.

If you come across acronyms or a term you are not familiar with, you can flip to the list of acronyms or glossary in the back for a definition. Also, note that while the plan is largely written in the future tense, much of the work is already underway.

SUSTAINABLE DC 2.0 STRUCTURE

Each of the 13 topics is organized into distinct goals, targets, and actions. Here’s what they mean: GOALS are big picture, overarching ambitions. ACTIONS explain how the District will reach each of the targets. Each goal usually has four or five targets. TARGETS are the quantifiable method of tracking progress towards the goal. Each goal has one target.
www.sustainabledc.org ACTION INFORMATION

College/Underserved Community Partnership Program

Author:United States Environmental Protection Agency: Published: April 16,2019

On this page:


Overview

The College Underserved/Community Partnership Program (CUPP) was created to provide a creative approach to partnering and delivering technical assistance to underserved communities from local colleges and universities.  CUPP enlists colleges and universities, with appropriate programs, to assist these underserved communities, with vital technical support, through student internships and capstone projects. Students work on a range of plans and projects that help communities gain access to resources that can improve the economic future and overall quality of life for the community.  At the same time, CUPP provides practical experience for participating students in their areas of academic study, and students generally receive academic credit for their efforts. The communities receive vital services at no cost, and the schools provide their services at no cost to the federal government.  The program began with four schools in the fall of 2013, 14 in the fall of 2014, and 35 in the fall of 2015.  The CUPP program currently has 71 schools, aligned with 64 different communities.  As of June 2018, we have provided over $15,560,000 of support to communities.

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Program Partners

CUPP is designed to promote collaboration at all levels of government and community organization, with an emphasis on community engagement and support.  In addition, CUPP facilitates public and private partnerships, and nonprofit and private sector organizations.  Currently, there are 71 schools in 19 states throughout the United States who have engaged in the program, completing over 120 different projects. We have agreements to work with the following organizations:

  • US Department of Agriculture (Nationwide)
  • US Department of Interior (Nationwide)
  • US Department of Energy (Nationwide)
  • HHS Office of Public Health (Region 4)

In addition, we have working relationships with the following organizations:

  • US Department of Education
  • US EPA Regions 3, 5, 6, and 8
  • Regional Health Administration, Region 6
  • Thriving Earth Exchange (American Geophysics Union)
  • Community Engineering Corps
  • Georgia Municipal Association
  • Municipal Association of South Carolina
  • Regional Coastal Commission of Georgia

We are working to add more collaborative partners.

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Program Objectives

CUPP works to encourage colleges and universities to give students the opportunity to provide a variety of technical support to underserved communities, based on community identified needs.  This assistance enhances the communities’ ability to gain access to the resources needed to move their communities forward economically, environmentally, and provide better health outcomes. At the same time, the program provides valuable practical experience for college and university students in their areas of academic study. The work done by the schools is provided on a voluntary basis, but the experiential learning opportunity given to students provides a two-fold benefit:  it makes their academic work more meaningful, and gives them practical experience that improves their post graduate work opportunities.  For the communities, CUPP gives them an opportunity to compete with larger cities for resources.  For the federal government, it helps smaller communities compete for federal resources, thereby improving the diverse distribution of federal assets.

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Program Examples

  • The City of Riverdale, GA is challenged with retaining public safety officers and other staff residing within its boundaries. To address this issue, a student project is assisting the city in developing a program to fund, rehab, and resale of property to city employees as a retention incentive. The project’s goals include identifying, assessing and cataloguing the quantity and condition of abandoned and vacant houses for restoration. This will also include a preliminary assessment of environmentally hazardous materials including lead and asbestos. This project has also served as a pilot for the use of federal work study funds to provide stipends for eligible students, enhancing their post-graduation opportunities. Federal Work Study funds are now encouraged to be used to support participation by students who previously were financially unable to participate in the CUPP Program, opening participation by thousands more students.
  • Developed partnership between San Juan College (tribal), Farmington, NM, and Drexel University, Philadelphia, PA, to develop a maker space for San Juan to spur entrepreneurial activities (economic development) in Farmington, NM, which has one of the highest unemployment rates in the United States. In addition, developed a partnership with the American Geophysics Union’s Thriving Earth Exchange (TEX) and San Juan College in New Mexico to develop a curriculum to educate students in alternative energy, which will be incorporated in the design of the maker space.Completed project has reenergized the city of Farmington, and hundreds of thousands of dollars have been raised to equip the space for future use.
  • Students from Georgia State University identified weaknesses in the City of East Point, GA’s IT policy through a series of meetings and interviews. They also developed cybersecurity training as part of the City’s orientation process for new employees. New employees will be oriented on cybersecurity threats, malwares, detecting viruses, and how to seek help. The policies and training methods developed by GSU’s students are being adopted and implemented by various cities and counties throughout the state of Georgia. Farhad Islam, East Point’s It Director stated that “the City of East Point benefited greatly from their work.”

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Get Involved

For more information, please contact Michael Burns (burns.michael@epa.gov), CUPP Program Lead.

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DOEE 2019 District Sustainability Awards

Author:Sustainable DC : Published: Wed, Apr 10, 2019 11:30 am sustainable.future@dc.gov>

Description

You are Cordially Invited to the 2019 District Sustainability Awards!

Join DOEE Director Tommy Wells to honor this year’s District Sustainability Award winners, which include local nonprofit and educational organizations and private sector businesses – and an award for “People’s Choice.” This year, the city will also recognize the first winner of the Clean Energy DC Award.

District Sustainability Award winners support the Sustainable DC Plan goals in areas of energy and water conservation, green building/construction, healthy food access, solar energy production, triple-bottom-line programs, stormwater management, and sustainable waste management.

This event is free and open to the public, but registration is required.
Dress is business casual.

Green carpet and doors beginning at 5:30, followed by opening remarks, so please be sure to arrive on time and ready to celebrate!


There is limited street parking available; please consider taking public transit to the event. Eastern Market is located two blocks North of the Eastern Market Metro stop (Orange, Silver, and Blue Lines). Several Metrobus lines also service the Eastern Market Metro stop.

If you have any questions, require a sign language interpreter, or ADA accessibility assistance, contact Mary Lynn Wilhere at (202) 535-1939 or marylynn.wilhere@dc.gov.


Este documento contiene información importante. Si necesita ayuda en Español o si tiene alguna pregunta sobre este aviso, por favor llame al (202) 535-1939. Infórmele al representante de atención al cliente el idioma que habla para que le proporcione un intérprete sin costo para usted. Gracias.

 

Date And Time

Wed, April 17, 2019

5:30 PM – 7:30 PM EDT

Add to Calendar

Location

225 7th Street, SE

Eastern Market, North Hall

Washington, DC 20003

View Map

Tell Congress to extend the federal EV tax credit!

Author: Plug In America: Published :Tue, Apr 16, 2019 10:35 am  <info@pluginamerica.org

Take action to extend the federal EV tax credit! Tell your representative and senators to support the Driving America Forward Act!

Finally, we have bipartisan legislation in Congress that supports extending the federal electric vehicle (EV) tax credit to work for more drivers for a longer period of time. The current tax credit is capped at 200,000 vehicles per automaker, with Tesla and GM having already hit that cap.

The Driving America Forward Act, introduced today, would raise that cap to 600,000 vehicles per automaker. The legislation is sponsored by Republicans and Democrats and has the support of the auto industry and a number of other key stakeholders.

The extension of the vehicle cap will allow consumers to purchase the cars they want as the market continues to grow and mature. But we need your help to get more co-sponsors on the bill and to show Senate and House leadership there is strong support to pass this Act.

Take action now to support extending the EV tax credit for American drivers.

Thank you – please share this action alert widely!

Share This

We just need few pieces of information to connect you with your representatives.

Subject: Adopt the Driving America Forward Act: Support American Drivers NOW
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Earth Day Toolkit :What Earth Day Means for the Black Church

Author: Green The Church

Published: Mon, Apr 15, 2019 2:55 pm info@greenthechurch.orgRev. Benjamin Carroll, is the Co-Founder of Carroll Ministries International and Pastor of Greater Antioch Missionary Baptist Church in West Palm Beach,FL. Rev. Carroll also serves as President of the Florida East Coast Baptist Association’s Northern Union. Rev. Carroll is also an active duty Major serving as a Chaplain in the U.S. Army.

Rev. Benjamin Carroll, Green The Church & Carroll Ministries International

Earth Day is only a few days away and the selected theme for this year is, “Protect Our Species”. It is important to protect the migrating Monarch Butterfly or the Florida Manatee, but we must also be mindful of the plight of people of color who too are often left unprotected against the onslaught of community neglect and community decay. As we look forward to Earth Day, let’s take this opportunity to make sure we expose ourselves to the broad initiatives of what this important day means particularly for people of color. Animals and insects play an important role in creating balance in our ecosystems, neglecting them would mean devastation in areas often unknown to those who are not directly impacted. More importantly, those of the human species, Homo sapiens, specifically those whose skin has been kissed by nature’s sun are on the verge of extinction due to poor living conditions, polluted air, lack of adequate food sources and toxic drinking water being pumped through inner-city water systems.

It’s time the Black church stood up and began to invest time and resources in launching a collective responsibility to ensure our congregations take our place in protecting the Human Species. We charge the African American Church to do its part by helping to mobilize your local church and surrounding churches to observe Earth Day, April 22nd and get involved in Earth Day advocacy initiatives. Resurrection Sunday is April 21st, the day we celebrate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s resurrection and victory. This is also a day we can celebrate the God of all creation by thanking Him for His precious gift of creation and ALL that dwell therein. We encourage congregations to go above and beyond to make your Earth Day service moving, g, and inspirational.

Dear Ronald:

Earth Day is only a few days away and this year our theme is: “Protect Our Species”.  It is important to protect the species such as the migrating Monarch Butterfly or the Florida Manatee, but we must also be mindful of the consequences that communities of color face because their environmental plights aren’t well known. As we look forward to Earth Day, let’s take this opportunity to make sure we expose ourselves to the broad initiatives which fall under the rubric of what this important day means particularly for people of color. Animals and insects play an important role in creating balance in our ecosystems, neglecting them would mean devastation in areas often unknown to those who are not directly impacted. Those of the human species, Homo sapiens, whose skin has been kissed by nature’s sun are in danger due to poor living conditions, polluted air, lack of adequate food sources and toxic drinking water being pumped through inner-city water systems.
It’s time the Black church stood up and began to invest time and resources in initiating a collective responsibility to ensure that our congregations take our place in protecting the Human Species. We charge the African American Church to do its part by helping to mobilize your local church and surrounding churches to observe Earth Day, April 22nd and get involved in Earth Day advocacy initiatives. Resurrection Sunday is April 21st, the day we celebrate Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ’s resurrection and victory. This is also a day we can celebrate the God of all creation by thanking Him for His precious gift of creation and ALL that dwell therein. We encourage congregations to go above and beyond to make your Earth Day service moving, enlightening, and inspirational. Check out our Earth Day Toolkit for some ideas and resources.
Wishing you peace & blessings,
Green The Church Inc.

Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Director of the D.C. Department of Employment Service

Author:Ronald Bethea Published: 4/10/19

Interview With Dr. Unique Morris-Hughes, Director of the D.C. Department of Employment Service As  Speaks about the DC Infrastructure Academy.

DC Infrastructure AcademyDC Infrastructure Academy

Now Open!

The District of Columbia Infrastructure Academy (DCIA) is a key initiative of Mayor Muriel Bowser’s Administration, led by the Department of Employment Services.

Infrastructure is one of the fastest growing industries in the country. DOES has opened the DC Infrastructure Academy to meet the need for skilled infrastructure professionals in Washington, DC.

DCIA coordinates, trains, screens and recruits residents to fulfill the needs of the infrastructure industry and infrastructure jobs with leading companies in this high-demand field. DCIA is located in the Anacostia neighborhood in Ward 8.

Programs and services include:

  • Commercial Driver’s License (CDL)
  • Energy & Utilities
  • Auto Mechanic Training
  • OSHA 10
  • Solar Panel Installation
  • Interview Skills
  • Job Fairs
  • Job Referrals and more!

DC Infrastructure Academy Address:

2330 Pomeroy Road, SE

Washington, DC 20020

Closest Metro Station: Anacostia Metro Station

Closest Bus Lines:  A33, W2, W3, W6, W8, and Circulator

For more information about opportunities to partner or to register for training call 202-899-6040 or email DCIA@dc.gov.

January 25, 2018 DCIA Training Provider Webinar