HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant

Author: HBCUColition@gmail          Published: March 20, 2018

BCU CDAC Leadership


  • Ron Butler | Executive Director
  • Larry Sally | Interim Chairman (Benedict College)
  • Jeffrey Higgs | Treasurer (LeMoyne-Owen College)
  • Linda Tillman | Secretary (Langston University)
  • Bobby Pamplin | Parlimentarian (Hinds Community College)

About Us

HBCU Community Development Action Coalition promotes, supports, and advocates for historically black colleges and minority serving institutions (MSIs), community development corporations (CDCs), and the community economic development industry whose work creates wealth, builds healthy and sustainable communities, and achieves lasting economic viability.  HBCU CDAC fulfills its mission of service to its members working in disinvested urban and rural communities through education, resource development, advocacy, networking, and training.

CDAC Board of Directors List 2016/2017

Member Office/Member Institution/Company Contact Information
Larry Salley Chairman Benedict College SalleyL@benedict.edu
Henry Golatt Vice Chairman golatt_h@yahoo.com
Morris Autry Secretary Morrisautry@yahoo.com
Ilene Garner Treasurer University of the Virgin Islands igarner@uvi.edu
Cynthia Beaulieu Member Southern University at New Orleans cbeaulieu@suno.edu
Darrin Dixon Member Southern University at Shreveport ddixon@susla.edu
Murphy Cheatham Member DeSoto Economic Development Corporation mcheatham@dedc.org
Barry Gregory Member Grants and contracts management professional Barrygregory29@yahoo.com
K. Lavon Burbank To Be Confirmed as Member Community Development Relationship Manager lavon.burbank@woodforest.com


Name Title Time in Position Contact Information
Ron Butler CEO 6 years HBCUCoalition@gmail.com
Henry Golatt COO 1 year golatt_h@yahoo.com
Natasha Campbell Chief Strategist New hbcucleanenergycoalition@gmail.com
Danielle Le blanc National Initiatives Director New dani.leblanc@gmail.com
Ray Parris Social Media Manager New parafruit@gmail.com

HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant

March 20, 2018 — The Historically Black Colleges and University Community Development Coalition (HBCU CDAC) – a national non-profit organization that promotes, supports, and advocates for HBCUs and minority serving institutions, and community development corporations (CDCs) – was awarded a $250,000 one-year planning grant from The JPB Foundation. The grant was awarded to expand access to clean energy in low-income communities and aligns with two of The JPB Foundation’s program areas – environmental and poverty. The JPB Foundation awarded the grant to the HBCU CDAC in partnership with Benedict College to develop a comprehensive strategic implementation plan to pilot eight (8) clean energy and sustainability projects in HBCU communities across the country.

“The $250,000 grant is a significant milestone in our larger vision of activating HBCUs to leverage their know how and resources to strengthen the vitality of their surrounding communities,” shares Ron Butler, Chief Executive Officer of the HBCU CDAC. “We see clean energy as an opportunity to foster healthy and sustainable communities, create economic opportunity for local residents through job training and entrepreneurship, and close the gap in the innovation economy.

The grant was specifically awarded to support the HBCU Clean Energy Initiative (HBCU CEI), a coalition of fourteen (14) HBCUs established in 2017 pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the HBCU CDAC and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The MOU formed a partnership between the DOE and the HBCU CDAC to promote clean energy adaptation and economic opportunities in the communities where HBCUs are located. The grant will allow the HBCU CDAC to catalyze the wealth of HBCU faculty and student talent to build on its relationships within local communities and deepen its role as an innovative leader in transforming economically challenged and underserved communities. Further, the grant will help to identify, create, and expand access to opportunities in the clean energy economy for families who live in HBCU communities as well as HBCU students and faculty.

“HBCUs graduate twenty-five percent of African–American STEM graduates, uniquely positioning them and the communities they serve to be global leaders in the growing solar and energy efficiency industries,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams who heads the Congressional HBCU Caucus and has been a strong advocate of the HBCU clean energy initiative. I’m thrilled to learn that HBCU CDAC has received this significant grant to further their investment as these 14 HBCUs, including Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina, and I look forward to continuing to work together to increase the resources available to HBCUs and the students they serve.”

During the year-long strategic planning period, HBCU CDAC will engage HBCU faculty and students, local residents, job seekers, businesses, local government, clean energy experts, and other key stakeholders through a series of round table discussions and targeted conversations to validate the eight (8) pilot projects and gather stakeholder feedback around the projects. The pilot projects include: 1) solar panel installation in low income communities and job training for the installation, 2) ground mount solar on HBCU campuses to reduce utility costs, 3) community awareness and education to include youth employment programs, 4) a national HBCU campus energy challenge, 5) STEM-enrichment program for K-12 students, 6) creation of a sustainable business model for each HBCU community, 7) industry wide diversity and inclusion campaign to create career pathways in clean energy, and 8) developing tools and resources that help grow and develop new and existing businesses in the clean energy economy.

Ultimately, the comprehensive strategic implementation plan developed under the grant will be submitted to The JPB Foundation for consideration for a major grant to implement the pilot projects.

The HBCU CEI seeks to bring to scale the Baltimore Solar Initiative, which became of success of how to create jobs and train local residents to join the solar industry workforce while expanding access to solar energy for low-income residents in the communities surrounding Morgan State University. The Baltimore Solar Initiative was co-led by HBCU CDAC participating institution, Morgan State University, and a number of local Baltimore sustainability stakeholders. The HBCU CDAC seeks to replicate that success given its potential to meaningfully impact the lives of individuals with the greatest need.

Participating colleges and universities include:

Benedict College, South Carolina
Claflin University, South Carolina
Coppin State University, Maryland
Florida Memorial University, Florida
Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina
Morgan State University, Maryland
Norfolk State University, Virginia
North Carolina A and T University, North Carolina
Prairie View A and M University, Texas
Southern University, Louisiana
Tennessee State University, Tennessee
Texas Southern University, Texas
University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland
University of the Virgin Island, USVI

About the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition:
The HBCU Community Development Action Coalition promotes, supports, and advocates for historically black colleges and minority serving institutions (MSIs), community development corporations (CDCs), and the community economic development industry whose work creates wealth, builds healthy and sustainable communities, and achieves lasting economic viability. HBCU CDAC fulfills its mission of service to its members working in disinvested urban and rural communities through education, resource development, advocacy, networking, and training.

About The JPB Foundation
The JPB Foundation was established to advance opportunity in the United States through transformational initiatives that empower those living in poverty, enrich and sustain our environment, and enable pioneering medical research.


Dallas Post Tribune
HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant – 3/24
The Triangle Tribune (Durham)
Circulation: 10,000
HBCU-led clean energy initiative receives grant – 3/26
The Carolinian (Raleigh)
Circulation: 1,205
HBCU-Community Development Coalition led clean energy initiative receives grant (pg 7) – 3/22
San Bernardino American News
Circulation: 10,000
HBCU-led clean energy initiative receives grant (pg 7) – 3/22
Inside Philanthropy
UVPM: 158,131
A Rising Foundation Looks to Historically Black Colleges as Clean Energy Leaders 3/28

Interview With Eric Darrisaw Founder of Omniresearch Group and 3DFS

Author:  Ronald Bethea          Published:9/17/2019     PCPC LLC

Eric Darrisaw

Eric Darrisaw


Omniresearch Group

Greater New York City Area


Omniresearch Group (www.omniresearchgrp.com) provides quantitative analytics, workshops, specialized research, consulting and emerging manager services to Plan Sponsors and money managers.

Services include: risk management performance measurement and attribution, asset liability modeling, transition consulting, transaction cost review, peer group analysis and hedge fund portfolio construction

For more information please contact 347 582 7538 or services@omniresearchgrp.com


Join now to see all activity

NFI, Penske to deploy electric trucks in Southern California

Author:       Published: August 28,2019    Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • NFI and Penske will use electric eCascadia trucks built by Daimler in their operations, the automaker said this week on Twitter.
  • Penske will use the trucks in its Southern California network, while NFI will use them in its drayage operations. NFI ordered 10 of the trucks. It’s not clear how many Penske ordered.
  • “NFI will operate the eCascadia as part of its drayage fleet that runs between the Port of Los Angeles and our 15 million sq. ft. distribution campus in Chino, CA,” Bill Bliem, the senior vice president of Fleet Services at NFI, told Supply Chain Dive in an email. “The port operations are perfect for providing feedback on these trucks, and as range and weight capabilities enhance, we intend to expand into other dedicated operations.”

Dive Insight:

NFI’s test case in drayage is a good candidate for electrification, according to Suzanne Greene, the manager of the Sustainable Supply Chains program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Drayage is a good option because they know where their chargers are, they know what their route is,” Greene said in an interview with Supply Chain Dive.

Some drayage operations have even looked into the use of overhead catenary wires to power trucks, she said. The kind of equipment being run by carriers and logistics providers is becoming increasingly important for shippers who are making commitments to reduce their carbon footprint throughout their supply chain.

But it can be difficult for shippers to demand carriers use electric fleets. Greene worked with her colleagues at MIT to see if they could negotiate with big logistics providers bringing goods onto campus to use “electric anything,” she said. “We couldn’t make that happen.”

Greene said they’re still working on it and offering the status as a preferred carrier to whatever company can make it happen. Some companies were eager to meet the request but not able to say yes.

“When we were doing that, I definitely felt like we were pushing the envelope,” she said.

A shipper with more heft in the industry, like Walmart, might have more luck with this kind of demand. But even then, it comes down money. “That is the big question, right?” Greene said. “Who pays?”

U.S.-based shippers interested in picking their carriers based on fuel efficiency can turn to the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay tool to see average fleet emissions. Of course, this average isn’t going to change much with just a handful of electric vehicles, so a direct conversation with the carrier can be helpful, Greene said.

“When people start asking these questions and asking for electrified trucking then the carriers will move,” Greene said. “They want to serve us and make money, but we have to be asking these questions.”

These are not the first carriers to start the process of electrifying their California fleets. DHL announced the addition of 63 electric delivery vehicles earlier this year, and the U.S. Postal Service said it was piloting electric cargo vans for routes in Fresno, California.

A lot of this change is currently taking place in California, where regulations likely play a role. The California Air Resources Board has set rules for truck manufacturers requiring a certain percentage of their sales be electric trucks by specific years, according to Trucks. The CARB recently provided one-on-one assistance to truck drivers and fleet owners looking to understand the latest air quality rules and how to comply.

Dominion launches electric school bus initiative, aims for 100% electric fleet in Virginia territory by 2030

Author: Robert Walton                Published: 8/30/19     Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Dominion Energy on Thursday unveiled an electric transportation initiative aimed at replacing all diesel school busses in its Virginia service territory with electric busses capable of operating as a grid asset.
  • The utility wants to have 50 buses operating by the end of 2020 and 1,000 in 2025. Doubling that, the third phase of the program calls for reaching 100% electric buses by 2030.
  • Dominion says zero-emissions buses will improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, while school districts would also see lower costs. The utility would pick up the price difference in cost between EV and diesel models.

Dive Insight:

Dominion’s bus replacement program looks like an easy win for school districts, but the utility says benefits will extend further by helping manage the electric grid and incorporating renewable energy.

“Once phase 2 is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes,” Dominion said in a statement. The buses will serve as a grid resource by storing wind and solar energy, and then injecting energy onto the grid during peak demand when the buses are not needed for transportation.

Dominion said it plans to offset the additional costs of the electric buses, including charging infrastructure. Operating and maintenance costs are lower with electric school buses, and the utility said this can provide a 60% annual cost reduction for districts.

“We’re committed to lowering our carbon emissions, but we can’t do it alone,” Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II said in a statement. “Transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions in the US … We think that electric school buses will provide a wide range of benefits for the customers and communities we serve, including cleaner air, cost savings for school districts, and enhanced grid reliability.”

The utility will need authorization from the state to move ahead with the program, and it has already brought on board Gov. Ralph Northam, D, who said the state is “leading the way in promoting electric vehicle technology and improving our environment.”

Dominion sad it has planned a “tele-town hall meeting” for Wednesday to provide school districts with more information about the program.

“Bus manufacturers will be able to submit bids through an RFP process and school districts can express their interest in participating in this groundbreaking program to receive the buses as soon as next year,” Dominion said.

The initial rollout is expected to cost $13.5 million, which Dominion saidwould not be passed on to customers.

School buses and other large fleets are being considered for their potential to act as grid resources. Earlier this month, California regulators approved a $1.7 million San Diego Gas & Electric pilot that will connect 10 electric school buses with the state’s energy market.

Former FERC adviser puts $5.7B price tag on PJM’s clean energy market policy

Author: l     Published: 9/3/2019   Utility Dive

PJM’s proposal to prevent state energy policies from affecting market prices is one of several high profile issues that could see advancement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the Aug. 31 retirement of Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur.

But that policy could increase costs in PJM’s $10 billion capacity market by $5.7 billion a year, according to a study released Wednesday by Michael Goggin and Rob Gramlich, vice president and founder, respectively, of consulting firm Grid Strategies.

The report is a way to account for FERC and Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) interference, Gramlich, former advisor to ex-Commissioner Pat Wood, said in an email to reporters. By attempting to remove the market influence of state subsidies, the price floor for capacity auctions would increase and lead to higher near term capacity price charges in customer bills. Grid Strategies’ study says customers in the PJM area would pay on average $6 more on their monthly bills under PJM’s proposal.

“PJM’s markets are currently facing a complex scenario where one state’s policy choices are impacting other states that may not have the same policy view.”

Susan Buehler Spokesperson, PJM Interconnection

Utilities Missing Out On Intelligent Automation Opportunities

Author: CAPGENINI Published: 9/17/2019

The traditional utilities business model is under pressure worldwide, but new technologies have the power to transform the industry. Intelligent Automation opens the possibility of using digital technologies to streamline operations and deliver a better customer experience.
Your competitors are already getting ahead:

  • Vermont Electric Power Company is using data science and machine learning to develop a weather forecasting system. That means more efficient solar and wind farms.
  • GE Renewable Energy is designing virtual wind farms with machine learning to optimize production of individual turbines.
  • Exelon is resolving complaints on outages and bills with an AI-powered chatbot which is reducing churn and improving the customer experience.

Do not get left behind. Resistance to automation can be an issue but these initiatives are vital to meet the growing demand for clean, cheap, reliable energy. Early adopters are already gaining a competitive advantage, so make sure you are ready to deliver the utility of the future. Find the right use cases that can deliver high value with minimal complexity. Read how Intelligent Automation will transform the utilities industry.


Copyright 2019 Industry Dive

Crowdfunding platform launches $20M Opportunity Zone fund

Author: Mary Diduch    Published: September 09, 2019 12:43 PM    TRD NATIONAL

CrowdStreet CEO Tore Steen and vice president Darren Powderly (Credit: CrowdStreet and iStock)

CrowdStreet CEO Tore Steen and vice president Darren Powderly (Credit: CrowdStreet and iStock)

A crowdfunding platform is piling into Opportunity Zones.

CrowdStreet is launching a $20 million fund that will target new developments and redevelopments in small and mid-market designated Opportunity Zones, the Oregon-based firm said Monday.

The firm did not specify in which cities it is looking to place investor capital. However, the targets do not appear to be major gateway markets.

“These markets are up-and-coming metro areas with population and job growth rates that, in many cases, are outpacing larger 24-hour cities such as New York and San Francisco,” said CrowdStreet’s Ian Formigle in a statement.

The fund will be managed through CrowdStreet Advisors, the company’s registered investment advisory service that administers real estate investments for its clients.

Numerous Opportunity Zone-related funds have popped up over the last year and a half, seeking to capitalize on the program that provides long-term investors significant tax benefits for pouring capital into designated regions, most of which are distressed.

Starwood Capital Group and Brookfield Asset Management are among the firms that also launched massive Opportunity Zone funds for projects across the country.

CrowdStreet said it also has raised equity on its marketplace for six projects located in Opportunity Zones. Since its launch in 2014, the firm said it has crowdfunded $700 million in capital through its platform for real estate projects across the country.

Solar ITC Extension Would Be ‘Devastating’ for US Wind Market: WoodMac



The booming U.S. wind industry faces an uncertain future in the 2020s. Few factors are more important than the fate of the solar ITC.

The U.S. is on track to add a record 14.6 gigawatts of new wind capacity in 2020, and nearly 39 gigawatts during a three-year installation boom from 2019 to 2021, according to Wood Mackenzie’s 2019 North America Wind Power Outlook.

But the market’s trajectory begins to look highly uncertain from the early 2020s onward, and solar is one of the main reasons why, the report says.

Since the dawn of the modern American renewables market, the wind and solar sectors have largely been allies on the national stage, benefiting from many of the same clean-energy policies and sharing big-picture goals. Until recently, wind and solar companies rarely found themselves in direct competition.

But the picture is changing as solar catches up to wind on cost and the grid penetration of renewables surges. What was once a vague alliance between the two fastest growing renewables technologies could morph into a serious rivalry.

While many project developers are now active in both sectors, including NextEra Energy Resources, Invenergy and EDF, the country’s thriving base of wind manufacturers could face tougher days ahead.

The ITC’s inherent advantage

At this point, wind remains solar’s bigger sibling in many ways.

But it’s long been clear that wind would lose its edge at some point. The annual solar market now regularly tops wind. The cost of solar energy is falling more rapidly, and appears to have more runway for further reduction. Solar’s inherent generation pattern is more valuable in many markets, delivering power during peak-demand hours, while the wind often blows strongest at night.

And then there’s the matter of the solar ITC.

In 2015, both wind and solar secured historic multi-year extensions to their main federal subsidies. The extensions gave both industries the longest period of policy clarity they’ve ever enjoyed, setting in motion a tidal wave of installations set to crest over the next few years.

Even back in 2015, however, it was clear that solar got the better deal in Washington, D.C.

While the wind production tax credit (PTC) began phasing down for new projects almost immediately, solar developers were given until the end of 2019 to qualify projects for the full ITC.

And critically, while the wind PTC drops to nothing after its sunset, commercially owned solar projects will remain eligible for a 10 percent ITC forever, based on the existing legislation. Over time, that amounts to a huge advantage for solar.

In another twist, the solar industry is now openly fighting for an extension of the 30 percent ITC, while the wind industry seemingly remains cooler on the prospect of pushing for a similar prolongation — having said the current PTC extension would be the last.

Plenty of tailwinds, too

If things go well, annual installations could bounce back to near-record levels by 2027 after a mid-decade contraction, the report says. But if they go badly, installations could remain depressed at 4 gigawatts or below from 2022 through most of the coming decade, and that includes an anticipated uplift from the offshore market.

An extension of the solar ITC without additional wind support would “severely compound” the wind market’s struggle to rebound in the 2020s, the report says. The already-evident shift in corporate renewables procurement from wind to solar could intensify dramatically.

The other big challenge for wind in the 2020s is the lack of progress on transmission infrastructure that would connect potentially massive low-cost wind farms in interior states with bigger population centers. A hoped-for national infrastructure package that might address the issue has not materialized.

Even so, many in the wind business remain cautiously optimistic about the post-PTC years, and developers continue to build out longer-term project pipelines.

Turbine technology continues to improve. And an extension of the solar ITC is far from assured.

Other factors that could work in wind’s favor in the years ahead include:

  • The nascent offshore sector, which despite lingering regulatory uncertainty at the federal level looks set to blossom into a multi-gigawatt annual market by the mid-2020s. Lobbying efforts for an offshore wind ITC extension are gearing up, offering a potential area for cooperation between wind and solar.
  • The potential linkage of policy support for energy storage to wind projects, building on the current linkage with solar.
  • Growing electric vehicle sales and a shift toward time-of-use retail electricity billing, which could boost power demand during off-peak hours when wind generation is strong.
  • The land-use advantages wind farms have over solar in some agricultural regions.


Earth to Congress: You Can Deliver a Climate Win Today

Author:         Published: 

The solar ITC is set to begin phasing down for new projects at the end of this year.

The solar ITC is set to begin phasing down for new projects at the end of this year.

As politicians eye 2020 elections, they’re missing a glaring opportunity to deliver a win on climate for all Americans.

While a major climate bill seems unlikely in advance of the 2020 election, Congress doesn’t need to wait to take action on our energy future. We already have proven, successful policies on the books that can help.

Earlier this summer, more than 900 solar companies sent a letter to Congress calling for an extension of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). Without politically viable options on the table to address climate change, the ITC is the strongest policy we have to create clean energy jobs, invest billions into our economy, and power our country with carbon-free and reliable solar energy.

We know the ITC works — it’s a proven bipartisan tax policy that helped create the solar industry we know today. Since its inception in 2006 under President Bush, solar prices have dropped more than 80 percent and cumulative solar deployment has increased by more than 10,000 percent. The ITC has generated $140 billion in private investment, created thousands of U.S. businesses and more than 200,000 jobs.

This American success story is still being written, and we have a chance to build on it with an extension of the ITC. Preliminary research from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables shows that by 2030, an extension of the credit would result in an additional 81 gigawatts of solar deployment. To put that in context, extending the ITC would result in 363 million fewer metric tons of CO2 emissions added to our atmosphere from 2020 to 2030. Those are real results for our climate and our economic future.

Looking ahead to 2030, solar will be the leading source of new electricity generation as cities and states aim to power their operations with increasing amounts of renewable energy on short timelines.

To be clear, the solar industry makes a strong business case on its own. Regardless of what happens in Washington, the industry will keep growing. It’s not about standing on our own two feet but about maximizing the benefits of this clean energy resource for all Americans.

Polling shows that Republicans and Democrats agree that there is a need to address climate policy. The costs of not acting will be in the trillions of dollars.

Our push to extend the ITC is about accelerating the growth of energy sources that preserve the climate and public health. Through policy certainty and the right recipe for private investment, we can deploy the 420 gigawatts of solar we’ll need to reach our 2030 goals. It’s about companies hiring more workers from communities across the country and it will spur innovation. Letting the ITC expire will effectively stifle market opportunities for the 10,000 companies that work in the industry today, and to whose benefit?

As we race ahead to the 2020s — what we’re calling the Solar+ Decade — solar will combine with storage, wind and other renewables to completely reshape our energy landscape. To do this, we need the right policy mechanisms in place. The ITC is one piece of this puzzle, and we’ll need to continue our state-level advocacy efforts as incumbent generators fight to stave off obsolescence.

Already, members of Congress are beginning to see the importance of this policy to so many Americans. A bipartisan coalition recently introduced the Renewable Energy Extension Act, which calls for a five-year extension of the ITC.

As Congress returns from August recess, one thing should be crystal clear: Now is not the time to turn our backs on one of the most successful federal policies we have to reduce emissions, today.


Abigail Ross Hopper is president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade organization for the U.S. solar energy industry.

2019 Maryland Solar Congress

Author: Lauren Barchi            Published: August 27, 2019          www.solarunitedneighbors.org

Join solar supporters from around the state for a day of learning and celebration

Dear Ronald,

We’re excited to share with you a day full of solar learning, sharing, and celebrating at the 2019 Maryland Solar Congress. We’ve lined up a full slate of presentations, group discussions, and workshops designed for every level of solar knowledge. Whether you’re a long-time solar advocate, a solar newbie, or somewhere in between, we’ve got something for you.

Saturday, September 14, 2019
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Homer S. Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education (GITE)
1264-1398 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD 20850

RSVP today!

The 2019 Maryland Solar Congress brings together solar supporters from across the state to learn and discuss the current solar landscape and future for solar energy in Maryland. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all attendees. Read on for a full agenda of the day’s activities. The event is FREE and open to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend!

Can’t wait to see you there!

Lauren Barchi
Maryland Program Director
Solar United Neighbors


9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.      Registration, breakfast refreshments

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.    Welcome Remarks

10:40 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.    Presentations – Session 1

–    Solar 101
Learn about how solar works for a residential home—from the equipment, how it connects to your roof, warranties, incentives, and financing options.

–    Community Solar 101
Learn about Community Solar and how it can enable individuals, businesses, or organizations to purchase or lease a “share” in a community solar project.

11:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.    Presentations – Session 2

–    Zoning Laws and Grassroots Advocacy
We will be discussing the recent changes in statewide zoning laws, and what they mean for the future of solar. We will also be talking about how you can get involved with the Solar United Neighbors Advocacy Team to fight for your solar rights!

–    Solar 201 – Battery Storage and Electric Vehicles
Technology is advancing every day. In this discussion, we will break down the new solar-adjacent technologies, and discuss how they integrate with distributed electricity generation.

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.      Lunch and Electric Vehicle Showcase

Sign up to bring an EV »

1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.        Presentations – Session 3

–    Solar Homeowner Panel
Hear from real solar homeowners on what it means to go solar. The panelists are all solar homeowners who will discuss their experience with Solar United Neighbors, and how solar homeownership has benefited them.

–    Solar Democracy and Equity Collaborative
Solar United Neighbors is now a part of the Solar Democracy and Equity Collaborative. This group is made up of 6 pro-solar organizations working to expand access to solar for low and moderate income communities. We will discuss the collaborative and how Solar United Neighbors will be participating.

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.        Participatory Open Forum Discussion

We will re-convene at the end of the day to discuss themes, insights, and questions from the day. During this discussion, we will have staff members available to provide individualized support for solar-related issues and questions.

3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.        Closing remarks

5 Reasons Blockchain Is Game-Changing for Solar Energy

Author:  Gwen Brown        Published: February 21, 2018         Aurora Blog

In December 2017, the value of the digital currency bitcoin hit an all-time high, with a single bitcoin valued at over $17,000. If you had bought $100 of bitcoin in 2010, your investment would have been worth over $28 million at that time, according to Fortune.

That might have you kicking yourself for not paying attention to bitcoin sooner. But if you’re like many of us, bitcoin—and blockchain, the mechanism behind it—remains something of a mystery. In today’s article, we offer a brief introduction to what blockchain is and why this technology matters for solar.

The uses of blockchain go far beyond creating currencies like bitcoin—and have important implications for the energy sector, including the solar industry. First, a huge amount of energy is consumed in the creation (“mining”) of bitcoin and that energy consumption is expected to continue to grow, potentially undoing the climate benefits of clean energy development. On the bright side, however, solar could provide a cost-effective power source for bitcoin mining, presenting business opportunities to solar developers.

Additionally, there are a wide number of potential applications of blockchain technologies that could help advance solar energy—such as enabling peer-to-peer energy sharing, connecting solar projects with interested investors, or providing a mechanism for compensating solar energy producers.

What is blockchain? How does it relate to bitcoin?

[Already a blockchain expert? Jump ahead to see how it’s impacting the solar industry.]

A blockchain is an encrypted digital ledger of transactions which is maintained by a distributed network of users’ computers, rather than a central authority. The name blockchain comes from the fact that bundles of transactions in the ledger are called “blocks.” As they are added to “chains” of existing blocks, transactions in any preceding block cannot be altered or deleted.

A key innovation of blockchains is that although the ledger is public, it is designed so that the record cannot be altered, enabling transactions between parties that would not otherwise trust each other. As Morgan Peck explains in Spectrum, the journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), this approach “reliably incentivizes a network of potentially dishonest participants to process transactions and secure a single version of those events.” (For a detailed overview of blockchain, Peck’s article is an excellent starting point)

The first and most-well known application of blockchain is bitcoin, a digital currency created in 2008 following the Great Recession. It was touted as a currency option that could replace the role of financial institutions, in tracking and reconciling financial transactions, with code and a network of computers around the world. Since then many other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies  have emerged, such as Ethereum, Ripple, and LiteCoin.

A blockchain contains bundles of transactions called blocks.A blockchain contains bundles of transactions called “blocks.” Once added to the chain, the transaction ledger in a block cannot be changed, creating a consistent version of events for all users in the network.

How does a blockchain work?

Different types of blockchains use different mechanisms to “lock” the blocks in the chain and prevent altering of the data. Bitcoin operates with a “Proof of Work” approach, in which adding a block to the chain involves solving complex math problems with powerful computers in order to find the “hash” or code that will “lock” the next block in the chain. “Miners,” who put in the computational work to find these hashes, are incentivized to do so because whoever finds the correct hash is paid in bitcoin for that service.

Finding the right hash requires significant computing power (and thus electricity). As Peck explains, “Any changes in old blocks will result in invalid hashes for all subsequent blocks.” Likening hashes to keys that open locks, she notes “it’s as though the design for the lock at the end of the chain depends on all the locks that came before it.”

This makes attempts to alter prior blocks in the chain almost impossible, because that would require redoing all of the computational work for that block and all subsequent blocks. Additionally, while a would-be attacker attempted to do that with their limited resources, other players in the network would constantly be “mining” new subsequent blocks. Therefore, as long as an attacker does not control more than 50% of the whole system’s computation power, they will never catch up with the rest of the players.

Finally, the system is structured so that the computation involved in finding the right hash gets harder over time. This keeps the rate at which blocks can be added consistent in spite of increases in computing power.

Why does blockchain matter for solar?

1. Bitcoin uses huge amounts of energy

Many of us entered the solar industry to make a positive difference in the world—including helping to tackle climate change. But energy consumption for bitcoin mining could negate climate gains made with clean energy. As bitcoin becomes more and more popular the amount of energy being consumed to create it is reaching astonishing levels.

While bitcoin mining operations are distributed around the world and no single authority tracks exactly how much energy is consumed for these activities, researchers have estimated the scale of the energy impact. Writing in Spectrum, Peter Fairley cites Dutch researcher Sebastiaan Deetman of Leiden University whoestimates the current energy draw of bitcoin at 700 MW per year  and concludes that by 2020 it could reach 4 gigawatts—as much energy as the country of Denmark.

A December 2017 Grist article offered a much more distressing assessment , estimating that, at its current growth rate, the bitcoin network will use more electricity than the United States by 2019. The author asserts that this phenomenon is essentially undoing the gains made in tackling climate change through the growth of clean energy.

Bitcoin mining operations have already caused local grid disturbances in some areas. In Venezuela, where bitcoin is seen by many as a more viable currency than the Venezuelan bolívar (now almost worthless due to inflation), there are reports of bitcoin mining causing instability on the electricity grid .

Bitcoin mining operations require significant computing power and thus electricityBitcoin mining operations  require significant computing power. As a result, they consume massive quantities of electricity. 

2. Powering bitcoin mining with solar could present new opportunities

Despite these troubling energy and environmental implications, the bitcoin network’s need for cheap power raises the question, what are the opportunities for powering bitcoin mining with solar energy?

At least one company is already getting into this space. A company called Envion has a business model that involves the use of mobile bitcoin mining servers (housed in shipping containers) that run on excess energy from solar farms when there is overcapacity in a local area. This makes use of energy that would otherwise go to waste without energy storage, while providing a cheap—and carbon-free—source of power.

Writing for Greentech Media, Tam Hunt highlights the financial opportunities of a number of different approaches for powering bitcoin mining with solar energy . These include the use of off-grid solar farms, or using bitcoin mining as a way to monetize solar production without a power sales contract, which can sometimes be difficult to obtain.

The implications of blockchain for the solar industry extend far beyond bitcoin. While bitcoin uses a blockchain as a financial ledger, tracking the creation and movement of currency, blockchains can be used to create decentralized public ledgers of many other kinds of transactions and agreements. As a result, blockchain opens up many other potential innovations for the solar industry:

3. Blockchain could track and compensate solar energy production

One promising use of blockchain is to verify and compensate the production of solar energy. Writing in MIT Technology Review, Mike Orcutt discusses how these kinds of applications could transform the modern electricity grid , eliminating layers of government and utility intermediaries involved in compensating producers of solar and other renewable energy. This could include using blockchain to track the production and sale of renewable energy credits—likeSRECs.

What is SolarCoin?

A related application already developed is SolarCoin , a blockchain-based cryptocurrency created to incentivize greater investment in solar energy. Whereas bitcoin is created by expending energy for computation, the creation of SolarCoin is tied to solar energy production. Owners of solar systems can register them with the SolarCoin Foundation and receive one SolarCoin for each megawatt hour their system generates.

Although creation of SolarCoins is tied to actual production of solar energy , anyone can purchase existing SolarCoins. Those who want to monetize their SolarCoin  can convert it to bitcoin and from there into the currency of their choice.

Unlike many solar incentives, like the Investment Tax Credit or SRECs, One interesting characteristic of SolarCoin is that it doesn’t just benefit the system owner. In the case of leased residential systems, the homeowner is the one eligible to receive SolarCoin rather than the company that owns the system. The SolarCoin Foundation explains  that they structured the system this way because they believe it more effectively achieves the project’s goal of driving greater solar investment.

Solar installers can also benefit. “For an installer, SolarCoin represents an alternative free revenue for promoting solar power and the use of renewable energies. Installers who refer claimants to the SolarCoin program are entitled to a 10% bounty of the annual claim amount for each facility to be paid out in SolarCoin.

And, as John Cromer of Community.Solar explains , another benefit of SolarCoin is that it provides documentation of the amount of solar energy being produced by small systems, data which is currently poorly tracked. Community.Solar provides solar continuing education courses; they use the SolarCoin blockchain to track course participation, and even offer free SolarCoin registration of solar arrays.

4. Blockchain could facilitate solar energy transactions and peer-to-peer energy purchases

Blockchain could also enable peer-to-peer trading of solar energy—simplifying the process of connecting solar energy producers with consumers who want access to sustainable energy.

Australian startup Power Ledger  is already using a blockchain platform for this purpose. They note that their service allows solar producers to be paid immediately for the energy they produce, in contrast to a typical utility payment cycle of 60 to 80 days.

This approach could provide an alternative to net metering. It could also offer a solution to the same challenge that community solar and virtual net metering seek to solve—allowing households and businesses that can’t go solar themselves to partake in energy from off-site solar projects.

Another example you may have read about is a company called LO3 Energy  that is using blockchain to manage the purchase and sale of energy among participants in a solar-powered community microgrid in Brooklyn.

Blockchain can facilitate peer-to-peer energy trading, letting solar energy producers power consumers in their communitiesBlockchain can facilitate peer-to-peer energy trading. This could enable solar energy producers to provide energy to consumers in their local community. 

5. Blockchain could support investment in solar projects

Blockchain could also be used to make investment in solar projects more accessible, helping to increase solar capacity. Writing in Forbes, Roger Aitken notes that “Sun Exchange, a peer-to-peer solar equipment leasing marketplace based in South Africa, has raised $1.6 million (m) in seed financing… to ‘accelerate global access’ to solar power.” Sun Exchange’s  mission is “to enable anyone to go solar and transition the planet into a clean energy economy of abundance.”

The company essentially offers a solar crowdfunding platform using blockchain. Investors around the world can buy individual solar cells in arrays for schools, hospitals, wildlife refuges, and other customers in developing nations. They operate in areas that lack consistent access to electricity, but where solar energy is an abundant resource. The systems are leased to customers and investors earn income—in bitcoin or South African Rand—through energy payments once the project is deployed.

While many of these applications are in their early stages, it is clear that the potential uses of blockchain for advancing solar and other forms of clean energy, and even transforming how we manage the electricity grid, are significant.

In fact, a team at the Rocky Mountain Institute (whose work on community solar we highlighted in a previous blog post) recently joined forces with an Austrian blockchain startup to create a non-profit called the Energy Web Foundation . The Foundation has created its own blockchain specifically for the energy sector, which they will use to test promising applications for the industry.

Whether you’re a bitcoin enthusiast or cynic, other blockchain applications may one day transform the solar industry so you might want to keep an eye on these emerging developments!

DISCLAIMER: This article has been published for informational purposes only. Aurora Solar does not provide investment, financial or legal advice, and this article is not a recommendation of any cryptocurrency.

  • technology

TECHNOLOGY What Is a Virtual Power Plant & Why Does It Matter for Solar?

Author: Lisa Cohan           Published:   July 31, 2019                    Aurora Blog

The solar industry—and the energy sector more broadly—is changing fast. Virtual power plants are one example of how technology and policy developments are enabling new business opportunities.

Using software, a virtual power plant (VPP) combines power from a number of independent sources located at numerous sites, creating a network that supplies power 24/7.

Because much of the focus of virtual power plants is to provide clean energy, solar companies have opportunities in this market—which expected to yield a compounded annual growth rate of more than 20 percent during 2017-2023 according to one market research report.

Aurora Solar supports both residential and commercial solar design and sales.

Learn more in a free demo.

VPPs Depart from the Centralized Plant Model

Until recently, the U.S. has focused on large centralized plants, often fossil-fuel plants, to provide power to the grid. Power has flowed from the utility to the business or customer.

But now, small and independent producers are producing solar, wind, and other renewable resources from many different locations all over the U.S. and feeding some or all of that power to the grid. (As discussed in some other Aurora Blog articles, the energy produced by grid-tied solar PV systems can provide a valuable revenue stream for customers with net metering.)

The increased production of these distributed resources has disrupted the centralized power model (one reason utilities are changing their compensation policies for solar customers) and there is a need for new ways to integrate these distributed resources. A virtual power plant can do just that, often providing reliable power by utilizing renewable energy and batteries that store the solar.

How the Solar Industry Benefits

Virtual power plants are part of a future trend that will include solar energy. With a VPP, rooftop solar PV systems on homes and businesses, coupled with batteries, can be aggregated and deployed in an optimal way using software to meet energy needs on the grid.

“As subsidies for solar PV decline over time, customers will be seeking new ways to maximize the value from their solar PV systems. Being part of a VPP is a key way to achieve that goal,” says Peter Asmus, research director, Navigant Research.

See what successful solar installers are saying about using Aurora

Important Milestones for Solar-Powered VPPs

Earlier this year, the solar industry experienced a notable milestone with regard to virtual power plants. Sunrun set a precedent for the industry when it became the first company awarded a contract to supply capacity to a wholesale power market from a VPP. Under the contract, Sunrun will provide solar energy and storage aggregated from a number of homes.

What’s exciting about this contract was Sunrun’s ability to compete with other power generators in ISO New England’s Forward Capacity Market, which is designed to ensure the New England power system has enough resources to meet its future demand.

Operators of energy resources such as solar compete in these markets to receive a commitment to supply capacity in exchange for a capacity payment. This VPP contract shows that local solar resources can compete with centralized power in price-sensitive power markets.

Independent system operators like ISO New England are independent, federally regulated entities created to coordinate regional transmission in a way that’s non-discriminatory while ensuring the reliability of the electric system. Sunrun garnered a contract to provide 20 MW of capacity from its home solar and battery systems to the ISO beginning in 2022.

Sunrun offered the power as a “hybrid” resource. That means it will aggregate solar from panels on thousands of houses, instead of from a single facility. New federal requirements calling for a level playing field for all resources made the breakthrough possible.

In another solar industry example, Tesla is working to establish a VPP in South Australia. The plan calls for installing Powerwall 2 battery units and solar panels in homes, and calls for 50,000 connected homes, each with a 13.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) Tesla Powerwall 2 battery and a 5-kW rooftop solar system.

The Bottom Line for Solar Companies

“I would advise solar companies to do their homework about regulations in their specific territories and monitor policy and regulations, supporting changes that enable VPP deployments,” says Navigant’s Asmus.

Virtual power plants, while still in their early stages, can provide a valuable mechanism for aggregated energy from distributed solar PV systems to compete against traditional fossil fuel resources to meet energy needs on the grid. For solar companies with the resources to manage and aggregate many PV systems, virtual power plants can present new and exciting business opportunities.


NC WARN is a 30-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization tackling the accelerating crisis posed by climate change by building people power for a swift North Carolina transition to clean power, and by promoting energy and climate justice.

Author: NC WARN            Published: September 8, 2019           Positivechangepc.com






group shot

NC WARN staff with Rev. Nelson Johnson of Beloved Community Center celebrating the installation of their rooftop solar system for our solar freedom test case.

NC WARN is a member-based nonprofit tackling the climate crisis – and other hazards posed by electricity generation – by watch-dogging Duke Energy practices and building people power for a swift North Carolina transition to clean, renewable and affordable power generation and increased energy efficiency.

In partnership with other groups, and using sound scientific research, NC WARN informs and involves the public in key decisions regarding their health and economic well-being. Dedicated to climate and environmental justice, NC WARN seeks to address the needs of all of the public by intentionally including those often excluded from participation because of racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of oppression.

(Read more about our Equity & Inclusion work.)

About Us

The Urgent Climate Crisis

  • Climate change is devastating millions of people around the world, especially people of color and low-wealth communities who are least responsible for causing the climate crisis. Climate change is very close to moving past a point of no return, accelerating under its own momentum no matter what humans do.
  • Unchecked, climate change would lead to a different planet for which human life is not adapted.
  • NC-based Duke Energy is one of the world’s largest corporate electric utilities and one of its biggest polluters.
  • Through legal and regulatory challenges and direct appeals for cooperation, NC WARN and allies are vigorously pressing Duke Energy to join – or at least stop impeding – the clean energy revolution.
  • That shift could be pivotal in averting a runaway climate-economic-social catastrophe.
  • We’re turning the tide but must quicken the pace. That’s why we need you. Join today!
  • Environmental Justice

NC WARN’s environmental justice work goes back to its beginnings.  Watch our 13-minute video NC WARN Highlights: The First 15 Years to learn more about our early campaigns, including the successful fight against a PCB landfill in Warren County — the very campaign that gave rise to the term environmental justice.

In May 2018, we joined with a dozen other organizations to file a Title VI complaint with the EPA alleging that North Carolina regulators discriminated on the basis of race and income level in issuing permits and certifications for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the route of which would disproportionately affect low-income people and people of color.

Another Environmental Justice concern is factory farming in eastern North Carolina. We’ve cautioned Duke Energy and Duke University against unwarranted enthusiasm for the idea of using hog waste to fuel a campus gas plant and urged them to prioritize the health and safety of hog farm neighbors. We’ve told the NC Utilities Commission to quit pretending biogas from hog waste is a practical renewable energy source.

We established a Hurricane Florence Just Recovery fund and raised over $21,000 for front-line groups in eastern North Carolina (so far: Down East Coal Ash of Wayne County, Pitt County Coalition Against Racism and Peace in the Park of Robeson County). Read Organizing Director Connie Leeper’s op-ed about why.

More Environmental Justice resources:


Power 52 Foundation and Their Mission

Author: I95 BusinessData.com         Published: June 14, 2019

I95 Business - The POWER Behind Power52

I know that we can save underserved communities in Baltimore,” Ray Lewis empathetically declares. With all the negative stories in the press coming out of Baltimore, these may seem like strong words and a challenging goal, but for anyone who has watched and listened to Ray Lewis over the years, one would be foolish to doubt that he will deliver. While people are more familiar with Lewis as the two-time Super Bowl champion and 12-time Pro Bowler for the Baltimore Ravens, he is also a co-founder of Power52, Inc., and vice president of Power52 Energy Solutions. Pairing together Power52 Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, with Power52 Energy Solutions, a for-profit corporation, the mission is to train and employ disadvantaged individuals within the clean energy sector and improve access to clean energy to historically underserved communities in Baltimore and across the nation. Power52 Foundation is led by co-founder and CEO Cherie Brooks, a Baltimore City native who is passionate about transforming the lives of at-risk adults, returning citizens and at-risk individuals in the nation’s historically underserved communities. Brooks wears many hats – leader, fundraiser, educator and sometimes cheerleader – and helps chart a better course for the lives of the men and women who come though the workforce development program she oversees. “Power52 Energy Institute is the first Clean Energy Private Career School approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission,” says Brooks, of the workforce training program. She notes that it is also accredited by The National Center for Construction, Education & Research (NCCER). Each cohort is 11 weeks and includes classroom instruction, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification, CPR training, lab hours and job readiness training. The standardized curriculum covers the basic concepts of Solar Photovoltaic systems and their components. Each Power52 Energy Institute graduate earns a Power52 Certificate of Completion, NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners), NCCER and OSHA-10 credentials, enabling them to immediately enter the clean energy workforce. Jobs after graduation start as high as $19 to $20 an hour. “Even if they decide solar is not for them, they can walk onto any construction site and be prepared to be hired. NCCER has a large footprint in the construction industry, so having that NCCER certification opens doors,” says Brooks. “We’ve also had individuals graduate and go into sales and graphic design because they understand the technical aspect of solar.” Power52 Energy Solutions is actively involved in ensuring that the curriculum is aligned to meet workforce needs. Rob Wallace, co-founder and president of Power52 Energy Solutions, who has more than 11 years’ experience in program management, renewable energy systems design and development, systems implementation, training and technology management, says that one of the first elements of the program is to change how the participants view themselves. “The street way of living has to change. We must reinvent the individual in three ways: spiritual in that your past does not dictate your future; physical through nutrition and health lessons; and technical with the skills to work in the solar industry,” says Wallace. “These individuals have been told they are not smart and will not be successful. We have to tear them down to the foundation and then rebuild them.” Wallace says that one of the key components is mentorship. “I had a mentor in construction – George Brown, who built over 150 churches. CLICK LINK TO READ FULL ARTICLE……











Outages begin to mount as Dorian slams into US

Author: Robert Walton        Published: September 5, 2019      Utility Dive

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 2019: South Carolina Electric & Gas, a Dominion-owned utility, on Thursday morning reported more than 128,000 customers were without power, mostly along the state’s coast. According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian — a Category 3 storm as of Thursday morning at 8 a.m. — was located 70 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.

Hurricane Dorian on Wednesday morning continued its creep toward the U.S. mainland, but had slowed to a Category 2 storm — meaning electric utilities in its path could be spared the worst. But up and down the East Coast they remain on alert, having spent the last week preparing.

Tens of thousands of workers are ready for any necessary restoration work, even as utilities hope for a best-case scenario.

Dorian at 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday was located about 90 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida, moving north-northwest at about 8 mph with sustained winds of 105 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Credit: National Hurricane Center The center warned of a “life threatening storm surge and dangerous winds” for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

South Carolina Electric & Gas says it has 2,000 employees ready to go and 140 crew members from other utilities. Jacksonville-based JEA has crews arriving from Texas. Duke Energy turned a Florida cow pasture into a staging ground for thousands of workers. Santee Cooper brought in additional workers and was preparing to staff call centers 24 hours a day.

Credit: Duke Energy
According to the Edison Electric Institute, utilities in Dorian’s path all activated emergency response plans and pre-positioned workers and equipment in areas most likely to be hit. EEI said crews from at least 36 states, the District of Columbia and Canada have been offered, and “all pre-staging resource needs have been met.” “Due to the uncertain track of the storm, mutual assistance networks continue to stage and reposition crews that are ready to deploy to the areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian,” the group said.

‘A very unpredictable storm’

It has become a familiar routine for utilities on the Atlantic coast, and there are signs that years of practice and grid hardening are paying off.

“We learn from every storm,” Florida Power & Light spokesman Bill Orlove told Utility Dive. “We are always refining how we respond to storms.”

South Florida is expected to miss the brunt of Dorian, but FPL on Tuesdayrestored power to 70,000 customers and warned of more outages to come. Most resulted from trees and vegetation falling on equipment and power lines.

The utility had lined up a workforce of 17,000, Orlove said, with utilities from Maine to California preparing to offer mutual assistance as needed. But as the storm tracked north, the utility was considering shifting crew needs and staging locations.

“Preparations really started last week. … As the storm slowly starts to drift north we’re starting to reconsider those numbers of out of state crews,” Orlove said. “Dorian has been a very unpredictable storm.”

FPL’s preparations, alongside efforts to underground power lines, harden poles and make substations more secure from flooding, have shown results. When Hurricane Wilma struck Florida in 2005, it took more than two weeks for the utility to return power to 95% of affected customers. After Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, it took less than a week to reach that recovery milestone.

“Those improvements have definitely paid off for our customers,” Orlove said.

Once FPL’s territory is in the clear and customer power has been restored, Orlove sad the utility will send its crews to help others.

Relief in Puerto Rico

So far, the worst damage from Dorian is in the Bahamas, where the stormstalled for almost two days as a Category 5. Assessments are still underway, but recovery is expected to cost billions and the death toll of 7 is likely to rise.

It is a scene familiar to Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria two years ago. That storm destroyed the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) utility grid, necessitating a full rebuild. And while that effort has helped strengthen the distribution system, experts on the island say it likely isn’t ready for a real test.

Agustin Carbo, senior manager of microgrids at Environmental Defense Fund, lives in Puerto Rico. He lost power for months when the island’s grid was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, but says it is apparent that improvements have been made — both to the grid, and how the utility prepares for storms.

Before Maria, “there were many flaws in the planning process,” Carbo told Utility Dive.

The island failed to line up mutual assistance, for instance. And its electric grid was rickety from years of little investment. “This time we were more ready,” Carbo said, noting there were mainland utility crews ready to assist and a partially-hardened system as Dorian formed.

Dorian was initially forecast to strike parts of Puerto Rico, but changed course. Carbo says he is thankful because despite improvements, “we are not 100% ready.”

PREPA’s long-term plan for the island envisions eight largely self-sufficient electric minigrids, which Carbo said will make power restoration easier in the future. Technical hearings on the 20-year plan begin Sept. 4, he said. In the meantime, the island’s grid has been improved but remains vulnerable.

“There are still challenges. The utility still has not completed the restoration of some lines. There [are] still a lot of poles that won’t resist a storm,” Carbo said. But, ultimately, utilities and their customers may be at the mercy of nature when storms like Dorian and Maria strike, he added.

“No one could be ready for something so outrageous and so big,” he said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the Jacksonville-based municipally-owned utility, JEA.

Real-life experiences installing charging in condo buildings

Author: Silvia Gonzalez     Published: 8/29/19      Plug In America

We know that a common problem for many EV consumers living in multi-unit dwellings is the difficulty of having access to charging. After the publishing the recent blog post, Installing electric vehicle charging in an apartment or condo building, two of our supporters generously shared their experiences with us in depth. If you have similar experiences to share, add them in the comments below!

Jim S., San Jose, CA

Here is my story of the difficulties I ran into installing an EV charging port in a 200 unit condo building.

I live in San Jose, CA, which is home to perhaps the highest percentage of EVs in the world, so one would think that it would be easy to get a 50A receptacle installed; think again.

In 2015, we sold our house in the suburbs and moved to a 22-story condo building downtown. The purchase was contingent on the approval of installation of an EV charging receptacle. I was the very first person in the condo to request this, so the homeowners association committee was somewhat confused as to how to proceed and what would be required. After some study they concluded that though Pacific Gas and Electric Company provided enough power to the building to support my 50A receptacle, the building circuit breakers were not sized correctly when the building was constructed in 2010 to allow me to add 50 amps to the load. I was told I would have to pay for new building circuit breakers at an estimated cost of $50,000 or more. I told them this didn’t work for me and that I would be cancelling my condo purchase if they didn’t come up with a better solution.

After some research by the electric service company that installed the power services in the building, it was concluded that there was sufficient headroom and power for my EV. The next step was to get a permit from the city of San Jose, hire an electric service company to install the PG&E meter, run the 100 foot or so of conduit and NEMA 14-50 receptacle. This step was expensive, as PG&E installs meters in something called a 4plex which is a unit that supports 4 meters. This means that I would be paying the substantial cost of an installation benefiting the next 3 people wanting an EV charger installed. Fortunately, by this time the seller was desperate to close the sale and paid for half of the installation. I too was anxious to move, but the EV problem caused a delay of three months.

A year later I was able to have an electrician pull new wires in the conduit to support 100 amps and install a 14-50 receptacle for our second EV.

Things learned:

  • Make sure all the details of the EV charger installation arecompletely worked out before you move.
  •  If you think you are ever going to have multiple EVs make sure that you size the meter, conduit and wiring to support 50 amps per car. It is cheaper than doing it later.
  • Older condo buildings are probably under-powered and may not be able to support any EVs. Our building, even though it was built in 2010, can support only a small percentage of the 200 units.
  • Apparently an homeowners association cannot prorate the cost of increasing the power to a condo building amongst all the owners, so if a person requesting an EV receptacle runs into a situation where there has to be a capital expenditure to provide more power to the building, then that cost is paid by the person and not the homeowners association.
David B., Dedham, MA

Here are some observations relating to my experience installing charging in a condo that may be helpful. Conclusions and observations:

  • If you can, start working on the electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) installation well before you get your EV. I did not allow enough time, and I ended up needing a year to go through the approval process, which meant that for eight or nine months, I had to charge elsewhere. In my case, we had to submit three different proposals before we found one that was technically feasible and that the board was willing to approve.
  • Engage an electrician early on. You will need professional input on the possible locations for your EVSE, the costs and difficulties of each possible location, and questions that the condo board or other interested parties may ask. The electrician should help you figure out the best way to solve the problem, not just do the physical work once you have decided how and where.
  • Every situation is unique. It is difficult and probably useless to generalize about installation costs or difficulties. Be wary of other people telling you that their installation cost “only $XXX” and expecting that you can apply that to your location and situation.
  • Engage the condo board and be willing to listen and work with them. Their responsibility is to the entire community. They are also constrained by the documents that govern the condo association and/or its Trust. You may find that it is especially hard to get approval to make any changes to “common” property of the association, as distinct from your own property. For example, you may need to run a power cable through common property to reach your proposed location for your EVSE. The board will have to be sure any such change to the common property is acceptable under the association rules, and possibly may need to get permission from other property owners if a cable run is through other owners’ property. Don’t forget that the board has a lot of other issues to work on besides your charging situation, so be appreciative of their willingness to consider your application.
  • You will probably need an attorney. Condominium law can be complex. In my case, the condo association required me to sign a binding agreement before I could install the EVSE (which is on common property, next to my parking space). So, I needed a lawyer to review the proposed agreement to be sure I could live with it.

New York just passed the most ambitious climate target in the country

Author: David Roberts  Published July 22, 2019     www.vox.com

new york statue of liberty

pdate, July 22: Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act into law. Our explainer, first published June 20, follows:

New York is the fourth most populous state in the US and its third-largest economy. Now it is poised to adopt the country’s most ambitious climate targets, including 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040 and economy-wide, net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.

On Tuesday night, the state Senate passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, and on Wednesday night, the state Assembly passed it. All it requires now is a signature from Gov. Andrew Cuomo.

This is a big deal.

In passing bold climate legislation, New York will follow in the footsteps of Maine, Oregon,Washington, Colorado, New Mexico, California, and New Jersey, all of which have passed substantive clean energy policies in the past year or so. (Hawaii has had its 100 percent renewables target in place since 2015.)

And New York accomplished this feat the exact same way all those other states did it: by electing overwhelming Democratic majorities.

For years, the state Assembly has been under the control of Democrats, but in the Senate, the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a small group of conservative Democrats, caucused with Republicans, effectively giving Republicans control. Cuomo accepted and even encouraged this state of affairs, as it gave him tremendous personal power and infuriated his Democratic critics.

So for four years in a row, a broad coalition pushed the Climate and Community Protection Act (CCPA) through the assembly only to have it die in the Senate.

However, in the 2018 elections, the IDC got crushed, Cuomo got scared to the left by a challenge from Cynthia Nixon, and Democrats finally got the dual majorities they needed, which they immediately put to use with measures on voting rights, abortion, and protections for renters.

Cynthia Nixon Holds Primary Night Watch Party In Brooklyn With Other Progressive Democrats On The Ballot
Cynthia Nixon concedes the 2018 Democratic primary in New York.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Last year, Cuomo put forward his own climate bill, the Climate Leadership Act, which he referred to as a Green New Deal for New York, annoying pretty much everyone. That bill contained electricity carbon goals but no economy-wide carbon goals, and nothing at all on equity.

But activists kept pushing (recently, a broad group of scholars intervened to help them), and finally, late on Wednesday night, the very last day of the legislative session, the bill was passed. (Cuomo is expected to sign it this week.) Miracles are real!

So what’s in it?

The bill that passed — renamed, for reasons no one can quite explain, the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) — is closer to the old CCPA than it is to the governor’s bill, but it has a few key changes and amendments, which we’ll get into below.

Altogether, the final product represents an enormous victory for New York’s climate advocacy community, especially in the face of Cuomo’s long record of … unhelpfulness. Let’s have a look.

100 percent, economy-wide net-zero carbon emissions by 2050

Originally, the CCPA targeted zero carbon emissions, economy-wide, by 2050. After the compromise, the CLCPA now targets net zero by 2050. (With an interim target: 40 percent reductions from 1990 emissions by 2030.)

The difference between “zero” and “net zero” is that only 85 percent of the reductions must come from New York’s own energy and industrial emissions; the remaining 15 percent can come from carbon offsets (e.g., from forestry or agriculture).

Activists are not thrilled with this, but it was arguably a necessary concession. There’s a case to be made that the state simply doesn’t have the statutory authority necessary to get to zero — there will inevitably be some hard-to-reach emissions, outside state authority, that require offsetting. Offsets also create an income stream for good forestry and ag practices.

The bill contains a number of provisions meant to avoid some of the negative effects offsets have had in other programs.

Stationary electric sources — power plants — cannot avail themselves of offsets. They are often located in disadvantaged communities, and anyway, it is well understood how to eliminate their emissions.

Offsets are reserved for facilities or processes where the technology for full elimination of carbon is not yet commercially available (think, for example, cement mixing). For those facilities, there will be a review every four years to ensure that they are using the best available technology (BAT) for reducing emissions before purchasing offsets.

All offsets must come from within 25 miles of the purchaser, to ensure that the benefits stay within local communities. Offset projects must benefit the local environment and, where possible, reduce co-pollutants. Biofuels and waste-to-energy projects are prohibited.

Nevertheless, put aside that last 15 percent. Just getting to 85 percent carbon-free will be an enormous lift for an industrialized economy like New York’s. This is the most stringent economy-wide carbon target in the US, in one of the most challenging states. It’s a new benchmark.

Wind turbines along the coast of Lake Erie, in Buffalo, New York.
Wind turbines along the coast of Lake Erie in Buffalo, New York.

The plan to reduce emissions will be made by a council

Rather than specifying the mechanisms by which emissions will be reduced, the legislature set up a process to create a scoping plan, led by a 22-member Climate Action Council. The council will be composed of the heads of various New York state agencies, along with members appointed by the governor, the Senate, and the Assembly. (This is somewhat similar to how California handed over the policy details to its Air Resources Board.)

The council will convene advisory panels on various specific subjects (transportation, land use and local government, industry, etc.) and consult them in developing the scoping plan. It will also convene a just-transition working group to research and advise on workforce training, job impacts, and related matters. And it will consult with the climate justice working group. (That working group is created elsewhere in the bill; it will contain representatives from disadvantaged communities and environmental justice groups, as well as representatives from trade-exposed industries.)

Part of the council’s challenge will be integrating and building on all of the state’s existing climate and clean energy programs. The Natural Resources Defense Council cites “the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) to cap and cut carbon pollution from power plants; the $1 billion NY-Sun program to scale up solar power; ChargeNY, EVolve NY, and the Drive Clean Rebate to expand electric vehicle (EV) infrastructure statewide and get more EVs on the road; the state’s initiative to deploy 3,000 megawatts of battery storage by 2030; and a successful Clean Energy Standard to expand renewable energy penetration.”

Stitching all that together will take some doing, and the mandate is wide open. The council could suggest a carbon pricing system (to supplement or enhance RGGI), a variety of regulations, or, like most states, a mix. There are a few parameters: Emission reductions must be real and verifiable; they must be distributed equitably; they must not increase emissions of “co-pollutants”; and they must minimize so-called “leakage,” whereby emitting facilities simply relocate outside the state.

Every four years, the council will issue a comprehensive report on state greenhouse gas emissions and progress, and adjust its plan as needed. (The state will also integrate a social cost of carbon into all agency decisions.)

100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040

Those who understand deep decarbonization understand that the electricity sector is key to the process. It is both the easiest sector to decarbonize and a means through which to decarbonize the others. (Electrify everything!)

The electricity targets in the bill actually got strengthened in the final compromise. Whereas the CCPA targeted 50 percent renewables by 2030, the CLCPA targets 70 percent renewable electricity by 2030 and 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2040. (The mechanism for this will be the state’s renewable portfolio standard, administered by the Public Service Commission.)

New York now joins California, Nevada, Hawaii, Washington, New Mexico, Washington, DC, and Puerto Rico in targeting 100 percent clean power.

Also, just for kicks, the bill targets 9,000 MW of offshore wind energy by 2035, 6,000 MW of solar energy by 2025, and a 23 percent increase in energy efficiency.

Solar panels over New York City.
Solar panels over New York City.
dr new york solar

A third of the benefits go to frontline communities

Originally, the CCPA stipulated that 40 percent of all state investments in climate and clean energy go to “disadvantaged communities” — those most vulnerable to the effects of climate change or most threatened by the transition away from fossil fuels.

Now, after some backroom wrangling, the language has become slightly more opaque. Here’s the relevant section of the CLCPA (just to give you a flavor of what I’ve been squinting at all day):

State agencies, authorities and entities, in consultation with the environmental justice working group and the climate action council, shall, to the extent practicable, invest or direct available and relevant programmatic resources in a manner designed to achieve a goal for disadvantaged communities to receive forty percent of overall benefits of spending on clean energy and energy efficiency programs, projects or investments in the areas of housing, workforce development, pollution reduction, low income energy assistance, energy, transportation and economic development, provided however, that disadvantaged communities shall receive no less than thirty-five percent of the overall benefits of spending on clean energy and energy efficiency programs, projects or investments and provided further that this section shall not alter funds already contracted or committed as of the effective date of this section.

Isn’t legislation fun to read?

Anyway, “40 percent of the investments” has become “probably 40 percent, but no less than 35 percent, of the benefits of the investments.” That’s a bit fuzzier, which is aggravating to the environmental justice community. “Frontline communities need more than a vague commitment for benefits,” Annel Hernandez of the NYC Environmental Justice Alliance told me. “We need direct investments to catalyze our transition to the clean renewable energy economy.”

It’s not yet clear how “disadvantaged communities” will be defined for the purposes of the bill (the climate justice working group will develop criteria, drawing on data from community air-monitoring systems). And it’s not yet clear how “benefits of the investments” will be defined. That’s likely going to mean an annual push-pull battle between activists and state regulators.

Still, it’s worth taking a step back and noting what a huge commitment this is. In California and Oregon, 40 percent of the revenue from cap and trade is set aside for disadvantaged communities, but that’s a single pot of money. New York’s bill ensures that 40 percent (or, ahem, no less than 35 percent) of all state climate and clean energy spending — funds from RGGI, the state’s Clean Energy Fund, any future initiatives established by this program — goes to disadvantaged communities.

That’s potentially many billions of dollars, spread across a range of agencies and programs. It could be a huge engine for lifting up vulnerable communities across the state.

The bill got somewhat screwed on job quality provisions

The bill originally contained a number of provisions meant to ensure that the state creates high-quality jobs, including measures on prevailing wages, apprenticeship programs, preferences for women- and minority-owned businesses, and more.

All of it got stripped out, because elsewhere in the legislature, a different deal was being hammered out, which would have put in place wage and job standards across all state government programs, not just the clean energy ones.

Long story short, at the last minute, that deal fell apart. All that’s left in the CLCPA? “The Act shall be subject to current prevailing wage law.”

That’s kind of thin gruel, especially for the unions that showed up to support the bill: Service Employees International Union 32BJ, New York State Nurses (NYSNA), the Teamsters, and others.

But the broad coalition that has come together over the years behind this bill — NY Renews now boasts more than 180 members, from unions to community groups to state and national environmental groups — is not finished. It plans to continue pushing for job quality measures. And it’s also thinking longer term, about further measures, including something like a tax-and-invest system (like Oregon’s). The struggle will continue.

NYC Mayor De Blasio And Governor Cuomo Discuss Amazon 2nd Headquarters Decision
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Why this is a very big deal

Advocates didn’t get everything they wanted, but in the big picture, the CLCPA is a huge, huge win. The country’s third-biggest economy has passed its most ambitious economy-wide climate targets — some of the most ambitious climate targets in the world. And hitting those targets will generate ongoing waves of investment into the state’s worst-off communities.

It is a win for the state’s economy, which will see a boom in innovation and investment. It’s a win for environmental justice, shifting state funding to those most vulnerable. And it’s a win for the climate.

What remains to be seen are the longer-term reverberations this recent flurry of state action will produce. As of now, two of the nation’s three biggest state economies — the West Coast’s biggest and the East Coast’s biggest — are heading for carbon neutrality by midcentury. In between them, a patchwork of climate-forward states is forming.

Right now, it’s happening all and only where Democrats take overwhelming power. But at a certain point, the size of the market for zero-carbon technologies, and the investment that market attracts, will grow so large that other states will jump on board so they aren’t left behind. Companies are not going to want to make two versions of all their products, a dirty version and a clean version. They will want standards harmonized, and standards tend to get harmonized upward, as California has shown again and again.

This is what climate victory, if there is any such thing, is going to look like in the US. It’s not going to happen through persuasion, whereby the fossil fuel industry realizes the error of its ways and releases federal politicians from its grip. The Green New Deal is probably not going to be built in one grand spasm of federal action. Rather, if it happens at all, it will be through grinding out victories where Democrats control things — some states and lots and lots of cities — until economic and social tipping points are reached.

No one knows exactly when that might happen. But there’s no doubt that New York has just accelerated the schedule

Reading Your Electricity Bill: A Beginner’s Guide

Author: Trevor House Trevor House     Published: 10/ 7/2016  blog.aurorasolar.com/

Utility Bill -What Solar Contractors Should Know Blog Post Cover - small

You might not give your electricity bill much thought—except perhaps to lament how high it is—but electricity bills actually provide a lot of valuable information to inform the process of installing solar.

For solar professionals, these bills are an easy way to quickly understand how much energy a customer uses, which is a key factor in determining what size PV system will meet their needs. They also show how the local utility company calculates a customer’s electricity charges, which can have important design implications.

For homeowners or businesses considering solar, having a deeper understanding of the information contained in electricity bills can offer insights into whether installing solar makes sense, as well as whether switching to another billing plan may increase savings.

In this article, we explain the terms, sections, and calculations in an electricity bill and how these change when a customer installs solar. In the next article in our Solar PV Education 101 series, we explain how this information can be used to size a solar installation.

Rate Plans

As you probably know, an electricity bill is a charge for the electricity a home or business consumes. This consumption is measured in units called kilowatt-hours (kWh) and customers are charged a per-kWh rate. These rates differ across utilities and are calculated differently depending on the customer’s “rate plan.” Rate plans specify the rules for how customers’ bills are calculated and utilities typically offer multiple types.

Common rate plans include fixed rates, time of use (TOU) rates, and tiered rates. While a fixed rate plan charges the same amount for every kWh consumed, under TOU rates and tiered rates the price per kWh changes depending on the time of day (peak vs. off-peak) or the total amount of energy consumed, respectively. (For more in-depth discussions of different utility billing approaches, see our Solar Utility Bill series.)

A customer’s rate plan will determine what is displayed in the different sections of their bill. It also impacts how much a customer pays; depending on their energy consumption patterns, customers may pay more or less for the same amount of energy under different plans.

Utility Bill Sections

An electricity bill is broken down into several different sections, each of which provides important information. While the names and contents of each section often differ depending on the utility, we explain some of the most common sections below:

Account Summary

The Account Summary generally appears on the front and center of the bill. This section provides an overview of the account status, including the previous account balance, any payments made on the previous balance, and the new amount owed for the current billing period. If the customer gets electricity and gas from the same utility, the Account Summary will include charges for both of these services.

Sample account summary from PPL ElectricSample account summary from PPL Electric.

Bill Details

This section shows the number of kWh the customer consumed during the billing period and the rate they pay per kWh. What is shown in this section and how it is formatted will change depending on the utility and rate plan.

Electricity Charges Breakdown

The per-kWh rate shown in the “Bill Details” section is made up of many smaller charges. In addition to covering the cost of the energy consumed, some of these charges are used to maintain and upgrade the electric grid and to fund other state-sponsored energy initiatives. The names and amounts of these electricity charges vary by utility, but generally include a generation, transmission, and distribution charge.

  • Generation Charge: This charge supports the cost of producing the electricity used.
  • Transmission Charge: This charge supports the cost of transmitting electricity from power plants, over high-voltage lines and towers, to the distribution system.
  • Distribution Charge: This charge supports the cost of the lower-voltage system of power lines, poles, substations, and transformers that connects to homes and businesses.

Sample energy charges from MC2 Energy (fixed rate plan)Sample energy charges from PECO Energy Company (fixed rate plan).

If you are interested in your utility’s additional electricity charges, visit their website for further information.

Usage Profile

Many utilities provide a monthly usage profile, showing a customer’s total consumption each month over the past year. This gives a good visual representation of how much energy they consume throughout the year and sometimes even compares the current year’s consumption to that of years past.

Sample usage profile from PECO Energy CompanySample usage profile from PECO Energy Company.

How Electricity Bills Change with Solar

When a homeowner or business in the U.S. installs solar panels, they will typically become a net metering customer. Net metering is a policy used throughout most of the country that credits solar customers for excess energy produced by their solar panels. This changes the way these customers’ bills are calculated. After installing solar, a customer’s bill may include some of the following terms:

  • Minimum Delivery Charge: This is a charge that some utilities require solar customers to pay to support the cost of maintaining and upgrading the grid. This charge ensures that enough funds are available to maintain the grid in the case that solar customers produce enough energy to pay nothing for electricity.
  • Net Usage: This represents the total electricity consumption minus the total amount of electricity sent back to the grid by the solar installation. Net usage may be represented differently for customers on a time of use (TOU) rate plan. This is because the utility separates the day into “peak” and “off peak” hours, and charges different rates for energy used during each time period. In this case, net usage may be split into “Net Peak Usage” and “Net Off-Peak Usage.”

Additionally, the timing of bills may change after installing solar, depending on the utility. Some utilities bill solar customers every month, while others bill on an annual basis. This annual statement is sometimes referred to as a “true-up,” and reconciles the customer’s energy production and consumption in a single statement at the end of a 12-month period.

If you’re new to the solar industry, getting to know the nuances of electricity bills can be a helpful starting point for understanding other aspects of the solar design and sales process—like how to size a solar PV system (which we delve into in thenext article in this series). As a utility customer, understanding your electricity bill is an easy way to identify potential savings and can help determine whether installing solar makes sense for you.

About Solar PV Education 101

Reading Your Electricity Bill: A Beginner’s Guide is part of Solar PV Education 101, a six-article series that serves as an introductory primer to the fundamentals of solar PV for beginners.

Article 1: The Beginner’s Guide to Solar Energy
Article 2: How a Photovoltaic System Produces Electricity
Article 3: Reading Your Electricity Bill: A Beginner’s Guide
Article 4: How to Size a PV System from an Electricity Bill
Article 5: Shade Losses for PV Systems, and Techniques to Mitigate Them
Article 6: The Basic Principles that Guide PV System Costs

  • Solar PV Education 101

SOLAR UTILITY BILL What Solar Contractors Should Know About Customers’ Utility Bills

Author: Gwen Brown   Published : August 30, 2019         Blog.Aurorasolar.com

Utility Bill -What Solar Contractors Should Know Blog Post Cover - small

Utility bill information is a prerequisite for building an accurate solar design and quote for a prospective customer. If at all possible, you want to have this information before you meet with the customer so that you can have an accurate and compelling proposal and be able to sell more effectively.

As a solar contractor, you’ll likely need to walk the customer through the information they need to provide, so it’s important that you’re well versed in the data available from the customer’s electric utility company.

That includes knowing what the company’s bills look like and how to read them, how to navigate the utility’s website to access billing information, and what types of utility rates the company offers. This will help avoid getting inaccurate numbers or having to go back to the customer for additional information because you didn’t get what you needed the first time.

In today’s article, we explore some key things to make sure you know about the customer’s utility bill and the practices of their utility company to ensure you’re getting the bill data you need. In a subsequent article, we’ll highlight different options and formats for getting customers’ utility bill data—since getting that information is a common initial barrier in the solar sales process.

Solar software from Aurora makes it easy to model your customer’s energy usage
and create an optimal solar design and proposal. See how in a live demo! 

Where Can You Find the Customer’s Total Monthly kWh Usage?

Once you get your prospective solar customers’ electricity bill, you need to know what you’re looking at. A critical piece of data you’ll be looking for is how many kilowatt hours the customer used in a given month and where this data is located on the bill. This is key because it will enable you to appropriately size the PV system for the customer’s needs and accurately estimate how much the customer will save with your solar design.

Often finding the total kilowatt hour consumption is straightforward, but other times it may require a little more work. Aurora Solar team member Elliot Goldstein encountered this firsthand in his prior role as Sales Team Lead for a leading residential solar company that sold to 16 U.S.

He explains, “Some utilities give you a 30 day historical average. You’ll then need to multiply that to get a monthly total. Others, like LADWP, give you the total kilowatt hour usage for every two months. So you literally need to divide in two. It really depends on the utility; you need to be familiar with the billing practices of the customer’s specific utility to avoid being tripped up by these kinds of nuances.”

Does the Electricity Bill Include Historical Data? If So, Where?

Many, though not all, electricity bills include historical data showing how much electricity the customer has used in past months throughout the year. This is highly valuable data as it allows you to more accurately model the customer’s energy consumption. If your customer’s utility doesn’t include historical data, you may want to consider asking for their energy usage in more than one month.

Software like Aurora, which accepts a variety of utility data formats and offers tools for estimating energy consumption in months you don’t have data for, can make your work easier. But like all modeling tools, the data you enter must be accurate in order to get accurate results. And the more months of data you can include, the more finely tuned your results will be.