Author: Jillian Hishaw June 21st, 2018 Newfoodeconomy.org
The Industrial Hemp Program outlined in the current Senate Farm Bill could upend the separate-but-unequal funding model of the past. But only if legislators make it so.
Today, in a second vote, the House passed its messy version of the farm bill. As this legislative skirmish gobbles up the headlines, remember that the Senate quietly passed its own version out of committee earlier this month—one that includes a plan to legalize hemp production.
If adopted, that plan would allocate funding for schools that want to conduct hemp research. With this new money, legislators could make huge progress in undoing more than a hundred years of inequality in the way land-grant universities are funded.
But it’s not there yet. As written, the Industrial Hemp Program doesn’t specify which schools can qualify for research funding. With a few strokes of the pen, however, legislators could make a tiny change to reserve that money for land-grant universities, a change that would be largely invisible to a casual observer. But for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), it could provide crucial support for chronically underfunded research programs. Through this pilot, there’s a real opportunity to start leveling the playing field for HBCUs that have had to jump through hoops since the 1890s to get the same funding their predominantly white counterparts receive automatically.
Photographed above is a hemp research plot at the University of Kentucky, a land-grant institution.
Quick history lesson: In 1862, Abraham Lincoln signed the Morrill Act, effectively creating the land-grant institution system overnight. These schools were meant to stimulate innovation in agricultural research and provide technical assistance to farmers. Those first institutions were given free land and guaranteed federal funding as long as their home states promised to match the federal support dollar-for-dollar. Most of them get automatic funding from their states every year.In 1890, the federal government created 19 HBCU land-grant institutions. These institutions were given money—not land—to establish their presence. Just like the 1862 institutions, they are required to get half their funding from sources other than the federal government. But unlike the 1862 schools, their home states aren’t required to comply with the dollar-for-dollar federal match. What often happens instead is that HBCUs have to come up with the 50-percent match themselves, while nearby 1862 universities receive guaranteed annual federal and state funding automatically.
It may seem like a small difference, but the end result is a large disparity in funding for HBCUs. Lincoln University in Missouri, for instance, has to move money around in its own budget to meet the 50-percent federal matching requirement, which it often falls short of. Between 2000 and 2017, Lincoln University received $103 million in federal funding. By contrast, just 31 miles down the road, another land-grant university—the University of Missouri-Columbia—received $234 million from the state in 2017 alone.
The Industrial Hemp Program may be promising for HBCUs in desperate need of research dollars.
The federal government has repeatedly recognized that funding disparities in land-grant universities are a problem. In March of this year, the Senate approved a 14-percent, one-year funding increase for all HBCUs to help cover costs. And the “Equity in Education Land-Grant Status Act of 1994,” Section 7402 of the Senate’s farm bill, appropriates funding and research support specifically for land-grant tribal colleges and universities with no match requirement. The government could easily add HBCUs to this provision and preserve the 14-percent increase in perpetuity.State hemp programs have already begun to close the funding gap in agricultural research at land-grant universities. Of the 37 states that have passed laws regarding industrial hemp, 12 are home to HBCUs and Native institutions classified as land-grant schools.
Most states with hemp laws have established pilot programs that include funding for university research. Some states have gone so far as to make sure that research money is designated for land-grant universities. In North Carolina, for example, the hemp law specifically states that research will be conducted in partnership with North Carolina State University and North Carolina A&T University, which is a HBCU. And Florida cited the University of Florida and Florida A&M University, also a HBCU, as its primary research stations.
Lawmakers have the opportunity to reserve research funding for land-grant universities, providing crucial support for historically underfunded schools.
These universities have used state-sponsored hemp research funds to spark innovation and cultivate strategic partnerships in the hemp and medical marijuana industries. The University of Maryland-Eastern Shore, a HBCU that recently won a case against the state over equitable funding, has conducted on-farm medical marijuana research. It has also launched, in its School of Pharmacy, an introductory class on the use of medical marijuana, in partnership with a local doctor who owns a dispensary. Maryland has even established the Eastern Shore Innovation Center, a co-working laboratory where paying tenants work on product development for medical marijuana.Kansas and Oklahoma passed their hemp pilot programs in April and included research funding for institutions like Langston University, a HBCU in Oklahoma, and Haskell Indian Nation University in Kansas. Unlike some of the other states, however, Oklahoma is allocatingresearch dollars to any college or university with a minimum soil science curriculum, reducing the amount of funding open to Langston University, an institution created specifically for agricultural research.
The Industrial Hemp Program outlined in the current Senate Farm Bill would take precedence over existing state programs, leaving an opening for research funding to follow in the same separate-but-unequal model of the past. But the Senate has the opportunity to reserve the research funding for land-grant universities, providing crucial support for historically underfunded schools. Growing hemp can be a lucrative path for HBCUs and farmers of color. However, legislators continue to neglect the need to ensure equity in HBCU funding in the new farm bill.
1. Where can I obtain help with paying my heating and electric bills?
The Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP) is available to help consumers
who need help with paying their winter heating and/or yearly electric bills.
Consumers may apply for the Maryland Energy Assistance Program (MEAP) for
help with their heating bill (gas, electric or oil). Payments are made directly to
your fuel provider or utility company one time per year. In addition, consumers
may apply for the Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP). This program
provides assistance dollars that are applied to reduce future electric bills. The
consumer is required to participate in budget billing to receive this grant. The
grant is available once per program year. In addition, consumers may be eligible
for help with past due electric bills provided they had not received arrearage
retirement within the past seven years. To obtain more information, including the
income eligibility requirements, contact OHEP.
In addition, consumers may contact the Fuel Fund of Maryland. The Fuel Fund
pays a portion of an eligible customer’s outstanding bill and you are responsible
for paying the rest. You must have received all other government and program
help first before contacting Fuel Fund. Households can receive help from Fuel
Fund once every 12 months.
2. If I receive a termination notice, what help can I obtain from the Office of
External Relations (OER)?
If you receive a termination notice, you must first contact the utility company to
request an extension and/or a payment arrangement. Often if you contact the
utility before the notice expires, the utility will try to work with you as long as
you are able to make a reasonable offer to pay what you owe. If the utility is not
willing to give you an extension and/or payment arrangement, then you can
contact OER for assistance.
OER is not a consumer advocacy office. OER will try to assist you with
obtaining an additional extension or payment arrangement. However, you are
required to tell OER how you intend to pay on your past due bill in addition to
keeping up on current charges. OER will refer you to the OHEP, Fuel Fund and
may suggest additional places for you to contact.
3. How do I contact OER?
OER staff is available to assist you Monday through Friday, except holidays,
between 9 a.m.-Noon and 1-4 p.m. To reach OER call toll-free at 1-800-492-
0474, option #3 then press #1or call (410) 767-8028, press #1.
You can also file an online request for an extension and/or payment arrangement
through our website.
4. My gas and/or electric service has been turned off – what should I do?
If you gas and/or electric service has been turned off, the first thing you should do
is contact the utility to find out what they are requiring as payment to have them
restore your service. The utility by law can require that you pay the entire past
due bill, a reconnection fee, and part of a deposit as a condition to restore your
service. If you are unable to pay the amount the utility is requiring that you pay,
you should seek assistance from the Office of Home Energy Programs (OHEP)
first. If you qualify for assistance, your Maryland Energy Assistance Program
(MEAP) grant can be used to pay off your arrearage. In addition, you should
apply for the Electric Universal Service Program (EUSP). This program provides
assistance dollars that are applied to reduce future electric bills. You are required
to participate in budget billing to receive this grant. In addition, you may be
eligible for help with past due electric bills provided you had not received
arrearage retirement within the past seven years. Finally, you should apply for the
Utility Service Protection Program (USPP). As a USPP participant, you can have
your service reconnected between November 1 and March 31 without paying a
reconnection fee and deposit. To obtain more information about these programs,
including the income eligibility requirements, contact OHEP.
After you applied for these grants and if you still do not have enough to get the
service reconnected, you should contact the Fuel Fund of Maryland. The Fuel
Fund pays a portion of an eligible customer’s outstanding bill and you are
responsible for paying the rest. You must have received all other government and
program help first before contacting Fuel Fund. Households can receive help
from Fuel Fund once every 12 months.
Additional referral information is provided
As part of the VW settlement, Electrify America and its partner SemaConnect are taking applications, first-come, first-served, for grants that cover installation, purchase and maintenance of charging in Multi-family housing (condos, apartments, townhouses, etc) and Workplaces, in the Washington DC area.
Grants are available for up to $75,000 for multi-family charging and for up to $100,000 for workplace charging, including:
Network Services – Through 12/31/2026
Warranty Services – Through 12/31/2026
In other words, a turn-key solution enabling EV and PHEV drivers to charge successfully at home and work.
Given the abundance of multi-family housing in the Washington DC area, EVADC often hears from folks living in apartments, town-homes, condos, etc, that they would consider buying EV’s and PHEV’s if they only had home charging, in a similar fashion to the way single-family homeowners do. Here’s your chance to get a first-class Level 2 (about 30 miles of range added per hour of charging) installation at your apartment, condo or town-home. This is the type of charging in the majority of single-family homes
The “Charging Pyramid”. Cars spend most of their lives parked at home.
or call SemaConnect directly at 800-663-5633. Joseph or Jesus will assist you determining the next step in the application process.
Remember that VW wants to find multifamily and workplace charging sites. They are required to to find appropriate sites and spend their money as part of the diesel settlement. This is a great opportunity to address the vital need for multifamily and workplace charging in the Washington DC area! Take advantage of it!
Published:U.S._Department_of_Education: June 28,2018
The National Museum of American History (NMAH) provides experiential learning internships in a variety of fields (i.e., public relations, exhibition research, and project design). Interns learn from knowledgeable mentors and are exposed to enrichment activities ranging from behind-the-scenes collection tours, career readiness workshops, director’s talks, and field trips. The deadline for submitting applications is July 1, 2018 for both summer and fall internships.
NMAH Internship Program – http://americanhistory.si.edu/getinvolved/internship. This selection is for all other internship projects outside of External Affairs and Communications & Marketing (i.e., Curatorial Projects; Archives Center; Conservation; Public Programs – Daily Programs, Programs in African American History, Programs in Latino History; Graphic Production; Exhibition Design and more!).
The central Smithsonian Office of Fellowships and Internships (www.smithsonianofi.com) has paid internship opportunities that students can apply to and receive funding while being placed with a project at the NMAH.
If this growth pattern continues, as many expect it will, grid operators and renewables developers will need to act to neutralize price volatility by making the electric power system more flexible, the LBNL researchers reported.
As more solar and wind power comes online, renewables penetrations are reaching unprecedented levels in some places. On March 31, wind momentarily reached a North American record of over 62% of Southwest Power Pool (SPP) generation. On April 28, renewables met 72.7% of demand for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO).
While the numbers are much smaller nationally, broader indications show unremitting growth of variable renewable energy (VRE). Grid operators are implementing a variety of steps to integrate that new capacity while minimizing adverse impacts on the system.
VRE penetrations of 40% or more would drive down average annual hourly wholesale energy prices “by $5/MWh to $16/MWh depending on the region and mix of wind and solar,” LBNL reported. The price impact is much greater at times of wind or solar overgeneration, the modeling found.
Ten years ago, U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) researchers first saw rising renewables penetrations. Like today’s researchers, they were concerned. That concern led them to discover new system operations that have kept then-predicted price volatility in check and transformed the threat into today’s renewables boom. It can happen again, LBNL Research Scientist Ryan Wiser told Utility Dive.
The LBNL findings
The research shows high VRE penetrations can make future price patterns “meaningfully different,” said LBNL’s Wiser, lead author of the new report.
There could be “a general decrease in average annual hourly wholesale energy prices” and “increased price volatility and frequency of very low-priced hours.”
Current penetrations of VRE have led to very little of the recent price volatility, Wiser told Utility Dive.
Previous LBNL work showed “about 90% to 95% of the explanatory factors for the average annual wholesale price decline of about $0.04/kWh between 2008 and 2016 was driven by the decline in natural gas prices,” he said.
There was also “no observable widespread impact of VRE on thermal plant retirements,” he added. Instead, “plant characteristics” forced the closures seen over the last decade.
There was, however, a “significant increase” in negative wholesale pricing and curtailments between 2015 and 2017, Wiser said. “This is quite clearly correlated with both the growth of wind and solar, and the location of that growth.”
Curtailment occurs when grid operators shut down renewables generation in response to negative prices and oversupply on their systems.
“Some plants are experiencing negative wholesale prices as much as 25% of the year’s hours.”
Research scientist, LBNL
Curtailment has increased particularly in California with the growth of solar and in the U.S. Midwest, with the growth of wind, Wiser said. “Some plants are experiencing negative wholesale prices as much as 25% of the year’s hours.”
The new LBNL work shows high VRE scenarios can lead to “modest retirement” of between 4% to 16% of older fossil fuel plants. A $0.21/MWh to $0.87/MWh average price reduction for each 1% of VRE “primarily displaces coal and natural gas generation.”
The lower prices are largely taken by “inflexible generators,” especially nuclear, solar and wind, LBNL found. Where higher VRE leads to less overgeneration, the price drop is lower. Where there is overgeneration, the price drop is “a pronounced cliff, featuring a dramatic increase in hours with very low prices.”
Total price volatility was greatest in LBNL’s high solar scenarios, but the greatest irregularity in prices was in the high wind scenarios. In all high VRE scenarios, the system peak demand periods remain, but they tend to be pushed to later in the evening, especially in the high solar scenarios.
Negative pricing and curtailment have historically been found where transmission constraints prevented alleviation of local overgeneration, Wiser said.
A system with more transmission capacity or operating procedures “friendlier” to high VRE penetrations could avoid the consequences described by LBNL’s modeling, he said. Another set of possible solutions would be to make VRE friendlier to systems, he added.
“System-friendly renewables bring technical and siting solutions to increase their market value,” Wiser said. “More renewables-friendly systems have more transmission and more operational flexibility. The bottom line is that there are ways of managing or mitigating the market value depressing effect and the wholesale market price decline of high VRE scenarios.”
Solar and the grid
A solar-friendly wholesale electricity system would have smooth, multi-hour time ramps rather than the short, steep demand spikes caused by midday solar overgeneration, LBNL research scientist and paper co-author Andrew Mills emailed Utility Dive. It would also have large balancing areas, or collaboration between balancing areas, to smooth momentary production fluctuations.
Flexible generation that can be turned off and on multiple times a day could reduce overgeneration, he added. Well-crafted rate designs would give customers price signals that align demand with supply.
System-friendly PV could do some of the same things, Mills said. Utility-scale projects could be sited and located strategically to prevent overloading circuits, protect against momentary output disruptions and produce when demand is higher, he said. Utility-scale projects can provide more services to the system operators if they are equipped with smart inverters, active power controls and on-site storage, he added.
These are the kinds of strategies CAISO is working toward, according to Senior Public Information Officer Steven Greenlee. At the most basic level, system-friendly resources respond to negative prices by reducing output, he emailed Utility Dive.
“Negative prices and oversupply challenge the energy community,” he said. “An October 2017 report from NREL, CAISO and project developer First Solar demonstrated the market can use the newest technologies to improve the efficiencies and services resources deliver.”
In addition, CAISO is working with the California Public Utilities Commission on time-of-use rates that will provide the kind of price signals Mills described. Other CAISO initiatives are aimed at lowering barriers to the integration and market participation of DER and energy storage. Both will make the system more flexible, Greenlee added.
Other system-friendly things wind developers can do include optimizing siting and expanding siting diversity, LBNL reported. Integrating storage and other power electronics can allow a project to provide grid services, LBNL also reported.
The system can be friendlier to wind if it has more generation flexibility and more available transmission capacity, LBNL added. It can offer more flexibility with advanced operational and market practices.
SPP ran headlong into the need for system-friendly wind in 2017, Market Monitoring Unit Executive Director Keith Collins told Utility Dive. “The incidence of negative prices doubled in 2017 to about 7% of real-time intervals, up from about 3.5% of intervals in 2016,” he said. “They were concentrated in the overnight hours, when almost 15% of intervals had negative pricing.”
SPP’s 2017 State of the SPP Market report highlights two key opportunities to enhance the flexibility of the system by changes in the way wind generators participate in the SPP market, he said.
One change is to require non-dispatchable renewables, and especially wind, to become dispatchable through a system-friendly change in reporting, Collins said.
“Dispatchable resources provide a forecasted level of production and a price at which they will curtail output,” Collins said. “Non-dispatchable wind resources do not provide a price. This creates market inefficiencies that contribute to negative pricing as well as operational issues, Collins said.
SPP’s report also describes a concern with under-scheduling by wind producers in the Day-Ahead market, he added. It is the main reason there is almost twice the negative prices in the Real-Time market.
Finally, SPP could make its system more wind-friendly by developing a ramping product “to deal with unexpected and expected ramps in demand, Collins said. “There is now ramping-related scarcity pricing. A ramping product would likely dampen some of that pricing volatility.”
Looking back and ahead
NREL Principal Analyst Paul Denholm led some of the earliest work on the challenges associated with renewables overgeneration in 2008. His 2015 NREL work identified early system-friendly and renewables-friendly strategies aimed at adding power system flexibility.
But his work is just beginning, Denholm recently told Utility Dive. Policymakers are now aiming for 50% renewables and researchers are thinking about 100% renewables. More system flexibility will be vital because “fluctuations are going to get worse,” he said. But “we shouldn’t confuse a challenge with an insurmountable problem,” he added. “It simply requires a new way of operating the power system.”
The threat of growth
Many long-lasting decisions about the power system “assume a business-as-usual future with low shares of VRE.” But a “high VRE future” can lead to “profound changes in wholesale electricity price patterns,” such as extreme price drops and spikes, according to LBNL’s report.
When generation oversupply forces project owners to bid into markets at their own cost, just to keep generating, it can cause power prices to plunge below $0/MWh. Additionally, power prices spike to untenable highs when demand peaks in supply-constrained localized areas.
In May, renewables served an average of almost 36.1% of the CAISO load, up from 2016’s 21%, with solar providing about 52% of the renewable generation and wind about 29%. Wind was 20.2% of total SPP system capacity at the end of 2017, up from 2016’s 19%. The 2017 wind generation capacity on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas system was 19.6%, up from 2016’s 13%. Even New York’s tiny 4% was a 25% increase on 2016’s 3%.
Of the total 24,614 MW of new U.S, generating capacity in 2017, wind’s 6,881 MW accounted for 27.9%, and solar’s 4,853 MW added another 19.7%, according to Federal Energy Regulatory Commission data. That made VRE the single biggest source of new U.S. generation capacity in 2017.
Threat or opportunity?
The LBNL researchers modeled four 2030 VRE scenarios. One was a business-as-usual scenario with today’s VRE penetrations, and one was a “balanced” 20% wind-20% solar scenario. The other two scenarios had either 30% solar and 10% wind or 30% wind and 10% solar.
Sprint announced it is working on Mobi, a self-driving charging unit for electric vehicles (EVs) that can autonomously drive to vehicles when needed. Testing will begin in New York City at the beginning of 2019.
The robots would rely on Sprint’s 5G network and advanced internet of things (IoT) technology for a micro-positioning navigation system, which the company says is more accurate than GPS.
Mobi would charge with solar power and store power on lithium ion batteries to reduce their climate impact.
New York City has a goal of electrifying 20% of its vehicle fleet by 2025, part of its overall effort to meet the goals of the United Nations’ Paris climate change agreement. Sprint says the Mobi project can advance that goal by removing one of the major barriers to electric vehicle use: charging. Rather than having cars, buses or other vehicles backed up at individual chargers, the robot would be able to circulate around parking lots and charge vehicles as needed. And while the state has invested in EV chargers, allowing more vehicles to juice up without relying on installation of chargers would help speed up the growth of EV purchases.
“The current reality of vehicles taking turns at electric charging stations is just not efficient and slows the real-world adoption of EVs,” said Ivo Rook, Sprint’s senior vice president for IoT, in a statement. “We believe that this is the ultimate solution for a cleaner, healthier New York City.”
Getting the robots from the testing stage to reality depends on a confluence of new technologies: 5G networks, IoT technology installation, connected vehicles, autonomous vehicle technology and fast charging. New York City is one of Sprint’s early markets for the 5G rollout, which will begin in the first half of 2019, but the network will need to be up to fully utilize Mobi’s positioning and vehicle finding (the micro-positioning system will also help the robots avoid obstacles and ensure safety).
Even in environmentally conscious Scandanavia, it’s hard to sell electric vehicles (EV). That’s in part due to the people selling them. “Dealerships and sales personnel pose a significant barrier for [EV] uptake,” states a study published in May in the journal Nature. “Dealers have little to no incentive to properly sell EVs, even in a Nordic region so steadfastly committed to decarbonizing transport.”
To study this, Danish university researchers sent undercover shoppers to visit 82 car dealerships in Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden. Buyers were asked to remain neutral with no initial inclination toward any type of vehicle. Over the course of 126 car-shopping encounters, the researchers quantified sellers’ interactions with the buyers. They found that salespeople tended to systematically misinform shoppers about EVs, if not dismiss or ignore EVs entirely (77% of the time). In the minority of cases when EVs were mentioned, most steered buyers toward gasoline or diesel vehicles.
Part of it was unfamiliarity: The researchers recorded conversations, and found that many sales staff lacked knowledge of electric drive technology. But deliberate misinformation was rife. “Do not buy this [EV] it will ruin you, it will ruin you financially,” said one quote from the sales process. “We have this electric vehicle [but] it only goes 80 km,” said another, falsely.
Changing this will require carrots as well as sticks for dealers, argue the authors. Selling an EV can take two to four times longer, as many customers outside the early adopter set are not yet familiar with the technology. Profits on EV sales can also be lower than standard cars, as well, leading sellers to push conventional models. (Premium cars and SUVs tend to command higher profit margins than passenger vehicles, and not all EV models turn a profit for their manufacturers.)
EVs should reach price parity with conventional vehicles around 2025, and the economics should then change dramatically, since electric cars will then both cost less to make and operate. But as nations gear up for bans on internal combustion engines in the coming decades, and incentivize EV manufacturers with millions of dollars, they can’t forget about one of the most crucial steps: the point of sale.
Tesla has presented itself as a one-stop-shop for transitioning toward clean energy, but installation timelines for some of its energy products have been unclear, according to current and former employees. Tesla
Tesla salespeople have been given shifting timelines for when the Powerwallhome battery will be available, current and former employees told Business Insider.
Salespeople most often said they told customers they would receive their Powerwall in around six months, but customers were more likely to wait over a year for installation, current and former salespeople said.
The company has failed to give salespeople a clear, consistent timeline for when the solar roof will be available, current and former salespeople said.
These employees said they either were instructed or chose to avoid talking about the solar roof with customers.
Tesla has sold customers on the idea that it is a one-stop-shop for transitioning toward clean energy. Between its electric vehicles, home charging units, solar panels, and home batteries, the company offers customers the opportunity to buy into an integrated system of products that can power their homes and cars with solar energy.
But for two major pieces of that system — its Powerwall home battery and solar roof — the company has left its customers and salespeople wondering when the products will arrive, current and former Tesla employees told Business Insider.
Business Insider spoke to one current employee and seven former employees who each left the company within the past two months. The current and former employees worked across five states: California, Nevada, Florida, Maryland, and Utah. Six were energy salespeople, one was a vehicle delivery person who also sold vehicles and energy products, and one handled administrative work for energy sales. Each requested anonymity for fear of reprisal from Tesla.
Powerwall delivery timelines shifted
“We don’t have Powerwalls. We would get very, very small shipments in tiny, tiny increments. We had people waiting around for months and months and months,” a former sales manager said. The Powerwall is an important point of differentiation for Tesla, as most of its competitors in the solar panel production business don’t make home batteries, which allow energy absorbed by solar panels to be stored for use at night or other times when sunlight is not available — or when electricity prices are high.
In its 2017 fourth-quarter earnings report, Tesla said demand for the Powerwall exceeded the company’s ability to produce it. In its first-quarter earnings report this year, Tesla said that despite installing “a record number” of Powerwall systems during the quarter, its backlog grew. Tesla declined to comment on what that number was exactly.
Current and former salespeople told Business Insider they were given shifting timelines, ranging from two to 12 months, for when the Powerwall would be available for installation. The most commonly cited timeline, around six months, was rarely met, former and current employees said.
Customers were more likely to wait over a year to receive their Powerwalls, sources said, and some would cancel their orders when installation timelines changed.
“I hated when I sold a Powerwall because I knew I really didn’t know when they were going to come in,” a former salesperson said. In addition to providing uncertain delivery timelines, former salespeople said Tesla eliminated the commission they would receive for selling a Powerwall, which further decreased their desire to sell it.
Tesla declined to comment on the timelines it has given salespeople for Powerwall deliveries, the number of cancellations it has received for the Powerwall, or its commission structure for energy salespeople.
Salespeople avoided talking about the solar roof
Tesla’s solar roof— which consists of a series of solar panels that resemble roof tiles and are meant to cover a customer’s entire roof — is a major selling point for the company. It was designed to be more aesthetically pleasing than typical solar panels and more durable than traditional roof tile materials like clay, slate, and terra cotta.
Tesla began taking reservations for the solar roof in May 2017, but the company has failed to give salespeople a clear, consistent timeline for when it will be available, sources said.
In May 2017, Tesla said installations would begin that summer, but the first installations for customers who weren’t Tesla employees didn’t begin until April 2018.
Current and former salespeople said they either were instructed or chose to avoid talking about the solar roof with customers due to uncertainty about its availability and the fact that they would receive little or no compensation for getting a customer to reserve one.
“Those were unicorns, as far as we’re concerned,” a former sales manager said. “There is no clear communication as to what’s going on with the roof.”
Tesla declined to comment on how it has communicated with salespeople about delivery timelines. A Tesla representative told Business Insider that salespeople in its stores do not actively sell the solar roof, but can help customers make a reservation for one as the company ramps up solar roof production at its factory in Buffalo, which it operates with Panasonic.
In its 2017 fourth-quarter earnings report, Tesla said production for the solar roof began during the fourth quarter and that it would ramp up production “at a gradual pace.” The company said in the report that demand for the solar roof was increasing at a higher rate than production and that it expected its backlog to exceed one year for “the next several quarters.”
In its first-quarter earnings report this year, Tesla said it anticipated a significant increase in solar roof production during the second half of the year. A Tesla representative said the company was ahead of its hiring commitments for the Buffalo factory, which employs over 600 workers, but declined to comment on its hiring plans for the rest of the year. In May, Panasonic said it wanted to hire 80 new employees for the factory, The Buffalo News reported.
If you’ve worked for Tesla and have a story to share, you can contact this reporter at email@example.com.
Internal documents reviewed by Reuters show Tesla’s plans to shutter 13 or 14 solar installation facilities, according to two different lists. Reuters reported that nearly 60 installation facilities remain open.
The development follows news of Tesla’s reorganization, including a move to cut 9% of its employees and to not continue its partnership with Home Depot for residential solar sales.
Tesla plans to grow its solar and residential energy storage business through its sales channels, to its electric vehicle customers online and inside its U.S. stores. “The reorganization that we announced last week does not impact” these efforts, a Tesla spokes
While the electric vehicle manufacturer tries to meet its production targets for its latest luxury sedan, company statements maintain that the solar operation — obtained through its acquisition of SolarCity in 2016 — remains important to Tesla.
“Our energy products are critical to our mission to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy, and we continue to expect that Tesla’s solar and battery business will be the same size as automotive over the long term,” said a Tesla spokesperson.
As Tesla continues to pursue sales of its solar products in its own stores, Home Depot will continue a partnership with Sunrun, Reuters reported. As direct competitors, Sunrun and SunPower have not seen the same declines in solar as Tesla, according to a recent analysis from the Motley Fool. The two developers have grown their residential solar business and increased their market share while Tesla plans for continuing layoffs.
Residential solar installations are expected to remain stable this year, following a 15% decline in 2017, according to a new assessment from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Greentech Media analysts. The residential sector “shows some signs of improvement over 2017,” while non-residential solar installations were off by more than a third, quarter-over-quarter.
Details of how many employees will be affected by the solar facility closures remain unclear. Reuters reported that SolarCity offices in California, Maryland, New Jersey, Texas, New York, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Arizona and Delaware were targeted for closure. Based on Tesla’s comments, cuts across its solar sector will be seemingly on par with the 9% cuts across the company.
Earlier this month, Tesla CEO Elon Musk revealed details of the company’s restructuring via Twitter:
Elon Musk@elonmuskReuters reported that the Home Depot partnership accounted heavily for its solar panel sales.
Tesla plans to expand in-store access to its SolarCity panels, which the company previously stated as being available in over 90 of its U.S retail locations. “Over the past couple of quarters, we have increased efforts to sell energy generation and storage systems in Tesla stores,” the company wrote in its Q1 shareholder letter this year.
The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued guidance on Friday, establishing that solar developers who invest at least 5% of the total expected installation cost of a project by the end of 2019 will qualify for a 30% investment tax credit (ITC).
The 2015 law that established the credit did not specifically define what qualifies as beginning construction on a project, to the consternation of the solar industry. The new guidance specifies that developers have four years to begin a project to qualify for the ITC, which then begins to wind down from 30% to 10% based on the construction and service dates of the project.
The notice also specifies the deadlines and qualifications for other types of energy properties that qualify for a tax incentive, including small wind projects, fuel cell power plants, geothermal heat pumps and more.
“With this notice, IRS sent a strong signal to investors while giving developers clear criteria on par with other renewable technologies,” Liam Donovan, a principal at the law firm Bracewell LLP, told Utility Dive via email.
The guidance has been received favorably as it assures the entire solar supply chain, according to Dan Whitten, vice president of communications at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
“If you’re making manufacturing plans, now you know what the policy’s going to be going forward. The developers are now cleared up on this,” Whitten told Utility Dive.
Developers breaking ground or making the 5% investment in the installation by 2020 have until the end of 2023 to bring the project online in order to qualify for the highest tax incentive (30% ITC).
According to a Credit Suisse Group AG analyst note, this is particularly useful for developers that are affected by the solar tariffs imposed by the Trump administration, intended to stimulate domestic solar manufacturing.
“The news is positive for utility scale solar developers who can now avoid solar tariffs imposed on imports through 2021, procure a majority of their solar panels in later years, and still qualify for the higher tax credits,” analysts at Credit Suisse Group AG wrote, according to Bloomberg.
There are too many factors to estimate if the uncertainty of the guidance led to curtailment of solar development, Whitten said.
“In the absence of this commence construction guidance, tax equity partners were growing cautious about project risk,” SEIA CEO Abigail Ross Hopper, said in a statement.
In March, the IRS released a private letter ruling that a residential energy storage facility may qualify for the 30% solar ITC if it is charged completely by an onsite solar array. The ruling only applied to the undisclosed case addressed in the private letter, but it indicated the agency’s views on residential storage eligibility for the credit.
ATTENTION: FISCAL YEAR 2018 FUNDING WILL BECOME AVAILABLE ON JULY 1, 2017. INFORMATION DETAILS CAN BE FOUND BELOW AND UNDER THE “ADDITIONAL GUIDELINES” TAB.
IN ADDITION, REGULATIONS FOR THIS PROGRAM ARE CURRENTLY BEING DRAFTED. COMMENTS REGARDING PROGRAM REGULATIONS MAY BE SUBMITTED TO THE MARYLAND ENERGY ADMINISTRATION (MEA) PROGRAM MANAGER WHOSE CONTACT INFORMATION IS AVAILABLE UNDER THE “ADDITIONAL INFORMATION” TAB BELOW.
MEA is working with Marylanders to expand the State’s growing electric vehicle recharging infrastructure through the Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment Rebate Program 2.0.Through the program, residents, governments and businesses can acquire a state rebate for purchasing or installing an electric vehicle charging station, known as Electric Vehicle Supply Equipment (EVSE). In order to receive these rebates, eligible participants must apply with MEA, which will issue rebates on a first-come, first-served basis.
The EVSE Rebate Program 2.0 provides funding assistance for costs incurred acquiring or installing qualified electric vehicle supply equipment on or after July 1, 2017, but before June 30, 2020. Applications must be received by MEA within 6 months of the date that the equipment or install expenses were incurred.
The EVSE Rebate Program 2.0 is a new program unique and separate from previous funding opportunities, established by legislation under the Clean Cars Act of 2017. As such, funding mechanisms established under previous programs will not impact this new program. EVSE equipment or installation costs incurred prior to July 1, 2017, along with applications submitted to previous funding programs, are ineligible for funding under the EVSE Rebate Program 2.0.
17 Annual U.S. – Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (also known as the AGOA Forum)
July 9 -12, 2018
Please Join Us for the Civil Society Organization/African Women’s Entrepreneurship Program (AWEP) Session of the 17th Annual United States – Sub-Saharan Africa Trade and Economic Cooperation Forum (also known as the AGOA Forum) at the Center for International Private Enterprise (CIPE) in Washington, DC 20036
Please note: Capacity is limited, and you must register and pay registration fees, not later than June 30, 2018. The event is taking place in a secure facility, and you must register in advance; we will not conduct onsite registration for this event.
If you are a member of the Network and and like your organization’s logo on the conference materials, please email your logo to the Secretariat at firstname.lastname@example.org not later than June 15, 2018.
4th Annual AGOA Spring Conference
The 4th Annual AGOA Spring Conference took place April 18 -19, 2018 in Washington, DC, at the Embassy of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and on Capitol Hill. The conference focused on President Trump’s policy on Africa; and included a review of the Administration’s recent visit to Africa; trade numbers for AGOA over the past twelve months under the Trump administration; and discussed the opportunity that bi annual AGOA Utilization Strategies offer eligible Sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries for increasing exports and advancing economic cooperation under AGOA.
A highlight of the event was a visit by members of the AGOA CSO Network with Congressman Ed Royce, Chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and a Congressional Exchange on the legislative agenda for AGOA on April 19thon Capitol Hill.
Learn24 Network Conference: Preparing Youth for College, Career and Life
Last chance to register! Registration closes at 1:00 pm today for the Institute for Youth Development’s conference this Friday, June 22, 2018. This one-day conference will help youth development practitioners working in out of school time programs across the District. Key influencers in the field are prepared to deliver valuable information to benefit attendees looking to improve their programming. The keynote speaker is Karen J. Pittman, President and CEO, Forum for Youth Investment, a national nonprofit, nonpartisan “action tank” that combines thought leadership on youth development, youth policy, cross-system/cross-sector partnerships and developmental youth practice with on-the-ground training, technical assistance and support.
Call for Reviewers: Out-of-School-Time Grant Competitions
The United Way of the National Capital Area (United Way NCA), is seeking volunteer grant proposal reviewers to assist in reviewing two separate Request for Proposals (RFP) to award close to $2.5 million. United Way NCA is seeking a diverse group of people to review the two School Year grant competitions on behalf of the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes. Please note: if you are a grant applicant, you are still eligible to review for the other grant competition. For more information on how to serve as a reviewer, please contact Abby Bonder at email@example.com.
Commission on Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes Public Meeting
Washington, DC – The Commission on Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes (OST Commission) will hold a public meeting on Thursday, June 28, 2018 from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm at One Judiciary Square, 441 4th Street NW, Room 1107 South. The OST Commission will vote to adopt the bylaws for the OST Commission and discuss the strategic plan. In addition, the Commission will hear updates from the Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes.
Individuals and representatives of organizations who wish to comment at a public meeting are asked to notify the OST Office in advance by phone at (202) 481-3932 or by email at Learn24@dc.gov. Individuals should furnish their names, addresses, telephone numbers, and organizational affiliation, if any, and if available, submit one electronic copy of their testimony by the close of business on Monday, June 25 at 5:00 pm.
Kids, teens and adults can win prizes for reading this summer by participating in the 2018 DC Public Library Summer Challenge. Read 20 minutes each day to keep your mind active and engaged over the summer. To learn how to participate, please visit their website.
This is a weekly newsletter full of grant opportunities.
The Office of Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes, located in the Office of the Deputy Mayor for Education and informed by the Mayor’s Commission on Out of School Time Grants and Youth Outcomes, leads the Learn24 network.
This offering is entirely voluntary and is open to all qualified Pepco residential customers in Maryland with a plug-in vehicle. To participate, your vehicle must be registered in Maryland.
If so, you may select the following option:
A whole house time-of-use rate (Pepco SOS customers only): This plan applies to your entire house, including your vehicle. If you choose to shift your home energy use to off-peak hours (after 8 p.m.), you may achieve additional savings.
We created the Demand Management Pilot Program for Plug-In Vehicle Charging to encourage customers in Maryland who own plug-in vehicles to take advantage of off-peak charging. Now that the Pilot Program has concluded, Pepco has requested that the R-PIV tariff offering be continued going forward. By shifting some of the demand for electricity from peak to off-peak hours, customers may:
Save money – The cost of electricity is lower during off-peak hours, and there are 16 off-peak hours per day (Monday–Friday), plus all day Saturday and Sunday
Lighten the load – Charging during off-peak hours puts less strain on the electric grid and helps improve the reliability of your service
Breathe easier – Reduce emissions generated by mobile sources
Make a difference – Choose to charge your vehicle using renewable energy for an even greater impact
An R-PIV Rate (offered only to Pepco SOS customers) applies to the electricity used for the entire house, including the vehicle. Therefore, it is important to change behavior and use more energy during off peak times (Monday – Friday, 8:00 p.m. – 12:00 p.m and all hours on weekends) in an effort to decrease energy costs.
What are the qualifications for the offering?
Must be a Pepco Maryland residential customer
Must have a registered Maryland plug-in vehicle
For the R-PIV rate, customers must be a Pepco Standard Offer Service (SOS) customer
Net energy meter customers (NEM) or energy generating customers interconnected to Pepco are not eligible to apply for the R-PIV rate
Zhang Hongchao, an engineering professor at Tongji University in Shanghai, helped develop Pavenergy’s solar road surface.CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Time
INAN, China — On a smoggy afternoon, huge log carriers and oil tankers thundered down a highway and hurtled around a curve at the bottom of a hill. Only a single, unreinforced guardrail stood between the traffic and a ravine. The route could make for tough driving under any conditions. But experts are watching it for one feature in particular: The highway curve is paved with solar panels. “If it can pass this test, it can fit all conditions,” said Li Wu, the chairman of Shandong Pavenergy, the company that made the plastic-covered solar panels that carpet the road. If his product fares well, it could have a major impact on the renewable energy sector, and on the driving experienc
The experiment is the latest sign of China’s desire to innovate in, and dominate, the increasingly lucrative and strategically important market for renewable energy. The country already produces three-quarters of the solar panels sold globally, and its wind-turbine manufacturing industry is also among the world’s largest.
The potential appeal of solar roads — modified solar panels that are installed in place of asphalt — is clear. Generating electricity from highways and streets, rather than in fields and deserts packed with solar panels, could conserve a lot of land. Those advantages are particularly important in a place like China, a heavily populated country where demand for energy has risen rapidly.
Because roads run through and around cities, the electricity could be used practically next door to where it is generated. That means virtually no power would be lost in transmission, as can happen with projects in outlying locations. And the land is essentially free, because roads are needed anyway. Roads must be resurfaced every few years at great cost, so the installation of durable solar panels could reduce the price of maintenance.
Solar roads could also change the driving experience. Electric heating strips can melt snow that falls on them. Light-emitting diodes embedded in the surface can provide illuminated signage to direct drivers to exits and alert them to construction and other traffic hazards.
1 . 2.
1. The surface of the solar road panels, made of a complex polymer that resembles plastic, has slightly more friction than a conventional road surface.Giulia Marchi for The New York Times
2. The nearly paper-thin blue silicon of solar cells, the electricity-generating component of solar panels, can withstand many tons. But the cells snap when bent, like a thin sheet of sugar.Giulia Marchi for The New York Times
Now, such roads are finally becoming viable. Prices have fallen drastically in recent years — thanks in large part to soaring Chinese production, a solar panel costs a tenth of what it did a decade ago. Road builders in China even want to design solar roads that can wirelessly recharge electric cars running on them, emulating a recent American experiment.
China’s leaders in solar road development are Pavenergy and Qilu Transportation. The two companies are working together here in Jinan, in Shandong Province, with Pavenergy making panels for Qilu, a large, state-owned highway construction and management company that operates the highway.
The surface of these panels, made of a complex polymer that resembles plastic, has slightly more friction than a conventional road surface, according to Zhang Hongchao, an engineering professor at Tongji University in Shanghai. Professor Zhang, who helped develop Pavenergy’s road surface, said that the friction could be adjusted as needed during the manufacturing process to ensure a level of tire grip equal to that of asphalt.
The location of the solar road here, on a long curve at the bottom of a hill, was not Pavenergy’s first choice. The site was chosen because of its proximity to an electricity substation, ensuring that it would be connected to the grid. China is adding solar and wind energy sites so fast across the country that power generation projects farther from substations sometimes face delays of years in getting connected.
Solar panels, shown undergoing tests, would likely need to be replaced less often than asphalt roads. But it remains uncertain whether they would be able to take the pounding of millions of tires each year for more than a decade.CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Tim
The main Western rival to Pavenergy and Qilu is Colas, a French road-building giant that has developed 25 experimental solar roads and parking lots, mostly in France but also in Canada, Japan and the United States. The biggest of Colas’s solar sites, a country road in Normandy that opened a year and a half ago, has only half the surface area of the new solar highway in Jinan. Colas has been leery of putting solar panels on high-speed roads like the Chinese highway because of safety concerns; Professor Zhang said the panels were completely safe.
Still, a litany of outstanding challenges means the wide deployment of solar roads is a long way off.
For one, they are less efficient than rooftop solar panels at converting the sun’s light into electricity. They lie flat, and are intermittently covered by vehicles, so solar panels on a road produce only around half the power that rooftop ones tilted toward the sun do.
Solar roads are also more expensive than asphalt. It costs about $120 a square meter, or about $11 a square foot, to resurface and repair an asphalt road each decade. By comparison, Pavenergy and Colas hope to be able to bring the cost of a solar road to $310 to $460 a square meter with mass production.
Panels on a highway would likely need to be replaced less often than asphalt, Professor Zhang said. And a solar road can produce about $15 a year worth of electricity from each square meter of solar panels. So it could roughly pay for itself, compared with asphalt, over about 15 years.
Less clear is whether the panels would be able to take the pounding of millions of tires each year for more than a decade, or whether they might be stolen.
Several square feet of solar panels disappeared less than a week after they were installed here in late December, raising worries of theft or even industrial espionage.
Local police officers, facing criticism for not providing better security, said that the panels must have been crushed into tiny pieces and scattered by heavy trucks. Pavenergy declined to comment.
Generating solar electricity along highways and streets rather than in fields and deserts could conserve a lot of land in China, where demand for energy has risen rapidly.CreditGiulia Marchi for The New York Time
In the United States, installing solar roads is more complicated.
With the exception of some bridges and sections of interstate highways, American roads tend to be built with a lot of asphalt, but with less concrete underneath than roads elsewhere, said Kara M. Kockelman, a transportation engineering professor at the University of Texas.
The problem with asphalt is that it compresses slightly under the weight of trucks. The blue silicon of solar cells, the panels’ electricity-generating component, can withstand being mashed by many tons of weight. But the nearly paper-thin cells snap when bent, like a thin sheet of sugar. (This is not as much of an issue in China, where highways are built with very thick concrete bases.)
Still, executives here are hopeful. They say that the technology is ready and that they are not concerned even by the complications of American highway construction.
“If conditions permit,” Xu Chunfu, Qilu’s chairman, said, “I would like to build a solar road in the United States.”
Did you know that the CRIAC (Clean Rivers Impervious Areas Charge) fee has increased 2,000% over the past few years? Now, some churches are being forced to pay $2,000/month for this fee alone! Cemeteries have been charged as much as $19,000/month! Homeowners are seeing over $60 per month for this fee alone. Failure to pay water bills can cause foreclosure of your property. Many churches and homeowners are at risk.
Why is this fee so high? Because the DC government is failing to pay the bill for this massive $2.7 billion DC Water infrastructure project – leaving ratepayers to foot the bill. We are seeking 40 million dollars from the city in the DC budget to pay down the expense, leaving less of the burden distributed to the rate payers.
Excessive water bills are threatening our homes, churches, seniors, and all others who may be struggling to live in the city. Several clergy disrupted the DC Council hearing on May 15th in protest of these fees, and this hearing has been scheduled as a result. Please help us send a strong message with your presence! The time is now!
Bowie State University recognizes the need to reduce the worst impacts of global warming. The University is deeply concerned with the scale and speed of global warming and its potential for large-scale, adverse health, social, economic and ecological effects. Over the course of several years, the institution has updated campus master plans, conducted an environmental audit, and made material investments in infrastructure.
The ongoing vision of Bowie State University’s sustainable programs can also be found on the BSU Climate Action Plan as well as the BSU Sustainability Education Plan. In December 2017, the C4 Chair coordinated the Climate Action Plan Addendum.
Part of BSU’s goal is to be conscious of how energy resources are utilized in our buildings. Our first Lucid Energy touchscreen Dashboard is displayed in the Student Center between the Bowie Card Office and the BSU Ticket Office. See real-time data on energy utilization in the Student Center here: Bowie State Student Center Dashboard. An energy dashboard will soon appear in the CNSMN building.