LevelTen Q3 2019 PPA Price Index Reveals Competition and Expiring Tax Credits as Main Driver on PPA Prices

Author: Level 10           Published: 10/16/19

LevelTen Q3 2019 PPA Price Index Reveals Competition and Expiring Tax Credits as Main Driver on PPA Prices

Corporate demand, utility demand, and decreasing renewables costs seen as the primary drivers of renewables growth

Each quarter, the LevelTen Energy PPA Price Index provides an in-depth look at average offer prices for wind and solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) submitted on the LevelTen Marketplace. The report covers five independent system operator (ISO) regions in the United States, including CAISO, ERCOT, MISO, PJM and SPP. In addition, the report includes a survey of renewable energy developers with projects on the Marketplace. This quarter, LevelTen asked developers what had the largest impact on their PPA offer prices in Q3, and whether they expect prices to increase, decrease, or stay about the same in 2020.

The following are a handful of key takeaways from Q3 2019:

  • While results this quarter were largely in line with what we saw in Q2 2019, developers still view competition as having the largest impact on PPA pricing. Looking back at the start of the year, 30% of developers held this view. That number increased in Q2 to 52% and has dropped back down to 35% in Q3; indicating that other factors are weighing heavily as well.
  • This quarter, 35% of survey respondents thought prices would increase, while 21% thought prices would decrease (compared to an even split at 27% last quarter).
  • Developers are seeing the largest opportunities for renewables growth in ERCOT and PJM.

The LevelTen Marketplace features a vast amount of data on nearly every renewable energy project under development in North America, and now, we’re accepting projects in Europe. On the Marketplace, potential buyers can browse through projects and see what price per megawatt hour the developer is offering based on different terms of the power purchase agreement. LevelTen requires developers to submit offer prices based on a set of standard PPA terms most often requested by buyers. This standardization enables buyers to make an apples-to-apples comparison between projects, and it enables LevelTen to aggregate the data into our quarterly PPA Price Index – a unique position in the industry.

To see the full results and analysis, download the report below.

Download Q3 2019 Report

Up-to-date data is always the most useful—so LevelTen publishes its PPA Price Index on a quarterly basis. However, PPA prices represent only a fraction of the data required to effectively evaluate PPA opportunities. For real-time analysis of project value and risk, cash flow modeling, price curves and more, project developers and potential renewable energy buyers are encouraged to request access to the LevelTen Marketplace by contacting LevelTen.

Electric revolution: How are cities overcoming EV range anxiety?

Author: Chris Teale            Published:  10/17/19        Utility Dive

Credit: Yujin Kim, Industry Dive

The number of U.S. electric vehicles is expected to skyrocket in the coming decades. But how are cities and utilities preparing for that influx? In a two-part special report, Utility Dive and Smart Cities Dive explore that question from both the urban planning and power sector perspectives.Read our Deep Dive on the utility perspective here.

As environment and transportation goals drive cities to foster the growth of electric vehicles (EVs), they face a major challenge in ensuring there is enough charging infrastructure to meet demand.

Cities have looked to legislation, new building codes and partnerships with businesses and public utilities to encourage EV use and build out infrastructure, however concerns like range anxiety linger. Experts say cities need a wide-ranging strategy if they are to help more residents go electric in a way that is accessible and equitable.

“If we want EVs to succeed, they have got to be available to all Americans,” Rep. Paul Tonko, D-NY, said at an event celebrating the rollout of 1 million EVs in the U.S. hosted by the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) last year.

Legislation

The most direct way cities have flexed their planning muscles in the preparation and expansion of EV infrastructure has been through legislation. That includes beefing up building codes and emphasizing the need to use renewable energy sources for charging, as well as new laws that deal with EVs directly.

Such plans can start relatively small. Spokane, WA last year moved to waive the building and construction permit fees for new EV charging stations and solar panels. Permit fees for the charging stations are typically around $50, and while the change may seem small financially, it could make a big difference by encouraging more infrastructure installation.

Elsewhere, the push for more charging infrastructure has been brought into a push to modernize building codes.

Berkeley, CA passed a historic law in July banning the use of natural gas in new low-rise residential buildings, beginning Jan. 1, 2020. That legislation also requires that all new buildings in Berkeley be “electric-ready,” with proper solar panels and wiring conduits to support electric infrastructure.

The mandated preparations for electrification will be significant with more EVs coming online, as previously such panels sometimes haven’t been big enough to support EV charging.

“We don’t want to have to adapt later,” Councilmember Kate Harrison saidbefore the vote on the new law. “We want to make sure that as they’re built, they’re ready to take on the challenge of being electrified.”

It is a similar story in San Jose, CA, which became the biggest U.S. city to ban natural gas infrastructure from being installed in many new residential buildings. It also requires all new multi-family buildings to have 70% electric vehicle (EV) capable parking spaces, at least 20% EV ready spaces and at least 10% EV supply equipment spaces.

“[We] try to educate the public and really get around that range anxiety issue that is probably still the number one reason the average consumer is not putting the EV higher on their shopping list.”

Rick Ricart

President, Ricart car dealership

In a statement for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) after the San Jose City Council’s vote, Maria Stamas, western director for energy affordability, and Pierre Delforge, senior scientist for building decarbonization at the Climate & Clean Energy Program, said the new law means more visible and available charging infrastructure, and “even more San José residents will have the opportunity to purchase EVs and easily fuel them.”

 

If You’re Already Replacing Your Roof, Why Not Turn It Into A Power Plant?

Author: Peter Kelly-Detwiler    Published:   10/16/19    Forbes

roof replacement

Do I simply replace the roof, or make an investment? IMAGE: GAF ENERGY

Every year, roughly 5% of U.S. homeowners gaze forlornly up at their aging and weathered shingles, sigh, and take the financial plunge to get a new roof.  Martin DeBono, President of GAF Energy, sees this as a potential watershed moment for homeowners, in which each can make a decision:  They can simply replace their roofs.  Or they can convert them into investments that generate electricity and income.

DeBono has been in the solar industry for some time, most recently with SunPower – heading up the global residential and channel businesses – before joining GAF Energy (a subsidiary of Standard Industries, the biggest roofing manufacturer in the world).  He has seen the sector evolve and while he is confident that the solar industry will continue to see improved efficiencies and module cost reductions, he says that’s not where the action is these days.  The solar panels now constitute a relatively small portion of the entire installed cost stack, “and it’s the opportunity to take out those other costs and offer better products where we find ourselves with an opportunity at GAF Energy.”

A solar business based on transaction efficiencies 

When DeBono got to GAF Energy, he stepped back to evaluate the business and its available assets, “I realized, you guys are sitting on a gold mine.  Let’s go form a company to take advantage of the assets that Standard Industries has.”  The company was already a big investor in commercial-scale solar projects, so it was familiar with the industry –  the next step was to determine a go-to-market strategy in the residential space. DeBono’s goal was to create what he calls “the world’s first truly sustainable solar company,” one that doesn’t need to rely on tax credits or financial engineering – such as leases or purchase power agreements – to offer a compelling value proposition.

Instead, the approach taken was to leverage an event that was already inevitable – a roof replacement – and apply efficiencies, existing partnerships, and economies of scale to create a solar business built around that transaction.  With this approach, GAF Energy felt it could substantially reduce soft costs, especially those related to sales and installation.

The company currently offers its solar product in nine states, including Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Florida, and California.  In these markets, when channel partners are talking to prospects about a roof replacement, DeBono comments, “They say here’s the roofing estimate, but did you know it also qualifies for solar?”  The contractors explain the potential to transform the roof from a static asset into an income-generating asset.  If the customer expresses interest, the roofing contractors pass the information along to GAF Energy for qualification, a size estimate, and a quote.

It doesn’t unduly complicate the roof replacement sales conversation, DeBono says.  If the customer proceeds, the same crew that installs the roof lays down the panels as well in one single and efficient transaction. The result is that, “You can reduce sales cost, reduce labor costs, and you can present a cash offer that makes sense.”  The company focuses solely on the residential roof replacement market.  DeBono characterizes the resulting savings as roughly 15-20% when compared with buying both items separately.  It stays away from new homes that need roofs, for the simple reason that new housing is almost entirely a financed market.

Equipping its business channel partners

In order to effectively convey its value proposition to partners and customers, GAF Energy offers two days of sales training to its existing roofing contractors (with an optional third day).  The company also provides sales consultants that can accompany the contractor on the home visits.

In addition, it offers on-the-roof training for contracting partners that perform the actual installations. Typically trainers will attend a specific crew’ first few installations, until that team is comfortable proceeding on its own.  It’s a simpler installation than most solar offerings, DeBono indicates, since “we are not selling traditional rack-mounted solar. The solar is the roof in our case. The panel is not laid over shingles – it is the roof, and there is an underlying material.”

The technology itself involves 360-watt panels that integrate with the roofing materials.  GAF Energy can source from multiple suppliers, since the company is simply buying high quality solar laminate absent the frame. The product is warrantied for 25 years, with an additional 25 years for protection against leaks through a ‘Golden Pledge’ option, available from GAF Energy’s top-tier contractors.

While not every GAF roofing contractor is interested, for many it offers an opportunity to grow their market while providing new skills to employees.  DeBono comments that many roofing businesses are generational family-held enterprises with “a new generation of roofing contractors that have grown up with an awareness of technology and of climate change…for sure, not every roofer is jumping in, nor do we expect that, but we are working with a set of select roofers that see the future.”

While GAF Energy has been in business for less than a year, DeBono indicates that sales have been respectable, though he declines to offer a specific number.  “I will say this.  It’s been solid enough that we have doubled our number of employees. We are at 70 now.”

Perhaps most interesting, the company has seen the best uptake in areas where traditional solar has not been widely offered, and competition is limited.  DeBono compares states like Pennsylvania, Illinois and Florida with the market in California and its “everyone gets in a three-quote dogfight,” and indicates that the lesser-emphasized states are some of the healthier markets. “The reason is we can go into homeowner in a place like Pennsylvania and offer a payback that makes sense in the context of a roof sale that dedicated solar providers cannot match.”

Future market evolution

While energy storage is not in the current business model, DeBono expects that batteries will eventually be tied to a growing number of future solar installations, especially as battery costs continue to fall and storage technology improves.  At the same time, GAF Energy doesn’t always sell systems so large that they have to be able to either store power (or export to the grid under an existing net metering arrangement).  “If you are going to market selling shingles you don’t need to give customer the biggest system possible, but you can size for exactly what they need.  The best return may not always be with biggest system,” he says.

DeBono articulates a vision for the future in which solar looks a lot more like a traditional roofing product.   “When you think about it, it’s like taking a flat screen TV and screwing it to the roof. By and large it hasn’t changed in the last 20 years.”  He hopes that changes. “If you were to ask what success looks like in the next 5 years, I would say you would have product that looks like traditional roofing product that can be installed in a market that takes advantage of the existing solar supply chain and roofing chain that results in higher attach rate.”

DeBono sums up the potential this way,

 

City Selects Firm Proposing Solar Energy Farm at Former Sunnyside Landfill

Author: Tejal Patel                       Publish: 08/29/19          Mayor’s Office > Press Releases

 

Sunnyside Solar Farm

August 29, 2019 — Mayor Sylvester Turner announced today that Sunnyside Energy, led by developer Dori Wolfe of Wolfe Energy LLC, has won a competition to be considered to repurpose a  240-acre former landfill in Sunnyside. Subject to meeting certain terms and conditions, the team will construct one of the largest urban solar farms in Texas., if not the largest.

“It is fitting that Sunnyside would be home to one of the largest urban solar farms in Texas,” Mayor Turner said. “The project proposes to not only revitalize an underutilized piece of property that has been an eyesore to the community for years, but could also make Sunnyside a more complete, sustainable and resilient community.”

“Reinventing the landfill into a solar farm will help bring much-needed economic development to the community and makes Sunnyside part of the international energy transition to using ‘clean,’ renewable energy sources, reducing pollution and limiting climate change in the process,” the mayor added.

In 2017, Mayor Turner joined C40 Reinventing Cities – a global competition for innovative carbon-free and resilient urban projects. Together with 13 other cities across the globe, underutilized parcels of land were identified for redevelopment. Through this competition, the Sunnyside Energy team of engineers, architects, neighborhood groups, and artists have created a vision to transform the unmaintained closed landfill into a beacon of sustainability and resiliency.

“Reinventing Cities recognizes low-carbon solutions in cities around the world and makes it possible for these innovative ideas to become reality. It is evident why Houston’s Sunnyside Energy project is one of the world’s best,” said David Miller, Director of International Diplomacy and the Regional Director of North America at C40 Cities. “Transforming a former landfill into a site that will be carbon-positive by its fifth year illustrates how taking bold action gets us closer to achieving the future we want.”

Next steps will be for the City of Houston and Wolfe Energy LLC. to complete the financial and environmental feasibility, finalize the design plan with community input and negotiate contract lease terms for use of the land. The project is estimated to begin in 2021.

The preliminary design calls for the development of a 70 Megawatt ballasted solar array that would:

  • Generate enough electricity to supply about 12,000 homes
  • Prevent potential future environmental hazards posed by the landfill
  • Provide power discounts for low-income residents in the neighborhood
  • Train and employ local labor
  • Store and filter stormwater on the tract to help reduce flooding
  • Include educational attributes at the restored site

Sunnyside Energy is a partnership among EDF Renewables, MP2 Energy and Wolfe Energy to supply electricity to the Houston-area power grid through MP2 Energy and CenterPoint, meaning the solar-generated power would be distributed across the metropolitan region.

“We’re excited to come together with the City of Houston, Wolfe Energy and the other members of this team to work on this project,” said Kevin Boudreaux, MP2 Energy Vice President of Solar Operations.  “As the first project of its kind planned for Houston, we’re looking forward to the opportunity to be a part of something that has the potential to provide unique benefits to the community and help Houston on its path addressing the challenges of the energy transition.”

“EDF Renewables is proud to be selected to bring our depth of expertise in solar project development and construction, particularly our experience in brownfield sites, to Sunnyside Energy,” said Rod Veins, Executive Vice President, EDF Renewables’ Distributed Solutions Group.  “We applaud the City of Houston for its leadership is progressing the transition to a sustainable energy future.”

Sunnyside solar will not only bring jobs to the area, but also help teach future generations of Houstonians about renewable energy. Houston Renewable Energy will provide solar installation training at the neighboring Sunnyside Community Center. Qualifying graduates of the training program will have an advantage in securing a job during the construction of the 70 MW solar farm, designed and constructed by EDF-Renewables.

“The community will have a voice both during the design phase and into the future, through the creation of the Sunnyside Energy Trust. It will be energy for the community by the community,” according to Efrem Jernigan, president of South Union CDC and one of the lead community members on the team.

Increasing Houstonians use of solar power is a key component of the city’s recently released draft Climate Action Plan. About 92 percent of the electricity used by the City of Houston to operate its facilities comes from solar and wind sources, making Houston the largest municipal user of renewable energy in the nation.

More details about the project are available at www.greenhoustontx.gov andhttps://www.c40reinventingcities.org.

ommunity Garden Center

The Sunnyside Ag Hub addresses the needs of communities in Food Deserts by providing an educational and demonstration garden center and a processing and packaging hub for local gardeners and urban farmers.. Exhibition and demonstration gardens and displays educate the community in effective and profitable small and medium scale gardening methods.

The building and its programs aim to be carbon-neutral and economically self-sustaining through the use of intensive closed-loop aquaponic growing techniques.

The project up-cycles and reuses many materials and “waste” from local construction, starting with the recycling of 12 used shipping containers which form the structure. Raised planter beds are created with used wood scraps from nearby construction sites. A solar array provides energy for the building and is sold back to the grid. All rainfall on the site is captured and reused.

Biophilic design principles connect the visitors and workers with the healing and restorative effects of nature.

Client: South Union Community Development Corp.

Designer: Pyranak Design Group

Aquaponics Consultant: RTBiosciences

Production Drafting: designerDOX

 

Californians Learning That Solar Panels Don’t Work in Blackouts

Author: Chris Martin       Published: 10/10/19            Bloomberg

Climate Changed

Californians have embraced rooftop solar panels more than anyone in the U.S., but many are learning the hard way the systems won’t keep the lights on during blackouts. That’s because most panels are designed to supply power to the grid — not directly to houses. During the heat of the day, solar systems can crank out more juice than a home can handle. Conversely, they don’t produce power at all at night. So systems are tied into the grid, and the vast majority aren’t working this week as PG&E Corp. cuts power to much of Northern California to prevent wildfires.

The only way for most solar panels to work during a blackout is pairing them with batteries. That market is just starting to take off. Sunrun Inc., the largest U.S. rooftop solar company, said some of its customers are making it through the blackouts with batteries, but it’s a tiny group — countable in the hundreds.

“It’s the perfect combination for getting through these shutdowns,” Sunrun Chairman Ed Fenster said in an interview. He expects battery sales to boom in the wake of the outages. And no, trying to run appliances off the power in a Tesla Inc. electric car won’t work, at least without special equipment.

Over 300 Communities in 40 States Now “Open for Solar Business”

Author: Solar Industry Association (SEIA)       Published:  10/10/19

National SolSmart program achieves goal to place 300 local governments on path to solar energy growth

solsmart logo

WASHINGTON, D.C., – From Anchorage, Alaska, to Sarasota, Florida, more than 300 local governments have now met national benchmarks for encouraging the growth of solar energy and removing barriers to solar market development.

These local governments have each received designation under SolSmart, a national program launched in 2016 that helps local governments make it faster, easier, and more affordable to go solar. SolSmart has now achieved its goal to designate at least 300 local governments as SolSmart Gold, Silver, or Bronze, for a total of 328 communities and counting.

SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association, and funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office. All designated communities have met national criteria to prove they have streamlined local procedures to make it easier for homes and businesses to install solar energy systems. SolSmart provides intensive technical assistance at no cost to help communities meet these goals.

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

“All across the nation, local governments are leading the way toward sustainable economic growth,” said Andrea Luecke, President and Executive Director at The Solar Foundation. “SolSmart is a high performing, breakthrough program that has already helped more than 300 communities turn their goals and the demands of their constituents into reality, working with them to reduce carbon emissions, lower energy costs, create jobs, and build more resilient infrastructure. With over 18,000 communities in the U.S., we are excited to help hundreds if not thousands more reap the benefits of solar energy and compatible technologies like storage.”

“Creating sustainable communities is at the heart of ICMA’s mission and today’s milestone demonstrates that local governments are making the transition to green energy a reality,” said Marc Ott, Executive Director of the International City/County Management Association. “We are proud to partner with The Solar Foundation, the Department of Energy and most of all local governments across the United States that have stepped up and made it easier for businesses and residents to go solar.”

The actions that SolSmart communities have taken help reduce soft costs, which are the non-hardware costs that today represent roughly 65% of the cost of solar installations. SolSmart helps local governments streamline permit approvals, review planning and zoning guidelines, facilitate group purchase campaigns, and improve solar financing options. Taken together, these actions help lower the overall costs of solar installations and allow the solar industry to expand more rapidly nationwide.

Anchorage, AK became the 300th community to achieve SolSmart designation, after the city installed Alaska’s largest solar array at the William A. Egan Civic and Convention Center. The first SolSmart designations were awarded in 2016 and included Kansas City, MO; Milwaukee, WI; Minneapolis, MN; Philadelphia, PA; Hartford, CT; and others. As the program gained momentum, it truly became national, as many communities that are not known for being “solar friendly” or having a sizable solar market got involved.

Some of the most recent designees include Durham, NC; Elkhart County, IN; San Jose, CA; Doylestown, PA; Stevens Point, WI; Mountain Iron, MN; Miami Lakes, FL; Decorah, IA; and Haddonfield, NJ, among others.

“For years state and local governments have been leading the way on solar energy adoption,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “Programs like SolSmart can improve local permitting practices and cut unnecessary costs, making it much easier for American families and businesses to go solar. We congratulate the hundreds of communities that are stepping up to make solar affordable and accessible.”

“Solar and battery permitting should be simple,” said Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun. “SolSmart has encouraged more people to adopt solar, created quality local jobs, and brought more reliable local clean energy to our energy system. We need more clean and resilient options in our local communities, and simplifying permitting is a proven way to make real progress.”

129 of the 328 communities have been designated SolSmart Gold, indicating that they have reached the program’s highest level of achievement. All Gold designated communities have reduced permitting turnaround times to 3 days or less for rooftop solar projects.

An additional 75 communities have achieved SolSmart Silver designation, while 124 have achieved SolSmart Bronze. Nearly one-fourth of all designees (79 in total) started out as Bronze and then worked with the SolSmart technical assistance team to improve local programs and practices and move up to Silver or Gold designation.

Among the 328 designees, some noteworthy achievements include:

  • 189 communities have set up web pages with detailed information on how members of the public can go solar.
  • 226 have ensured that zoning ordinances allow rooftop solar installations in all major areas without excessive restrictions or barriers.
  • 108 have set up group purchase campaigns, providing savings for residents and helping the solar industry reduce customer acquisition costs.
  • 95 have an online permitting submission option, speeding up approvals for installations.
  • All 328 designees have established a set of unique solar goals to help drive continual improvement in their local solar market.

“Chattanooga’s SolSmart Gold designation sends a clear market signal that Chattanooga is an attractive, sustainable place to do business,” said Christy Gillenwater, President & CEO of the Chattanooga Area Chamber of Commerce in Tennessee. “Our community is taking bold actions to advance solar energy, including our Chattanooga Airport’s solar farm, which generates enough power to equal the airport’s total energy needs. It’s the only U.S. airport to achieve this sustainable energy goal.”

One of the program’s linchpins for success was that communities competed to receive on-the-ground technical assistance from SolSmart Advisors, who are trained professional staff that live and work in the region for approximately six months. SolSmart Advisors work efficiently across local and state boundaries to help communities share ideas and achieve solar energy goals.

“The SolSmart advisor program has allowed the Great Plains Institute and our partners to mobilize local resources for its largest cohort, which encompasses three states in the upper Midwest and includes communities of all sizes, in metro and rural areas,” said Brian Ross, senior program director at the Great Plains Institute. “These resources and technical assistance are invaluable to busy city staff as they address the unique puzzle of how solar development fits into the fabric of their community and enables them to make progress on critical clean energy goals.”

Throughout the month of October, these 300 communities are planning events, local announcements, and other special activities to highlight their solar energy achievements. More information on these communities and their achievements can be found here.

###

About SolSmart: 

SolSmart is a national designation and technical assistance program that recognizes leading solar communities and empowers additional communities to expand their local solar markets. Funded by the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office, SolSmart strives to cut red tape, drive greater solar deployment, and make it possible for even more American homes and businesses to access solar energy to meet their electricity needs. More than 300 local governments in 40 states and the District of Columbia have achieved SolSmart designation, representing 82 million Americans. SolSmart is led by The Solar Foundation and the International City/County Management Association. Learn more at SolSmart.org.

About The Solar Foundation®: 

The Solar Foundation® is an independent 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization whose mission is to accelerate adoption of the world’s most abundant energy source. Through its leadership, research, and capacity building, The Solar Foundation creates transformative solutions to achieve a prosperous future in which solar and solar-compatible technologies are integrated into all aspects of our lives. Learn more at TheSolarFoundation.org.

About ICMA: 

ICMA, the International City/County Management Association, advances professional local government management worldwide through leadership, management, innovation, and ethics. ICMA provides member support; publications; data and information; peer and results-oriented assistance; and training and professional development to more than 12,000 city, town, and county experts and other individuals and organizations throughout the world. The management decisions made by ICMA’s members affect millions of individuals living in thousands of communities, from small villages and towns to large metropolitan areas. ICMA has gathered more data on local government than any organization except the federal government, spanning a broad spectrum from economic development to local government innovation. Learn more at ICMA.org.

About SEIA®: 

Celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2019, the Solar Energy Industries Association® is the national trade association of the U.S. solar energy industry, which now employs more than 242,000 Americans. Through advocacy and education, SEIA® is building a strong solar industry to power America. SEIA works with its 1,000 member companies to build jobs and diversity, champion the use of cost-competitive solar in America, remove market barriers and educate the public on the benefits of solar energy. Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

Media Contact: 

Avery Palmer, The Solar Foundation, 202-866-0908apalmer@solarfound.org

The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy

Author: Solar Industry Association (SEIA)   Published: 9/23/19

solar plus roadmap gif

SALT LAKE CITY and WASHINGTON, D.C. — As part of the first steps into the Solar+ Decade, the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released a roadmap that puts solar energy on a path to reaching 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030. The roadmap is a 10-year strategic vision for the solar industry that highlights both opportunities and systemic challenges the industry will need to overcome to reach its goals.

“The Solar+ Decade represents opportunity and a paradigm shift as we transform energy use in America,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of SEIA. “When we hit this goal, by 2030 we will more than double our workforce and add $345 billion in private investment, all while offsetting electricity sector emissions by 35%. But we can’t get there on momentum alone. We’ll need policies, alliances, and action from every member of the industry to make these goals a reality,” she continued.

Earlier this year, SEIA laid claim to the 2020s, as the Solar+ Decade to signify the leading role solar and its partners will play in reimagining our energy landscape. The roadmap spells out the benefits of reaching 20% solar by 2030, as well as the collaborations, policy mechanisms, and growth management the industry will need to make solar the leading source of new electricity generation.

solar installations to reach 20 percent by 2030

To achieve this goal, the solar industry will need to consider:

  • Collaborations: A cohesive solar industry and external partnerships will be key to the industry’s success. Partnerships with storage, wind, and other technologies will be critical to advance grid infrastructure and change how we generate, distribute and consume energy.
  • Market Accelerators: Economic and political forces outside of the solar industry, like energy storage, carbon reduction goals, and the further electrification of our economy have their own momentum and solar will need to continue to ride this wave of success.
  • Market Levers and Policy Drivers: Reaching 20% solar by 2030 will depend on a variety of factors, including the industry’s ability to find new opportunities for cost reductions and to move or change policies that can drive growth. The industry will need to streamline permitting challenges to reduce costs, continue its push on net energy metering and other state-level policy in emerging markets, and pass an extension of the ITC to continue growth.
  • Growth Management: The industry must consciously build a strong foundation to support itself. We must proactively address cybersecurity, recycling and land use challenges, as well as grid modernization and the inclusive, equitable distribution of opportunities in solar.

Numerous benefits, including the deployment of 500 gigawatts by the end of 2030 and a sharp reduction in emissions are on the line.

“As the solar industry prospers, we must be thoughtful about who’s benefiting from solar and the enormous economic and climate benefits it will bring,” said Ms. Hopper. “Together we can show that the Solar+ Decade is a story of inclusive growth that will both lift our communities and tackle our pressing climate challenges.”

Executive Summary

This roadmap offers a vision for the radical transformation of the nation’s energy system. It articulates where the solar industry stands today, sets the industry’s goal for the next decade and outlines the steps we must take to get there. The pages that follow will explain how the solar industry will expand exponentially from comprising 2.4% of the U.S. electricity mix today to 20% of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030.

This is an ambitious but achievable goal. Critically, none of it will happen without a collaborative, well-funded effort led by a strong national trade association.

We have identified four significant pillars of our plan to reach 20% by 2030 through radical market transformation:

  • We must work constructively with other industries and organizations that share our vision of radical market transformation. While our goal is predicated on solar penetration, we envision an electricity portfolio comprised of clean energy sources and technologies. Our ethos must be “aggressive collaboration.” We must be impactful and unabashed as we work with other stakeholders to advance storage, infrastructure, wind energy and any number of other technologies that will advance the solar vision and transform our markets.
  • There are a number of market accelerators that can increase solar energy adoption. Capitalizing on these accelerators, including energy storage, carbon reduction goals and electrification, will be critical to meeting our 2030 goal.
  • Market levers and policy drivers will play central roles in whether or not the solar industry reaches its destination. Climate policy, investment tax credit extension, state net energy metering, building codes and renewable portfolio standards all drive solar energy growth. Other factors include regional energy market rules, access to financing and opportunities to further reduce costs.
  • Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we must manage our growth. Whether it is gaining a social license to operate by being good stewards of the land, proactively addressing recycling, modernizing the grid to allow for more solar deployment, protecting customers or ensuring a diverse customer base and workforce, we have to show that we are growing in a responsible way.

Why set this goal of 20% by 2030 and articulate a vision of radical market transformation? Because, when we achieve this goal, we will have generated hundreds of billions of dollars in investment and created hundreds of thousands of American jobs. We will reduce carbon emissions by hundreds of millions of tons, replacing more than 150 polluting power plants. And, when done with intentionality, we will grow prosperity for all Americans by creating economic opportunity and clean abundant electricity for our communities.

Throughout this report, we outline actionable steps that must be undertaken to realize the 20% goal. Key actions include:

Short-term (one to two years):
  • Extend the Solar Investment Tax Credit.
  • Reduce trade barriers
  • Expand on state-level coordination with partners to strategically plan nation-wide solar advocacy.
  • Strengthen trade association technical capacity and resources to further engage in regulatory proceedings, including FERC, RTO/ISO and state bodies.
  • Develop shared policy priorities in the pan-renewable space.
  • Begin crafting policy priorities for carbon legislation that will provide certainty and maximize opportunity for the solar industry.
Mid-term (three to five years):
  • Be the voice of clean technology in the climate policy debate, including crafting carbon legislative priorities that will maximize opportunities for solar.
  • Achieve adoption of SolarAPP.
  • Position solar + storage as the marginal generation resource (i.e., the best, cheapest and most capable) in state and utility resource planning and procurement.
  • Build a self-sustaining, nationwide PV Recycling Network.
  • Build a workforce that better reflects our country.
  • Expand the U.S. solar supply chain and build out both new and underutilized solar technologies, including photovoltaic (PV), solar heating and cooling and concentrating solar power technologies.
  • Create a vision for longer-term financing mechanisms.
Long-term (five years and beyond):
  • Fully-fund a 50-state policy strategy.
  • Build new transmission to support solar growth, including lines that provide regional and system-wide renewable energy and reliability benefits.
  • Work to build solar powered infrastructure that serves as a national network supporting the full electrification of the transportation sector.
  • Establish a sophisticated, locally-driven solar engagement plan to support solar expansion.

SEIA is well positioned to lead this radical transformation and be the lynchpin for the aggressive collaboration that is needed. However, the solar industry writ large will need to actively engage on all of the areas identified in this roadmap. It will be a transformative and prosperous journey for those in the solar industry today, and the thousands of new companies and hundreds of thousands of workers who will join us on the road ahead.

Resource Type

Learn more about the Solar+ Decade: www.seia.org/solar-decade.

Visit SEIA online at www.seia.org.

Media Contact: 

Morgan Lyons, SEIA’s Senior Communications Manager, mlyons@seia.org (202) 556-2872

Introduction to Virtual Power Purchase Agreements for Corporations

Author: Zach Starsia             Published: March 13, 2019               Level 10 ENERGYVirtual Power Purchase Agreement Infographic

Virtual power purchase agreements (VPPAs) are becoming an increasingly popular way for corporations to achieve their renewable energy goals. Here’s the 101 on VPPAs for anyone who is exploring this option on behalf of their company for the first time.

First of all, what is a power purchase agreement?

A power purchase agreement (PPA) is a contract between an energy buyer and the developer of a renewable energy project that hasn’t been built yet. In the contract, the buyer guarantees that the developer will receive a fixed price for their energy, and in exchange the buyer receives renewable energy credits (RECs) for every megawatt hour of clean energy that is generated and sold. PPAs are long-term contracts, typically spanning 12-20 years, enabling the project developer to secure long-term financing and build the project.

What are the benefits of a power purchase agreement?

Corporations enter into PPAs for a variety of reasons. PPAs enable a corporation to:

  1. Offset Scope II Emissions – These are carbon dioxide emissions that are a result of the corporation’s electricity use.
  2. Make Renewable Energy Claims – With a PPA, a corporation can claim that all or part of its operations are “powered by renewable energy.”
  3. Contribute to Decarbonizing the Grid – PPAs result in the generation of clean energy that would not have been possible if it weren’t for the agreement; this is known as “additionality,” and is important to many stakeholders.
  4. Hedge Energy Costs – PPAs can act as a hedge against rising energy prices (read on for more info).

What is a virtual power purchase agreement?

When a company decides to pursue a PPA, the two most common options are a physical PPA or a virtual PPA. With a physical PPA – as the name implies – the corporation, or a designated third party, takes title to the physical energy at a specified delivery point on the electric grid. The physical energy can then be transmitted from that specified delivery point to the corporation’s energy account or meter.

With a virtual PPA, the energy doesn’t physically flow from the project to the buyer. It is merely a financial contract, which is why it’s often referred to as a “financial PPA.” In a VPPA, the energy is sold on the wholesale electricity market at a defined settlement location (node, trading hub or load zone). The buyer continues to get their electricity from their utility company at their utility’s rate. For more information on the differences between a physical and virtual PPA, check out “4 Questions to Ask Before Choosing a Physical or Virtual Power Purchase Agreement.”

A VPPA is settled financially as a fixed-for-floating swap or contract-for-differences. The buyer and developer will agree on a settlement period, typically every month or quarter. During that time, the developer will sell energy on the wholesale market, at the floating market price. At a pre-determined interval (typically every hour), the developer will calculate the difference between the floating market price and the fixed VPPA price. At the end of the settlement period, they’ll add up the differences. If the total is positive, the developer will pay the buyer the difference. If the total is negative, the buyer pays the developer the difference, thereby guaranteeing that the project always receives the agreed upon VPPA price for each megawatt hour.

How does a virtual power purchase agreement work?

There are two players that come to the table in a VPPA: the corporate buyer, and the developer of the renewable energy project. Corporate buyers want to achieve their renewable energy goals by procuring bundled RECs and bringing new clean generation projects to fruition (referred to as “additionality”). Developers are trying to sell their energy at a price that will enable them to reach their internal rate of return. If the developer can find a buyer who will guarantee that they get that price for 10+ years, they can get the financing they need to build the project.

Here are the general steps in the process:

  1. The developer begins development of the project (site control, permitting, interconnection, etc.)
  2. The buyer and developer sign the VPPA, which defines the terms of the contract and the transfer of RECs.
  3. The developer gets financing and begins construction of the project.
  4. Once the project is operational, the developer sells the energy on the wholesale power market in their area, at whatever the price is at the time (the floating price).
  5. At the end of the settlement period, the floating market price vs. fixed VPPA price will be calculated, and the developer or the buyer will pay the difference, depending on whether it was higher or lower than the VPPA price.
  6. The developer receives one REC for every megawatt hour sold. Under most VPPAs, the RECs are immediately transferred to the buyer.

Virtual Power Purchase Agreement Infographic

In addition to receiving RECs, a corporation has an opportunity to hedge energy costs through a VPPA. If energy prices rise where the buyer uses energy AND where the project sells energy, the buyer will have a higher utility bill, but (if the average wholesale market price rises above the VPPA price), they’ll also receive a payment from the developer. If energy prices decrease, they’ll have a lower utility bill, but they’ll also have to pay the developer at settlement (if the average wholesale market price is below the VPPA price). For this reason, hedges are more effective if the buyer uses most of their energy in the same electricity market as the project.

Where can virtual power purchase agreements take place?

With a VPPA, the project does not need to be located in the same wholesale electricity market as the company’s facilities. However, the project must able to deliver its energy to a deregulated (retail choice) electricity market that is run by one of the seven Regional Transmission Operators (RTOs) or Independent System Operators (ISOs) in the U.S.

Even though the corporation does not need to operate in the same wholesale market as the project, there are a few benefits to doing so:

  • Projects located in the same ISO will have a stronger correlation between the energy market price at the project location and the energy price the corporation pays on its utility bills. A stronger correlation between these prices has the potential to create a more effective long-term hedge on energy costs.
  • It may be important to corporate stakeholders to work with a project that is close to where it uses the most energy, so that the environmental benefits are in the same region as the corporations’ operations.

Electric Power Markets

What type of corporations can participate in a virtual power purchase agreement?

VPPAs are now an option for a wide variety of corporations, universities and other institutions. But that wasn’t always the case.

To get financing for a project, developers need to first find a buyer for the majority of energy the project will generate. Historically, developers would find a utility or a large corporation to purchase the majority of energy, and then – if there was any energy left over – they’d sign a PPA with a smaller corporation. This made it extremely challenging for a smaller corporation to find a developer willing to sell them just the right amount of energy.

Now, project developers are slicing up a project and selling the pieces to multiple buyers. This is referred to as “aggregation” – and it has the potential to transform the industry.  With aggregation, a developer doesn’t have to find a utility or large corporation first; multiple buyers can collectively purchase the majority of energy the project will produce, allowing the developer to get financing. By slicing up the project, buyers who don’t need extremely large volumes of energy are now able to participate in PPAs. For more information on aggregation, check out “What is Energy Aggregation? – A Primer.”

While aggregation is great in theory, it’s complicated to execute. To sell to multiple buyers, a developer has to knock on a lot of doors, convince multiple buyers to work with them, and find enough buyers to purchase the perfect amount of energy– not too much, not too little. On the flip side, before corporations can collaborate to purchase power from a project, they first have to find each other, coordinate their extensive list of internal stakeholders, and jointly navigate tricky timing issues and contract negotiations in order to get a deal over the finish line.

LevelTen Energy developed its Dynamic Matching Engine to solve this problem. The Engine analyzes all of the data in the LevelTen Marketplace – a comprehensive database of more than 1,600 renewable energy projects across North America – to identify optimal projects (or portfolios) based on each buyer’s needs. Through the power of data science, LevelTen Energy can uncover a project that meets a corporations’ needs in terms of size, price, risk, timing, location and other factors, whether they work alone, or with other buyers.

By bringing buyers and sellers together, and matching them in optimal ways, LevelTen is able to open the world of renewable energy VPPAs to thousands of corporations who were previously sitting on the sidelines. For more information about working with LevelTen, visit www.leveltenenergy.com.

U.S. Energy Markets 101: How Electricity Markets Work

Author: Maryssa Barron   Published: October 10, 2019       Level 10 Energy

The structure of the U.S. electricity market is complicated, to say the least. It reflects years of debates over federal vs. states’ rights, market regulation vs. deregulation, monopolies vs. competition, and who should be responsible for the generation, transmission, and distribution of power. In this primer, we will explore how energy markets work, the importance of competition in the energy markets, and how that affects the options that corporations have when buying renewable energy.

Let’s start from the beginning…

 

Vertically-Integrated Energy Markets

After inventing the lightbulb in 1879, Thomas Edison opened the United States’ first electrical power plant in lower Manhattan. The coal-fired Pearl Street Station was only 50 by 100 ft and served less than 100 customers (including J.P. Morgan, himself). Because there was no existing infrastructure for the delivery of electricity, in order to deliver the power from Pearl Street, it was incumbent on Edison to build, own, and operate the first electrical distribution systems, as well. This “vertically-integrated” model of electricity distribution, where a single company owns the power plants, transmission lines, distribution lines, and delivers electricity directly to the end customer, served as the model for most electric utility companies that followed. In fact, Edison’s utility, the Edison Illuminating Company, is still around today as Consolidated Edison (Con Ed), one of the biggest power suppliers in the country.

Though small, the Pearl Street Station marked a tremendous achievement for the burgeoning electricity market and sparked fierce competition between wealthy investors to dominate it. Within two years of its opening, dozens of new utilities had emerged across the country mimicking the Pearl Street business model. But as Manhattan became blanketed with thousands of power lines, serious safety and reliability concerns came to the fore.

To put it into perspective, imagine a city block where two neighbors bought electricity from two different utility companies, Utility A and B. Each customer would then have entirely different transmission lines and power plants delivering power to them. So, when the power plants of Utility A stopped working, all of its customers would lose power, while all of Utility B’s customers still had their lights on. Of course, the first power plants and transmission lines didn’t always work how they were supposed to (Pearl Street caught on fire within the first two years of operation), so blackouts–and upset customers–were very common.

To address this issue, savvy businessmen lobbied the local and state governments to allow for the consolidation of monopolies. They successfully argued that publicly-regulated monopolies could keep prices lower and make the grid more reliable and safe.  Thus, competition was eliminated and single utility companies were given the power to own and operate all transmission within a given geographic region.

Today, this is the hallmark of vertically-integrated energy markets. Also known as known as “traditionally regulated” markets, vertically-integrated regions still exist in many parts of the country. In these markets, utility companies, 80% of which are still privately-owned, own the transmission and distribution lines and all associated infrastructure, including the power supply itself.

 

The Emergence of the U.S. Electricity Grid

 

From New York and elsewhere in the United States, the electricity grids grew to encompass the entire nation. Despite many references to “the grid” in pop culture, America doesn’t have a single power grid. There are actually three grids that serve the lower 48 states, which are known as “interconnections”: The Western Interconnect, Eastern Interconnect and Texas Interconnect (also known as the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, or ERCOT). These interconnections operate relatively independently, meaning very little power is shared between them. Within these interconnections, there are vertically-integrated energy markets and competitive wholesale electricity markets.

 

Wholesale Electricity Markets

As Americans began relying more and more on electricity, there were increasing numbers of blackouts across the country and confidence in the monopolistic, private utilities dropped sharply. It was determined that more oversight was needed on a federal level – Enter the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Founded in 1977, FERC set out to regulate the transmission and wholesale sale of energy and transport across state and federal borders. (Fun fact: Because the Texas Interconnect does not cross state boundaries, it is not subject to FERC oversight.) Regarding the electricity grid, FERC is responsible for ensuring policies are in place that prevent major power outages.

To stymie FERC’s intervention, in the 1990s, power generators, utilities, and transmission owners came together to form organizations called, Independent System Operators (ISOs). These private, non-profit organizations received FERC approval to self-regulate and share transmission responsibilities. The ISOs are charged with overseeing the commodity market for electricity in their respective jurisdictions by dispatching power generation, controlling transmission and distribution, and guarantying sufficient generating capability to meet demand (i.e. to ensure reliability!).

There are seven Regional Transmission Organizations (RTO)/Independent System Operators (ISOs) in the U.S.:

  1.     California Independent Service Operator (CAISO)
  2.     Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO)
  3.     New York Independent Service Operator (NYISO)
  4.     Independent Service Operator New England (ISO-NE)
  5.     PJM Interconnection (PJM)
  6.     Southwest Power Pool (SPP)
  7.     Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT)

And two RTO/ISOs in Canada:

  1.     Alberta Electric System Operator (AESO)
  2.     Independent Electric System Operator (IESO)

Relevant to corporate buyers of renewable energy, ISOs play a key role in managing a competitive market for energy supply. In a wholesale electricity market, the price for electricity is changing every five minutes according to factors like demand and, increasingly, wind and solar resources. Below is a price contour map of SPP electricity prices where you can see how price can vary by geography.

The competitive wholesale market enabled the eventual development of the corporate virtual power purchase agreement (VPPA), by providing a liquid reference price against which the VPPA settles financially. See our blog post, “Introduction to Virtual Power Purchase Agreements” for more details on how this contract works.

While over two-thirds of the country are within an ISO, some utilities and states still operate under the traditional, vertically-integrated model – if the ISOs are ‘free markets’, these traditional utility models are monopolies – located in parts of the West and most of the Southeast. These monopolistic traditional utility models do not provide opportunities for corporates to enter into VPPAs for renewable energy.

 

What is retail electricity choice?

To further complicate the electricity landscape, within both vertically-integrated and wholesale markets, states can have either regulated or deregulated (i.e., competitive) retail electricity markets.

In regulated retail markets (not to be confused with the “traditionally regulated”/vertically-integrated markets), there is not competition between utilities for end consumers. In other words, the incumbent utility monopoly is the only available supplier of electricity. Residential and commercial users in regulated retail markets cannot shop for a different electricity supplier the same way they would for, say, a TV/Internet provider. In such markets, which are defined at the state-level, end electricity consumers do not have “retail choice.” Instead, utilities are regulated by Public Utility Commissions (PUCs) to ensure monopolies do not inflate prices unfairly for the public.

On the other hand, in deregulated retail markets, retail electricity providers compete to sell electricity to the end consumer. In these markets, the incumbent utilities still own the distribution (and sometimes the transmission) wires, and simply charge the competitive electricity suppliers for access. There are 18 states in the U.S. that offer retail electricity choice, allowing residential and commercial users to choose their electricity provider. Advocates for deregulation argue that introducing competition to the market keeps prices low for consumers and encourages more innovation in grid operations.

 

Competitive Renewable Energy Supply

Decades of competition and innovation have transformed the landscape of energy markets around the globe. Now, LevelTen Energy is leading the rapid growth of clean energy growth in the United States, Canada, and Europe by building competitive marketplaces for renewable energy supply. Unparalleled in the industry, the LevelTen Energy Marketplace is serving hundreds of buyers and sellers of renewable energy to transact on competitive supply offers, enabled by real-time analytics, incentives for developers to post their most up-to-date prices, and market transparency that is unavailable anywhere else. Already, new structures and aggregations are being developed, and there is no limit to where it will take us.

If your company is thinking about procuring renewable energy to meet its sustainability goals, LevelTen Energy advisors can help you understand your options. Contact us to learn more.

Supreme Court rejects SDG&E appeal on who pays for wildfire costs

Author: Rob Nikolewski           Published: 10/7/19          Los Angeles Times

 

Trump Administration rescinds 25% tariff exemption for bifacial solar panels

Tech tip: Manage energy consumption with a Fronius smart meter

  Author: Gronius       Published:  Oct. 8, 2019   Utility Dive

What is the Smart Meter?

Are you facing feed-in limitations for a solar system, or would you like to monitor a house’s energy consumption? Fronius has you covered: Introducing the Fronius Smart Meter, a bidirectional energy meter. Thanks to high accuracy and fast communication via Modbus RTU, the meter is suitable for various applications, such as dynamic feed-in management. Together with Fronius Solar.web, the Fronius Smart Meter offers a detailed overview of energy consumption within a home or business. The Fronius Smart Meter is compatible with the Fronius Galvo, Fronius Primo, and Fronius Symo.

Solar web

Solar.web is a versatile tool for monitoring your PV system. To get the best yield from the sun, you need to know how your PV system is performing. Solar.web offers you the best support for this. View a live demo here.

Your energy detective

Find the hidden problems with sneaky house appliances in your household that are limiting your energy consumption success. With the installation of a Smart Meter, you can track how, when and where energy is being used. By addressing these hidden areas you can make solar more financially beneficial without overcompensating with extra components

Get quality data the utility company won’t provide

Why would utility companies give us data on how we use energy when they can simply charge it for us instead? With the smart meter you can now take back control of your energy consumption.

Prep your solar system for storage

We know that the future of renewable is dependent upon storage, however as the market currently stands PV battery systems are quite expensive. But hey, just because we can’t afford storage now doesn’t mean we can’t get ready for it! With a Smart Meter detective on the case, you can address blind spots in your energy consumption and make adjustments now. After you have taken back the control of your energy you can then add in a battery system to a more holistic approach, both financially and analytically. Find out more details about Smart Meter here.

Energy Secretary Perry pulled into impeachment fray while denying reports he’ll resignu

UPDATE: Oct. 8, 2019:  Secretary Rick Perry rejected on Monday recent news coverage about his potential exit in November. “One of these days [the media] will probably get it right, but it’s not today, it’s not tomorrow, it’s not next month,” he told reporters. At the same time, he said he encouraged the president to talk to Ukranian leaders about importing U.S. oil.

Dive Brief:

  • Energy Secretary Rick Perry will not resign from the administration within the next month, he said at a press conference on Monday addressing Thursday reports from the Washington Post and Politico.
  • Perry has been pulled into the Congressional impeachment inquiry of President Donald Trump based on his recent travels to Ukraine. Senate Foreign Relations Ranking Member Robert Menendez, D-N.J., questioned the circumstances and details of Perry’s May 2019 trip for the Ukrainian president’s inauguration in a letter on Tuesday, requesting an official response no later than Friday.
  • Trump told House minority leaders on Friday that Perry had asked him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to talk about a natural gas plant, sources told Axios.

Dive Insight:

The Trump administration has led a campaign to increase U.S. energy exports, particularly to Europe, to offset exports from Russia. As Department of Energy Secretary and a member of Trump’s Cabinet since 2017, Perry has been an active part of that cause.

While part of those efforts included travel to Ukraine, no evidence has emerged to show Perry’s involvement in the current controversy related to that country.

“Secretary Perry absolutely supported and encouraged the President to speak to the new President of Ukraine to discuss matters related to their energy security and economic development,” Energy Department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes said in a statement.

Perry went to Lithuania on Monday night, according to Hynes, to meet with European energy leaders from countries relying on Russia for access to oil, including Ukraine, to discuss the need for improved regional energy security.

Perry used the term “freedom gas” to denote U.S. exports to parts of the world that would otherwise rely on a Russian supply of liquefied natural gas (LNG). The branding has been criticized by clean energy advocates, buthailed by Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee.

Perry has been a prominent advocate of LNG throughout his career, as the natural gas extraction industry underwent large growth when he served as Governor of Texas. Perry has touted the fuel as a cleaner emissions source compared to burning oil or coal.

He joined the administration seeking to champion the U.S. oil and gas industry. However, he also played a key role in supporting the nuclear fleet, including promoting the deployment of small nuclear reactors and supporting a proposal to create more federal incentives for existing nuclear and coal power plants.

Several investor-owned utilities have opposed the Department of Energy’sreview of baseload generation efforts, ordered by Perry in 2017. The Energy Department’s efforts to subsidize nuclear and coal eventually pitted Perry against gas generators and other natural gas stakeholders.

Regarding reports of Perry’s resignation, the Department of Energy has emphasized that no official announcements have been made.

“While the Beltway media has breathlessly reported on rumors of Secretary Perry’s departure for months, he is still the Secretary of Energy and a proud member of President Trump’s Cabinet,” Energy Department spokesperson Shaylyn Hynes told Politico and the Washington Post. “One day the media will be right. Today is not that day.”

Perry’s resignation, expected at the end of November, would be the latest of several departures from Trump’s top advisers. Perry is expected to return to the private sector, according to The Washington Post. Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette is expected to replace Perry, three sources told Politico.

As CCAs take over utility customers, local generation emerges as the next

The demand for customer choice has the potential to quicken the power system’s transition toward cheaper, cleaner power, and is moving beyond California.

Anenewed national expansion of community choice aggregation (CCA) is raising ambitions for transforming the U.S. power system.

On the heels of an explosion of customer choice in California over the last three years, the slowly growing aggregation market in Massachusetts is accelerating. In New York, a new version of aggregation is emerging. Customers in traditional markets like Illinois and Ohio are looking for new services from their aggregators. And national CCA organizations want to bring the choice to more states.

“Customers want more choice and more ways to green the grid, and aggregations offer both.”

Shawn Marshall

Executive Director, LEAN Energy

CCAs led by municipal governments were created to leverage the buying power of large groups of electricity users to get lower electricity prices and meet other customer demands. In deregulated power market states, thenewest aggregations are demanding the power sector meet grassroots customer demand for renewable, distributed and — increasingly — local generation.

“Customers want more choice and more ways to green the grid, and aggregations offer both,” Shawn Marshall, executive director of national aggregation advocacy group LEAN Energy, told Utility Dive. “Overturning the status quo is not easy, but we are seeing a lot of interest.”

In states with legislation that enables aggregation, momentum is growing. Aggregation’s popularity is softening utility resistance. Renewables developers’ initial concerns about its creditworthiness are transmuting intocommitments to make deals happen.

One conflict aggregation still must face is the gap between the power system’s reliance on bulk and diversitfied generation and the dream of a power system comprised entirely of local resources.

How and why aggregation works

Aggregation of investor-owned utility (IOU) customers is often called “public power lite” because responsibility for the delivery infrastructure and billing remain with the IOU but, like a publicly owned utility, the aggregation’s generation mix is selected, controlled by and priced to the needs of customers instead of the utility business.

Nine states have legislation that authorizes local governments to aggregate IOU customers and leverage the buying power of their electricity purchases. In six of the nine states, IOU customers automatically become part of the a local authority’s aggregation unless they opt out and stay with the IOU. Ohio, Virginia and New Hampshire shift the opt-in/opt-out decision to the local government.

Aggregation has so far been done only in states with fully or partially deregulated power markets, where generation can be purchased from retail electricity providers (REPs) or independent power providers.

“Legislation authorizes aggregation of customers’ load in any competitive electric market,” Marshall said. But it is “less difficult in retail states” because procurement of generation is already separated from ownership and maintenance of delivery infrastructure.

The first aggregations were in Massachusetts and Ohio in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Local Power President Paul Fenn told Utility Dive. “The primary paradigm was cheaper power.” A “second wave” in the last decade shifted emphasis to renewables and “rate parity” that would simply “meet or beat” utility rates rather than steeply undercut them.

There are now “West coast and East coast versions of aggregation,” LEAN Energy’s Marshall added. “In California, the market is partially deregulated and CCAs purchase generation in wholesale markets through long-term contracts. In fully deregulated Midwestern and Northeastern markets, aggregators buy generation retail through short-term contracts.”

As the momentum behind aggregations and their leaders’ sense of what they can accomplish has grown, contracting and marketing issues have become more complex.

Capabilities and complexities are growing as the model evolves. |
Credit: LEAN Energy

Three versions

The ultimate objective is CCA version 3.0, Fenn and Marshall said.

In version 1.0, aggregations rely largely on market power, renewable energy certificates (RECs), and streamlined operations to lower utility bills. By the end of their first two years, they typically begin to sign power purchase agreements or deliver large-scale renewable generation in other ways, according to LEAN Energy.

Around year three, aggregations begin version 2.0 by offering programs and incentives for zero emissions electricity. Offerings typically include on-bill financing for energy efficiency or distributed generation and rebates for participation in electric vehicle charging and demand response programs.

“There is a lot of program innovation in Massachusetts, even compared to California.”

Paul Fenn

President, Local Power

Beyond three years, version 3.0 would provide generation and programs that lead to more community economic development and local renewables, according to LEAN Energy. That could include microgrids sized to make communities self-reliant, built around community solar or community wind with storage and enhanced building and transportation electrification.

So far, version 3.0 is only partially realized, and only in California, Fenn said.

The Northeast Ohio Public Energy Council is one of the longest-standing U.S. aggregations, serving 900,000 customers in over 230 communities, but remains in version 1.0, Marshall said. It has saved ratepayers $3 billion per year for the last eight years, according to its website. But it “faces a policy mindset that is taking it backwards on energy policy.”

“Green” aggregations that exist in Massachusetts and are emerging in New York led to the current aggregation expansion in the Northeast. For East coast customers, Version 2.0’s offering of greener power at no cost premium is often “more compelling than getting a 10% rate discount,” Fenn said. “There is a lot of program innovation in Massachusetts, even compared to California.”

Version 3.0 is “a profoundly different approach, an energy transformation,” that represents the renaissance of CCAs, Fenn said. It is based on local solar, storage and energy efficiency, plus other distributed renewables, and focuses on load shaving and reform. But the approach only exists in California, having just emerged within the last year or two, said Fenn.

Ultimately, version 3.0 will produce CCAs that are energy retailers and provide unbundled procurement, schedule transmission with their ISO, and have their own credit and collaterall. Each could essentially be “like a mini-utility,” Fenn said.

Access to choice is growing across the country. |

Indicator states

Three states represent the versions of aggregation being used, expanded or tested beyond California, Fenn and Marshall said.

The number of CCAs in Massachusetts is growing slowly, but the move by aggregators to add more renewables in their power mixes is starting to accelerate that growth. CCA growth in Illinois has been falling off, but stakeholders are looking at new ways it can add value for customers. And New York CCAs are developing a new business model in which services as well as customers are aggregated.

Massachusetts

Massachusetts now has over 140 municipal energy aggregations (MEAs), the state’s version of CCAs, according to LEAN Energy. Growth has been steady for five years but seems poised to spike when major population center aggregations in Boston, Springfield and Worcester launch in 2019 or 2020.

Two factors have been key in Massachusetts and other Northeastern deregulated markets, stakeholders agreed. One is a new emphasis on moving to version 2.0, with environmental groups calling for MEAs to build “Green MEAs” based on new local renewables instead of REC purchases.

The City of Newton’s aggregation is led by former Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities Chair Ann Berwick, now Newton’s co-director of sustainability.

“Newton is a Green MEA, but our price is competitive with the utility basic service,” Berwick told Utility Dive. That shows today’s low renewable energy costs can allow aggregations to move toward version 2.0. But rushing to version 3.0’s high cost local resources “does not make sense” because version 2.0 MEAs “can drive the renewables market and potentially get a better rate than IOUs.”

The other value aggregations offer is “consumer protection” because they are created by local governments, Berwick said. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey’s office has data on REPs’ predatory marketing practices and concluded competition has not worked and should be eliminated — except for MEAs.

The growth of MEAs in Massachusetts is not due to problems with retail suppliers, “and, in fact, the MEAs are served by retail suppliers,” Senior Corporate Affairs Director Chris Kallaher of multi-state REP Direct Energy told Utility Dive. More significant factors are state rules streamlining compensation to REPs and rules allowing REPs and MEAs to access lower prices in energy markets.

“We are working with the Attorney General’s office and state regulators to address these issues without compromising the potential for innovation that competition drives,” he added.

Illinois

Illinois is seeing a “resurgence” of aggregation growth after its 2011 to 2013 expansion slowed in 2014, according to LEAN Energy. In 2018, 571 of Illinois’ 745 communities were being served by aggregations.

Temporarily, above-market IOU electricity rates drove the two-year market spike, but growth has leveled as customers gradually returned to their IOUs when the price advantage disappeared, according to Illinois Citizens Utility Board Executive Director David Kolata.

Aggregation can still be a valuable option for customers, but it must offer more than short-term price savings, said Kolata. As in Massachusetts, REP “fraud and scams” support interest in aggregation, he said. Big businesses have the bargaining power and sophistication to avoid predatory marketing, “but residential customers need the leverage of municipal aggregations to make competition work for them.”

“It is quite possible there are companies doing things that are not particularly customer friendly,” Direct Energy’s Kallaher said. “But REPS are competing with established utilities to win residential customers and the solution is not to end it, but to fix it.”

To add to customer’s value proposition and drive growth, municipalities must also acquire an understanding of energy markets and learn how to manage system demand, Kolata said. “They need to incorporate demand response and energy efficiency and other future technologies and strategies to optimize the total load shape because that can transform the resource mix at lower-than-utility prices.”

That is what Fenn and Marshall would call version 3.0, and “some Illinois municipalities are thinking through how to do more to shape load,” Kolata said.

New York

“New York is a newer aggregation market but the number of cities enrolling is growing very fast and it is about to see tremendous expansion,” Marshall said.

REPs’ “pervasive marketing fraud” and failure to serve residential and small business customers is again a driver, Fenn said. New York “is probably the next big huge growth area, because they are offering what people want, which is competitive prices, fraud protection, carbon reductions, renewables, local renewables and energy efficiency.”

New York’s first aggregation Westchester Power launched in May 2016 and now serves 27 communities, Program Director Dan Welsh told Utility Dive. With a focus on keeping rates competitive, “we are basically version 1.0, but we also offer community solar, electric heat pumps and energy efficiency,” he said.

Westchester Power is less interested in version 3.0 than in “cross-marketing an evolution of options,” Welsh said. “The plain vanilla offering is based on RECs, which we now provide to 24 of our 27 municipalities. Community solar is also an option. And we are working toward meeting our load with local renewables.”

“There is a learning curve and making it work is years away. Imagination is running much faster than reality.”

Ronnie Lipschutz

Co-Director, Sustainable Systems Research Foundation

The “evolutionary process” will also allow Westchester to incorporate learning from New York’s smart meter rollout, he said. Smart meters could support time varying rates and the use of more local renewables “by shaping our load” so that demand coincides with “when renewables are more available and more affordable.”

Inspired by these states’ rapid growth, aggregation proponents are actively working toward enabling legislation in Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Colorado, Oregon, and regulation in Arizona, Marshall said. “Pennsylvania and Connecticut are most likely because they are deregulated markets and only need aggregation enabling statutes.”

But the aggregation dream has begun confronting reality.

The reality and the dream

Aggregation 3.0 is beyond reach today because a system based entirely on grid-connected local distributed resources that protects resilience and reliability is “a very tricky balancing act,” Sustainable Systems Research Foundation Co-Director Ronnie Lipschutz told Utility Dive. “There is a learning curve and making it work is years away. Imagination is running much faster than reality.”

The growth of CCAs also introduces regulatory complexities, Matthew Freedman senior attorney for consumer advocacy group The Utility Reform Network told Utility Dive. Aggregation is an opportunity only if it does not prevent “state oversight and control needed to ensure achieving resource planning and policy objectives.”

These concerns are raised often by California policymakers and utility leaders. Aggregation leaders are working to address them, but the concernscontinue to be raised, though many stakeholders don’t want to go on the record criticizing aggregation because of its growing political momentum.

“California’s now-maturing CCAs have overcome market realities and IOU opposition before, and they are moving toward the vision.”

Shawn Marshall

Executive Director, LEAN Energy

Statewide energy policy initiatives, especially those directed at protecting system reliability, require coordination “unless policymakers choose to decentralize procurement and reliability entirely,” he added.

Some states leave reliability issues to capacity markets, or compliance through REC purchases, but neither assures the development of new in-state renewables, he said. Other states, like New York and Illinois, procure through central agencies. States enabling aggregation must decide how they will protect policy goals and reliability standards.

CCAs bring “fresh energy” to regulatory debates and their commitments to renewables offer “real added value,” Freedman said. But a more effective strategy might be to focus on “what they can do at the local level with energy storage and energy efficiency initiatives and building and transportation electrification programs.”

That, of course, is version 3.0, which Fenn and Marshall said remains more of an aspiration than an achievement, even in California.

“CCA 3.0, based entirely on local resources, is not in place yet,” Marshall said. And the goal is compromised by fully deregulated markets’ “short-term focus.”

It could also be compromised by California CCAs’ recent long-term procurements, she said. If market circumstances shift and communities return to IOUs or move to newer suppliers, aggregations could be left with the same stranded asset burden the state’s IOUs now face.

“But California’s now-maturing CCAs have overcome market realities and IOU opposition before, and they are moving toward the vision,” said Marshall.

Nothing standing in the way of energy storage’s ‘explosive growth’: Navigant

Author: HJ Mai          Published: 9/16/19   Utility Dive

The growth of the global energy storage market is creating one headline after another, as analysis after analysis predicts new heights of investments and deployments. Coupled with falling technology costs, particularly for lithium-ion batteries, energy storage is expected to play a key part in the global transition toward a more sustainable and reliable power grid.

“Nothing really does seem to be standing in the way of its explosive growth,” Ricardo Rodriguez, research analyst for distributed energy storage at Navigant Research, told Utility Dive.

“[T]he biggest driver of growth going forward — outside of cost — is likely to be the development of new market opportunities and value streams that are opened up by favorable federal and state regulations.”

Ricardo Rodriguez

Research analyst, Navigant Research

The market research company in its latest report identified close to 2,100 energy storage projects globally. And international storage markets are anticipated to grow exponentially over the next decade, a second report from Rethink Technology Research found.

“There are really five primary drivers for storage today,” Rodriguez said. “They are changing rate structures, [electric vehicle] charging integration, solar PV integration, resiliency/backup power, and to some degree, business model innovation. But I think the biggest driver of growth going forward — outside of cost — is likely to be the development of new market opportunities and value streams that are opened up by favorable federal and state regulations.”

Market opportunities for storage

The Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities issued a recent order to allow utility companies to pay commercial property owners if they agree to rely upon their energy storage systems during peak events. The order was a landmark state regulation in the energy storage space, according to Rodriguez.

“I think it was one of the first orders in the nation to incentivize behind the meter battery storage,” he said.

The Navigant report also highlighted the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order 841 and the United Kingdom’s ancillary services markets for creating new value streams for energy storage.

FERC Order 841, which was issued in February 2018, directs independent system operators and regional transmission organizations to establish rules and regulations to open up their wholesale energy, capacity and ancillary services markets to energy storage resources.

Aside from a favorable regulatory structure, utility companies around the country are increasingly betting on renewable energy coupled with energy storage, rather than building new natural gas plants, Rodriguez said. “What we saw in 1Q and 2Q was that a key driver for both utility-scale and distributed-scale storage was traditional generation replacement,” he said.

One such utility is Florida Power and Light Co. (FPL), which in March announced what it says is the world’s largest solar-powered battery storage system — a 409 MW/900 MWh facility set to begin operations in 2021. “The intention behind that project was to accelerate the retirement of two 1970s-era natural gas units that FPL relies heavily upon,” Rodriguez said

That idea is consistent with a July National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) study, which concluded that every region across the U.S. offers the potential for peaking capacity needs to be met by short-duration, four-hour battery storage systems.

“One of the largest takeaways I had after concluding my report was that identifying the most economical projects and the highest potential customers for storage has really become a priority for a diverse set of companies, including power providers, grid operators, battery manufacturers and research integrators,” Rodriguez said. “Because of that, we’re starting to see much more purposeful installations.”

The international landscape

North America, the Asia Pacific and Western Europe were the leading regions for deployed energy storage power capacity during the second quarter of 2019, Navigant found, with lithium-ion batteries remaining the fastest growing storage technology.

“The majority of investment today is in battery storage, and part of that is because lithium-ion batteries are the energy source of choice for new projects because of their falling prices,” Rodriguez said. “Also, because of the shorter development timeline, relative to other energy storage technologies and flexible operating parameters.”

A second report published last week by Rethink concluded that global energy storage will grow from 6 GWh installed today to 635 GWh by 2030.

Annual energy storage additions will jump from 6 GWh this year to 101 GWh by 2030, according to Rethink’s report. The U.K.-based market research company predicts that the Asia Pacific region, led by China, will dominate dominate installations with 273 GWh, or some 43% of the total expected capacity, while Europe and the U.S. will account for about 31% of cumulative capacity.

Rethink Technology Research believes that lithium-ion batteries will remain the predominant storage technology over the next decade, spurred by the anticipated growth of the EV market.

“The top 10 [battery] manufacturers alone have planned some 510 GWh of annual global factory capacity by 2030, with 45% of global lithium-ion manufacturing capacity located in China, Europe and South Korea,” the company said in a statement.

Unlike other analyses, Rethink Technology expects a weaker U.S. market, unless lawmakers will extend the investment tax credit (ITC) to include storage technologies. The ITC is set to expire at the end of 2021 for residential systems, while a permanent 10% credit will remain in place for commercial systems. Currently, storage systems can qualify for the credit if paired with solar.

“[S]ignposts such as the record residential storage quarter, massive FTM pipeline growth, and innovative policies such as the Massachusetts clean peak standard point towards an industry that is maturing and should stabilize at scale over the next two years.”

Dan Finn-Foley

Head of energy storage, Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables

Rising customer interest and incentives in more states contributed to a 41% quarter-over-quarter increase in the U.S. residential storage market during the second quarter of 2019, the latest U.S. Energy Storage Monitor from Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables and the U.S. Energy Storage Association found.

While the residential storage sector set a new record in Q2 with the deployment of 35 MW, analysts lowered the overall U.S. energy storage outlook for all of 2019. Wood Mackenzie said that weaker-than-expected mid-year numbers in some behind-the-meter markets and front-of-the-meter (FTM) project delays caused the outlook to fall to 478 MW, an increase of 54% over the 311 MW deployed in 2018.

“The nascent energy storage market in the U.S. continues to grow in fits and starts,” Dan Finn-Foley, head of energy storage for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said in a statement. “But signposts such as the record residential storage quarter, massive FTM pipeline growth, and innovative policies such as the Massachusetts clean peak standard point towards an industry that is maturing and should stabilize at scale over the next two years.”

A Trump tariff boost? Georgia solar manufacturing plant will be North America’s largest

Author: Catherine  Morehouse   Sept. 24, 2019     Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • A global photovoltaic manufacturer on Friday opened the largest solar manufacturing plant in the western hemisphere, citing the Trump administration’s import tariffs as critical to its decision to build.
  • The plant is located in Georgia and will produce 12,000 solar panels a day along with 1.7 GW of module capacity annually, according to manufacturer Hanwha Q Cells. Approximately 80% of U.S. solar panels were imported in 2017, with the majority of those imports coming from Asian countries, causing concern among solar developers and advocates that the president’s tariffs would drive prices up and hurt the domestic market.
  • Hanwha Q Cells “long had wanted” to build panels in the U.S., which is the company’s largest market, Scott Moskowitz, director of strategy and market intelligence at Hanwha Q Cells North America told Utility Dive in an email. “The tariffs were the tipping point for us in deciding to build a factory.” The solar industry maintains, however, that the administration’s tariffs have slowed sector growth overall.

Dive Insight:

The Hanwha Q Cells factory represents a boost to domestic manufacturing and a positive result of the tariffs.

“The [Trump] Administration signaled they wanted to develop a domestic solar manufacturing industry and we responded to that,” said Moskowitz.

Trump’s tariffs took effect February 2018, causing a steep fall in photovoltaic (PV) installations from the second to third quarter of 2018. Tariffs were set at 30%, declining 5% annually until they reach 15% in 2021.

The majority of U.S. solar imports came from Asia in 2017, with Malaysia and Korea leading. |
Credit: Statista

But the industry bounced back after an initial hit, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, which reported that PV imports rose approximately 16% in the four months of 2019, compared to the average number of imports in the first four months of 2017, before the tariffs were put in place. Continued falling costs for panels may be offsetting the tariffs, according to EIA, leading to overall stable prices.

Solar imports took a hit in 2018, but are beginning to bounce back this year. |

Solar advocates maintain that despite the positive sign for domestic manufacturing, the industry would have done better without the impacts of import tariffs.

“We support the companies that invested in U.S. module assembly facilities in response to recent tariffs and believe we need more manufacturing capacity to meet our long term goals for the industry,” John Smirnow, vice president of market strategy and general counsel for SEIA, told Utility Dive in an email.

U.S. installations dipped in the first quarter of 2019, but WoodMackenzie and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) forecast 17% growth overall in 2019 for solar, with 12.6 GW of new capacity expected.

“The U.S. solar market, however, would undoubtedly look better today without the tariffs,” said Smirnow. “Data shows that we have lost thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in investment, but this is a resilient industry.”

Maintaining the resilience of the industry will require delaying the investment tax credit (ITC) phaseout, say Smirnow and Moskowitz, which is set to phaseout in 2021, expiring entirely for residential customers by January 2022 and winding down to 10% for commercial solar customers. Bipartisan legislation introduced in the Senate July 25 would extend the full ITC for five years.

“The outlook for the U.S. solar industry is strong no matter the policy, but we are highly supportive of delaying the step down in the ITC,” said Moskowitz.

SEIA’s 10-Year Roadmap for U.S. Solar: What You Need to Know

Author: Gwen Brown     Published:   9/28/19      Aurora  Blog

Credit: SolarWorld

 

This past week, the Aurora team had the pleasure of exhibiting at Solar Power International (SPI), which brought more than 19,000 professionals to Salt Lake City—making it the largest energy event in North America! SPI provided a powerful platform for companies (including Aurora) to showcase their latest innovations and for the industry to collaborate on important issues and unite around a common vision.

Beyond individual company achievements, perhaps the most pivotal outcome of SPI 2019 was the announcement of a new 10-year strategic plan from the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

Although the solar industry has grown by leaps and bounds, achieving exponential growth in installed capacity and formidable reductions in costs, today solar energy still makes up only 2.4% of the total U.S. electricity mix. Looking toward the future, SEIA has set the ambitious goal of making solar account for 20 percent of all U.S. electricity generation by 2030. Ambitious, yet achievable.

SEIA’s new roadmap—The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy—lays out an action plan for how this target can be reached, highlighting four pillars for achieving the radical market transformation that will be necessary. In today’s article, we dig into the action plan SEIA has articulated for the U.S. solar industry to reach 20% of electricity by 2030, what will be involved, and what all of this means for your solar company.

See how Aurora Solar software can help you close more sales in a free consultation.

Why Does This Matter?

To start, what are the implications of realizing this 10-year industry strategy? As SEIA President and CEO Abby Hopper explains, “If we achieve 20 percent solar by 2030, the potential payoff to our economy would be enormous.”

“Picture this: solar could add more than $345 billion to the U.S. economy over the next ten years, reaching $53 billion annually. The solar workforce would grow to 600,000 professionals and Americans would enjoy greater energy choice, lower utility bills, and cleaner air. Moreover, our success could prove that climate solutions don’t hurt the economy, but instead, are some of the strongest economic growth engines we’ve seen in decades.”

Clearly, achieving this target would transform not only our industry, but would bring about considerable positive benefits for the U.S. economy and the world. Yet there are many challenges that will need to be overcome to make this vision a reality.

As SEIA worked to develop its plan for achieving these goals, Hopper testified before the House Science Committee Subcommittee on Energy. She notes that she “felt it was important to share industry pain points with the subcommittee—like permitting and interconnection, workforce diversity and preparedness, grid modernization and resilience, advanced manufacturing, and energy storage integration—and begin advocating for a stronger solar future today.” Addressing these pain points will be critical to success.

Annual solar installations required (GWh) for solar energy to reach 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030Annual solar installations required (GWh) for solar energy to reach 20% of U.S. electricity generation by 2030, according to SEIA’s 10-year roadmap, The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy.

How Will Solar Reach 20% of Generation by 2030?

SEIA’s roadmap is built around four pillars. These are: aggressive collaboration, capitalizing on market accelerators, using market levers and policy drivers, and responsibly managing our growth as an industry. Let’s take a closer look at each.

1. Collaborating Aggressively

SEIA emphasizes that for solar to supply 20% of our country’s electricity, our work can’t be done alone. That means within our industry diverse sectors need to work together, and we must be united in our messages to build public and political support.

It also means reaching beyond the boundaries of our own industry to collaborate with other stakeholders and renewable energy sectors. That includes working “closely with the wind and storage industries and related technologies to create a comprehensive renewable mindset in this country,” as well as other stakeholders like utilities, climate advocates, corporate buyers, and federal and governments.

(See page 9 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to collaboration.)

2. Capturing the Benefits of Market Accelerators

SEIA identifies “a number of market accelerators that can increase solar energy adoption.” Specifically, it identifies energy storage, carbon reduction goals, and electrification as key levers for enabling this level of solar growth. Storage will make it easier to incorporate high levels of solar energy on the grid, help customers manage moves to time of use rates, and the two technologies create new business opportunities for each other.

Climate policies, and related moves to electrify much of our energy use—from homes to vehicles, will create significant market opportunities for solar. We are already seeing the benefits of these kinds of policies at the state and local level, such as California’s (and other state and local) commitment to sourcing 100% of electricity from clean energy, and its mandate of solar on all new homes starting next year.

(See pages 10-12 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to these market accelerators.)

To learn more about what CA’s 100% clean energy target means for solar,

watch our GTM webinar with the California Energy Commission and
the California Solar and Storage Association!

3. Using Market Levers and Policy Drivers

A third and critical pillar of SEIA’s roadmap is the use of market levers and policy drivers. As the roadmap asserts, “The 20% goal is not achievable under business-as-usual growth projections. To put the industry on a path to deeper levels of penetration, we must drive down costs, develop new financing mechanisms, and build stronger federal and state policy.”

The roadmap identifies several specific areas of focus including climate policy, extension of the Investment Tax Credit—which is slated to begin stepping down at the end of this year, state net energy metering policies, building codes, renewable portfolio standards, regional energy market rules, and access to financing. It also highlights opportunities to further reduce costs, such as by streamlining permitting costs.

(See pages 14, 15, 17, and 19 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to these market levers and policy drivers.)

Estimated U.S. Solar Generation (GWh) Across Policy Scenarios & Targets, according to SEIA’s 10-year roadmap,The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy.

4. Managing Growth

The final pillar of this 10-year roadmap deals with how the industry will manage this unprecedented level of growth in a responsible way. “Whether it is gaining a social license to operate by being good stewards of the land, proactively addressing recycling, modernizing the grid to allow for more solar deployment, protecting customers, or ensuring a diverse customer base and workforce, we have to show that we are growing in a responsible way,” asserts SEIA.

In addition to environmental responsibility on issues like recycling and land use, a key focus in this area is ensuring that the diversity of the industry reflects the diversity of the nation – both in terms of our employees and customers, as Hopper and other panelists discussed in the Opening Session at SPI.

(See pages 20 – 27 of the full roadmap for specific action items SEIA has identified related to managing growth.)

Estimates for solar industry workforce by year on its path to 20% by 2030, according to SEIA’s 10-year roadmap,The Solar+ Decade: Roadmap for Building the Solar+ Economy.

What Does This Mean for You?

This roadmap gives members of the U.S. solar industry transparency into the priorities of its national trade association, including what SEIA will be advocating for on your behalf with federal and local governments. The report includes specific action items and priorities for the short-term, mid-term, and long-term.

In the short-term, over the next two years, priorities include the extension of theSolar Investment Tax Credit (ITC). At SPI, SEIA presented estimates that a 10-year extension of the ITC would lead to $87 billion in new private sector investment and an additional 113,000 American jobs over baseline estimates by 2030. Other priorities include reducing trade barriers, increasing state-level coordination, and strengthening its technical capacity to engage in regulatory proceedings.

Over the next three to five years, goals include achieving adoption of its SolarAPP program to reduce permitting complexity, building a national PV RecyclingNetwork, increasing diversity in the industry, and positioning solar + storage as the best, cheapest and most capable generation resource in state and utility resource planning (among other goals). SEIA sets other ambitious goals for the final five years of this ten-year plan.

We encourage you to check out the full roadmap for all of the details and think about how you can get involved! As Abby Hopper explains, “If the solar industry fails to meet our ambitious goals for U.S. electricity generation, it will be because we fail in the next couple of years lay the necessary groundwork. While it won’t be easy, it’s up to us to shape our future and create a new story for solar in the United States.”

PG&E noteholders propose injecting $29.2B in utility in exchange for majority stake

Author: Sept. 26, 2019  Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • A group of Pacific Gas & Electric noteholders on Wednesday proposed injecting $29.2 billion in new money into the bankrupt utility in exchange for control of the company and new debt ahead of the Thursday deadline for the utility’s exclusive filing period.
  • The proposal includes $14.5 billion to pay fire victims and $11 billion for insurance subrogation claims. In exchange, noteholders want 59.3% of the reorganized PG&E’s outstanding common stock.
  • Earlier this month PG&E filed its own plan for exiting Chapter 11, which included $17.9 billion to pay wildfire claims. On Wednesday, the utility requested a federal bankruptcy judge extend its period of exclusivity, during which only it can propose a reorganization plan, until Nov 29.

California proposes IOUs collect $900M annually for wildfire fund, with one major hurdle for PG&E

Author: RobertWalton@dogteamwetdog   Published: 9/25/19

Dive Brief:

  • The California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposed decisionMonday that would authorize the state’s investor-owned utilities to collect $902.4 million annually for a wildfire mitigation fund authorized by state lawmakers this summer.
  • The $21 billion fund would be seeded by both shareholders and ratepayers. AB 1054 determined that customers would pay into the fundthrough a $2.50 monthly charge on bills that has been in place since the state’s energy crisis, and had been slated to roll off.
  • For bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility will need to exit Chapter 11 by a legislatively-set June 30, 2020, deadline in order to access the new fund.

Dive Insight:

California utilities say they are reviewing the proposed decision, but that it appears consistent with the legislature’s intent. The state’s utilities have all struggled with wildfire dangers — PG&E’s liabilities related to the state’s 2017 and 2018 fires helped push it into bankruptcy and set the stage for the fund’s creation.

At one point, PG&E said its fire liabilities could total $30 billion. The utility has since reached two major settlements.

Southern California Edison said it was reviewing the proposed decision, but “we agree that imposing a non-bypassable charge to support the wildfire fund is just and reasonable and consistent with the intent of AB 1054.”

The commission’s proposed order sets the maximum annual revenue requirement for the Wildfire Fund non-bypassable charge at $902.4 million, from the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities.

For PG&E, that would mean collections up to $404.6 million; Southern California Edison could collect up to $408.2 million, and San Diego Gas & Electric could collect $89.6 million.

The revenue requirements were legislatively set, and in line with AB 1054, according to the commission’s proposed decision, which notes that “once the revenue requirement is set by this decision it cannot be changed until 2036.”

Recommended Reading:

: Interview With Alfred D. Swailes Owner A&A Distributor

Author: aapremiumpaintdistributor.com Published: 9/25/19

 

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