Author: Robert Walton Published: August 20, 2019 Utility Dive
Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced on Twitter Sunday that the company has “relaunched” its solar division and will offer to rent rooftop panels to homeowners in six states, starting at $50/month for a 3.8 kW system.
The company plans to offer panels for rent in Southwest states that get a lot of sun throughout the year, like California, Arizona and New Mexico, and East Coast states with clean energy goals, like Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Jersey.
Tesla bought SolarCity in 2016, when it was the leading solar installer in the United States. Since the $2.6 billion acquisition, the company has lost market share as installations declined.
Tesla is looking for ways to reverse its declining solar market share. The company installed 6.3% of the U.S. residential solar capacity in the first quarter of 2019 — falling into third place, behind Sunrun’s 11% market share and Vivint Solar’s 7.6% share, according to WoodMackenzie.
Musk announced the relaunch with typical bombast.
“With the new lower Tesla pricing, it’s like having a money printer on your roof if you live a state with high electricity costs,” Musk tweeted. “Still better to buy, but the rental option makes the economics obvious.”
A simple online form allows a customer to choose from three sizes of systems: 3.8 kW, 7.6 kW and and 11.4 kW. The company charges no installation fee and does not require a long-term contract, but requires a $100 fee for signing up. Tesla says removing the panels will cost $1,500.
Tesla did not respond to questions about the relaunch, including whether the company would utilize its delayed “solar roof” product.
Tesla announced the solar roof more than two years ago, but has never rolled out the product at scale. The high-end panels are designed to look like traditional roofing materials, while working to tie together Tesla’s corporate strategy of linking energy storage, solar and transportation electrification.
All told, customers of 20 utilities will be able to take advantage of Tesla’s solar rental offering.
Tesla says its residential batteries can be added via purchase, but not by rental.
“At this time, Powerwall cannot be added to the rental agreement,” the company says on its web site. “However, you can buy Powerwall and we will install at the same time. There is tremendous value in adding Powerwall to your solar rental since it provides backup power and greater energy independence.”
Author: By Robert Walton Published: Aug. 20, 2019 Utility Dive
The North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) on Friday released a draft Clean Energy Plan that calls for the state to reduce power sector greenhouse gas emissions between 60% and 70% by 2030, relative to 2005 levels, and “work towards zero emissions by 2050.”
The draft includes seven “priority recommendations,” including establishing a comprehensive utility system planning process that “connects resource, transmission, and distribution planning,” while facilitating growth of distributed energy resources.
DEQ must deliver the Clean Energy Plan to Gov. Roy Cooper, D, by Oct. 1, to comply with last year’s Executive Order. Comments are due Sept. 9.2019
North Carolina’s draft plan calls for structural changes in the utility sector, and acknowledges it will require new legislation and policies.
Coal, gas and nuclear power plants generated about 90% of North Carolina’s power in 2017, with 27% from coal and 30% from gas. Development of the state’s Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, however, has helped its solar resources take off, making North Carolina the second largest solar generator in the country.
One of the plan’s seven recommendations includes addressing “equitable access and energy affordability.”
The plan calls for including “non-energy equity-focused costs and benefits in decisions regarding resource needs, program design, cost-benefit analyses, and facility siting.”
The plan also calls for a stakeholder process to better align utility incentives with the public interest and state energy and carbon policies. It would require utilities to develop rate design pilots to encourage off-peak charging of electric vehicles, facilitate DER interconnections, and increase the use of efficiency and demand side management strategies.
“In the wake of continuing declining costs of renewable generation and battery storage options, North Carolina regulators and policy makers will be called upon to evaluate economic viability of traditional infrastructure projects whose costs will be borne by ratepayers for years to come,” the draft plan says.
Environmental advocates say the plan is essential to move the state away from fossil fuels.
Duke Energy, the largest electric utility in the state, said it reviewing the proposed plan. The company says it has significantly reduced carbon emissions by retiring coal and adding more renewables.
“We are transitioning our system to even cleaner energy, while upholding our responsibility to provide reliable, affordable power to customers,” the company said in a statement. “We look forward to continued dialogue with diverse stakeholders to achieve the critical energy policy objectives for the state of North Carolina.”
Author: Catherine Morehouse Published: Aug. 7, 2019 Utility Dive
As electric vehicle deployment grows, pressure is mounting on regulators to encourage investment and define utility roles.
In D.C., the main tension has been striking a balance between third party and utility roles, and how to improve infrastructure in a district with only 120 level 2 chargers and only one operable DC fast charger, Executive Director of the Alliance for Transportation Electrification Philip Jones told Utility Dive.
“There’s been quite an internal debate I’m sure within the commission,” he said. “They’re trying to hang on to this third party model. But at the same time, they’re trying to recognize some stronger role for the utility.”
One question is whether the commission will regulate companies like Tesla as retail electricity suppliers, a debate that’s being raised in states like Kentucky, Iowa and Arizona.
“They’re trying to walk kind of a fine line there and it’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out because many other states … [are] kind of looking at similar questions on this issue of what is a public utility … and what sort of regulation, if any, should there be on that sector,” said Jones.
The other major issue the commission is looking to address is infrastructure buildout. Previously, Pepco had filed to own and operate 35 Level 2 stations and 20 DC fast chargers, and wanted to deploy at least 20% of those stations in Wards 5, 7 and 8, which are low-to-moderate income areas. The commission says equitable access to EV infrastructure still needs to be studied more.
“The Commission is committed to ensuring that transportation electrification opportunities flourish in all segments of the District,” the PSC wrote in its Aug. 2 order, and it “will explore appropriate actions to facilitate transportation electrification opportunities in underserved communities.”
Other groups are concerned that Pepco’s move to own and operate chargers would burden ratepayers for something that the market doesn’t need in the first place.
The Office of the People’s Council (OPC) of D.C. “supports equitable deployment of [EV charging stations] across all 8 wards of the city but does not favor requiring all Pepco ratepayers to bear the burden of providing [EV charging stations] where there is no evidence that there are unmet needs across the District,” OPC attorneys emailed Utility Dive.
“[T]he Commission made the appropriate decision in denying and granting in part Pepco’s Application for Reconsideration and not laying the burden of charging stations on ratepayers’ backs when only 721 EVs are registered in the District as of August 2018.”
The order reopens the record, allowing additional comment from stakeholders over the next 30 days.
Author: Sunny Wang Published: July 11, 2019 Aurora Blog
There have been a number of positive developments for the solar industry in the U.S. in 2019 to date. The biggest news so far has to be the movement toward 100% renewable energy. Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, Puerto Rico, Washington, and Washington, D.C. all codified their commitment to 100% renewable energy earlier this year—that’s a total of seven states and U.S. territories! They join California, Hawaii, New Jersey, Wisconsin, and Minnesota which have also formally committed to 100% clean or renewable energy targets.
Two other big wins are community solar and residential net metering. Colorado and Maine enabled larger-scale community solar projects, and South Carolina provided pathways for community solar to grow; Maryland extended their pilot program through 2022. Maine restored their residential net metering that the previous administration rolled back, and South Carolina eliminated net metering caps while extending existing rates for two years. In addition to committing to 100% renewable energy, Puerto Rico also protected net metering for five years in the same bill.There is a lot of work still to be done for solar in the U.S., but with many of the solar policy development highlights from 2019 being positive, a quick celebration for these wins is in order!
Earlier this year Colorado Governor Jared Polis signed a flurry of climate and renewable energy bills, seven to be exact! Among them is the Community Solar Gardens Modernization Act (HB 19-1003) which increases the maximum size of community solar projects from 2 MW to 5 MW, with the cap eventually increasing to 10 MW.
Polis also unveiled a roadmap that would take Colorado to 100% renewable energy by 2040.
[Fun Fact: The Coyote Ridge Community Solar Farm in Fort Collins, Colorado is the largest low-income community solar project in the U.S. at 1.95 MW.]
Maine is also having a great year in solar friendly bills. Governor Janet Mills signed three big solar energy wins—committing the state to 100% renewable energy by 2050, reducing barriers to access clean and affordable solar power, and restoring net metering.
Additionally, An Act to Eliminate Gross Metering (LD 91) restored residential net metering in Maine. Maine for many years had net metering, but it was rolled backduring the administration of former Maine Governor Paul LePage. Now, residents who own their systems will again receive a one-to-one credit for supplying excess energy back to the grid—a huge win for solar customers in the state!
Maryland’s Clean Energy Jobs Act (SB 516) became law without Governor Larry Hogan’s signature, and commits the state to 100% renewable energy by 2040, with an interim goal of 50% by 2030. This bill also increases the requirement for 2.5% in-state produced solar to 14.5%, provides funding for clean energy workforce development, and requires utilities in the state to subsidize solar and wind. The in-state solar requirement is especially noteworthy because it’s one of the most aggressive (if not the most) of any state RPS policy.
Community solar also got a win in Maryland with the enactment of Extension of Community Solar pilot (HB 683), which extended the state’s community solar pilot program through 2022. The bill also removed the cap on the number of subscribers per project and increased the allowable generating capacity per system.
On Earth Day, Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak signed SB 358 and raised the state’s RPS to 50% by 2030 and committed the state to 100% clean energy by 2050. This legislation sped up what Nevada voters approved last year—to include an increase to the state’s RPS in their constitution; the state now does not need to hold the second vote required to approve constitutional change.
In March, New Mexico officially committed to 100% renewable energy by 2045, with interim targets of 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 when Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the Energy Transition Act (SB 489).
The state’s largest utility, Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), alsosupports the bill. PNM had already filed plans to shut down its coal assets, and SB 489 provides a system to help ease the closure of San Juan Generating Station. It establishes a financing system to make up for revenue lost, a $20 million fund to aid displaced coal workers, and job training programs for the renewable energy industry.
On April 11th, Puerto Rico Governor Ricardo Rossello signed the Puerto Rico Public Policy Act (SB 1121) committing 100% renewable energy bill by 2050 with interim goals of 40% by 2025 and 50% by 2040. This bill also requires a complete transition away from coal by 2028; there is only one coal plant on the island.
In South Carolina, net metering caps were eliminated and existing residential solar rates were extended for two years with Governor Henry McMaster’s signature forThe Energy Freedom Act (HB 3659 / SB 332). This bill also provides pathways for community solar to grow and removes restrictions to expansion of affordable solar options.
Washington not only committed to 100% renewable energy by 2045 with Governor Jay Inslee’s signature on the 100% Clean Electricity bill (SB 5116 / HB 1211), the bill also requires the state’s utilities to ramp off of coal power completely by 2025 and to be 100% carbon-neutral by 2030.
In January, Governor Muriel Bowser signed the Clean Energy DC Omnibus Amendment Act of 2018 (B22-0904) setting a goal of 100% renewable energy by 2032. This bill is by far the most ambitious in terms of target date for all electricity sold to come from renewable sources. Among other action items, this bill will double the District’s required amount of solar energy, provide energy bill assistance to low- and moderate-income residents, and fund the DC Green Bank to attract clean energy projects.
These state actions in the first half of 2019 paint a positive picture for the future of the solar industry and are great news for solar contractors. What other policy developments are you excited about? Let us know in the comments below!
Author: Ryan Mosier Publisher: Duke Energy August 9, 2019
Duke Energy names new South Carolina state president
Michael Callahan will manage state and local regulatory and government relations, and community affairs
Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe will become executive vice president, chief legal officer for the company
GREENVILLE, S.C. — Duke Energy today announced a change in its executive leadership in South Carolina that will continue the company’s long-standing commitment to its 760,000 electric and 162,000 gas customers in the Palmetto State.
Michael Callahan – currently vice president of investor relations – will succeed Kodwo Ghartey-Tagoe as South Carolina state president.
Callahan, 44, will manage state and local regulatory and government relations in South Carolina. He will work closely with the corporate and regulatory strategy team to advance legislative, rate and regulatory initiatives in the state. His team also leads community relations for Duke Energy across the Palmetto State. As the state president, Callahan will manage continued efforts to engage and work with customers and stakeholders across many topics, including the growth of renewables, the advancement of electrification efforts, strategic philanthropic initiatives and grassroots engagement with customers big and small.
Ghartey-Tagoe, 56, will become executive vice president, chief legal officer. In this role, he will be the primary legal advisor to Duke Energy’s board of directors and senior management, and lead the Office of the General Counsel, which includes the company’s legal, corporate governance, ethics and compliance, and audit functions.
“Michael’s many years of experience throughout the company have prepared him well for this critical role,” said Lloyd Yates, executive vice president customer and delivery operations, and president, Carolinas region. “In his new role, he will build on the great progress Kodwo and team have already accomplished, and he will continue to advocate for policies and practices that meet the energy needs of our customers and South Carolina in cost-effective, environmentally sound ways.”
In his role as vice president of investor relations, Callahan oversaw Duke Energy’s investor relations and shareholder services organizations. Before that, he served as director of regulated utilities forecasting for Duke Energy, where he was responsible for preparing and consolidating regulated utility forecasts to support financial planning and strategic decision-making activities.
Callahan joined Duke Energy in 2002. Prior to joining Duke Energy, Callahan was a senior consultant at PricewaterhouseCoopers.
A native of Fulton, N.Y., Callahan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in accounting and a Master of Business of Administration degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo. He is also a certified public accountant in both North Carolina and New York.
Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK), a Fortune 150 company headquartered in Charlotte, N.C., is one of the largest energy holding companies in the U.S. It employs 30,000 people and has an electric generating capacity of 51,000 megawatts through its regulated utilities, and 3,000 megawatts through its nonregulated Duke Energy Renewables unit.
Duke Energy is transforming its customers’ experience, modernizing the energy grid, generating cleaner energy and expanding natural gas infrastructure to create a smarter energy future for the people and communities it serves. The Electric Utilities and Infrastructure unit’s regulated utilities serve approximately 7.7 million retail electric customers in six states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Florida, Indiana, Ohio and Kentucky. The Gas Utilities and Infrastructure unit distributes natural gas to more than 1.6 million customers in five states – North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Ohio and Kentucky. The Duke Energy Renewables unit operates wind and solar generation facilities across the U.S., as well as energy storage and microgrid projects.
Duke Energy was named to Fortune’s 2019 “World’s Most Admired Companies” list, and Forbes’ 2019 “America’s Best Employers” list. More information about the company is available at duke-energy.com. The Duke Energy News Center contains news releases, fact sheets, photos, videos and other materials. Duke Energy’sillumination features stories about people, innovations, community topics and environmental issues. Follow Duke Energy on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram andFacebook.
North America Smart Energy Week, powered by Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) and Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), is the largest gathering of solar, smart energy, microgrids, energy storage, hydrogen fuel cell professionals, EVs, and wind professionals in North America. Anchored by the flagship event, Solar Power International, North America Smart Energy Week brings together an extensive alliance of renewable energy leaders for four days of networking, education, and innovation that moves the industry forward. The event has diversified to include Energy Storage International, the Smart Energy Marketplace + Microgrid, Hydrogen + Fuel Cells International. Unlike other solar industry events, all proceeds support the expansion of the U.S. solar market through SEIA and SEPA’s year-round research and education activities, as well as SEIA’s advocacy efforts.
Solar Power International (SPI) is the largest, fastest growing and most awarded solar trade show in North America. The event draws 19,000 attendees and 700 exhibitors from around the world. With its breadth of industry experts sharing their knowledge and exhibitions from the industry’s pacemakers, SPI is the leader among solar trade shows.
Energy Storage International (ESI) paves the way for greater integration between the energy storage and renewable energy markets. As the largest energy storage event in North America, ESI features over 250 exhibitors and 12,000 attendees interested in energy storage technology, three full days of education investigating policy advances, market forecasts, new technology and applications, as well as additional relevant, timely industry-developed content designed to grow the storage market.
Everything comes together in the Smart Energy Microgrid Marketplace, where the entire solar, energy storage, hydrogen fuel cells, distributed wind, and smart energy microgrid landscapes will be on display. The marketplace features a fully-functioning “live” microgrid, power conversion equipment, energy management systems, building and home smart energy products, electric vehicle charging stations, energy storage systems, and solar energy products.
For the second year in a row, hydrogen and fuel cells technology will be on the agenda at SPI, ESI, and North America Smart Energy Week. Hydrogen + Fuel Cells International is where attendees can profit from several synergy effects between the solar and energy storage industries that will be present in Salt Lake City.
Author: Solar Industry Trade Assoication Published: August 17, 2019 SEIA
This document is written to reflect the order of the bill as passed. The full bill text can be found here.
Prepared by Maggie Clark, SEIA, firstname.lastname@example.org
• “as soon as is practicable after the effective date of this chapter” the Commission will open an
individual docket to establish each utility’s standard offer, avoided cost methodologies, standard
PPAs, commitment to sell forms (LEOs), and anything else needed to implement this section
• This proceeding will occur once every 24 months to ensure timely updates of contracts and rates
• The commission shall approve form PPAs for qualifying facilities not eligible for the standard offer –
these approved, published agreements shall contain enumerated terms and conditions but no
information related to pricing or length of the PPA (both negotiated)
• Commission may approve multiple form PPAs for different generation types/characteristics, and
parties are not bound to use the form PPAs
• “Any decisions by the Commission shall be just and reasonable to the ratepayers of the electrical
utility, in the public interest, consistent with PURPA and the FERC’s implementing regulations and
orders, and nondiscriminatory to small power producers; and shall strive to reduce the risk placed on
the using and consuming public”
The Weeds – PURPA
• Rates paid to small power producers shall be nondiscriminatory and fully + accurately reflect the
utility’s avoided costs
• PPAs shall be commercially reasonable and consistent with PURPA
• Each utility’s avoided cost methodology fairly accounts for costs avoided – energy, capacity, and
ancillary services provided or consumed by small power producers including those utilizing energy
storage equipment. Approved avoided costs may differ based on geographic location and resource
• Avoided cost rates offered to non-standard offer QFs must be calculated based on the most recently
approved avoided cost methodology. If parties are unable to agree on a negotiated rate, small power
producers retain right to dispute issues before the Commission
• Small power producers are eligible for avoided cost rates in effect at the time of delivering an
executed notice of commitment to sell form to the utility. The commitment to sell form must provide
a “reasonable” period of time from its submittal to execution of a PPA. Prohibits forced execution of a
PPA prior to receipt of a final interconnection agreement.
• Commission shall examine if PPAs should include terms that prohibit: 1. Termination of a PPA due to
delays if such delays are due to the utility’s interconnection procedures; 2. Reduction of price paid to
small power producers due to intermittent nature of generation
• Commission is authorized (not required) to open a docket for the purposes of creating competitive
procurement programs if the commission deems such action to be in the public interest
• Grandfathering sections (F)(1) and (2)
o Eligibility requirement: projects in the interconnection queue prior to effective
date of this act
South Carolina H3659 –
The Energy Freedom Act
www.seia.org May 2019
o Goal: interconnect South Carolina-located applicable projects under terms
outlined below until execution of interconnection agreements and PPAs with
an aggregate nameplate capacity is equal to 20% of previous five-year retail
peak load average
o Terms: 10-year fixed price PPA with commercially reasonable terms.
Commission may approve contractions longer than 10 years, but these
contracts must contain additional terms, conditions or rate structures
including a reduction in the contract price relative to the ten year avoided cost.
o Qualifying language: “Commission is expressly directed to consider the potential benefits
of terms with a longer duration to promote the state’s policy of encouraging renewable
• Commission is authorized to employ third-party consultants and experts to evaluate avoided cost
rates, methodologies, terms, calculations, and conditions. The commission shall engage a qualified
independent third party to submit a report on each utility’s avoided cost calculation pursuant to this
• Each avoided cost filing must be reasonably transparent so that underlying assumptions, data, and
results can be independently reviewed and verified by the parties and the commission
Voluntary Renewable Energy Program (C&I Procurement)
• Within 120 days of effective date, each utility shall file a program for voluntary large-scale renewable
• Participating customer shall have right to select renewable energy facility and negotiate directly with
the supplier on the price to be paid by the customer for the energy, capacity, and environmental
attributes of the facility
• Participating customer will pay retail bill minus generation credit, plus reimbursement for utility
payment to renewable energy supplier, plus an admin fee
• Eligible participating customers can bundle demand
• Commission may approve a program that provides for variable and fixed generation credit options
• Non-participating customers shall bear no costs associated with program
• Facility may be located anywhere within the utility’s balancing authority (NC or SC for Duke)
Neighborhood Community Solar Programs
• Intent: expand opportunity to support solar and access to solar options to all South Carolinians,
regardless of income level. Encourages (does not require) all utilities in the state to consider offering
neighborhood community solar programs
• Within 60 days of effective date, Commission will open a docket to review previous community solar
programs established under Act 236 in 2014. Utilities then may propose new programs.
Electric Utility Customer Rights
• General Assembly finds that there is a critical need to protect customers from rising costs, provide
opportunities for customers to reduce or manage electric consumption in a manner that contributes
South Carolina H3659 –
The Energy Freedom Act
www.seia.org May 2019
to reductions in utility peak demand and other drivers of electric utility costs, and equip customers
with the information and ability to manage their electric bills
• “Every customer of an electrical utility has the right to a rate schedule that offers the customer a
reasonable opportunity to employ such energy and cost saving measures as energy efficiency, demand
response, or onsite distributed energy resources in order to reduce consumption of electricity from the
electrical utility’s grid and to reduce electrical utility costs”
• “In fixing just and reasonable utility rates pursuant to Section 58-3-140 and Section 58-27-810, the
commission shall consider whether rates are designed to discourage the wasteful use of public utility
services while promoting all use that is economically justified in view of the relationships between costs
incurred and benefits received, and that no one class of customers are unduly burdening another, and
that each customer class pays, as close as practicable, the cost of providing service to them.”
• “For each class of service, the commission must ensure that each electrical utility offers to each class of
service a minimum of one reasonable rate option that aligns the customer’s ability to achieve bill
savings with long-term reductions in the overall cost the electrical utility will incur in providing electric
service, including, but not limited to, time-variant pricing structures.”
• “Every customer of an electrical utility has a right to obtain their own electric usage data in a machinereadable,
accessible format to the extent such is readily available. Electrical utilities shall allow
customers an electronic means to assent to share the customer’s energy usage data with a third-party
vendor designated by the customer.”
• Amends definition of “customer-generator” to include owner/operator/lessee of an electric
generation unit from a renewable energy resource including an energy storage device
• Nonresidential customer – 1 MW AC limit, or 100% of contract demand
• Residential customer – 20kW AC limit
• Intent of General Assembly to build upon success of Act 236 in 2014, avoid distribution to growing
market, and require the commission to establish a successor NEM tariff that fairly allocates costs and
benefits to eliminate cost shift or subsidization to the great extent practicable
• An electric utility shall make full retail rate NEM available to all customer-generators that apply
before June 1, 2021. Customers who participate in NEM program after effective date of this act but
before 6/1/21 shall continue net energy metering until May 31, 2029
• Successor NEM tariff
• Docket opened no later than January 1, 2020
• Investigate costs/benefits of current NEM program
• Establish methodology for calculating value of energy produced by customer-generators
• Commission shall consider:
o Aggregate impact of customer-generators on the long-run marginal utility costs of
generation, distribution, transmission
o Cost of service implications on customers within the same class; including whether
customer-generators provide an adequate rate of return to the utility
o Direct and indirect economic impact of NEM program to the state
South Carolina H3659 –
The Energy Freedom Act
www.seia.org May 2019
• Commission shall establish a success NEM tariff “solar choice metering tariff” for customergenerators
to go into effect for applications received after May 31, 2021
o Shall include methodology to compensate customer-generators for the benefits provided
by their generation to the power system
o If time-variant rate schedules are justified
o Are additional mitigation measures warranted to transition existing customergenerators
(i.e. should they extend the grandfathering period)
o Permit customers to utilize generated energy behind the meter without penalty
o Utilities and their affiliates may offer renewable generation facility leases
Integrated Resource Plans
• Electric utilities, cooperatives, munis, and the South Carolina Public Service Authority (SCooper) must prepare integrated resource plans at least once every three years
• Coops, munis, and Santee Cooper shall submit their IRPs to the State Energy Office
• IRPs must include:
o Long term forecast under various reasonable scenarios
o Type of generation proposed for new facilities, proposed capacity including fuel cost
sensitives under various reasonable scenarios
o Projected energy purchased produced from renewable energy resources
o Summary of transmission investments planned by utility
o Several resource portfolios developed with the purpose of fairly evaluating DSM, supplyside,
storage, including low-med-high cases for adoption of renewable energy and
cogeneration, EE, and demand response
o More – see statute
• Commission shall approve, deny or modify an electric utility’s IRP within the scope of these stated
o Resource adequacy and applicable planning reserve margins
o Consumer affordability and least cost
o Compliance with environmental regulations
o Power supply reliability
o Commodity price risks
o Diversity of generation supply
• Electric utilities shall submit annual updates to its IRP
• Commission and ORS are authorized to initiate a study to evaluate integration of renewable energy
and emerging energy technologies (storage). Evaluate what is required for utilities to integrate
increased levels of RE to ensure safe/reliable operation of grid. Commission shall provide opportunity
South Carolina H3659 –
The Energy Freedom Act
www.seia.org May 2019
for parties to have input on scope and provide comments on draft report. May hire and retail a
consultant to assist with this study. Studies shall be based on balancing areas of each electrical utility
(NC and SC for Duke)
All Source Procurement
• May not commence construction of a major utility facility for generation without first having made a
demonstration that the facility has been compared to other generation options in terms of cost,
reliability, and other regulatory implications – commission can adopt rules for such evaluation of
other generation options
• Commission may require:
o a commission-approved process that includes assessment from an unbiased independent
evaluator retained by ORS to ascertain reasonableness of any certificate sought for new
o Report from independent evaluator on the transparency, completeness, and integrity of
o Interested parties may review and comment on RFPS, bid instructions, bid criteria
o Independent evaluator access and review of final bid evaluation and pricing information
for any and all projects to be evaluated in comparison to the RFP bids received
o Demonstration that the facility is consistent with an approved IRP
o Utility affiliates/nonaffiliates may participate in RFP
Interconnection Procedure Review
• Within 6 months of effective date, establish proceedings for the purpose of considering revisions to
the established interconnection standards
• Commission shall ensure such standard provide for efficient and timely processing of interconnection
requests – such standards shall address impact of the addition of energy storage and
establishing/amending existing interconnection requests to include energy storage
• For interconnection disputes, first resolve amongst parties then take it to Commission, commission
shall resolve within 6 months of petition filing
• Commission shall establish reasonable guidelines to ensure reasonable timelines, including time
requirements to deliver a final system impact study to all generators that execute a system impacts
study agreement prior to three months after the effective date of this act
• Shall consider additional performance incentives and enforcement mechanisms to ensure utility
• Commission authorized to do a comprehensive independent review of existing procedures and
• Directs ORS to develop consumer protection regulations including disclosures provided by sellers and lessors
“Solar Energy World’s advertisements feature people of different races, which may help assure people of color that solar is not just for white, affluent people.”
Racial disparity in rooftop solar PV deployment has historically been attributed to income or home ownership inequality in communities of color. But a study by Tufts University and the University of California, Berkeley, found the disparity remains even when adjusting for those two factors.
“For me, it was like a bucket of ice water in my face that really, really hit home,” said Melanie Santiago-Mosier, senior director of Vote Solar’s Access & Equity Program. “That despite income and despite homeownership, there’s a very pronounced disparity in terms of rooftop solar deployment based on race, and that was horrifying for me to read.”
Vote Solar’s mission is to bring solar to the mainstream — meaning no one gets left behind — so the organization has been working on solutions for bringing solar to low-income communities for some time. But after reading this study, Santiago-Mosier said there’s a need to more deeply examine the underlying inequity in solar beyond the previously known roadblocks.
“We already knew that there were challenges in deploying solar for lower-income communities, but now I think we’re starting to sharpen our focus and think a little bit more about what equity means and what we can do about it,” she said.
The Tufts study identifies the disparity but does not outright name the causes. It does provide some hints, though.
Lack of initial solar seeding
The social diffusion effect, also known as “seeding,” is the phenomenon that homeowners are more likely to install solar if their neighbor does.
The Tufts study found black-majority communities suffer from a disproportional lack of this initial solar deployment. However, when communities of color are seeded with solar, the resulting deployment significantly increases compared with other racial/ethnic groups for median household income below the national average. This means solar installers are missing out on business by not selling to these communities.
“What that tells me is that solar salespeople are simply not going into those communities,” Santiago-Mosier said. “I think that is just something that we need to recognize and think about and be humble about.”
“My first guess would be that the normal means of solar marketing and how and where people are searching for these home-improvement projects is specifically targeting more affluential neighborhoods or more white neighborhoods,” Carpenter said.
She thinks a first step is going beyond the typical outreach methods when it comes to marketing solar, and even talking with community leaders to determine how to reach communities of color.
“I think this will inspire me to be a little bit conscientious about my outreach efforts and look into whether or not I can contribute to changing the status quo,” Carpenter said.
“Most sales strategies are probably myopically targeting those communities that they perceive to have the means to invest in solar, and unfortunately a lot of biases and discriminatory thinking or practices come to play in those sales and marketing strategies,” Edens said. “I think oftentimes, lower-income communities and/or communities of color might be perceived by some developers as not prioritizing environmental attributes or environmental aspirations.”
Edens sees this perception proved wrong in his company’s installations for First Nations and other low-income communities. He’s found the social diffusion effect is strong in First Nations communities — when one installation goes up, the neighbors start asking how they can get a solar rooftop too.
Maryland-based solar installer Solar Energy World (No. 85 on the 2019 Top Solar Contractors list) said its parameters for targeted solar marketing have to do only with roof space and home ownership status. The company only targets residential roofs that can fit 15 or more solar panels. Chief marketing officer Laureen Peck said Solar Energy World’s advertisements feature people of different races, which may help assure people of color that solar is not just for white, affluent people. The company holds workshops about going solar and sees a diverse turnout that’s also reflected in its client base.
All three companies recognize the increased potential of other residents going solar once a neighbor does, and some even have dedicated marketing campaigns to capitalize on the social diffusion effect. Carpenter acknowledges that making a concentrated effort to seed solar in communities of color could help close this rooftop solar racial gap.
“If a person of color sees only white homeowners installing solar and they don’t see anyone in their community doing it, it may seem or be perceived as more out of reach than it really is,” Carpenter said. “Whereas if there are community leaders or influential families in a specific community or neighborhood that have solar now, all of a sudden that’s going to open the dialogue that otherwise wasn’t there before.”
Lack of representation
Marketing doesn’t exist in a vacuum — the people at the top of a company influence sales strategies. So, when all the top influencers are white men, it’s no wonder communities that look like them are getting most of their marketing attention. The “U.S. Solar Industry Diversity Study 2019” by The Solar Foundation found that among all senior executives reported by solar firms, 88% are white and 80% are men.
“It just makes me wonder, if white people are making all these business decisions, is it any wonder that white people are being served by solar?” Vote Solar’s Santiago-Mosier said. “I think that there’s an opportunity here for the solar industry to rethink its sales strategies, to rethink its marketing strategies and to rethink frankly who is in those positions to do the sales, to do the marketing, to make business decisions and so on.”
SolTerra’s Carpenter said she’s noticed her company has had success accessing clients not typically served by other traditional solar companies because there’s a strong interest in supporting woman-owned businesses in Washington state. She thinks her unique position as one of the few female solar CEOs may allow her to access even more markets that are racially diverse as well as gender-diverse.
Carpenter’s diverse staff didn’t just happen passively. She was devoted to hiring a 50/50 male/female sales staff, but she found that mostly men applied to the role. She had to personally seek out women for her sales team, and she thinks that same intentionality is needed to hire a racially diverse staff.
“There’s an imposter syndrome challenge that is faced with both women and people of color, where they don’t see anyone that looks like themselves in a leadership role or a technical sales role, and the opportunity that they may have there, they dismiss themselves from,” she said.
Canopy Energy (No. 169 on the 2019 Top Solar Contractors list), based in Van Nuys, California, said the company knows solar support is strong throughout the state, but especially in communities of color. COO Jordan Cohen said the company hires from these communities at all levels, from engineers to managers.
“The word of mouth is very efficient because they get to experience it from within and provide trust in these communities because they live in them,” Cohen said. “We believe that they are our best ambassadors.”
Santiago-Mosier sees intentionality as a key factor to solving the disparity in rooftop PV deployment. She said that business as usual may not have intended to leave communities of color out of solar but has inadvertently done so anyway. The path forward is one where companies go out of their way to engage with communities of color on their terms, hire diverse staffs and begin seeding solar in communities that don’t have it.
“Everyone in the solar industry just really needs to think critically about who’s in its workforce and who are the consumers,” Santiago-Mosier said. “I think it’s just being a little bit vulnerable, aware and willing to share power and making a commitment to act with more intentionality.”
She acknowledges this change won’t happen overnight, but also knows the stakes are high. The United Nations found the world has less than 12 years to limit climate change catastrophe.
“We need every single voice out there chiming along with us, demanding action right now to implement more clean energy technologies to get solar out into the world everywhere,” Santiago-Mosier said. “If communities of color are not seeing the benefits of clean energy, what reason would they have to join in the fight? We really have to be sure that there’s a reason for people to fight along with us.”
Request for Public Comment on Establishing a Priority for Opportunity Zones
The Secretary of Education proposes to establish a priority for discretionary grant programs that would align the Department of Education’s (the Department’s) discretionary grant investments with the Administration’s Opportunity Zones initiative, which aims to spur economic development and job creation in distressed communities.
The Department invites you to submit comments regarding the proposed priority. To ensure that your comments have maximum effect in developing the notice of final priority, we urge you to identify clearly the specific issues that each comment addresses. We are particularly interested in comments that provide examples of how Qualified Opportunity Funds can support activities carried out under the Department’s discretionary grant programs.
More information is available in the Federal Register notice.Comments must be received on or before August 28, 2019.
Other Federal Opportunities
Appalachian Regional Commission
Request for Proposals: ARC High School Entrepreneurship Program Implementation
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) invites proposals from eligible organizations to partner with ARC on the implementation of a new high-school entrepreneurship program. The purpose is to provide comprehensive entrepreneurial training and supportive services to selected high school students who will be in their senior year of high school during the 2020-2021 academic year.
The main objectives of the program will be to expose high school juniors to the entrepreneurial mindset through a structured and unstructured, hands-on approach to experiential learning; provide foundational and advanced-level skills training in entrepreneurship; and provide supportive and mentorship services to students, enabling them to successfully utilize all stages of the design process, from innovation, to development, to actualization.
ARC is an economic development agency of the federal government and 13 state governments focusing on 420 counties across the Appalachian Region. ARC’s mission is to innovate, partner, and invest to build community capacity and strengthen economic growth in Appalachia to help the Region achieve socioeconomic parity with the nation. ARC’s Research and Evaluation Division conducts research and evaluations regarding key economic, demographic, and quality of life factors that affect economic development in the Appalachian Region. Learn more at the ARC website.
Proposals are due electronically by 5:00 p.m. ET on the newly extended deadline of Friday, September 6, 2019.
CNCS released the Fiscal Year2020 Senior Corps RSVP Competition Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO). For decades, Senior Corps RSVP has engaged older Americans in volunteer service that meets national and community needs and delivers lasting, meaningful results. With this NOFO, CNCS intends to fund successful applicants that increase the impact of volunteers age 55 and older who provide volunteer service in response to local community needs.
Please see The Notice of Funding Opportunity and Appendix A for a full list of the available opportunities.
The following entities, including those that are current CNCS grantees, are eligible to apply: public or private nonprofit organizations (including faith-based and other community organizations); institutions of higher education; government entities within states or territories (e.g. cities, counties); government-recognized veteran service organizations; labor organizations; partnerships and consortia; and Indian Tribes.
We strongly encourage all eligible applicants to visit: RSVP Competitionto learn more about how Senior Corps RSVP can help them increase their impact by engaging adults age 55 years and older in volunteer service.
Notice of Intent to Apply: Applicants are strongly encouraged to submit a Notice of Intent to Apply. The Notice of Intent to Apply should be completed via Survey Monkey no later than 5:00 PM Eastern, Friday, August 30, 2019.
Application Deadline: Applications must be submitted no later than 5:00 PM Eastern, Wednesday, September 25, 2019. Successful applicants will be notified in mid-February 2020.
Senior Corps RSVP volunteers help organizations expand services, build capacity, develop partnerships, leverage resources, create sustainable projects, and recruit and manage other volunteers. Grant funding partially covers expenses to operate a Senior Corps RSVP project such as staffing, supplies, volunteer stations, and training of staff and members.
This Senior Corps RSVP NOFO prioritizes grant-making in the six focus areas identified by the Serve America Act of 2009 and in alignment with the CNCS Strategic Plan: Disaster Services; Economic Opportunity; Education; Environmental Stewardship; Healthy Futures; and Veterans and Military Families.
Within the six focus areas, Senior Corps funding priorities include:
Evidence-Based Program Implementation
Access to Care – Opioid Abuse
Aging in Place – Elder Justice
Aging in Place – Independent Living
Economic Opportunity – Workforce Development
Education – Intergenerational Programming
Veterans and Military Families
CNCS will host a series of technical assistance calls to answer questions about this funding opportunity, performance measures, and eGrants. CNCS strongly encourages all interested applicants to participate in these sessions.
Call dates and times can be found: If you have questions at any time during the application period, please send an email to: 2020RSVP@cns.gov
Department of Defense
The Air Force Information Technology & Cyberpower Education and Training Event
AFITC 2019 – August 26-28th – Montgomery, Alabama
Mark your calendars! The AFITC Education and Training Event will be returning to Montgomery, Alabama this August.
Join thousands of AF peers, along with scores of private sector leaders in the IT and cyber security field. Learn how to assess and combat the newest and most prevailing threats to our global networks and national defense.
Nearly 4000 attendees, speakers, and exhibitors participated in the AFITC 2018, while the trade show hosted over 170 companies who showcased cutting edge products, services, and information to help further the public/private partnership crucial in keeping our country safe and secure.
Exhibit Sign Up, Attendee registration and hotel reservations are Now Open! In the meantime, block out August 26-28th for the AFITC Education and Training Event 2019.
For 2019, the theme is Cyberpower: Critical to Multi-Domain Operations. We are currently developing this year’s training program, so look for updates as the training program takes shape in the coming weeks.
Call for Papers – Now Closed
The AFITC 2019 Call for Papers is now closed! All 2019 breakout sessions will fall into one of these seven training themes.
. Network We Need; Enterprise IT as a Service and Change Focus
. Cyber Security that Works; Critical Infrastructure / Internet of Things (IoT), Supply Chain Mgt Focus
. Vibrant and Ready Cyber Airmen; Officer, Enlisted, Civil Service Focus
. Empowering Partner Transformation; Business Systems Focus
. Data; Transformation to a Data Driven Digital Air Force Focus
. Agile Development; Software Factory, DevOps, Kessel Run Focus
*Selected speakers will be notified on July 19. Draft briefs are due to the conference scheduling lead by July 26, with final briefings due by August 9. For U.S. government speakers, final briefs must be cleared through your respective Public Affairs’ Security and Policy Review process by August 9.
Department of Labor
Calling all HBCU Higher Education Professionals —
Are you looking to participate in a program that would help your students with disabilities find employment? The WRP may be the perfect fit for you!
The Workforce Recruitment Program for College Students with Disabilities (WRP) is a recruitment and referral program that connects public and private-sector employers nationwide with college students, graduate students, and recent graduates with disabilities eager to demonstrate their skills through summer internships or permanent jobs.
The Workforce Recruitment Program seeks to:
Function as a primary pipeline for bringing new talent into the Federal Government to fill mission critical jobs.
Help participating college Career Centers and Disability Services Offices help candidates with disabilities find employment through effective strategies, such as the use of accommodations and the Schedule A Hiring Authority.
Applicants for the program must:
Be eligible for the Schedule A Hiring Authority for persons with disabilities AND
Be a U.S. citizen AND
Be enrolled in an accredited institution of higher education on a substantially full-time basis seeking a degree (unless the severity of the disability or program requirements preclude the student from taking a substantially full-time load) OR
Have graduated within the past year (April 1, 20119 or more recently).
The WRP is run on an annual basis and requires applicants to have a phone interview with one of our federal recruiters. The interviews take place from October through mid-November of each year and are coordinated on college campuses by Disability Services or Career Services offices. Currently, over 350 colleges and universities participate in the program, and additional campuses are added each year.
In order to participate in the WRP, schools must be accredited by one of the accrediting agencies recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.
During non-registration periods, schools can get more information and join the WRP mailing list by contacting WRP Managers.
Department of the Interior
Below are positions with the USFWS posted August 5, 2019.
Public Affairs Specialist Department: Department of the Interior Agency: Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service Number of Job Opportunities & Location(s): 1 vacancy – Boise, Idaho Salary: $74,596.00 to $96,978.00 / Per Year Series and Grade: GS-1035-12 Open Period: Monday, August 5, 2019 to Friday, August 16, 2019 Position Information: Permanent – Full-Time Who May Apply: Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL), Open to the public
Forestry Technician (Fire) Department: Department of the Interior Agency: Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service Number of Job Opportunities & Location(s): 1 vacancy – Sasabe, Arizona Salary: $38,173.00 to $49,630.00 / Per Year Series and Grade: GS-0462-6 Open Period: Monday, August 5, 2019 to Friday, August 16, 2019 Position Information: Permanent – Full-Time Who May Apply: Open to the public
Maintenance Mechanic Department: Department of the Interior Agency: Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service Number of Job Opportunities & Location(s): 1 vacancy – Entiat, Washington Salary: $22.94 to $26.78 / Per Hour Series and Grade: WG-4749-9 Open Period: Monday, August 5, 2019 to Friday, August 16, 2019 Position Information: Permanent – Full-Time Who May Apply: Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL), Open to the public
Pest Control Worker (Leader) Department: Department of the Interior Agency: Interior, US Fish and Wildlife Service Number of Job Opportunities & Location(s): 1 vacancy – Hilo, Hawaii Salary: $21.36 to $24.92 / Per Hour Series and Grade: WL-5026-5 Open Period: Monday, August 5, 2019 to Friday, August 16, 2019 Position Information: Multiple Appointment Types – Full-Time Who May Apply: Career transition (CTAP, ICTAP, RPL), Open to the public
Connect with the Initiative!
Connect with us on social media via twitter @WHI_HBCUs
Author: The Solar Foundation Published: 8/13/19 https://www.thesolarfoundation.org/opportunities/
Announcing AmericanSolarWorkforce.Org: The Solar Training Network has launched an online solar career platform designed to match job candidates with training and career opportunities in the rapidly growing solar workforce. Solar employers can post jobs, review candidate applications, and communicate with potential hires. Solar career seekers can create profiles, apply for jobs, identify training opportunities, and make connections with solar companies.
Responded to 51%-74% of applications in the past 30 days, typically within 2 days.
Apply NowSave this job
This opportunity will change your life, change others’ lives and change the world. Our top Entry Level Solar Energy Specialists are on track to earn $110,000+ a year.
Solar Energy Specialist – $4,250 Training Bonuses
We are one of the largest solar installation companies in the nation, in one of the fastest growing industries. We’re looking for motivated, talented people to help us create a greener planet and achieve our goals.
You will you have the opportunity to work with amazing people; change others’ lives, change the world and make an unlimited amount of money while doing it!
We not only offer the resources and training to help you kick start a lucrative 6-figure career but also opportunities for performance-based non-monetary rewards, such as luxury vacations, high-end electronics, gift cards, and tickets to concerts and sporting events. The income potential for this position is uncapped and only limited by your desire and effort.
WHAT YOU’LL DO…CREATE YOUR BUSINESS
Become an expert in renewable energy and smart home products and their benefits to the consumer.
Help families save money through our consumer-focused sales practice.
Close contracts confidently with new homes and families while gaining outside business development.
Interface with decision makers on a daily basis.
Participate in on-going training camps with a focus on team building and mentorship.
As a full-time commission based rep, you will be fully trained on all Vivint Solar programs with ongoing career development support. This position is a gateway to several other opportunities at Vivint Solar.
Sales experience is a plus, but not required. We fully train! If you are motivated and have an outstanding personality, we want you at our next training day. Get involved by applying now and set your career path in one the fastest growing markets – renewable smart energy!
YOU’LL KNOW YOU’RE READY IF YOU…KNOW YOUR WHY
Have a strong sense of ambition, self-motivation and self-discipline.
Are a resourceful problem solver.
Are open-minded with a passion for learning a wide-range of skills that will carry through a variety of career paths.
Are naturally outgoing and articulate individual who thrives in social settings.
Have a desire to mentor other colleagues after refining your skill set.
Are willing to maintain the highest level of sales ethics and integrity.
Vivint Solar, an equal opportunity employer, does not consider any protected traits (e.g. race, creed, color, religion, gender, national origin, non-job-related disability, age, or any other protected trait) when hiring under federal,
The Solar Foundation – Washington, DC 20005 (Logan Circle area)
$50,000 – $65,000 a year
Now Hiring: Project Manager, SolSmart Program
Are you passionate about accelerating the adoption of solar energy, the world’s most abundant energy source? SolSmart is a national program that works with local governments on programs and practices to encourage solar energy growth. One in five Americans currently live in a SolSmart (https://www.solsmart.org/) designated community, and we are looking for the right person to continue the great strides already made. The Project Manager position at The Solar Foundation will provide technical assistance to local governments pursuing designation in the U.S. Department of Energy-funded program. Our Project Managers are the public face of the SolSmart program – a strong focus on providing high-quality customer service is a must. Experience in providing consulting-type services to local governments is desired, particularly with respect to zoning and codes.
The Project Manager will work as part of a small, dynamic team to help communities reduce local barriers to the adoption of solar energy technologies. They will focus on permitting; planning, zoning, and development regulations; utility and community engagement; and market development and finance; as well as other federal, state, and local solar topics. The Project Manager will occasionally perform other duties as assigned to meet the needs of a small but influential national nonprofit organization.
Assist local governments to identify and implement programs and practices to increase their use of solar energy;
Facilitate meetings with local government officials and their stakeholders;
Develop new resources (e.g., white papers, fact sheets, presentations, tools) to help local governments learn from and replicate model practices and programs;
Provide research, writing, and coordination support for SolSmart and other projects at The Solar Foundation;
Help ensure proper reporting to comply with federal regulations.
Candidates for this position will possess:
An undergraduate degree in public policy, economics, planning, local government management, public affairs, environmental studies, or other related or technical field;
2+ years of experience, preferably in municipal/regional government affairs, public affairs, the solar industry or other renewable energy;
Superb technical writing skills;
Strong interpersonal skills;
A commitment to providing high-quality customer service;
An ability to work independently as well as collaboratively (experience managing a small team is a plus);
The ability and willingness to travel to and effectively present at local, regional, and national meetings, conferences, and other events.
While not required, the most qualified candidates will possess:
An advanced degree in a relevant field (e.g., master’s or equivalent);
Experience interpreting land use and zoning code language;
Education or experience in engineering, feasibility analysis, solar project development, and/or resilience strategies involving renewable energy systems;
Prior CRM experience;
Extensive knowledge of local and regional planning and permitting processes; and
A demonstrated passion for solar or renewable energy.
The salary range for this position is $50,000 to $65,000 per year, commensurate with the candidate’s experience and qualifications. The Solar Foundation provides its staff with a competitive benefits package including enrollment in a 401(k)-retirement plan with a capped employer match, health insurance, paid time off, transportation stipend, professional development funds, etc. This is a full-time position, and in accordance with the provisions of federal wage and hour laws, this position is classified as exempt, meaning this position will not be eligible for overtime pay. Employment at The Solar Foundation is at-will.
Please submit a cover letter and resume, as well as a writing sample, to Lauren Seibert at lseibert(at)solarfound.org with the subject line “SolSmart Project Manager”. Position is available immediately and will remain open until filled. Preference will be given to applications received by August 16, 2019.
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 our leadership, research, and capacity building, we create transformative solutions to achieve a prosperous future in which solar and solar-compatible technologies are integrated into all aspects of our lives. The Solar Foundation is considered the premier research organization on the solar labor workforce, employer trends, and the economic impacts of solar. Visit us at TheSolarFoundation.org.
The Solar Foundation is an equal opportunity employer and does not discriminate against any employee or applicant on the basis of age, color, disability, gender, national origin, race, religion, sexual orientation, veteran status, or any classification protected by federal, state, or local law. In addition to federal law requirements, The Solar Foundation complies with applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation and training.
In an increasingly changing energy world, state energy markets vary widely in how they allow companies to compete for and retain customers. And that’s beginning to matter more in states with large retail customers in a (mostly) regulated vertical energy market, such as in Virginia.
Dominion Energy, the state’s dominant utility, in May filed an applicationwith the State Corporation Commission (SCC) for approval of its 100% renewable energy tariff. If approved, that tariff offering would prevent other retail electricity providers from competing in the market to give large and residential customers a 100% renewable option.
Virginia customers are only able to procure energy outside Dominion through two routes: If a customer has a load larger than 5 MW, it can apply to exit through the SCC. Or, customers of any size can shop for a 100% energy product from competitive services providers (CSPs).
Two CSPs — Direct Energy and Calpine Energy — have been soliciting business customers in the state to offer a 100% renewable energy package. On July 15, Dominion terminated processing all current and future interconnection applications with those CSPs, citing concerns over their ability to provide that offering to customers.
Policy watchers say this fight between Dominion and the CSPs highlights a larger tension in the state — whether Virginia should move toward a competitive retail choice market, something customer advocates, environmentalists, corporate customers and others are advocating for.
Battling for customers
The state’s other utility, Appalachian Power Company (APCo), had its tariff approved in January, meaning CSPs cannot offer their 100% renewables package through that power provider’s load zone. And though Dominion filed with regulators in 2017 for approval of its 100% tariff, it says it has modeled its new application off APCo’s.
“Our goal is to ensure that all customers in Virginia are protected. And so we want the competitive service providers to be held to the same standard that APCo and Dominion Energy are being held to,” Dominion spokesperson Audrey Cannon told Utility Dive. “We want them to have to be able to show the SCC that they have that generation in the same way that we’re showing it.”
Direct Energy serves almost a quarter million business customers across North America and says they “clearly have the expertise needed to provide renewable power to customers,” Direct Energy Director of Government and Regulatory Affairs Ron Cerniglia told Utility Dive. “We look forward to establishing in the course of this proceeding that we are supplying customers with 100% renewable energy. And we’ve certainly adequately documented [Direct Energy’s] ability to do so.”
That process is “very prescriptive,” according to Cerniglia. Direct Energy contracts with a renewable energy provider and delivers that power through Dominion’s load zone, pending its approval.
The only exception, is if the utility offers a 100% renewable option in the form of a tariff, regulators ruled in 2017 after pressure from Direct Energy to clarify the rules.
As the energy industry transitions toward more distributed energy resources, electric utilities face a critical choice: embrace this opportunity or perceive it as a threat. This is especially true in the Caribbean where energy resilience is driving renewable microgrid adoption, fueled also by rapidly declining solar and battery storage costs.
During the 2017 hurricane season, extreme wind and rain damaged the region’s transmission and distribution systems, leaving thousands of homes, businesses and critical facilities in the dark for weeks and, in some cases, months. Two years later, the region is innovating toward a system less dependent on centralized fossil-fueled generation, opting instead for resilient energy sources such as microgrids to safeguard against prolonged outages.
Large-scale shocks to the energy system are not unique to the Caribbean; microgrids can bring benefits to the grid and to all customers. What this shift means for the future of utilities will largely depend on how they face this new reality.
Accelerating the Caribbean clean energy transition
Among the many key energy stakeholders we work with at Rocky Mountain Institute, utilities often struggle to embrace this transition, but they must do so to avoid being blind-sided by the shift toward renewable energy sources.
Microgrids by definition are energy generation systems that can disconnect from the grid and continue to power isolated facilities even when the larger electrical grid is unavailable. They can provide continuous, reliable energy to community service organizations, critical businesses, first responders, schools or other important facilities following a natural disaster.
For utilities serving hurricane-prone areas — such as the Caribbean, the eastern seaboard of the United States and the Pacific — microgrids offer an opportunity to continuously maintain energy services to critical customers during and after outages. However, utilities are currently not the main actors involved in microgrid deployment and are thereby missing an opportunity to benefit from this trend.
For example, in the Caribbean region, the 2017 hurricane season illustrated the need to improve electricity system resilience. In Puerto Rico, the widespread, prolonged power outage contributed to 2,975 deaths, due in part to a lack of electricity to power clinics and other critical facilities. This tragedy emphasizes that nearly every service that people depend on — from medical treatment to clean water — depends on electricity.
The opportunity exists to meet this challenge with renewable energy microgrids. Key trends are converging, including reductions in hardware costs — such as solar modules and batteries. The Caribbean renewable energy market is maturing, leading to a more robust supply chain and competitive pricing.
More benefits with utilities
Despite the lack of utility involvement, disaster prone areas are already deploying microgrids as an energy resilience intervention. Since Hurricane Maria swept through Puerto Rico, at least 250 energy projects focused on critical facilities have been completed across 11 sectors. Based on data reported, total installed capacity is around 5.1 MW of solar photovoltaics and 7.9 MWh of battery storage, mostly lithium-ion based. These new assets depend less on fuel, are more reliable to operate, and will continue to operate when the grid is down.
With utility involvement, these systems can provide more benefits in the form of grid services to allow for better integration of distributed generation, save utilities on transmission and fuel costs, and provide revenue to the utility during grid outages. Bulk purchasing of microgrid equipment, which often leads to lower project costs, can be leveraged by utilities. Natural disasters will continue to occur in the Caribbean and elsewhere and by turning their focus toward microgrids, utilities can bring these benefits to their communities and service territories.
A new set of expectations for utility services and products has emerged from a quickly changing system, new technologies, evolving customer needs, and new external and environmental threats. Adding distributed components, such as microgrids, electric cars and battery storage to the grid has the potential to disrupt utility operations in ways that we have not seen before.
As the grid evolves, utilities need to assess how they are meeting new customer and system demands while continuing to provide energy safely, reliably and affordably. It will also require utility staff to learn entirely new skillsets, as everything from operations to planning to field service and customer service is transforming quickly.
To meet these new responsibilities while maintaining revenue will require utilities to shift their business model from one based on the sale of fossil kilowatt-hours to a business model based on the sale of “services.” Many aspects of how electric utilities have typically operated make it difficult to take this leap, including conventional rate design, conservative approaches and legacy regulatory structures.
No walk in the park
Adopting new strategies to participate in the distributed, renewable energy future — as necessary as it is — is no walk in the park. It will require utilities to consider dramatic changes in their integrated resource planning efforts to include distributed solar plus storage microgrids, which bring new functionalities and benefits. It will require them to proactively offer new rate design and pricing options, such as storage tariffs. It will also necessitate more customer engagement and involvement from third parties to determine how best to leverage utility advantages and maximize value to customers.
A real opportunity exists in the coming years for utilities to participate in advanced microgrid solutions. By deploying microgrids, utilities can maintain or increase revenue while keeping the lights on and keeping the meters running, even in the wake of shocks to their electrical grid. Additionally, distributed energy resources can provide seamless redundancy and resilience to a utility’s operations, while continuously powering services that are critical to health and safety. Finally, utilities are uniquely positioned to operationalize and monetize the value of microgrids to all ratepayers instead of a select few, thereby creating a distributed energy grid to many instead of a set of early adopters.
Plug In America’s EV Support Program provides personalized assistance to those with questions about electric vehicles, charging, incentives, and more. Anyone may access this service one time for free and Plug In America members have unlimited access.
Below are some of the many questions we have answered through the EV Support Program.
How can I take advantage of the federal EV tax credit?
The federal government offers a tax credit of up to $7,500 for purchasers of plug-in vehicles. Those who lease an EV cannot take the credit directly, as it goes to the financial company that owns the vehicle, but some companies pass this credit along to the lessee through lower lease payments.
Because this incentive is a tax credit and not a rebate, your credit will be deducted from your taxes at the end of the year. To claim the tax credit, use IRS Form 8936 when filing your taxes at the end of the year. Please consult with your tax advisor.
The tax credit phases out for each automaker once they have sold 200,000 qualified EVs. As of August 2019, Tesla vehicles are only eligible for 25% of the credit through December 31, 2019. GM vehicles (including Chevy Bolt) are eligible for 50% of the credit through September 30, 2019, then 25% of the credit through March 31, 2020.
Plug In America is urging Congress to extend the federal EV tax credit. Visit our action alert to contact your representatives and make your voice heard!
I am taking delivery on a long-range, dual-motor Tesla Model 3 and am confused by the home charging options. What amp and charger will work best?
For most people, a 32 amp charger will suffice, which is the most common amperage. It goes on a 40 amp circuit.
In order to future-proof your home for the purchase of additional EVs, you might consider installing a 40-50 amp charger. If you plan on purchasing additional EVs in the future, also consider adding another 40 amp circuit for charging a second car in a similar fashion on a separate charging station. You can also buy a charging station with two connectors that shares the single 40 amp circuit, which would deliver the full amperage if one car is plugged in but allow two cars to charge simultaneously at half the power.
While sharing one 40 amp circuit should suffice for most people with two EVs, a final option is perhaps setting aside 100 amps for two chargers, even if you only have one EV at this point. For some homes, though, setting aside 100 amps is impossible or very expensive and probably isn’t necessary.
Author: Shelley Robbins, Upstate Forever and Marriele Mango, Published:
The South Carolina Statehouse in Columbia.
Now more than ever, renewable and resilient energy systems are key to ensuring residents have access to reliable energy infrastructure in the event of a power outage.
Hurricane season is here, and South Carolina is no stranger to the devastating impacts that natural disasters and extreme weather can have on communities. Last year, Hurricane Florence resulted in widespread outages and flooding that continued well after the storm had passed. The year before, Hurricane Irma required a mandatory evacuation for 44,500 coastal residents, left hundreds of thousands of people in the dark, and flooded Charleston.
The recently passed Energy Freedom Act supports a more resilient, clean energy future for South Carolina by supporting solar PV and battery storage technologies. The act promotes more economical systems for utility customers and requires utilities to explore the investments in solar-plus-storage generation assets. In both cases, recognizing the monetary value of resilience is an essential piece to further solar-plus-storage development in the state.
Signed by South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster in May 2019, the Energy Freedom Act, also referred to as Act 62, is the result of years of community and clean energy industry advocacy.
The legislation alters existing policies and programs that had restricted renewable energy growth and creates pathways to renewable energy and resilience in South Carolina. By the time the bill landed on the governor’s desk, stakeholders including the South Carolina Office of Regulatory Staff, legislators and legislative staff, environmental organizations, the solar industry, utilities, and the business community had logged countless hours crafting the language and building support on an unprecedented scale in the state.
In a recent report, Resilient Southeast: Exploring Opportunities for Solar+Storage in Charleston, SC, published by Clean Energy Group and co-authored by Upstate Forever, Southern Environmental Law Center, and Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the city of Charleston ranked second out of five Southeastern cities for opportunities to deploy solar PV and battery storage (solar-plus-storage). This positive economic outcome can be largely attributed to the state’s solar tax incentive and favorable net metering policies.
However, battery storage adoption remains limited, in part because historically there has existed little state or utility support for customer-sited battery storage. The Energy Freedom Act was highlighted in the report as innovative legislation that could potentially reshape the state’s clean energy market.
Now with the legislation passed, it’s time to dive deeper into the Energy Freedom Act’s potential implications on the renewable energy landscape in South Carolina.
Avoided costs and avoided outage costs
The Energy Freedom Act’s emphasis on utility avoided cost calculation methodology, or the cost avoided by not building another unit of utility-owned traditional power generation, translates into a more favorable environment for adding a technology such as solar-plus-storage that avoids outage costs, which are basically the sum of any costs that were avoided by having backup power during an outage. This highlights a shift in South Carolina’s energy landscape toward embracing resiliency and the monetary gains it can bring to a project.
Additionally, the Public Service Commission (PSC) now has more flexibility in how it evaluates electric utility proceedings and proposals and how improved resilience factors into either. The PSC also has greater access to resources such as technical experts to assist in the evaluation of avoided cost methodologies.
The Energy Freedom Act provides a guideline for utilities to follow when calculating avoided costs, “including, but not limited to, energy, capacity, and ancillary services provided by or consumed by small power producers including those utilizing energy storage equipment.” Not only is battery storage highlighted, the “but not limited to” language opens the door to values of resilience services that storage can deliver and that intervenors can advocate for as a part of the avoided cost calculation.
For example, geographic location and resource type are suggested as variables that could influence an avoided cost calculation methodology. In this instance, small power producers on the hurricane-prone coast, for example, could argue for additional value for energy resilience from deploying storage due to their geography.
In determining if an avoided cost calculation is fair, the PSC is now allowed to hire a technical expert to advise. These consultants are able to request data and information from the utilities and the utilities must comply. The resulting proceedings will be much more transparent.
Additionally, the PSC is not required to accept the recommendation of the expert. Therefore, if the expert does not recognize the resiliency value of solar-plus-storage but an intervenor makes a strong case for it, the PSC can still incorporate the added value into an avoided cost methodology.
Finally, the PSC will revisit avoided cost “at least once every twenty-four months thereafter.” A biennial review ensures that, even if resilience value isn’t factored in initially, there is still an opportunity to incorporate it in the future. This will be increasingly important as energy infrastructure continues to be impacted by the consequences of climate change, and utilities are required to adjust to meet capacity needs with new, cleaner and more reliable technologies.
Why avoided cost of outages matter
Avoided outage-related costs represent the economic value of energy resilience. For a community service provider, avoided outage-related costs could include lost workforce productivity, interruption in services, and loss of critical client communication. One affordable housing provider estimated $2,500 in expenses and service and revenue losses for every hour that the headquarters office endured a power outage.
Unfortunately, determining an estimate for potential avoided outage costs can be complicated and the benefits are difficult to monetize, especially for public services. For these reasons, many state regulatory bodies, electric utilities, and businesses find it challenging to incorporate a value of resilience in project calculations.
However, if state and utility leaders begin recognizing the value of avoiding outage-related costs in project economics in a meaningful way, nonprofit and commercial organizations will likely be quick to follow.
Regardless of the institution, avoided outage-related costs can quickly add up and help to make the economic case for resilience. In fact, one of the most notable findings of the Resilient Southeast report series was that solar-plus-storage was found to be a positive investment for all of the locations and building types analyzed when avoided outage-related costs are factored in.
For example, the analysis showed that a secondary school in Charleston could save an estimated $345,000 over 25 years. That figure is significantly higher than the estimated $171,100 the school would save without factoring in avoided outage cost.
Additional opportunities for battery storage
As outlined in the Resilient Southeast report for Charleston, a variety of concerns related to transparency and affordability have hindered customer-sited solar-plus-storage growth in South Carolina. Issues like ambiguity in storage technology eligibility, looming utility caps, questions as to future solar compensation rates, and a general lack of regulatory support for renewable development have worked against solar-plus-storage progress. The Energy Freedom Act addressed many of these issues.
Battery storage and net metering
Prior to the passage of the Energy Freedom Act, vague net metering policies left questions as to the eligibility of battery storage.
Net metering regulations qualified “customer-generators” as customer-owned or leased systems which generate electricity from a renewable energy resource. For storage technologies, which discharge rather than generate electricity, the definition left room to challenge the eligibility of battery storage to participate in net metering.
The Act now includes specific language about battery storage within the “customer-generator” definition to include “an energy storage device configured to receive electrical charge solely from an onsite renewable energy resource.” While it may seem a minor alteration, specifically highlighting battery storage as an eligible part of a net-metered system both recognizes the value of battery storage in the larger energy system and opens the door to further development by removing any ambiguity as to eligibility.
Removing barriers to and incentivizing solar power promotes broader solar-plus-storage development by making systems more economical. The Energy Freedom Act promotes solar affordability by removing solar leasing caps and the net-metering cap, which was 2% of total generation capacity per utility (some South Carolina utilities had already surpassed the 2% cap).
Without the cap removal, utilities could have set potentially high tariffs on net-metering participants once the threshold was hit. Current solar net-metering compensation rates were also preserved and extended, allowing customers to continue to be credited at full retail cost through June 2021. Removing caps and preserving and extending retail rate compensation help to ensure that solar remains cost-competitive and uplifts overall solar-plus-storage system economics.
Peaker power plants
The Energy Freedom Act also promotes a more diverse portfolio of large-scale energy generation assets. Updated requirements on how utility power generation facilities are approved for construction opens the door for solar-plus-storage as an alternative to fossil fuel peaker power plants.
Based on U.S. Energy Information Administration data, there are currently 24 peaker power plants in South Carolina. These plants typically rely on gas or oil and operate infrequently to meet periods of high electricity demand (such as in the summer when everyone turns on their air conditioners).
Despite their infrequent use, peakers disproportionately emit air pollutants and are oftentimes located in densely populated disadvantaged communities already burdened with poor air quality and environmental health hazards. They are also more expensive to operate than their baseload counterparts.
The Energy Freedom Act mandates that all future utility generation facilities can only be built after considering the costs and reliability of multiple generation options.
Nationally, there have already been instances where solar and battery storage are more cost-effective options than traditional power plants. In addition to cost and reliability, an additional requirement that the proposed generation facility must be compared to other generation options in terms of “any other regulatory implications deemed legally or reasonably necessary for consideration by the commissions,” is broad enough to include the consideration of unconventional criteria when reviewing the merits of a generation asset, such as environmental health and emissions concerns.
The Energy Freedom Act also gives regulators the authority to require all-source solicitations for new generation above 75 megawatts. Requiring an all-source solicitation will allow private developers to compete with a variety of energy proposals, including solar-plus-storage, rather than give the utility full decision-making authority on what types of technology options to pursue. The Energy Freedom Act will allow the PSC to require utilities to explore the value and benefits of all generation options, including battery storage and solar-plus-storage.
The Energy Freedom Act in many ways champions renewables and resilience, but there remain challenges to solar+storage development in South Carolina. Stakeholders must now work within the new PSC framework to demonstrate the value of resiliency in real terms, both as a part of avoided cost calculations and as a component of new generation decisions. Nonetheless, the Energy Freedom Act has undoubtably opened the door to more resilient power in South Carolina.
To learn more about the Resilient Southeast report series and to read individual reports for Atlanta, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Miami, Florida; New Orleans, Louisiana; and Wilmington, North Carolina, click here.
Shelley Robbins is the Energy and State Policy Director at Upstate Forever. Upstate Forever focuses work in ten South Carolina counties; Abbeville, Anderson, Cherokee, Greenville, Greenwood, Laurens, Oconee, Pickens, Spartanburg and Union. Upstate Forever operates an accredited land trust as well as a Clean Water Program, a Land Planning and Policy Program, and an Energy and State Policy Program.
Marriele Mango is the Resilient Power Fellowship Program Associate at Clean Energy Group. Clean Energy Group is a leading national, nonprofit advocacy organization working on innovative policy, technology, and finance strategies in the areas of clean energy and climate change. The Resilient Power Project, a joint initiative of Clean Energy Group and Meridian Institute, is focused on accelerating market development of resilient, clean energy solutions for affordable housing and critical community facilities in low-income and disadvantaged communities.
It shows just how much the party has moved on energy and climate change.
Sen. Bernie Sanders repeatedly called out the fossil fuel industry as the adversary in the fight against climate change, during the second round of the Democratic presidential debates.Justin Sullivan/Getty Images
In a stark shift since the last campaign cycle, a significant number of Democratic candidates for president are now aggressively treating the fossil fuel industry as an adversary in the fight against climate change.
During Tuesday night’s Democratic debate, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called out coal, oil, and natural gas producers in five separate instances.
“We have got to be super aggressive if we love our children and if we want to leave them a planet that is healthy and is habitable,” Sanders said. “What that means is we got to take on the fossil fuel industry.”
Other 2020 candidates are also confronting major greenhouse gas emitters — and pushing for policies to hold them accountable. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee has proposed targeting carbon dioxide emitters directly with a carbon pollution fee. New York Sen. Kirsten Gillibrandwants fossil fuel companies to pay for climate change-related damage. Former Vice PresidentJoe Biden has pledged to “take action against fossil fuel companies.”
It’s a big shift in rhetoric since the Obama years, when the United States experienced a surge in domestic fossil fuel production with the advent of hydraulic fracturing for oil and natural gas. Democrats at that time were saying natural gas could serve as a bridge fuel to a low-carbon future. President Obama himself bragged about low gasoline prices during his 2015State of the Union address.
And leaked emails showed that the last Democratic nominee for president, Hillary Clinton, defended fracking and disparaged environmental activists. “They come to my rallies and they yell at me and, you know, all the rest of it,” Clinton said in a 2015 speech. “They say, ‘Will you promise never to take any fossil fuels out of the earth ever again?’ No. I won’t promise that. Get a life, you know.”
Since then, the climate crisis has worsened, the Trump administration has abdicated all responsibility, and climate scientists have sounded a shriller alarm about how little time we have left to avert catastrophic warming. In response, climate activists, like the Sunrise Movement, have been pushing for more ambitious climate policies. And the Green New Deal, which most of the Democratic candidates endorse, has emerged as a powerful framing device for decarbonizing the US economy.
All of this momentum — plus polls showing Democratic voters are worried about climate change — appears to have propelled many of the candidates into making it a top-tier issue. The push to prioritize climate change — and more directly challenge the political power of the fossil fuel industry — has been so strong that it’s carried almost all of the candidates along with it.
But not all the 2020 Democrats appear ready to lock horns with dirty energy. Montana Gov.Steve Bullock, who is pitching himself as a Democrat who won in a state that voted for Trump, said he feared losing support from workers in those industries. “As we transition to this clean energy economy, you have got to recognize there are folks that have spent their whole life powering our country,” he said during the debate. “And far too often Democrats sound like they’re part of the problem.”
Former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper’s climate change proposal doesn’t mention “fossil fuels” once, but touts his record of working with the oil and gas industry to limit emissions of greenhouse gases like methane.
The question then is whether this rhetoric in the primary will still carry on through the general election, and if it will translate into any concrete action against companies that extract and sell fossil energy.
So if debate moderators want to highlight how candidates stand apart on an issue that’s a high priority for many primary voters, it would behoove them to ask how contenders see the fossil fuel industry fitting into their visions for the future.
A three-judge panel under the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday ruled they could not force the Montana Public Service Commission (PSC) to order NorthWestern Energy to purchasepower from solar developers at previously set contract prices.
Solar developers filed an appeal with the federal court after the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) ruled against the PSC’s suspension of rates guaranteed to small solar projects under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), but said they couldn’t intervene at the state level. Those developers argued that because the utility locked them out of contracts when prices were $66/MWh, they are owed those rates, rather than the current $22/MWh, which a commissioner was caught on video saying would kill small solar projects.
But the PSC said that because they have updated their policies surrounding those contracts, the commission has no responsibility to mend any damages incurred from its unlawful rate freeze. And the court ruled the dispute should be taken care of by the state, rather than enforced federally.
It’s not yet clear if solar developers will appeal Monday’s ruling, but concern remains over what it could mean for the ability of the federal government to enforce PURPA.
“Our core argument … is that kind of kicking it back to these state commissions, which have shown themselves to be bad actors, is a hollow victory for small producers,” Lena Konanova, an attorney who represented Cypress Creek Renewables and qualifying facilities (QFs) in Montana in the case, told Utility Dive before Monday’s ruling.
“It really just ensures an endless cycle … of a state commission doing something unlawful, depriving the small producer of the ability to sell power. Then if all the federal court did was say, ‘Okay, state commission, go try again,’ they could just do the same thing over again. … And we think that would be a terrible result really inconsistent with federal laws.”
FERC declined to take action on regulators’ 2016 rate freeze for small solar projects, prompting solar developers to file a lawsuit in the federal District Court in Montana. That court ruled that helping the QFs would violate the eleventh amendment, which prohibits the federal government from suing states for past misconduct.
“And we said, ‘No, we’re not looking for any backward looking relief. We’re just looking to sell power prospectively in the future to the utility at the rate that we were entitled to when we formed the legally enforceable obligation [(LEO)],'” said Konanova.
The commission had slashed rates for the solar QFs from $66/MWh to $22/MWh in June 2017. Audio captured Commissioner Bob Lake acknowledging those cuts were likely deep enough to kill small solar projects, and following the video’s release, several solar developers in the state filed suit against both the commission and NorthWestern.
In that case, a Montana district court judge ruled in April the PSC had intentionally cut rates to kill small solar projects. The ruling is currently on appeal, but if the appeal is unsuccessful the commission will have to revisit those rates.
Another dispute in the case between the utility and solar developers centered around the interconnection agreement needed in order for them to sell power to the grid. NorthWestern had control over those agreements and in June 2016 stopped processingapplications, claiming they were overwhelmed and had the commission put a freeze on payments to the small solar projects.
After FERC ruled against that freeze, the commission revisited those policies, in part preventing NorthWestern from controlling the QFs’ ability to enter into contracts. Therefore, the commission argued, the developers’ Ninth Circuit case was a moot point, because developers would now have an easier time getting the permits needed to connect.
“If you look at the new rule that the commission has put in place, we took FERC’s direction to heart and made a rule that precludes utility control over the QFs ability to incur an LEO,” Jeremiah Langston, counsel for the Montana PSC, told Utility Dive.
“So I really think the court’s decision reflects that the commission made improvements to its LEO rule, and the appropriate remedy isn’t to go back to June 16, 2016, and give the QFs a plainly outdated avoided cost calculation” for what utilities are required to pay solar developers for the power they supply to the grid.
“Everybody’s been talking about this, but this is it,” Engie Storage CEO Christopher Tilley tells GTM.
Storage developers can get paid for letting Engie bid their batteries into New England’s wholesale market.
Engie Storage has formalized a much-discussed but little-practiced revenue stream for energy storage projects: wholesale market value-stacking
Under a new product offering, Engie won’t just design, supply and operate energy storage plants for customers. The company will also pay developers upfront for dispatch rights to use their batteries in the ISO New England wholesale markets.
This gives storage developers and their financiers an additional source of secure revenue, while shifting the tricky merchant risk onto Engie, which feels confident in handling it.
This is not the first time energy storage has entered wholesale markets. Utility-scale batteries piled into PJM’s frequency regulation market years ago, and at least one storage facility is diving into Texas’ competitive ERCOT market. (Some storage technically participates in CAISO via California’s Demand Response Auction Mechanism pilot, but that is, in fact, a pilot).
What’s different here is the containment of merchant risk, which scares off those financiers who are otherwise comfortable with storage investments at this point.
In the past, developers built merchant battery plants, but that all but dried up when PJM’s storage market cooled off. Major battery plants these days need solid, contracted revenue streams to line up financing; if they can sprinkle in a little merchant activity, that’s great, but it’s gravy.
This means that the famous ability of storage to perform multiple tasks has not extended as far into the wholesale markets as is technically feasible.
“Everybody’s been talking about this, but this is it,” Engie Storage CEO Christopher Tilley told GTM. “This is real, and there’s real value-stacking that can significantly improve the economics of projects.”
Unpacking merchant risk requires certain competencies that Tilley’s team has access to as part of French energy conglomerate Engie, with a trading desk and experience managing the full range of energy assets. Its recent acquisition of Genbright, which aggregates distributed energy devices for wholesale market participation, further expands the tool belt.
Using those internal resources, Engie will take on the risk of projecting years’ worth of future market earnings, then cut a check to the developer based on those calculations. For the developer — Engie’s customer — this turns merchant risk into contracted revenue.
The developer gets paid upfront, financiers don’t have to worry about merchant risk messing with their payback, and Engie takes responsibility for dispatching the plant to make good on its predictions.
This isn’t just a theoretical announcement. Engie has a first customer in private equity firm Syncarpha Capital, which signed up for the full offering for six community solar plants paired with energy storage, totaling 19 megawatts/38 megawatt-hours. Those projects, expected online this year or next, will claim the Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target incentive and the federal Investment Tax Credit.
On top of those two incentives, Engie is paying Syncarpha to use the batteries for the ISO New England markets for capacity, reserves and frequency regulation. Tilley declined to specify how lucrative the wholesale payments are, but said they represent “a substantial amount of money.”
In practice, this requires balancing several sets of compliance requirements and then pushing for additional revenue.
“We’re essentially guaranteeing to everyone that we can operate the battery so it complies with the programs and the financial arrangements you have,”
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) will spearhead the development of a North American Energy Resilience Model (NAERM), designed to “proactively anticipate damage to energy system equipment,” predict associated blackouts and help with recovery.
DOE’s Office of Electricity (OE) will coordinate its efforts with the national laboratories and the energy sector, and said next steps include “extensive industry engagement” to ensure best practices are included in the model.
OE issued a report on its plans to develop the NAERM earlier this month, citing growing threats to the nation’s grid and the range of critical infrastructure that relies on electricity, from banking and water distribution to telecommunications.
OE Assistant Secretary Bruce Walker has prioritized the development of NAERM, which he describes as a “first-of-its-kind tool” to improve energy resilience and national security.
“The ultimate goal of the project is to provide real-time situational awareness and analysis capabilities for emergency events and optimal operations and recovery, enabling the federal government and industry to quickly and effectively prepare and respond,” Walker wrote in a July 24 blog post.
In April, Walker wrote that the resilience model will provide “enhanced real-time situational awareness and analysis capabilities for emergency events,” which would allow the federal government to prepare and respond more quickly and effectively.
“The United States is increasingly experiencing threats, natural and man-made,” according to the report, including hurricanes, flooding, cyberattacks and electromagnetic pulses. The model will “enable prediction of the impact of threats, evaluation and identification of effective mitigation strategies, and support for black start planning, benefiting the United States by enhancing energy and economic security.”
OE’s report on the development of a model includes the United States and interconnected portions of Canada and Mexico.
The NAERM will be developed in two phases, with the first focused on long-term energy planning.
By the end of the first phase, OE’s report says the NAERM should be able to assess the expected consequences from a range of scenarios. By the end of the second phase, the NAERM will be a “situational awareness model capable of analyzing the power system, predicting potential threat consequences, and providing recommended mitigating actions.”
OE said timelines for each of the phases will be defined through “additional planning and technical progress,” and that next steps include engaging with industry experts to better understand issues and practices on a regional basis.
DOE has been expanding its efforts on energy resilience. Earlier this month, the department began seeking public comment on how the electric grid and oil and gas pipelines can be made more resilient to severe weather events like windstorms, floods, wildfires and other disasters.
Author:Max Witynski Published July 31, 2019 Utility Dive
The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee voted unanimously Tuesday morning to advance a broad bipartisan infrastructure bill that includes funding for electric vehicle (EV) charging stations. Chairman John Barrasso, R-Wyo., is working to bring it before the full Senate this fall.
S. 2302, the America’s Transportation Infrastructure Act, earmarks $1 billion in funding for competitive grants to support the development of fueling infrastructure for electric, natural gas and hydrogen-powered vehicles. The bill also directs federal agencies to transition their vehicle fleets to hybrid-electric, electric and alternative fuels within a year of enactment.
Sponsors are optimistic about passage, and President Donald Trump also tweeted in support of the bill on Tuesday morning. However, the bill faces more deliberation over expected amendments, such as expanding ‘alternative fuels’ to include biofuel-powered vehicles.
The bill aims to establish a grant program that would be available to states, counties, municipalities, tribes and agencies working to make public charging infrastructure more widely accessible. It also seeks “to foster enhanced, coordinated, public-private or private investment in [alternative fuel] infrastructure.”
EV industry stakeholders welcomed the prospects for collaboration between the public and private sector.
“We see this as a major step forward in America’s global leadership in transportation electrification,” David Schatz, director of public policy at Chargepoint, told Utility Dive. Schatz said Chargepoint, one of the country’s largest EV infrastructure companies, “absolutely” foresees potential partnerships between grantees and industry.
“We already see a lot of private investment activated today in the market: this would only accelerate it,” Schatz said, “by allowing there to be natural partnerships that form around these funds and allow for the build-out nationwide of EV charging stations.”
Other stakeholders were more cautious in their response to bill.
“We’re pleased the alternative fuel grants look to spur private sector investment, but we want to be sure that it doesn’t allow abuses by electric utilities,” Doug Kantor of Steptoe & Johnson, counsel to both the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS) and the Society of Independent Gasoline Marketers of America (SIGMA) said in a statement.
NACS and SIGMA are concerned that utilities could “double-dip” on infrastructure projects by charging customers for electric vehicle chargers while also qualifying for taxpayer-funded grants to support the buildout of that infrastructure.
Midwestern Sens. Joni Ernst, R-Iowa, and Mike Rounds, R-S.D., also said the section on charging and fueling infrastructure unfairly leaves out advanced biofuels as alternative fuel sources, and said they would introduce amendments to have them included.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Ernst stressed that she has “no problem” with the technologies and fuels already supported by the bill. However, “If all emissions-reducing fuels aren’t going to be treated equally by this program, then my preference is to do away with the program entirely,” she said.
Still, the bill has been touted by both the committee leadership and the president as a good example of bipartisan transportation legislation.
We had a 21-0 vote today in the Senate. We don’t get a lot of coverage of the fact that we do things bipartisan,” Chairman Barrasso told reporters after the hearing.
“And there is the will to get it done. I’m visiting with Senator McConnell to get it floor time in the fall,” he said.