NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: About Mr. Pruitt
  • Weekend Video: The Impacts Are Now
  • Weekend Video: The Winds In New Mexico
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-More Migrants From Climate Change Than From War
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-India’s New Energy Jobs Boom
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Japan’s Nissan Moves Into Solar-Plus-Storage In UK
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Big Economic Boosts From EU Wind
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, May 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-Alaska On The Climate Change Front Lines
  • TTTA Thursday-The More Renewables, The More The Price Drops
  • TTTA Thursday-Building A Better Battery From Solar And Water
  • TTTA Thursday-Nuclear Power Going Broke
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Uptown Funk – Where will NYC get its peak demand capacity?
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Technology, markets and contracts — The keys to profiting from California's duck curve
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: New Numbers Show Community Solar Boom
  • QUICK NEWS, May 15: Younger Republicans Starting To Get Climate Change; California’s Solar Bump; Where The Wind Is
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, May 21:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: A Defense Of Rooftop Solar
  • QUICK NEWS, May 21: Stop Climate Change To Save “Tens Of Thousands” Species; Willing To Pay For New Energy; Lawmakers, Regulators Working To Grow EVs

    Monday, May 21, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: A Defense Of Rooftop Solar

    Affordable, Clean, Reliable Energy; A better system created by the people, for the people.

    Lynn Jurich, April 2018 (Sunrun)

    (Editor’s note: This is a passionate defense of rooftop solar that deserves to be heard but it contains factual inaccuracies)

    Executive Summary

    This paper details the trends that are converging to develop a better energy system. A system that will radically remake our dated, economically inefficient existing energy infrastructure into a more affordable, clean, and reliable system that puts people at the center of energy production and consumption.

    We shed light on the political and regulatory decisions we are making today that will determine our future, and how quickly and cost-effectively we can move to a superior, cleaner energy system. A pressing question is whether incumbent powers will allow this transition to happen swiftly and without wasting significant capital on rebuilding yesterday’s centralized utility infrastructure.

    After 10 years of living and breathing the home solar and battery market, witnessing rapid technology developments, engaging policymakers, watching special interest groups get nervous, understanding the energy customer, and analyzing future trends, this paper summarizes what we’ve learned.

    Most Americans are surprised to learn that the cost of moving electricity through transmission lines, transformers, and local power lines is greater than the cost of generating the electricity itself. Many power lines are old and frail and in need of massive upgrades. That means more power outages from extreme weather events and even higher bills to upgrade infrastructure. How can we reduce these costs and improve reliability while lowering our dependence on harmful fossil fuels? We can put the clean power where it’s used: solar power on roofs and batteries in garages. Households and businesses that adopt solar and batteries save money for themselves and their communities, reduce pollution, and increase system reliability and resilience for everyone. They also benefit from the power stored in their batteries, keeping their families and employees comfortable and safe during power outages.

    Let’s Stop The War On Solar

    Utility investors lose money when they cannot build new power plants because people adopt solar. This means powerful interests are motivated to make it unnecessarily difficult and punitive for households to produce their own clean power. In 2017 alone, in 250 different places across the country, proposals were put forth to increase rates for households that choose to adopt solar.10 A recent report found that “a national network of utility interest groups and fossil fuel-backed think tanks has provided the funding, model legislation and political cover to discourage the growth of rooftop solar power.”11 Policies that support consumer choice and home solar are under attack across the United States.12

    These proposals attack a clean energy resource that is overwhelmingly popular with the American public.13 They are introduced from a place of fear and often with the following static logic: even though the penetration of home solar is low today, as people generate more of their own electricity from the solar panels on their roofs, utility revenues will decline, and, unless the utility can find a more efficient way to operate, the remaining utility customers will have to pay more for the powerlines to keep the system running. That would increase the incentive for the remaining customers to leave. This is known as the utility “death spiral”.

    This reasoning fails to consider the overwhelming benefits of local energy. Without considering benefits, the punitive measures against solar are more about the threat of competition and reduced revenues than they are about protecting consumers from high prices. Most of the research suggests that solar customers already save utilities and energy consumers more money than they cost them.14

    We will likely invest enough dollars to rebuild our entire energy system in the coming decades. investing in a system that puts energy consumers at the center, with the clean, local resources available today, can save us from investing in yesterday’s redundant technology. It will also build the foundation for a more efficient, resilient system.

    Most dangerously, the constant and premature changes to the consumer’s solar value proposition removes the market stability required for innovation and the novel solutions technology will inevitably bring.

    Utilities cannot be relied upon to drive this consumer centered clean energy future. Even if they wanted to, utility investors are risk-averse and unlikely to support a program that could cause a short-term loss in revenue and dividends. Case in point: In 2016, utilities spent $20 million on an anti-home solar ballot initiative in Florida - one of the nation’s sunniest states that has 22 of the top 25 cities most threatened by sea level rise.15

    Let The Market Work

    Let’s stop this war on affordable, clean, reliable energy and create a market for innovation. These resources should be viewed as an opportunity. We should welcome and encourage power created by the people, for the people and give the market time to develop. Americans want clean power and backup power during outages, and they want the freedom to control their monthly energy costs. Let’s incentivize it to happen quickly, allow competition to lower costs for the whole system, and accelerate the adoption of a better system.

    Fortunately, the building blocks are in place. There are many positive case studies to share and some states are already drawing the roadmap for the future. The faster we do it, the more local jobs we create, and the faster we can get to a clean energy system. We’ll avoid tearing up our land with polluting fossil fueled power plants and power lines that will become obsolete in the near future.

    We have incredible potential before us. Solar energy generated just 2% of U.S. electricity last year;25 home solar alone could meet 40% of total U.S. electricity demand.26 As we are witnessing in California and New York today, regulators are creating mechanisms to utilize homes and businesses with solar and batteries as alternatives to building new fossil fuel power plants, transmission, and distribution infrastructure.27 For example, California’s grid operator has a new plan that saves 2.6 billion dollars in future costs by directing utilities to tap into home solar and efficiency resources, rather than building transmission projects.28 When the sun is shining, homes and businesses can store extra power in their batteries and send it to the community when and where it is most needed. Households that adopt solar make the system more affordable for everyone – even for those that don’t go solar.

    The cost of this future is significantly lower than the alternative. This future will meet the values and expectations of Americans, and accelerate the retirement of harmful and polluting power plants to the great benefit of future generations…

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    QUICK NEWS, May 21: Stop Climate Change To Save “Tens Of Thousands” Species; Willing To Pay For New Energy; Lawmakers, Regulators Working To Grow EVs

    Stop Climate Change To Save “Tens Of Thousands” Species Limiting climate change to 1.5°C increase would save thousands of species: report

    Jessica Vomiero, May 20, 2018 (Global News)

    “Just half-a-degree Celsius difference in temperature could make the difference between saving the majority of the world’s species from climate change, or increasing the extinction risks for plants, animals and insects…[K]eeping global warming under a 1.5 C increase in temperatures would preserve tens of thousands of land-based species, plants, vertebrates and insects on Earth, even in comparison to a rise in temperatures by 2 degrees Celsius…[T]he upper temperature limit set during the Paris Agreement is 2 C…[but the] impacts on biodiversity multiply significantly with a 2 C increase in global warming levels compared to 1.5 C [according to a new study from the University of East Anglia]…An additional study published by NASA’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) reveals that not only is the Earth getting warmer every year, temperatures are increasing by greater amounts year after year…” click here for more

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    Poll On New Energy Americans want more clean energy. Here's what they're actually willing to do to get it

    Tom DiChristopher, 16 May 2018 (CNBC)

    “Americans have long supported the idea of clean power. The question has always been how much effort they're willing to expend to make a green energy future a reality…[A new Deloitte survey] suggests the gap between environmental concern and consumer action may be shrinking…[because of] falling prices for solar power, higher awareness of clean energy options, growing concern about climate change and the inclinations of millennials…68 percent of electric power buyers said they are very concerned about climate change and their carbon footprint. That's the highest percentage ever recorded in the study…74 percent of respondents believe climate change is caused by human actions, up 5 points from 2017. Just 37 percent said environmental concerns are overblown, down 8 points from last year…7 in 10 companies reported that customers were demanding that they draw at least some of their power from renewable sources...Building out more solar and wind farms was widely seen as the main answer to climate change…” click here for more

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    Lawmakers, Regulators Working To Grow EVs The 50 States of Electric Vehicles Report Released by NCCETC; 42 States and DC Took Action on Electric Vehicles During Q1 2018

    May 15, 2018 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center [NCCETC])

    “…[NCCETC’s Q1 2018 The 50 States of Electric Vehicles] finds that 42 states and the District of Columbia took actions related to electric vehicles and charging infrastructure during Q1 2018 (see figure below), with the greatest number of actions relating to electric vehicle fees, fast charging deployment, and electric vehicle studies…[Four trends are apparent or emerging… (1) states considering multi-faceted electric vehicle plans, (2) contention around utility ownership of electric vehicle charging infrastructure, (3) examining the role of demand charges in vehicle charging rates, and (4) piloting the co-location of energy storage systems with electric vehicle charging infrastructure…A total of 275 electric vehicle actions were taken during Q1 2018 – more than were taken in the entirety of 2017 (227 actions)…” click here for more

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    Saturday, May 19, 2018

    About Mr. Pruitt

    “Absolutely no scruples or allegiance to the post…” From NationalSierraClub via YouTube

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    The Impacts Are Now

    Impacts from climate change-induced environmental devastations cost the U.S. over $1 billion in 2017. From Hot Mess via YouTube

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    The Winds In New Mexico

    Wind turbines, “like ballerinas on the landscape” of the plains, are bringing economic salvation to this rural region. It is a solution for the planet and the planet’s people. From American Wind Energy Association via YouTube

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    Friday, May 18, 2018

    More Migrants From Climate Change Than From War

    Will Climate Change Cause More Migrants Than Wars?

    Daniel Gutman, May 17, 2018 (Inter Press Service)

    “Climate change is one of the main drivers of migration and will be increasingly so. It will even have a more significant role in the displacement of people than armed conflicts, which today cause major refugee crises…[Ovais Sarmad, the Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) told a meeting of international representatives that the 1 million refugees and migrants in Europe because of the Syrian conflict and other conflicts in Sub-Saharan Africa will seem] like a small number…[As many as] four hundred million people live in developing countries in low-lying areas, in cities which are very close to the sea…[and if sea level rises, they] will have to move…In many countries around the world, farmers are the most affected by droughts and they will move…‘They won’t have many places to go. We have only one planet and they can’t go to space…There’s no other issue at an international level, besides security and nuclear proliferation, more important than climate change,” he stated…” click here for more

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    India’s New Energy Jobs Boom

    Over 300,000 workers to be employed in solar, wind energy sectors in India: Report; The ILO said in its annual flagship report on the state of the global job market that action to combat climate change could create millions of new job opportunities and "more than" offset losses in traditional industries.

    May 15, 2018 (Money Control)

    "Over 300,000 workers will be employed in the solar and wind energy sectors in India to meet the country's target of generating 175 gigawatts of electricity from renewable sources by 2022…[According to World Employment and Social Outlook 2018: Greening with jobs from the United Nations International Labour Organisation (ILO), the fight against climate change will create an estimated 24 million new jobs globally by 2030, which will more than] offset losses in traditional industries…The report noted that India has made environmental sustainability a central objective of its development strategy in its twelfth Five-Year Plan (2012–17) and set up a comprehensive framework for skills development for green transition at the national level, targeting key sectors and institutions…[B]ased on the identification of skills needs in these sectors, 26 new Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) courses have been developed…[T]he regional winners from investment in energy use and production will be Asia and the Pacific, with 14 million jobs created, the Americas (three million) and Europe (two million)…” click here for more

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    Japan’s Nissan Moves Into Solar-Plus-Storage In UK

    Nissan's Following Tesla Into Solar Power And Home Batteries

    Jack Stewart, May 16, 2018 (Wired)

    “…[T]he builder of the world’s best-selling electric car just started [UK sales of] Nissan Energy Solar, a generation-to-acceleration scheme that equips customers with roof-mounted panels and a battery to store some of the electricity they generate. If they drive a Leaf, or Nissan’s e-NV200 electric van, they can combine the whole process and drive from Scotland to Wales to wherever, guilt-free, fog lights on, windshield wipers whisking away…[S]olar works well in the UK. Panels can do their thing even with indirect sunlight, and the country’s northerly position makes for 16 hours of daytime during the summer. Nearly a million people there already use solar panels, according to Nissan. Adding batteries to the mix will help them stay powered up…Nissan says its all-in-one system will start at $5,200 for six solar panels, or $10,300 for panels and a 4-kWh battery, including installation. Customers can choose between a brand new battery, or a ‘second-life’ pack made from cells that have been retired from electric vehicles but remain good enough for the more gentle demands of daily storage. Tesla’s powerwall, which can store 13.5 kWh, costs $5,900, but installation is extra…” click here for more

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    Big Economic Boosts From EU Wind

    According to WindEurope, on a macro level, wind energy contributes €36 billion to the GDP of the European Union, supports 263,000 jobs and generates €8 billion of exports.

    May 18, 2018 (New Europe)

    “…[W]ind energy contributes €36 billion to the GDP of the European Union, supports 263,000 jobs and generates €8 billion in export revenue….[A new Local Impact, Global Leadership toolkit from WindEurope] shows how the wind supply chain is benefitting regions all across Europe, including in those that are economically disadvantaged…[The study also] shows how citizens benefit from shared ownership of wind farms and how wind farms are contributing to local economic activity through the taxes they pay to local governments – covering up to 20% of municipal revenues…The wind industry has brought jobs and investment to many regions that have depended on traditional industries, WindEurope said, adding that shipbuilding areas in northern Spain and on Poland’s Baltic coast now produce towers, foundations, cranes and the jack-up vessels that install offshore turbines…” click here for more

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    Thursday, May 17, 2018

    Alaska On The Climate Change Front Lines

    ‘Impossible to Ignore’: Why Alaska Is Crafting a Plan to Fight Climate Change

    Brad Plumer, May 15, 2018 (NY Times)

    “…Alaska, a major oil and gas producer, is crafting its own plan to address climate change. Ideas under discussion include cuts in state emissions by 2025 and a tax on companies that emit carbon dioxide…While many conservative-leaning states have resisted aggressive climate policies, Alaska is already seeing the dramatic effects of global warming firsthand, making the issue difficult for local politicians to avoid. The solid permafrost that sits beneath many roads, buildings and pipelines is starting to thaw, destabilizing the infrastructure above. At least 31 coastal towns and cities may need to relocate, at a cost of hundreds of millions of dollars, as protective sea ice vanishes and fierce waves erode Alaska’s shores…In addressing climate change, Alaska will have to grapple with its own deep contradictions.

    Roughly 85 percent of the state’s budget is funded by revenues from the production of oil, which is primarily exported to the rest of the United States, and local politicians have largely been unwilling to curtail the supply of fossil fuels. Both Governor Walker and Lieutenant Governor Mallott supported the recent decision by Congress to open the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil and gas exploration, a move opposed by environmentalists…[But] the state’s climate task force released a draft in April that included a proposal for Alaska to get 50 percent of its electricity from renewable sources like solar, wind, hydropower and geothermal by 2025, up from 33 percent in 2016. The draft also proposed cutting statewide greenhouse gas emissions one-third below 2005 levels by 2025, tackling sectors like transportation and ‘natural resource development,’ which includes oil drilling operations…” click here for more

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    The More Renewables, The More The Price Drops

    Impacts of High Variable Renewable Energy Futures on Wholesale Electricity Prices, and on Electric-Sector Decision Making

    May 2018 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory)

    “Increasing penetrations of variable renewable energy (VRE) can affect wholesale electricity price patterns and make them meaningfully different from past, traditional price patterns…[V]arious decisions may change with higher shares of VRE…[R]esults from detailed electricity market simulations with capacity expansion and unit commitment models for multiple regions of the U.S. for low and high VRE futures…[show] a general decrease in average annual hourly wholesale energy prices with more VRE penetration, increased price volatility and frequency of very low-priced hours, and changing diurnal price patterns. Ancillary service prices rise substantially and peak net-load hours with high capacity value are shifted increasingly into the evening, particularly for high solar futures…[T]he core set of [qualitative] electricity market prices derived here provides a foundation for later planned quantitative evaluations of these decisions in low and high VRE futures.” click here for more

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    Building A Better Battery From Solar And Water

    New Water-Based Battery Could Help Store Solar and Wind Energy; A new type of battery is cheaper and longer lasting, creating new possibilities for use with renewable energy generation.

    Avery Thompson, May 7, 2018 (Popular Mechanics)

    “…Variable renewable energies like wind and solar require] some sort of backup…[Use of fossil fuels] significantly undercuts the benefits of green energy…[Battery storage could serve but most] utility-scale battery systems are expensive to build, and there’s a limit to how long they last…[A new manganese-hydrogen battery developed by researchers at Stanford solves these problems with a cheap, long-lasting battery perfect for utility-scale energy storage…When electricity is pumped through the solution, it triggers a chemical reaction, creating manganese dioxide and pure hydrogen gas. That hydrogen gas can then be stored and later burned as fuel whenever excess electricity is needed. The battery itself can be recharged with more electricity and the process repeats…The researchers have only tested a small prototype in the lab, and there’s no guarantee that the design will perform as well out in the field…” click here for more

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    Nuclear Power Going Broke

    One-Fourth of U.S. Nuclear Plants Are at Risk of Early Retirement

    Tim Loh, May 15, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “More than a quarter of U.S. nuclear power plants don’t make enough money to cover their operating costs, raising the threat of more early retirements…Of the 66 nuclear power plants operating in the U.S., 24 [representing 32.5 GW of capacity] are either scheduled to close or probably won’t make money through 2021, according Nicholas Steckler, an analyst with Bloomberg New Energy Finance…It would cost about $1.3 billion a year to plug the revenue gaps for these struggling sites…[A similar analysis in March] showed that half of U.S. coal-fired power plant capacity is on shaky ground…The average U.S. nuclear plant still is expected to make money before taxes, especially on the East Coast…[And policymakers in New York, Illinois and New Jersey have provided incentives for] struggling plants thanks to their emissions-free generation and concerns about job losses…[But] the industry is increasingly challenged by sluggish power demand, cheap natural gas and the rise of renewable energy -- especially in the Midwest where wind power is ascendant.” click here for more

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    Wednesday, May 16, 2018

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Uptown Funk – Where will NYC get its peak demand capacity?

    Uptown Funk: Where will NYC get its peak demand capacity? Con Ed says aging natural gas plants are fine; storage advocates say a crisis is imminent.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 26, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: The debate about how urgent NYC’s need to act continues, but there is no doubt that the opportunity to meet the need with innovative New Energy-based strategies is there.

    While about 30% of New York City’s peak demand is met by natural gas turbines older than most such plants in service, Consolidated Edison (ConEd), the city's distribution utility, argues “aging is not the same as having to be replaced." And a study by the New York Independent System Operator (NYISO) concluded power plants now in service “will meet reliability criteria over the 2017-2026 period.” ConEd told Utility Dive peaker units “are easy to maintain” and are used “for only a couple of hours and then shut down.” But ConEd does not own them and has little visibility into how viable the plants are, the utility acknowledged. The NYC Mayor’s Office, cited the NYISO analyses in denying any near-term peak demand reliability concerns…

    The current sufficiency of NYC's peak demand resources was questioned in "New York City’s Aging Power Plants: Risks, Replacement Options, and the Role of Energy Storage" in the September 2017 Strategen Consulting report. A shortfall of 642 MW could develop from the aging peak capacity infrastructure in the metro NYC region, it found from examining NYISO data on natural gas plants. It found that 2,860 MW of NYC’s approximately 11,600 MW of forecasted peak load is provided by turbines older than xthe age at which 95% of such plants retire. In addition, NYC’s peak demand needs are evolving, Strategen found. The NYISO’s evaluation did not assume the retirement of Indian Point, changes in the availability of natural gas supply, changes in regional electricity imports, anticipated new rules restricting ozone, and potential natural gas plant retirements and diminished performance. The advanced age of many turbines providing peak load in NYC is an opportunity to write new rules and policies that allow the city to meet its growing peak demand in ways that support its renewables and climate goals… click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Technology, markets and contracts — The keys to profiting from California's duck curve

    Technology, markets and contracts — oh my! The keys to profiting from California's duck curve; California policymakers look to address renewables over-generation through smart investments in supply- and demand-side resources.

    Herman K. Trabish, Oct. 30, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: California’s tense debates over the costs of the recent wildfires and the exploding customer choice movement are impeding the transition reported here.

    California’s grid operator and other energy sector stakeholders want to use the wholesale power market to transform the state’s renewables over-generation from a problem to a solution by aligning technology, markets and contracts and through better long-term planning. Recent average wholesale electricity market price fluctuations reveal a growing burden for the California Independent System Operator (CAISO). In 2016, the price during midday hours was about $18/MWh and spiked to $35/MWh during peak demand, according to Energy Department January to June data. This year, the midday price fell below $15/MWh and spiked to nearly $60/MWh at the peak.

    The price differentiation follows CAISO’s load through the fluctuations of the now well-known duck curve. Prices are lowest when midday demand falls off but rise sharply as demand spikes later in the day. California’s 6,000 MW of rooftop solar exacerbate the load and price drop-offs that lead to the real concern — the need to meet the long, high ramp-up to peak demand. California policymakers and others during an Oct. 18 session, Unlocking California's renewables "dividend," at CAISO’s 2017 Stakeholder Symposium, argued smart investments in supply and demand can turn these dynamics from costs to dividends. CAISO can develop resources to use the midday over-generation, flatten the ramp and lower the peak. Doing so, they said, can bring California lower electricity prices, a stronger economy, healthier air and reduced greenhouse gas emissions… click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, May 15, 2018

    TODAY’S STUDY: New Numbers Show Community Solar Boom

    Community Solar Program Design Models

    May 1, 2018 (Smart Electric Power Alliance)

    HISTORY

    In 2015, SEPA developed the Community Solar Program Design Models report which provided an overview of the community solar market, findings from a survey of program administrators, and our initial program design decision tree. Now, in 2018, we have updated this report with new data on the community solar market, and lessons learned over the past two years.

    “COMMUNITY SOLAR” DEFINITION

    In this report, SEPA defines a community solar program, also known as shared solar, as a voluntary business model where multiple subscribers pay for a share of a specified offsite solar project and receive credit on their electricity bill for their portion of power produced.

    “PROGRAM ADMINISTRATOR” DEFINITION

    Many programs are developed by multiple organizations who share development responsibilities. For simplicity, SEPA defines the program administrator as the primary organization responsible for managing customer subscriptions. Some portions of this report split the community solar market into programs administered by the utility and those administered by third-party providers.

    CULTIVATING NEW MARKETS

    Community solar programs are proliferating across the entire U.S. In our 2015 report, SEPA announced there were 68 utilities in 23 states that had programs in their service territories. At the time of publishing this report, 228 utilities in 36 states had an active program. Many other utilities across the country have announced plans to develop new programs. There is even a planned program in Alaska; Chugach Electric Association located in Anchorage approved a community solar project in October 2017.

    Community solar programs are developed in states with and without shared solar policies, though many of the most active states have some form of state policy. The specific language in each of these policies varies dramatically, particularly concerning scale, bill credit rate, and ability of third-party ownership. But the foundation for each is the enablement of bill crediting for customers participating in community solar programs. Currently, 17 states plus the District of Columbia have enacted shared solar policies. According to the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA), proposed legislation has been introduced in at least nine states across the country to open or expand existing community solar programs in the last year.

    STEADY GROWTH OF INSTALLED CAPACITY

    The total installed capacity of community solar programs has expanded to 734 megawatts (MW), with approximately 387 MW of that being installed in 2017. This corresponds with a year-over-year growth in capacity last year of 112%. For a comparison, the total solar market in the U.S. has grown at an average annual rate of 68% over the last 10 years.1

    In the short term, SEPA expects this growth to continue. Declining solar costs, increasing customer awareness of the business model, and the opening of new state markets by policy, will all contribute. Whether this growth continues in the long term after state renewable portfolio standards are met and the standard utility supply has a greater share of renewable generation, or after the most environmentally conscientious customers have already subscribed, is undetermined.

    A majority of the total installed capacity is being administered by a third-party community solar provider. These organizations are responsible for 495 MW, or approximately 67% of the total installed capacity. Utilities administer the remaining 239 MW of installed capacity (see page 1 of this report for how we define the program administrator). Interestingly, the administrator split has flipped from 2015, when approximately 60% of capacity was administered by a utility and 40% by a third party.

    STILL AN EMERGING MARKET

    Despite its continued growth, community solar is still a relatively small part of the solar marketplace. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) reported that there were 47.5 gigawatts (GW) of total installed solar in the U.S. in all markets through the third quarter of 2017. 2 Utility-scale solar and rooftop solar made up the lion’s share of this capacity. Community solar was responsible for just over 1% of this installed solar capacity.

    While community solar capacity is significantly less than rooftop and utility-scale solar, much of the potential market has yet to be addressed. As noted, community solar programs are currently available in 228 utilities’ service territories. As there are a total of approximately 3,100 utilities across the U.S., customers in nearly 90% of utility service territories do not have the opportunity to subscribe to a program. Additionally, 33 states have not yet enacted a shared solar policy — and of the 17 states with an existing policy, many are considering ways to broaden their existing programs.

    In 2016, the Shelton Group and SEPA released a study that suggested the total potential community solar market was 6.5 million households.3 At this point, less than 300,000 have subscriptions. For the potential to be realized, much greater availability of programs is needed. Note: Each square represents ~150 MW-dc of solar capacity Source: SEPA Community Solar Database. Data up to date as of December 31, 2017; Total installed capacity estimated based on Q3 data from NREL report 2 National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Q3/Q4 2017 Solar Industry Update 3 Smart Electric Power Alliance, The Shelton Group, “What the Community Solar Customer Wants”, 2016. link: https://sepapower.org/resource/what-the-community-solar-customer-wants/

    PROGRAMS COME IN A WIDE RANGE OF SIZES

    In terms of the number of community solar programs, cooperative utilities have been trailblazers. At present, 160 cooperative utilities have a program in their territory. This far exceeds the total in investor-owned utilities (31 programs) and public power utilities (37 programs) combined. Most programs are small. Only 30% of programs have a total generating capacity greater than 1 MW. In fact, the largest community solar program, that in Xcel Energy’s Minnesota territory (246 MW), is larger than the combined total of more than 100 of the smallest programs. But the average program size is steadily growing. In 2015, only 20% of programs had an operating capacity of 1 MW or greater. Additionally, the median program size has increased from 120 kilowatts (kW) in 2015 to 200 kW now.

    STATE POLICY OFTEN (BUT NOT ALWAYS) IMPELS GROWTH

    The two maps below show the capacity of community solar broken down by administrator. As depicted, many states with enabling policy have seen large third-party developments. Though there are several that have drawn limited to no third-party interest, either because the policy is recent (IL & NC) or the policy specifics are a deterrent (CA & NH). Third-party administered programs are found in 14 states, including five states that do not have enabling policy. But a vast majority of third-party administered program capacity is located in only three states — Colorado, Minnesota, and Massachusetts. The reasoning for this concentration is fairly straightforward: There are significant financial incentives available to subscribers in these states. Utility-administered programs are found in more states overall (33), including states with and without enabling policy. The program capacity of utility-administered programs by state is more uniformly spread.

    INNOVATIVE PROGRAMS LEVERAGING DER

    Many would suggest the primary benefit of community solar is that it provides access to solar ownership to customers who otherwise couldn’t, or wouldn’t want to put panels on their property. But this is certainly not its only benefit. Community solar reduces dependence on foreign fuels, helps the environment, as well as provides local economic development, job training opportunities, and access to solar for low-to-moderate income customers. Additionally, some utilities are starting to explore how community solar can aid grid reliability and other ancillary services. A few examples of these “next generation” community solar programs are below.

    COMMUNITY SOLAR + STORAGE

    Austin Energy, a public power utility in Texas, is siting a 1.5-MW/3-MWhour LG Chem battery at the substation next to their 2.5-MW community solar facility. The storage will be utility owned, thus it does not add any cost to the community solar subscription.

    COMMUNITY SOLAR + TOU RATES

    Oklahoma Gas & Electric’s community solar program requires subscribers to be concurrently subscribed to a time-of-use tariff. Subscribers earn a solar credit for the solar energy that is aligned with the applicable time-differentiated energy charge of the subscriber’s metered energy.

    COMMUNITY SOLAR TIME-VARYING CREDIT

    The Hawaii Public Utilities Commission directed Hawaii Electric Company and Kauai Island Utility Cooperative to develop community-based renewable energy program tariffs that include a time-varying bill credit value. This is designed to incentivize power production during peak grid demand. Subscribers will earn at least 20% more for power dispatched during peak periods as compared to off-peak periods.

    COMMUNITY SOLAR + DEMAND MANAGEMENT

    Meeker Cooperative Light and Power Association's member solar program provides an option for subscribers to get a $400 discount on their community solar purchase if they also join the Peak Shave Water program which comes with a free 50-gallon water heater to provide beneficial demand management for the Litchfield, MNbased utility…

    THERE ARE NO GUARANTEES OF FULL SUBSCRIPTION

    The average program had 83% of its capacity subscribed. But a simple average can be misleading. Individual programs are different – they are different in scale, are launched in different years, exist in different electricity markets, contain different economic propositions – and these differences may affect subscription rates.

    We analyzed subscription rates in five different sets of programs. The greatest difference was found when comparing programs with different financial benefits for the subscribers. It is not surprising that programs promising immediate bill savings almost universally garner a full subscription. Programs that provide either a hedge against potential rate hikes or payback the upfront payment after a set period experienced lower subscription rates. The marketing budget also seemingly had an effect on the subscription rate, with programs spending above 5 cents per Watt (cents/W) of capacity experiencing higher subscription rates than those spending less. The program's capacity, administrator, and launch year may have a less telling effect on subscription rates. A caveat is that the sample sizes for many of the comparison sets are quite small. Thus, these findings should be considered illustrative instead of absolute. More data collection will be needed to confirm any correlations between program design and subscription rates.

    WHO IS PARTICIPATING IN COMMUNITY SOLAR?

    In most community solar programs, a mix of residential and small commercial customers participate. There are a few programs, such as Austin Energy’s, where only residential customers can participate. And only one, Xcel’s Solar*Connect program in Wisconsin, where only commercial customers can participate.

    SEPA discovered that the size of the program is correlated to the split of residential and commercial subscribers. In programs with under 1 MW of total capacity, a vast majority of subscribers, 91%, were residential customers. However, in larger programs with more than 1 MW of total capacity, only 34% of subscribers were residential customers, with the majority, 66%, being commercial customers. The reason for this significant discrepancy isn’t perfectly clear, but many small programs are located in service territories of rural cooperatives, who have a greater percentage of residential meters than the rest of the industry.

    Who the program administrator is for the program can also provide a hint as to the makeup of residential and commercial customer participation. In the survey, it was found that third-party administrators subscribed a majority of capacity (68%) to commercial customers while utility administrators subscribed a majority of capacity (52%) to residential customers.

    CUSTOMER INTEREST IS HIGH

    Through the support of the Solar Market Pathways grant, SEPA conducted multiple technical assistance projects across the country. Of interest to this report, SEPA created end-consumer online surveys for six separate utilities: three public power utilities, two investor-owned utilities, and one cooperative utility. Consistent across each customer base was the desire to learn more about community solar offerings, with four of the utilities experiencing 90% or more of respondents signaling interest in a program. Importantly, solar as a product was not unfamiliar to many of these consumers, with over 20% and up to 50% having considered rooftop solar options already at five of the six utilities. And, broadly speaking, customers do not appear interested in trivial participation; rather, 50-100% of the annual bill being covered by community solar was a popular response across each survey. These utility-specific surveys bolster the results found in the national survey conducted by SEPA and The Shelton Group, which estimated a national market potential of 6.5 million or more U.S. households

    WHAT ARE THE ADDITIONAL COSTS?

    SEPA includes considering both the cost of customer acquisition and customer billing and crediting as administrative costs. These are effectively the additional costs to make a standard solar project a community solar one. In general, community solar administrative costs experience economies of scale. The median program with a capacity above 1 MW had just 9 cents/W in administrative costs as compared to 12 cents/W for the median program with a capacity below 1 MW.

    The program administrator also seemed to affect the costs. While third-party administered programs spend more on customer acquisition, utility-administered programs spend more on billing. Billing costs for utility-administered community solar programs were 4 cents/W more on average than those administered by third parties. Marketing, or customer acquisition, costs for third-party administered community solar programs were on average higher than those administered by utilities. Of those surveyed, third-party administered programs spent 2 cents/W more on average on marketing costs than utility-administered programs…

    BIG CHALLENGES REMAIN

    Administrators can encounter all sorts of road blocks when attempting to implement a program. For utility administrators, the biggest challenge is signing up the initial customers. Though surveys have shown that most individuals are interested in the idea of community solar, translating that interest into paying customers can take significant effort. When asked to list their biggest challenge, over half of utilities suggested it was related to customer acquisition. Third-party administrators overwhelmingly indicated that working to meet complex and diverse policy requirements is their major challenge. Even beyond these primary hurdles lie many additional challenges. Utilities also cited challenges finding full-service vendors, selecting and securing a site, avoiding passing costs to other ratepayers, and utilizing the federal tax credit. Thirdparty administrators also cited working with complexity in policy, adjusting to uncertainty in program regulations and caps, acquiring financing, educating customers, marketing, and ongoing administration of the programs once live.

    WHAT ADMINISTRATORS SAY ARE THEIR BIGGEST CHALLENGES

    • “Converting interested signups to paying and committed participants” • “Subscribing all of Phase I before construction” • “Determining a subscription model that would meet potential participants’ wants and needs” • “Finding subscribers willing to actually put money into purchasing shares” • “Finding members to participate” • “Selecting and securing a site” • “Making the price attractive and utilizing the 30% federal tax credit” • “Cost recovery for utility • “Finding cost-effective marketing tactics to promote the program” • “Finding a full-service vendor for our customers” • “Modifying the program to compete with the quickly changing solar market” • “Expanding the program quickly enough to accommodate all interested customers” • “Explaining that solar energy bill credits vary from month-to-month depending on weather conditions” • Reducing the number of cancellations due to customers’ unwillingness to wait for long-term savings potential”

    UTILITIES TO UTILITIES

    For utilities considering developing a program, your peers have some words of wisdom. Most encouraged others to push forward, but advised that carefully listening to your customers is the key to success. Keeping in communication, being fair, and being flexible with your customers are things all utilities should want to do. Bringing these best practices to the core of your business will also help bring success to your community program. Using customer participation as an indication of success, the difference between interested customers and committed customers tends to be the financial cost. Keeping the customer engaged and the share prices at a reasonable cost are the two most shared strategies for success.

    UTILITIES’ SUGGESTIONS (CUSTOMER ENGAGEMENT)

    • “Pre-sell shares” • “Talk to your customers about what they want” • “Have all of your community solar phase purchased before you start construction” • “Be fair to your customers. Funding, equipment, and installation are secondary” • “Make sure your program is flexible for your customers” • “Just do it. It's what your customers say they want and this is your core business”

    UTILITIES’ SUGGESTIONS (FINANCE)

    • “Payback is key to success” • “Only do it if it makes financial sense for customers” • “Keep share prices reasonable enough for the average customer” • “Build pricing based on sustainable model rather than as a subsidized pricing project” • “People will say they will pay a premium for green power, but when the opportunity is available, they will not pay”

    UTILITIES’ SUGGESTIONS (STRATEGY)

    • “Have a thorough understanding of why you want to start the program” • “Look to other utilities - what works and what doesn't” • “Community solar adds to the overall portfolio of options available to customers” • “When developing a community solar program, get your billing and IT departments involved early”…

    THE DECISION TREE

    The Community Solar Decision Tree seeks to streamline the major community solar program attribute design process down to a series of discrete choices, which have been built off of SEPA’s years of research into and work on community solar program design. At its core, the Decision Tree seeks to add specificity to the following key questions:

    1) Who runs the program?

    2) What is the subscriber’s economic proposition?

    3) What are the participation restrictions?

    4) What are the other terms and conditions?

    Each major attribute of a community solar program has been broken down into these four categories, and the options most commonly seen in programs today are identified for each. The following pages of this report dive into further detail behind each option, and provide examples from programs across the country that use these program attributes.

    By following the questions identified and options presented, it is possible to create a draft community solar program design in short order…

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    QUICK NEWS, May 15: Younger Republicans Starting To Get Climate Change; California’s Solar Bump; Where The Wind Is

    Younger Republicans Starting To Get Climate Change Many Republican Millennials differ with older party members on climate change and energy issues

    Cary Funk and Meg Hefferon, May 14, 2018 (Pew Research Center)

    “There are significant divides between younger Republicans – Millennials born between 1981 and 1996 – and their elders in the GOP on a range of environmental and energy issues. One notable difference is that…[a]bout a third (36%) of Millennials in the GOP say the Earth is warming mostly due to human activity, double the share of Republicans in the Baby Boomer or older generations, according to a Pew Research Center survey…In addition, 45% of Millennial Republicans say they are seeing at least some effects of global climate change in the communities where they live, compared with a third of Republicans in the Baby Boomer or older generations…Millennials are less inclined than older generations in the GOP to support increased use of fossil fuel energy sources…44% of Millennial Republicans support the increased use of offshore drilling, compared with 75% of Republicans in the Baby Boomer and older generations…[However, 44% of Republicans across all generations] say policies aimed at reducing the effects of climate change make no difference for the environment, and around a quarter believe such policies do more harm than good…” click here for more

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    California’s Solar Bump California Puts Solar on the Roof and Up For Grabs; A mandate may not be the guaranteed boon to established companies investors think.

    Liam Denning, May 14, 2018 (Bloomberg News)

    “…[The debates have begun about whether the new California law requiring rooftop solar on all new houses] is cost-effective versus other climate-friendly measures…They’re valid debates…Large residential solar companies such as Sunrun Inc. look like obvious winners…[Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF)] estimates the mandate could boost residential solar deployment in California in 2020 by 200 to 300 megawatts, or 23 to 34 percent — on top of a market already growing at more than 9 percent…Builders might partner with established residential solar firms…[or a] homebuyer might pay the construction firm for the house and simultaneously contract with the solar partner…Financing could be done either through existing loan or lease products or, if preferable, rolled into the mortgage…This seems to hold out the prospect of all-in unit costs for residential solar falling dramatically…[because] more than two-thirds of the cost of a typical rooftop system in California relates not to equipment but to such things as marketing, permitting and installation…[But new] value propositions are needed…[because distributed solar power is already] pushing more electrons onto a glutted mid-afternoon market…California’s new mandate tees up a huge experiment in brands and services potentially picking up the slack as residential solar’s commodification accelerates…” click here for more

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    Where The Wind Is Every one of America’s 57,636 wind turbines, mapped

    Christopher Ingraham, May 11, 2018 (Washington Post)

    “…[A massive new U.S. Geological Survey database of over 57,000 commercial wind turbines shows that California’s Kern County, Riverside County, and Alameda County, Texas' Nolan County, and Oregon's Gilliam County are the top five wind regions There are 2,501 counties] with no commercial wind energy…There's a lot of variation in average annual wind speeds in the U.S….[In the southeast,] there are hardly any commercial wind projects…[T]here are also political considerations…[Wyoming] ranks seventh in the nation in terms of its potential wind-power generation…[but] 17th in terms of installed capacity…[It] is one of just two states that tax wind power (Oklahoma is the other), which renewable energy advocates say has stifled the development of the industry there…A number of states, primarily in the South but also in windier states like Nebraska and Wyoming, also lack legal mandates on how much electricity must come from renewable sources…[and] lag on wind-power…[But costs are falling so fast that] the industry is being driven more and more by plain economics…[The Department of Energy forecasts] over 400 gigawatts of installed wind-power capacity in the United States by 2050…[up from today’s] 89 gigawatt capacity…” click here for more

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