Feature Image for 11.11.15 & 11.18.15 Solar Media Update

11.11.15 & 11.18.15 Solar Media Update

November 18, 2015

By Clara Schopf, Incentive Coordinator, SoCore Energy

Connecticut State Government Failing To Use Solar To Cut Electricity Costs

  • Connecticut state government has, by all accounts, done a great job encouraging homeowners, businesses and municipalities to “go solar.”
  • What Connecticut hasn’t done is use solar power to cut its own $40 million annual electric bill.
    • The only working solar panels installed at the state’s more than 3,000 buildings are on a few state park toilets, ticket booths, and some state lighting fixtures.
  • Connecticut municipalities are so eager for solar power that they’ve already hit a legislatively imposed cap on the amount of municipal solar energy that can be produced to reduce municipalities’ overall energy costs (a meeting between lawmakers and local officials to discuss loosening up current solar power restrictions is scheduled for Nov. 18).
  • The neighboring state of Massachusetts is producing an annual amount of 16.3 million kilowatts of solar electricity on state buildings while Connecticut officials estimate that theirs are generating only about 20,000 kilowatt annually.
  • Connecticut Gov. Dannel Malloy’s energy officials cite a complex tangle of financial, bureaucratic and technical issues to explain why it’s taking the state so long to put up solar panels on some of those big state buildings.

Rocky Mountain Power Will Compare Cost to Serve Solar Customers Before Fixed Charge Decision

  • The Utah Public Service Commission imposed a new rate calculation on Rocky Mountain Power last week, requiring the utility to compare its cost of serving customers who receive net energy metering credits for rooftop solar generation with those who do not.
  • The ruling, adopted Tuesday, compels the utility to compare its standard cost of service determination for customers with net metered rooftop solar and those without.
    • The calculation is intended to allow commissioners to evaluate distributed generation costs and benefits before deciding on the utility’s request for a monthly charge.
  • RMP officials argue the fixed charges are necessary to cover infrastructure costs it claims are shifted to non-DG owners by Utah’s 4,000 customers with rooftop solar or other generation, about 0.5% of RMP’s consumers.
  • Renewables advocates say the calculation fails to capture the full range DG values, including the avoided costs for new generation, transmission, and distribution assets, avoided pollution, and the economic and customer advantages of a distributed grid.

Missouri PSC Requires Utility IRPs to Address Renewables, DG, Energy Storage

  • Missouri’s Public Service Commission has required the state’s investor-owned utilities to address renewables, DG, energy storage and energy efficiency in their 2016 IRP annual update filings. The “special contemporary issues” that each utility must analyze and document include:
    • Reviewing the impact of foreseeable emerging energy-storage technologies throughout the 20-year planning period.
    • Analyze and document the range of potential levels of DG in the utility’s territory for the 20-year planning horizon and the potential impacts of each identified level of DG — and solar DG and in particular — on the utility’s preferred resource plan.
    • Describing any assessment of the value of solar performed or used by the utility specifically for its Missouri service territory.
    • Analyze and document cost and performance information sufficient to fairly analyze and compare utility-scale wind and solar resources, including DG, to other supply-side alternatives.

Trade Groups SEPA and ADS are Merging to Focus on DERs

  • Utility-solar trade group Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) announced it will merge with the Association for Demand Response and Smart Grid (ADS), an industry trade group for demand response and smart grid.
  • ADS and SEPA will move forward as one organization under the SEPA name, according to a release.
  • The new group will focus on utility integration of solar and distributed energy resources such as energy storage, microgrids, electric vehicles, and other technologies.
  • The new SEPA will undergo rebranding in 2016, which will include a new name for the merged organization.

Hawaii Distributed Energy and Smart Grid Companies Form New Trade Group

  • Six companies offering distributed energy resource products and services have formed the Distributed Energy Resources Council of Hawaii (DERC) which they say is the first U.S. trade association working exclusively on behalf of “behind-the-meter” distributed resources.
  • Founding DERC members are E-Gear, a battery energy storage system provider, Enphase, the world’s leading microinverter manufacturer, solar installer Hawaii Energy Connection, energy consultant Hygrid, energy storage provider Stem, and international inverter manufacturer Tabuchi.
  • Members of the council expect it to play an important role in legislative processes and ongoing Hawaii Public Utilities Commission proceedings.
  • The aim is to help write new laws and shape new rules that will get Hawaii to its 100% renewables by 2045 mandate.

Why Federal Tax Credit Expiration Would Hit Midwest Solar the Hardest

  • Midwestern renewable energy developers and advocates say this region may have the most at stake with the ITC’s fate due to its lack of strong state-level policies to support the solar industry and low electricity prices that make the payback time for solar much longer than in other regions.
  • “[The ITC] is crucial…it truly is a main factor for the majority of projects we win,” said Ray Davis, president of OGW Energy Resources, an Ohio-based developer that does commercial, industrial and residential solar across the Midwest. “As we are primarily a coal region, our grid kilowatt-hour costs are relatively low as compared to other regions. Therefore the ITC truly is the part of the puzzle that makes solar fiscally feasible in the Midwest.”
  • For the states of Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Missouri, Minnesota, Iowa and Ohio, BNEF predicted a cumulative 3,428 MW of solar installed by 2022 with an extension, and 2,331 MW without one (currently, there are close to 500 MW installed in these states).
  • Nationwide, BNEF estimated, cumulative installed solar in 2022 would be 95 GW nationwide with an ITC extension and just 73GW without one.
  • “With the ITC expiration, we expect solar companies to downsize and retrench to their strongest states, those where they’re already established and sound state policies are already in place,” said SEIA spokesman Dan Whitten.
  • Smaller Midwestern installations are at a competitive disadvantage compared to larger planned arrays in California or other states with well-developed solar markets.

In Other News…

In the fight between two competing Florida solar ballot initiatives, Consumers for Smart Solar raised $2.3 million in October, with about half of that coming from Florida’s largest utilities. See article here

Sunrun is to test a new automated solar permitting system funded by the Department of Energy, which announced that $22.7 million has been allocated to help bring new technologies aimed at reducing the costs of solar in the country. See article here

The demand for electricity in Connecticut and other New England states is projected to remain essentially flat over the next 10 years, according to a new report released by the region’s electric grid operator. See article here

NYSERDA has doubled the incentives for each solar project installed at households earning less than 80 percent of the area or state median income. See article here

Silicon Module Super League member JA Solar has reported record shipments and revenue in the third quarter of 2015, insuring previous full-year guidance would be achieved and a top 5 market ranking within the PV industry for the year. See article here

A long-term goal of 100 percent renewable energy is increasingly possible for large corporations and local governments, according to a new report by Clean Edge. See article here

The Turlock Irrigation District’s announced PPA with SunPower is estimated to move the district approximately 7 percent closer to meeting California’s recently increased RPS requirement of 50 percent renewables by 2030. See article here

Mississippi regulators unanimously approved three solar projects with an expected capacity of 105 MW and a cost of almost $200 million, but Mississippi Power Co. ratepayers will not be on the hook for any construction costs. See articlehere

SunPower Corp., the second-biggest U.S. solar manufacturer, is developing a plan to sell electricity in California. See article here

The road will be “bumpy”, but solar in the US will continue outstripping predictions by traditional energy forecasters, multiplying 10 times over in installed capacity by 2030, according to an analyst at GTM Research. See article here

At Energy Storage North America, Sunverge showed that they are focusing not only on the issue of on-premise storage, but specifically how to combine solar power and storage together. See article here

Vivint Solar, a company that SunEdison is in the process of acquiring, reported both bookings and installations in the third quarter of 2015 below the prior quarter, indicating growth has stalled in the last six months. See article here

Corporate and other customers of Xcel Energy Inc. in Minnesota will have the option of signing long-term deals to get their electricity from wind and solar farms under a proposed program called Renewable Connect. See article here

Saying the ITC won’t be renewed Is a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ according to Lynn Jurich, CEO of Sunrun. See article here

In the third quarter of 2015, a total of 27 states were either studying or changing their net-metering policies according to the N.C. Clean Energy Technology Center’s latest “50 States of Solar” report. See article here

New From BNEF

EPA Should Mandate Clean Energy Incentives, Speakers Tell EPA: The Environmental Protection Agency should incorporate the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) as a required element of its model for states in the Clean Power Plan, speakers told the agency Monday.

Obama Rejects Keystone Pipeline in Win for Climate Agenda: President Barack Obama Friday rejected TransCanada Corp.’s bid to build the Keystone XL pipeline, ending seven years of debate over an infrastructure project that swelled into one of the most contentious environmental issues of his presidency.

Southern Co. is Said to Offer $1 Billion in Green Bonds: Southern Co. is issuing $1 billion in green bonds to support renewable energy projects in the U.S., according to a person familiar with the deal.

SunPower Sees 2016 Revenue Surge Even as GAAP Says It Won’t: SunPower Corp. expects revenue to climb next year to as much as $3.5 billion — if you disregard Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. If the rules are applied, sales will decline, to as low as $1.2 billion.

Jumbo Poop Helps French Switch to Green Power in Climate Fight: In the elephant paddock at the Beauval Zoo, Limbo is doing his bit for France’s ambitions in green energy.

Clinton Releases $30 Billion Plan to Help Coal Communities: Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton called for more funding for the development of carbon capture and sequestration technologies and for expanding the amount of renewable energy produced on federal land as part of a wide-ranging $30 billion plan released Thursday aimed at revitalizing Appalachia and other coal communities harmed by a prolonged downturn in demand for coal.

Public, Private Partnerships Aim to Increase Solar Access: Sixty-eight cities, states and businesses are partnering together to increase access to solar power to low-and moderate-income households, the White House announced Tuesday at the National Community Solar Summit.

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