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Democratic Energy Media Roundup – week of February 1, 2016

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Feb 2, 2016 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/democratic-energy-media-roundup-week-of-february-1-2016/
Democratic Energy Media Roundup 2.1.16

This week in Democratic Energy:

Rooftop solar debates ramp up.

Green Mountain Power CEO has advice for Wisconsin renewable proponents.

Nevada’s solar policy amounts to a “bait and switch.”

Featured Stories:

Is Socialism what’s stopping a fair value for solar? by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Nevada’s solar bait-and-switch by Jacques Leslie, The New York Times

Q&A: A Vermont utility CEO brings her story to Wisconsin by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Midwest Energy News: Green Mountain has embraced distributed generation while other utilities, particularly in Wisconsin, have fought against it. Does Green Mountain think that a landscape where many customers generate their own power can still be profitable for the utility?

Powell: The first thing I got to do, which was really an amazing opportunity, was to radically transform the culture of our company, from a very traditional, bureaucratic, slower-moving organization to one with the credo “fast, fun, effective and customer-obsessed.” To make sure we were talking about customers, not meters, leaning in the direction customers wanted us to go.

The reason we love solar and distributed resources …was because that’s what our customers told us they wanted to do. It sounds trite, but in my experience working in different spaces, when you’re focused on the bottom line of your customers and your communities and those that you serve, you ultimately will do fine for yourself as an organization whether you’re a utility or a company selling t-shirts.

Solar for All: An article of faith – Local Energy Rules Podcast by John Farrell, CleanTechnicaUtilityDive State Net Metering

10 state rooftop solar debates to watch in 2016 and beyond by Krysti Shallenberger, Utility Dive

 

Democratic Energy News Around the Nation:

California

Utilities push a solar pricing proposal they say is fairer for non-solar users by Ivan Penn, LA Times

Solar net metering ‘fairness’ debate revived in California by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

Expanding solar rate program right choice for energy future by Bill Power, San Diego Union Tribune

Tens of thousands of homeowners and businesses across San Diego have already installed these net-metered rooftop solar systems. Net-metering is the accounting system that allows the solar power generated during daylight hours to offset whatever electricity is drawn from SDG&E at night. The region is already home to 500 megawatts of rooftop solar capacity, about 20 percent of our peak load during winter months. This is enough to power more than 200,000 homes when the sun is shining.

Each day, more home and business owners are understanding the capacity of rooftop solar — photovoltaics in tech speak — to cut their electric bills and reduce the emissions that threaten our planet with climate change.

Getting the details right in California’s net metering case matters by Sean Gallagher, GreenTech Media

San Diego mulls whether to let city, not utility, buy alternative energy by Claire Trageser, National Public Radio

What’s at stake in California’s coming net metering 2.0 decision by Jeff St. John, GreenTech Media

PUC gives big boost to the rooftop solar industry in California by George Avalos, Contra Costa Times

 

Hawaii

Hawaii’s 100% clean energy goal attainable at reasonable costs, expert says by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business Journal

 

Illinois

Shelby Solar Farm furthers co-op’s renewable power plans by Jarad Jarmon, Journal Gazette & Times Courier

 

Indiana

Indiana is the latest front in utility fixed charges battle by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

 

Iowa

Iowa utilities caught off guard by legislation to weaken net metering by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

 

Kansas

Critics say Kansas bill could undermine wind energy distribution by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

 

Kentucky

Kentucky draws mixed scores for solar policies by Erica Peterson, WFPL

 

Maine

Solar power’s growth calls for new system by Portland Press Herald Editorial Board

 

Massachusetts

What if Nevada’s solar regulators came to Massachusetts? by Scott Clavenna, GreenTech Media

Union takes to the radio pushing for solar reform by Worcester Business Journal Online

“Major solar projects throughout the state, representing more than 15,000 jobs, are at stake,” a narrator says in the ad. “In fact, for every day the Legislature fails to raise the net metering caps, 20 jobs are lost, $3 million in private investment vanishes and $1 million in federal solar investment tax credits are wasted.”

 

Michigan

Stronger standards needed as renewable prices decline, advocates say by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

 

Minnesota

Wizards of Waverly place big bet on solar power by Mike Mullen, City Pages

A net-zero strategy for major Minnesota medical center by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

U professor nurtures neighborhood solar garden by Eliana Schreiber, MN Daily

After ordinance, Cottage Grove barraged with solar gardens by Bob Shaw, Twin Cities Pioneer Press

Wind power industry surges, and expects steady growth by David Shaffer, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Minnesota is a pioneer in wind energy. The state gets 15 percent of its power from wind, ranks seventh among states for total capacity and is home to Xcel Energy, the nation’s leading wind-power utility. Yet only two wind farms have been finished in the state since 2012, including the 200-megawatt Pleasant Valley wind farm near Austin, Minn. Xcel took ownership of the project in December.

 

Nevada

Nevada’s bizarre decision to throttle its own solar industry, explained by David Roberts, Vox

Regulators could revisit grandfathered solar rates for some customers by Daniel Rothberg, Vegas Inc.

Cloudy forecast: Nevada solar rulings spur concerns about chilling effect on investment by Daniel Rothberg, Vegas Inc.

Nevada PUC to reconsider ‘grandfathering’ provision in new net metering policy by Krysti Shallenberger, Utility Dive

Rep. Dina Titus critisizes ruling on rooftop solar by Daniel Rothberg, Las Vegas Sun

Nevada’s solar bait-and-switch by Jacques Leslie, The New York Times

 

New Hampshire

Some NH residents selling excess electricity back to utility by Fred Kocher, WMUR

 

New Mexico

Solar advocates urge extension of state tax credit by Rebecca Moss, Santa Fe New Mexican

 

New York

REV in 2016: the year that could transform utility business models in New York by Gavin Bade, Utility Dive

New York PSC approves fund to invest $5 billion in clean energy by Apeshka Nair, Reuters

 

Ohio

NO: Ohio should pull the plug on utility bailouts by Todd A Snitcher, The Toledo Blade

The plan is a raw deal for FirstEnergy’s ratepayers and the state’s environment. It would guarantee profits to the utility for outdated, inefficient plants, at a cost to consumers of $3.9 billion. And there’s no guarantee FirstEnergy will honor its commitments to reduce carbon pollution, invest in renewable energy, and promote energy efficiency.

PUCO should reject the proposal because this corporate bailout — and a request by American Electric Power — will destroy incentives for other power companies to invest in Ohio.

Ohio will go back to ‘unpalatable’ renewable energy standards if legislators try to gut them by Tom Knox, Columbus Business Journal

Federal challenges could sink Ohio utilities’ income guarantee plans by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

 

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania lags in solar power market by Tory N. Parrish, TribLive

One reason for the decline is that Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard requires utilities to get only half of 1 percent of their electricity from solar sources by 2020, which is lower than other state targets, said Rob Altenburg, director of the PennFuture Energy Center.

 

Rhode Island

Encourage renewable energy in R.I. by Seth Handy, Providence Journal

 

Vermont

Vermont solar growth slowed for now as utilities hit limit by WIlson Ring, Seattle Pi

 

Wisconsin

Q&A: A Vermont utility CEO brings her story to Wisconsin by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Midwest Energy News: Green Mountain has embraced distributed generation while other utilities, particularly in Wisconsin, have fought against it. Does Green Mountain think that a landscape where many customers generate their own power can still be profitable for the utility?

Powell: The first thing I got to do, which was really an amazing opportunity, was to radically transform the culture of our company, from a very traditional, bureaucratic, slower-moving organization to one with the credo “fast, fun, effective and customer-obsessed.” To make sure we were talking about customers, not meters, leaning in the direction customers wanted us to go.

The reason we love solar and distributed resources …was because that’s what our customers told us they wanted to do. It sounds trite, but in my experience working in different spaces, when you’re focused on the bottom line of your customers and your communities and those that you serve, you ultimately will do fine for yourself as an organization whether you’re a utility or a company selling t-shirts.

Energy Fair announces keynote speaker by Nathan Vine, Stevens Point Journal

Renewable energy proponents hope for a ‘revolution’ in Wisconsin by Chuck Quirmbach, Wisconsin Public Radio

Tyler Huebner of RENEW Wisconsin said that while the energy landscape in Vermont is somewhat different than Wisconsin’s, Green Mountain Power can nevertheless serve as a template for the investments in electricity generation coming up in Wisconsin over the next 20 years.

“We have a choice which way we’re going to go,” he said. “Are we going … to continue with that bulk power delivery, big centralized power plants depending on natural gas or coal that comes from somewhere else, or are we going down a path using the resources we have here in the state?”

 

Nationwide Democratic Energy News:

Circuit-breaking net metering policy for rooftop solar will leave everyone in the dark by Pierre Bull, National Resource Defense Council

10 state rooftop solar debates to watch in 2016 and beyond by Krysti Shallenberger, Utility Dive

UtilityDive State Net Metering

Can utilities learn to love distributed solar like central station arrays? by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Why solar and wind are thriving despite cheap fossil fuels by Wendy Koch, National Geographic

How energy efficiency can help manage the duck curve by Matt Golden, GreenTech Media

The great DER divide by Allen Greenberg, EnergyBiz

The two most telling (and depressing) findings: 82% of the utility executives surveyed said their residential customers are adding DERs to their systems, while 59% percent say they plan to make no or just minimal investments to support DERs.

What’s more, nearly half of residential customers surveyed said they’re considering installing DERs in their homes in the next two years.

Talk about a disconnect.

How big a deal was Congress extending the renewable energy tax credits? A very, very big deal by David Roberts, Vox

Understanding the GOP’s civil war over off-the-grid energy by Josiah Neeley, R Street

Utility revenue decoupling on the rise by Steven Melendez, EnergyBiz

The Supreme Court saves the smart grid, but more battles loom by Seth Blumsack, GovTech

The FERC rule allows homes and businesses to get paid for energy conservation when demand on the power grid is very high, a practice known as demand response in the electricity business. Demand response has been around for years even before the case was heard by the Supreme Court, and has been credited with keeping power costs down and even with avoiding blackouts.

For example, on hot summer afternoons when the air conditioner load soars, consumers and businesses can sign up for utility programs to turn up thermostats for short periods and, in return, receive a rebate. By arranging to consume less power during those critical times, grid operators can avoid purchasing costly power from very polluting generators.