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Democratic Energy Media Roundup – week of October 19, 2015

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Oct 23, 2015 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-october-19-2015/

This week in Democratic Energy:

Hawai’i ends its Net Metering program, approves new rooftop solar programs.

Ohio has permanently frozen clean energy implementation in the state, to the ire of most Ohioans.

Socio-economic divides persist in solar energy, but the situation is improving.

Featured Stories:

In Solar Energy, it’s the haves and the have-nots by Monica Martinez, InsideSources

What many may not realize is that these two issues are inextricably linked. Clearer skies and a carbon-free energy future are definite priorities, but we must ensure that the transition occurs in a way that treats all Americans — regardless of class, race or income — equally.

Unfortunately, this is currently not the case. For example, there are about 645,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels in America. Of these, less than 5 percent are households earning less than $40,000, according to the George Washington University Solar Institute. And, according to the software provider Opower, the typical solar home is 34 percent larger than the typical non-solar home. Not to mention, rooftop solar systems can cost upward of $20,000.

The implications of this are clear: right now, solar power is pitting the “haves” against the “have nots.” Considering that 40 percent of families have incomes under $40,000, and are disproportionately minorities, we must do everything we can to ensure that no one is left out of the green energy revolution.

Ohio politicians on “Energy Mandates Study Committee” took $830,00 from dirty energy companies by Connor Gibson, Huffington Post Green

Hawaii regulators shut down HECO’s Net Metering program by Julia Pyper, GreenTech Media

“This is necessary to ensure a smooth transition to a redesigned market-based structure for distributed resources in Hawaii, and the State’s commitment to meet a 100 [percent] renewable portfolio standard by 2050,” according to the filing submitted Monday.

Nothing about the program will change for existing net-metered customers in HECO territory, or for customers who have already applied for a net-metered system and are waiting for approval. HECO owns the utilities on the islands of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. The filing also approved new “self-supply” and “grid-supply” tariffs for customers to interconnect distributed energy resources to HECO’s electric grids.

Under the self-supply option, PV customers with energy storage are eligible for an expedited review and approval of their systems in areas of high PV penetration. These customers are restricted in the amount of electricity they can send back to the grid and do not receive any compensation for these exports.

Under the grid-supply option, PV customers can export electricity to the grid, but will be compensated for these exports at a lower rate. This tariff reduces the credit from the full retail rate for net metering, to the cost of wholesale power for the islands’ utilities. Wholesale prices range from roughly 15 cents per kilowatt-hour to 28 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is about half the islands’ average retail electricity rates.

Democratic Energy News Around the Nation:

Arkansas

Solar energy, unplugged politics by Mike Masterson, Northwest Arkansas Democrat Gazette

California

California ratepayer advocates pushing failed Arizona proposals that could kill Rooftop Solar by Peter Allen, CleanTechnica

Will California’s solar policies be turned upside down with new Net Metering fee? by Steven Maviglio, The California Majority Report

3 months to save Net Metering! Will you help? by PV Solar Report

Californians reject roll back of solar Net Metering in poll by Tom Kenning, PV-Tech

Hawai’i

PUC approves HECO’s new rooftop solar programs, pricing changes by Brent Remadna, KHON 2

PUC approves PV programs, ends Net Metering by Big Island Now

Regulators close door on Hawaiian Electric’s rooftop solar program by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News

Hawaii regulators shut down HECO’s Net Metering program by Julia Pyper, GreenTech Media

“This is necessary to ensure a smooth transition to a redesigned market-based structure for distributed resources in Hawaii, and the State’s commitment to meet a 100 [percent] renewable portfolio standard by 2050,” according to the filing submitted Monday.

Nothing about the program will change for existing net-metered customers in HECO territory, or for customers who have already applied for a net-metered system and are waiting for approval. HECO owns the utilities on the islands of Oahu, Maui and Hawaii. The filing also approved new “self-supply” and “grid-supply” tariffs for customers to interconnect distributed energy resources to HECO’s electric grids.

Under the self-supply option, PV customers with energy storage are eligible for an expedited review and approval of their systems in areas of high PV penetration. These customers are restricted in the amount of electricity they can send back to the grid and do not receive any compensation for these exports.

Under the grid-supply option, PV customers can export electricity to the grid, but will be compensated for these exports at a lower rate. This tariff reduces the credit from the full retail rate for net metering, to the cost of wholesale power for the islands’ utilities. Wholesale prices range from roughly 15 cents per kilowatt-hour to 28 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is about half the islands’ average retail electricity rates.

Energy industry leaders react to the end of Hawaiian Electric’s rooftop solar program by Duane Shimogawa, Pacific Business News

Hawaii Net Metering changes have far-reaching consequences for residential solar industry by Seeking Alpha

Illinois

Geneseo celebrates Midwest’s largest solar project by Lisa Hammer, The Argus Dispatch

Indiana

Five solar energy projects under way by Seth Slabaugh, The Star Press

Maine

St. Agatha farm prepares to go solar in a big way by Julia Bayly, Bangor Daily News

Massachusetts

Utilities working to thwart solar growth, says student group in Fitchburg by Paula Owen, The Telegram

Net Metering cap slows solar installation for Central Mass. utility by Jeremy Shulkin, The Telegram

Minnesota

In Minnesota, an Arctic explorer’s off-the-grid dream becomes reality by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Rochester eyes 100 percent renewable energy by 2031 by Paul Huttner, Minnesota Public Radio News

Is Twin Cities area’s first certified ‘passive house’ living up to the hype? by Tad Vezner, Pioneer Press

Nevada

Association’s annual meeting focuses on renewable energy by Elko Daily Free Press

North Carolina

NC’s energy bets driven by ideology, not economic wisdom by Dave Gammon, Gaston Gazette

Betting on the solar industry as a whole continues to make economic sense, especially in North Carolina. Recent technological innovations, economic globalization and, yes, government tax credits and subsidies have all contributed to the extraordinary growth of the solar industry. Even in conservative strongholds like Arizona and Texas, the solar industry is taking off, and Republican leaders like Nevada’s Gov. Brian Sandoval are playing a prominent role.

Ohio

What’s so wrong about Ohio’s freeze on clean energy? As it turns out…everything by Samantha Williams, National Resource Defense Council Energy Blog

After nine months of hearings, the Energy Mandates Study Committee–tasked with determining the fate of Ohio’s energy efficiency and renewables standards after they were “frozen” last year–released its highly anticipated report last month recommending the freeze be extended indefinitely.

To call this a monumental disappointment would be an understatement.

Within minutes of the committee releasing its report, Governor Kasich weighed in, calling the recommendation for a continued freeze “unacceptable.” His statement set off a chain reaction across the state of lawmakers, local businesses, and the media following his lead and amplifying his opposition to the report findings.

Predictably, the committee used the Clean Power Plan as their scapegoat and cherry picked data (some of questionable credibility) to fit their preferred conclusion. The final report is devoid of analysis and ignores the mountain of evidence demonstrating the years of cost-effective savings these clean energy standards have provided Ohio.

Ohio politicians on “Energy Mandates Study Committee” took $830,00 from dirty energy companies by Connor Gibson, Huffington Post Green

Vermont

State OK’s first large solar array in Guilford by Mike Faher, Commons News

Beyond panels and turbines by Governor Peter Shumlin, Burlington Free Press

Washington

The solar power project NYSE Post by NYSE Post

Washington D.C.

D.C. mayor pressures regulators to let nuclear energy giant take over city utility by Aaron C. Davis & Thomas Heath

As negotiations wore on, however, another concern took hold and began driving efforts toward a deal. Business leaders and nonprofit groups that benefit from Pepco’s almost $2 million in annual philanthropy said they were told by the utilities that the money could be cut off if a merger did not go through.
“The financial health of the District’s utility became a real concern,” Bowser said in an interview.

Nationwide Democratic Energy News:

Supreme Court to host high-stakes duel over energy rule by Robin Bravender, E&E Publishing

Will the Supreme Court kill the smart grid? by Seth Blumsack, The Conversation

Solar and wind power surge as drilling and mining falter by Sean Cockerham, St. Louis Dispatch

The International Energy Agency consistently underestimates wind and solar power. Why? by David Roberts, Vox

Clean Energy Collective debuts program to enable IOUs to rate-based community solar by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Conservative support for solar puts ITC deal within reach this year by Bryan Miller, GreenTech Media

In Solar Energy, it’s the haves and the have-nots by Monica Martinez, InsideSources

What many may not realize is that these two issues are inextricably linked. Clearer skies and a carbon-free energy future are definite priorities, but we must ensure that the transition occurs in a way that treats all Americans — regardless of class, race or income — equally.

Unfortunately, this is currently not the case. For example, there are about 645,000 homes and businesses with rooftop solar panels in America. Of these, less than 5 percent are households earning less than $40,000, according to the George Washington University Solar Institute. And, according to the software provider Opower, the typical solar home is 34 percent larger than the typical non-solar home. Not to mention, rooftop solar systems can cost upward of $20,000.

The implications of this are clear: right now, solar power is pitting the “haves” against the “have nots.” Considering that 40 percent of families have incomes under $40,000, and are disproportionately minorities, we must do everything we can to ensure that no one is left out of the green energy revolution.