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Democratic Energy Media Roundup – week of September 14, 2015

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Sep 15, 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-september-14th-2015/

This week in Democratic Energy:

Ohio groundswell gathers around reinstatement of renewable energy mandates.

Utah group condemns utility’s false claims to promoting renewable energy

Vox’s David Roberts, in a 2-part series, seeks to break down the dominance of 20th century style electric utilities.

Featured Stories:

The Federal Solar Tax Credit extension: can we win if we lose? by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Personal View: Ohio supplies national solar boom, sees own capacity slip by Rhone Resch, Cleveland Business

[Part 1] Power utilities are built for the 20th-century. That’s why they’re flailing in the 21st by David Roberts, Vox

For all the recent media attention to power utilities, most coverage has been about symptoms rather than root causes. There’s a battle over rooftop solar here, a coal or nuke bailout there, a fight against efficiency over there, but casual news consumers are offered no way of making sense of these battles or how they fit into a larger story. They’re left with the vague impression that utilities hate clean energy out of sheer greed or malice. And that’s not quite right.

Greed and malice are definitely involved. But they, too, are symptoms. No matter how individually virtuous utility executives may be, these running battles between utilities and clean energy will continue until the root problem is addressed and solved.
The root problem is simple: It’s the way utilities are structured. They are monopoly providers of a whole bundle of electricity services in a given geographic area. But technology has evolved to the point that many of those services could be provided just as reliably, or better, by participants in competitive markets — if there were any such markets. Competitors keep trying to squeeze into the electricity space, and utilities keep using their monopoly power to try to squeeze them back out. That’s what all the fights are about.

[Part 2] Reimagining electric utilities for the 21st-century by David Roberts, Vox

Democratic Energy Around the Nation:

California

Solar advocates in Fresno urge state to maintain power-sales policy by Tim Sheehan, The Fresno Bee

Going solar: What a possible end to Net Metering means for you by The Del Mar Times

Colorado

Colorado pioneers community solar for low-income residents by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

Illinois

Collaborative approaches to regulation by Brian Sheahan, The Energy Times

Iowa

Dispute casts shadow over $1.5M RRMR school solar project by Ashley Miller, Globe Gazette

Federal ruling could resolve Iowa school district’s solar dispute by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Kentucky

Solar campaign fuels interest in Louisville by James Bruggers, WRAL

Maine

Community solar farms growing around Maine by Paul Koenig, Portland Press Herald

Unlike rooftop solar arrays, community solar farms allow anyone in the electricity utility coverage area to invest in the project. The cooperative projects can open the doors for people who can’t install solar panels where they live, perhaps because their homes are too shady or they live in apartments, and bring the individual investment costs down with better economies of scale, Mueller said.

“Even though we have a fairly rural and sparsely populated state, a majority of people live or work in buildings that don’t have great solar power opportunities,” he said.

Community solar catching on in Maine with 10 projects announced in a year by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Massachusetts

The debate over capping Solar Energy incentives in Mass by Meghna Chakrabarti and Anthony Brooks, WBUR

Michigan

Solar face-off taking shape in Michigan as new bill would expand Net Metering by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Legislative debate continues on Michigan’s solar industry and Net Metering by Lindsay Vanhulle, Crain’s Detroit Business

Minnesota

Power of the sun could save Red wing taxpayers millions by Brett Boese, The Post Bulletin

Minnesota Power will build Northland’s first community solar garden in Duluth by John Meyers, Duluth News Tribune

Missouri

How Kansas City is leading energy efficiency action in the heartland by Dennis Murphey, Bloomberg Philanthropies

Nevada

Net Metering was a hot topic at National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas by Mary Beth Horiai, Las Vegas Review Journal

To be sure, a net metering system with rebates and other industry discounts has been successful in drawing many new customers to add renewable energy to Nevada’s grid. Too many, apparently. Net metering of rooftop solar reached the 235-megawatt cap in August.

That cap does not mean that we have enough solar. The sky’s the limit in that regard. It just means it is a cap that will protect NV Energy’s guaranteed profit margin. This profit margin was based on an agreement made when Nevada lawmakers thought it was a good idea to have the power company be a monopoly in the early 1900s.

Solar customers thank regulators for keeping existing solar rates by KOLO-8 News

New Hampshire

Net Metering cap could hamper solar’s future growth in N.H. by Josh Rogers, NHPR

New York

Small wind energy for rural communities by Ithaca.com

Ohio

Personal View: Ohio supplies national solar boom, sees own capacity slip by Rhone Resch, Cleveland Business

Ohio State outreach program helps inform solar decisions by Kathiann Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

Report supports energy mandates by Tom Henry, The Blade

Ohio needs to let its two-year freeze on renewable energy mandates expire next year to become more competitive in the global marketplace, according to a report issued last week.

The report, which claimed to reflect the views of more than 70 experts and have online support from more than 10,000 Ohioans, highlights some of the successes Toledo has had with solar and wind projects.

It was compiled by a consortium of businesses, trade associations, nonprofit groups, and local government agencies that participated in a statewide initiative called Ohio’s Energy Future Tour, which traversed more than 700 miles.

Pennsylvania

PFB supports bill to prevent PUC from limiting farms’ renewable-energy usage by Pennsylvania Business Daily Report

Advocates back bill to prevent limits on reimbursements for alternative energy by Laura Legere, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Utah

Watchdog group claims RMP’s clean-energy programs blow smoke by Leia Larsen, Standard Examiner

Last week, HEAL Utah released a 21-page exposé called “Brown Sky: The Truth About How Rocky Mountain Power Obstructs Renewable Energy.” The report alleges the utility and its parent companies lobby against renewable programs while misleading the public with dreamy “green” programs. But in reality, those programs translate to little wind or solar being adding to the company’s energy portfolio, the report says.

Solar power gets closer look in Kaysville by Louise R. Shaw, The Davis Clipper

Nationwide Democratic Energy News:

[Podcast] The coming years may be rooftop solar’s time to shine by Adam Werwick, Science Friday

Q&A – Barry Goldwater Jr.’s fight for solar power by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

AB: Is there anything unique in different regions of the country when it comes to the fight over net metering, or is this largely a uniform issue?

BG Jr: You could almost call it a conspiracy. Utilities got together and said they’re going to gang up on rooftop solar. Their attack is pretty much the same with fees and taxes, changes in regulations. It’s the same fight all across the country.

10 questions to ask before you build a micro-grid by Kaitlyn Bunker, GreenBiz

Policy, not sunshine key to solar success by Energy Matters

In 2014, one third of all new installed electricity capacity in the U.S. came from solar power. Three states; Hawaii, California and Arizona, generate over five per cent of total electricity consumption from solar.

The report finds the vast majority of America’s solar capacity is coming from a small group of states that have welcomed the solar industry into their communities by instituting strong net metering policies, ambitious renewable energy targets and progressive solar purchasing schemes.

3 ways solar energy programs are helping achieve President Obama’s climate goals by Minh Le, Breaking Energy

America will add 1 gigawatt of solar every month between now and the end of 2016 by Stephen Lacey, GreenTech Media

[Part 1] Power utilities are built for the 20th-century. That’s why they’re flailing in the 21st by David Roberts, Vox

For all the recent media attention to power utilities, most coverage has been about symptoms rather than root causes. There’s a battle over rooftop solar here, a coal or nuke bailout there, a fight against efficiency over there, but casual news consumers are offered no way of making sense of these battles or how they fit into a larger story. They’re left with the vague impression that utilities hate clean energy out of sheer greed or malice. And that’s not quite right.

Greed and malice are definitely involved. But they, too, are symptoms. No matter how individually virtuous utility executives may be, these running battles between utilities and clean energy will continue until the root problem is addressed and solved.
The root problem is simple: It’s the way utilities are structured. They are monopoly providers of a whole bundle of electricity services in a given geographic area. But technology has evolved to the point that many of those services could be provided just as reliably, or better, by participants in competitive markets — if there were any such markets. Competitors keep trying to squeeze into the electricity space, and utilities keep using their monopoly power to try to squeeze them back out. That’s what all the fights are about.

[Part 2] Reimagining electric utilities for the 21st-century by David Roberts, Vox