Energy Democracy Media Roundup – Week of March 5, 2018

Energy Democracy Media Roundup – Week of March 5, 2018

Date: 9 Mar 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Big changes abound across the United States in local, renewable energy! We share stories of the increase in electrification across America, another small town joining the community choice aggregation trend in New England, a ballot initiative that would shift utilities to renewables in Arizona, and criticism of Duke’s “modernization” program and what it means for customer-owned renewables.

 

Featured Stories:

After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out. by David Roberts, Vox

The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes.

In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant.

Thanks to a combination of greater energy efficiency, outsourcing of heavy industry, and customers generating their own power on site, demand for utility power has been flat for 10 years, and most forecasts expect it to stay that way.

Arizona initiative would seek 50% renewable power by 2030 by Patrick O’Grady and Hayley Ringle, Phoenix Business Journal

A group looking to promote solar in Arizona has pulled an initiative that, if it makes the ballot, could have voters deciding if the state should get 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030.

The group, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, will seek to amend the state’s constitution to get a huge uptick in the amount of renewable energy required to be produced by state utilities.

Currently, the Arizona Corporation Commission has mandated the utilities it regulates get 15 percent of their power from renewables, such as solar and wind by 2025. That standard has not changed in a decade.

Community Solar & Value Of Solar Under Review in Minnesota by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Critics say Duke Energy’s $13 billion grid plan isn’t worth the price tag by Elizabeth Ouzts, Energy News Network

A $13-billion grid modernization plan by Duke Energy doesn’t live up to its name and needs massive changes, customer and clean energy advocates say.

The utility wants to recoup billions from North Carolina ratepayers to bury power lines, replace equipment, and install sensors to limit outages. The revamped grid would also better accommodate renewable power, according to the company.

But critics, including the state’s ratepayer advocate and large electricity users like Google, argue the plan is vague, thinly justified, and will do little to benefit customers or clean energy.

California on pace to meet goal of 1.5 million electric cars by 2025, new study says by Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times

Nearly 350,000 electric vehicles have been sold in the state, and 2017’s growth rate in sales was almost 30% higher than 2016’s rate, the report found. Researchers credited reduced battery costs, lowering the overall price tag of the vehicles, and strong demand worldwide as key drivers of the increase in sales.

“The movement around the globe to move away from gas-powered vehicles is very significant and California is at the center of that,” said F. Noel Perry, a venture capitalist and Next 10’s founder.

Local Energy Rules: Electric Vehicles Unlock Local Energy Benefits, Deliver Cost Savings by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Ridgefield joins state clean-energy program by Anna Quinn, Danbury News Times

Ridgefield is the latest town to sign on to the Connecticut Green Bank’s financing program for energy-efficiency projects, extending the program’s reach to nearly all of greater Danbury.

The town last week became the 130th in the state to approve an agreement with the Connecticut Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program, known as C-PACE, which offers low-cost financing for clean-energy upgrades on non-residential properties. Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, New Milford and Redding have already joined the program.

Video: Minnesota SEIA — Gateway to Solar Presentation by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

5 takeaways from Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard report by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Environmental Justice & Local Activism, A Conversation With NAACP Leader Jacqui Patterson (Episode 38) by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

For alternatives to Northern Pass, just look around by Kate Epson, Concord Monitor

Siting large infrastructure projects across New Hampshire has become increasingly difficult. Turning to smaller, community-controlled projects offers significant benefits. With many technologies, ownership models and sizes to choose from, it has never been a better time to bring real energy self-determination to our state.

Let’s turn to the local and clean fuels we have right here, ready to be further developed, and figure out what we want and need. Opportunities abound to build lasting infrastructure, bolster economic activity, control our costs, create direct benefits for New Hampshire, enhance our beautiful scenery and share in this bounty. Investors will look elsewhere if we don’t soon nurture these opportunities, so let’s not wait. As our state energy strategy says, “The time for action is now.”

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona:

Arizona initiative would seek 50% renewable power by 2030 by Patrick O’Grady and Hayley Ringle, Phoenix Business Journal

A group looking to promote solar in Arizona has pulled an initiative that, if it makes the ballot, could have voters deciding if the state should get 50 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2030.

The group, Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, will seek to amend the state’s constitution to get a huge uptick in the amount of renewable energy required to be produced by state utilities.

Currently, the Arizona Corporation Commission has mandated the utilities it regulates get 15 percent of their power from renewables, such as solar and wind by 2025. That standard has not changed in a decade.

 

California:

California legislation aims to increase rooftop solar in cities by Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times

A new bill from a Bay Area lawmaker aims to increase rooftop solar production throughout the state.

Senate Bill 1399 from Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) would create a new system in which owners of existing buildings that have high energy use but little roof space could contract with owners of other local buildings that have lots of roof space, but little need for energy.

Local Balancing Is the Key to California’s Clean Energy Future. Regionalization Isn’t by Doug Karpa, Greentech Media

Regionalization is touted as a cost-saving effort that would bring renewable energy from across half the continent to California to even out the variability in energy production from renewables. But the call for regionalization ignores the tremendous progress that is already being made in utilizing clean local energy resources — an approach that provides a trifecta of economic, environmental and resilience benefits, while avoiding the high costs in both dollars and governance associated with regionalization.

CA 2020 Building Code Draft: Zero-Net-Electricity New Homes by Pierre Delforge, National Resource Defense Council

California on pace to meet goal of 1.5 million electric cars by 2025, new study says by Liam Dillon, Los Angeles Times

Nearly 350,000 electric vehicles have been sold in the state, and 2017’s growth rate in sales was almost 30% higher than 2016’s rate, the report found. Researchers credited reduced battery costs, lowering the overall price tag of the vehicles, and strong demand worldwide as key drivers of the increase in sales.

“The movement around the globe to move away from gas-powered vehicles is very significant and California is at the center of that,” said F. Noel Perry, a venture capitalist and Next 10’s founder.

 

Colorado:

Kit Carson leading the way with distributed energy by Bob Bresnahan, Durango Herald

 

Connecticut:

Connecticut proposes “40% by 2030” renewable energy mandate, replacing net metering by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

Ridgefield joins state clean-energy program by Anna Quinn, Danbury News Times

Ridgefield is the latest town to sign on to the Connecticut Green Bank’s financing program for energy-efficiency projects, extending the program’s reach to nearly all of greater Danbury.

The town last week became the 130th in the state to approve an agreement with the Connecticut Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy program, known as C-PACE, which offers low-cost financing for clean-energy upgrades on non-residential properties. Danbury, Bethel, Brookfield, Newtown, New Milford and Redding have already joined the program.

 

Florida:

Florida looks to prepare its roads — and budget — for electric vehicles by Gillian Neimark, Energy News Network

 

idaho:

Could Utility Company Put Damper on Solar Energy in Idaho? by Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service

Idaho Public Utilities Commission Will Take A Look At Solar Panel Incentives by Frankie Barnhill, Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Power wants new net metering compensation scheme by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

 

Illinois:

Coalition Announces New Push for Clean Energy in Illinois by Brendan Pedersen, NBC Chicago

Calling for bipartisan dialogue across the Land of Lincoln, the Illinois Clean Jobs Coalition (ICJC) unveiled a new initiative on Monday to spark conversation around clean energy.

The coalition’s goal is to encourage the state to “embrace a policy framework that would lead to cleaner energy and economic benefits for people across the state, especially in the form of new jobs for communities that need them the most,” according to a statement.

 

Indiana:

Mayor: Initiative can save Seymour at least $3.2 million over next 25 years by January Rutherford, Seymour Tribune

 

Kentucky:

Utilities spending big to snuff rooftop solar. Will consumers get stuck with the tab? by Lane Boldman, Lexington Herald-Leader

 

Maine:

Maine Senate fights back with bill to fix solar policies by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

Wind industry sues LePage administration over order halting permits by Kevin Miller, Portland Press Herald

Advocates for home solar projects slam decision by ‘out-of-control’ PUC by Tux Turkel, Portland Press Herald

 

Massachusetts:

Your Turn: Central Mass. can lead 100-percent renewable transition by Daniel Donahue, Worcester Magazine

Massachusetts solar groups say policy changes needed to stem job loss by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

Study Encourages Massachusetts Municipalities To Prepare For The Switch To Electric Cars by Paul Tuthill, WAMC

Top 5 reasons why the new Massachusetts solar incentive program is a “SMART” investment by Scott Howe, Nerej

Becket going big with solar array by Patricia LeBoeuf, Berkshire Eagle

 

Maryland:

Reforming Md.’s renewable energy law by Tim Whitehouse, Maryland Matters

 

Michigan:

5 takeaways from Michigan’s renewable portfolio standard report by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Electric vehicles have benefits for Michigan by Mike Alaimo, Crain’s Detroit Business

Do we still need to require utilities to use other companies’ clean energy? by Tracy Samilton, Michigan Radio

2018 will break — or make — solar power in Michigan by Jon Coumes, 50 States of Blue Blog

Solar for struggling households by Jordan Travis, Traverse City Record-Eagle

 

Minnesota:

Electric cars have arrived in Duluth by John Myers, Duluth News Tribune

A case study in the possibilities and politics of solar in Greater Minnesota by Greg Aamot, Energy News Network

Nearly a decade later, nearly 1,000 solar panels now sit on the roofs of the district’s five schools. The power from those panels, along with power the district buys from another 10,000 panels that have been erected in other parts of the county, is expected to save the district $3 million in electricity costs over the next 30 years, according to IPS Solar, the company that developed and installed the panels at the schools.

6 Predictions For Energy Policy At the 2018 Minnesota Legislature by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

 

Montana:

Montana utility seeks proposals for 45 MW of renewable energy generation by Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

 

Nebraska:

Community Solar Project to Bring Nebraska Renewable Energy by Associated Press

Fremont moves forward on second solar farm due to high demand by James Farrell, Fremont Tribune

Nebraska Supreme Court says NPPD must release public record information by Lori Pilger, Lincoln Journal Star

More solar energy projects expected to come online this year by Mike Loizzo, Nebraska Radio Network

The Nebraska Community Energy Alliance (NCEA) is planning to expand its solar power footprint.

The cities of Superior and Fremont, and Allen Consolidated Schools, are the latest Alliance members seeking help paying for solar panels.

The Nebraska Environmental Trust’s grant committee is recommending funding for those Nebraska Flyway Community Solar Projects.

 

New Hampshire:

Hanover Chips Away At N.H.’s Only All-Renewable Electricity Goal by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

A new report from the Sierra Club says about 50 American municipalities are now working on using 100 percent renewable energy in the coming years.

The first New Hampshire town to get on board was Hanover, which says it’s nearly a quarter of the way toward using only renewable electricity by 2030.

For alternatives to Northern Pass, just look around by Kate Epson, Concord Monitor

Siting large infrastructure projects across New Hampshire has become increasingly difficult. Turning to smaller, community-controlled projects offers significant benefits. With many technologies, ownership models and sizes to choose from, it has never been a better time to bring real energy self-determination to our state.

Let’s turn to the local and clean fuels we have right here, ready to be further developed, and figure out what we want and need. Opportunities abound to build lasting infrastructure, bolster economic activity, control our costs, create direct benefits for New Hampshire, enhance our beautiful scenery and share in this bounty. Investors will look elsewhere if we don’t soon nurture these opportunities, so let’s not wait. As our state energy strategy says, “The time for action is now.”

Residential solar works well with grid by John Howard, Daily Hampshire Gazette

Local decisions will help shape state’s energy future by Henry Herndon, Concord Monitor

Northampton eyes energy aggregation with Amherst, Pelham by M.J. Tidwell, Daily Hampshire Gazette

 

New Jersey:

Lawmakers try yet another version of contentious nuclear subsidy bill by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

Bateman Proposal Encourages Growth of Renewable Energy by Brittany O’Neill, TapInto

When a renewable energy system installed at a home or business produces more electricity than the customer is using, net metering allows for the excess power to be sent onto the power grid, resulting in a credit to the customer for the full retail value of the electricity.

Under current law, utility companies are not required to continue offering net metering to new customers once the total generating capacity produced by net metering customers reaches 2.9 percent of the total electric power sold.

Bateman’s legislation doubles the electric power net meter threshold from 2.9 to 5.8 percent, allowing more customers to achieve the cost savings provided by net metering that would result from installing new renewable energy systems.

Op-Ed: Murphy, lawmakers can make NJ a solar state for all, regardless of income by Pari Kasotia and Cherie Brooks, NJ Spotlight

Atlantic Electric wants to promote electric vehicles by Michelle Brunetti, Atlantic City Press

Electric vehicles benefit more than just their owners by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

 

New York:

Albany officials offer renewable energy options for Sheridan Hollow microgrid by Amanda Fries, Albany Times Union

 

North Carolina:

Critics say Duke Energy’s $13 billion grid plan isn’t worth the price tag by Elizabeth Ouzts, Energy News Network

A $13-billion grid modernization plan by Duke Energy doesn’t live up to its name and needs massive changes, customer and clean energy advocates say.

The utility wants to recoup billions from North Carolina ratepayers to bury power lines, replace equipment, and install sensors to limit outages. The revamped grid would also better accommodate renewable power, according to the company.

But critics, including the state’s ratepayer advocate and large electricity users like Google, argue the plan is vague, thinly justified, and will do little to benefit customers or clean energy.

The Carolinas lead as solar booms in the Southeast by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

 

Oklahoma:

Solar farm coming to Sherman neighborhood by Emily Atkins, KTEN

 

Ohio:

Q&A: Watchdog group investigates Ohio wind energy foe by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

A Washington-area watchdog group wants to know what’s behind an Ohio lawmaker’s opposition to wind energy projects.

The Checks and Balances Project is scrutinizing Ohio Rep. Bill Seitz (R-Cincinnati), one of the state’s most outspoken opponents of commercial wind farms and enforceable clean energy standards. The group has chronicled the lawmaker’s actions and statements in a series of blog posts, and it’s filed a public records request to obtain his office’s communications on coal, wind and other energy issues.

Smart City grant: Columbus buys first electric vehicles, adding more charging stations by Carrie Ghose, Columbus Business Journal

 

Oregon:

PGE to fund electric vehicle programs by Jim Redden, Portland Tribune

 

South Carolina:

S.C. lawmakers call for law enforcement probe of bogus pro-utility emails by Andrew Brown, Charleston Post and Courier

Industry group draws scrutiny over barrage of fraudulent emails in South Carolina by Mark Hand, Think Progress

S.C. House advances solar and energy efficiency bills as lawmakers continue to tackle power issues by Andrew Brown, Charleston Post and Courier

 

Utah:

Clean energy advocates decry proposed electric, hybrid vehicle fees by Amy Joi O’Donoghue, Deseret News

 

Texas:

SA electric vehicle growth to require massive charging station build out by Sergio Chapa, San Antonio Business Journal

A significant build out of charging stations will be needed to accommodate as many as 40,000 electric vehicles projected to be on San Antonio roads by 2030, a new study finds.

Environment Texas and a coalition of other groups released an electric vehicles study entitled “Plugging In” early Monday afternoon.

The sponsored study shows that the Alamo City will need 1,340 more public charging stations for electric vehicles by 2030, nearly eight times as many as the 176 stations available here now.

 

Vermont:

BED, CUs launch plan to help make EVs more affordable by Timothy McQuiston, Vermont Biz

Not the time for an electric vehicle fee by David Ellenbogen, VT Digger

Weinberger presents plan for net zero energy city, lake clean-up by Vermont Biz

 

Virginia:

Hampton Roads Solar Co-op could facilitate solar energy in Williamsburg by Jack Jacobs, Virginia Gazette

 

Washington:

KPUD needs to look at bigger picture by Rick Allen, Goldendale Sentinel

 

Wisconsin:

Supreme Court called on to reject discrimination against rooftop solar by the Wisconsin Gazette

Climate Corner: Local Leadership is Key to Clean Energy Future by Chelsea Chandler, Door County Pulse

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

FERC issues rule to support electric storage resource participation in regional markets by Kevin Randolph, Daily Energy Insider

5 Ways Electric Vehicles Can Help the Grid by Constance Douris, Inside Sources

Supreme Court Called on to Reject Discrimination Against Rooftop Solar by Center for Biological Diversity

FERC Storage Rule a Win for a More Flexible Grid by Jennifer Chen, National Resource Defense Council

Tesla receives broad support for Supreme Court case against Salt River Project by Frank Andorka, PV Magazine

From California to Texas, here are 10 states that employ thousands in solar power jobs by Anmar Frangoul, CNBC

Solar power is becoming an increasingly important part of the planet’s energy mix, as evidenced by the recent publication of the Solar Foundation’s 2017 National Solar Jobs Census.

Last year, just over 250,000 Americans were working in solar. While this figure is impressive, it represents a 3.8 percent drop since 2016.

Looking at the bigger picture, however, there are reasons to be optimistic. Over the past seven years, the solar workforce has grown by 168 percent, rising from around 93,000 roles in 2010 to 250,271 in 2017.

The Solar Foundation’s census is based on “a rigorous survey of solar establishments conducted between October and November 2017.” A “solar employee” is defined as a person who spends “at least” half their time on work related to solar energy.

Here, Sustainable Energy takes a look at the 10 states leading the way in solar jobs.

5 ways electric vehicles can help the grid by Constance Douris, Newsday

Big Energy Confronts An Unfamiliar Power: Competition by Liam Denning, Bloomberg

This emergence of competitive energy markets is a novelty. Big Oil and Big Power largely grew up on the back of regulated or cartel-like models. Cracks began to appear toward the end of the 20th century, as the oil-futures market gave buyers and sellers an alternative to OPEC’s price-setters and deregulation started chipping away at utility monopolies.

These forces have accelerated, opening up more competition between energy providers — and, importantly, between energies themselves. For example, oil’s vice-like grip on transportation is now being eroded by electrification. This breaking down of barriers, even if nascent, is a profound change.

More Than 100 Cities Worldwide Now Powered Primarily by Renewable Energy by Georgina Gustin, Inside Climate News

Team of rivals: Utilities, enviros unite to push electric vehicles by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

After rising for 100 years, electricity demand is flat. Utilities are freaking out. by David Roberts, Vox

The US electricity sector is in a period of unprecedented change and turmoil. Renewable energy prices are falling like crazy. Natural gas production continues its extraordinary surge. Coal, the golden child of the current administration, is headed down the tubes.

In all that bedlam, it’s easy to lose sight of an equally important (if less sexy) trend: Demand for electricity is stagnant.

Thanks to a combination of greater energy efficiency, outsourcing of heavy industry, and customers generating their own power on site, demand for utility power has been flat for 10 years, and most forecasts expect it to stay that way.

New interactive map shows the economic impact that solar, wind, and energy efficiency have on U.S. communities by Linae Shirley, Environmental Defense Fund

SEIA plays defense with new strategic vision by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine

Do new rooftop solar price projections mean ‘if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em’ for utilities? by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

 

This post originally published at ilsr.org. Follow the Institute for Local Self-Reliance on Twitter and Facebook and sign-up for ILSR’s newsletters.

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Nick Stumo-Langer
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Nick Stumo-Langer

Nick Stumo-Langer is Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He runs ILSR's Facebook and Twitter profiles and builds relationships with reporters. He is an alumnus of St. Olaf College and animated by the concerns of monopoly power across our economy.