Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of June 11, 2018

Date: 12 Jun 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Communities in Indiana are rejecting the state’s anti-net metering laws by taking it upon themselves to promote solar energy; a study comes out from Yale Environment 360 detailing how Puerto Rico could have/should have been rebuilt with renewables, instead of further privatization; Minnesota moves to include on-bill financing to ensure folks of all income levels have access to renewables and energy efficiency; and the number of U.S. cities pledging to go to 100% renewable energy rose sharply last year.

 

Featured Stories:

Community Power State Scorecard Comparison — 2018 vs. 2017 by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

The Number Of U.S. Cities Pledging To Go 100-Percent Renewable Doubled Since Last Year by Alexander C. Kaufman, HuffPost

After the Storm, Puerto Rico Misses Chance to Rebuild with Renewables by Katherine Bagley, Yale Environment 360

Eight months after Hurricane Maria damaged 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, energy expert Lionel Orama-Exclusa talks to e360 about how the island is missing an opportunity to transform its energy system from fossil fuels to renewables.

EVs Could Save California Billions in Energy Storage Investment by Lacey Johnson, Greentech Media

Unaffected By State Net Metering Laws, Cities Look To Change Theirs by Rebecca Thiele, WFYI

Last year, the state decided to slowly decrease how much Hoosiers with solar panels get paid to deliver energy to the grid. But the fight over net metering might not be over. Some municipal utilities — who the law doesn’t apply to — are considering changing their net metering rules.

The city of Richmond is considering paying solar customers with excess power the lower wholesale rate plus 25 percent, rather than the higher retail rate. And instead of getting those dollars off their next bill, they would get a check — but only if that amount is for $5 or more.

Solar advocates say the rate is unfair and that it would discourage homeowners from installing solar panels. Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance President Laura Arnold says higher net metering rates are supposed to be “an incentive to get customers to do the right thing, to assume responsibility for their own energy consumption.”

Senate bill would ramp up clean energy development by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine

Solar to the people: This Detroiter is making solar technology accessible to all by David Sands, Model D

For as long as he can remember, Ali Dirul has been interested in science and computers. “It’s something that’s always been in my nature,” he says.

But that affinity alone wouldn’t have caused him to start Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI). That decision had as much to do with his belief that communities have the capacity to build a cleaner, healthier, more empowering future through technology — RCI is just there to help.

“We’re looking to change the framework of how communities deal [with energy] in this current economy,” says Dirul, founder and executive director of RCI. “And look towards shifting and growing this towards a newer type of sustainable economy.”

Founded in 2015, the Detroit area project management company specializes in energy-oriented engineering solutions with a particular focus on solar power. It takes special pride in finding ways to make those resources useful and accessible to community residents and organizations.

Minneapolis studying on-bill financing for efficiency projects by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has long been a fan of on-bill, inclusive financing because it does not require customers to take on debt or submit credit scores. He wrote a research paper in 2016 on a type called Pay As You Save (PAYS).

Here’s how it works:

A utility customer becomes aware of an energy saving opportunity in their home and applies for on-bill financing through their utility.

The program administrator evaluates the project and potential savings. If it qualifies, the utility or a partner pays a contractor to complete the project.

The utility adds a charge to the monthly bill for the customer’s address, but the charge is smaller than the monthly cost savings created by the project.

Customers are guaranteed immediate savings on their monthly bill, and if they move the charge — and benefits — remain for the next resident.

Farrell’s paper revealed half the customers who received offers in the PAYS program accepted them compared to just 10 percent in debt programs. The size of projects was also nearly twice those under debt-based systems. The system has the added advantage of reaching often hard-to-reach renters, which in Minneapolis represent more than half the population.

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona

Arizona Is Getting Its First Standalone Battery Peaker by Julian Spector, Greentech Media

Should solar panels be required on new Arizona homes? by Trisha Hendricks, NBC 12 News

 

California

California Regulators Approve Landmark Utility EV-Charging Proposals by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

EVs Could Save California Billions in Energy Storage Investment by Lacey Johnson, Greentech Media

How California is bringing solar energy to low-income renters by Ruxandra Guidi, High Country News

 

Colorado

Colorado integrates storage into utility planning process by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

For a small Colorado utility, 100% renewable energy is old news by Allen Best, Energy News Network

 

Connecticut

Hamden officials, governor kick off ‘Solar for All’ effort by Ben Lambert, New Haven Register

 

Florida

Florida community enjoys near-free solar power by Fox 13 News

 

Kansas

Capitol Insider podcast: As Westar merges with Great Plains, observers want new study of rates by Sherman Smith, Topeka Capital-Journal

 

Hawai’i

Here’s what it could take to accelerate Hawaii’s transition to 100 percent renewables by Heather Clancy, GreenBiz

 

Illinois

Why electric cars are gaining ground slowly in the United States by Mary Wisniewski, Chicago Tribune

 

Indiana

South Bend churches use solar panels to make an impact on the community by Heather Black, WSBT 22

Unaffected By State Net Metering Laws, Cities Look To Change Theirs by Rebecca Thiele, WFYI

Last year, the state decided to slowly decrease how much Hoosiers with solar panels get paid to deliver energy to the grid. But the fight over net metering might not be over. Some municipal utilities — who the law doesn’t apply to — are considering changing their net metering rules.

The city of Richmond is considering paying solar customers with excess power the lower wholesale rate plus 25 percent, rather than the higher retail rate. And instead of getting those dollars off their next bill, they would get a check — but only if that amount is for $5 or more.

Solar advocates say the rate is unfair and that it would discourage homeowners from installing solar panels. Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance President Laura Arnold says higher net metering rates are supposed to be “an incentive to get customers to do the right thing, to assume responsibility for their own energy consumption.”

 

Massachusetts

Net metering, renewable energy mandate bills move forward in Massachusetts by John Weaver, pv magazine

Massachusetts Hospital To Benefit From New Community Solar Project by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry Magazine

Through the commonwealth’s net metering program, Harrington HealthCare will see direct savings and lower operating costs for the hospital’s energy expenses, says Nexamp. Additionally, dozens of nearby residents will earn electricity cost-savings of 15% per year by subscribing to the project through Nexamp’s Solarize My Bill community solar program. Over the lifetime of the project, the hospital and surrounding community are expected to save well over $1 million, according to Nexamp’s estimates.

Senate tees up bill to accelerate clean energy by Andy Metzger, The Lowell Sun

Senate bill would ramp up clean energy development by Bruce Mohl, CommonWealth Magazine

 

Michigan

Michigan law gives activists new venue for holding utilities to pledges by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Solar to the people: This Detroiter is making solar technology accessible to all by David Sands, Model D

For as long as he can remember, Ali Dirul has been interested in science and computers. “It’s something that’s always been in my nature,” he says.

But that affinity alone wouldn’t have caused him to start Ryter Cooperative Industries (RCI). That decision had as much to do with his belief that communities have the capacity to build a cleaner, healthier, more empowering future through technology — RCI is just there to help.

“We’re looking to change the framework of how communities deal [with energy] in this current economy,” says Dirul, founder and executive director of RCI. “And look towards shifting and growing this towards a newer type of sustainable economy.”

Founded in 2015, the Detroit area project management company specializes in energy-oriented engineering solutions with a particular focus on solar power. It takes special pride in finding ways to make those resources useful and accessible to community residents and organizations.

A look inside University of Michigan’s off-grid, straw-bale building by Martin Slagter, MLive

 

Minnesota

New Minnesota rules make connecting clean energy to the grid easier by Kathie Zipp, Solar Power World Online

After more than two years, the updated rules are the result of work at the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC), by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), Fresh Energy and the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC). In May 2016, the three organizations jointly petitioned the PUC to initiate a proceeding to establish new interconnection standards that better align with the current market for distributed generation, and to achieve greater consistency with national best practices.

The state’s early challenges connecting community solar gardens projects to the grid led to major backlogs and increased delays, and costs for consumers and communities. This prompted the three organizations to request an overhaul of the state’s interconnection rules to improve the process. They were also looking to streamline the interconnection process for rooftop solar systems, which constitute the vast majority of interconnection applications in the state.

Solar energy project in Fillmore County by Karen Reisner, Fillmore County Journal

Minnesota overhauls interconnection standards to streamline clean energy by Sky Stanfield, Utility Dive

Minneapolis studying on-bill financing for efficiency projects by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, has long been a fan of on-bill, inclusive financing because it does not require customers to take on debt or submit credit scores. He wrote a research paper in 2016 on a type called Pay As You Save (PAYS).

Here’s how it works:

A utility customer becomes aware of an energy saving opportunity in their home and applies for on-bill financing through their utility.

The program administrator evaluates the project and potential savings. If it qualifies, the utility or a partner pays a contractor to complete the project.

The utility adds a charge to the monthly bill for the customer’s address, but the charge is smaller than the monthly cost savings created by the project.

Customers are guaranteed immediate savings on their monthly bill, and if they move the charge — and benefits — remain for the next resident.

Farrell’s paper revealed half the customers who received offers in the PAYS program accepted them compared to just 10 percent in debt programs. The size of projects was also nearly twice those under debt-based systems. The system has the added advantage of reaching often hard-to-reach renters, which in Minneapolis represent more than half the population.

Wind energy: new revenue, new jobs, new hope by Isak Kvam, MinnPost

Lakeville’s First Year With Electric School Bus by Christiane Cordero, WCCO

Q&A: Great River Energy executive on utility’s renewable pledge by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

 

Montana

Sustainable Missoula: Solar is no longer an ‘alternative’ energy source by Andrew Valanais, Missoula Current

 

Nevada

NV Energy rolls out renewable energy supply plan, Sandoval wavers on support for Energy Choice Initiative by Riley Snyder, The Nevada Independent

 

New Hampshire

Nashua solar initiative aims to reduce carbon footprint by Kimberly Houghton, New Hampshire Union Leader

Nashua Begins Push For Clean Energy Upgrades, With Discounts by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

New Hampshire needs net metering expansion by Tony Giunta, David Worthen, and Cordell Johnston, New Hampshire Business Review

 

New Jersey

Unpacking New Jersey’s Much-Needed New Clean Energy Legislation by Stephen Kisker, Solar Industry Magazine

On May 23, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy signed the sweeping clean energy bill S.2314, enacting a law that will transform the renewable energy landscape in New Jersey.

The law will provide New Jersey’s solar program with a much-needed boost by increasing the state’s solar renewable energy portfolio standards (SRPS) – which dictate the number of solar renewable energy certificates (SRECs) that New Jersey’s electric suppliers must retire – to 5.1% of retail sales in energy year 2021. (An energy year runs from June 1 to the following May 31.)

This increase will add approximately 650 MW of new capacity to New Jersey’s SRPS. The law also increases the net metering cap to 5.8% of retail sales, providing much-needed headroom for new projects. (The net metering cap limits the amount of net metered solar energy capacity that can be installed in New Jersey.)

 

New Mexico

Co-op Seeks Way to Buy Solar by Amanda Martinez, Rio Grande Sun

 

New York

New York predicts a declining electricity load due to distributed solar power and efficiency by John Weaver, pv magazine

‘Solarize Lockport’ deal offers discounts to city property owner by Tim Fenster, Lockport Journal

 

North Carolina

Could solar panels become mandatory on homes in sunset beach? by WWAY News

 

Puerto Rico

After the Storm, Puerto Rico Misses Chance to Rebuild with Renewables by Katherine Bagley, Yale Environment 360

Eight months after Hurricane Maria damaged 80 percent of Puerto Rico’s electricity grid, energy expert Lionel Orama-Exclusa talks to e360 about how the island is missing an opportunity to transform its energy system from fossil fuels to renewables.

 

Ohio

Energy innovation could mean thousands of jobs for Ohio, report says by Mark Williams, The Columbus Dispatch

Energy innovation in Ohio could have a big payoff: 20,000 new jobs and $25 billion in investment, according to a report released Tuesday.

It lays out a vision for what making electric cars and solar panels and becoming more energy efficient could do for the state’s economy.

“Investing in smarter, cleaner and more energy is simply good business,” said Asa Hopkins, principal associate for Synapse Energy Economics, a research and consulting firm based in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The firm did the primary research for the report, titled “Powering Ohio: A Vision for Growth and Innovative Energy Investment.”

Electric vehicles, renewable energy and energy efficiency are among the opportunities that are ripe for development and could boost the state’s economy, according to the report.

 

Vermont

Vermont law ‘ups the ante’ on energy efficiency by Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

Affordable housing is green in Hardwick by Caleigh Cross, Stowe Today

Vermont aims VW settlement funds at boosting electric vehicles by Elizabeth Gribkoff, VT Digger

Landfill solar project going ‘very well’ by Kristopher Radder, Brattleboro Reformer

 

Wisconsin

Highly Sophisticated Microgrid Emerges from the Woods of Wisconsin by Elisa Wood, Microgrid Knowledge

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Electric vehicles on path to triple by Timothy Cama, The Hill

The number of electric vehicles on the road worldwide is set to triple by the end of the decade.

The Paris-based International Energy Agency (IEA) forecast that, given current policies around the world, 13 million electric vehicles will be on the road in 2020, compared with 3.7 million just last year.

Sales could increase 24 percent year-over-year through 2030.

Renewable Growth Soars, Buoyed by Distributed Generation by Sonal Patel, Power Mag

Will batteries do for wind what they’re doing for solar? by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Three US states will spend $1.3 billion to build more electric vehicle charging by Sean O’Kane, The Verge

Three US states announced major investments in charging infrastructure for electric cars on Thursday. In total, California, New York, and New Jersey will put $1.3 billion on the table in the coming years to help chip away at one of the biggest barriers standing in the way of widespread EV adoption.

California’s Public Utilities Commission approved up to $738 million worth of projects over the next five years, the agency announced. Southern California Edison and the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) will spend up to $343 million and $236 million, respectively, to build charging infrastructure that will support thousands of medium or heavy-duty vehicles at around 1,500 locations throughout the state. PG&E will spend another $22 million building 234 DC fast-charging stations at around 50 different sites throughout the state.

Energy Storage Could Be Residential Solar’s Next Growth Product by Travis Hoium, The Motley Fool

A Foolish Take: America’s 5 Best-Selling Electric Vehicles by Leo Sun, The Motley Fool

Shouldn’t We Have More DC Microgrids? by Andrew Burger, Microgrid Knowledge

Suddenly, solar energy plus storage is giving conventional fuels a run for their money by Daniel Rothberg, Ensia Magazine

Election Preview: Energy and Climate Races to Watch in 2018 by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

Electric vehicles will grow from 3 million to 125 million by 2030, International Energy Agency forecasts by Tom DiChristopher, CNBC

A Year After Trump’s Paris Pullout, U.S. Companies Are Driving a Renewables Boom by Brad Plumer, New York Times

The 21st Century Power Grid: Not Your Parents’ Power Grid by Microgrid Knowledge Editors

Amidst Northeast EV Gains, Charging Infrastructure Gap Looms by Noah Garcia, Natural Resource Defense Council

This new doc shows how renewable energy recharges communities by Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company

Until, during the Great Recession of 2008, it began to decline, and half the jobs in the industry disappeared. Bruce’s was one of them. “After I lost my job, I had about three days of sulking, and then I got up and decided to listen to some of my coworkers’ advice to look into wind turbines,” he said in Reinventing Power: America’s Renewable Energy Boom, a new film (to be widely released this summer) from the Sierra Club about the energy revolution in America. He now works as a turbine engineer, and the wind industry is helping the state climb out of its deep recession.

Bruce’s circumstances are not unusual: In the U.S., jobs in sectors that have traditionally boosted the economy are disappearing. Coal is environmentally damaging and expensive to mine. Car companies are looking at an eventual slow-down in sales. Across both sectors and many more, automation is putting people out of work.

Renewable energy jobs on the ballot by Mike Carr, The Hill

The Number Of U.S. Cities Pledging To Go 100-Percent Renewable Doubled Since Last Year by Alexander C. Kaufman, HuffPost

Few Southeast Cities Have Climate Targets, but That’s Slowly Changing by James Bruggers, InsideClimate News

 

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell or Marie Donahue on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update. Also check out over 50 episodes of the Local Energy Rules podcast!

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Nick Stumo-Langer
Follow Nick Stumo-Langer:
Nick Stumo-Langer

Nick Stumo-Langer was Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He ran 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.

Nick Stumo-Langer
Follow Nick Stumo-Langer:
Nick Stumo-Langer was Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He ran 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.