Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of June 25, 2018

Date: 26 Jun 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Pennsylvania state legislators pass a law to help fund clean energy technologies on commercial and industrial buildings, a great way to support community-owned renewable energy; advocates are planning to ensure electric vehicle benefits are seen by folks of all income levels; and community solar advocates win a victory in New York.

 

Featured Stories:

Vote For Decorah Municipal Utility Falls Short, But Local Energy Advocates Persist by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Pennsylvania becomes first Northeast state in six years to approve PACE financing by Marie Cusick, Energy News Network

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is planning to sign a new, bipartisan bill aimed at helping commercial and industrial property owners finance upgrades for energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy systems.

Under the legislation, Pennsylvania would become the first Northeast state in six years to enable Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE). The programs have become popular because they help businesses finance the often expensive, upfront costs of such upgrades, without having the government lean heavily on taxpayers.

As in other states, Pennsylvania’s new program will be voluntary. It allows municipal governments to set up energy improvement districts, where private lenders can give money to commercial, industrial, or agricultural property owners for eligible improvements to buildings. For example, these could include solar panels, better insulation, HVAC upgrades, or high-efficiency water systems. The money is paid back in via property tax bills, which remains attached to the specific, upgraded building — even if it gets sold.

From The Archive: Anya Schoolman (Episode 1 Of Local Energy Rules) by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Electric Car Advocates Want to Expand Access to Low-Income Communities by Maxine Joselow, Scientific American

Advocates of electric cars want to tear down barriers that make the vehicles less accessible to some drivers — including those in communities hit hardest by air pollution.

Disadvantaged populations, including low-income communities, have unequal access to the technology, according to a new report from the Sierra Club and Plug in America, a nonprofit group that promotes electric vehicles.

For one thing, low-income drivers often live in multi-unit dwellings, whose building codes would need to be updated to accommodate EV charging spaces. And they’re often unable to take advantage of the federal tax credit that provides an incentive for EV adoption, the groups say.

“Though EV deployment has increased in recent years, people from disadvantaged communities are more likely to encounter the strongest barriers to EV adoption,” the report says. “Additionally, most low-income folks will not be able to access the $7,500 credit given that they won’t have the tax liability. They can access it if they lease, but it’s not always guaranteed that the financing company will pass on the savings to the consumer.”

Green Bank extends renewable energy financing program to new construction by Matt Pilon, Hartford Business Magazine

Report: Massachusetts expects steep drop in solar installations in 2018 by Mary C. Serreze, MassLive

Under Massachusetts law, net metering caps are set as a percentage of total electric utility load. For private projects, the cap is 7 percent, and for public projects, it is 8 percent. Residential solar is exempt, so the caps apply to commercial, industrial and community solar projects.

Only the state Legislature can lift the caps. The cap was eased in 2016 for the fifth time in seven years. Yet there are still commercial and public projects lined up waiting for the incentives in certain areas.

Utilities have argued that tight caps prevent non-solar users from unfairly subsidizing solar energy producers, and fossil fuel generators have warned against any intervention that will skew competitive power markets. Environmentalists say reducing the state’s carbon footprint is the highest priority, and that solar energy should be aggressively promoted.

More cities across Minnesota are turning to renewable sources of energy by Matt McKinney, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Community Solar spurns New York’s VDER, seeks a return to net metering by John Weaver, pv magazine

At pv magazine, most of the recent headlines from New York are high flying – 20 large solar power projects for 2022, 100%+ solar growth projected for 2018, predictions of declining electricity load due to efficiency and solar, and expansions of the commercial and industrial incentive packages.

However, the state’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER), a new methodology for determining compensation from solar projects, has not gotten positive feedback in the solar power industry – nor it seems from those with capital investing in projects

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona

Residential solar storage projects come to Arizona by AZ Big Media

After successfully completing beta testing, with 400 Phazr battery installations in APS and SRP territories, JLM Energy, an energy technology company, is partnering with N.E.R.D. Power on residential solar storage projects in Arizona. JLM’s earlier installations focused on performance testing including successful performance in extreme summer heat.

Bipartisan group seeks end to dark money by Howard Fischer, The Copper Era

 

California

Electrify America to spend $44 million on Sacramento-area electric vehicles by Kellen Browning, Sacramento Bee

California Takes Steps to Expand Solar Opportunities For Low-Income and Environmental Justice Communities by Alternative Energy Magazine

 

Connecticut

Green Bank extends renewable energy financing program to new construction by Matt Pilon, Hartford Business Magazine

 

Illinois

Local program promotes solar literacy through free informational sessions by Therese Pokorney, Daily Illinoisan

The grassroots program, Solar Urbana-Champaign 3.0, is continuing its third year of integrating community education and volume purchasing of solar installations.

The program offers free informational Solar Power Hour sessions led by Andy Robinson, educator hired by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to facilitate the sessions. Robinson teaches residents of Piatt and Champaign Counties about the basics of solar, about how volume purchasing works and about its financial implications for a household.

Savings in solar for SV Elementary? by Brett Herrmann, LaSalle News Tribune

 

Iowa

A small community’s big dreams for the future by B.A. Morelli, Cedar Rapids Gazette

 

Maryland

Supporters Of Clean Energy To Highlight Maryland Support by CBS Baltimore

 

Massachusetts

Massachusetts lawmakers ask Department of Public Utilities to reject solar credit cap by Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World Online

Report: Massachusetts expects steep drop in solar installations in 2018 by Mary C. Serreze, MassLive

Under Massachusetts law, net metering caps are set as a percentage of total electric utility load. For private projects, the cap is 7 percent, and for public projects, it is 8 percent. Residential solar is exempt, so the caps apply to commercial, industrial and community solar projects.

Only the state Legislature can lift the caps. The cap was eased in 2016 for the fifth time in seven years. Yet there are still commercial and public projects lined up waiting for the incentives in certain areas.

Utilities have argued that tight caps prevent non-solar users from unfairly subsidizing solar energy producers, and fossil fuel generators have warned against any intervention that will skew competitive power markets. Environmentalists say reducing the state’s carbon footprint is the highest priority, and that solar energy should be aggressively promoted.

100% renewable energy, no net metering caps and more in Massachusetts Senate bill by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

100% renewable energy omnibus clears Massachusetts Senate by Iulia Gheorghiu, Utility Dive

Mass. Pushing To Get More Electric Vehicles On The Road by WBUR News

State’s First Solar Cooperative To Be Built In Wendell by Business West

 

Michigan

Changing how people get paid for solar power by Lester Graham, Interlochen Public Radio

WMEAC: While energy is debated, consider on-bill financing by Beau Brocket, Grand Haven Tribune

Michigan solar net metering debate carries on in co-op country by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Clean Energy Takes Center Stage At TC Conference by Beth Milligan, Traverse City Ticker

 

Minnesota

In Minnesota, connecting solar projects to grid is about to get easier by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Lino Lakes considers community solar garden by Shannon Granholm, Press Publications

Red Wing asked to share clean energy success by Red Wing Republican Eagle

An electrifying opportunity: Winona investigates replacing gas-powered city vehicles with electric alternatives by Tobias Mann, Winona Daily News

More cities across Minnesota are turning to renewable sources of energy by Matt McKinney, Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

Nebraska

Omaha hotel is first project financed with Nebraska’s PACE legislation by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A 105-year-old building being renovated into an upscale hotel in downtown Omaha is Nebraska’s first Property Assessed Clean Energy project.

Property Assessed Clean Energy, also known as PACE, is a financing tool that lets building owners pay for renewable and energy efficiency projects through an add-on to their property tax bills.

The Nebraska Legislature passed a law in 2015 allowing municipalities to create PACE programs. Omaha recently created an administrative structure for approving PACE projects, and Lincoln is expected to do so shortly.

 

Nevada

Nevada’s 2.3-Cent Bid Beats Arizona’s Record-Low Solar PPA Price by Julian Spector, Greentech Media

Renewable energy initiative, backed by billionaire, may be headed for November ballot in Nevada by James DeHaven, Reno Gazette Journal

 

New Hampshire

Dover officials hope to power city-owned property with solar energy by Kimberley Hass, New Hampshire Union Leader

Dover may be going big with solar by Brian Early, Foster’s Sea Coast Online

 

New Jersey

Op-ed: Helping New Jerseyans Take Control of Where Their Electricity Comes From by Curt Macysyn, New Jersey Spotlight

When Gov. Phil Murphy signs legislation (S-2314/A-3723) that supports our ability to benefit from solar energy, he will empower Garden State residents to be active participants in the energy market. A strong solar market can help all New Jersey residents lower their electric bill by choosing a clean-energy source.

The way electricity is consumed and produced is changing. We no longer need to rely on large, centralized generation to keep the lights on. Technology advances like solar energy enable individuals and businesses to produce their own electricity, at less cost than if we were forced to buy from our utility.

New Jersey Is Now The United States’ Hottest Clean Energy Economy by Mike O’Boyle & Barbara Blumenthal, Forbes

 

New York

Companies to build community solar project in Hounsfield by Marcus Wolf, Watertown Daily Times

Solar One’s Here Comes Solar program brings solar and stability to New York City’s underserved markets by Michael Barry, Solar Power World Online

Community Solar spurns New York’s VDER, seeks a return to net metering by John Weaver, pv magazine

At pv magazine, most of the recent headlines from New York are high flying – 20 large solar power projects for 2022, 100%+ solar growth projected for 2018, predictions of declining electricity load due to efficiency and solar, and expansions of the commercial and industrial incentive packages.

However, the state’s Value of Distributed Energy Resources (VDER), a new methodology for determining compensation from solar projects, has not gotten positive feedback in the solar power industry – nor it seems from those with capital investing in projects

Assembly Passes Bill to Help Community Solar by Andrea Sears, Public News Service

Carroll Street Community Solar Farm set to launch with 23 households by Sarina Trangle, AM New York

Fix ‘Darth VDER’ rule hindering solar in NY (Commentary) by Chris Carrick, Syracuse.com

 

North Carolina

Will South Carolina’s net metering fight spread north to Raleigh? by Elizabeth Ouzts, Energy News Network

 

Ohio

Cleveland can lead in switch to clean energy by Jocelyn L. Travis, Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

Oregon

Solar power, struggling to fit in on Oregon farmland, turns to bees by Pete Danko, Portland Business Journal

 

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania becomes first Northeast state in six years to approve PACE financing by Marie Cusick, Energy News Network

Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is planning to sign a new, bipartisan bill aimed at helping commercial and industrial property owners finance upgrades for energy efficiency, water conservation, and renewable energy systems.

Under the legislation, Pennsylvania would become the first Northeast state in six years to enable Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy (C-PACE). The programs have become popular because they help businesses finance the often expensive, upfront costs of such upgrades, without having the government lean heavily on taxpayers.

As in other states, Pennsylvania’s new program will be voluntary. It allows municipal governments to set up energy improvement districts, where private lenders can give money to commercial, industrial, or agricultural property owners for eligible improvements to buildings. For example, these could include solar panels, better insulation, HVAC upgrades, or high-efficiency water systems. The money is paid back in via property tax bills, which remains attached to the specific, upgraded building — even if it gets sold.

Report: Jobs in efficiency, renewables grow while clean transportation lags by Amy Sisk, Pennsylvania State Impact

A new report shows that jobs in most parts of Pennsylvania’s clean energy industry grew over the past year.

The industry supports 86,000 jobs, which is a 2 percent increase over the previous year, according to the report from E2, a group of business leaders and investors who advocate for environmental policies.

Three-quarters of those jobs fall into the energy efficiency category. They include jobs like installing Energy Star-rated air conditioners, working with homeowners and businesses to identify ways to save electricity or heat, and assembling water heaters that use little energy.

Renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, makes up the next biggest segment.

 

Puerto Rico

Department of Energy Issues Recommendations for Post-Maria Puerto Rico by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

On Wednesday the Department of Energy (DOE) released a report detailing its vision for rebuilding a resilient energy system in Puerto Rico. It suggested hardening infrastructure, as well as integrating clean energy technologies such as solar and energy storage into the island’s energy portfolio.

 

Vermont

Burlington Electric wins national award by Vermont Business Magazine

 

Wisconsin

Two-sided green: Conservative group promotes renewable energy as good for business by Chris Hubbuch, LaCrosse Tribune

Committee pushing Madison to transition to 100 percent renewable energy by Josh Spreiter, Channel 3000

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Virtual Power Plants: Coming Soon to a Grid Near You by Microgrid Knowledge Editors

What Changed In The Electric Vehicle Industry In May? by Zachary Shahan, CleanTechnica

As distributed solar expands, can utility system planning keep up? by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Why a utility front organization is wrong about solar incentives by John Weaver, pv magazine

5 things utilities should consider for energy storage by John Lerch, Utility Dive

Electric Car Advocates Want to Expand Access to Low-Income Communities by Maxine Joselow, Scientific American

Advocates of electric cars want to tear down barriers that make the vehicles less accessible to some drivers — including those in communities hit hardest by air pollution.

Disadvantaged populations, including low-income communities, have unequal access to the technology, according to a new report from the Sierra Club and Plug in America, a nonprofit group that promotes electric vehicles.

For one thing, low-income drivers often live in multi-unit dwellings, whose building codes would need to be updated to accommodate EV charging spaces. And they’re often unable to take advantage of the federal tax credit that provides an incentive for EV adoption, the groups say.

“Though EV deployment has increased in recent years, people from disadvantaged communities are more likely to encounter the strongest barriers to EV adoption,” the report says. “Additionally, most low-income folks will not be able to access the $7,500 credit given that they won’t have the tax liability. They can access it if they lease, but it’s not always guaranteed that the financing company will pass on the savings to the consumer.”

Cities at the Crossroads of Consumption and Sustainability by Shelley Poticha, Natural Resource Defense Council

Utility regulators: No easy road to supporting EVs by David Ferris, E&E 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.