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Energy Democracy Media Roundup – June 13, 2016

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Jun 14, 2016 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/energy-democracy-media-roundup-june-13/
Democratic Energy Media Roundup

This week in Energy Democracy news:

An Atlantic reporter explores how (easily) solar panels are installed, Madison adopts a carbon emissions plan, and Boulder city officials discuss municipalization with Xcel Energy.

Featured Stories

Madison adopts plan to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Two decades of solar pioneers in Sacramento – Episode 27 of Local Energy Rules Podcast by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Amid industry shift, keen national interest in Boulder-Xcel settlement talks by Alex Burness, Boulder Daily Camera

Municipalization might not be Minneapolis’ most effective tool for accelerating clean energy goals, the petitioners argued, but the threat of it would give the city negotiating leverage when Xcel’s franchise agreement expired in 2014.

“We talked to a lot of people, saying, ‘Look at this opportunity we have,’ and ‘Look at what they’re doing in Boulder, Colorado,'” Farrell said last week. “This stuff is obscure, but we wanted to highlight the key issue here: We should have choice.”

What I learned installing solar panels by Julian Spector, CityLab

Why energy democracy offers a faster approach to clean energy by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Energy Democracy News in the States

Arizona

New APS rate case seeks mandatory demand charges by Julia Pyper, GreenTech Media

Arizona Public Service filed a general rate case today, which the utility says will create a more sustainable grid system by reforming the residential rate structure and eliminating the cost shift between solar and non-solar customers.

The plan seeks to introduce mandatory demand charges on all of APS’ residential and small business customers. The proposal also calls for shortening and shifting on-peak hours from the existing on-peak window of 12 p.m. – 7 p.m., to 3 p.m. – 8 p.m. when APS customers are using the most energy.

Arizona Public Service attempts to weaken net metering – again by Christian Roselund, PV-Magazine

APS rate case sparks concern beyond mandatory demand charge proposal by Herman K. Trabish, UtilityDive

APS, SolarCity fail to reach agreement over net metering by Ryan Randazzo, AZ Central

 

California

Californian just saved $192 million thanks to efficiency and rooftop solar by Julia Pyper, GreenTech Media

Report pushes ‘solar-plus-storage’ by Rob Nikolewski, San Diego Union Tribune

California removes barrier to distributed generation participating in power market by William Pentland, Forbes

 

Colorado

Amid industry shift, keen national interest in Boulder-Xcel settlement talks by Alex Burness, Boulder Daily Camera

Municipalization might not be Minneapolis’ most effective tool for accelerating clean energy goals, the petitioners argued, but the threat of it would give the city negotiating leverage when Xcel’s franchise agreement expired in 2014.

“We talked to a lot of people, saying, ‘Look at this opportunity we have,’ and ‘Look at what they’re doing in Boulder, Colorado,'” Farrell said last week. “This stuff is obscure, but we wanted to highlight the key issue here: We should have choice.”

 

Georgia

Q&A: How a Georgia Republican pushed his state forward on solar by Gillian Neimark, Southeastern Energy News

 

Hawaii

Still no deal between Hawaii utility and Florida’s NextEra. Local pressure mounts by Ken Silverstein, Environmental Leader

Hawaiian Electric files with state regulators to begin new pursuit of utility-scale renewables by Herman K. Trabish, UtilityDive

The Hawaiian Electric Co. (HECO) asked the Hawaii Public Utilities Commission (HPUC) to open a docket to approve its issuance of a formal Request for Proposals (RFP) for renewable energy projects on Oahu. This is, HECO said, an early step toward meeting the state’s 100% renewables by 2045 mandate.

 

Iowa

Stymied by its utility, Iowa college looks at solar backed by storage by Karen Uhlenhuth, Midwest Energy News

Luther College, in Decorah, Iowa, set a goal in 2012 of generating 50 percent of its power from renewables in 2015, 70 percent by 2020, and attaining carbon neutrality by 2030. It invested heavily in energy efficiency improvements, and built a 1.6-megawatt wind turbine and installed two solar arrays with a total 1.1 megawatts of capacity.

Getting to carbon neutral may be difficult because of limits on net metering in Iowa.

Solar energy sector facing challenges in Iowa by George C. Ford, The Gazette

 

Maine

Solar power providers slowly expand without support from Augusta by Tory Ryden, WLBZ-2

 

Massachusetts

Deerfield solar array details nailed down by Andy Castillo, The Recorder

 

Michigan

State senate energy bills threaten many, starting with solar workers by Jim Dolzo, Crain’s Detroit Business

But these bills — essentially utility wish-lists — also attack the little guys: the hundreds of Michigan workers who, using the state’s current net metering law, wire up homes and businesses with solar panels. SB 438 will put many of them out of business and nip Michigan’s nascent rooftop solar boom by slashing what a utility must pay a solar customer for the extra electricity his panels put on the grid.

 

Minnesota

$2.1 million campus microgrid addresses sustainability goals outlined by Pope Francis and other quick news by Cara Gorman, Microgrid Knowledge

Minnesota community’s energy focus gives it edge in national competition by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Minnesota regulators halt rural co-ops’ fixed charges for solar by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

Finding power in the local: How Grand Marais is tapping green technologies to reach for sustainability by Stephanie Hemphill, MinnPost

 

Montana

Net metering gaining popularity in Montana by Tom Lutey, Billings Gazette

PSC, utilities debate fair price for renewable energy by Corin Cates-Carney, Montana Public Radio

 

Nebraska

Solar power on the rise in Nebraska by Fred Knapp, NET Nebraska

 

Nevada

Where Sandoval’s energy task force stands on renewables, solar by Daniel Rothberg, Las Vegas Sun Review

Who’s subsidizing whom? by Dennis Myers, Reno News Review

Two studies tout net metering benefits, but debate continues by Julia Ritchey, KUNR

 

New York

Why isn’t solar energy spreading faster in NYC? by Miranda Katz, Gothamist

Town of Ulster reviews proposed solar installation, equipment regulations by William J. Kemble, Daily Freeman

Groups call on N.Y. regulators to ‘put community solar back on track’ by Solar Industry Magazine

 

North Carolina

Community solar benefiting co-op members in North Carolina by Rhiannon Fionn, Southeast Energy News

 

North Dakota

Cass County Electric breaks ground for largest solar array in North Dakota by Helmut Schmidt, InForum

 

Ohio

Group pursuing citywide push for solar power by Julie McClure, The Republic

Annual Ohio tour reaches out to state lawmakers on clean energy by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

Ohio’s attempt at power plant bailouts should alarm conservatives by Devin Hartman and Dick Munson, Real Clear Energy

The deals, brought forth by American Electric Power (AEP) and FirstEnergy Corp., would have resulted in higher bills, environmental damage, stifled innovation, diminished value for customer choice and less competitive markets for Ohio. Unfortunately, the rationale behind the Ohio decision still threatens to turn this kind of irresponsible, anti-competitive plan into a broader movement. This should outrage conservatives.

Over the past decade, cheap natural gas drove some of AEP and FirstEnergy’s coal and nuclear power plants into the red. The companies sensed an opportunity to seek subsidies for these plants through mandatory ratepayer charges, chanting the motto of “rate stability” and appealing to keep in-state power plants online. The companies received their bailouts in an alarmingly unanimous vote by the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio.

 

Oregon

Battles spread over popular solar buyback plans by Jon Frandsen, Bend Bulletin

 

Texas

Solar will replace nearly all retiring coal in Texas by Katherine Tweed, GreenTech Media

Bumper crop of ‘community solar’ projects coming to Texas this summer by Sergio Chapa, Houston Business Journal

 

Wisconsin

Energy fair returns to Custer by Michael Casper, Scene

Board discusses solar project, referendum by Kayla Burns, Republican Journal

Energy Fair returns for 27th year by Nathan Vine, Stevens Point Journal

Madison adopts plan to cut carbon emissions 80 percent by 2050 by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

Mitch Brey, campaign organizer of the group RePower Madison, described the planas an important step in creating clean energy policies and programs in the city. He noted that some aspects of the plan are already enshrined in city or state policy, but the new plan calls for new resources or action to help fulfill those goals.
Along with the aforementioned targets, the plan calls for establishing a city-wide Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) program, making it easier for property owners to finance energy improvements; developing an inventory of all the city-owned property suitable for rooftop solar; and ensuring implementation of a benchmarking resolution passed last year, which would document buildings’ current energy consumption to chart future improvements.

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News

Wind and solar could meet nearly all Midwest energy needs by 2050, researcher says by Andy Balaskovitz, Midwest Energy News

2016 is a breakthrough year for solar by Rona Fried, The Hill

Rate design roundup: demand charges vs. time-based rates by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

What I learned installing solar panels by Julian Spector, CityLab

Community solar programs can reach millions of people – if utilities design and market them right by Silvio Maracacci, GreenTech Media

Why the public, especially conservatives, should thank net metering by James Tong and Alison Mackey, GreenTech Media

To criticize NEM for creating inefficiencies would be like blaming a scale for making a person overweight. NEM has helped reveal long-term deficiencies in the regulatory model: poor pricing mechanisms, incentives to overspend, and rampant cross-subsidization, to name a few. Some states, including Hawaii, Minnesota and New York, are looking to revamp their utility models, thanks in part to NEM discussions.
Furthermore, NEM customers are pioneering a more efficient grid. Rooftop solar heralds a series of customer-sited technologies — collectively known as distributed energy resources (DERs) — that promise to make the grid more robust, cleaner and less costly. DERs, including smart thermostats, electric vehicles, energy storage, and automated appliances, can optimize consumption and supply depending on both the needs of users and the grid. They can create new business opportunities, like the peer-to-peer sharing models of Uber and Airbnb. They can also minimize the role of the public sector in the power industry. When customers invest in DERs, they use private capital, not utility capital that the public — that is, ratepayers — must ultimately repay.

With solar prices so low, people are buying systems, not leasing them by Sustainable Business

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