Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of April 16, 2018

Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of April 16, 2018

Date: 17 Apr 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Legislative action on solar energy on the state level, both positive (Kentucky) and negative (South Carolina); a nonprofit is bringing small-scale renewables to the rooftops of poor residents of Brooklyn; a rundown of the showdown in Decorah, Iowa regarding local control over their energy future; and an interesting report from Maryland detailing the benefits of distributed renewables.

Featured Stories:

South Carolina House kills pro-solar bill after last-minute rule change by Jamie Lovegrove, Charleston Post and Courier

Bringing Solar Power to Affordable Housing in Brooklyn by Emily Nonko, Next City

Fifth Avenue Committee, a nonprofit providing affordable housing in Brooklyn since 1978, has enlisted Brooklyn SolarWorks and Gowanus Grid & Electric, LLC to introduce a model for bringing solar power to New York’s privately-owned low- and moderate-income housing stock. The group was inspired by the community solar model, in which open spaces and industrial rooftops are utilized to develop large community solar projects to which anyone can “subscribe”, reducing their electricity bills. In one common setup, subscribers receive a credit on their electric bills for a share of the energy produced by a shared solar installation and sent back into the grid.

Despite the promise of the model, there have been major barriers in bringing solar to New York City, especially to benefit multi-family housing, says Noah Ginsburg, director of Here Comes Solar, a program that looks to spur the adoption of solar within New York’s underserved markets.

Getting San Diego Ready For 100% Renewable Energy — Episode 52 Of Local Energy Rules Podcast by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

States Agree: Third-Party Ownership Enables Distributed Solar, But What’s Next? By John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Solar bill burns out on the last day of the Kentucky legislature by Morgan Watkins, Louisville Courier-Journal

A controversial proposal environmentalists feared would put the brakes on Kentucky’s solar power industry died in the Kentucky legislature Saturday when this year’s lawmaking session ended.

House Bill 227 evolved a lot over the past few months as utility companies and advocates for alternative energy sources clashed over its provisions.

Power struggle: Iowa muni campaign heats up ahead of public vote by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

In a northeastern Iowa community, voters will weigh in on whether to replace its investor-owned electric company with a municipal utility. Voters in Decorah, Iowa, will decide May 1 whether they want the city to move ahead with a proposal to leave their current electricity provider and create a city-owned utility to take its place.

Maryland report shows distributed solar’s real power is people by John Weaver, pv magazine

An analysis submitted to Maryland regulators found that distributed solar’s economic benefits – mostly labor associated revenue – was worth six times the value of the electricity to the grid.

Community power scorecard docks Minnesota on clean energy policies by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community Power State Scorecard judges each state on how their policies “help or hinder” community access to clean energy. Minnesota tied with two other states for 14th place, while Illinois placed fourth and Ohio ranked seventh.

“I confess I was surprised about Illinois a little bit,” said John Farrell, who directs the institute’s Energy Democracy Initiative. “I always thought of Minnesota as more progressive and further ahead than Illinois.”

Minnesota’s monopoly utility model of energy distribution has put a “squeeze” on initiatives to increase choices for consumers, he said. Other states are opening the door to allow for more energy providers compete.

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona

Arizona nonprofit launches to plan for a future of solar, energy tech that includes utilities by Hayley Ringle, Phoenix Business Journal

 

Arkansas

Solar Leads Way as Net Metering Has Record Year by Kyle Massey, Arkansas Business

 

California

The Controversy Surrounding a Fast-Growing Clean Energy Loan Program by Liz Farmer, Governing Magazine

Los Angeles has most installed power of any U.S. city, report finds by Kevin Randolph, Daily Energy Insider

Residential PACE program expanded California residential solar market 12% by John Weaver, pv magazine

How location-based prices and utility rewards could help California’s electric grid by Larissa Koehler, Environmental Defense Fund

Distributed energy resources, from rooftop solar panels to smart well-weatherized homes and timed electric vehicle charging, are vital pieces of the clean energy puzzle. Coordinating how and where to encourage them in a way that benefits the electric grid, the environment, and Californians can be complicated. In its’ Integrated Distributed Energy Resource proceeding, the California Public Utilities Commission (Commission) recently asked stakeholders [PDF] to “consider how existing programs, incentives, and tariffs can be coordinated to maximize the locational benefits and minimize the costs of distributed energy resources.”

 

Colorado

Why Colorado should keep tax credits for electric vehicles by Denver Post Editorial Board

Startup helps Boulder electric car drivers find charging stations by Lucas High, Boulder Daily Camera

 

Connecticut

Statewide solar campaign leads to more solar arrays in Bethel, Brookfield by Julia Perkins, Danbury News Times

Westport Announces New Partnership With Windham Solar, LLC by Westport Patch

WorkinCT: Greenskies bringing solar energy to Connecticut schools by Amanda Raus, Fox 61

 

Idaho

Why local experts say solar power is becoming popular energy option by Rett Nelson, East Idaho News

 

Illinois

Land of Lincoln chases low‑income solar access by Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News

Lacon chooses solar firm for city farmland by Gary L. Smith, East Peoria Times Courier

Electric vehicles will transform the power grid. Will Illinois be ready? by Kevin Stark, Energy News Network

Illinois includes small utilities in final state renewable energy plan by Mark Burger, pv magazine

The state’s Commerce Commission has approved the Illinois Power Agency’s Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan, reversing earlier exclusion of small utility participation. The plan promises to build a gigawatt-scale solar market in Illinois.

Zoning meeting for proposed solar farms by Bailey Bryant, Illinois Homepage

 

Indiana

Solar advocates believe industry will overcome net metering phase-out by Roger Schneider, Greensburg Daily News

Nonprofit explains benefits of solar for home, business owners by Christopher Stephens, Herald Bulletin

 

Iowa

Power struggle: Iowa muni campaign heats up ahead of public vote by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

In a northeastern Iowa community, voters will weigh in on whether to replace its investor-owned electric company with a municipal utility. Voters in Decorah, Iowa, will decide May 1 whether they want the city to move ahead with a proposal to leave their current electricity provider and create a city-owned utility to take its place.

MetroLINK unveiling battery-electric buses by Jennifer DeWitt, Quad City Times

 

Kentucky

Kentucky Senate must block utilities’ move to corner the market on solar by Lexington Herald-Leader Editorial Board

Solar bill burns out on the last day of the Kentucky legislature by Morgan Watkins, Louisville Courier-Journal

A controversial proposal environmentalists feared would put the brakes on Kentucky’s solar power industry died in the Kentucky legislature Saturday when this year’s lawmaking session ended.

House Bill 227 evolved a lot over the past few months as utility companies and advocates for alternative energy sources clashed over its provisions.

 

Maine

St. George is latest town to go solar on municipal buildings by MaineBiz

 

Maryland

Maryland Senate passes bill to strip ‘green energy’ label from Baltimore trash incinerator by Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun

General Assembly keeps green-energy subsidy for incinerator, kills other environmental bills by Scott Dance, Baltimore Sun

Independents and Utilities at Odds Over Who Builds Microgrids in Maryland by Elisa Wood, Microgrid Knowledge

Maryland report shows distributed solar’s real power is people by John Weaver, pv magazine

An analysis submitted to Maryland regulators found that distributed solar’s economic benefits – mostly labor associated revenue – was worth six times the value of the electricity to the grid.

County looks at adding more electric buses to fleet by Ryan Marshall, Frederick News Post

 

Massachusetts

Clean and efficient: New program helps with energy upgrades by Ben Garver, The Berkshire Eagle

Pittsfield has become the first municipality in Western Massachusetts, and only the sixth in the state, to join a new program that provides the owners of commercial and industrial buildings with a new way to finance energy improvements.

The Massachusetts Property Assessed Clean Energy Program was created through energy legislation that Gov. Charlie Baker signed in August 2016. It allows property owners to finance improvements such as energy efficiency projects, renewable projects, and gas line extensions on multi-family (five units or more), commercial and industrial properties.

 

Minnesota

Minnesota Is the Latest Frontier in a Showdown Over Nuclear Costs by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

In the Land of 10,000 Lakes, Xcel would propose its expected costs for approval from the utility commission. The pre-approved ratepayer money would support three Xcel reactors through the expiration of their licenses in 2030, 2033 and 2034, respectively. According to the utility, the two plants where the reactors are located need about $1.42 billion to continue functioning through those years.

Bill Grant, deputy commissioner of energy and telecommunications for the state Commerce Department, said the bill essentially gives Xcel a “blank check.”

Community power scorecard docks Minnesota on clean energy policies by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s Community Power State Scorecard judges each state on how their policies “help or hinder” community access to clean energy. Minnesota tied with two other states for 14th place, while Illinois placed fourth and Ohio ranked seventh.

“I confess I was surprised about Illinois a little bit,” said John Farrell, who directs the institute’s Energy Democracy Initiative. “I always thought of Minnesota as more progressive and further ahead than Illinois.”

Minnesota’s monopoly utility model of energy distribution has put a “squeeze” on initiatives to increase choices for consumers, he said. Other states are opening the door to allow for more energy providers compete.

Going solar: Groups work together to build solar community in Bemidji by Matthew Liedke, Bemidji Pioneer

Twin Cities-based HourCar expanding, planning all-electric fleet by Martin Moylan, Minnesota Public Radio

St. Paul’s first community solar farm on track in Railroad Island development by Ted Vezner, Pioneer Press

MN GOP bill: Make utilities prioritize renewables when retiring fossil fuels by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

The “motivational bill” isn’t expected to pass, but its author hopes it will spur discussion about how Minnesota replaces retiring power plant capacity.

Utilities would be required to first consider renewable energy whenever replacing fossil fuel generation under legislation proposed by a prominent Republican Minnesota legislator.

Rochester Sen. Dave Senjem introduced the Clean Energy First Act to encourage utilities to “prioritize renewable energy” and energy efficiency in their integrated resource plans (IRPs).

Xcel rolling out pilot program for charging of electric vehicles at home by Mike Hughlett, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Municipalities should remove red tape to encourage solar by Virginia Rutter, MinnPost

 

Montana

Study to look at solar-powered charging sites for electric cars in Montana by Karl Puckett, Great Falls Tribune

 

New Hampshire

Renewable Energy Advocates To Unveil New Campaign In Portsmouth by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

NH Electric Cooperative offers cheaper charging for electric vehicles as long as they avoid peak hours by David Brooks, Concord Monitor

Electric vehicle owners in areas served by New Hampshire Electric Cooperative will be able to get cheap power for recharging their cars, as long as they do it at night or on weekends.

NHEC announced Friday that it would become the state’s first utility to offer time-of-day pricing, although only for charging electric cars during off-peak hours.

The idea is to reduce the burden that electric vehicles place on the power grid, without discouraging them as a new source of business.

 

New Jersey

NJ to join clean car initiative, as EPA eases fuel-economy standards by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

N.J. Bill Would Bring State To ‘Front Of The Pack’ On Clean Energy by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry Magazine

Another push to get more clean cars on New Jersey’s roads by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

New Jersey considering offering rebates to boost electric car sales by Phil Gregory, WHYY

Clean Vehicles Face Long, Bumpy Road to Acceptance in New Jersey by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

 

New Mexico

Report: Solar innovation could mean jobs for New Mexico by Susan Montoya, Virginian-Pilot Online

 

New York

Electric charging station proposed for Kinderhook by John J. Michael, Hudson Valley 360

Bringing Solar Power to Affordable Housing in Brooklyn by Emily Nonko, Next City

Fifth Avenue Committee, a nonprofit providing affordable housing in Brooklyn since 1978, has enlisted Brooklyn SolarWorks and Gowanus Grid & Electric, LLC to introduce a model for bringing solar power to New York’s privately-owned low- and moderate-income housing stock. The group was inspired by the community solar model, in which open spaces and industrial rooftops are utilized to develop large community solar projects to which anyone can “subscribe”, reducing their electricity bills. In one common setup, subscribers receive a credit on their electric bills for a share of the energy produced by a shared solar installation and sent back into the grid.

Despite the promise of the model, there have been major barriers in bringing solar to New York City, especially to benefit multi-family housing, says Noah Ginsburg, director of Here Comes Solar, a program that looks to spur the adoption of solar within New York’s underserved markets.

Yates County opposes waste-to-energy plant plan by Gwen Chamberlain, Wellsville Daily Reporter

 

North Carolina

Court sees if church solar panels break electricity monopoly by Emery P. Dalesio, ABC News

North Carolina’s highest court is taking up a case that could force new competition on the state’s electricity monopolies.

The state Supreme Court on Tuesday will consider the Utilities Commission’s decision to fine clean-energy advocacy group NC WARN for putting solar panels on a Greensboro church’s rooftop and then charging it below-market rates for power.

The commission told NC WARN that it was producing electricity illegally and fined the group $60,000. The group said it was acting privately and appealed to the high court.

If the group prevails, it could put new pressure on Duke Energy’s monopoly. State regulators say a ruling for NC WARN would allow companies to install solar equipment and sell power on site, shaving away customers and forcing Duke Energy to raise rates on everyone else.

In North Carolina, charging stations are a priority for VW settlement funds by Elizabeth Outzs, Energy News Network

 

Pennsylvania

Pennsylvania continues to push, look at long-term effects of electric vehicles by Dan Miller, Middletown Press and Journal

Bucks, Montgomery mayors sign on to solar power pledge by Kyle Bagenstone, The Intelligencer

 

Rhode Island

Solar energy company makes offer to Exeter by Alex Trubia, NK Standard-Times

 

South Carolina

Solar Energy Supporters Rally at the State House by Michael Fuller, WLTX

Santee Cooper secretly griped for years about SCANA’s ‘ineptitude’ in failed S.C. nuclear project by Andrew Brown and Thad Moore, Charleston Post and Courier

In victory for solar industry, South Carolina House votes to keep lower costs for rooftop panels by Jamie Lovegrove, Charleston Post and Courier

South Carolina House kills pro-solar bill after last-minute rule change by Jamie Lovegrove, Charleston Post and Courier

Solar energy bill killed in legislative surprise by Heather Olinger, Counton 2

The South Carolina House has taken a surprise step and killed a solar energy bill that passed a key vote last week.

The bill removing a cap on the amount of solar energy in the state failed to pass Tuesday after opponents had it ruled a property tax increase.

The proposal received a majority vote last week with both Democratic and Republican support, but tax increases require two-thirds approval to pass. Tuesday’s 61-44 House vote fell nine votes short.

Utilities win in South Carolina solar vote by John Weaver, pv magazine

South Carolina Solar Bill Killed Due To Voting Technicality by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry Magazine

Secession Or Not, Big Win For Rooftop Solar In South Carolina by Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

 

Texas

There’s a Reason San Antonio Ranks Ahead of Other Texas Cities on Solar by Sanford Nowlin, San Antonio Current

 

Vermont

Vt. Officials OK Wilder Well Site for Solar Array by Matt Hongoltz-Hetling, Valley News

Rutland Town satisfied with Thomas Dairy solar project by Susan Smallheer, Rutland Herald

Tesla and GMP are installing up to 2,000 Powerwalls in Vermont, only ~10% installed by Fred Lambert, Electrek

 

Virginia

Regulators Raise Constitutional Questions About New Law by Associated Press

Solar systems worthwhile for homeowners by John Haydock, Charlottesville Daily Progress

 

Washington D.C.

DC Council bill would establish US’s first independent DER authority by Gavin Bade, Utility Dive

In addition to creating the nation’s first independent DER Authority, the new Council bill would task that body with delivering yearly DER planning reports to the District of Columbia Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the city.

That plan would push Pepco to conduct hosting capacity analyses, streamline interconnection procedures and develop more detailed DER valuation techniques, including the consideration of distributed resources as alternative for traditional infrastructure investments.

 

Wisconsin

Eau Claire Has a Plan to Fight Climate Change, Unlike Governor by Sandra Larson, Next City

By a unanimous vote at the end of March, Eau Claire City Council passed a resolution formalizing those two primary goals, setting a timeline to achieve a net-zero carbon footprint by 2050 at both municipal and citywide levels; and to achieve 100 percent renewable energy for both the municipal government and citywide by 2050.

Ironically, Walker may have helped spark the plan into existence. Eau Claire formed a temporary committee in 2013 to explore curbing or banning plastic bag use in the city. After a long period of convening with multiple stakeholders and nearly creating a plan to do so, the city gave up on the effort when the state specifically banned such efforts.

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Electric Cars Could Save Ride-Sharing Drivers $5,200 a Year by Richard Li & Garrett Fitzgerald, Greentech Media

As Demand For Electricity Falls, Utilities Look To Electric Cars To Save Them by Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica

The Spectrum of Resiliency – What Role Does Energy Storage Play in a Microgrid? By Benjamin Lavoie, Microgrid Knowledge

The Evolution Of U.S. Electric Vehicle Charging Points [Infographic] by Niall McCarthy, Forbes

An optimistic Jigar Shah talks tariffs, taxes and state leaders in clean energy by Lucy Kessler, GreenBiz

The US is winning the climate fight in electricity — and losing it just about everywhere else by David Roberts, Vox

The Microgrid Way: Going Green with Solar & Supercapacitor-based Energy Storage by Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge

How to infuse distributed generation with institutional capital by Thomas Byrne, GreenBiz

MISO states push for authority over DER in electricity markets at FERC meeting by Gavin Bade, Utility Dive

FERC called the aggregated DER technical conference in February when it approved a separate order regarding how energy storage facilities.

That order allowed large-scale storage in each regional electricity market to provide multiple services, but regulators could not settle on similar rules for aggregations of DERs like rooftop solar and vehicle chargers, pushing them to call the conference.

Solar panels have gotten thinner than a human hair. Soon they’ll be everywhere. By David Roberts, Vox

Solar and wind plus storage to increasingly replace gas plants by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

Utilities, Grid Operators Tell FERC They Need Real-Time Data to Better Manage DERs by Lacey Johnson, Greentech Media

Residential storage faces sunny prospects this year by Peter Maloney, 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.