Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of April 2, 2018

Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of April 2, 2018

Date: 4 Apr 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Big movements in state legislatures across the U.S. about new renewable energy technologies (electric vehicle charging infrastructure in Maryland & battery storage in Colorado); a Hawaiian university is moving to become the first 100% renewable campus; movement on an electric utility nuclear power plant bill in Minnesota that is slated to benefit utility shareholders; and an Indiana utility’s legislator friends are giving them a hand.

Featured Stories:

In Michigan, a conservative clean energy playbook emerges by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Renewable energy is getting cheaper and more popular, even among Republican voters, and that makes now a better time than ever for conservative candidates to support clean energy policies.

That was the message at this week’s annual Michigan Conservative Energy Forum conference in Lansing, where Republicans rallied around renewable energy and free-market principles. The group formed in 2013 and has since spawned a 20-state coalition seeking a seat at the clean-energy table long dominated by liberal and environmental groups.

Solar Surprise: Small-Scale Solar A Better Deal Than Big by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Indiana lawmaker with history of receiving gifts from utilities, sponsoring utility-friendly legislation, now to join commission that regulates them by Matt Kasper, pv magazine

Xcel nuclear cost recovery bill advances in Minnesota despite governor opposing by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Andrew Mathews (R), who says the measure would simply allow Xcel to know earlier if it can recover expenses for upgrades required at its three nuclear units. The original bill was modified, following concerns raised by Xcel’s large customers, renewables advocates and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, to bolster input from the commission.

John Farrell, an initiative director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said the bill was “galling” in light of past cost overruns. “After public regulators held their shareholders accountable for the mismanagement at Monticello, Xcel Energy wrote this bill to make sure shareholders win no matter the cost to Minnesotans,” he said in a statement.

According to the group, the legislation would essentially be “a blank check for power plant retrofit costs and guarantees profits for shareholders.”

Colorado among first states to give consumers the right to store energy from alternative sources by Aldo Svaldi, Denver Post

Utilities in some states have tried to block battery systems, which can present safety concerns but which also reduce their control over the grid. A few years back, Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, proposed different rates for customers with battery systems, which the solar industry opposed, Cantwell said.

On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 9 into law, making Colorado one of the first states in the country in which utility customers have a right to store energy.

ILSR Video Parody Lampoons Xcel Energy’s Ask For “Blank Check” In Minnesota Legislature by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Maryland’s utilities propose spending $104 million on statewide electric-vehicle charging network by Colin Campbell, Baltimore Sun

This College Wants To Be The First 100% Renewable Campus In The U.S. by Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company

In 2015, the state of Hawaii committed to converting 100% of its energy supply to renewables by 2045. It’s a steep undertaking, and one that will involve utilities coordinating resources across a network of grids that span the island. And at the same time, the Hawaii Legislature and the University of Hawaii system established a joint goal: The entire university network, which comprises 10 campuses across the islands, will be “net zero” by 2035, meaning that the system would generate as much renewable energy as it consumes.

And now by 2019, UH’s Maui College will be among the first campuses in the nation to generate 100% of its energy from an on-site solar installation, coupled with battery storage.

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona:

Solar customers don’t have to pay some taxes, state Supreme Court rules by Ryan Randazzo, Arizona Republic

Proposed Law Could Let Arizona Utilities Easily Skirt Renewable Energy Requirements by Will Stone, KJZZ

New law aims to cripple initiative pushing for higher renewable energy standards by Patrick O’Grady, Phoenix Business Journals

Arizona Senate panel OKs competing clean energy measure by Associated Press, Belleville News-Democrat

 

Arkansas:

With Solar Power Ruling Near, Law’s Sponsor Backs Utilities by Kyle Massey, Arkansas Business

 

California:

Bill would bar GHG-emitting resources for Diablo Canyon replacement by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

 

Colorado:

In coal country, net zero energy nears cost parity by David Labrador, James Mandel and Coreina Chan, GreenBiz

What’s quelling the anxiety of electric-car drivers? By Jessica Kutz, High Country News

Colorado among first states to give consumers the right to store energy from alternative sources by Aldo Svaldi, Denver Post

Utilities in some states have tried to block battery systems, which can present safety concerns but which also reduce their control over the grid. A few years back, Xcel Energy, Colorado’s largest utility, proposed different rates for customers with battery systems, which the solar industry opposed, Cantwell said.

On Thursday, Gov. John Hickenlooper signed Senate Bill 9 into law, making Colorado one of the first states in the country in which utility customers have a right to store energy.

Future electric cars could recharge wirelessly while you drive by Trent Knoss, Colorado University – Boulder Blog

 

Connecticut:

Malloy pushes climate change initiatives by Bill Cummings, Connecticut Post

Canton Officials Consider Solar Panels For Two Schools by Ken Byron, Hartford Courant

Connecticut legislature poised to act as community solar collides with net metering by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

 

Hawaii:

This College Wants To Be The First 100% Renewable Campus In The U.S. by Eillie Anzilotti, Fast Company

In 2015, the state of Hawaii committed to converting 100% of its energy supply to renewables by 2045. It’s a steep undertaking, and one that will involve utilities coordinating resources across a network of grids that span the island. And at the same time, the Hawaii Legislature and the University of Hawaii system established a joint goal: The entire university network, which comprises 10 campuses across the islands, will be “net zero” by 2035, meaning that the system would generate as much renewable energy as it consumes.

And now by 2019, UH’s Maui College will be among the first campuses in the nation to generate 100% of its energy from an on-site solar installation, coupled with battery storage.

Hawaii Campus Can Go 100% Renewable Thanks to Solar Microgrid by Lisa Cohn, Microgrid Knowledge

Third time’s a charm: Energy storage tax credit bill making its way through Hawaii Legislature by HJ Mai, Pacific Business Journal

 

Illinois:

Illinois is about to release its plan to kick-start new renewables. Here’s what you need to know. By Christie Hicks, Environmental Defense Fund

The Future Energy Jobs Act, which catapulted Illinois to the forefront of the clean energy movement, includes an ambitious directive for electric utilities to get 25 percent of their power from renewable resources by 2025. To achieve that, the Illinois Power Agency has been developing a Long-Term Renewable Resources Procurement Plan (the Plan) based on workshops and input from stakeholders, including Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

The Agency filed the Plan in December 2017 for the Illinois Commerce Commission’s approval.  Following several more rounds of comments, it is now up to the Commission to make its final modifications to the Plan before approving it on April 3.

The dawn of a new era: Lee County moves forward with first solar farm by Rachel Rodgers, Sauk Valley News

 

Indiana:

Indiana lawmaker with history of receiving gifts from utilities, sponsoring utility-friendly legislation, now to join commission that regulates them by Matt Kasper, pv magazine

 

Iowa:

Iowa senators try new tack on energy overhaul by Rod Boshart, Cedar Rapids Gazette

Localism expert to talk on municipal utility Monday by The Decorah Newspapers

Alliant Energy seeks to quell a municipal uprising in Iowa by Bill Yingling, Daily Energy Insider

 

Kentucky:

A proposal to curb solar power in Kentucky is unfair and confusing, former top regulator says by James Bruggers, Lexington Courier-Journal

Add the former head of Kentucky’s Public Service Commission to those opposing a bill that would dramatically alter the relationship between people with rooftop solar power and their electric utilities.

Lexington attorney James Gardner told a key lawmaker in an email that House Bill 227 was confusing and would prevent the commission from considering any benefits of solar power in deciding how much credit rooftop solar customers would get for any extra electricity they generate.

Critics argue that the bill would devalue solar power so much that it threatens the existence of the fledgling industry in Kentucky. Utilities who want the bill passed say they’re just trying to recover their fixed costs and be fair to the vast majority of their customers who don’t have solar panels and so-called “net metering.”

Solar power energizing economy in Ky. coalfields by Peter Hille, Lexington Herald-Leader

Kentucky’s Divisive Net Metering Bill Nearing Final Passage by Ryan Van Velzer, WFPL

 

Maine:

Public meetings to be held on community solar power by Norway Sun Journal

Bill to Create Small ‘Microgrid’ Power Sources Moves Forward by Associated Press, US News & World Report

 

Maryland:

Baltimore Utility Deploys Heavy-Duty Electric Shuttle Buses by Betsy Lillian, Next Gen Transportation News

Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE), a subsidiary of Exelon Corp. and Maryland’s largest natural gas and electric utility, will deploy two new 40-foot Proterra Catalyst E2 battery-electric buses to shuttle employees between BGE’s headquarters in downtown Baltimore and its Spring Gardens campus in south Baltimore.

Maryland’s utilities propose spending $104 million on statewide electric-vehicle charging network by Colin Campbell, Baltimore Sun

 

Massachusetts:

Report: Massachusetts solar capacity increased 30 percent in 2017, but challenges loom by Mary C. Serreze, MassLive

100 percent renewables by 2050 in Massachusetts? Pittsfield activists think it’s possible by Sarah Heinoman, Valley Advocate

DEP reviewing solar application for Somerset landfill by George Austin, South Coast Today

Senate closes solar tax law loophole, bill now heads to House by Curt Brown, South Coast Today

Why Massachusetts is the best state for landfill solar arrays by Elizabeth McGowan, Energy News Network

 

Michigan:

In Michigan, a conservative clean energy playbook emerges by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Renewable energy is getting cheaper and more popular, even among Republican voters, and that makes now a better time than ever for conservative candidates to support clean energy policies.

That was the message at this week’s annual Michigan Conservative Energy Forum conference in Lansing, where Republicans rallied around renewable energy and free-market principles. The group formed in 2013 and has since spawned a 20-state coalition seeking a seat at the clean-energy table long dominated by liberal and environmental groups.

Opposition arises to Michigan plans to kill net metering by Mark Burger, pv magazine

Will Michigan’s Public Service Commission Stand Strong and Reject DTE’s Billion-dollar Natural Gas Gamble? By Sam Gomberg, Unions of Concerned Scientists

 

Minnesota:

Xcel nuclear bill critic says upgrades would hurt region’s wind prospects by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

U.S. solar growth dimmed a bit in 2017, but Minnesota’s picture stayed brighter by Ron Meador, MinnPost

Minnesota, however, stood out as a major exception, with strong growth continuing thanks to its community-based, subscriber-funded “solar garden” program.

A year-in-review analysis of 2017 by the Solar Energy Industries Association, published last week, found that 10.6 gigawatts of new sun-powered electricity came online. That marked a second consecutive year of double-digit growth, and was generally in line with the decade’s overall trend. Of all new electric generating capacity added last year, 30 percent was solar-powered – more than any source except natural gas.

Bill passed in Senate committee would alter process to OK Xcel’s nuclear energy costs by Mike Hughlett, Minneapolis Star Tribune

Xcel nuclear cost recovery bill advances in Minnesota despite governor opposing by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Andrew Mathews (R), who says the measure would simply allow Xcel to know earlier if it can recover expenses for upgrades required at its three nuclear units. The original bill was modified, following concerns raised by Xcel’s large customers, renewables advocates and the Minnesota Chamber of Commerce, to bolster input from the commission.

John Farrell, an initiative director at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, said the bill was “galling” in light of past cost overruns. “After public regulators held their shareholders accountable for the mismanagement at Monticello, Xcel Energy wrote this bill to make sure shareholders win no matter the cost to Minnesotans,” he said in a statement.

According to the group, the legislation would essentially be “a blank check for power plant retrofit costs and guarantees profits for shareholders.”

Solar jobs in Minnesota jumped 113 percent over two years by Matt Mikus and Cody Nelson, Business North

 

New Hampshire:

New Hampshire Senate votes to expand net metering eligibility by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Clean Tech Corner: When clean technology meets policy by Tom Burack, New Hampshire Business Review

Northern Pass or another path? By Dan Weeks, New Hampshire Business Review

 

New York:

Electric car charging station ready to roll by Carly Miller, Hudson Valley 360

The village board has passed a resolution to pursue the installation of an electric car charging station in the village — in time for summer tourists who flock to the mountain.

“I don’t want any deterrence for someone coming here with an electric car,” Mayor Lee McGunnigle said. “It’s something we support.”

“I think it’s a good idea,” lifelong village resident Shane Valcich said. “It would get people to visit Tannersville. I think about this all the time — how do you get people up the mountain road to spend money here.”

Learn How Community Choice Aggregation Can Benefit Your Hometown by Kathy Welsh, Hudson Valley News Network

Empowering Utilities to Lead on Energy Efficiency with REV by Sneha Ayyagari and Miles Farmer, National Resource Defense Council

 

Ohio:

Hamilton’s energy is getting greener, and residents can benefit in solar power by Mike Rutledge, Hamilton Journal-News

Butler County’s largest city, already known for its green energy — with ownership of three hydroelectric generators on two rivers — now can become a bit greener with its electricity.

City Council recently approved new regulations that will allow residents to use solar-energy panels and sell excess energy to the municipally owned electric utility. Hamilton utility staff also is working to make the same opportunity available for businesses.

Disabilities board hears of plans for solar farm near school by Marie Thomas Baird, Sentinel-Tribune

Fairview Park receives $70,000 NOPEC grant targeting energy efficiency by John Benson, Cleveland Plain Dealer

 

Oregon:

Electric Car Industry And Advocates Say It’s Time For Cities To Rev Up EV Infrastructure by Brian Bull, Jefferson Public Radio

 

Puerto Rico:

Puerto Rico disaster opens the door to distributed energy by Ben Paulos, Energy Transition blog

Localized energy systems are more resilient than a traditional grid, and offer solutions to power outages around the world. Ben Paulos takes a look at microgrids, minigrids, and how Puerto Rico could get to 100% renewable energy.

This Brooklyn architect wants to rewire Puerto Rico with solar by Adam Rogers, Wired

 

Rhode Island:

Bill Adds Wood to R.I.’s Renewable-Energy Portfolio by Tim Faulkner, EcoRI News

 

South Carolina:

Battle brewing over South Carolina’s booming solar industry by Thad Moore and Andrew Brown, Charleston Post and Courier

SC House bill would strength utilities’ stranglehold over consumers by The State Editorial Board

Let rooftop solar continue to shine in S.C. by Charleston Post and Courier Editorial Board

 

Utah:

Utah governor signs pair of solar bills by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

 

Vermont:

Town of Hartford completes two solar projects by Vermont Biz

Stowe breweries take a sip of sun by Caleigh Cross, Stowe Reporter

 

Virginia:

What the Fate of One Solar Bill Reveals About Politics in Virginia by Ivy Main, The Energy Collective

 

Wisconsin:

Sauk County program will allow participants to buy solar in bulk by Tim Damos, Baraboo News Republic

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Greens’ poll shows support for renewable energy transition in swing states by Timothy Cama, The Hill

Most voters in a handful of swing states support transitioning to 100 percent renewable energy for their electricity needs, an environmental group found.

The Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll, conducted on behalf of the Sierra Club in Virginia, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Michigan and Colorado, shows that most respondents in each state would back a state policy mandating 100 percent renewable electricity from sources like wind and solar power.

The support for the measures also grew in almost all of the states since similar polling last year.

Solar power’s greatest challenge was discovered 10 years ago. It looks like a duck. By David Roberts, Vox

Luckily, solutions to the duck curve abound — all kinds of options for making the grid more flexible and softening the peaks and ramps. In part thanks to early warnings from energy modelers, utilities and grid operators are beginning to awaken to the issue and take steps to address it.

To mark the duck curve’s 10th birthday, I called Paul Denholm, the researcher who led that original group at NREL. He’s been at the lab since 2004, studying electricity systems and solar integration, and has a great deal to say about how best to handle the duck — some of it counterintuitive. (For instance, he’s okay wasting a little solar power here and there.)

The conversation, which I’ve edited for length and clarity, gets pretty energy-nerdy. But if you like puzzles, you’ll like this one.

To Move Paris Accord Forward, Bring Cities and Companies On Board by Daniel C. Esty and Peter Boyd, Yale360

Where Electric Vehicles Reign Supreme by Alan Neuhauser, US News & World Report

Your Electric Vehicle Is Getting Cleaner by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

A full 75 percent of U.S. drivers now live in areas where it’s cleaner to drive an EV than a traditional car that gets 50 miles per gallon.

Time is not on their side: Utilities ill-prepared for EV demand, SEPA finds by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Trump wanted to slash funding for clean energy. Congress ignored him. by Umair Irfan, Vox

180 US mayors call for use of solar energy in updated letter by Kristin Musulin, Smart Cities Dive

Trump’s crude bailout of dirty power plants failed, but a subtler bailout is underway by David Roberts, Vox

Is Offshore Wind a Better Deal With Batteries? By Jason Deign, Greentech Media

Crowdfunding campaigns give nonprofits access to solar power by Kari Lydersen, Energy News Network

Now, however, Mission of Mary is on its way to going solar thanks to RE-volv, a national nonprofit organization that is enlisting “solar ambassadors” at colleges to raise money to put solar on nonprofits, and creating a revolving seed fund to buy solar for more nonprofits in the future.

“We were interested in solar from the get-go, then we realized with the help of the students at the University of Dayton we could get to total net-zero energy usage, if we did geothermal and an 11.5-kw solar system,” farm director Stephen Mackell said.

On Monday, the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation announced it would match RE-volv fundraising dollar for dollar for five projects, including Mission of Mary and a Madison, Wisconsin, organization called Project Home that does energy efficiency retrofits on lower-income homes.

Soaring Pipeline Profits May Be Driving DTE Energy’s Proposed New Gas Plant; Creates Conflict of Interest by Matt Kasper, Energy & Policy Institute

The President’s Own Party Still Doesn’t Back His Attempts to Dismantle Clean Energy by Emma Foehringer Merchant, Greentech Media

Under Trump’s proposed 2018 budget, the Department of Energy would have seen funding cut by 6 percent, along with programs such as the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) and the Advanced Technology Vehicle Manufacturing Loan Program being eliminated altogether. Instead, the bill passed last week increased the DOE budget over 2017, to $34.5 billion. Many programs, including ARPA-E, received more funding than in the previous year.

The final text serves as a rebuke from legislators of the administration’s energy agenda and an endorsement of clean energy programs that have bipartisan support. It may serve as a signal to the industry that the administration’s repeated attempts to cut down energy advancement won’t be tolerated.

Are utilities co-opting community solar? Critics question term’s use by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

The future of solar energy by Varun Sivaram, The Economist

Electric Vehicles Are Now The Equivalent Of Driving An 80 MPG Car by Ben Schiller, Fast Company

There are lots of reasons to buy an electric vehicle these days, starting with their cost. A recent analysis found that running an EV is, on average, 2.3 times cheaper than operating a traditional gas vehicle. There’s always been some concern that, despite the environmental cred not pumping gas gives, EV buyers weren’t doing as much for the environment as they thought: if the electricity powering your car comes from coal, you’re still polluting, just from a power plant, not your tailpipe.

But EVs continue to get more efficient and the electricity they use is becoming cleaner. Because the U.S. grid is switching away from coal-fired power to natural gas and renewables, the footprint of the electricity grid, and therefore your EV, is getting smaller all the time.

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.