Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of April 30, 2018

Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of April 30, 2018

Date: 1 May 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Local, grassroots groups are speaking up for low-income access to the benefits of small-scale renewables in New York and Ohio; Lancaster has the highest amount of solar energy per capita in sunny California; electrification of buses can truly be a game changer for savings cities money and making them environmentally cleaner; and Minneapolis commits to 100 percent renewable energy.

 

Featured Stories:

Don’t leave low-income New Yorkers out of energy efficiency by Pamela Rivera, Energy News Network

The governor has an opportunity to roll out an ambitious proposal to meet the state’s clean energy and climate goals. New Yorkers most in need, and the multi-family rental housing where they live, must be a critical focus for the initiative to be successful.

Recent news reports about the New York City Housing Authority provided examples of issues found in low-income rental housing throughout the state, such as inadequate heat, mold and other problems that impact residents’ health and safety. Energy efficiency upgrades would improve indoor air quality, reducing asthma and other respiratory illnesses that increase healthcare costs and result in work and school absences.

Addressing the energy waste in these buildings would also produce benefits for all New Yorkers, because smarter energy use reduces the burning of fossil fuels, cutting air pollution, and helps our electric grid meet high demand on those hot summer days.

Leaked Draft Bill Confirms Xcel Energy’s Priority For Profits Over Community Solar by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

In Ohio town, energy ‘locavores’ drive demand for community solar by Bentham Paulos, Energy News Network

Every Saturday, thousands of shoppers visit the farmers’ market in Athens, Ohio. In business since 1972, it was at one point the largest farmers’ market in the state, with 105 vendors selling produce, baked goods, and more.

Sarah Conley-Ballew, executive director of Upgrade Ohio, an energy advocacy group in Athens, came to energy from a background promoting local and sustainable food, including two years managing the market.

She finds many similarities between sustainable food and sustainable energy.

“People want to eat local, they want to know where their food comes from and support the local community,” she said. “It’s similar with renewable energy. For those that are local food minded it’s not a stretch to see how they can support local renewable energy.”

A Republican mayor transformed his city into a solar powerhouse by Diana Madsen, Yale Climate Connections

Electric buses are coming, and they’re going to help fix 4 big urban problems by David Roberts, Vox

At the top of the list: buses! City transit buses are ideal candidates for electrification.

For one thing, the world is rapidly urbanizing and particulate pollution — especially from diesel, the fuel of choice for older buses — is increasingly seen as a health crisis. Old buses drive around the city all day, at low speeds, spewing diesel smoke directly into urbanites’ faces, leading to countless illnesses and early deaths. (Diesel smoke is a big contributor to the 6.5 million deaths a year caused by air pollution.)

Electrification would mean that buses emit virtually no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. (The power plants where their electricity is generated might still generate those pollutants, but even if it is powered by coal plants, an electric bus averages far less pollution per-mile than a diesel bus.) Urban air quality would notably and immediately improve.

Video: Rochester Seeks 100% Renewable — Local Power for the Local Economy by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Minneapolis shoots for 100 percent renewable energy in five years by Susan Du, City Pages

Minneapolis currently gets about 18 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Far from satisfied, officials believe the city could step that up to 100 percent in just five years—while drastically reducing demand at the same time.

Presentation: Iowa Town Looks to City-Owned Utility by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

New State Energy Policy Aims to Lower Rates, Let Nuclear & Gas Compete With Renewables by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

In the new 10-year strategy, state officials pledge to make New Hampshire’s energy rates – the third-highest in the Lower 48 states – cheaper for residential and commercial ratepayers.

They say they’ll get there by prioritizing energy efficiency, which they call “the cheapest and cleanest energy resource,” and by creating a more predictable process for building new energy projects, whether traditional or renewable.

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona

Regulators could decide Tucson Electric Power solar case this week by David Wichner, Tucson Daily Star

 

California

Glendale Shelves $500 Million Gas Plant to Examine Clean Alternatives by Julian Spector, Greentech Media

The city council of Glendale, California last week voted to study clean energy options rather than approve a gas plant that has been years in the making.

The city-controlled utility had proposed a rebuild of the existing Grayson plant. The council could have upheld the $500 million gas plant Tuesday, but in the wee hours of Wednesday morning, members voted four-to-one to examine other options.

Economic shifts in the energy industry and strong public input changed the context of the decision.

This appears to be the first time a municipal utility declined to approve a gas plant in favor of distributed energy resources. By doing so, Glendale joins a trend of grid planners halting new gas plants in favor of cleaner distributed tools to fulfill the same grid needs.

A Republican mayor transformed his city into a solar powerhouse by Diana Madsen, Yale Climate Connections

 

Colorado

The world is watching: Boulder’s municipalization by Mara de Pater, Boulder Daily Camera

 

Connecticut

Rally to save Connecticut solar jobs by SunRun, pv magazine

 

Hawai’i

Hawaii launches performance-based rate proceeding to drive renewables by Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

KIUC, Hawaiian Electric among nation’s energy storage leaders by HJ Mai, Pacific Business News

Hawaii upends utility model, adds incentives for solar by Anne C. Mulkern, E&E News

 

Illinois

Ahead of schedule, Illinois begins value of distributed generation study by Kevin Stark, Energy News Network

Will County seeks greener energy sources, agrees to increase renewable energy to 50 percent by Susan DeMar Lafferty, Chicago Tribune

In an effort to be more green, Will County officials agreed to increase the amount of renewable energy they purchase from the state-mandated 12.5 percent to 50 percent.

During its recent board meeting, members voted 17 to 8 to approve a three-year contract with Constellation Energy to provide electricity for $1.5 million, with 50 percent of that coming from renewable sources.

Some board members wanted to use 100 percent renewable energy, while others wanted less than 50 percent.

Solarize Metro East builds on past successes with more solar energy by Alton Telegram

Farms finding advantages in going solar by Kathleen Clark, Journal Courier

 

Iowa

Power struggle: Iowa town takes on utility giant for right to go greener by Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register

Heat of sun brings cool results for Cedar Rapids engineering firm by Matt Kelley, Radio Iowa

New program will help reduce the cost of solar power for Johnson County homeowners by Paul Brennan, Little Village Magazine

 

Kentucky

Kentucky anti-solar legislation killed by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

Another Kentucky Utility Adds Solar To Its Mix by Ryan Van Velzer, WFPL

 

Maine

Smith Will Partner on New Solar Facility by Grecourt Gate – Smith College

Freeport is considering a municipal solar energy project by Jocelyn Van Saun, Portland Press Herald

The town of Freeport may collaborate on a solar energy project with Regional School Unit 5 and the Freeport Sewer District.

Town Manager Peter Joseph told councilors last week that he and Town Planner Donna Larson recently met with representatives from the school and sewer districts to examine the possibility of installing solar arrays to offset energy costs. Joseph said all three parties are interested in exploring how they could work together.

In a memo sent to the council, Joseph said a more wide-ranging project might generate more interest from bidders, installers and investors, which would “hopefully result in lower installation costs and/or lower energy purchase rates.”

 

Maryland

Agritourism commission releases conceptual recommendations for solar panels by Chase Cook, Capital Gazette

 

Massachusetts

Waltham City Council hears energy plan to help save residents money by Melissa Russell, Wicked Local Waltham

Origis Energy completes first community solar+storage installation in Massachusetts by Kelsey Misbrener, Solar Power World Online

Massachusetts Is Staring Down a Duck Curve of Its Own. Storage Could Help by Julian Spector, Greentech Media

2 buildings in Orange targeted for energy efficiency upgrades by Carson McGrath, Greenfield Recorder

Bates nearing its carbon-neutral goal by Steve Collins, Sun Journal

 

Michigan

Michigan nixes net metering by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Michigan solar owners hit with ‘unfair rates’ under ruling, reps say by Emily Lawyer, MLive

Mott Community College, Cypress Creek Renewables team up on new solar degree by Tracy Samilton, Michigan Radio

Net Metering Decision Raises Hackles of Solar Supporters by Jason Hayes, Mackinac Center for Public Policy

Utility-backed program to replace net metering faces opposition by Andy Balaskovitz, MiBiz

 

Minnesota

Video: Here’s how Minnesota is doing with renewable energy by Elizabeth Dunbar and Cody Nelson, MPR News

A sign of the future in Morris: Cows + solar panels + fast electric car charger by Elizabeth Dunbar, MPR News

Minnesota grid would benefit from a diversified energy portfolio by Mike Franklin and Adrian Moore, MinnPost

Minneapolis shoots for 100 percent renewable energy in five years by Susan Du, City Pages

Minneapolis currently gets about 18 percent of its electricity from renewable sources. Far from satisfied, officials believe the city could step that up to 100 percent in just five years—while drastically reducing demand at the same time.

 

Missouri

Missouri utility looks to energy storage to extend life of substation by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

 

Nebraska

Nebraska clean energy activists seek path around legislature by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Clean energy proponents in Nebraska, stymied by state government, are going directly to the state’s largest utilities in an attempt to make change.

A coalition of organizations has begun lobbying the state’s major utilities — which are all publicly owned — to adopt a clean energy plan that it unveiled earlier this year.

Meanwhile, several candidates who support clean energy are running for four seats on the board of directors of the Omaha Public Power District.

Clarkson Park becomes Omaha’s first to install solar panels by Nancy Gaarder, Omaha World-Herald

 

New Hampshire

Another View: A new energy strategy for New Hampshire by Governor Chris Sununu, New Hampshire Union Leader

Letter: State, utilities need to take energy strategy seriously by Terry Cronin, Concord Monitor

New State Energy Policy Aims to Lower Rates, Let Nuclear & Gas Compete With Renewables by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

In the new 10-year strategy, state officials pledge to make New Hampshire’s energy rates – the third-highest in the Lower 48 states – cheaper for residential and commercial ratepayers.

They say they’ll get there by prioritizing energy efficiency, which they call “the cheapest and cleanest energy resource,” and by creating a more predictable process for building new energy projects, whether traditional or renewable.

Sen. Hassan Touts Net Metering Study At Nashua Hydropower Plant by Annie Ropeik, New Hampshire Public Radio

Bill to increase system sizes for net metering advances in New Hampshire by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

Concord Quakers to share extra electricity generated by solar array by David Brooks, Concord Monitor

 

New Jersey

Good News, Bad News For Renewable Energy In New Jersey by Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica

New Jersey, like several other states and many individual cities, is determined to do its part to meet America’s commitments to the Paris climate change accords, despite headwinds from the Trump administration. “If you look at the United States commitments under Paris, these percentages would more than uphold New Jersey’s share of the burden,” Robert C. Orr, the primary science adviser to the UN secretary general, tells the New York Times. Orr is now the dean of the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland.

 

New York

Don’t leave low-income New Yorkers out of energy efficiency by Pamela Rivera, Energy News Network

The governor has an opportunity to roll out an ambitious proposal to meet the state’s clean energy and climate goals. New Yorkers most in need, and the multi-family rental housing where they live, must be a critical focus for the initiative to be successful.

Recent news reports about the New York City Housing Authority provided examples of issues found in low-income rental housing throughout the state, such as inadequate heat, mold and other problems that impact residents’ health and safety. Energy efficiency upgrades would improve indoor air quality, reducing asthma and other respiratory illnesses that increase healthcare costs and result in work and school absences.

Addressing the energy waste in these buildings would also produce benefits for all New Yorkers, because smarter energy use reduces the burning of fossil fuels, cutting air pollution, and helps our electric grid meet high demand on those hot summer days.

Brooklyn solar company sees canopies as way for city to go green by Patrick Sisson, Curbed

New York advances REV, moves to bring more energy storage online by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Cynthia Nixon makes 2050 renewable energy vow by Robert Fredericks, New York Post

Troy adds first electric vehicle charging station by Madison Iszler, Albany Times Union

Troy installed its first electric vehicle charging station this week.

The station is located in the 5th Avenue Parking Garage in downtown Troy and has two ports, allowing two vehicles to charge at the same time. It’s among several stations installed in the Capital Region by the Capital District Transportation Committee’s Clean Communities Coalition, with support from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority.

New York City Aims for All-Electric Bus Fleet by 2040 by Phil McKenna, Inside Climate News

NY latest renewables RFP to spur $1.5B investment by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Plan to keep solar panels off farmland bolsters push for renewable energy goals by Thomas C. Zambito, Lohud

City completes first phase of solar project by Troy Record

NY bill would continue compensation system for buying solar energy by Mark Harrington, Newsday

New York to launch utility energy registry this summer in data-gathering effort by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

 

North Carolina

North Carolina approves solar rebate, coal ash fine for Duke by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

It’s a financial mixed bag for Duke, particularly in Kentucky where regulators say they “substantially reduced” the utility’s rate increase, ultimately approving just 28% of the request.

In North Carolina, however, regulators supported Duke’s solar rebate program, under which residential customers will be eligible for a rebate of $0.60/watt for solar energy systems 10 kW or smaller. The program is required under a law the state passed last year.

7 Takeaways From North Carolina’s State Energy Conference by Elizabeth Outzts, Energy News Network

The debate over how North Carolina transitions to a cleaner energy economy took center stage at the annual event in Raleigh.

It’s a time of rapid change in North Carolina’s energy sector, from the state’s rise to No. 2 in the country for solar to the decline of large, centralized coal plants.

The energy transformation was a central theme last week at North Carolina State University, where hundreds of clean energy advocates, academics and business people gathered for the annual State Energy Conference. Here are seven takeaways from the event held by the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center.

 

Ohio

In Ohio town, energy ‘locavores’ drive demand for community solar by Bentham Paulos, Energy News Network

Every Saturday, thousands of shoppers visit the farmers’ market in Athens, Ohio. In business since 1972, it was at one point the largest farmers’ market in the state, with 105 vendors selling produce, baked goods, and more.

Sarah Conley-Ballew, executive director of Upgrade Ohio, an energy advocacy group in Athens, came to energy from a background promoting local and sustainable food, including two years managing the market.

She finds many similarities between sustainable food and sustainable energy.

“People want to eat local, they want to know where their food comes from and support the local community,” she said. “It’s similar with renewable energy. For those that are local food minded it’s not a stretch to see how they can support local renewable energy.”

Marietta unveils solar panels at muni court building by Janelle Patterson, Marietta Times

FirstEnergy still fighting to shield power plants from ‘uncertainties’ of competition by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Energy News Network

 

Oregon

Going solar: Lake County leading renewable energy boom by Kurt Liedtke, Herald and News

 

Pennsylvania

Proposed bill takes ‘principled position’: By 2050, Pennsylvania should use only renewable energy by Marie Cusick, National Public Radio

As state help fades for 2 nuclear plants, will Trump attempt rescue? by Ad Crable, Lancaster Online

With two nuclear plants in Pennsylvania now inching closer to the point of no return, it appears there is little political will for a financial life preserver on the legislative level.

“A bailout, subsidy-type approach that we’ve seen in New York, Illinois, now New Jersey — I’ve not been satisfied that is politically viable here in Pennsylvania,” state Sen. Ryan Aument said last Tuesday.

Aument spoke after a hearing with beleaguered utility leaders called by the House-Senate Nuclear Energy Caucus that the Landisville Republican helped form to come to the aid of nuclear plants. He was not available for additional comment Monday.

Nonprofit hosts program to help businesses go solar by Brian Pedersen, Lehigh Valley Business

 

Puerto Rico

Surviving and thriving in Puerto Rico with solar power and energy storage by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

 

Rhode Island

RI Inching Toward Ambitious Clean Energy Goal by Avory Brookins, Rhode Island Public Radio

 

Texas

Is a Texas Town the Future of Renewable Energy? by Dan Solomon, Smithsonian Magazine

Investing in a strong foundation for energy resilience in Texas by Ronny Sandoval and Kate Zerrenner, Environmental Defense Fund

 

Vermont

Green Mountain Power’s Distributed Energy Business Isn’t Scaling Fast Enough by Jeff St. John, Greentech Media

RMI gives the Vermont utility advice on how to boost its limited uptake of Tesla Powerwalls, smart water heaters, EV chargers and other DERs to meet the state’s aggressive clean energy goals.

Report Addresses Barriers to Low-Income Solar Ownership in Vermont by Solar Novus Today

 

Virginia

The Northeast US has a carbon-trading system. It is boosting, not hurting, state economies. by David Roberts, Vox

Virginia efficiency programs due for windfall, but will it be well spent? by Jim Pierobon, Energy News Network

 

Wisconsin

Solar Group Buy Information Sessions Set by The Journal Times

Dairyland Power to add three solar gardens by Chris Hubbuch, LaCrosse Tribune

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Yes, Your Electric Car Can Charge On Sunshine by Mark Hovis, Inside EVs

Charging on sunshine is a quest of many an EV-PV adopter. Many critics are quick to claim EVs not charging during the solar hours are still dirty energy devices. This argument has been debunked for some time here. And by no means does it diminish the importance of offsetting one’s usage with the solar or wind energy.

Future PV arrays may be forced to evaluate the economics of maximizing solar usage. Early PV solar adopters have grandfathered net metering arrangements with their utility allowing them to sell energy at full retail compensation in which they purchase.

AWEA’s Annual Wind Report: New Records, New Rising Star And Good Things To Come by Betsy Lillian, North American Wind Power

Low-income housing represents huge solar opportunity, new study from NREL finds by Ben Sigrin and Meghan Mooney, Solar Power World Online

The electric vehicle boom is coming. What can we learn from early adopters? by Andy Balaskovitz, Ensia Magazine

For utilities to underwrite charging infrastructure — be it rebates for home chargers or paying for public chargers — regulators need to know whether all ratepayers and the grid benefit beyond the immediate impacts of fewer greenhouse gas emissions.

John Farrell, director of the Energy Democracy Initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, says the EV deployment level now does not hurt the grid — since EVs make up about 1 percent of the cars on the road worldwide — but concerns are likely to grow as more drivers charge their vehicles.

Shift to Distributed, Decentralized Energy Grid Gaining Momentum by Between the Lines

#Solar100’s Shayle Kann: The Malcolm Gladwell of clean energy by Richard Matsui, pv magazine

Resilient Solar: New York and San Francisco Study Solar With Batteries as a Resiliency Solution by Bentham Paulos, Greentech Media

Puerto Rico is only now approaching full power seven months after Hurricane Maria decimated the island, knocking out about two-thirds of transmission and distribution systems. And earlier this month, an accident knocked out power to nearly all the island’s residents once again.

Sandy and Maria have spurred communities across the country to look more closely at how they treat electricity in their emergency management preparations. Many are looking at new approaches, using solar and battery storage technologies to provide greater reliability and better economics than diesel generators.

Combining solar and storage into “resilient solar” offers a number of benefits over solar alone or traditional diesel backup power systems. They can island themselves, providing power during extended grid outages. They avoid the risk of running out of fuel for gas or diesel generators. And they provide services every day — generating electricity when the sun shines and using the battery to cut peak demand charges. It’s an emergency backup system that helps pay for itself.

Target to Expand Electric Car Charging Program to More Than 20 States by Eric Brandt, The Drive

As hybrid and electric vehicle adoption spread, so do charging stations to keep up with demand. As part of Earth Month, retailer Target announced on Monday that it’s planning on expanding its network of charging stations in the parking lots of its stores in partnership with Tesla, ChargePoint, and Electrify America.

Currently, only 18 sites in five states have charging stations and Target is planning on bringing those numbers up to more than 100 sites across more than 20 states for a total of more than 600 parking spots with charging stations.

Utilities weaken distributed solar power with policy wins by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

Utilities have been trying to dismantle net metering and/or wreck the economics of customer-sited solar for years. In the first quarter of 2018, they saw some significant victories.

A Regional Grid Helps, Not Hurts Distributed Renewable Energy by Carl Zichella, Ed Smeloff, and Jennifer Gardner, Greentech Media

Residential solar power grows 11% in Q1 2018 by John Weaver, pv magazine

Commercial Solar May Be 78% Third-Party Owned by 2021 by Michelle Davis, Greentech Media

Majority of states, D.C. acted on distributed solar policy, rate design in Q1 2018 by Kevin Randolph, Daily Energy Insider

Electric buses are coming, and they’re going to help fix 4 big urban problems by David Roberts, Vox

At the top of the list: buses! City transit buses are ideal candidates for electrification.

For one thing, the world is rapidly urbanizing and particulate pollution — especially from diesel, the fuel of choice for older buses — is increasingly seen as a health crisis. Old buses drive around the city all day, at low speeds, spewing diesel smoke directly into urbanites’ faces, leading to countless illnesses and early deaths. (Diesel smoke is a big contributor to the 6.5 million deaths a year caused by air pollution.)

Electrification would mean that buses emit virtually no air pollutants or greenhouse gases. (The power plants where their electricity is generated might still generate those pollutants, but even if it is powered by coal plants, an electric bus averages far less pollution per-mile than a diesel bus.) Urban air quality would notably and immediately improve.

A New Era of Grid Planning: ‘Folks Are Frustrated’ by Stephen Lacey, Greentech Media

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.