Back to top Jump to featured resources
Article filed under Energy

Energy Democracy Media Roundup – week of August 21, 2017

| Written by Nick Stumo-Langer | No Comments | Updated on Aug 22, 2017 The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at https://ilsr.org/energy-democracy-media-roundup-week-of-august-21-2017/

This week in Energy Democracy news:

Nederland, Colo. & Orlando, Fla. have committed to being 100% powered by renewable energy; Denver, Colo. is using Volkswagen settlement money to install electric vehicle charging stations across the city; and a new community group in Appalachian Ohio is helping to reduce the worries and fees associated with solar energy in the region.

 

Featured Stories:

Nederland in line to become 42nd town in the U.S. 100% powered by renewable energy by Alex Burness, Boulder Daily Camera

Arkansas utility leads on energy & broadband by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Denver hopes 300 new charging stations will accelerate switch to electric cars by Bruce Finley, The Denver Post

City officials on Wednesday said 300 charging stations for electric vehicles will be set up around metro Denver over the next two years. They’re also looking at changes in the city building code to encourage installation of more charging stations near proliferating apartments and condos.

Lawsuit settlement money paid by Volkswagen after the diesel emissions test scandal will help fund Denver’s effort.

Thanks to co-op, small Iowa town goes big on solar by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Raising fees on solar power is bad for Idaho by Jay Basen, Idaho Mountain Express

Maine’s disastrous news solar rules violate our right to energy independence by Seth Berry, Bangor Daily News

The power & perils of cooperatives – Episode 12 of the Building Local Power podcast by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Energy democracy in 4 powerful steps by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Group aims to reduce solar ‘soft costs’ in Ohio coal region by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

A new program seeks to spur solar energy development in southeastern Ohio by cutting costs and reducing barriers at the local level. The plan will provide technical assistance to help four small towns and rural areas in Appalachian Ohio receive recognition as solar-friendly communities.

The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) has engaged Sarah Conley-Ballew to help Somerset, Amesville, the city of Athens and the unincorporated parts of Athens County get SolSmart designation. That federally funded program is administered by the Solar Foundation.

“SolSmart designation essentially ranks a city’s solar friendliness,” explained Conley-Ballew, who is also executive director of Upgrade Ohio. “What makes us kind of unique…is that we’re among the only rural communities participating.”

Electric vehicle batteries may get much more valuable soon by David Roberts, Vox

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

California

California mulls larger rebates for electric car buyers by Riley McDermid, San Francisco Business Journal

 

Colorado

Nederland in line to become 42nd town in the U.S. 100% powered by renewable energy by Alex Burness, Boulder Daily Camera

U.S. Rep. Polis pushes 100-percent renewable energy goal by Nick Coltrain, Coloradoan

Denver hopes 300 new charging stations will accelerate switch to electric cars by Bruce Finley, The Denver Post

City officials on Wednesday said 300 charging stations for electric vehicles will be set up around metro Denver over the next two years. They’re also looking at changes in the city building code to encourage installation of more charging stations near proliferating apartments and condos.

Lawsuit settlement money paid by Volkswagen after the diesel emissions test scandal will help fund Denver’s effort.

 

Florida

Orlando commits to 100 percent renewable energy citywide by 2050 by Monivette Cordeiro, Orlando Weekly

 

Hawaii

Kauai utility proposes two new solar programs by HJ Mai, Pacific Business Journal

 

Idaho

Charging for the sun’s power by Maureen Dolan, Bonner County Daily Bee

Zack Waterman, director of the Idaho Chapter of the Sierra Club, said Idaho Power is singling out residents with solar panels, reported Idaho Public News Service in Boise.

“Solar has been growing fast in Idaho, but we think that the company’s scrambling to adjust this fixed-cost issue is more of a solution in search of a problem than one that is a significant problem right now,” Waterman said.

Raising fees on solar power is bad for Idaho by Jay Basen, Idaho Mountain Express

 

Illinois

Ameren request for lower energy efficiency targets stokes division in Illinois by Kari Lydersen, Midwest Energy News

The law, hashed out during months of negotiations in which energy efficiency targets were a contentious issue, sets separate energy savings mandates for ComEd and Ameren. There are various ways to quantify the difference between Ameren’s targets in the law and Ameren’s request. Critics say Ameren’s request will mean they save 27 percent less energy over four years than if they had complied with the targets in the law. Ameren did not provide their own number, but a spokesperson said the utility is proposing “aggressive” goals of 13 percent energy savings by 2025 and 16 percent by 2030.

The Natural Resources Defense Council, Environmental Defense Fund and Citizens Utility Board (CUB) filed joint testimony opposing Ameren’s request. The groups estimate that Ameren proposes spending 44 percent more on each kilowatt-hour of energy saved than ComEd proposes spending.

Editorial: Don’t let energy company short-circuit Illinois law by Chicago Sun-Times

 

indiana

Bloomington accelerates plans to install solar on city facilities by Tyler Lake, Indiana Public Radio

Indiana law could ruin solar’s future at schools by Nick Janzen, WBOI

Solar initiative looks for September contracts in Terre Haute by James Gray, Indiana Public Radio

 

Iowa

The red state with an energy blueprint by Iowa Governor Kim Reynolds, The Hill

A variety of factors keep wind turbines from rotating 24-7 by Dar Danielson, Radio Iowa

 

Maine

Maine’s disastrous new solar rules violate our right to energy independence by Seth Berry, Bangor Daily News

 

Michigan

New tax could help Ann Arbor go solar, switch to electric vehicles by Ryan Stanton, MLive

The road to 100: Grand Rapids’ journey to be Michigan’s first all-renewable-powered city by Andrew Steiner, Rapid Growth Media

That’s because Grand Rapids has committed to powering its municipal operations with 100 percent renewable energy within eight years, and the Water Resource Recovery Center is one of its biggest energy users.

When Mayor George Heartwell established the city’s first renewable energy goal in 2005, the City was getting none of its power from renewable sources. After Grand Rapids achieved its initial goal of 20 percent in 2007 (a year ahead of schedule), Heartwell upped the goal to 100 percent by 2020. For this and other initiatives in Heartwell’s “triple bottom line” approach to sustainability, which held that City initiatives should serve the good of the environment, the economy, and society simultaneously, Grand Rapids was dubbed the Greenest City in America.

Q&A: A Michigan clean energy pioneer keeps looking to the future by Howard Lovy, Midwest Energy News

 

Minnesota

A brighter solution: Leech Lake unveils new solar panel arrays to benefit low income communities by Matthew Liedke, The Bemidji Pioneer

University of Minnesota makes long-term commitment to clean energy by Frank Jossi, Midwest Energy News

By next year more than 20 percent of the electricity needs of the University of Minnesota will be powered by renewable energy.

Over the course of the last several months, the university has inked a 10-year subscription to a new green tariff program developed by Xcel Energy. It joins a list of clean energy investments that includes a much bigger deal to purchase power from four community solar gardens for a combined total of 24.5 megawatts (MW) and construction on its own 2.25-MW solar program.

Lakeville school board debating solar garden plan that could save millions by Christopher Magan, St. Paul Pioneer Press

Hiccups are weighing on Arden Hills’ Rice Creek Commons project by David Peterson, Minneapolis Star Tribune

 

Nevada

Solar companies push back against NV Energy rate plan by Ben Botkin, Las Vegas Review Journal

Helping businesses make the switch to solar by Chris Buckley, KOLO-TV

There are several programs and rebates that local businesses can take advantage of if they’re interested in switching to solar. Local business leaders and energy experts held a forum on the subject at the Innovation Center in downtown Reno on Wednesday.

“Basically what we’re trying to do as a community is demonstrate that buying local is a way to demonstrate a commitment to clean energy, and solar provides the perfect opportunity for that,” said Kevin McGehee, a small business owner. “It provides job creation, business development, enhances national security, lessens our dependency on foreign oil and gives us clean air. With all those things how can you go wrong?”

 

New York

New York City ramps up community solar by Michael Kuser, RTO Insider

5 important questions about New York’s energy market reform by Olivia Chen, GreenTech Media

 

North Carolina

Solar revolution: New state law aims to make it easier to go green by Paul Woolverton, Fayetteville Observer

 

Ohio

Group aims to reduce solar ‘soft costs’ in Ohio coal region by Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News

A new program seeks to spur solar energy development in southeastern Ohio by cutting costs and reducing barriers at the local level. The plan will provide technical assistance to help four small towns and rural areas in Appalachian Ohio receive recognition as solar-friendly communities.

The Southeast Ohio Public Energy Council (SOPEC) has engaged Sarah Conley-Ballew to help Somerset, Amesville, the city of Athens and the unincorporated parts of Athens County get SolSmart designation. That federally funded program is administered by the Solar Foundation.

“SolSmart designation essentially ranks a city’s solar friendliness,” explained Conley-Ballew, who is also executive director of Upgrade Ohio. “What makes us kind of unique…is that we’re among the only rural communities participating.”

Ohio among country’s top states for distributed, on-site wind power by Tom Knox, Dayton Business Journal

 

Oklahoma

Sierra Club files legal challenge on Oklahoma electric vehicle fee by Paul Monies, The Oklahoman

 

Rhode Island

Rhode Island clean energy gets boost as governor signs bills by Peter Maloney, Utility Dive

 

South Carolina

In wake of nuclear debacle, poll shows S.C. voters want more solar by Joseph Bebon, Solar Industry Magazine

 

Texas

El Paso: A test case for proposals attacking rooftop solar by Jose Rodriguez, Tribune Talk

 

Utah

Power company seeks rate increase for rooftop solar users by The Associated Press

A new deal on solar fees? Rocky Mountain Power and advocates may have found a way to end their fight by Emma Penrod, The Salt Lake Tribune

Letter: Commons sense energy solutions by Dan Cortsen, The Salt Lake Tribune

Op-ed: Solar adoption in Utah by Ted Ligety, The Deseret News

 

Virginia

Virginia utilities and advocates square off over net metered solar by Ivy Main, The Energy Collective

 

Wisconsin

Largest rooftop solar array in state almost finished at American Family Insurance by Judy Newman, Wisconsin State Journal

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Warren Buffett likes solar, but not the price tag by Brian Eckhouse and Noah Buhayar, Bloomberg BusinessWeek

Net metering debates rev up, but regulators are skeptical of utility proposals by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Fights over net metering policies are showing no signs of slowing down in the second quarter of this year. According to the latest quarterly report from North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center, there are 42 proceedings in 25 states plus the District of Columbia to increase fixed charges or minimum bills on residential solar customers.

A new all-electric delivery truck is on the way, and it’s not from Tesla by Russ Mitchell, The Los Angeles Times

Getting energy efficiency to the people who need it most by Laurie Mazur, Governing Magazine

Energy efficiency is part of the solution: It can reduce energy burdens by as much as 30 percent. But even the best-intentioned efficiency programs often fail to reach low- and moderate-income households. Those households may not be able to take advantage of incentives because they lack the upfront capital to invest in efficiency upgrades, for example. And they lose out on tax incentives because they don’t live in high-efficiency housing or can’t afford to purchase newer fuel-efficient vehicles.

So as cities boost their investments in their own energy-efficiency programs, urgent questions arise for local leaders: Are our programs reaching the people who need them most? And if not, how can they be redesigned and retargeted to meet that goal?

Why rural electric co-ops and public power utilities voluntarily built nearly 100MW of community solar by Sol Systems, The Energy Collective

Electric vehicle batteries may get much more valuable soon by David Roberts, Vox

Is the future finally here for utility-scale solar-plus-storage? by Carl Stills & Steve McKenery, Utility Dive

Commentary: Utility roadblocks are the Southeast’s real solar eclipse by Katie Ottenweller, Southeast Energy News

It is reliable—distributed, fuel-free resources make our grid more secure, which is why military bases in Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina have all gone solar. And not least, solar investments create good local jobs—over 20,000 (and counting) in Virginia, Tennessee, Georgia, the Carolinas, and Alabama.

And yet, solar power amounts to a tiny fraction of the South’s overall electricity mix. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, solar makes up only 0.02% of Alabama’s electric mix; 0.09% of Virginia’s; and 0.15% of Tennessee’s. The state with the most solar in our region, North Carolina, gets just 3.25% of its electricity from the sun. Its largest utility, Duke Energy, commissioned a study showing that today’s grid could integrate many times more, with net benefits to the grid.

Even so, our region continues to be dominated by expensive, dirty fossil plants that burn coal and gas—harming our health and polluting our air and water, as we watch the clean energy economy pass us by.

This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on Twitter or get the Energy Democracy weekly update.