Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of May 14, 2018

Energy Democracy Media Roundup — Week of May 14, 2018

Date: 15 May 2018 | posted in: Energy | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

This week in Energy Democracy news:

California releases new guidance that all new homes have to be built with rooftop solar; Decorah, Iowa’s vote on municipalizing their electric utility falls just short of a positive outcome; new analysis details the benefits of transitioning the Boston metro-area buses to an electric fleet; and a Minnesota group makes the economic case for renewables.

Featured:

It’s Official. All New California Homes Must Incorporate Solar by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

Starting in 2020, virtually all new homes in California will be required to incorporate advanced efficiency measures and rooftop solar — in an historic development for clean energy in the state.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted unanimously to adopt the policy today as part of the state’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, following more than two years of work with a wide range of stakeholders to develop the technical requirements.

Podcast: South Miami — A Bright Spot For Solar In Sunshine State by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Iowa town split on municipal utility vote; too close to call late Tuesday by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Opponents of a municipal utility campaign in Decorah, Iowa, held a four-vote lead late Tuesday with at least 15 ballots uncounted. Official results were not expected until Monday.

Of New Power Generation, How Much Is On The Roof? — 2017 Update by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Advocates call on MBTA to switch to all electric buses by Kristin Toussaint, Metro

Environmental advocates, medical professionals and members of a public interest group are calling on the MBTA to switch completely to electric buses, saying the transition is necessary to protect the health of residents and the environment.

“The majority of America’s buses remain dirty — burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming,” stated the report released Thursday by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG).

The MBTA fleet includes diesel, compressed natural gas and diesel-electric hybrid buses. MASSPIRG is asking for the transit agency to transition to 100 percent electric buses by 2030.

Podcast: Ballot Initiative Shapes Iowa Town’s Fight for Local Power by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Minnesota group making the case for clean energy as jobs driver by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota in its second year has raised its profile at the State Capitol, including forging relationships with rural and suburban conservatives.

State Sen. Eric Pratt, a suburban Republican from Prior Lake, said he was surprised to learn from the group how many companies across the state work in the clean energy industry. A newcomer to the energy and utilities committee, he said he’s not afraid to fight legislation, even from his own party, that could hurt the industry.

“One of our members said ‘look, this clean energy train is coming’ and we can hop on board or get run over,” Pratt said. “I chose to hop on board.”

Supporting Affordable Residential Access To Community Solar In Minnesota by John Farrell, CleanTechnica

Affordable housing is disappearing; energy efficiency and solar energy can help reverse that trend by Stefen Samarripas, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Many low-income individuals and families are finding it increasingly difficult to rent apartments (see here and here), but energy efficiency and solar energy can help save affordable multifamily housing. Our new report, Our Powers Combined: Energy Efficiency and Solar in Affordable Multifamily Buildings, shows how building owners are combining energy efficiency upgrades and rooftop solar systems to reduce energy use and lower their energy bills. These upgrades enable housing providers to devote more resources to preserving and expanding affordable housing, while also improving the health and well-being of building residents.

 

Energy Democracy News Across the States:

Arizona

What would happen if Arizona required solar power for all new homes? by Ryan Randazzo & Catherine Roeger, AZ Central

 

California

California to become first U.S. state mandating solar on new homes by Jeff Collins, Orange County Register

It’s Official. All New California Homes Must Incorporate Solar by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

Starting in 2020, virtually all new homes in California will be required to incorporate advanced efficiency measures and rooftop solar — in an historic development for clean energy in the state.

The California Energy Commission (CEC) voted unanimously to adopt the policy today as part of the state’s Building Energy Efficiency Standards, following more than two years of work with a wide range of stakeholders to develop the technical requirements.

 

Connecticut

Connecticut to Issue New RFP for Zero-Carbon Electricity Generation: Bids Due September 2018 by Pierce Atwood LLP, Lexology

CT Powder Coating Business Installs Solar With C-PACE Financing by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry Magazine

State renewable energy increases under bill by Bill Cummings, Connecticut Post

Details of the changes in Connecticut: An interview with Vote Solar by Christian Roselund, pv magazine

In this interview pv magazine speaks with Vote Solar Northeast Regional Director Sean Garren about the new legislation which has passed both houses of the Connecticut legislature, and what to expect now.

Concord should lead on clean energy by Rob Werner, Concord Monitor

 

Hawaii

How businesses are benefiting from Hawaiian Electric’s virtual power plant by Cassandra Sweet, GreenBiz

 

Illinois

Clean Energy Businesses Are Essential for Illinois by Toba Pearlman, Natural Resource Defense Council

 

Indiana

Energy efficiencies approved for Michigan City by Kelley Smith, La Porte County Herald Argus

 

Iowa

Senate revamps Iowa’s energy policies by Rod Boshart, Waterloo Courier

Iowa town split on municipal utility vote; too close to call late Tuesday by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Opponents of a municipal utility campaign in Decorah, Iowa, held a four-vote lead late Tuesday with at least 15 ballots uncounted. Official results were not expected until Monday.

Fate of municipal electric company in hands of Decorah voters by Darin Svenson, KDEC – Decorah

Iowa governor signs bill critics say will ‘eviscerate’ efficiency programs by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Iowa town’s municipal campaign falls 5 votes short after absentee count by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

Voters should challenge candidates on Iowa’s energy future by Katie Rock, Des Moines Register

Iowa’s future as a leader in renewable energy is on the ballot in 2018. As legislators head home and campaigns gear up for important primary elections, voters should call attention to key policy changes our state will face for our energy future. …

And, perhaps most promising, the expansion of solar in Minnesota, Illinois, and other states has been so rapid, federal regulators are moving quickly to update rules around distributed energy resources. As homeowners and businesses add on-site electricity generation and storage, a new set of questions and policies must be addressed.

Iowa Takes Huge Step Backward on Energy Efficiency, While Other States Move Ahead by Martin Kushler, American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy

 

Kansas

Kansas City clean energy goals could get a boost from utility partnership by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

 

Maryland

Clean energy vital to Maryland’s future, no matter your party by Anna Susie & Jillian Scott, Del Marva Now

 

Massachusetts

Advocates call on MBTA to switch to all electric buses by Kristin Toussaint, Metro

Environmental advocates, medical professionals and members of a public interest group are calling on the MBTA to switch completely to electric buses, saying the transition is necessary to protect the health of residents and the environment.

“The majority of America’s buses remain dirty — burning fossil fuels like diesel that put the health of our children and communities at risk and contribute to global warming,” stated the report released Thursday by the Massachusetts Public Interest Research Group (MASSPIRG).

The MBTA fleet includes diesel, compressed natural gas and diesel-electric hybrid buses. MASSPIRG is asking for the transit agency to transition to 100 percent electric buses by 2030.

 

Michigan

Bills would restore net metering for solar roof customers by Tracy Samilton, Michigan Radio

Michigan lawmakers propose to boost consumer-generated renewables by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

In Michigan, more questions than answers about life after net metering by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

On April 18, the Michigan Public Service Commission approved a distributed generation tariff that replaces net metering, a 10-year old program that credits customers — most often with rooftop solar panels — with retail rates for their excess electricity sent back to the grid. The new prices will vary by utility but will be lower than retail rates, feeding the ongoing debate about the net value rooftop solar customers provide to the grid.

It was still unclear what the new prices will look like, when they will take effect, or even if they will, as lawmakers mount an attempt to restore net metering.

Solar installers, therefore, haven’t had answers for customers seeking to understand the payback period of installing projects.

Cherryland’s Renewable Energy Program Increases Solar By 700% by The Traverse City Ticker

Letter: Electric vehicle benefits clearer by Murray Davis, Crain’s Detroit Business

Renewable developers fear Michigan campaign will create political wedge by Andy Balaskovitz, Energy News Network

Light & Power Considers Renewable Energy Goal by Beth Milligan, Traverse City Ticker

 

Minnesota

Minnesota community solar newcomer to focus on residential customers by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Minnesota group making the case for clean energy as jobs driver by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Clean Energy Economy Minnesota in its second year has raised its profile at the State Capitol, including forging relationships with rural and suburban conservatives.

State Sen. Eric Pratt, a suburban Republican from Prior Lake, said he was surprised to learn from the group how many companies across the state work in the clean energy industry. A newcomer to the energy and utilities committee, he said he’s not afraid to fight legislation, even from his own party, that could hurt the industry.

“One of our members said ‘look, this clean energy train is coming’ and we can hop on board or get run over,” Pratt said. “I chose to hop on board.”

Court to hear challenge to Winona County’s sand mining ban by Associated Press, Minnesota Public Radio News

 

Montana

Five initiatives trying to get on Montana ballot – how many will make it? by Mike Dennison, KTVH

 

Nevada

Nevada Solar Applications Soar Following Passage of Net Metering Bill by Vote Solar, Solar Novus Today

After Net Metering Revival, Nevada’s Solar Industry Is Back On Track by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry Magazine

 

New Jersey

Bringing energy savings to underserved market — multifamily dwellings by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

Is long wait for offshore-wind financing mechanism over? by Tom Johnson, NJ Spotlight

South Brunswick schools energy saving improvement project in the works by Susan Loyer, My Central Jersey

We have inherited the sun by Ronald C. McCray, NAACP

 

New York

Brooklyn Homeowners Go Solar Thanks to New Technology, Tax Breaks by Liz Sadler Cryan, Brownstoner

Capped landfills in Islip will be turned into solar farms by Rachelle Blidner, Newsday

 

Ohio

Athens County will follow city’s lead on carbon fee/solar plan by Kayla Beard, The Athens News

 

Pennsylvania

This Pittsburgh program is tackling climate change, inequality and your neighbor’s energy bill one light bulb at a time by Oliver Morrison, Public Source

Pennsylvania opens ‘future of utility rates’ proceeding by Robert Walton, Utility Dive

 

Rhode Island

New Solar Panel Array Helps RI Reduce Its Energy Consumption by Avory Brookins, Rhode Island Public Radio

These solar panels on top of the state Department of Administration building are part of a new solar array that includes a total of 900 panels across three state buildings. State officials said a new array of 900 solar panels on top of the state Department of Administration, Department of Transportation and Department of Health buildings will help the state make even more progress.

The solar panels have been generating electricity for the buildings since the beginning of this year. They reduce the amount of electricity the buildings need to pull from the regional electrical grid.

 

Vermont

Utility Board Scales Back Rates For Renewable ‘Net Metering’ Projects by John Dillon, Vermont Public Radio

 

Virginia

Regulators Reject Dominion’s 100% Renewable Energy Plan by Julia Pyper, Greentech Media

The decision was praised by clean energy groups and retail suppliers that argued that approving the utility program would effectively eliminate third-party competition. Under current Virginia law, third-party companies can sell 100 percent renewable power directly to customers, unless the customer’s incumbent utility offers a separate 100 percent renewable tariff, like the one Dominion put forward.

In a final order released Monday, the Virginia State Corporation Commission (SCC) determined that Dominion “has not established that its proposed tariffs will result in just and reasonable rates” and that “there is simply too much uncertainty and subjectivity in the tariffs for the Commission to find that they will result in just and reasonable rates.”

 

Nationwide Energy Democracy News:

Utilities challenge need and wisdom of state renewable energy ballot initiatives by Bill Yingling, Daily Energy Insider

Activists are trying to increase renewable energy mandates through ballot initiatives in three states this year.

Utilities in Michigan, Arizona and Nevada, however, already have undertaken extensive renewable energy programs. And, while renewable portfolio standards may have helped fertilize the seeds of an emerging industry a decade ago, some leaders do not believe these types of political campaigns, driven by out-of-state interests, are necessary today, or that it is particularly wise to engage in what would ordinarily be complex energy policy and planning at the ballot box.

The Six Elements to Successful Microgrid Deployments by Brian Baumann, Microgrid Knowledge

FERC Wants To Open Up Energy Markets To Distributed Energy by Thomas Burton III & Sahir Sumali, Breaking Energy

Offshore wind more valuable than onshore in some areas by Ros Davidson, Wind Power Monthly

Offshore wind’s value along the east coast ranges from $40/MWh to more than $110/MWh. It is lowest in the south-east of the country.

The historical market value of offshore wind, using 2007-2016 data, would have exceeded onshore wind’s, said the researchers.

This is due to the proximity of offshore wind sites to major cities such as New York, and because the timing of power produced is more correlated with demand.

Businesses Are Buying More Renewable Power Than Ever Before by Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg

Companies are buying renewable power at a record pace.

AT&T Inc. and Walmart Inc. are among 36 businesses, government agencies and universities that have agreed to buy 3.3 gigawatts of wind and solar power so far this year. That’s on track to shatter the previous high of 4.8 gigawatts of disclosed deals last year, according to a report Monday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

One of the key reasons is that smaller companies are more comfortable doing these deals now.

Where it makes sense for fleets to go electric by Katie Fehrenbacher, GreenBiz

2017 Was Weird For Solar. What’s Coming This Year and Beyond? by Julian Spector, Greentech Media

Solar deployments have grown increasingly diversified across the U.S., which insulates the industry against swings in the largest market, California. That state represented 39 percent of installed capacity over the last five years, but will account for only 22 percent of solar installed in the next five years.

“We’re going to see solar spread throughout the U.S., as well as the emergence of large sunny states like Florida and Texas,” Shiao noted.

Those states haven’t tapped their massive solar potential, but are poised to surpass current No. 2 market North Carolina over the next five years.

Trump’s DOE punishes Obama-era solar ‘success story’ by Peter Behr & Christa Marshall, E&E News

Affordable housing is disappearing; energy efficiency and solar energy can help reverse that trend by Stefen Samarripas, American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy

Many low-income individuals and families are finding it increasingly difficult to rent apartments (see here and here), but energy efficiency and solar energy can help save affordable multifamily housing. Our new report, Our Powers Combined: Energy Efficiency and Solar in Affordable Multifamily Buildings, shows how building owners are combining energy efficiency upgrades and rooftop solar systems to reduce energy use and lower their energy bills. These upgrades enable housing providers to devote more resources to preserving and expanding affordable housing, while also improving the health and well-being of building residents.

New study answers the question, ‘What is grid resilience?’ by Rama Zakaria & Michael Panfil, Environmental Defense Fund

States Taking Grid Modernization Actions At ‘Astounding Rate’: Report by Betsy Lillian, Solar Industry Magazine

Solar at the crossroads: Is utility-scale, distributed or both the way to go? by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

American energy use, in one diagram by David Roberts, Vox

Companies and Cities Look to Distributed Charging for Electric Cars by Rob Stumpf, The Drive

With all the buzz surrounding electric vehicles, officials are being faced with some new-to-them issues that must be addressed to maintain steady growth of the high-tech transportation. Amidst all of the noise and new car models, the public has begun to raise the most discussed topic to the front pages: What about the charging infrastructure? New initiatives from corporations and even local governments have begun to address this concern by placing electric car chargers at the places you frequent every day.

Charging an electric car might be as simple as plugging it in, but the logistics of charging can be more complicated. Planning your daily commute around something which can take up to 86 times longer than filling up a traditional gasoline-powered car at the pump might not always work out as anticipated. And while many people who buy an electric car will be charging up at home, those whose homes lack the capacity to charge their car might seek public charging infrastructure as a means of juicing up their transportation.

Taxes, Trump and Tariffs: 7 Takeaways From the Midwest Solar Expo by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

Building a Microgrid Incrementally to Avoid Breaking the Budget by Microgrid Knowledge Editors

Solar has transformed into solar-plus-storage: What will net metering become? by Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

Americans more likely to buy electric cars, AAA study finds by Nathan Bomey, USA Today

More Americans are becoming charged up about electric cars.

A new AAA survey finds 20% of Americans say their next vehicle will be an electric car. That’s up from 15% in 2017, the first time that AAA asked the question.

State Clean Energy Laws Make New England Grid More Resilient by Bruce Ho, Natural Resource Defense Council

Worried About Grid Resilience? Don’t—You Can Sleep Well by Gillian Giannetti, Natural Resource Defense Council

TVA rate change draws concern new fixed fee will hurt poor by Robert Walton, 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 was Communications Manager at ILSR working for all five initiatives. He ran 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.