Minnesota’s community solar program hit a record 300 megawatts of operational capacity in March 2018 and is wildly successful because it offers tangible, financial benefits to subscribers, allows third party project development and ownership, and has no cap on program capacity.… Read More
In April, ILSR submitted comments in support of affordable residential access to community solar for review by Minnesota’s Public Utilities Commission. These comments concerned a proposed residential adder framework outlined as part of the state’s community solar program and Minnesota Department of Commerce Value of Solar calculation. We argue that, in a recent analysis submitted to the Commission by Xcel Energy, the utility exaggerated costs likely to be incurred under this new framework. Our comments support those made by allies such as Cooperative Energy Futures and advocate for adder calculations that ensure financeability and broad participation among residential subscribers to the state’s community solar program.… Read More
The U.S. experienced relatively sluggish gains in total new power plant capacity in 2017, when compared to 2016, but it also saw another, more positive outcome: a notable surge in distributed solar. Using the latest available national data on power generation, this most recent look at data on annual and quarterly electricity generation nationwide from the Energy Democracy Initiative at ILSR illustrates how small-scale, distributed solar energy stacks up against its big, fossil fuel and utility-scale renewable energy competitors.… Read More
This Drive Electric Week, join ILSR in celebrating the rise of the electric vehicle and the opportunity it presents to modernize the grid, empower consumers, and benefit communities. Below, we invite you to explore our recent work on electric vehicles and energy democracy. (You can also find our full report, Choosing the Electric Avenue — Unlocking Savings, Emissions Reductions, and Community Benefits of Electric Vehicles here.)… Read More
If you work to secure Americans’ rights to solar energy or to accelerate the deployment of inexpensive renewable energy, you understand that not everyone is in favor. In particular, incumbent electric utilities tend to oppose competition in their (often monopoly) … Read More
Minnesota’s largest investor-owned utility, Xcel Energy, last month reported sparse participation in a program designed to deliver value to customers who charge their electric vehicles when it’s most convenient for the grid. But despite its benefits for the grid and cost savings for customers, the initiative appears stuck in neutral.
By April 2017, a year and a half after its launch, just 95 Xcel customers had opted in to the state-mandated electric vehicle charging tariff. With nearly 1,000 plug-in vehicles registered to Minnesota drivers — a bulk of them likely in Xcel’s metro-area territory — participation numbers hover well below reasonable expectations. Why?… Read More
The U.S. vehicle market will undergo a massive technology disruption from electric vehicles in the coming decades. Many analysts see the potential for surging sales of these efficient vehicles to enable smart grid management, but few have explored the local impact of electric vehicles: promoting energy democracy. Electric vehicles offer a natural use for solar energy, a pathway to pump more local solar power onto the grid, and a source of resilient power when the grid goes down. Ultimately, electric vehicles are another tool to miniaturize the electricity system, providing unprecedented local control.
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Solar made up over a half of the added power plant capacity during the first quarter of 2016. With over 800 MW (AC) coming from distributed solar, this year is shaping up to be another banner year for renewable energy. See previous … Read More
Ten years ago, a North Dakota cooperative stopped charging customers a premium for getting energy from the wind, because they found it wasn’t costing anything extra. The cooperative, like many utilities, used a “green pricing” program that allowed customers to … Read More