The publicly-owned Sacramento Municipal Utility District, or SMUD, had already installed the first utility-scale PV array in the nation back in 1984. By the early 1990s, the utility saw a potential for rooftop solar and launched its PV Pioneer program, placing dozens of solar arrays on their customer’s rooftops, for a fee. The standardized rollout… Continue reading
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The growth of solar has continued at a furious pace, with a new record of 6.2 gigawatts installed in the United States in 2014. But the bigger tale may be the persistent growth of small-scale solar, on residential and non-residential rooftops (and property). These projects, a megawatt or smaller, contributed 13% of new power plant… Continue reading
The rise of solar power allows a further democratizing of the electricity system, and these charts illustrate how 2014 was a banner year for solar, but particularly distributed solar power. Apologies for the re-post of these charts, but I wanted to do a year-in-review approach to these solar charts. First, the following chart shows that 2014… Continue reading
The first-in-the-nation city-utility partnership has been framed in Minneapolis, but can the city and its utilities really deliver substantive movement toward an equitable energy economy in the next two years? It all depends on the workplan, and the grassroots team at Minneapolis Energy Options has delivered. (Disclosure: I serve on the board of Community Power… Continue reading
Earlier this year, Minnesota became the first state to formalize dozens of studies by adopting a “value of solar” formula that would fundamentally change the relationship between solar energy producers and their utility. It’s designed to have the utility accurately compensate solar energy producers for the value of solar electricity to the utility, its customers,… Continue reading
Want proof that distributed solar is rapidly growing? Look no further than these two charts, showing how solar provided over a quarter of new power plant capacity in 2013 (6% from residential solar alone!) and 43% in the first half of this year! This article originally posted at ilsr.org. For timely updates, follow John Farrell on… Continue reading
The coming of solar grid parity offers an opportunity for millions of Americans to go solar affordably. But it also means a potential transformation, a democratization of an electricity system long dominated by centrally-controlled utilities and centralized ownership and production of electricity. When solar can undercut grid electricity prices, it may also undercut this 20th… Continue reading
With the cost of solar continuing to fall rapidly (50% in the past five years) and electricity prices rising steadily, if slowly, the approach of solar grid parity is near. The following chart illustrates the trajectory of solar cost and electricity price, hinting at the coming intersection. 1 The chart compares the cost of a… Continue reading
Minneapolis, MN —Within a decade, more than 35 million buildings may be generating their own solar electricity (without subsidies) at prices lower than their utility offers, sufficient to power almost 10% of the country.
That’s the powerful headline from the Institute for Local Self-Reliance’s latest report, Commercial Rooftop Revolution. Despite the opportunity, utilities, regulators, and policy markers are largely unprepared for the surge of local solar power.