Watch: Utility and Advocate Debate Value of Solar

Date: 30 Jan 2015 | posted in: Energy, Energy Self Reliant States | 0 Facebooktwitterredditmail

placeholderAt a Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association conference in November 2014, ILSR’s Director of Democratic Energy John Farrell tilted with Xcel Energy’s Rick Evans about the state’s dormant value of solar policy and whether it was likely to be adopted in the near future. Click the following links to see some of the biggest questions and answers, scroll down to see the full list of questions, or watch the full video:

How does this compare to feed-in tariffs?

How does the value of solar conversation fit in with the bigger conversation happening nationally?

Do any of you think VOS will be implemented by any utilities? If so, when and by whom?

The Full Video

Watch the 68-minute video to see the two address a variety of questions about the policy, including its origins and prospects for implementation.

Questions for the two participants included

The first three minutes of the panel were a collection of audience questions, then answered in bulk. The questions included (links go directly to that portion of the video):

Initial Questions

Background of the legislative process
Xcel Perspective on Development of Value of Solar
How does this compare to feed-in tariffs?
Do you have any insight into the administrative process for overcoming hurdles?
What is the prognosis outside of the state?
What are the challenges that you see for establishing the “adder” for Value of Solar?
What is the difference between a rate re-design and changing the rate structure?
Where do you think we’re headed about a debate on who should own (solar gardens)?

The Answers (or parts of the answer)

Additional Questions

Cost of solar panels likely to come down
Value of solar likely to go up
Nothing is ever that simple
How does the value of solar conversation fit in with the bigger conversation happening nationally?
What does a 21st century electricity utility look like?
Narrow View: What is the economic value?
Broader view: what is public incentive?
What is it that we want from our utility system in the 21st Century?
Energy Conservation, Efficiency, Renewables, Distributed Generation
Problem: Net metering doesn’t fit with the accounting principle
Value of solar begins to solve the problem for utilities of the future
What we see all over the county is a state-by-state discussion about net metering
What is the value that net metered customers are producing?
Value of energy produced is often more than what the utility says should be included
How do we change the rules so it makes fiscal sense for utilities to accept the value proposition?
Community Solar Gardens are about more than just the value of solar
Current Incentive Programs: 1 Solar Rewards 2. Made in Minnesota
When we default to the Public Utilities Commission, we default on the decision about where the money comes from
Where do you see the utility going in terms of grid stability? Is democratic energy seen as an opportunity for Xcel?
What is Xcel’s position on value per kilowatt hour?
Do any of you think VOS will be implemented by any utilities? If so, when and by whom?
Does the PUC allow Xcel to hit targeted ROE’s and if so, why wouldn’t xcel be indifferent to solar investment?
Surveys show Minnesotans want more solar, and are willing to pay for it—why wouldn’t utilities increase it a little bit?
How did you come up with the cost of S-RECs as being 2-3 cents?
Are the rates for solar gardens considered to be a net metering rate or a value of solar rate?
If you as a garden operator complete a solar garden application for yourself, the applicable retail rate in effect at the time is locked in
The rate will be updated in February based on the preceding 12 months of historical data
Right, it won’t be 14 cents forever. The rate updates annually based on the previous year’s revenue and sales data
The point is that you can’t switch over to the VOS rate, you’re locked in to the applicable retail rate you have because that rate will likely increase


Further reading:


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John Farrell

John Farrell directs the Energy Democracy initiative at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and he develops tools that allow communities to take charge of their energy future, and pursue the maximum economic benefits of the transition to 100% renewable power.