EFS Offering Hawaii Homeowners Solar Financing

Energy Finance Solutions (EFS) has partnered with the State of Hawaii’s Green Energy Market Securitization (GEMS) Program to help make clean energy improvements accessible to Hawaii utility customers. EFS has developed financing options that make the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic systems simple and affordable for Hawaii residents.

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

Photo Credit: Blue Planet Foundation

“Often, utility customers want to install solar, but the upfront installation cost is a challenge, and it’s not always easy for them to obtain financing through a traditional channel,” explained Cyd Miyashiro of the Hawaii Green Infrastructure Authority. “We are thrilled to offer an easy, affordable way to get our customers the financing they need—and to work with EFS, a partner with a long history and strong track record in financing energy efficiency and renewable energy. The State of Hawaii is committed to renewable power and hopes this initiative will drive increased adoption amongst our residents.”

Loans through the GEMS Program are now available to finance up to 100 percent of the cost of solar electric systems (up to $75,000), with no down payment required. The Program partners with qualified installers to assist borrowers with the installation of solar photovoltaic equipment. Fixed-rate loan terms are available for up to 20 years, and there are no closing costs or prepayment penalties associated with the loans. To be eligible, owner-occupied, single-family homes must be located in the State of Hawaii and within the Hawaiian Electric Companies’ (HECO) utility service territories.

Speaking of Hawaii, a recent Today in Energy report looks at Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) that were recently passed by Hawaii and Vermont. Both pieces of legislation require significant increases in renewable electricity and home solar systems will be an important factor in achieving mandates. Hawaii is requiring 100 percent renewable energy by 2045 while Vermont passed a bill creating 75 percent RPS by 2032. Both RPS targets are higher than any other U.S. states.

#NEO2015 Identifies Five Power Trends

Worldwide power generation will experience five trends over the next 25 years according to the New Energy Outlook 2015 published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The report is based on analysis country-by-country and technology-by-technology of electricity demand, costs of generation and structural changes in the electricity system.

New Energy Outlook 2015“NEO 2015 draws together all of BNEF’s best data and information on energy costs, policy, technology and finance. It shows that we will see tremendous progress towards a decarbonised power system. However, it also shows that despite this, coal will continue to play a big part in world power, with emissions continuing to rise for another decade and a half, unless further radical policy action is taken,” said Michael Liebreich, chairman of the advisory board at Bloomberg New Energy Finance.

New Energy Outlook focuses on five major shifts that will occur through 2040:

  • Solar, solar everywhere. The further decline in the cost of photovoltaic technology will drive a $3.7 trillion surge in investment in solar, both large-scale and small-scale.
  • Power to the people. Some $2.2 trillion of this will go on rooftop and other local PV systems, handing consumers and businesses the ability to generate their own electricity, to store it using batteries and – in parts of the developing world – to access power for the first time.
  • Demand undershoots. The march of energy-efficient technologies in areas such as lighting and air conditioning will help to limit growth in global power demand to 1.8% per year, down from 3% per year in 1990-2012. In OECD countries, power demand will be lower in 2040 than in 2014.
  • Gas flares only briefly. Natural gas will not be the “transition fuel” to wean the world off coal. North American shale will change the gas market, but coal-to-gas switching will be mainly a US story. Many developing nations will opt for a twin-track of coal and renewables.
  • Climate peril. Despite investment of $8 trillion in renewables, there will be enough legacy fossil-fuel plants and enough investment in new coal-fired capacity in developing countries to ensure global CO2 emissions rise all the way to 2029, and will still be 13% above 2014 levels in 2040.

Jon Moore, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, added, “Last year’s forecast from BNEF identified the big share that renewables would have in power investment – that raised eyebrows at the time, but other energy forecasters have since piped a similar tune. This year’s report pushes our thinking further, with updated analysis on the slowing levels of demand we are already seeing, and on the proliferation of small PV systems.”

BayWa r.e.’s Beethoven Wind Project in Operation

The Beethoven wind project located in South Dakota is in full operation. BayWa r.e. bought the project from a local developer in August 2014. The power is sold under a 20 year contract to NorthWestern Energy and GE has been engaged to maintain the turbines for the next 10 years.

BayWa r.e. Beethoven Wind Project“The 80 MW Beethoven Project is the largest wind project brought online in the US and the second largest one in BayWa r.e.’s history worldwide. Its output will supply clean, reliable, renewable energy to 31,000 homes.” said Matthias Taft, CEO of BayWa r.e. and BayWa AG board member for the energy sector. “The completion of Beethoven is an important milestone and we are on to the next project. As we continue to seek out the next opportunity, we welcome any introduction to exciting projects.” said Florian Zerhusen, CEO of BayWa r.e.’ wind business in the US.

In 2014, BayWa r.e. sold two operational renewable energy projects located in New Mexico but is still managing the facilities.

California Breaks the 10,000 MW Solar Barrier

According to the new U.S. Solar Market Insight Report, California has become the first state in the country to exceed 10,000 MW of installed solar capacity. California has more solar assets than most nations, including the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Australia and Belgium. The report was conducted by GTM Research and supported by the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).

During Q1 2015, California installed 718 MW of solar energy raising the state’s total capacity to 10,649 MW – enough to power nearly 2.6 million homes. The report went on to point out that California had big increases in Q1 across all solar sectors. Of the new capacity added, 231 MW were residential, 88 MW were commercial and 399 MW were utility scale. Together, these installations represented a $1.7 billion investment across the state in the first quarter alone, found the report.

FIGURE- U.S. PV Installations, Q1 2010-Q1 2015“When it comes to creating clean energy jobs and protecting the environment, California is showing the world how to get the job done,” said Rhone Resch, SEIA president and CEO. “To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, today California has 10 times more installed solar capacity than the entire nation had in 2007. We congratulate Gov. Brown, his administration, legislative leaders and the people of California for being at the forefront of America’s efforts to create a vibrant and growing clean energy economy.”

Resch said California’s explosive growth in solar is due, in large part, to stable and effective public policies such as the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC), Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) and Net Energy Metering (NEM). Nationwide, solar remains the fastest-growing source of renewable energy in the United States.

The residential market also continued to flourish in Q1, with installed system prices dropping 4 percent year-over-year – and down nearly 50 percent since 2010. The upswing in residential installations is expected to continue in the foreseeable future, especially in light of a recent report by the California Energy Commission, which shows that more than a quarter of all new homes being built in Southern California are being constructed with solar energy systems. Presently, there are 2,226 solar companies at work throughout the state, employing 54,700 Californians.

Canadian Wind Industry Grows

Yesterday was Global Wind Day and Canada celebrated its growing wind energy industry. The Canadian Wind Energy Association (CanWEA) announced that they are now the 7th country in the world to surpass 10,000 MW of installed wind energy capacity with the commissioning of the K2 Wind Power Project.

“Meeting the 10,000 MW milestone confirms that Canada is a global leader in wind energy development,” said Robert Hornung, CanWEA president. “Wind energy’s cost competitiveness, coupled with the fact that it produces no greenhouse gas emissions, Wind Facts websitemeans it is well positioned to continue its rapid growth as a mainstream contributor to Canada’s electricity supply.”

According to CanWEA, in the past five years, more wind energy capacity has been installed in the country than any other form of electricity generation. The country has witnessed three record years for the annual installation of new wind energy capacity and Canada’s wind energy capacity has grown by an average of 1,300 MW, or 24 percent, annually, and 2015 is on track to exceed this five-year average for new installations.

Wind turbines are now operating in every province in Canada, and in the Northwest Territories and Yukon, providing energy to over 100 communities and accounting for nearly 5 percent of domestic Canadian electricity demand.

“Wind energy is meeting Canada’s demand for new electricity in a clean, reliable and cost-competitive way,” added Hornung. “As concerns about global climate change grow, wind energy will also need to play a critical role in Canada’s transition to a more flexible and decentralized low carbon electricity system. We celebrate wind energy as Canada’s success story – with another milestone reached the best is yet to come.”

Intel Pilots Micro-Turbine Rooftop Wind Power

Intel is participating in a unique pilot wind power project. The company is installing 58 micro-turbines on the roof to help renewably power their building. According to Marty Sedler, director of global utilities & infrastructure for Intel, the project came about due to their ongoing efforts to find more sustainable ways to use technology. This is why, he said, Intel began piloting one of the world’s largest operating rooftop arrays of wind micro-turbines on the roof of its worldwide headquarters in Santa Clara, California.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel's global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015.  IMAGE SOURCE:  JLM Energy, Inc.

Rendering of the planned installation of 58 Wind Micro-Turbines on the rooftop of Intel’s global headquarters building in Santa Clara, California. The installation is underway and will be complete in May 2015. IMAGE SOURCE: JLM Energy, Inc.

Sedler explained that the micro-turbines are a proof-of-concept project, in which Intel hopes to collect data that could help the company better support green power applications and identify ways to continue evolving its sustainability programs. Intel also hopes the project will inspire other companies and electric users to consider creative new options to conserve energy.

Many companies, such as Intel, are not in a position to install full-scale wind turbines on their property. This is why the company partnered with JLM Energy, a Rocklin, California-based company that built and installed the micro-turbines. Sedler said each micro-turbine is between 6 and 7 feet tall and weighs approximately 30 lbs. The model of micro-turbine that Intel is using is the smallest design available for commercial buildings and is considered the most efficient turbine in its size class. Due to their small size, the micro-turbines are versatile in their potential uses and applications, said Sedler.

Each micro-turbine generates approximately 65 kWh. The array was sized to provide the electricity required for the lighting and general operation of Intel’s Executive Briefing Center. Sedler explained that since the micro-turbines need no fuel other than wind, they produce green power at no additional cost. For every kWh of green electricity the micro-turbines produce, Intel will require one fewer kWh of grid power, therefore reducing the need for power sources that produce much higher levels of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Continue reading

EWEA Calls for RES Targets to be Met

According to a new paper released by the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA), the European Commission needs new controls to ensure the EU meets its 27 percent RES target by 2030. The EU must have benchmarks in place by December 2015 that will provide indications for Member States on reaching the EU-wide target. Member States must set their individual commitments by no later than December 2017. It is of paramount importance that the target is distributed fairly among the Member States, said EWEA.

Kristian Ruby, chief policy officer at EWEA, said, “In the absence of a nationally binding commitment for 2030, it is important that the Commission puts its foot down if Member States fail to deliver on the 27% target. We must not have a situation where some countries take a back seat in the hope that other more ambitious Member States pick up the slack.It is essentiEWEA_vertical_01al that the role of the Commission is reinforced after 2020 to safeguard investor confidence and the regulatory stability needed to take Europe’s renewables rollout through the next phase.”

In the event that national contributions do not meet the overall target, said EWEA, the Commission should broker cooperation between neighboring Member States, particularly with those that have pledged below the Commission’s original benchmark. However, if those countries still fail to make up the shortfall, the EU executive must put in place a program as of January 2020 and require that Member States with low contributions pledge to an EU-wide fund for the development of renewable energies.

Under a 2030 governance system, EWEA is calling for the Commission to make official policy recommendations on national renewable energy action plans every two years. If a Member State were to ignore a policy recommendation, the Commission could issue a warning with the possibility of referral to the European Court of Justice if no action is taken. The EU executive must also have the authority to intervene when Member States make counter-productive changes to domestic renewable energy policies.

Ruby added, “It is imperative that the Commission is able to act. Under a stricter governance system, Member States would need to inform the Commission before making any regulatory changes that might impact the deployment of renewable energies.”

Michigan Winery Goes Solar

The largest solar agribusiness installation at a winery, Chateau Chantal Winery & Inn, is now online after a ceremonious flip of the switch by Michigan U.S. Senator Debbie Stabenow. “Michigan IS a leader in renewable energy,” staid U.S. Senator Stabenow. “Make, grow and innovate – that’s what we do best in Michigan.”

Chateau Chantal Power Up Switch_052915The 148.5 kW Harvest Energy Solutions solar installation will offset 40 percent of the winery’s energy needs. More than 50 invited guests were on hand to celebrate completion of the solar project.

“We’ve been harvesting grapes on this farm for 29 years and are now excited to diversify by harvesting the sun’s energy with the largest solar array at a Michigan winery,” said Marie-Chantal Dalese, president and CEO at Chateau Chantal.

Chateau Chantal’s solar PV system is made almost entirely with parts and equipment made in Michigan, from the Harvest Energy Solutions’ manufactured racking and clips to the Michigan-made solar panels.

“At Chateau Chantal, we’ve been incredibly lucky to steward this amazing property on Old Mission Peninsula. Installing a large scale solar array is one more way we can reflect our commitment to a healthy environment. Our vineyard has been MAEAP (Michigan Agriculture Environmental Assurance Program) certified for 8 years and we ceased application of chemical fertilizers in our vineyard 10 years ago,” Dalese. Continue reading

Coalition Fights for EV Dev in San Diego

A broad coalition has submitted a proposed settlement to the California Public Utilities Commission in an effort to speed up the deployment of smart electric vehicle charging stations in San Diego. The proposal calls for San Diego Gas and Electric (SDG&E) to install smart charging infrastructure at up to 550 multi-family housing sites and workplace locations throughout its service territory, with an average of ten chargers at each location for a total of 5,500 separate chargers. Customers would have a choice of rate options and equipment to ensure drivers charge in a manner that maximizes fuel cost savings and supports the electrical grid and to promote competition and market growth in the charging service industry.

“This proposal would increase access to electric cars and trucks and leverage those clean vehicles to cost-effectively integrate wind and solar energy to the benefit of all utility customers,” said Max Baumhefner, attorney at the Natural Resources Defense Council who is part of the groups supporting the initiative. “If the Public Utilities Commission adopts this carefully negotiated settlement, it would confirm California’s leadership in moving both the transportation sector and the electric industry to a future free of fossil fuels.”

Blink electric vehicle charges in Orange County, California. Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

Blink electric vehicle charges in Orange County, California. Photo Credit Joanna Schroeder

The goal of the proposal is to enable all communities access to electric vehicle charging stations and the corresponding benefits from EV on the road – less fossil fuel use and less emissions. The plan calls for SDG&E to install at least 10 percent of the charging stations in such communities and facilitate the expansion of electric car sharing to expand access to zero emission vehicles. As noted in The Greenlining Institute’s 2011 report, “Electric Vehicles; Who’s Left Stranded?” communities of color are more concerned about air pollution, making them a natural, but largely untapped market for clean vehicles.

“We commend SDG&E and all involved for putting together a proposed pilot program that, if adopted, would mean more EV charging stations in disadvantaged communities while helping create a diverse workforce and supplier network to get the job done,” said Sekita Grant, environmental equity legal counsel at The Greenlining Institute, another participating coalition member. “We need to make clean electric cars and trucks a reality for Californians of all income levels, and look forward to working with SDG&E to push beyond the settlement targets to make that happen.”

The pilot program would feature price signals that encourage drivers of electric cars to save money by charging their vehicles when renewable energy is plentiful and energy prices are low. This will help avoid the need to build more power plants and other electrical infrastructure.

Kansans Want More Solar

Kansans want more solar. A recent poll finds 73 percent of Kansans agree that the opportunity for homeowners to adopt solar energy is an important part of providing choice and competition. In addition, 79 percent of respondents agree that Kansas could benefit from new jobs created by the solar industry. Today, one of every 78 jobs in the U.S. is in the solar industry. The poll was conducted by Magellan Strategies and commissioned by The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC).

This 10 kW ground-mount at @PLHSKAWS features 40 @SolarWorldUSA panels and @IronRidge racks in Perry, KS. #KSSolar  Photo Credit: Cromwell Solar

This 10 kW ground-mount at @PLHSKAWS features 40 @SolarWorldUSA panels and @IronRidge racks in Perry, KS. #KSSolar Photo Credit: Cromwell Solar

“Solar jobs in Kansas have been increasing at a rate over 30% each year; these are good-paying, skilled jobs that are at risk if Westar attempts to eliminate solar competition,” said Aron Cromwell, CEO Cromwell Solar, based in Lawrence, Kansas.

According to TASC, Westar Energy awaits the Kansas Corporation Commission’s ruling on a proposal that would impose higher tariffs on solar customers in its service territory. The proposed change would force solar customers onto discriminatory rates with high monthly charges that will stop the growing solar market in Kansas. TASC and Cromwell Solar have petitioned to intervene in the rate case to advocate for residential rates that encourage consumer energy choice. Westar has opposed both parties’ participation in the case.

Additional finding include that 76 percent of Westar customers oppose Westar’s proposal to impose a tariff fee on customers with solar panels. With 80 percent of Republicans and 75 percent of Democrats agreeing that their utilities’ positions on clean energy are based on what’s best for these companies’ profits, the results, said TASC, call into question Westar Energy’s motives in proposing this anti-solar change.

“It is rare to see this level of bipartisan support for anything, but it is clear from these results that Kansans will not stand for Westar Energy or any utility to take away their ability to install solar,” said David Flaherty, CEO of Magellan Strategies.

Westar’s rate case is pending before the Kansas Corporation Commission. Public hearings are planned for July 21 and 23. The Commission should issue an order by the fall.