NV Energy & TASC Reach Net Metering Compromise

Nevada-operating utility company NV Energy has reached a net metering agreement after working with The Alliance for Solar Choice (TASC). The state is one of several currently attempting to alter favorable net metering policies as rooftop solar energy grows in popularity.

The Alliance for Solar Choice logoAmendment to SB 374 would:

  • Define the existing 3% net metering cap to be 235 megawatts. This 235 megawatts will be the maximum amount of net metering permitted under the current net metering rules until December 31, 2015.
  • Require the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to design a future net metering tariff, with wide latitude for the Commission to structure that tariff.
  • Require the Commission to finalize the new tariff by December 31, 2015. Should the Commission not meet this deadline, the existing net metering tariff will remain in place until the Commission finalizes the new tariff.

TASC and NV Energy thanked several policymakers and organizations for their support during the negotiation process including: The Governor’s Office; State Senator Patricia Farley; State Senator James Settelmeyer; State Senator Kelvin Atkinson; the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada; the Nevada Bureau of Consumer Protection; and Rose McKinney-James, representing Bombard Electric, LLC.

Georgia Power Begins 3×30 Solar Project

Several military bases and soon to be energized by solar power. This week, Georgia Power has begun construction on new solar projects at Georgia Army bases Fort Gordon near Augusta and Fort Stewart near Savannah. At groundbreaking events at the bases last Thursday and Friday, leadership from the company, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC), the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives (OEI) and the General Services Administration (GSA) gathered with community leaders and others to tour the site and mark the beginning of development.

Leaders from Georgia Power, the Georgia Public Service Commission, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the General Services Administration break ground on the Georgia 3x30 solar project at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Leaders from Georgia Power, the Georgia Public Service Commission, the U.S. Army, the U.S. Army Office of Energy Initiatives and the General Services Administration break ground on the Georgia 3×30 solar project at Fort Gordon near Augusta, Ga. (PRNewsFoto/Georgia Power)

Georgia Power and the U.S. Army first announced the Georgia 3×30 solar project in 2014. The project includes the development of three 30 MW solar generation facilities at three separate Army bases throughout the state. The projects, each of which may cover more than 200 acres, are scheduled to be completed and begin delivering power to the state’s electric grid by the end of 2016.

“These solar projects support the Army and their mission to not only strengthen local Georgia bases as economic and community engines, but also their efforts to further the development of renewable energy and enhance national security,” said Kenny Coleman, senior vice president of marketing for Georgia Power during the groundbreaking event. “We’re committed to assisting our customers with all of their energy needs, including providing information and expert advice to help them make informed choices about adding solar – on an Army base or a home rooftop.”

Georgia PSC Commissioners Chuck Eaton and Stan Wise attended the events and noted the combined efforts to bring the solar projects to Georgia and keep rates low for customers. Georgia Power notes that large-scale renewable projects like Georgia 3×30 are adding to Georgia Power’s diverse generation portfolio and fueling the state’s momentum as one of the fastest growing solar markets in the nation.

Sen Udall & Friends Unveil National RES Bill

U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and friends, Edward Markey (D-MA), Martin Heinrich (D-NM), Michael Bennet (D-CO), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) has introduced a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) they say will pump nearly $300 billion into the economy while combating climate change. The bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030.

New Mexico Senator Tom Udall“A national Renewable Electricity Standard will help slow utility rate increases and boost private investment in states like New Mexico – all while combating climate change,” said Udall, who helped pass RES legislation through the U.S. House of Representatives and has continued to champion the issue as senator. “Investing in homegrown clean energy jobs just makes sense, and that’s why I’m continuing my fight for a national RES. More than half the states – including New Mexico – have widely successful RES policies, and it’s time to go all in. I’ve long pushed for a ‘do it all, do it right’ energy policy, and a RES will help us get there.”

If passed, the federal legislation would create the first national threshold for utilities to provide a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable resources, including wind, solar, biomass and others. It would set an 8 percent requirement by 2016, followed by gradual increases to meet the 30 percent by 2030 goal. More than half of the states already have renewable generation standards with specific timelines and target standards, and the legislation would not preempt stronger standards already implemented by states.

“Our record droughts, burning forests, dying fish, and melting icecaps all point to the urgency of taking on climate change,” said Merkley. “The only answer is burning less fossil fuel and moving toward renewable energy. Senator Udall’s bill would accelerate that transition and is a key to saving both our economy and our environment from the ravages of climate change.” Continue reading

Solar Implementation Library Updated

DCE Solar has released the third installment in its Solar Implementation Library. The new report focuses on the unique installation challenges and opportunities present with landfills, also known as “brown fields,” and other locations where standard beam-driven rack mounts would be inappropriate or impossible.

“Land that is otherwise unusable for development or building holds tremendous potential for solar energy collection,” said Bill Taylor, CEO of DCE Solar. “By adding a new source of Screen Shot 2015-05-15 at 11.03.21 AMrevenue generation for these properties, property owners can optimize their return on investment for a wide variety of real estate assets.”

In addition to presenting additional streams of income for property owners, DCE Solar’s report also highlights excellent earning potential for installers. The report states, “Ballasted ground-mount arrays are often another opportunity for developers to utilize low cost available land to create a nice ROI. This report is a guide that will assist those professionals in obtaining the results they expect.”

Common challenges such as corrosion prevention, anchoring and slippage, and streamlined assembly are also highlighted in the report. As well, considerations such as materials used in composition, the ability to pre-assemble off-site, and methodologies for minimizing maintenance are discussed. Like other instalments in the library, the report outlines a best-practices approach for the various sites that require zero-penetration applications.

“One of our goals for this report in particular is that it will attract additional opportunities for the solar energy industry,” added Taylor. “By reducing the cost, we expect to see continued expansion of the solar market.”

Yellowstone Distributed Energy Project Powers Up

Old hybrid batteries have a new home on the range. Toyota has flipped the switch on a project that is reusing 200 old battery packs from Toyota Camry hybirds. The Lamar Buffalo Ranch field campus in Yellowstone National Park, now not only features buffalo, but an innovative distributed energy system that combines solar power generation with re-used Camry Hybrid battery packs. The result according to Toyota: reliable, sustainable, zero emission power to the ranger station and education center for the first time since it was founded in 1907. Solar panels generate the renewable electricity stored within the 208 used Camry Hybrid nickel-metal hydride battery packs, recovered from Toyota dealers across the United States.

Announced in June 2014, the partnership among Toyota, Indy Power Systems, Sharp USA SolarWorld, Patriot Solar, National Park Service and Yellowstone Park Foundation is an innovative effort to extend the useful life of hybrid vehicle batteries while providing sustainable power generation for one of the most remote, pristine areas in the United States.

Toyota_Yellowstone_Battery_001“Through our long-standing partnership with Yellowstone National Park and the Yellowstone Park Foundation, Toyota has helped preserve Yellowstone for future generations,” said Jim Lentz, chief executive officer, Toyota North America. “Today, our relationship with Yellowstone continues, as more than 200 battery packs that once powered Toyota Camry hybrids have found a new home on the range.”

On an annual basis, the solar system will generates enough electricity to power six average U.S. households for a year, or plenty of power for the five buildings on the Ranch campus. The hybrid batteries provide 85kWh of energy storage to ensure continuous power, as the system charges and discharges. Onsite micro-hydro turbine systems, capturing energy from a neighboring stream, are scheduled to join the power mix in 2016.

The Yellowstone system is the first of its kind to use recovered hybrid vehicle batteries for commercial energy storage. Each battery pack has been disassembled and tested, and every piece that could be was repurposed. New components were also designed and built by Indy Power Systems specifically for this application, including an onboard battery management system for each battery pack. The battery management system is designed to maximize battery life and will also provide important insights into real-world performance. These insights will help Toyota design future battery performance and durability improvements.

“Toyota’s innovative response to solve a difficult problem has helped Yellowstone move closer to its goal of becoming the greenest park in the world,” added Steve Iobst, acting superintendent of Yellowstone.

Hawaii to Become 100% Renewable by 2045

Hawaii is the first state in the U.S. to pass legislation that will require 100 percent of all energy to sourced from renewable energy by 2045. Lawmakers voted 74-2 in favor of House Bill 623 requiring all electricity to be generated from clean sources such as wind, solar, and geothermal.

gI_59670_100 percent trend chart May15 sz800The measure, if enacted by Governor David Ige, would make Hawaii the first state in the nation with such a 100 percent renewable energy standard. Blue Planet Foundation, whose mission is to clear the path for 100% renewable energy, praised the move.

“As the first state to move toward 100% renewable energy, Hawaii is raising the bar for the rest of the country,” said Rep. Chris Lee, the Chairman of the House Energy and Environmental Protection Committee and introducer of HB 623. “Local renewable projects are already cheaper than liquid natural gas and oil, and our progress toward meeting our renewable energy standards has already saved local residents hundreds of millions on their electric bills. Moving to 100% renewable energy will do more to reduce energy prices for local residents in the long term than almost anything else we could do.”

Senator Gabbard, Chair of the Senate Energy and Environment Committee and a champion of the measure in the Senate, shares the sentiment. “With this bill, we’ll now be the most populated set of islands in the world with an independent grid to establish a 100% renewable electricity goal,” said Sen. Gabbard. “Through this process of transformation Hawaii can be the model that other states and even nations follow. And we’ll achieve the biggest energy turnaround in the country, going from 90% dependence on fossil fuels to 100% clean energy.”

House Bill 623 also increases the interim requirement to 30 percent renewable by 2020. Last year, Hawaii generated about 22 percent of its electricity from renewable resources. Continue reading

St. Louis Re-Use Dev Features Solar

I love the concept of re-use in terms of living spaces. I live in a former tea manufacturing facility dating back to the mid-1800s and integrating original features of the building give my loft a unique and cool character. While this is an ongoing trend, not many of the refurb buildings in the Midwest are featuring renewable energy. (I wish mine did.) But this one has it all – the Laclede Lofts based in St. Louis, Missouri.

The adaptive-resue project has a cool aura and uses various green features including high-efficiency appliances and light fixtures, but it also features a 250 kilowatt solar array on the roof that generates more than half of the electricity used in the building’s common areas. This project is a joint venture between Universatile Development and Rothschild Development redeveloped the former pharmaceutical factory, located near St. Louis University.

Laclede Lofts Solar ArrayJeff Winzerling, president of Universatile Development, said, “We estimated, for the course of a year, the total electrical usage for everything in the common areas: parking lot lights, lobby and hallway air-conditioning, elevator, gate opener, and security system. Even by the more conservative production projection, the array is producing 62% of our usage needs.”

Microgrid Solar engineers worked with the developer to explore a few different options for deploying solar power at the art deco building, which the Pfeiffer Pharmaceutical Company constructed in 1946 to house its offices, laboratories, manufacturing, and warehouse. In the end, the developer settled upon the simplest solution: a single 25kW array consisting of 98 solar panels with microinverters connected to the building’s common area meter. Winzerling added, “It would have been really cool to have some solar-powered apartments, but the complexity and expense would have been much greater, so we opted for a solar-powered building instead.”

Microgrid CEO, Rick Hunter, added, “This is a unique project, utilizing solar on a historic renovation project and an apartment building – you just don’t see this sort of thing very often, due to the challenges involved. We are thrilled to have been a part of the project.”

Another cool feature – a link was added to the building’s website that allows building residents and others to monitor the panels’ production over time, as well as to see the electrical output converted into reduced carbon dioxide emissions, either in trees planted or miles not driven.

NY-Sun MW Block Incentive Program Kicks Offs

New York is set to launch its NY-Sun Commercial/Industrial MW Block Incentive Program that is designed to create new jobs and improve economic development throughout the state. The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is calling the program a “key step” in expanding the use of solar.

“Once again, New York is showing how effective public policies can pay big dividends for the state’s economy and its environment,” said SEIA President and CEO Rhone Resch. “We applaud Gov. Cuomo, his administration, legislative leaders and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) for the successful launch of the MW Block Incentive Program and for their commitment to New York’s clean energy future. We also want to give a ‘shout-out’ to Con Edison, PSEG and the other utilities which are taking part in this exciting new program.”

Dykes Lumber Company solar power project with assistance from the NY-Sun program.

Dykes Lumber Company solar power project completed with assistance from the NY-Sun program.

NYSERDA says the $1 billion program is designed to expand solar deployment through public-private partnerships, as well as training programs for installers and public officials, standardized permitting, customer aggregation, consumer education and systems development.

Resch said the NY-Sun Initiative is clearly working. Growing by 105 percent, New York had the seventh most new solar capacity added last year in the nation, according to a recent report. The state also maintained its Top 10 ranking in total installed capacity, finishing the year behind only New Jersey and Massachusetts among Northeastern states. In 2014, New York added 147 megawatts (MW) of solar electric capacity, bringing its total to 397 MW.

“To put the state’s remarkable progress in some context, the 397 MW of solar installed today in New York is more than our entire country had installed by 2007. That’s an amazing achievement,” Resch added. “What’s more, we expect 2015 to be New York’s best year ever for new PV installations, with more than 250 MW on new capacity projected to come online.”

Black & Veatch Commission Microgrid

Black & Veatch has commissioned its new microgrid system that provides power to the Rodman Innovation Pavilion located at the company’s Kansas World Headquarters. The microgrid uses a combination of natural gas, solar energy, geothermal and battery storage, and is the first of its kind in the state. It can operate as an independent power source or in support of the utility electric grid adding resiliency to the building and lowering energy costs. The microgrid provides enough clean energy to run the entire Innovation Pavilion.

“We are excited to launch this new technology that highlights the broad range of expertise we have within Black & Veatch,” said Steve Edwards, president and CEO. “It also demonstrates the strong level of support and interest in the design from our professionals who are working on sustainable solutions around the world.”

Black & Veatch’s system includes two natural gas-fired microturbines that deliver onsite electrical power generation. During winter months, heat is recovered from the microturbines to support heating. A geothermal heat pump system with 15 wells drilled 500 feet deep helps heat and cool the Pavilion. The microgrid system also uses battery energy storage to capture energy from generation resources and deliver electricity to the World Headquarters during times of high electric demand, such as in the summer months.

To learn more about the complex interactions of the different energy technologies, Black & Veatch guests can interact with a large screen display that shows the microgrid operations in real time. The microgrid is continually monitored by Black & Veatch’s cloud based analytics platform, ASSET360. It collects data from the system and monitors the performance of each component based on factors like solar radiation, cloud cover, outside temperature and more. It calculates how much energy is being generated and used in the building, providing the company’s energy experts with insights on ways to improve system operations.

Kyocera Dedicates Floating Mega Solar Plants

1.7MW floating solar power plant at Nishihira Pond 1Kyocera Corporation and Century Tokyo Leasing Corporation’s joint venture Kyocera TCL Solar has completed construction of two floating mega-solar power plants at Nishihira Pond and Higashihira Pond in Kato City, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. The plants will generate an estimated 3,300 megawatt hours (MWh) per year.

The solar modules are 255-watt Kyocera modules with 11,256 used in total for the project that began in September 2014 and was officially completed in March 2015. The electricity generated will be sold to the local utility, The Kansai Electric Power Company through Japan’s feed-in tariff system.

1.7MW floating solar power plant at Nishihira Pond 2According to Kyocera TCL Solar, there are several benefits of the floating mega solar power plants:

  1. Floating solar power generating systems typically generate more electricity than ground-mount and rooftop systems due to the cooling effect of the water.
  2. They reduce reservoir water evaporation and algae growth by shading the water.
  3. Floating platforms are 100% recyclable, utilizing high-density polyethylene, which can withstand ultraviolet rays and resists corrosion.
  4. The floating platforms are designed and engineered to withstand extreme physical stress, including typhoon conditions.