Thursday, October 12, 2017

Puerto Rico: Distributed Generation, Community Solar, and Microgrid Legislation and Rules

Puerto Rico has a solar gardens law already on the books! The 2016 statute provides for distributed energy, community shared solar, and microgrids. Further action will be needed to fully develop and implement policy in a situation of heightened urgency.

The potential for solar energy and microgrids has been in the news, both for relief and long term recovery. Both Tesla and Sonnen are reportedly sending batteries to the island.

On August 5, 2016 Puerto Rico approved SB 1666 to become Act 133-2016 (English text). The law eases interconnection procedures for renewable energy projects up to 5 Megawatts and encourages community solar and microgrids. The bill's statement of motives references the Commonwealth's 50% reliance on oil for electricity generation, high electricity prices (around 20¢ / kWh), and vulnerability to oil price shocks.

The Act directs the Commonwealth Energy Public Policy Office (CEPPO) to identify the best practices for community solar, and mentions the IREC Model Rules and NREL's efforts. It encourages microgrids and suggests that a community solar project with sufficient storage might become a microgrid. CEPPO is directed to develop plans around community solar and mircrogrids, while the Energy Commission is charged with updating interconnection rules for Puerto Rico's utility PREPA.

“Section 3.4. - Duties and Powers of CEPPO.
(ii) To  formulate  strategies  and  make  recommendations  to  the  Energy Commission  to  improve  the  electric  power  service  in  low-income communities through the study, promotion, and development of Community Solar Projects, using as guidelines the recommendations made by organizations such as IREC and NREL, adapted to Puerto Rico, and seeking the input of PREPA and the representatives of community organizations as well as relevant professional, and academic organizations.

(jj) CEPPO, in conjunction with the Commission and PREPA, shall study the best practices of the electric power industry and shall establish a plan for the development of microgrids in Puerto Rico. To minimize costs and broaden access to greater physical and human resources, CEPPO may partner with local or federal agencies, or recognized universities or institutes of electric power research, inside and outside of Puerto Rico, to carry out this task. Initially, this option shall be made available to low-income communities, universities, healthcare centers, and public institutions.

(kk) CEPPO, in conjunction with the Commission, shall determine the format and specific information to be shared by each microgrid.”

Regulations and online applications for DG interconnection can be found at the
Autoridad de Energía Eléctrica (AEE) website.

The status of the CEPPO studies on community solar and microgrids are uncertain. Many servers on Puerto Rico are still down. If you have any information please contact me - and I will post the info here.

I am willing to help however I can to help put an emergency policy in place, train solar gardeners in Puerto Rico and other affected territories, and work with communities to help initiate projects.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Canada's First Solar Garden in Nelson, BC

On June 24, 2017, a Grand Opening was held for the Nelson Community Solar Garden.
The Community Solar Garden (CSG) is a one-of-a-kind solar array that is comprised of individual solar panels that have been grouped together and maintained in a single location, compared to other systems that install panels on individual roof tops. This central location provides unprecedented access to those who may rent, have shading issues or unsuitable roofs. In addition, owners of the panels do not have to worry about the maintenance or how their panel is performing as it is part of a collective and not individually owned.
Nelson Community Solar Garden Opens
Nelson Hydro invited its customers to invest in the Community Solar Garden and has had an overwhelming response. In one month, the project was sold out and had to be expanded by 20%. All of the 240 available solar panels were sold. The CSG is a win-win for Nelson Hydro customers as it provides simplified access to solar power while providing a credit in proportion to their investment, which can be found on their Nelson Hydro electricity bill. The credit can be transferred from one account to another, so that the investment stays with the residents even when they move to a new local address serviced by Nelson Hydro. While there are other shared solar projects in Canada, Nelson is the first to offer this type of model. We see this as an opportunity that can be replicated across the country, giving more Canadians access to renewable energy.
This CSG was funded by Nelson Hydro, Bullfrog Power, CELP (Province of BC) and the Nelson Hydro customers that directly invested in the project.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

OPALCO Awarded Grant for $1 Million for Grid Modernization - Orcas Issues: News & Views

The grant will help fund integration of a .5 MW (or 2 mWh) vanadium flow battery into OPALCO's grid, to condition and time-shift community solar array output, improve load shape, absorb sudden spikes in energy demand, and backup critical substation and fiber optic systems. This will help the co-op save money and improve grid reliability.

Sent from my iPhone

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Ten reasons to love community solar | Renewable Energy World

It's great when the press really "gets" the benefits of community solar! Renewable Energy World here publishes a list of ten great reasons to love solar gardens, including economic, social inclusion, and the potential for re-engineering the grid. Read the article here:


COSEIA / XCEL settlement to allow 4MW per year of low income Colorado solar gardens

COSEIA Helps Forge Landmark Settlement with Xcel Energy:
Pact will Light the Way for Colorado Solar Energy Progress 

The Colorado Solar Energy Industries Association (COSEIA) lauded the massive  settlement filed today by Xcel Energy and nearly two dozen organizations to resolve a host of issues facing the Colorado solar industry while setting the stage for progressive future energy policy.

"The solar industry will create more jobs and produce more affordable clean energy  because we have settled these issues,'' said COSEIA Executive Director Rebecca Cantwell. "Through these summer-long negotiations, we achieved major progress in giving Coloradans more control over their electricity use. Instead of the damaging fixed charges initially  proposed for everyone's bills, we endorsed  a move toward progressive electricity rates. These rates  will reward residents and businesses who choose to go solar by putting a proper value on electricity produced when it is most  valuable.''

Since June, COSEIA has played a key role in negotiations with Xcel and 26 intervenors ranging from large industrial energy users to environmental advocates. The parties embarked on the very complex task of simultaneously working to resolve scores of issues in three separate dockets filed by Xcel at the Colorado Public Utilities Commission in order to avoid months of costly litigation. 

The settlement covers a rate case determining which customers would pay how much for electricity, a renewable energy plan that details how Xcel will meet requirements of Colorado's renewable energy laws, and a proposal by Xcel to build a 50 MW solar facility and sell shares to the public. The settlement filed today still must be approved by the PUC, and parties will have a chance to explain their positions orally and at a hearing.

Among the key provisions COSEIA helped negotiate include:
  • A strategic shift from flat rates for residential customers to a trial launch of more sophisticated Time of Use (TOU) rates that allow customers more influence over their electric bill. These rates, now popular in other progressive markets, assign higher costs to energy during times when demand raises the cost of electricity. Since solar generates electricity during most of these hours, TOU rates more fairly account for the value of solar to all ratepayers. The new rates, which require meter upgrades, are expected to be rolled out in the next several years starting with volunteers. Opportunities  to reevaluate the plan will be provided.
  • First time solar programs to allow low-income Coloradans to reduce their electricity bills - and lower long-term costs - through solar energy that uses no fossil fuel. The settlement includes 4 MW a year of dedicated solar gardens for low-income Coloradans, and a separate rooftop program to install solar systems on up to 300 low-income residences.
  • Doubled capacity for solar systems geared toward businesses and industry.  COSEIA believes Colorado's  commercial market has large unmet solar demand and the settlement provides a start toward improving market conditions for this sector.
  • Agreement that the fundamental solar policy of net metering - being fairly credited for energy produced- will be available to customers regardless of whether they participate in Xcel's solar programs. We believe this will create  a robust new open market for residential solar.
  • A variety of provisions providing adequate capacity for rooftop solar, community solar gardens, and large scale solar, while imposing responsible conditions on Xcel's planned 50 MW solar farm.
  • Several stakeholder groups that will meet regularly and include key players  in Colorado's energy market. These groups will work collaboratively to resolve ongoing issues with the utility and to develop clear metrics for measuring Xcel's performance in supporting renewable energy programs.
"We must work with Xcel and other stakeholders to support the competitive solar industry. This settlement signals cooperation rather than confrontation which COSEIA believes is the most productive way to advance solar, allow citizens and companies to own clean energy rather than rent dirty fossil fuel, and impact catastrophic climate change. With this settlement, solar will continue as a bright star in our state's economy,'' said John Bringenberg, COSEIA board president.

COSEIA, founded in 1989, leads Colorado's solar industry will nearly 200 solar company and advocate members.

Links to the Documents filed today can by found here
For more information: 
Contact Rebecca Cantwell 720-209-6000 or 

or John Bringenberg 720-289-3289  or | 

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Colorado PUC Reverses Decision, Approves Community Solar Gardens | CleanTechnica

For the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, June was a month of changes for the future of renewable electricity and solar gardens in this state.
Colorado sun shutterstock_215450692 (1)
Here is why: At June’s end, PV-Tech reported the Colorado PUC reversed an earlier decision it had rendered by approving the deployment of community solar gardens.

Xcel now has approval to go ahead with its plan to develop 29.5 MW of power from community solar gardens as part of the RES compliance plan.

Read more:

Lawmakers Propose Investment Tax Credit For Energy Storage | Solar Industry

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich, D-N.M., a member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, has introduced legislation that would establish an investment tax credit (ITC) for the deployment of energy storage in both homes and businesses.
The Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act, S.3159, is co-sponsored by U.S. Sens. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Angus King, I-Maine; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; and Mazie K. Hirono, D-Hawaii.
According to Heinrich, the proposed tax incentives are modeled on the current ITCs for solar energy and apply to either large, grid-connected energy storage systems or smaller battery systems for residential power.