Sunday, June 29, 2014

LES gets 78 proposals for community solar energy project | Lincoln, Nebraska Journal-Star

When Lincoln Electric System asked developers to submit proposals for a community solar project, administrators of the city-owned utility didn't know if they'd get any responses.
They got 78 proposals from 14 developers who want to build projects ranging in size from 100 to 2,000 kilowatts, in and around Lincoln.
The goal of the community solar project is to give LES customers who don't have suitable roofs for solar panels — or who have roofs pointing in a wrong direction or no individual roofs at all — a way to support a renewable energy project, possibly by purchasing shares.

Friday, June 27, 2014

Eastern States Lead Way With New Microgrids as a Strategy to Weather Severe Storms |

Community-owned microgrids could be the next step in local control, resilience, and renewables!
- Joy
Two years ago this week, a fierce, fast-moving thunderstorm system known as a derecho ripped through the Mid-Atlantic leaving more than 1 million of Maryland's 2.5 million electricity customers without power. 
In the aftermath of the storm, the state stepped up efforts to improve the resiliency and reliability of the grid. This week, at the behest of Gov. Martin O'Malley (D), the Maryland Energy Administration (MEA) released a road map for microgrid deployment as part of a strategy to withstand future storms, which are expected to become more intense as a result of climate change.
Building microgrids is one possible solution. A microgrid combines various loads with distributed energy resources and advanced control equipment to allow portions of the electric grid to operate independently from the larger grid network, or to "island" in the case of the macrogrid going down.

A solar garden grows - Harvard residents develop communal solar project | CommonWealth

WORTH ROBBINS IS like a lot of Massachusetts residents. He always wanted to put solar panels on his roof in Harvard, but he discovered that trees on his property and his neighbor’s property blocked out a lot of the sunlight. Instead of cutting the trees down or abandoning his solar dream, Robbins and a number of other residents in the central Massachusetts town who were facing the same dilemma banded together to do something novel: they built a $1.7 million solar garden that formally opens this week. 

A solar garden is a lot like a community garden but with solar panels producing electricity instead of plants producing vegetables. Electrons are produced, fed into the grid, and the money collected for the power is then used to offset the electricity bills of the garden’s owners. The Harvard solar garden has 47 owners – 43 households and four businesses. 

Read more:

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Novato solar farm gets unanimous approval | Energy Central

On a 7-0 vote, the Marin County Planning Commission approved the permit for a solar installation proposed by Crawford Cooley and Beverly Potter on their property, a former rock quarry in an isolated area just outside Novato. Nine people, including representatives of Sustainable Novato, the Marin Conservation League and a local union, spoke in favor of the project, and an Audubon Society representative voiced concerns but did not directly oppose the project.

The project encompasses 4,272 solar panels up to 6.5 feet high on 11.5 acres of the 952-acre quarry. The $6 million project will generate 1.98 megawatts of electricity, delivered to Marin Clean Energy via nearby power lines. The site, which is not visible from the road, is west of the city of Novato, east of Stafford Lake and about a mile north of Novato Boulevard.

Representatives of Marin Clean Energy testified that the project would become part of "Sol Shares," which offers residents the chance to purchase 100 percent solar energy from a local solar farm in the company's service area.

Community Solar Gardens Bring Affordable Green Energy to the Masses | Inhabitat

A new trend is springing up across the country that’s making affordable solar energy increasingly available to the masses. Community solar gardens allow customers who aren’t able to establish their own solar power systems to buy into a solar array built elsewhere and get a credit on their electricity bill for the power produced by the panels. These arrangements that allow people to not only cut their power bills but also switch to more green energy first emerged in Colorado, but have since spread across the country – with laws allowing the projects to progress through legislatures in California, Minnesota and Washington D.C., and one on the books since 2008 in Massachusetts – where the trend is currently taking flight.

Read more: Community Solar Gardens Bring Affordable Green Energy to the Masses | Inhabitat - Sustainable Design Innovation, Eco Architecture, Green Building 

Opower Could Soon Enter the Community Solar Business | Greentech Solar

In an interview with Greentech Media at the Grid Edge Live conference on Tuesday, Yates described a possible strategy. Although the company has not yet solidified any specific solar offerings, Yates said he was interested in using Opower’s “customer care automation” platform to help utilities sell shares in community solar programs and run the billing process.
“We’re looking at ways of pursuing the management of community solar,” he said.
Yates stressed that Opower had not closed any deals or developed a targeted strategy to run community solar, but said he was "having conversations" with utilities about being involved in the process. He pointed to the emergence of community-scale solar in Colorado and other states as a way for power companies to offer customers an equity stake in solar projects while potentially avoiding net metering. 

Monday, June 23, 2014

Volunteers install Leavenworth’s first community solar project | The Wenatchee World

June 21–LEAVENWORTH — The sun beat down on Mark Karnofski and his crew of electricians as they worked on the roof of Icicle River Middle School on Thursday.

The hot days mean uncomfortable working conditions. But in a few weeks, long sunny days will be welcome on the roof, where Leavenworth’s first community solar project is now under construction.

Work began last week to install the 96 solar panels — the largest project of its kind in Chelan County.
It should start producing power by the end of the month.

Friday, June 20, 2014

New York Times Article on Community Solar Gardens

It's great to see the idea of community solar gardens getting this kind of exposure in the New York Times. While the article mentions the excellent work of Clean Energy Collective, I think it's also important to give a shout out to some of the many other companies that are doing great work in the shared solar space: SunShare, Ecoplexus, Community Energy, CleanPath, ACORN Renewable Energy Co-Op, Minnesota Community Solar, Community Energy Solutions, and the many municipal and cooperative utilities that have done this on their own in Ellensburg, WA, Sacramento, CA, United Power and Delta-Montrose Electric Association in Colorado, and Florida Keys Electric Cooperative.
The article States the cost of a panel in a solar garden can be from $500-$1400. This is a pretty broad range! Community solar billing software and ownership models in the United States are often private intellectual property,which has the potential to increase costs. It's important when planning a community solar array with a for-profit developer to obtain disclosure of the developer's profit margin -- it can be considerable.
I will be presenting a paper at the Solar 2014 Conference on July 8, 2014 titled "Open Standards for Shared Renewables". I will offer a model for the use of open standards and open source, which I hope can lower the barriers to entry for developers and community groups wishing to develop shared renewable systems, and lower the cost per panel for the subscriber.
- Joy
Like many consumers, David Polstein had already done much to reduce energy use in his large Victorian home in Newton, Mass. He replaced his appliances with energy-efficient models, installed better heating and put in new insulation. But he was unable to get a solar system to reduce his utility bill, he said, because his roof is too small and shady to make it worthwhile.
Now, that could be changing. Mr. Polstein is considering joining a so-called community solar garden that is under development in his part of the state, one of many similar new arrangements now available in Massachusetts. Through the approach — largely pioneered in Colorado and spreading across the country — customers buy into a solar array constructed elsewhere and receive credit on their electricity bills for the power their panels produce.
For developers, such shared or community solar arrays create a new market from the estimated 85 percent of residential customers who can neither own nor lease systems because their roofs are physically unsuitable for solar or because they do not control them — like renters and people living in large apartment buildings. And for those customers, it offers a way into the solar boom, whether they seek to contribute to the spread of clean energy or to reap the potential cost savings.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Storage Is the New Solar: Will Batteries and PV Create an Unstoppable Hybrid Force? | Greentech Grid

Over the last decade and a half, battery storage went from being the core enabler of solar PV to a marginal technology. Battery-based systems now only represent around 1 percent of yearly solar installations in America and throughout the world.
“Sometimes people forget that storage was the roots of the solar industry,” said Kennedy.
But the industry is getting back to those roots and embracing storage once again. As lithium-ion batteries get cheaper and more abundant, solar penetration reaches high enough levels to worry utilities, and electricity markets evolve to reward storage, attention has suddenly turned back to batteries.

Harvard Solar Garden Bill Advances out of Revenue Committee

This is a good example of how we can establish rules so that shared offsite solar is treated the same way as onsite solar for tax and incentive purposes.
- Joy
BOSTON— Legislation that would help establish a shared community solar garden in the town of Harvard sponsored by Senator Jamie Eldridge (D-Acton) and Representative Jennifer Benson (D-Lunenburg) received a favorable report from the Joint Committee on Revenue on Thursday, June 12th. S.2138, An Act relative to community shared solar energy systems in the town of Harvard, would allow residents participating in the Harvard community solar garden to rely upon the same solar tax benefits as residents who installed solar panels on their homes.
“I was happy to file this home rule petition, passed at Town Meeting, and am pleased that the Joint Committee on Revenue acted so quickly in reporting the bill out favorably,” said Senator Eldridge. “I have great affection for the persistence of the founding members of the Harvard Community Solar Garden, and their commitment to ensuring that more residents can choose to power their homes with solar power, and not fossil fuels.”

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Illinois Powers 91 Communities With 100 Percent Clean Energy | EcoWatch

Many people don't know of a state with more than one community using 100-percent renewable electricity, but one state has nearly 100 of them.

Illinois has 91 communities that have achieved 100-percent renewable energy, according to "Leading from the Middle: How Illinois Communities Unleashed Renewable Energy," a report released Friday by the Environmental Law & Policy Center, Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, LEAN Energy US, the Illinois Solar Energy Association and George Washington University Solar Institute. Each of the communities used group buying power to purchase electricity with renewable energy credits.

Aurora weighs expanding solar garden for consumers with Xcel program

AURORA —Aurora may double the size of a solar garden that provides energy bill rebates to participating residents after a private developer approached the city to participate in one of Xcel Energy's 10 annual Solar Rewards Community projects.

Read more:

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Oakland: Rally to Stop AB 2145: PG&E’s Attack on Local Clean Energy & Jobs!

Rally to Stop AB 2145: PG&E’s Attack on Local Clean Energy & Jobs!

Just as Alameda County is taking steps to establish a community-based clean energy program in the East Bay, PG&E is using ratepayer funds to push AB 2145, a bill that would gut the Community Choice energy law and prevent the East Bay from moving forward with greener, cheaper, local electricity generation.

We call on our local State Senators, Ellen Corbett and Mark DeSaulnier, to do the right thing--to stand up and take leadership on Community Choice, clean energy, and jobs in the East Bay. Vote NO on AB 2145 at the Senate Energy Committee!

We call on PG&E to stop using our ratepayer dollars to strengthen its monopoly by gutting the Community Choice energy law.

When: 10:30 am, Thursday, June 19
Where: PG&E Service Center, 1919 Webster Street, Oakland (2 blocks from BART)

Call our East Bay Senators, Ellen Corbett (916-651-4010) and Mark DeSaulnier (916-651-4007), to oppose AB 2145. Call Senator Alex Padilla (916-651-4020), Chair of the Energy Committee (who is running for Secretary of State) to do the same! Make our voices heard.

Sponsored by: Californians for Energy Choice, Oakland Climate Action Coalition, Berkeley Climate Action Coalition, California Environmental Justice Alliance, Organizing for Action, Local Clean Energy Alliance, Communities for a Better Environment, Asian Pacific Environmental Network.

For more info, contact Colin Miller,, 510-834-0420 (office) / 646-703-4837 (cell)

Join us at the sign-making party on Weds, June 18th, from 6:00 - 7:30 pm at 438 49th St, Oakland

Editorial comments from Solar Gardens Blog:
To me, there are really two questions here. The first is how do we reduce greenhouse gas emissions? I passionately believe this should not be through "any means necessary".

The second is how do we address inequality and bring democracy into our energy system? How do we establish local control and individual ownership of our own energy? 

I think the best way to do this is to break up the old centralized model of utilities. This means breaking up the IOUs and going to public power and cooperatives, eliminating the for-profit utility model completely. We can certainly have solar gardens and other kinds of shared energy under this model.

Along with municipalization such as we are seeing in Boulder and Minneapolis, community choice aggregation is one of the best tools that we have for doing this, and why I oppose AB 2145 and strongly support these protests.

IOUs being pressured to adopt something like community programs and more renewable energy. This is a good thing, but only a rearguard action and a prelude to the structural changes to come. Ultimately IOU business models will have to change, and we will be in the new landscape of energy. Let us work to shape this landscape to be the most beneficial for users of energy possible.

Keep up the good fight,


Australia's Largest Community Solar Project Proposed

The ACT government has formally called for proposals for a community solar scheme that would be the biggest community project in Australia.
The ACT Minister for the Environment and Sustainable Development Simon Corbell said the government wants to build a community solar projects totaling 1MW – allowing ownership by people, including those who could not afford their own stand alone system, or who lived in apartments or rental accommodation.
The ACT government is offering a feed in tariff of up to 20c/kWh for the installations, higher than any other tariff currently available in Australia. The initiative is part of the territory’s plan to source 90 per cent of its renewable energy target by 2020.

Monday, June 16, 2014

NRG Energy completes 6 MW community clean energy project in California | PV Magazine

One of the first of its kind in the U.S., the NRG Community 1 Solar Generating Facility has been developed in collaboration with the Center for Energy Sustainability at San Diego State University’s (SDSU) Imperial Valley Campus.
The utility provider will sell the solar power at a competitive rate to customers signed up to the local community solar program, which is similar to a previous NRG-backed community scheme launched in Vermont, whereby low-cost, clean energy is available to households that may not have the means to install their own solar rooftop arrays.

Read more:

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Boulder seeks to alleviate Xcel's solar, energy efficiency concerns | Boulder Daily Camera

Should Boulder follow through with plans to create a municipal utility, the city is willing to transfer renewable energy credits from pre-existing solar contracts to Xcel Energy and assume the utility's solar garden contracts within Boulder.
In exchange, Boulder wants its residents and businesses to be able to continue to participate in Xcel's solar and energy efficiency incentive programs until the city decides to launch its own electric utility.
Read more:

Friday, June 13, 2014

New York’s Shared Solar Proposal Invites Millions of Renters to the Solar Revolution | EcoWatch

It’s not difficult to feel somewhat left out of the potential solar revolution if you’re not a home or property owner, but a New York State Assembly member hopes to change that.
State Energy Committee Chair Amy Paulin (D-88) has introduced the Shared Clean Energy Bill, which would allow renters, the owners of unsuitable roofs, schools and businesses to go solar through utility bill credits. The plan would be the 11th shared renewable plan in the U.S., following Vermont, Massachusetts and others.
“Today, solar is creating thousands of jobs in New York and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy all while building a cleaner, more resilient energy supply,” Paulin, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement from Vote Solar. “Yet, a majority of our residents and businesses cannot participate in that growing solar marketplace simply because they do not own rooftops that are suitable for solar. This bill would make solar an option for renters and millions of other New Yorkers for the first time, in turn delivering more solar benefits to our state.”

Getting a Fair Share of Solar | IREC

The U.S. residential solar sector has scored a first:  During the first quarter of 2014, more megawatts of residential PV were installed than commercial PV, prompting cheers from industry observers. But while such growth demonstrates the mounting strength of the residential solar sector, opportunities for enjoying the benefits of residential solar are not unlimited.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) believes that in some areas of the country, as little as 25 percent of homes may be suitable for a PV system, due to physical limitations of rooftops, poor building orientation, and/or inadequate solar resources. Other hurdles that stand between residents and solar can include building ownership, easements and building restrictions, upfront costs of system ownership, and difficulties in obtaining financing.
Read more:

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Job Posting - Solar Marketing Fellowship

Job is also posted here:

Solar Marketing Fellowship -- onsite, 3-6-month minimum commitment
If you want to make a small contribution, join another firm. If you want to change where the world gets its energy, join us!
Sunible Inc. has two key brands that are working hard to help drive solar adoption. is connecting homeowners and solar installers -- we want to put put solar on 5 million roofs! Sunible’s PV Solar Report publishes data, reports, and news -- we’re on a mission to deliver relevant, timely, and succinct information to busy solar professionals.
We believe clean, renewable solar energy is the energy of now. We’re passionate about helping solar go mainstream and need solar superheros who share our passion. If you want to get in on the ground floor of an exciting solar startup, read on.
You will ensure social media channels for PV Solar Report and Sunible are kept current and engage our customers. You will curate daily news summaries for solar industry professionals, and write content for PV Solar Report that helps move our industry forward.
You will accomplish this with guidance and support from our Communications Director.
• Research, write, and edit engaging news and content for publication
• Keep up-to-date on solar news, and curate daily news summaries for the solar industry• Manage Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media outreach and engagement• Track and analyze audience engagement data• Attend local solar events as time allows
• Proficiency in social media platforms
• Some experience with web content management systems preferred
• Familiarity with solar and solar issues preferred, but passion about renewable energy is a must
• Self-starter, detail-oriented, with excellent interpersonal skills
• An unshakable positive attitude and ability to work within tight publication deadlines
• Hands-on exposure to a technology startup and the solar industry
• An opportunity to build a portfolio and name among other media outlets
• Access to people and companies in the industry
• A possible opportunity to work full-time in the future
• A glowing recommendation letter, if you crush it

• Excellent writing and time-management skills are essential
Hours, Commitment, Compensation
This is a full-time fellowship with a three-to-six-month commitment. A stipend will be provided.
The position is divided between two offices: the SfunCube, a solar startup incubator in the heart of Oakland's Uptown area, and our San Francisco office in the thriving South of Market area.
What You Will Get out of This
• Experience in solar, communications, and social media
Application Instructions
Email your resume, cover letter, and a short writing sample to with your name and the position in the subject line, like this: “Jane Sample for Solar Marketing Fellow.” Applications will be reviewed on a rolling basis.

PG&E and Politicians Looking to Gut Utility Competition Law | Greentech Solar

In 2010, PG&E sponsored a ballot measure, Proposition 16, that was a naked attempt to preserve utility power at the expense of customer choice. That proposition went down in flames, despite $46 million of PG&E money behind it, as voters sussed out the motives behind the proposition.
PG&E and its electrical union, IBEW, are back to the same shenanigans in 2014, but now they’ve got legislative allies willing to undermine customer choice in favor of utility control.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Harvard Solar Garden Ribbon Cutting and Grand Opening - Friday, June 27, 2014

Please join us in the cutting of the green ribbon at the first member owned community shared solar garden in Massachusetts on Friday Morning, June 27th at 10 a.m at 285 Ayer road in Harvard, Massachusetts, 01451.
The Harvard Solar Garden was conceived as an outgrowth of the first Solarize Massachusetts pilot program by a coalition of ordinary and extraordinary folks who were unable to install solar photovoltaic electric panels on their own roofs due to shading or older roof conditions who decided to band together to create a community shared solar arrray that would offset their individual electric bills. Engineering and design assistance was provided by Solar Design Associates, a local Harvard business in operation since 1974, and coincidentally located directly across the street from the new solar garden.
After two and a half years of many seemingly unsurmountable hurdles and challenges on many fronts, the sun will begin to generate power for the people of Harvard and West Central Massachusetts in an innovative and exciting new way. We look forward to seeing you celebrate with us there! Oh, please wear comfortable shoes...and learn how you too to may be able join a solar garden!

Sunday, June 8, 2014

New York State "Solar Gardens" Bill Passes Assembly Committee | Vote Solar

Here's a Vote Solar press release for the "solar gardens" bill moving through the legislature in Albany.  Those of you in New York, please contact your state assembly member and senator to help speed this through before the June 19 deadline.
- Joy

New York solar is on a tear! Following on the heels of a massive NY-Sun extension and the “Reforming the Energy Vision” process kick-off, lawmakers are now considering a shared clean energy bill to help renters and others go solar.  Today the Assembly Energy Committee passed A.9931, which would establish a new shared clean energy program in the state. And later that same day the Senate kept things rolling by introducing a same-as bill (S.7727). We are – in a word - psyched to see so much momentum behind this effort to allow more New Yorkers to participate in and benefit from the state’s growing solar economy.
Despite strong solar growth in the state, a majority of New York’s energy consumers – including renters, families and businesses in multi-unit buildings, and homeowners with shaded roofs – are unable to invest in their own rooftop solar energy systems. A.9931/S.7727 would overcome that barrier to solar adoption by allowing energy customers to subscribe to a local renewable energy project elsewhere in their community and receive a utility bill credit for their portion of the energy produced.
“Today solar is creating thousands of jobs in New York and pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into our economy all while building a cleaner, more resilient energy supply. Yet a majority of our residents and businesses cannot participate in that growing solar marketplace simply because they do not own rooftops that are suitable for solar. This bill would make solar an option for renters and millions of other New Yorkers for the first time, in turn delivering more solar benefits to our state,” said New York State Assemblymember, Energy Committee Chair and bill sponsor Amy Paulin (D-88).
Shared Clean Energy would make solar work for even more of New York. That means more local solar investment, more local solar jobs and healthier, more resilient communities. We thank Assemblymember Paulin and Senator George Maziarz (R-62) for their leadership on this bill, and we urge their colleagues in the legislature to pass A.9931/S.7727 so that more New Yorkers can go solar.
And we’re not the only ones. We’re excited that local environmental groups, solar businesses, affordable housing advocates, even our favorite Oscar-nominated renewable energy advocate Mark Ruffalo are all speaking up in support of the bill. We hope you’ll add your voice too – we’ve made it easy here.
RuffaloSharedSolar“I’ve never been prouder to call myself a New Yorker as leader after leader steps forward on behalf of health and economic opportunity for all. The Shared Renewables Bill is moving forward with strong leadership in and outside Albany, but most importantly, it is moving forward on a road that ALL New Yorkers can walk, with access to stable, clean and affordable solar energy to power their homes and places of business, whether owned or leased. That means moving forward, together – with better health and economic opportunity in communities across the state, from Buffalo to Binghamton to the Bronx and everywhere in between,” said Ruffalo.
“We have four times more solar installed in our state today than we had just two years ago. New Yorkers clearly want more clean, reliable solar energy powering our homes, schools and businesses. A9931 would connect more New Yorkers with the solar power they want and continue put our state at the forefront of energy development and job growth in our country,“ said Shaun Chapman, President of the New York Solar Energy Industries Association (NYSEIA).
“Solar is delivering tremendous health, environmental and economic benefits to New York, but the traditional panels-on-your-roof approach simply doesn’t work for most of our energy consumers. Families and businesses who rent and plenty of others are left in the dark. It’s time for a more inclusive approach to New York clean energy. We urge lawmakers to pass A9931 solar can shine for all,” said Aaron Bartley, Executive Director of People United for Sustainable Housing (PUSH) Buffalo.
“New York has been a clean energy pioneer. By giving more consumers access to solar power for the first time—from family renters to business owners—this is a clear next step to building on that legacy,” said Jackson Morris, Senior Energy & Climate Analyst, at the Natural Resources Defense Council.
“New York has charted a pioneering path forward on clean energy. Strong existing programs and new initiatives like the ‘Reforming the Energy Vision’ process aim to empower New Yorkers to take climate action into their own hands and repower our state with clean energy. Shared solar, which gives more consumers access to renewable energy, should be part of New York’s clean energy vision,” added David Gahl, Pace Energy and Climate Center’s Director of Strategic Engagement.
Strong calls from strong partners for this commonsense policy for expanding solar participation. Ten other states have shared clean energy programs, including Massachusetts and Vermont, as well as Washington, DC.
So what comes next? Following its successful passage out of the Energy Committee, the Assembly bill now advances to the Ways and Means Committee. The Senate version is headed to Finance. But it’s a race against time with the last day of the New York legislative session coming up June 19. That’s means now is the time to get loud in support of solar-for all. If you are a New Yorker, email your lawmakers today!