Thursday, July 31, 2014

Vermont Business Magazine: Shumlin announces Clean Energy grants for nine community solar projects | SunCommon

"I'm here today with local community officials, representatives of great solar companies like Northern Reliability and SunCommon, and others committed to growing our economy, creating jobs and protecting the environment through renewable energy projects," the Governor said. "We have more than quadrupled the amount of solar energy in Vermont since I became Governor, and I am very pleased to be able to announce Clean Energy Development Fund solar grants to keep our momentum going."

As part of his Summer Solar Tour, Governor Peter Shumlin today visited Northern Reliability in Waitsfield, one of the many solar businesses that has helped Vermont earn the Number 1 national ranking for solar jobs per capita, to announce $442,750 in Clean Energy Development Fund grants for nine community solar projects. Overall these grants will support the installation of more than 500 kilowatts of solar for schools, towns, and communities in Vermont. This includes $80,000 for the Town of Waitsfield to install a 102 kilowatt solar project on the town garage to power Waitsfield's municipal buildings.

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Saturday, July 26, 2014

California - Making Community Solar Gardens Work | M.Cubed

California has been quite successful at encouraging the development of (1) large utility-scale renewables through the renewables portfolio standard (RPS) and other measures and (2) small-scale, single structure solar generation through the California Solar Initiative (CSI) and measures such as net energy metering (NEM).  However, there have been numerous market and regulatory barriers to developing and deploying the “in-between” community-scale and neighborhood-scalerenewables that hold substantial promise.
Community-scale and neighborhood-scale distributed generation (DG) includes some technologies that simply are not cost-effective at the small scale of a single house or business, but are not large enough to justify the transaction costs of participating in the larger wholesale electricity market.  These resources, such as “community solar gardens”, can meet the demands of many customers who cannot take advantage of adding renewables at their location and can also reduce investment in expensive new transmission projects. Examples of these types of projects are parking structure-scale solar photovoltaics, solar-thermal generation and space cooling, and biogas and biomass projects, some of which could provide district heating.  Technology costs are falling so rapidly that these mid-scale projects are becoming competitive with utility-scale resources when transmission cost savings are factored in. SB 43 (Wolk 2013) recognizes that the promise of mid-scale renewables has not been realized.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Solar-powered Gondola Saving Clean Mountain Air in Colorado

Visiting Telluride, Colorado, the first thing you notice, besides the spectacular mountain view, is a free gondola. The gondola, traveling from the town of Telluride to the town of Mountain Village, is the first and only free public transportation of its kind in the United States. It was built to improve air quality in the region by keeping cars off the road.
The town is also participating in SMPA’s community-owned solar program.  In December 2012, SMPA completed the 1.1-MW solar PV system in Paradox Valley, Colorado. It is "the nation’s largest community-owned solar array,” said Brad Zaporski, manager of member services at SMPA.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Westminster inks deal to draw energy from community solar gardens | Denver Post

Westminster is joining other communities in providing a way for residents to buy into solar energy without installing solar panels.

Denver-based SunShare is currently building solar fields in Jefferson and Adams county that will deliver a combined total of 4 megawatts of energy per year when they go online at the beginning of 2015.

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Sunday, July 20, 2014

Nebraska - LES offers 'SunShares' as way to buy into community solar energy project

Lincoln Electric System customers who want to support renewable energy growth will have an opportunity to invest in a community-funded solar energy project.
The LES Administrative Board on Friday unveiled a new customer participation program that allows customers to buy so-called SunShares for $3 a month through their bills.
The city-owned utility plans to launch a marketing program soon to encourage customers to sign up for the voluntary program set to begin Aug. 2.
The size of the project that will use photovoltaic cells to generate electricity has not been determined, but LES is looking at up to 10 megawatts of capacity. One megawatt can power about 250 homes.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

San Juan Islander | COMMUNITY SOLAR for our SCHOOLS

Enroll in Community Solar today and be a part of the renewable energy future of San Juan County.
Your participation in Community Solar for our Schools will provide our students with renewable energy education and will generate renewable solar energy for our schools, reducing our schools' electricity costs.
To top it off, all participants receive payback through annual production incentive payments.
Four solar-electric systems will be installed at the schools on Lopez, Orcas, San Juan, and Shaw Islands. There will be no cost to the school districts for the purchase or installation of the solar-electric systems.
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Electricity Without the Grid | Center for American Progress

Community own solar microgrids can bring energy ownership to everyone, fighting poverty and climate change at the same time.

- Joy


Around the world, approximately 1.4 billion people, or one in five, lack any access to electricity. Millions more are limited to only intermittent access. This is commonly referred to as "energy poverty." Energy poverty remains a primary barrier to improving economic growth and well-being in the world's poorest communities. It disproportionately affects people living in rural areas, as many energy-deficient communities are located in areas that are too remote or impoverished to attract investment for centralized grid access. Now, new off-grid clean energy technology is revolutionizing electricity access in developing countries around the world.

The lack of energy access negatively affects many areas of daily life. Energy poverty has left more than 1 billion people in developing countries without access to adequate health care because the lack of electricity means health care facilities have to treat patients in the dark and cannot store medical supplies in refrigerated, sterile environments. Without the ability to store vaccines, blood, and some medicines at a constant temperature, these potentially life-saving treatments may go to waste. In India, 46 percent of the country's health care facilities, which serve around 580 million people, operate without electricity.

This Texas solar farm uses sheep for its landscaping needs | Grist

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Friday, July 18, 2014

Australia - Community solar shines brightly in Singleton

NEW owner of the Singleton Solar Farm Andrew Thaler has big plans for the 17 year-old infrastructure.
He revealed his hopes to introduce community participation to expand the existing 2.75 hectare site (about the size of five football fields) at a Business Leaders Luncheon at the Singleton Visitor and Information Centre on Thursday.
“Anyone can put a solar panel on their roof but it won’t be completely effective because of building or tree shadows, it has greater potential if it is set up in the right configuration in a wide open space such as the Singleton Solar Farm,” he said.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

UK - New scheme to steer community renewable energy groups forwards

Co-operatives UK has launched a free scheme designed to drive new and existing community energy groups forward and towards success.

The Community Energy Mentoring initiative enables community energy groups to benefit from support delivered by experienced and trained mentors. The mentors will help in navigating the often complex financial, regulatory and organisational hurdles faced by ventures looking to develop community energy projects.

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Monday, July 14, 2014

Fossil industry is the subprime danger of this cycle | The Telegraph

The epicentre of irrational behaviour across global markets has moved to the fossil fuel complex of oil, gas and coal. This is where investors have been throwing the most good money after bad.
They are likely to be left holding a clutch of worthless projects as renewable technology sweeps in below radar, and the Washington-Beijing axis embraces a greener agenda.
Data from Bank of America show that oil and gas investment in the US has soared to $200bn a year. It has reached 20pc of total US private fixed investment, the same share as home building. This has never happened before in US history, even during the Second World War when oil production was a strategic imperative.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Austin Energy plans community solar farm project | Austin Business Journal

Austin Energy is planning to transform a 26-acre lot in East Austin that is owned by the city into the first community solar farm,the Austin American-Statesman reported.The project will also be the utility company's first smaller-scale project within city limits.
The land, a half-mile from Springdale Road, is not attractive to developers since it lies near an electrical substation and a railroad track, Austin Energy's Manager of Solar Services Danielle Murray told the Statesman. Last spring, Austin Energy sought bids to build the four-megawatt plant, which will be enough to power 500 homes. In the next month or so, a bidder will be picked, Murray said, but noted that the project needs City Council's blessing.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

City of Palo Alto Issues Community Solar RFP | Stoel Rives LLP - JDSupra

On July 1, 2014, the City of Palo Alto Utilities (CPAU) issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) to create a CPAU-branded Community Solar Program. According to CPAU, "the primary objectives for the program are 1) to help facilitate reaching the City's target of meeting 4% of its energy needs from local solar energy by 2023 (from 0.7% in 2013), and 2) to give all of its customers – including those who rent and those without sufficient solar access – the opportunity to experience and derive benefit from cost-effective local solar development."

CPAU expects to purchase the full output of electricity produced by a 3rd-party owned, operated, and maintained solar facility resulting from the program and all associated attributes, including renewable energy credits (RECs) and environmental benefits. The desired capacity of a community solar facility is 1 to 3 MW (CEC-AC), to be interconnected to CPAU's distribution grid.

The RPF is available here.

A pre-proposal webinar will be held Wednesday, July 9, 2014 at 2:00 p.m. PST (; dial in(712)432-1212; meeting ID 430-877-385). CPAU encourages all prospective bidders to participate.


Friday, July 4, 2014

NREL Community Solar Scenario Tool

Community Solar Scenario Tool

The Community Solar Scenario Tool (CSST) provides a "first cut" analysis of different community or shared solar program options. The tool has been created primarily with smaller municipal utilities, electric cooperatives, and state and local advocates in mind. This model allows users to see how various inputs, such as system size, location, and project costs, impact the economics of a project from both a potential customer's perspective as well as the sponsoring utility. For more complex financial modeling options, check out NREL's System Advisor Model (SAM).

The Community Solar Scenario ToolMicrosoft Excel is available as a downloadable Microsoft Excel file, which includes information pertaining to the various calculations and descriptions of the outputs.

Contact Us

To learn more about using the Community Solar Scenario Tool for your project, contact John Nangle.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Research: Solar panels benefit crops | EnergyCentral

Recent Southern Oregon University graduate Sai Weiss has shown solar panels and crops can co-exist on the same land -- and that the combination can even boost the productivity of shade-loving plants such as lettuce.
The results could have far-reaching implications for the emerging practice of solar double-cropping, in which farmers raise plants amid solar panels that allow some sunlight to reach the ground.

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