Saturday, January 30, 2016

The Good and Bad of Community Solar Gardens | Sunline Energy

It turns out that many companies that advertise community solar strip away some of the so-called "green" benefits and resell them to 3rd parties.

In essence, these companies keep the renewable energy credits (REC's) and sell them on the open market for a tidy profit. Sometimes they sell them directly to power providers in other states that are trying to meet their respective renewable energy mandates.

Don't get us wrong. You're still helping to reduce the total amount of pollution in the atmosphere. And you also dosave money – sometimes a lot of money. But as Severin Borenstein of UC Berkeley points out,

"If you've installed solar at your home and are now basking in the I'm-saving-the-planet warm glow, you may be in for a splash of ice water. There's a good chance someone else has purchased your halo and is wearing it right now."

Join the National Community Solar Partnership - Western Region Workshop March 3-4

The National Community Solar Partnership

Join the NCSP here
Register for the March 3-4 Denver workshop here

     In 2010, the Department of Energy announced the SunShot initiative, with the goal of reducing solar costs to the level where they can be competitive without subsidies. The program originally recognized both rooftop and utility scale PV as well as concentrated solar power. Since that time, community shared solar has grown faster (in percentage terms) than any other sector of the solar industry. In 2013, SunShot began a scoping process to determine how to promote this up and coming model, bringing together leaders and visionaries of the solar gardens world. I attended a workshop in Chicago coinciding with the Solar Power International conference, which helped set the foundation for SunShot’s work in community solar. SunShot awarded a number of grants to encourage the growth of startup companies and the work of industry associations.

     In 2015, the administration created the National Community Solar Partnership to promote community solar, , with an emphasis on scaling up solar for low- and moderate- income households. The partnership includes 68 member organizations including the Department of Energy (DOE), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), the Department of Agriculture (USDA), the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), representatives from solar companies, NGOs, and state and local community leaders. In November, the Partnership held a summit meeting at the White House to share success stories and to identify opportunities and barriers for the new industry sector. I had a chance to speak at this event on new opportunities afforded by changes in IRS policy allowing solar garden subscribers to claim the tax credit directly. With the extension of the Investment Tax Credit for solar energy, these changes will be beneficial for at least the next five years.

     The summit established four working groups including Community Building, State Best Practices, Finance and Business Models, and Federal resources. These working groups will be conducting monthly meetings by conference call. The Partnership will also be holding a series of  regional workshops, beginning in Colorado in March. These workshops offer the possibility for discussion of regional and state level policy, as well as an opportunity for new partners to become involved. Partners from western states besides Colorado are especially encouraged to attend.

Denver workshop information:

We are pleased to announce our first regional workshop -Catalyzing Community Solar in the West.

Thursday, March 3rd - Afternoon site visit and evening reception
Friday, March 4th, 8:30-5:00  Workshop
Where: EPA Regional Headquarters, Denver, Colorado
Registration Deadline: Friday, February 5, 2015
To learn more and to register:

Stay tuned for more information about regional workshops in the southeast, northeast and midwest!

     The Partnership has the explicit goal of including low and moderate income (LMI) people in the promise of solar energy. The Solar Gardens Institute encourages representatives of LMI communities and communities of color to become partners in order to bring real-word experience and increased diversity to the effort.

     It’s very encouraging to see the White House involved at such a level. The solar gardens industry is truly growing up! We expect rapid growth to continue as programs in more states come on-line. In my speech at the White House, I asked “How can we make access to clean renewable energy a human right?” … Let’s do this thing. Let’s get behind the Administration’s efforts to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement by powering all of us - rich and poor, every race, residents of every state - with locally owned clean energy!

Colorado Launches Low Income Rural Shared Solar Projects | Vote Solar

This week, the Colorado Energy Office and GRID Alternatives announced a pilot of five demonstration projects for 100% low income shared solar projects. Delta Montrose Electric Association, Gunnison County Electric Association, Holy Cross Energy, San Miguel Power Association and Yampa Valley Electric Association have volunteered to build low-income projects totaling 579 kW. Each project is designed to optimize the community solar model to reduce energy costs for the utilities’ highest need customers – those who spend more than 4% of income on utility bills – in Colorado’s rural communities. CEO and GRID Alternatives expect to secure additional partnerships with utilities through 2017 to install 1 MW of combined solar energy for a minimum of 300 low income subscribers.

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Community Energy Programs Presented At Paris Climate Change Conference

e Paris climate change talks, one presentation by a group of American officials raised awareness about the benefits of community energy programs. 

One of the benefits of such programs is helping to meet climate change carbon reduction goals by focusing on the development of renewable energy projects to replace fossil fuels. The mayor of Richmond, California, explained that once they were fully enrolled, the city's ratepayers saved $1 million dollars. He also talked about the development of a solar power plant.

Read more:

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