Monday, September 30, 2013

California Shared Renewables Bill SB 43 Signed by Governor Brown

This just in:

     The Governor has signed California's long-awaited "solar gardens" legislation into law.  Here are some details of the program:

-  Utility administered program for Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and Southern California Edison.  It does not affect municipal utilities such as LADWP and SMUD
-  600 megawatts by 2020
-  Maximum project size 20 megawatts
-  100 megawatts of projects in identified "environmental justice" communities, maximum 1 megawatt project size
-  A directive to market to low income customers (no specific numbers here)
-  A directive to locate generation close to load (again, no specific numbers)
-  Supports a broad range of eligible renewable technologies - ( a summary can be found at )

     SGI has received a number of inquiries about whether specific projects or project types would be supported by the law.  The law paints with a broad brush, and the California Public Utilities Commission and each utility will decide how to implement their programs.  As the process unfolds, we will be working to understand how it will support various models for community projects.  You can download the final text of the bill from the SGI website at

     Now we'll never know if "CEC" stands for "Clean Energy Collective" or "California Energy Commission" ...

     The law itself is a political compromise.  Ambrose Bierce's Devil's Dictionary gives the following definition:
     Compromise  n. Such an adjustment of conflicting interests as gives each adversary the satisfaction of thinking he has got what he ought not to have, and is deprived of nothing except what was justly his due.

     We have a California Public Utilities process coming up - so advocates can have some influence in this process to attempt to make sure that community projects can be supported by the various programs. 
     The proposed Solar Gardens Institute Charter gives the following definitions of community clean energy (defined here to help guide the upcoming process):
Definition of Community Clean Energy – the scope of our work
A)                 Community clean energy is initiated through a grassroots process with all stakeholders at the table.
B)                 Community clean energy is as distributed as possible - if not on your roof, in your neighborhood. If not in your neighborhood, within your county. And if not in your county, in a sister community with a complementary energy profile (one sunny, the other windy, say).
C)                 Community clean energy takes into account all externalities - carbon footprint, land use, and visual + auditory impacts.
D)                Community clean energy is integrated into the local environment with multiple uses - providing shade, co-located with local food production, or used as public art. A solar garden should be a place people want to go.
E)                 Community clean energy supports local institutions - agriculture, religious or environmental groups, schools, libraries, community centers, etc.
F)                 Community clean energy is owned in common or fractionally by its users, or leased-to-own.
G)                 Community clean energy keeps money local, re-investing revenue in improvements.
H)                Community clean energy supports local business entrepreneurs, workers, and non-profits.
I)                  Community clean energy keeps people engaged in groups, helping them become more sustainable in every way.
J)                  Community clean energy groups work together, share resources and knowledge, reach out to other communities, and work for further reform
The charter also includes the Principles of Responsible Solar Development:
a.     Principles of Responsible Solar Development – How we work with projects
A)                 Tree Preservation: By hosting panels on another rooftop or a community solar garden, people can protect the trees that shade their houses.
B)                 Share the Land with ecological restoration and agricultural stewardship, using easements.  Plant trees and hedges for visual screening that also take carbon out of the air.  Combine with features like roads, power lines, and snow fences.
C)                 Shade Over Pavement instead of competing with photosynthesis.  It’s better to place the solar panels on shade structures above paved areas such as parking lots and driveways.  New cars can plug in here.
D)                Solar Good Neighbor Policy:  Consider neighbors’ needs in planning installations.  Since neighbors might be installing as well, develop a neighborhood plan.
E)                 Limit Facility Scale:  Build to fit within the urban or rural landscape, with most PV facilities less than 1 Megawatt in size.  Use existing distribution lines.  The grid is the tree, and the solar panels are the leaves.
F)                 Use Local Designers:  Architects, artists, and even kids can create concepts for installations that reflect local character.
G)                 Smart Microgrids:  Renewable energy and storage can power whole neighborhoods, making them more resilient in the face of grid disruptions
H)                Responsible Business Practices:  Build using local and recycled materials.  Employ local, empowered worker-owners.  Minimize use of toxic materials, use no herbicides, and maximize energy efficiency.
I)                  Local Ownership and Micro-Financing:  Everyone must have the option to own their solar panels.  Promote a good price for selling responsible solar power to the grid, and low interest financing through public loan guarantees.
J)                  A hand up for those who need it:  Support a non-profit that donates panels to low and middle income people, who then pass on their savings to solarize more homes.
I hope these help give a working definition of what we mean by "community" renewables (this is, of course, a vigorous matter of discussion all the time).

Many thanks,

Joy Hughes
Founder, Solar Gardens Institute


Thursday, September 26, 2013

Logan County Commissioners approve community solar garden

STERLING — Logan County will soon have a community solar garden. During their regular business meeting on Tuesday, the commissioners approved a conditional use permit application on behalf of Ecoplexus, Inc., to install a two megawatt community solar garden. 

The permit, which will be for the a term of 99 years, with the ability to extend beyond that term at the end of the initial 99 years, is to include information about applicable local, state and federal regulations, including fence installation and preventative measures for floodplain management.

The solar garden will be on a 33.997 acre parcel, located at Right of Way Road and Riverside Drive.
A combination of vacant land, commercial operations, rail lines and utility companies surround the project. There are currently two utility companies in operation adjacent to the project: Sterling Ethanol to the north and Xcel Energy to the east.

Read more:

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Empire Strikes Back - Utilities Favor Big Solar at the Expense of Rooftop Solar

Anne Butterfield of Boulder reports in Huffington Post:


An eye-popping announcement came last week from Colorado's largest utility, Xcel Energy. It plans to install 170 megawatts of utility scale solar plus 450 MW of new wind power, and contract for 317MW of gas capacity to balance the renewables, plus the aim to retire one small coal fired unit. This announcement came with the comment by Xcel's CEO David Eves to the Denver Business Journal that utility-grade solar is cost-competitive with natural gas. This is without even taking into account carbon costs or compliance with the renewable energy standard. Solar makes the cut "strictly on an economic basis," he said.

That solar cost is big news for utilities where sunlight is bright and these economic values can be felt. And it's very good that Xcel is stepping up more to clean up its generation. It's provoking then, that utilities like Xcel are also racing to scale back rooftop solar. Utilities allover have been taking steps to kill or scale back net metering policy that allows homeowners to enjoy much lower bills due to their energy produced and used behind the meter.


Aiming to protect profits for its shareholders, Xcel's compliance plan in July asked the Public Utilities Commission to categorize net metering credits as "subsidies" and downgrade the value of the power, even to the point of potentially charging solar producers for their energy savings. According to Vote Solar, Xcel's proposed multiplier for power produced at residences could roll back its value by roughly 60 percent, even when that power is used behind the meter without using utility infrastructure.

Read more:


Of course we know this will likely mean more big solar in the San Luis Valley, supported by transmission projects.

Something similar is happening in Arizona, and big solar developers are turning on their rooftop brethren in what Greentech Media is calling a "solar civil war":


Utilities have a new ally inside the solar industry amidst the battle over net metering and the true value of solar power.

First Solar has defended changes to net energy metering (NEM) proposed by Arizona Public Service, the state’s biggest electricity provider, with an editorial and filing at the Arizona Corporation Commission in support of the utility.

First Solar’s filing calls for “revising rooftop NEM programs” because there is an imbalance in Arizona’s treatment of solar due to “generous embedded subsidies asymmetrically provided to rooftop solar by NEM.”

In an op-ed last spring supporting the Arizona Public Service (APS) proposal, First Solar CEO James Hughes expressed support for the Corporation Commission's proposed change to “a very substantial ‘cross-subsidy’ funded by all other utility customers.”

Read more:

Bird Deaths Mount at Ivanpah Solar | ReWire

 Now desert tortoises aren't the only casualties of the ill-conceived concentrated solar power project in the Ivanpah Valley, located in California's Mojave Desert.  As BrightSource begins focusing light from thousands of mirrors on the power towers, birds that happen to be flying by are getting toasted by the intense heat.

This is a particular concern for folks in the San Luis Valley, where Saguache County commissioners approved a similar power tower project by SolarReserve last year.  The proposed site is located near three wildlife sanctuaries and Great Sand Dunes National Park.  Iconic Sandhill Cranes return each March near Monte Vista, while Bald Eagles seek to roost on the highest points around.  Because the San Luis Valley is an important wetland and flyway area, the impact of this project on avian life will likely be even greater.

Chris Clarke of ReWire reports below:


The owners of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating Station filed their monthly report with the California Energy Commission (CEC) this weekend, and the news is unsettling for anyone concerned with the plant's effect on desert wildlife. The project's owners reported seven birds found dead at the plant in August, at least one of them with burn injuries that may have been caused by the plant's concentrated solar energy.

As ReWire reported last week, similar mortalities are already being reported from September. A peregrine falcon was found injured in the first week of September, and ReWire has now heard unconfirmed reports that six total bird mortalities were recorded at the plant in that week. According to those reports, four of the dead birds had charred or melted feathers when found.

Read more:

A Community Solar Gold Standard | Grist and CleanTechnica (and outage)

I did this interview with John Farrell from the Institute for Local Self Reliance several months ago ... it has recently been reposted on Grist and CleanTechnica.

The resulting traffic spike may have been responsible for a recent outage of the website...  Apologies to anyone who was inconvenienced.

Let me know if you see this floating around elsewhere on the web...

- Joy


Joy Hughes was living in the San Luis Valley of Colorado, a place with a “tremendous amount of solar potential,” so good that the valley’s residents were being overwhelmed by proposals for large-scale solar power plants. One had a “field of things like radar dishes” and another included a “600 foot tower.” The influx of outside companies seeking solar profit led Joy to ask, “Why not just set up solar arrays that can provide power for people in the local community and offset their electric bills?”

The Solar Gardens Institute was born, with a vision of helping community members pool their resources, produce their own energy, and keep their energy dollars local.

Listen to the Podcast (Local Energy Rules): Play in new window | Download | Embed

Guide to Renewable Energy Co-ops | Community Power Network

Our colleagues at the Community Power Network have created an excellent guide to renewable energy co-ops -

  • A description of the seven core principles that define a cooperative;
  • A breakdown of the five different types of cooperative structures;
  • Examples of organizations that fall within each type of structure; and
  • Resources and tools on how to start a cooperative.
Check out the tools and resources here!

Solar gardens project draws competition | Colorado Springs Business Journal

More than a month after Colorado Springs City Council voted in favor of a plan that would double the scope of the city’s community solar garden program, 10 contractors expressed interest in doing business in the local market.

During a mandatory pre-proposal conference held by Colorado Springs Utilities last week, the 10 companies — half based in Colorado and the rest with headquarters in five other states — conveyed their interest in the contract, were briefed on the terms and were able to ask technical questions about the expansion.

The project was approved by City Council in a 6-to-3 vote Aug. 14 after members rescinded the previous Council’s approval of a 10-megawatt expansion in April.

Guide to Developing a Community Renewable Energy Project | Commission for Environmental Cooperation

 A very thorough (103 page) guide that includes timelines and lots of valuable ideas...  A bit dated, but still useful.

- Joy

Thursday, September 19, 2013

La Plata Electric Association Adopts Solar Garden Policy | Durango Herald

La Plata Electric Association board members Wednesday approved a community solar garden program to increase development of renewable energy and allow small users to own part of a power-generating facility.

A community solar garden, or CSG, broadens participation in power generation by bringing into the game people who can't install a rooftop solar array for financial, space or home-orientation reasons.

A CSG also allows renters, low-income families, communal living groups, nonprofits and subdivisions to join in producing green energy.

Read more:

Joy Hughes
in community service
Solar Gardens Institute
(719)207-3097 direct

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

California: Tell Governor Brown - Sign SB 43

For those of you in California and representatives of national organizations, now is the time to encourage Jerry Brown to sign the new shared solar bill SB 43.  Below is a letter from Vote Solar that your organization can send to the Governor's office to let him know your position.

The process at the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) will be very important in determining the particulars of how the bill is implemented, including how projects will be chosen, marketing to low income participants, and how generation will be placed close to load.  In particular, we'll need to encourage the CPUC to allow participants to choose the particular project they would like to subscribe to, so that it can be a true solar gardens program.

many thanks,




Governor Jerry Brown
State Capitol
Sacramento, CA 95814

SB 43 (Wolk) – SUPPORT, Your Organization

Dear Governor Brown:

On behalf of Your Org, I write to express our strong support for SB 43 and urge you to sign the bill into law.
SB 43 is an innovative renewable energy program model that expands consumer access to renewable energy, providing customers of SCE, SDG&E and PG&E with the ability to invest in offsite renewable energy projects and receive utility bill credits without shifting costs to non-participants. It extends the economic and environmental benefits of renewable energy to the large percentage of Californians who currently are not able to site renewables on their own property, including renters, people whose homes are shaded or poorly oriented, businesses who lease, and space-limited public entities. A recent Vote Solar analysis[1] indicates that this program would create more than 6,000 new jobs for Californians and generate more than $2.2 billion in economic output.

SB 43 does not specify whether the program must include a customer choice element that allows customers to choose what specific renewable energy project and location they would like to support. We hope you will encourage the California Public Utilities Commission to explicitly enable this element, which will accelerate renewable energy development by allowing customers to choose projects with characteristics they value.  Customer choice can be enabled by allowing third parties, other than the utility, to market to customers for participation in shared renewables projects with characteristics they believe customers want.  This will better harness the power of competition and enable market forces to determine the direction of renewable energy development under this program. This element of customer choice is supported in best practices research on shared renewables programs nationally by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council.[2]

We strongly support SB 43 and respectfully request that you sign the bill into law as soon as possible. Thank you for your leadership in expanding access to renewable energy, which will benefit electricity customers, utilities, California’s economy and our environment.


Solar and the Colorado Floods

I grew up in Colorado, and as a small child experienced our basement flooding in '67. Even though I'm currently living hundreds of miles away, I've been incredibly impacted by witnessing what has been happening in my home state.

Climate change is implicated in Colorado's recent flooding - three climate-related factors have contributed to the event:

1.  Very warm sea surface temperatures in the gulfs of California and Mexico, putting a record amount of moisture into the air.

2.  The heat wave that immediately preceded the floods, intensifying the monsoon as climate models have predicted.

3.  A blocking event related to a weakening of the jet stream related to arctic warming.

Colorado now joins Louisiana, Tennessee, New York, Minnesota, and Alberta the club of North American states and provinces affected by extreme rainfall events in recent years.  Renewable energy, particularly solar, is a great way to reduce carbon emissions and the long-term risk of these storms getting even worse.

Some solar arrays were flooded by the storms - often, landowners have asked if they can build solar in FEMA's recently expanded 100-year floodplains.  We'll be learning a lot about how these arrays fared, and the best ways solar arrays can be prepared for floods, in particular elevating electronics and inverters to prevent damage.

Solar can also help in the relief and recovery process.  Colorado can take a page from Solar 1 New York's Solar Sandy Project which provided mobile power in areas experiencing long-term outages.  Just look at this nifty folding solar trailer they used to provide power to people in the Rockaways:

 For list members across the country, let's do everything we can to lend a hand to Colorado.  After all, we don't know who's next!



The Economic and Political Consequences of the Last 10 Years of Renewable Energy Development (Geeky)

A bit of a departure from the usual fare at the Solar Gardens Blog, wind developer Jerome a Paris writes in The Oil Drum about some of the macro-effects of high renewable penetration as observed in Europe.  While this post is long and a bit technical, I find it worth the read to ponder what sort of incentives might support continued solar growth as prices reach parity and the grid struggles to keep up.  Even more disruption will occur when the energy market turns upside down, and power prices during the day become lower than those at night.

This new grid will need strong incentives for storage, demand response, and reserve capacity by the megawatt rather than the megawatt-hour.  

- Joy


I'll focus on Germany, where the transformation has been most advanced (and even has brought a new word to us: the Energiewende), and where the consequences of high renewable penetration are most visible.

A lot of rather unusual things have been happening in the Germany power sector lately, from negative prices, to utilities closing down brand new power plants and, naturally, a ferocious debate as to whether to cut support for renewable energy (as has already been done in Spain).

I've long described renewable energy producers as a price takers (i.e., they don't influence market prices in the short term and have to "take" market prices as set by other factors, unless shielded by specific regulatory regimes), but we are getting to the point, in a number of places, and in Germany in particular, where the penetration of renewable energy is such that it has a real macroeconomic impact on the prices of electricity, both at the wholesale and the retail levels, and thus on the way power markets run, and on the politics surrounding them. There's the additional factor that apparent spending on renewables is targeted by governments at a time of austerity in Europe, egged on by hardly disinterested utilities.

Read lots more:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Energy Democracy - a Report From the Center for Social Inclusion

Imagine a future where everyone owns their own solar panels free and clear, where we all have equable access to power.  The Center for Social Inclusion has a nifty new definition of energy democracy, and has released a new report on the efforts of our friends at Solar Mosaic

What is Energy Democracy?

Imagine a community of farmers in the heartland harnessing the wind for clean, reliable power or an urban neighborhood generating solar energy in a public space that feeds the energy needs of a whole neighborhood. This is a future that is possible today. It’s a future of people coming together, solving local, national and global problems. We call this Energy Democracy and it produces solutions for everyone.

Energy democracy means that community residents are innovators, planners, and decision-makers on how to use and create energy that is local and renewable. By making our energy solutions more democratic, we can make places environmentally healthier, reduce mounting energy costs so that families can take better care of their needs, and help stem the tide of climate change.

To create this future today, we need an “all hands on deck” approach and this requires that we recognize that all Americans have a role to play, including people of color. There are no effective national solutions that exclude people of color because a majority of the US population will soon be Latino, Black, Asian/Pacific Islander, and Native American. Policies, capacity-building, and engagement around green energy solutions must support diverse communities to ensure meaningful innovation so that these solutions can be scaled for more impact.

Read more and download the report at:

Thursday, September 12, 2013

California Shared Renewables Bill SB 43 Heads to Governor Brown's Desk - America's Largest Solar Gardens Program Awaits

Sunset in Golden Gate Park - photo by Joy Hughes
     On September 11 (a patriotic day to declare energy independence), California's long-awaited community renewable energy program passed the state Assembly 57-16.  Later in the day, the Senate voted to accept amendments made in the Assembly by a vote of 27-12.  SB 43 now heads to Governor Brown's desk - Vote Solar is currently drafting a letter you can all send encouraging him to sign, which will be going out to the list as soon as it is ready.

     You can download the final text of the bill from the SGI website at - the bill includes some changes that address some of SGI's concerns with last year's SB 843, including carve-outs for smaller projects, residential customers, and attention to environmental justice.  All renewable technologies are addressed by the bill, including wind, geothermal, biomass, biogas, and small hydro.

     This will be by far America's largest community solar program, at 600 megawatts larger than all other states' efforts combined.  By comparison, Colorado's Community Solar Gardens Act limited the initial program size to 6 megawatts per year (increased to 9 megawatts when the PUC rule-making process took longer than the first year of the program).

     Says Tom Price of the California Shared Renewables Organization:

Finally, all the renters, all the businesses who lease, all those living in apartments and condos, everyone with low income or poor credit scores--in short, the 75% of Californian's who can't already buy solar power and other renewable energy--will now be able to do so, at affordable rates, and without shifting costs to anyone else.

Here's what SB 43 does in a nutshell--tells the three utilities to get 600MW of solar for any customer who wants to subscribe for it.  Solar and other renewable projects get built at a larger scale ( lowering the costs ) and then customers "virtually" install the renewable energy on their bill. 

Importantly, 100MW is set aside for projects less than 1MW in size, to be built in "environmental justice" areas, identified by the State EPA has having significant impacts on environmental and income scores. In plain English:  built in polluted lower income neighborhoods, hopefully in part by the residents. 

Also, 100MW will be reserved for residential customers, like renters and those without the credit score to put solar on their own roof. 

This is a big, big, big win, and adds California ( long the leader in renewable energy ideas ) to the growing list of states allowing shared renewable energy. 

It was a long slog to get here, with many ups and downs ( it was just over a year ago, in fact, that a previous bill died hours before the legislative session ended.)

Deep thanks to all our supporters, and a special call out is in order to a few who worked non stop for years to make today possible: the great teams at the Vote Solar Initiative (esp. Susannah Churchill & Hannah Masterjohn) and Recurrent Energy ( Michael Wheeler & Polly Shaw), and of course City of Davis (esp. Mitch Sears), which sponsored the legislation the whole way through.

And of course, deepest thanks to Senator Lois Wolk, and her great staff including Jim Metropulos, Craig Reynolds, and former staffer Tina Andolina, as well as Assembly Member Das Williams and his staffer Erin Baum--all advocates should be as lucky to have such great partners.

Here's a news article on it: 

Learn more about what other states are doing here:
     Now the hard work begins, as communities across California organize to create their own projects, bringing clean power to the people!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

DOE Sunshot Workshop on Community Solar - Chicago, Sept. 21 - Space Limited!

     I recently had a chance to visit the DOE Solar Energy Technologies office in Washington, D.C.  Community shared solar is now taking its place alongside rooftop and utility scale solar in the SunShot Initiative's efforts to reduce costs and speed deployment of solar energy.  The stated goal is to increase deployment of these mid-scale arrays by a factor of 100 by 2020!  This is an excellent opportunity for solar garden advocates who will be attending the Solar Power International conference in Chicago this year.

- Joy

Here is the official announcement:

The SunShot Initiative at the U.S. Department of Energy will host a full-day workshop on shared and community solar on October 21, 2013 in Chicago, IL. The Shared and Community Solar: Getting to Scale workshop will be an opportunity to highlight innovative and emerging business models for solar deployment in the United States. The SunShot Initiative is a national challenge to realize solar electricity at grid parity by the year 2020 by targeting existing technical and market barriers. Shared and community solar models have the potential to reduce the cost of solar and enable rapid, widespread deployment by expanding the solar market, harnessing economies of scale, and presenting opportunities for innovation. The purpose of this meeting is to identify systematic approaches to enable community and shared solar to scale rapidly from the approximately 50 MW deployed today to 5 GW deployed by the end of the decade. This workshop will bring together a diverse set of stakeholders to provide insight into existing shared and community solar efforts and opportunities. We aim to identify innovative solutions, categorize remaining barriers, and discuss opportunities for collaboration among stakeholder groups. The workshop dialogue will be summarized into a report that will be released publicly on the SunShot website.

If you are interested in participating, please email by September 20 with your name, affiliation, contact information, and a few sentences describing your interest in this area. Please note that space is limited, so not all requests may be accommodated.

Photos: Keystone Solar Project by Community Energy and GroSolar

An idea of the scale of the 30-acre Keystone Solar Project
I was jazzed to visit the Keystone Solar Project in Pennsylvania.  It's named after the "Keystone State" - and with 5 Megawatts of clean solar power saving thousands of tons of carbon it's a heck of a lot better for everyone than that nasty old Keystone XL pipeline!  Subscribers to this community shared solar project include Franklin & Marshall College, Eastern University, Juniata College, Marywood University, Drexel University, and Millersville University, the Philadelphia Phillies and the Clean Air Council.

Traditional ways of life continue just across the road
This was a relief for me, between witnessing mountaintop removal in West Virginia and fracking in Susquehanna County.

Check out this time-lapse video of the array's construction.

- Joy

TVA launches community solar initiative |

The Tennessee Valley Authority is trying to capture all the rays of sunlight with a new community solar initiative designed to add at least 500 kilowatts of solar generation at utility or government properties.

The innovative approach tries to provide renewable credits and tax breaks for industry, the chance for residents to promote more solar power and the opportunity for TVA to get more renewable power to comply with a 2-year-old settlement with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Read more:

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Bringing 'community solar' to Ann Arbor: Effort to create pilot program underway |

About a year and a half ago, Nate Ayers and some of his neighbors in Ann Arbor's Lower Burns Park neighborhood began thinking seriously about solar energy.

They discussed ways to collaborate on a group installation project, pooling their resources and buying as many solar panels as possible for as cheaply as possible.


The Ann Arbor City Council gave the group's idea a boost this week, passing a resolution encouraging the development of a pilot "community solar" project.

Read more:

Joy Hughes
in community service
Solar Gardens Institute
(719)207-3097 direct

Friday, September 6, 2013

Cadmus Group Analysis of Community Solar Models for Massachusetts with Sample Contracts (applicability to other states)

     The Cadmus Group has released two papers on the best models for community solar in Massachusetts.  Many of the insights will apply elsewhere.  Community solar projects and companies around the U.S. are analyzed, and a set of sample contracts is provided.  This is worth downloading wherever your project may be!

What the Heck is a REC? plus Clean Power - Healthy Communities Conference

     Dan Pinkel and Al Weinrub of the Local Clean Energy Alliance of the Bay Area have published a new educational paper, "What the Heck is a REC?".  The paper covers the idea of Renewable Energy Certificates and how they can be bundled with the power produced or sold separately, unbundled.  A REC can be voluntary, or sold to comply with a state renewable energy standard.  Not all RECs have the same benefit in terms of encouraging additional renewable energy - this paper will help you navigate the complexity and understand RECs better.

Download here (registration req'd):

- Joy


And here's a note from Rosana on an exciting upcoming conference:

Hi all,
I want to let you all know about this awesome conference. I went last year and it was informative, inspiring, and everything a conference should be. Space is limited and it fills up fast, so I encourage you to register now!

Register NowThursday, October 17, 2013
Clean Power, Healthy Communities Conference - Oakland, CA

Don't miss the Bay Area's premier event for promoting local clean energy as a powerful way to strengthen communities in the face of climate change!

The Fourth annual Clean Power, Healthy Communities Conference, hosted by the 
Local Clean Energy Alliance, will convene advocates, stakeholders, public decision makers, community organizers, and business people who support clean energy and healthy communities in the Bay Area.

This year’s conference will focus on finding solutions to the political and financial challenges of developing community-based energy resources and building sustainable, equitable, resilient communities. It will also feature a keynote address by Tom Steyer, California policy mover and shaker, referred to by Bloomberg Businessweek as a "Climate-Change Batman."

Join us at the conference to be part of the solution – Register Now!
You can also support our youth internship program by joining our growing team of conference Sponsors. All proceeds go to our goal of raising $15,000 to train young people in the coming year for clean energy advocacy.

See the conference website for more information or contact (510-834-0420) for details.
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FERC Chair Jon Wellinghoff: Solar ‘Is Going to Overtake Everything’ | Greentech Media

If anybody doubts that federal energy regulators are aware of the rapidly changing electricity landscape, they should talk to Jon Wellinghoff, chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC).

“Solar is growing so fast it is going to overtake everything,” Wellinghoff told GTM last week in a sideline conversation at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas.


Advanced storage technologies also promise lower costs, he said. “Once it is more cost-effective to build solar with storage than to build a combustion turbine or wind for power at night, that is 'game over.' At that point, it will be all about consumer-driven markets.”

Read more:

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Stop XCEL's Attempt to Roll Back Boulder's Energy Reforms - Contribute to the Campaign for Local Power on Indiegogo

Boulder wants to break away from our current, coal-dominated utility--Xcel Energy--to create a local electric utility based on renewable energy. Feasibility studies have shown we could reduce our carbon emissions by over 50% immediately by shifting to cleaner energy. And we wouldn’t have to pay more than we do now, because we could afford a lot more renewable energy if we’re not paying for Xcel’s enormous profit margins. This is an incredible opportunity to create a landmark model for how communities all over the country can take control of their energy future.

Only one thing stands in our way: to stop us, Xcel Energy has helped place a misleading measure on our fall ballot that would kill our local electric utility process dead in its tracks-- and they're probably prepared to spend a lot to win. They know our victory would inspire communities across the country to follow suit and create their own cleaner, cheaper utilities based on renewable energy. They don’t want other communities wondering what they could afford if they stop paying millions in profits to the utility industry.

The Campaign for Local Power has raised over $100,000 to stop coal in its tracks!

Contribute Here:

Officials to Construct First EcoPlexus Solar Garden | KREX Grand Junction

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.- School District 51 officials voted to set aside land for Xcel Energy to build on, and the power house plans to construct a community solar garden that should help hundreds in energy savings.

The soon-to-be EcoPlex Garden will be the first on the Western Slope for the energy provider, and officials are eager to get started.

This idea came down from the state level, when representatives passed the Community Solar Act and construction is expected to start at the end of this month.

 Read more:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Renewables co-op fights Vattenfall for control of Berlin grid

A Berlin citizens' group wants to wrest control of the city’s electricity grid in order to promote renewable energy. They accuse current operator Vattenfall of failing to seek alternatives to fossil fuels. 

Two young women stand together behind a lectern at the front of a crowded room in Berlin. Their audience includes energy experts, activists and curious residents who are here to find out about a new initiative to buy Germany's largest electricity distribution grid.

The grid is currently under the control of Swedish energy giant Vattenfall. But the people in this room say the utility has failed to embrace Germany's transition to renewable energy and they want to take over grid control. The contract between the grid operator and Berlin's government runs out at the end of 2014 and the two women speaking today - Luise Neumann-Cosel and Arwen Colell - have come up with a plan.

Read more: