Monday, March 31, 2014

Four New Community Solar Projects for Vermont | Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- A Windham County company is planning to open at least four new community solar farms in the coming few years.
Soveren Solar, a Westminster company, is going to start construction in the spring on a 150 kilowatt solar farm in North Springfield, and company founder Peter Thurrell said he is finalizing land leases in Townshend and Westminster, and at least one other location, for his other community solar farms.
Under the community solar model, any Green Mountain Power customer can purchase panels in the solar array and the credit the panels generate are used to pay for the electricity that is consumed in the customer's home or business.

Oregon Governor Signs Community Solar Bill (repost)

(I am reposting due to formatting issues last week).

Kudos for our friends at Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress (OREP) http:// !  This new law addresses the securities aspect of community renewables, one of the thorniest issues.

Oregon neighbors can now invest together in clean energy projects without the expense and complexity of securities registration.
SB 1520, which passed the Oregon House and Senate with bipartisan support, has been signed into law by Governor Kitzhaber.  The bill allows renewable energy cooperative corporations to be created and capitalized without the requirement of securities registration.
Prior to the law's passage, people who wanted to invest in local clean energy projects, but lacked a sunny location or enough capital, were unable to pool their funds without registering the investment as a security.  This complex, detailed process involved costly legal and accounting fees and effectively stymied many community projects.  SB 1520 exempts renewable energy cooperative cooperations from this requirement and removes a significant barrier to community-owned renewable energy projects. All renewable technologies eligible under Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard are included under the new law.
Our Legislators Heard You
OREP put forward the law to enable broad participation by community members in local renewable energy projects. Support for the bill was overwhelming. Supporters and local governments from across the State sent letters of support to the Legislature and their voices were heard.  These letters of support and the sponsorship of Senator Bruce Starr and Representative Kim Thatcher were key to the bill's passage.
The bill will now go to the Department of Consumer and Business Services for rulemaking, which will determine what disclosures aspiring projects must make in order to protect consumers and may set limits on community projects.  Rulemaking is expected to begin in April.  Interested parties may participate in the rulemaking and broad participation is important to ensure that the rules are effective, yet simple and inexpensive.

You can view the history of SB 1520 here…

Mark Pengilly

Oregonians for Renewable Energy Progress

Monday, March 24, 2014

Developer wants 5-acre solar panel field in Woodbury |

A large-scale solar field -- maybe the first in the metro area -- could be selling solar power to Washington County residents as soon as next summer.
According to the developer, the 5-acre field would give people their first opportunity to buy solar power without buying solar panels. The solar garden of 4,000 panels would generate a maximum flow of 1 megawatt of electricity, enough to power 140 typical homes.
"We feel it's important to be close to the community that is buying the power," said Ben Ganje, a spokesman for Able Energy Co. of River Falls, which is planning up to four solar gardens.

Friday, March 21, 2014

SolarCity Freezes Energy Storage Program as Utilities Resist Grid Connections | Renewable Energy World


SAN FRANCISCO -- SolarCity Corp., the biggest developer of U.S. rooftop solar panels, halted efforts to install and connect systems that include batteries for power storage because California's utilities are reluctant to link them to the electric grid.
Joy Hughes
in community service
Solar Gardens Institute
(719)207-3097 direct

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Sustainable Williamson - A Renewable Community in the Heart of Coal Country

HOME POWER Magazine features Sustainable Williamson

“Coal may be a dirty four-letter word to some people, but around here, it is a way of life—how people have put food on the table and clothes on their children’s backs,” says McCormick. “Despite what the rest of the country believes, we realize that coal is a finite industry, and to survive, we
realize that we need to create new opportunities. We’re making progress here in Williamson because, instead of attacking our way of life and trying to take down coal, we’re respecting it
and trying to preserve it. Sustainability, energy efficiency, and renewable energy not only give our community a future after coal, but they also allow us to extend the life of the industry and have the time we need to build our new economy.”

Read complete article here:

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Kansas to plant first community-owned solar farm

Customer-owned utility Midwest Energy and community solar developer Clean Energy Collective (CEC) have signed an agreement to build a 1-MW community solar photovoltaic (PV) array — the largest in Kansas — with panels owned by Midwest Energy members throughout central and western Kansas.
The 4,000-panel solar garden will be located within the Midwest Energy service territory, making renewable energy ownership available to all of Midwest Energy’s 50,000 electric members. The purchase price for panels in the array will include all available rebates and tax incentives as if the system were located on the customer’s roof. Customers will receive credit for the power their panels produce directly on their Midwest Energy electric bills.

UK - Former landfill site to be turned into 2.4MW community solar farm

Proposals to install a 2.4MW solar farm on a gravel pit field close to the New Forest National Park have been approved by planning officials.
West Solent Solar Co-operative is turning to the local community to help raise the necessary £2.5 million construction costs to install the solar farm when it launches a public share offering later this month.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Efforts underway to give more Connecticut residents access to solar power | New Haven Register

NEW HAVEN >> Efforts to give a broader group of Connecticut residents access to renewable energy for their homes are underway in the state legislature.

The so-called community solar bill doesn't even have a number yet, but supporters are hopeful that the General Assembly's Energy and Technology Committee will take up the proposed legislation during the second or third week of March, said Mike Trahan, executive director of Solar Connecticut, a renewable energy industry group. Trahan is one of the authors of the legislation, which also has the backing of state Rep. Jonathan Steinberg, D-Westport.

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

Saturday, March 15, 2014

Could Minnesota’s “Value of Solar” Make Everyone a Winner? | ILSR

Until now, producing on-site energy from a solar panel has been treated much like any other activity reducing electricity use. Energy produced from solar is subtracted from the amount of energy used each month, and the customer pays for the net amount of energy consumed.  This “net metering” policy has guided the growth of distributed solar power in the United States to an astonishing 13 gigawatts GW by the end of 2013.
But net metering has been the focal point for the utility war on the democratization of the grid, a phenomenon made possible by enormous reductions in the cost of on-site power generation from solar. The following map illustrates the many states where utilities have sought to undermine policies and/or incentives supporting distributed renewable energy generation.
Read more:

Thursday, March 6, 2014

IREC Regulators Guidebook to Distributed Generation

 IREC weighs in on the currently hot "value of solar" debate.  Are the utilities providing a subsidy to solar customers, or is it the other way around?

- Joy

There is an acute need for a standardized approach to distributed solar generation
(“DSG”) benefit and cost studies. In the first half of 2013, a steady flow of reports, news
stories, workshops and conference panels have discussed whether to reform or repeal
net energy metering (“NEM”), which is the bill credit arrangement that allows solar
customers to receive full credit on their energy bills for any power they deliver to the
grid. 2 The calls for change are founded on the claim that NEM customers who “zero
out” their utility bill must not be paying their fair share for the utility infrastructure that
they are using, and that those costs must have shifted to other, non-solar customers.
Only a thorough benefit and cost analysis can provide regulators with an answer to
whether this claim is valid in a given utility service area. As the simplicity and certainty of
NEM have made it the vehicle for nearly all of the 400,000+ customer-sited solar arrays
installed in the United States,3 changes to such a successful policy should only be made
based on careful analysis. This is especially so in light of a body of studies finding that
solar customers may actually be subsidizing utilities and other customers.

Download here:

SGI Comment on the Keystone XL Pipeline

Dear Secretary Kerry,

I am the founder of the Solar Gardens Institute (, which provides training and tools for community shared solar projects everywhere. Renewable energy can help counter climate change - but only if we do not increase fossil fuel use. Rather than investing in further pipeline infrastructure, we should put our society's money towards renewable electricity sources and vehicle electrification.

Please reject the Keystone XL pipe line.


Joy Hughes
Solar Gardens Institute

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy for three Solar Energy Zones in Colorado: BLM Launches Study

On February 26, 2014, the Bureau of Land Management San Luis Valley Field Office and BLM Taos Field Office announced the launch of the San Luis Valley/Taos Plateau Study: Landscape Assessment and Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy. The study will help the BLM to ensure environmentally responsible solar energy development on public lands through long-term planning.

The first phase of the study is a Landscape Assessment, which will use existing data on the ecological values, trends and conditions in the geographic area covering Colorado's San Luis Valley and New Mexico's Taos Plateau (~6,115,000 acres). The Landscape Assessment will increase knowledge of the potential impacts and cumulative effects of change (i.e. human development, climate change, invasive species) on important ecological, cultural and socioeconomic values.

The information, maps and tools provided by the Landscape Assessment will be used in the second phase of the study, which is the development of a Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy. The mitigation strategy is intended to help facilitate solar energy development on solar energy zones in Colorado by simplifying and improving the mitigation process for future projects. The BLM invites federal, state and local agencies and the public to provide recommendations and references to existing reports and data to help inform the Landscape Assessment and the BLM Colorado Solar Regional Mitigation Strategy.

Interested parties can learn more by visiting the project Web site at or by contacting Joseph Vieira, Project Manager at 719-852-6213 or

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Xcel approves $200 million solar power project in Pueblo County | The Denver Post

It's certainly good to see more solar happening.  It's going to be happening in Pueblo County as the transmission lines from the San Luis Valley are full (an array this size would cause them to backfeed).  But wouldn't it be better to put the panels on rooftops, or distributed around the state as solar gardens, rather than in one place?  900 acres isn't that big if you're a cloud!

The cost of solar has dropped to the point where it is economical to use it at a large scale.  XCEL energy is installing solar in an old centralized generation model, while fighting to cut back net metering credits that support distributed generation. 

- Joy


Xcel Energy said Tuesday that it has contracted to with Community Energy to build a $200 million solar installation near its Comanche power plant in Pueblo County.

The Comanche Solar project — the largest solar power installation east of the Rocky Mountains — will supply 120 megawatts of power to Xcel, according to Eric Blank, president of Community Energy Solar.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Re-volv Inaugurates Second Crowdfunded Project at Kehilla Community Synagogue

Ribbon Untying at Kehilla
"The commandment of bal tashchit—do not destroy or waste—has long been considered central to a Jewish environmental ethic," writes Rabbi Yonatan Neril in an essay on Judaism and Environmentalism.  The Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont, California has enthusiastically embraced this philosophy by installing a community funded solar power system.  The synagogue will save $130,000 over the next 20 years, and their electricity payments will support the installation of three new community solar projects.

As part of their commitment to protecting the Earth through renewable energy, Kehilla has become the newest member of Interfaith Power and Light.  IPL is dedicated to protecting creation by making a religious response to global warming.  Climate change is an issue with a timescale of centuries, longer than the lifetime of an individual and even that of many nations.  But religions last for thousands of years, and have the moral authority to address this most important of issues. 

The project was installed by the Bay Area nonprofit SunWork, whose trained volunteers have more than 200 systems under their belts.  Funds for the project were raised by the nonprofit loan fund Re-Volv, which will apply the synagogue's energy payments to fund further projects.  This model is perfect for funding small, nonprofit, community-driven solar gardens that might not qualify for conventional finance.  The Solar Gardens Institute is interested in forming a coalition to develop open standards and open-source tools to make this a reality.  Re-volv's Indiegogo campaign raised $56,070 for the project, with over 300 funders from 20 U.S. states and seven countries.
Andreas Karelas of Re-Volv and Joy Hughes of Solar Gardens Institute

California state assemblymember Nancy Skinner attended the inauguration of the system.  Nancy has an extensive background in climate change. She coordinated the Cities for Climate Protection Campaign and the 2005 Summit between CEOs, which included Governor Schwarzenegger and British Prime Minister Blair, and which helped lead to the signing of California's Global Warming Solutions Act.  In the Assembly, Nancy has authored legislation to increase solar energy use and improve the energy efficiency of homes and businesses.
University Park Church - A pioneer in community solar!

The size of the system - 22 kilowatts - is identical to that of the University Park Church of the Brethren, a pioneering community financed solar project installed in 2010.  This happy coincidence shows how houses of worship representing communities of all faiths can benefit from solar power.  After all, the Book of Genesis teaches that God's first creation is light, a fitting power source for communities of faith!