Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Colorado PUC rejects proposed community solar gardens settlement

DENVER - The Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) today rejected a proposal by Xcel Energy and three solar companies regarding the acquisition community solar gardens (CSGs) pursuant to Xcel’s 2014-2016 Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan.

The PUC, a division of the Department of Regulatory Agencies, denied a motion to approve a settlement agreement addressing implementation of Xcel’s CSG program. The PUC said the proposed agreement was not in the public interest because it was inconsistent with certain statutes, PUC rules and previous decisions, and it was likely to raise the cost of renewable energy to customers.

The PUC noted that in 2014 it directed Xcel to acquire between 19.5 megawatts (MW) and 90 MW of community solar gardens by the end of 2016, and said its rejection of the proposed settlement did not alter that authorization.

The settlement was entered into by Xcel, SunShare, Clean Energy Collective and Community Solar Energy. The three solar companies build and operate community solar gardens and were declared by Xcel to be the three winning bidders of the company’s 2015 competitive solicitation for 29.5 megawatts (MW) of CSG resources. Under the terms of the proposed settlement, Xcel would pay a rate of $0.03/kWh for the Renewable Energy Credits produced by the CSGs, instead of the bid prices offered in response to the 2015 request for proposals.

In rejecting the settlement, the PUC said questions about the nature of the negotiations and the single, higher REC price made it unlikely that the settlement would result in cost-effective implementation of CSGs. PUC advisory staff estimated that the settlement would increase the cost of the development of solar gardens by hundreds of thousands of dollars per facility.

“Rather than utilize the Commission-approved competitive process, the parties filed a settlement that is not in the public interest,” PUC Chairman Joshua Epel said.

The Commission also said settlement provisions about the proposed method for determining customer bill credits for CSGs, and about Xcel ownership of a CSG also were inconsistent with statutes, PUC rules and previous PUC decisions.

As a protection to ratepayers, the Commission denied Xcel a presumption of prudence for the cost for any CSGs acquired through the 2015 and 2016 request for proposals.

Monday, March 14, 2016

How to Bring Shared Renewables to Low-Moderate Income Consumers | Interstate Renewable Energy Council

LMI Cover_FINAL_030316As more Americans gain access to affordable renewable energy, and as more "shared" and "community" solar programs crop up across the country, states are asking the question: How can we bring shared renewable energy opportunities to our low and moderate income (LMI) households? A new publication by IREC offers the first comprehensive guidance on how it can be done with the most meaningful results.

"Opening more neighborhood doors to solar and other renewable energy is our goal with these guidelines," says IREC President/CEO Jane Weissman, "specifically doors of low or moderate income homes and those in disadvantaged communities."

IREC's Shared Renewable Energy for Low- to Moderate-Income Consumers: Policy Guidelines and Model Provisions provides information and tools for policymakers, regulators, utilities, shared renewable energy developers, program administrators and others to support the adoption and implementation of shared renewables programs specifically designed to provide tangible benefits to LMI individuals and households.

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Saturday, March 12, 2016

How to Fix Solar Power's Inequality Problem - The World Bulletin

Clean energy has an inequality problem.
It's not unique to this sector—cutting-edge technologies tend to be expensive and time-consuming to adopt, keeping them out of reach for disadvantaged communities initially. That's especially true for rooftop solar panels, which require users to own a roof that receives adequate sunlight. For low-income families, especially those who rent or live in multi-family buildings, the chance to cut their electricity bill by producing their own energy just isn't feasible.
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Are Rural Electric Cooperatives Driving or Just Dabbling in Community Solar? | Institute for Local Self-Reliance

Rural Electric cooperatives, member-owned organizations that sell electricity to those within their service area, are perhaps the nation's largest group of utilities that could champion clean, local power. They tend to cover enormous swaths of the most rural territory, often with excellent wind and solar resources.

In one manner of renewable energy, cooperatives are leading the fray: community solar.

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Sunday, March 6, 2016

China set to surpass its climate targets as renewables soar | Licking County, Ohio Concerned Citizens

China is surging ahead in switching to renewables and away from coal in what its officials say will allow it to surpass its carbon emissions targets.

The country's solar and wind energy capacity soared last year by 74 and 34 per cent respectively compared with 2014, according to figures issued by China's National Bureau of Statistics yesterday.

Meanwhile, its consumption of coal – the dirtiest of the fossil fuels – dropped by 3.7 per cent, with imports down by a substantial 30 per cent.

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Saturday, March 5, 2016

Power in Numbers: Growing India’s Minigrid Sector - Renewable Energy World

India, the distinction between minigrids, microgrids, and picogrids is a function of size. Minigrids are 10-200 kW projects and are usually powered by solar. Microgrids are generally under 10 kW, and picogrids are even smaller, connecting a handful of homes to a single solar panel. While all of them are an important component of the power access solution, larger minigrids are particularly vulnerable during central grid extension.

How minigrids can coexist with the central grid is unclear and varies by state, although the Modi administration's amendments to power tariffs announced recently could serve as a catalyst for improvements.

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Off-Grid Solar Industry Growing, Mostly in Developing Nations

A new report out from the World Bank Group's Lighting Global and Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) found that internationally the off-grid solar power market is growing and will become a $3.1 billion opportunity by 2020. That's from essentially a non-existent market less than a decade ago. The report recognizes that there are still 1.2 billion people across the world without access to the power grid. 

The report tracks the technology advances and some of the innovative business models that are making more solar power more accessible to people throughout the world. It's intended for companies, investors, governments to show them the opportunities and challenges that the off-grid solar market faces. 

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