SolarWorld may close Oregon factory

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 23, 2017  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

BREAKING: SolarWorld may close Oregon factory

By Christian Roselund on May 22 2017, 7:29pm

The company has given WARN Act notices to all of its employees, and says that it is trying to determine the right size going forward.

Whatever criticisms that some in the industry have of SolarWorld, it is hard to say the the company is not transparent. Today, keeping in line with that the company’s U.S. subsidiary alerted the press that it had issued layoff notices through the federal Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act to all of its employees.

WARN Act notices are required to be given by companies with more than 100 employees at least 60 days in advance of mass layoffs or plant closures. It is notable that a number of the other solar companies who recently had mass layoffs did not provide WARN Act notice to their employees.

SolarWorld could not confirm any additional details, such as whether the company’s ingot, cell and module would be downsized and remain open, or close. “We are trying to determine what is the right size for the organization going forwards,” SolarWorld Director of Strategic Affairs Ben Santarris told pv magazine.

As a direct subsidiary of Germany’s SolarWorld, SolarWorld Americas has been in trouble since the parent company filed for insolvency in German courts 12 days ago.

SolarWorld employs 800 workers in Oregon, and the company says that for the time being it is continuing production. The HIllsboro factory is the largest crystalline silicon manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere, with over 550 MW of annual module production capacity and 430 MW of cell capacity.

Opponents call Missouri net metering bill’s failure a ‘victory for consumers’

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 23, 2017  /   Posted in Net Metering  /   No Comments



Opponents call net metering bill’s failure a ‘victory for consumers’

by , Missouri Times

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. – As the Missouri legislature returns to Jefferson City this week for a special session involving utility rates, opponents of another bill proposing to make changes to how Missouri’s law deals with net metering are still celebrating a victory.

The General Assembly adjourned a little over a week ago without passing Rep. Travis Fitzwater’s HB 340, which would have allowed utility companies to begin charging customers with solar panels an additional monthly fee.

The bill would allow energy suppliers to charge 75 percent of monthly fixed availability charges for “consumer-generators,” such as people with solar panels affixed to their roofs. Consumers who use “net metering,” a common-sense policy that allows homeowners and businesses to produce their own electric power, are credited for the power that they don’t use and send back onto the grid. In Missouri, homeowners and businesses receive a 1-for-1 bill credit for each kWh they put back onto the grid.

Supporters of the bill say it’s about creating fairness between solar and non-solar users. Critics of the bill, however, called it an onerous new tax on solar energy users, saying it would have resulted in the loss of 2,000 solar jobs, $200 million in solar company revenue, $50 million in sales tax revenue, and $15 million in payroll taxes.

The bill passed the House but was never taken up by the Senate.

“This job-killing energy tax would have devastated one of Missouri’s most innovative and fastest growing industries while making energy more expensive for thousands of solar energy users across the state,” said Zachary Wyatt-Gomez, Executive Director of Missouri Solar Energy Industry Association (MOSEIA). “We thank the members of the Missouri Senate for doing the right thing and putting the brakes on this anti-business and anti-consumer bill.”

“Missourians deserve clean, reliable, affordable energy — not backdoor tax hikes to line the pockets of big utility companies,” PJ Wilson, Executive Director of Renew Missouri, said. “The failure of this bill is a victory for families, businesses and our entire economy, and we thank the lawmakers who opposed it. These lawmakers listened to their constituents and the thousands of Missourians who contacted their representatives in opposition to this bill. Moving forward, rather than gouging renewable energy users with new taxes and fees, state leaders should help families and businesses by working to make solar energy even more affordable and accessible.”

But even though the bill failed to pass this year, the fact that it passed the House with a vote of 102-51 stands to reason that the legislation will most likely be brought forward again in the next legislative session, meaning both sides have a year to find compromises or strategize.

Kokomo-based Green Alternatives Inc. (GAI) wins EDGE award

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 21, 2017  /   Posted in 2017 Indiana General Assembly, Net Metering, solar, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Green Alternatives Inc., based at Inventrek in Kokomo, wins state award

KOKOMO – A local business was recently recognized with an Economic Development and Growth Through Entrepreneurship award – a distinction given to small businesses.

Green Alternatives Inc., the recipient of the award, sells and installs solar panel equipment at residences and businesses in Kokomo and surrounding areas. It’s based out of the Inventrek business incubator on East Firmin Street.

Each business presented with an EDGE award has received assistance from the Indiana Small Business Development Center, which supports 10 regional offices across the state and provides entrepreneurs with guidance and resources on how to start and grow a business, according to a press release from the Indiana Economic Development Corporation.

“We find working with ISBDC very beneficial,” said Green Alternatives President Chris Rohaly. “And so I think the more we take advantage of them, the more it helped us in our growth, and I think they recognized that.”

Working closely with ISBDC gave Green Alternatives a number of advantages, said Rohaly, including detailed market searches and gathering demographic data. That helps them with their marketing, he said, to ensure that they are presenting themselves in a way that “resonates” with the market.

Lita Rouser, a business advisor for ISBDC, said Green Alternatives was given their award for their growth and their “ability to carve out a place in the market.”

“Solar power is newer, and we admire the dedication that that takes, and the focus, and we thought Green Alternatives was the perfect business to recognize,” said Rouser.

“In a market that is just now beginning to understand solar and the need for it, and adapt it, Green Alternatives is, we think, doing a marvelous job at getting out there and educating people and introducing this market to solar energy.”

Rohaly noted that he wasn’t aware they were even being considered for the award. Once he was notified that they had won, he said it was “very encouraging.”

“Especially in a business that’s really not got an established market, you sometimes wonder why you push, or whether or not your pushing is going to bear fruit,” he said.

Green Alternatives was formed in 2008, but took several years before it became a full-time job. Over that span of time, they built up a client base, reaching a state where they could “do (the business) justice.”

Over the years, Rohaly has noted that the reception to solar power has, in general, become more positive and less skeptical.

 The award comes at around the same time that Gov. Eric Holcomb signed legislation that will eliminate net metering for solar customers by 2047. Net metering allows electric customers to sell excess electricity generated by their solar, wind or hydroelectric systems to their company.

Existing customers are “grandfathered” in, and may take advantage of net metering until 2047. For that reason, Rohaly expects to see an uptick in customers until Dec. 31, 2017, when the grandfathering deadline passes.

After that, he said, it’s hard to predict what this legislation will do to business. Using data from Nevada and California, which have changed net metering laws akin to Indiana, he said, he’s noted those states have experienced a drop in permit trends for solar energy.

Because of this, Rohaly says Green Alternatives will have to be especially careful with their finances in the future, and may have to diversify into comparable markets and explore business partnerships. His employees, he said, have skills that could translate well into other trades.

This comes during a time when, Rohaly claims, residential clients have been a growing trend.

“Solar is a technology and not a fuel, and so over time … technology gets better and cheaper at the same time. So prices are dropping, and at the same time, the opposing force is that conventional energy costs go up,” Rohaly said.

Over the next months, Rohaly said he hopes to have a better idea of what the future of his business will look like, but for now, he suspects they will have to be “well-run” and “creative.”

Cody Neuenschwander can be reached at 765-454-8570 or by email at

Crane Naval Solar Facility Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 20, 2017  /   Posted in Duke Energy, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Crane and Duke Energy open new solar operation

Pictured left to right: Melody Birmingham-Byrd, President of Duke Energy Indiana; Timothy A. Craddock, commanding officer, NSA Crane; Suzanne Crouch, Lt. Governor of Indiana; and John Kliem, executive director of the Department of the Navy's (DON’s) Resilient Energy Program Office

Department of the Navy

Resilient Energy Program Office (REPO)

Naval Support Activity Crane

Crane solar power plant

ribbon-cutting ceremony

May 18, 2017

Commander Timothy A. Craddock, Commanding Officer, Naval Support Activity Crane:

"With roughly 76,000 solar panels stretched across 145 acres, this solar project is quite a impressive achievement and stands as our monument to our enduring relationship with the state of Indiana and our energy partners. Through this endeavor, we are providing and promoting energy sustainability and bringing renewable energy options to the installation and neighboring communities."

Remarks of Lt. Governor Suzanne Crouch:

Good Morning! What a pleasure it is to be with you today to celebrate the opening of what is and will be an example of the success that can be achieved through commitment and collaboration.

I would like to thank some key players in this collaboration who are here today: John Kliem with the Department of the Navy, Melody Birmingham-Byrd with Duke Energy, Commander Timothy Craddock with Naval Support Activity Crane and all those involved for their commitment in seeing this to fruition.

One of our countries great innovators, Henry Ford once said: "If everyone is moving forward together, then success takes care of itself."

And Gov. Holcomb and I believe that whole-heartedly.

Through partnership, commitment to community and a focus on future development – this new facility is truly the sum of those parts.

This project would not have been possible without real partnership: The innovation to bring federal, commercial and state agencies together to drive toward a common objective that is mutually beneficial.

And the benefit is always best when it is shared with our partnering community:  By providing renewable energy to Hoosiers, Naval Support Activity Crane and its Navy and Army commands, we are able to diversify our sources of energy while also caring for our environment.

From today forward this project will serve as a catalyst for future energy infrastructure projects for the Navy as well as bringing greater energy management to our state, spurring innovation and growth.

We definitely have a lot to celebrate.

I want to thank you for inviting me to share this great day with you.

In closing, I want to tell you what an honor it is to serve as your Lt. Governor.

But more importantly…I want to express my unrelenting commitment to installations, the men and women who serve our state, our nation, and their families.

Our strong military…and strong military communities are the future of the economic development and strength of our great state and our great nation.

May God bless you… May God Bless the great State of Indiana…and may God bless the United States of America.

Prepared remarks by Melody Birmingham-Byrd

President, Duke Energy Indiana

Thank you for that introduction. It’s an exciting day, both for the Department of the Navy and for Duke Energy, as we dedicate this new Crane solar power plant to serve our customers with safe, clean, renewable solar energy.

It’s an honor to partner with the Department of the Navy and Naval Support Activity Crane to bring this new solar power plant to life here in southern Indiana. These organizations have been wonderful partners to help us build, operate and maintain this facility which can generate 17 megawatts of energy for our customers – enough to supply the power needs for nearly 7,000 average residential homes.

Our customers tell us, time and again, that they want a cleaner energy future. To adapt to this future, Duke Energy continues to change the way we produce power in cleaner, more flexible ways to meet customer demand. The transition to a cleaner energy future is well underway, here in Indiana and across the nation.

We’re committed to delivering safe, reliable, affordable and clean energy to our customers. To do that, we are building a bridge to a clean energy future by using a balanced energy mix.

This approach integrates clean and renewable resources, like solar, wind, and hydropower, which are constantly replenished, with traditional energy sources, like coal and natural gas, that help us deliver affordable and reliable power 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

By the year 2030, Duke Energy has committed to reducing our carbon dioxide emissions by 40 percent from 2005 levels across our six-state service area which includes portions of the Carolinas, Florida, Ohio, Kentucky and Indiana. Since 2005, we have already reduced our carbon dioxide emissions by 29 percent. We will continue our trend of retiring our older coal-fired generating stations and replacing them with cleaner, state-of-the-art natural gas-fired units, as well as adding more renewable energy sources to our diversified energy mix.

The future of energy is changing, and we’re changing with it. In Indiana, we’re investing around $1.4 billion over the next seven years to enhance our systems to provide the reliability our customers expect.

These investments will give us the ability to re-route power and accelerate restorations through new grid technologies. We will improve the grid’s resilience against cyberattacks and physical threats through enhanced system intelligence programs. We will invest in smart meters, communications technologies and upgraded systems to improve outage detection and better manage new grid devices.

We are also working hand-in-hand with the Battery Innovation Center, located here at Crane, to find efficient and cost-effective ways to store large amounts of electric energy on a commercial scale, making it easier to integrate renewable energy into our grid operations.

All of this, and more, is concrete evidence of Duke Energy’s commitment to sustainability. In 2016, for the 11th consecutive year, Duke Energy was named to the Dow Jones Sustainability Index for North America. Our company was also named Organization of the Year in 2016 by the Electric Utility Industry Sustainable Supply Chain Alliance.

It’s clear that Duke Energy and the Department of the Navy share many of the same philosophies and goals about doing business in a responsible and sustainable way. We will look for more opportunities that make sense to partner with our friends here at Crane and other military installations in Indiana to expand and improve the energy security for our nation.

Thank you.

Cropped Crane photo

Attending he Ribbon-cutting ceremony pictured left to right: Laura Ann Arnold, President of Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance (IndianaDG); Stan Pinegar, Vice President of Duke Energy Indiana; and Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of Citizens Action Coalition (CAC).

Lt. Gov and Duke employees

MO PSC orders “inclining block”electric rates

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 19, 2017  /   Posted in Duke Energy, Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

electric meter-e1495133723295

New electricity rate in Missouri expected to benefit efficiency and renewables

A key step to saving energy, efficiency advocates say, is to reward customers for using less by offering them a lower rate.

Earlier this month, the Missouri Public Service Commission ordered Kansas City Power & Light to begin using an “inclining block” rate system starting on May 28 — tying the rate customers pay for electricity to their overall usage. The two-tiered policy essentially provides a small savings for modest use of energy and imposes a small penalty on customers who use larger amounts.

The rate structure, versions of which are in use by utilities in Minnesota, Colorado and other states, is also likely to improve the economics of efficiency upgrades and renewable energy, according to one clean-energy promoter.

“We think this is a good first victory,” said Andrew Linhares, an attorney with Renew Missouri. “We presented expert testimony and made our case, and the company did as well. We think this is a really encouraging sign that the commission is into sound rate policy.”

Linhares indicated that Renew Missouri and the Sierra Club, which partnered in bringing the issue up in the rate case, will likely seek to further modify the new rate structure in future rate hearings.

The new rate structure will be in effect only from June through September, setting the per-kilowatt-hour charge at 12.9 cents for each of the first 600 kilowatt hours per month, and 14.9 cents for each kilowatt hour beyond that threshold.

Although the price differential is fairly modest, it signals a broader shift in the approach to ratemaking, away from a flat or declining-block rate system that encourages — or at least does not discourage — consumption, and towards a system that rewards conservation. The rate schedule in effect during the eight cooler months of the year remains mostly intact, with three different rates that fall as consumption increases.

Because the first 600 monthly kilowatt hours will become slightly cheaper – by about $3 a month – Linhares said that the new system will have the effect of boosting the economics of both rooftop solar arrays and investment in greater energy efficiency. Payback times for those investments will be shorter than they are now, he predicted.

Linhares called the initial differential “slight,” and said that it likely would reduce consumption by about .1 percent. A larger differential, of course, likely would lead to a greater reduction.

“We would hope to see that ramp up over coming rate cases,” Linhares said.

KCP&L, in an emailed statement, indicated there might be some resistance from utilities.

“While we appreciate the Commission’s perspective on block rates and the view that it might encourage additional utilization of our energy efficiency programs, we believe a block rate structure penalizes customers who choose to use more energy to appropriately meet their individual heating or cooling comfort levels.”

Other states have adopted the inclining-block approach to rates, some in the last couple years, others decades ago. Overall energy consumption tends to fall as a result, said Jim Lazar, a senior advisor at the Regulatory Assistance Project, a non-profit with a clean-energy mission.

In a calculation he did for a 2013 publication, Lazar studied the experience of a municipal utility in southern California that replaced its flat rate with inclining blocks: 7 cents per kilowatt hour for the first 500 kilowatt hours, 10 cents for each of the next 500 kilowatt hours, and 14 cents for any kilowatt hour thereafter.

Customers whose consumption remained within the lowest block actually used slightly more energy after the lower bottom-rate went into effect. The two groups that were subjected to the higher rates cut back on their use. Several years into the new rate system, after customers had had time to change their habits and to invest in more-efficient technology, Lazar wrote that overall energy use had fallen by 8.6 percent.

Xcel Energy instituted inclining block rates for its 1.1 million Colorado customers in 2010. Initially, the rate for each of the first 500 kilowatt hours was 4.6 cents. Beyond that threshold, the rate nearly doubled to 9 cents.

Those rates have risen a bit, to 5.5 cents and 9.9 cents per kilowatt hour making the differential a bit less, but still substantial. The tiered rate structure seems to have had a significant impact on electricity use. Xcel spokesman Mark Stutz said consumption dropped in each of the first four summers when the rate was in effect, by 2.2 percent during the summer of 2010 to 4.5 percent in the summer of 2013.

Minnesota Power instituted a three-block rate structure about 30 years ago, then modified it to a five-block system in 2009, and now is looking to simplify matters by telescoping the five into two blocks. The utility analyzed the results in 2013 through 2015, and concluded that energy use had in fact declined, but a spokeswoman said it wasn’t clear whether it was due to declining-block rates or some other factor.

In Missouri, Linhares said that Missouri’s major utilities have looked at various rate structures as part of their integrated resource plans and energy-efficiency potential studies.

“They show huge potential savings,” he said. “We can spend a million on energy efficiency to capture 1 percent annual savings per year, but we can also do these very, very cheap changes in rate design to achieve big energy savings.”

Please compare the inclining block rates referenced above with the "declining block" electric rates for two Indiana electric utilities:

Kansas City Power & Light

First 600 kWh...........................................12.9 cents per kWh

Each kilowatt hour >600 ..........................14.9 cents per kWh

Duke Energy Indiana

Issued: December 30, 2015 Effective: January 1, 2016

Available for all residential purposes and farm operations through one meter to individual customers whose maximum load requirements do not exceed 75 kilowatts.
Character of Service
Alternating current, sixty Hertz, single phase at a voltage of approximately 120/240 volts three-wire, or
120/208 volts three-wire as designated by the Company.

Connection Charge ........................................... $9.40
First 300 kWh .................................................. $0.092945 per kWh
Next 700 kWh....................................................$0.054178 per kWh
Over 1000 kWh .................................................$0.044464 per kWh


Indianapolis Power and Light


The sum of the Customer Charge and Energy Charge shown hereafter plus the Standard Contract Riders shown hereafter in the Standard Contract Riders Applicable section.
Customer Charge
For bills of 0-325 KWH per month $11.25 per month
For bills over 325 KWH per month $17.00 per month
Energy Charge
First 500 KWH ....................... 9.0886¢ net per KWH
Over 500 KWH ........................6.9951¢ net per KWH

With electric heating and/or water heating
over 1000 KWH......................  5.7348¢ net per KWH




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