Iowa electric co-op withdraws proposed additional $57.50 fee for solar customers

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   August 28, 2015  /   Posted in Net Metering, solar  /   No Comments
solar roof

Iowa co-op withdraws proposed fee for solar customers


A rural electric cooperative in Iowa has backed away from a plan to impose an additional $57.50 monthly fee on customers with solar panels.

On Thursday afternoon, Pella Cooperative Electric informed the Iowa Utilities Board that it was withdrawing the tariff it filed earlier this summer.

“It kinda made my day,” said Bryce Engbers, a hog farmer living outside of Grinnell. Engbers has arrays on his house and on each of two confinement barns, and had said he’d sooner remove the arrays than pay the higher fee.

“There are a lot of eyes on this, and I think it was a great move by [Pella], and I appreciate it,” Engbers said.

In June, Pella Cooperative Electric sent a letter to its approximately 3,000 members telling them that anyone installing solar panels after Aug. 15 would be charged the higher monthly fee.

Residential customers now pay a $27.50 monthly fixed fee. The additional charge would have meant an $85 monthly fixed fee for those with solar panels. Members with solar panels installed and operational before that date would not have to pay the higher fee for another five years.

The co-op’s management had commissioned a routine cost-of-service study earlier this year to determine whether any class of customers was not paying its fair share towards maintenance of the power system.

John Smith, the utility’s chief executive officer, said the study made clear that customers with their own solar generation — because they use less power — would as a consequence not pay their share of fixed costs.

The fee hike irked a couple of co-op members enough that they met with the co-op’s board of directors and asked to see the cost-of-service study. The utility’s management refused and then, apparently, relented.

“They gave us something,” Engbers said. “I don’t know if it was a cost-of-service study, but that’s what they said it was.”

The Environmental Law & Policy Center then got involved, and filed a petition to intervene before the utilities board. The center said that a fee levied only on customers with distributed generation facilities ran counter to two provisions in Iowa law.

The state’s Office of Consumer Advocate, concerned that the fee might have constituted discrimination against solar customers, also weighed in. It told the utility it wanted to see the cost-of-service study and any other documents used to calculate and justify the monthly charge.

Smith had previously declined a request from Midwest Energy News to review the study, saying it is “confidential” and “not subject to distribution.” He could not be reached Thursday afternoon for comment.

The co-op issued a press release that said, in part: “The proposed revision in the facility charge has drawn significant attention and has portrayed the Cooperative as discriminatory in establishing a different facility charge for those members who elect to install and maintain on-site generation which will provide some, but not all, the electrical energy needed to supply their needs. That claim is incorrect.

“The Cooperative has a long history of developing rates that collect sufficient and fair cost recovery; simply put, the cost causer must be the cost payer,” Smith stated. “It is unfair to the rest of the membership who would have to pay more so that another rate class can pay less.”

“… we have decided to withdraw the proposed increase on the facility charge for members who own or lease distributed generation until such time that we can better educate our members and the community as to the fair and equitable recovery of fixed costs.”

Josh Mandelbaum, an Environmental Law & Policy Center lawyer who represented two co-op members as well as a few environmental and solar organizations in the matter before the utilities board, said he suspected that when Pella decided to hike the fee for its tiny number of solar customers, the utility “didn’t have a sense of how that might impact members, and the concerns that members would raise. When that was provided, to their credit, they revisited the issue and withdrew the tariff.”

Although the Pella proposal likely would have affected only a small number of customers, Mandelbaum said, “The concern that we have is that although each individual co-op or muni might be a small entity in itself, between co-ops and munis they serve collectively about 30 percent of Iowa customers.

“We want to stop barriers from going up (for those customers), and this was a particularly egregious example of that barrier. The $85 charge was larger than anything we’ve ever seen — not just in Iowa, but around the country. The Minnesota commission just in the last week or two rejected a co-op that tried to impose a $5 charge.”

The debate over whether self-generating customers are being subsidized by the rest of a utility’s ratepayers is playing out across the country.

In the Midwest, Wisconsin utilities got approval for similar fixed rate charges to be imposed on solar customers.

Michigan utilities, on the other hand, are pushing to eliminate the state’s net metering law in favor of a system in which solar generators buy all of their power from the utility at retail and sell back excess power at wholesale. Utility officials say this accomplishes the same goal as imposing a monthly fixed rate.

Mandelbaum said he hopes other utilities will take note of Pella’s experience. He pointed to the Farmer’s Electric Co-op in Kalona, Iowa, which has been in the forefront of embracing and fostering renewable and distributed generation.

“There are other ways this can be done, and hopefully Pella revisting its decision is a sign that they’re willing to work with members to look at other ways this can be done. Hopefully other co-ops will do the same.”

One thought on “Iowa co-op withdraws proposed fee for solar customers”

  1. “… we have decided to withdraw the proposed increase on the facility charge for members who own or lease distributed generation until such time that we can better educate our members and the community as to the fair and equitable recovery of fixed costs.”
    Man… educate yourselves, while you’re at it, Pella… a fee of over $50, penalizing customers for reducing energy use via solar doesn’t make sense in any rational universe. Will they also charge Energy Star homes? A per-LED lamp fee perhaps? A special line-item for low-energy-consumption widows? Give me a break.
    If someone puts in a big enough system to seriously back-feed the grid, negotiations may be in order, if this has a measurable effect on grid equipment. But a catch-all “you have solar; pay up” is quite obviously nothing but punitive.

Duke Energy starting South Carolina customer solar generating program; RFP issued

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   August 27, 2015  /   Posted in Duke Energy, solar, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Duke Energy starting customer solar generating program

Staff Report
Published Aug. 27, 2015

Duke Energy is seeking proposals for about 53 megawatts of utility scale solar capacity that would start operating in the company’s S.C. service areas by the end of 2016. Customers can sign up for rooftop and ground-mounted solar rebates starting Oct. 13.

The request advances Duke Energy’s Distributed Energy Resource Program that was approved July 15 by the S.C. Public Service Commission and stems from the Distributed Energy Resource Act of 2014. Duke Energy Carolinas and Duke Energy Progress have about 720,000 customers in South Carolina.

Duke Energy has issued a request for proposals in a customer program that will generate up to about 53 megawatts of utility scale solar capacity in the company’s S.C. service areas by the end of 2016. (Photo provided by Duke Energy)
Duke Energy has issued a request for proposals in a customer program that will generate up to about 53 megawatts of utility scale solar capacity in the company’s S.C. service areas by the end of 2016. (Photo provided by Duke Energy)The request asks bidders to offer a power-purchase agreement to the company orprovide a proposal that allows Duke Energy ownership of the project or both. Utility scale projects shouldhave a capacity of more than 1 MW and no more than 10 MW.In a separate request, the company is seeking up to 5 MW of solar capacity for its Shared Solar Program. The program allows customers such as nonprofit organizations, churches, community centers, renters and schools to subscribe to the output of a specific solar facility and receive credit on their monthly bill for the energy produced from that facility. The customer receives a bill credit of approximately 6 cents per kilowatt-hour produced.

The programs are expected to add up to 110 MW of solar energy by 2021. Currently, less than 2 MW of solar capacity is connected to Duke Energy in the state.

“The collaborative vision to bring solar to South Carolina is now becoming a reality to the benefit of our customers, communities and the state,” said Clark Gillespy, Duke Energy’s South Carolina president.


Michigan tea party legislator pushing for more clean energy and to incentivize solar energy growth

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   August 26, 2015  /   Posted in Net Metering, Renewable Electricity Standard (RES), Uncategorized  /   No Comments
Solar panels at Dow Diamond in Rep. Gary Glenn's district.

Solar panels at Dow Diamond in Rep. Gary Glenn’s district.

Michigan tea party legislator pushing for more clean energy

Michigan State Rep. Gary GlennA Michigan lawmaker more widely known for his strongly conservative positions on social issues may be an unlikely ally for those pushing for more clean energy here.

State Rep. Gary Glenn, a first-term tea party Republican who also heads the state chapter of the American Family Association, says he wants to incentivize — “not mandate” — solar energy growth in the state.

In an interview with Midwest Energy News last week, Glenn said he is preparing to release an energy package next month that would encourage distributed generation and allow ratepayers to buy renewable energy from alternative suppliers.

Glenn is the majority vice chair of the House Energy Policy Committee who observers say has taken a strong interest in energy issues this session.

Glenn aims to lift the current 1 percent cap on net metering for solar projects, the opposite direction Senate Republicans are headed. He also wants to restructure the 10 percent limit on customers who can participate in Retail Open Access that would allow customers to choose an alternative energy supplier if it is for renewable energy.

Major utilities DTE Energy and Consumers Energy are fighting against both current policies, looking to eliminate net metering and eliminate electric choice.

Glenn says his overall goal is to incentivize, not mandate, clean-energy growth here.

“We ought to maintain (net metering) and incentivize it so we have more people using solar and relieving pressure on the grid,” Glenn said last week at the Capitol. “I don’t believe in mandating any form of energy, but we should be incentivizing solar as much as possible.

“The fact that there’s not more solar is not because there are more cloudy days in Michigan than other states,” he added. “We have the least incentivizing policy in the country.”

Glenn’s comments came shortly before the Senate Energy and Technology Committee held a hearing last week on SB 438, a Republican-backed plan that would eliminate net metering and which is drawing strong criticism from solar advocates and some conservative groups.

Instead of eliminating net metering — as major investor-owned utilities want to see — Glenn wants to lift the 1 percent cap and allow people to be credited for the energy they put back on the grid at the same retail rate they get it from utilities.

“As part of a competition-driven, free-market and incentive-based package, it gives consumers choice,” Glenn said.

I don’t believe in mandating any form of energy, but we should be incentivizing solar as much as possible.

Glenn’s proposal could end up being the fourth sweeping energy policy to surface this year as Michigan’s 10 percent renewable energy standard levels off at the end of 2015.

Glenn’s plan differs from Senate Republicans who want to opt for an Integrated Resource Planning process and eliminate net metering, and a Democratic proposal to double the RPS by 2020. His stance also differs from fellow House Republicans, who want to return Michigan to being a fully regulated state and allow the renewable and efficiency standards to level off and not increase.

As in other states across the country, Glenn represents a group of Michigan Republicans pushing for more renewable energy but doing so through the market or mechanisms other than standards.

The Green Tea Coalition and the group Tell Utilities Solar won’t be Killed — headed by former Republican Congressman Barry Goldwater, Jr. — are mobilizing in states where they say policies conducive to rooftop solar are being attacked by large utilities that feel threatened by increasing amounts of distributed generation.

Glenn said he is adapting a policy that might be palatable on both sides of the aisle because he doesn’t believe the votes are there to extend Michigan’s RPS or to fully deregulate or regulate the state.

In addition to allowing customers seeking renewable energy to get it from an alternative supplier, Glenn also wants to open up the choice market to all taxpayer-funded entities, such as K-12 schools, universities, prisons and all “state and political subdivisions.”

In 2008, Michigan lawmakers capped electric choice at 10 percent of a utility’s capacity. Thousands of entities are part of a waiting list to participate. Allowing customers to purchase renewables from alternative suppliers would effectively use Retail Open Access as a way to expand the amount of clean energy generated here, Glenn says.

“It’s a significant incentive to buy from a renewable source, but it’s not a mandate,” he said.

Jeff Irwin, a Democratic state representative from Ann Arbor, said he’s familiar with Glenn’s plan and agrees that it could be a different means to reach the same ends that clean-energy supporters seek.

“There’s a natural connection between advocates of clean, renewable, homegrown energy and folks who believe in customer choice and liberty,” Irwin said.

Last year, Irwin introduced a series of bills with bipartisan support that he called “energy freedom,” which also would have incentivized self-generation. Irwin said he plans to reintroduce that legislation again this year.

Irwin said it’s difficult to determine whether there are other Republicans like Glenn who, with  help from Democrats, could muster enough votes in both Republican-dominated chambers for clean-energy legislation.

“As we see other proposals, particularly from (Senate Republicans), that’s a real point of difference in the Republican Party,” Irwin said. “Some Republicans want to smother the solar industry by wrapping it in red tape. Other people who have a more free-market approach want it to be economically viable.”

Obama Announces New Actions to Bring Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to Households across the Country

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   August 25, 2015  /   Posted in Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE), solar  /   No Comments

Image result for white house

The White House
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release

FACT SHEET: President Obama Announces New Actions to Bring Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency to Households across the Country

Advancing Clean Energy Technology Innovation, Cutting Energy Bills, and Creating Jobs

President Obama is committed to taking responsible steps to address climate change, promote clean energy and energy efficiency, drive innovation, and ensure a cleaner, more stable environment for future generations. That is why at Senator Reid’s National Clean Energy Summit later today, he is announcing a robust set of executive actions and private sector commitments to accelerate America’s transition to cleaner sources of energy and ways to cut energy waste.

These actions build on state leadership, all across America, to continue to expand opportunities to install energy saving technologies in households today, particularly those that need it most, while driving the development of innovative, low-cost clean energy technologies for tomorrow.

Last year, the United States brought online as much solar energy every three weeks as it did in all of 2008, and the solar industry added jobs 10 times faster than the rest of the economy.  Since the beginning of 2010, the average cost of a solar electric system has dropped by 50 percent. In fact, distributed solar prices fell 10 to 20 percent in 2014 alone and currently 44 states have pricing structures that encourage increased penetration of distributed energy resources.

Americans are also more empowered to capture opportunities to improve efficiency and cut energy waste. In fact, up to one third of households can track their energy use and learn ways to make choices on how to save on their energy bills. Since President Obama took office, the U.S. Department of Energy has already put in place appliance efficiency standards that will save American consumers nearly $480 billion on their utility bills through 2030, and the Environmental Protection Agency’s ENERGY STAR Program continues to help save consumers more than $34 billion per year going forward.

The executive actions and private sector commitments President Obama is announcing today will continue to promote the use and development of smart, simple, low-cost technologies to help households save on their energy bills and help America transition to cleaner, and more distributed energy resources. These include:

  • Making $1 billion in additional loan guarantee authority available and announcing new guidelines for distributed energy projects utilizing innovative technology and states looking to access this financing;
  • Unlocking residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing for single-family housing to make is easier for Americans to invest in clean energy technologies;
  • Launching a new HUD and DOE program to provide home owners with a simple way to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their homes, by increasing homeowners borrowing power;
  • Creating a DOD Privatized Housing Solar Challenge, and announcing companies are committing to provide solar power to housing on over 40 military bases across the United States, while saving military families money on energy bills and making military communities more energy secure;
  • Announcing $24 million for 11 projects in seven states to develop innovative solar technologies that double the amount of energy each solar panel can produce from the sun;
  • Approving a transmission line that will support bringing online a 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility that will be constructed in Riverside County and produce enough renewable energy to power more than 145,000 homes; and
  • Creating an Interagency Task Force to Promote a Clean Energy Future for All Americans; and announcing independent commitments from local governments, utilities, and businesses that are stepping up to drive energy efficiency in more than 300,000 low-income households and investing more than $220 million in energy saving activities for veterans and low-income customers to help decrease their energy bills.

Today’s actions build on a longstanding commitment to create a clean energy economy for all Americans, will help states meet the targets in the Clean Power Plan announced earlier this month, and set us on a path to reach the President’s goals, including:

  • Achieving an economy-wide target to reduce emissions by 26%-28% below 2005 levels in 2025;
  • Increase the share of renewables – beyond hydropower – in their respective electricity generation mixes to the level of 20% by 2030;
  • Installing 300 megawatts of renewable energy across federally subsidized housing by 2020; and
  • Doubling energy productivity by 2030.


To continue to reinforce American leadership in deploying clean energy and cutting energy waste while creating jobs and reducing carbon pollution, the Administration is announcing the following actions:

Making $1 Billion in Additional Loan Guarantee Authority Available and Announcing New Guidelines for Distributed Energy Projects Utilizing Innovative Technology:  Distributed Energy Projects are currently driving innovation and transforming U.S. energy markets. Technologies such as rooftop solar, energy storage, smart grid technology, and methane capture for oil and gas wells, solve key energy challenges.  Catalyzing these technologies and demonstrating the viability of these markets would create economic opportunity, strengthen energy security, transform certain energy markets, and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  To accelerate the pace of innovation in distributed energy, the Department of Energy is:

  • Inviting Innovative Distributed Energy Projects to Apply to More Than $10 Billion in Current Loan Guarantees: The Department of Energy is supplementing its current loan guarantee solicitations to invite applications for Distributed Energy Projects. The current Solicitations, totaling more than $10 billion in loan guarantee authority, are now clearly unlocked to support scale up of Distributed Energy Projects utilizing innovative technology. Today’s announcement includes guidance from the Department on how a Distributed Energy Project transaction could be properly structured.
  • Making Available $1 Billion in Additional Loan Guarantee Authority for New, Innovative Projects:  As part of its new push for Distributed Energy Projects utilizing innovative technology, the Department of Energy is providing up to $1 billion in additional loan guarantee authority through its current Solicitations for new Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Projects and Fossil Energy Projects.  This significantly boosts the resources available to new applicants.
  • Providing Clarity for States and State Green Banks on How to Work with the Department’s Loan Programs Office:  The Department of Energy is also issuing new guidance making clear that state-affiliated financial entities, including state green banks, may submit applications for Eligible Projects.  That means any state or state-affiliated entity that satisfies all other requirements for qualification as a borrower can submit applications for Eligible Projects, including Distributed Energy Projects.  In addition, the Department made clear today that state and state-affiliated entities, including state green banks, may participate in Distributed Energy Projects as lenders or co-lenders, off-takers or equity providers.

Announcing New Programs to Accelerate the Deployment of Clean Energy Technologies Available Today: For more than 80 years, the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) has provided low-income households and underserved communities access to safe and affordable mortgage credit. And with today’s announcement, FHA will provide additional opportunities for borrowers with FHA insured loans to benefit from affordable financing of home energy improvements, saving them money, and improving the environment. Today more than 7.6 million households in the U.S. live in FHA-insured single family housing. To accelerate this transition and drive the deployment of renewable energy and energy efficiency in single family housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development is taking the following actions:

  • Unlocking Residential Property-Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Financing: PACE is an innovative mechanism for financing energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements. PACE financing allows homeowners to benefit from energy improvements immediately and pay back the cost over time through their property taxes. When the property is sold, the remaining PACE loan stays with the more energy efficient property and the next owner is responsible for repaying the loan. PACE programs have the potential to unlock alternative sources of capital to accelerate renewable energy and efficiency retrofits for households, and reduce energy costs for consumers.To remove existing barriers and accelerate the use of PACE financing for single family housing, HUD’s Federal Housing Administration (FHA) is announcing today that, under guidance to be issued soon, properties with subordinated PACE loans can be purchased and refinanced with an FHA insured mortgage. HUD is issuing a preliminary statement indicating the conditions under which borrowers purchasing or refinancing properties with existing PACE assessments will be eligible to use FHA-insured financing. Secretary Castro is also sending a letter to Governors describing the options the FHA offers to make it easier for consumers to undertake energy efficiency and renewable energy improvements in their homes. FHA’s evolving PACE guidance is also being informed by ongoing conversations with the Federal Housing Finance Agency.This action is distinct from the multifamily PACE guidance for the State of California that HUD released earlier this year. The guidance clarified the circumstances under which HUD will approve unsubordinated PACE financing on HUD-assisted and -insured multifamily housing in California in order to facilitate the establishment of a California Multifamily PACE Pilot.
  • Increasing Homeowners Borrowing Power to Make Energy Efficiency Improvements: HUD’s FHA Energy Efficient Home Program and DOE are launching a program to provide potential homeowners with an easy way to measure and improve the energy efficiency of their homes. Under the new HUD and DOE Home Energy Score partnership, in areas where the Home Energy Score is available, single family households will be able to increase their access to financing tools to make energy efficiency improvements. DOE’s Home Energy Score offers a “miles per gallon” type rating to estimate a home’s energy use on a 10-point scale. A “1” corresponds to the least energy efficient homes and a “10” corresponds to the most energy efficient homes, while the average U.S. home will score a “5.” Through this new partnership, homebuyers or homeowners who want to obtain an FHA-insured purchase or refinance mortgage for a single family home that receives a Home Energy Score of 6 or higher will be eligible to increase their income qualifying ratio by 2 percentage points above the standard Single Family FHA limit, making it easier to secure financing to make these improvements.

DOD Privatized Housing Solar Challenge:  Approximately 72 MWs of solar energy producing infrastructure has been installed on over 60,000 Department of Defense (DOD) privatized housing units to date. To amplify this progress, earlier this summer, DOD and the White House Council on Environmental Quality convened the companies that own the privatized housing units to share best practices and encourage them to set goals for increasing the amount of solar energy generated on privatized military housing through the end of 2016.

Today, four companies are committing to provide solar power to housing on over 40 military bases across the United States, while saving military families money on energy bills and making military communities more energy secure. These commitments total over 233 MWs, reducing annual carbon emissions by approximately 324 metric tons.

  • Balfour Beatty: Balfour Beatty Communities has joined forces with DOD to install solar at the following 12 military installations across the US: Lakehurst, NJ; New London CT; Long Island, NY; Newport, RI; Saratoga Springs, NY; Ft Bliss, TX; Ft Detrick, MD; Wheaton, MD; Ft Hamilton, NY; Ft Leonard Wood, MO; West Point, NY; and Ft Carson, CO.  This effort will generate approximately 63.35MW of solar power and continue to reduce carbon emissions across Balfour Beatty Communities’ Military Family Housing portfolio.
  • Corvias: Corvias Solutions (Corvias) along with Onyx Renewable Partners, is working with DOD to install solar on 12 military installations across the United States. This effort is expected to generate approximately 100MW of solar power that will provide increased energy security and reduce annual carbon emissions by approximately 92,000 tons. Corvias will continue to innovate with its Army partner and has received initial approval to move forward on solar installations at Aberdeen Proving Grounds and Fort Meade, MD; Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Polk, LA; Fort Rucker, AL; Fort Sill, OK; and Fort Riley, KS.
  • Lincoln Military Housing: Lincoln Military Housing is leveraging the current 20 MW system being installed on privatized military housing in San Diego to install a new proposed solar project that would add 60 MW of power generating capabilities to its national portfolio of privatized military housing. Lincoln Military Housing provides more than 31,000 family homes for military members across the United States.
  • United Communities: United Communities, which provides homes for 2,000 military families living at Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst in New Jersey, will deploy an additional 10 MW of cost-effective, private sector solar generated electricity serving 1,147 of these homes in 2016. This new project will increase solar generation to at least 16 MW, representing 90% of total electricity consumed by the residents of these privatized military homes. The significant electricity savings generated from the additional ground-mounted solar array will directly benefit families living on the base.

Pushing the Bar on Low-Cost Solar Technology: The Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy (ARPA-E)’s Micro-scale Optimized Solar-cell Arrays with Integrated Concentration (MOSAIC) Program is announcing $24 million for 11 projects in seven states across the country to develop innovative solar technologies to double the amount of energy each solar panel can produce from the sun, while reducing costs and the space required to generate solar energy.

  • California Institute of Technology (Pasadena, CA)Micro-Optical Tandem Luminescent Solar Concentrator
  • Glint Photonics, Inc. (Burlingame, CA) – Stationary Wide-Angle Concentrator PV System
  • Palo Alto Research Center (Palo Alto, CA) – Micro-Chiplet Printer for MOSAIC
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) -Integrated Micro-Optical Concentrator Photovoltaics with Lateral Multijunction Cells
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Cambridge, MA) -Wafer-Level Integrated Concentrating Photovoltaics
  • Panasonic Boston Laboratory (Newton, MA) - Low Profile CPV Panel with Sun Tracking for Rooftop Installation
  • University of Rochester (Rochester, NY) - Planar Light Guide Concentrated Photovoltaics
  • Semprius, Inc. (Durham, NC)Micro-Scale Ultra-High Efficiency CPV/Diffuse Hybrid Arrays Using Transfer Printing
  • The Pennsylvania State University (University Park, PA)Wide-Angle Planar Microtracking Microcell CPV
  • Texas A&M University Engineering Experiment Station (College Station, TX)Waveguiding Solar Concentrator
  • Sharp Laboratories of America (Camas, WA) – A High-Efficiency Flat Plate PV with Integrated Micro-PV atop a 1-Sun Panel

Approving a New Transmission Line to Deploy Solar Energy:Today, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) has approved the Blythe Mesa Solar project in California and its transmission line that will support bringing online the 485-megawatt photovoltaic facility that will be constructed in Riverside County and produce enough renewable energy to power more than 145,000 homes in California.

Creating an Interagency Task Force to Promote a Clean Energy Future for All Americans: Building on the Administration’s initiative to increase access to solar energy for all Americans, and recognizing the importance of ensuring that the communities most likely to be impacted by climate change must also share in the benefits a clean energy future, today, President Obama is creating an Interagency Task Force to Promote a Clean Energy Future for All Americans, that will work in partnership with states and community organizations to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency and scale up the deployment renewable energy in low- and moderate- income communities. The Task Force, whose participants include the Executive Office of the President, DOE, EPA, HUD, USDA, DOL, and Treasury, will work to enhance this shared goal through three key mechanisms:

The expanded EnergyShare will be a collaborative model for how utilities can work with state agencies and non-profits to provide sustainable savings for those facing financial hardships through a combination of energy assistance and energy efficiency.

  • Leveraging the Clean Energy Incentive Program:  The Task Force will support low-income communities through the development and implementation of the Clean Power Plan’s Clean Energy Incentive Program. The CEIP is a voluntary “matching fund” program that states can use to incentivize early investment in eligible wind and solar projects, as well as demand-side energy efficiency projects, including those that are implemented in low-income communities.  In particular, the Task Force will help to identify Administration-wide funding and technical assistance for states, cities, and organizations, easing access to the Federal tools and programs available to increase energy efficiency and deploy renewable energy in low- and moderate- income communities. This fall, EPA is also releasing a new resource that will highlight effective programs and policies at the state and local levels that have led to the successful adoption of energy efficiency and renewable energy in low-income communities.
  • Enhancing Federal Resources for Low-and Moderate Income Communities: Building on the programs already available  the Task Force will review the Administration’s programs and policies relating to the availability of clean energy and renewable energy programs nationwide, including within low- and moderate-income communities, with the goal of enhancing funding available in both our existing programs and through the FY2017 budget process.
  • Identifying Private Sector Partners and Foundation Support:Today, the President is calling on mayors and county officials, the private sector, and foundations to step up and supportthe deployment of clean and efficient technologies in low-and moderate-income communities. The Task Force willfacilitate partnerships between communities and private sector organizations. Already, the following organizations are stepping up to drive energy efficiency in more than 300,000 low-income households and investing more than $220 million inenergy saving activities for veterans and low-income customers to help decrease their energy bills:
    • The American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) is committing to advancing energy efficiency in low-income households in the next year through:
      • Providing technical assistance and developing resources for utilities and state agencies so that energy efficiency programs can better serve low- and moderate-income households, especially those residing in affordable multifamily buildings.
      • Working with HUD to increase energy efficiency investments in subsidized housing stock. This includes encouraging utilities to provide whole-building energy data and targeted programs that serve this sector.
      • Providing technical assistance and resources to local governments so that citywide energy efficiency efforts reach low- and moderate-income households and small businesses in these communities. ACEEE will also work with local governments to ensure that these energy efficiency efforts be considered as strategies within state and utility energy planning.
      • Producing a best practice guide on community-based lending for energy efficiency in low- and moderate-income communities.
    • Bosch is committing to dedicating part of its sales force to focus specifically on outreach to school districts inlow income communities, as well as in extreme climate areas, where energy resiliency is paramount. These activities could include:
      • Working to educate stakeholders and decision makers in low-income communities about the opportunities and benefits of high-efficiency buildings, particularly schools.
      • Sharing critical information with stakeholders on how projects can be implemented in their regions, including case studies from existing Bosch school improvement projects.
      • Providing best practices on how other schools integrate energy efficiency projects into student curriculum and reinforce teaching and learning about energy conservation in the classroom.
    • CLEAResult and E4thefuture are announcing a new initiative that will establish a deeper Weatherization program that will focus on recruiting and training Native American professionals to become energy auditors. The initial scope of this project will have a goal of identifying as many as 10 new energy professionals from the Native American tribal communities that CLEAResult serves in Michigan. This initiative will demonstrate that residential energy efficiency works to not only lower energy costs for low income consumers but also strengthen communities, create jobs and improve the housing conditions for low income consumers.
    • Connecticut Weatherization Assistance Program (CT WAP), their Community Action-based subgrantees, utility partners, and strategic financial partners have identified a range of energy efficiency opportunities that are the result of innovative efforts to expand the reach of the U.S. WAP and other residential efficiency programs via community outreach to underserved areas. CT WAP and its subgrantees have prepared needs assessments related to Urban Revitalization programs combined with health and safety stakeholders on the state and local levels and have established key relationships with renewable energy, heating system replacement, community lighting and client education services. CT WAP estimates that 1,000 homes per year (2,800 persons) could benefit from additional efficiency efforts above and beyond what services are currently being delivered in the state, or more than 4,000 units (11,200 persons) over a 48-month period. Given the existing capacity and workload, contracting and expansion of services would require a ramp up period of 30 to 60 days and production and public benefit could be realized within 90 days of agreements.
    • Commons Energy in Ohio is making a new commitment to provide service to low and moderate income populations in Efficiency Smart’s service territory. This builds on their existing commitment to comprehensive total-energy solution for owners of small to mid-size multifamily affordable housing, education, health care, and community and municipal facilities who may have difficulty accessing capital, technical skills, and implementation services.
    • The Compact of Mayors, a global coalition of mayors and city officials that have pledged to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance resilience to climate change, is committing to further the uptake of clean energy technologies, including in low-income communities, and to track overall progress. U.S. Cities are taking significant steps to reduce emissions, but the only way to measure progress is through a transparent and consistent system that provides accountability.  19 U.S. Cities have already signedonto the Compact, and 15 more are announcing their commitment today, including:
      • Atlanta
      • Austin
      • Bridgeport
      • Camuy (PR)
      • Chicago
      • Chula Vista
      • Grand Rapids
      • King County
      • New York
      • Oakland
      • San Francisco
      • Santa Monica
      • Seattle
      • West Hollywood
      • West Palm Beach
      • The President is challenging all Mayors to publicly commit to a climate action plan ahead of the Paris UN meeting, and has set a goal of having at least 100 US cities that have signed onto the Compact by the end of November.
    • The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a nonprofit mortgage lender providing leading-edge capital solutions to the complex issues facing communities throughout New York State, has committed to underwriting the projected energy reduction savings from conservation projects into its first mortgage financing procedure. CPC will work with their partners at both the state and municipal level including the Governor’s office, HCR, NYSERDA, and the New York City Energy Efficiency Corporation to create and preserve over 750 units of high-performance housing for low- and moderate-income households. First by capturing the savings of energy efficiency and water conservation measures in the loan underwriting, then monitoring the project through occupancy to track realized savings, CPC aims to create synergies within the multifamily lending industry that lead to deeper savings and additional stakeholder participation.
    • Direct Energy has provided over 1,700 Programmable Thermostats to eligible low-income households in Texas, under a program created by the Public Utility Commission of Texas, in order to help those households better manage their energy usage.  Going forward, Direct Energy will continue this effort by partnering with Nest Labs and others to reach as many additional households as possible.
    • Dominion Virginia Power –in collaboration with more than 30 state agencies, non-profit organizations and other community stakeholders –  will invest $57 million ($42 million of whichis funded by shareholders) for an expandedEnergyShare program starting September 1 toprovide financialassistance, weatherization services, and educational outreach to people living with disabilities, homeless veterans, seniors, and low-income customers.
      • Dominion will link eligible individuals with weatherization providers and fund project work providing long-term, sustainable savings to customers;
      • In partnership with the Virginia Department of Veterans Services, Dominion will provide approximately 1,000 vouchers annually for $500 each to veterans being housed through rapid re-housing or permanent supporting housing programs;
      • Working with the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services, Dominion will provide approximately 1,000 vouchers annually for $500 each to individuals living with disabilities, thereby providing an important wrap-around service.
      • The program includes significant community outreach and energy conservation education for all customers;
      • The overall program will benefit tens of thousands of customers.

    The expanded EnergyShare will be a collaborative model for how utilities can work with state agencies and non-profits to provide sustainable savings for those facing financial hardships through a combination of energy assistance and energy efficiency.

    • Energy Efficiency for All (EEFA), a partnership between the National Housing Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Energy Foundation and Elevate Energy with funding support from The JPB Foundation, will help low income renters gain access to $170 million in new private and public resources for energy efficiency in affordable multifamily housing. EEFA will accomplish this commitment by bringing together the energy and housing sectors to tap the benefits of energy efficiency for millions of Americans living on limited incomes. EEFA’s mission is to make multifamily homes healthy and affordable, while helping utilities achieve their energy efficiency goals and reduce greenhouse gas emissions.  EEFA has energy, health, and housing partners in 12 states and supports a national learning network.
    • Energy Optimizers, USA and Miller Valentine are announcing a new partnership to develop and implement energy efficiency renovation projects in over 12,000 low-income properties throughout 13 states.  This program is estimated to save more than $21,600,000 for the building owners and occupants and create more than 6,500 jobs.  This project will include LED lighting, solar hot water systems, energy efficient HVAC systems and insulation.
    • GRID Alternatives will ensure every low-income solar customer served by GRID receives comprehensive energy efficiency education, and will enroll eligible families into locally or federally funded low-income weatherization programs. This service ensures eligible low-income families receive energy efficiency services at no cost and maximizes their financial benefit from weatherization and solar installations.
    • The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority commits to serving approximately 200-300 households via a Healthy Homes Program to address deferral issues preventing homes from being weatherization-ready. The program will address roof leaks, mold, moisture, electrical systems and other issues that frequently lead to deferral of weatherization jobs. The focus of this program is not only to make the home weatherization-ready, but to address issues that may affect the health of families served. Additional hazards to be addressed might include eliminating trip hazards, installing hand rails, and addressing asthma triggers. Approximately 200 to 300 people will benefit from this program, which is slated to start April 1, 2016.
    • Lime Energy is committing to provide energy efficient facility upgrades for over 1,000 small businesses in low-to-moderate income communities. Lime Energy has already completed more than 100,000 such projects creating thousands of jobs and driving over $1 billion dollars back into the local economies of the communities that it serves.
    • The Maryland Public Service Commission is announcing that no later than the Spring of 2016 it will establish energy efficiency goals specific to limited-income programs administered as part of the statewide EmPOWER Maryland initiative, which will require targeted investment in this this critical sector and may require a ramp-up of existing programs in 2016 and beyond. The new goals will build on a framework of accountability designed to increase the reach of the EmPOWER limited-income programs to as many eligible participants as possible.  Since 2009, the EmPOWER Maryland program has weatherized, at no additional cost to the homeowner, 16,795 limited-income households, resulting in an average savings per limited-income household of 2,995 kWh per year.
    • The National Housing Trust/Enterprise commits to improving energy intensity of its portfolio by at least 30 percent by 2025; developing an organization-wide plan with energy reduction milestones to achieve energy savings commitment; sharing information on the energy efficiency implementation models used to achieve the energy savings commitment; making available portfolio-wide energy performance information within 12 months and tracking progress on annual basis.
    • The National Association for State Community Services Programs (NASCSP) is committed to creating dynamic partnerships at the national level that will mobilize groups in unison to create national awareness for creative approaches to energy efficiency that reduce the energy burden for low-income families. NASCSP will ensure that the creative approaches to energy efficiency being accomplished in the Weatherization network do not go unnoticed. They are committed to effectively shining a spotlight on the work of their membership and acting as the single-point-of-contact for the Weatherization network on all matters related to energy efficiency initiatives. The success of these efforts will be shared with all programs to encourage others to find ways to implement innovative practices in Weatherization to assist low-income families being served by the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), including the commitments from the Connecticut Weatherization Assistance Program, Dominion Virginia Power, The Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, and Southwestern Regional Housing and Community Development Corporation.
    • New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) is announcing it has submitted a proposal to the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to establish a new $5 billion ten year Clean Energy Fund (CEF), of which $78 million each year is proposed to be directed to increasing energy affordability and access to clean energy options for low and moderate income (LMI) communities and households. The New York Governor’s office has created an inter-agency working group to identify and pursue strategies to help implement and maximize the impact of NYSERDA’s LMI commitment under the CEF.
    • New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) has established a new, optional Passive House track for applicants seeking competitive points for Green Building under its August 2015 Request for Proposals for Unified Funding Programs (RFP) to encourage a significant increase in the energy efficiency of New York’s affordable housing stock.  This RFP makes funding available through eleven state housing programs.  To obtain the competitive points under this track, projects may qualify under either the Passive House Institute US (PHIUS), or the International Passive House Institute (iPHI) programs.  HCR intends to work closely with NYSERDA to monitor the ongoing energy use intensity of any Passive House projects that may be selected for funding under the RFP, in order to provide valuable data to the market to accelerate the trend toward construction of Passive House certified affordable multifamily buildings.
    • Opower is committing to serve 300,000 additional low-income households and driving $3 million more in energy savings over the next year, helping low-income families save a total of 30,000 MWh and $3 million on their utility bills.
    • Southwestern Regional Housing and Community Development Corporation will provide a pathway to alternative energy for up to eleven new-build homes. Each home will have a 1kw residential wind turbine installed as part of a package of energy efficiency measures. The wind power will reduce the energy burden for families served, especially when combined with energy efficient methods of home building. The success of this pilot program could be used to launch similar, larger-scale projects in New Mexico. The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority is also launching a low-interest loan program to install high-efficiency furnaces for low-income families at a discounted cost in an effort to connect vulnerable households with reliable and efficient heating systems. The initiative will serve approximately 50 households per year and will start November 10.
    • Tony Fadell and Matt Rogers, co-founders of Nest Labs, have committed to donate 500 Nest Learning Thermostats for a pilot program with the Community and Economic Development Association (CEDA) of Cook County in Chicago.  Studies have shown that Nest thermostats can save people an average of 10-15% on their heating and cooling bills, and the Nest-CEDA program will specifically examine their use to benefit low-income weatherization projects.


IURC Approves Duke Energy Indiana 20 MWs Solar PV PPA’s; Modifies Green Power Tariff

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   August 24, 2015  /   Posted in Duke Energy, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), solar  /   No Comments
The Associated Press


Indiana regulators have approved agreements allowing Duke Energy to purchase 20 megawatts of power from four solar farms in the works around the state, including one that will built atop a former federal Superfund site.

The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission on Thursday approved agreements between Duke Energy Indiana and the developers of the four solar farms that will be built in Kokomo in central Indiana and Clay, Vigo and Sullivan counties in western Indiana.

Duke Energy’s 20-year power purchase agreement for the planned Kokomo solar farm is with Inovateus Solar, a South Bend-based company that’s developed solar farms in 26 states.

Senior Inovateus Solar account executive Conrad Chase said the company will break ground this fall on a $10 million solar farm in Kokomo that will have about 21,000 solar panels that will generate 6.5 megawatts of electricity when it comes online by next spring.

That project will be built on about 25 acres at the former Continental Steel plant that became a federal Superfund site in the 1980s, the Kokomo Tribune reported ( ).

After the steelmaker went bankrupt in 1986, studies showed the 183-acre property was contaminated with solvents, PCBs and lead.

The Indiana Department of Environmental Management and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency spent more than $40 million cleaning up the site, which was once on the EPA’s Superfund list of the nation’s most dangerous sites due to high levels of toxic pollution.

Inovateus has signed a 20-year agreement with the city to lease the site property.

Kokomo city Engineer Carey Stranahan said the deal will reduce the amount of maintenance the city will have to perform at the Continental Steel site.

“We will be receiving revenue, but we will not have to invest too many resources,” he said. “… Solar energy has a very low impact on the environment, which was attractive to us.”

Chase said the new solar park will bring both a multi-million dollar investment to Kokomo and repurpose a piece of property that can’t support most kinds of development.

“This is an old site that had very limited use, so a solar park is a perfect fit for a place like this,” he said.

Duke Energy is the largest electric provider in the state, generating about 7,500 megawatts of owned electric capacity to approximately 800,000 customers. The utility last year issued a request for proposals from companies interested in supplying it with solar energy.

To download the order click HERE> IURC Final Order 201508191402_44578 Duke Energy Solar PPAs

To view documents filed in this case, visit  

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