NREL Publishes New Report on Value of Solar (VOS)

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 27, 2015  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

NREL

Value of Solar

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has published a report on the Value of Solar: Program Design and Implementation Considerations. The report is designed for regulators, utilities, and stakeholders who are interested in issues related to value of solar (VOS) program design and implementation. It discusses and addresses program design options and considers how a VOS rate may impact future development of distributed PV projects. “The study assesses the current cost competitiveness of residential solar projects in each U.S. state, under several hypothetical VOS tariff and incentive levels.” The six authors are staff members of NREL and the Solar Electric Power Association.

The report is available HERE> http://www.nrel.gov/docs/fy15osti/62361.pdf

2015’s Most & Least Eco-Friendly States; Indiana Does Not Rank Very Well by WalletHub Rank

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 27, 2015  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Source: WalletHub

Eco-friendliness and personal finance are essentially cousins. Not only are our environmental and financial necessities aligned – providing ourselves with sustainable clean drinking water and nutritious sustenance, for example – but we also spend money on both the household and government levels in support of environmental security.

Then there’s climate change. We’ve already seen a rise in powerful land-bearing storm systems and extreme droughts, with New York and New Jersey recently spending $71.4 billion to rebuild from Hurricane Sandy. But that’s just the beginning, as storm surges and other bad weather are expected to cause more than $500 billion in property damage by the year 2100. Climate change will also have a direct impact on our military-industrial complex, as nearly all of our East Coast air and naval installations are vulnerable to sea-level rise.

In the meantime, we can all try to do our part to save the world for our kids, grandkids and future generations. In order to help highlight this important issue as well as all states taking steps to care for the environment and call out those doing a poor job, WalletHub compared each of the 50 states in terms of 14 key metrics designed to illustrate each place’s environmental quality and the eco-friendliness of its policies.

Overall Rank

State

Environmental Quality Rank

Eco-Friendly Behaviors Rank

1 Vermont 1 2
2 Oregon 8 1
3 New York 7 6
4 Minnesota 4 8
5 Massachusetts 10 4
6 Washington 9 7
7 New Hampshire 5 10
8 Rhode Island 3 16
9 Connecticut 6 15
10 Hawaii 18 5
11 South Dakota 2 30
12 Maine 22 9
13 Maryland 20 14
14 Pennsylvania 24 13
15 California 46 3
16 New Jersey 26 11
17 Wisconsin 17 22
18 Arizona 21 18
19 Michigan 11 31
20 Nevada 29 17
21 Colorado 44 12
22 North Carolina 26 21
23 Florida 34 19
24 New Mexico 35 20
25 Virginia 31 25
26 Georgia 26 27
27 Illinois 38 23
28 South Carolina 13 40
29 Kansas 16 34
30 Alaska 11 35
31 Idaho 39 24
32 Utah 18 32
33 Iowa 36 28
34 Montana 41 26
35 Missouri 15 43
36 Ohio 39 29
37 Tennessee 29 38
38 North Dakota 31 39
39 Nebraska 33 41
40 Mississippi 14 49
41 Wyoming 23 44
42 Oklahoma 25 48
43 Delaware 45 33
44 Arkansas 48 36
45 West Virginia 37 45
46 Alabama 42 46
47 Indiana 43 47
48 Kentucky 49 42
49 Texas 50 37
50 Louisiana 47 50

Indiana wind power could get boost from new EPA rules

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 26, 2015  /   Posted in Uncategorized, wind  /   No Comments

Indiana wind power could get boost from new EPA rules

Solar heats up in NW Indiana; NIRPC program designed to lower solar costs for Hoosiers

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 25, 2015  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Solar heats up

Forty-five years after the first Earth Day launched the modern environmental movement, economics are proving to be the catalyst bringing more people online with clean energy.

Kathy Luther, director of environmental management at the Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission, said the agency and those like it are working to lower the costs of solar energy to encourage more people to install systems at their homes or businesses.
NIRPC has partnered with Dyer, Gary, Hobart and Valparaiso to bring Solarize Northwest Indiana online by cutting through the zoning bureaucracy of placing rooftop or freestanding solar modules on their property and reducing the costs of the systems through volume purchasing.

Through June 30, residents and businesses can sign up to see if a solar system can be installed on their property, how it would financially benefit them and just how much it will cost to take the plunge. NIRPC also selected an installer through a competitive proposal process, Midwest Wind and Solar LLC of Griffith to help streamline the process.

“Some of the top barriers for people to solar energy is the cost and the paperwork,” Luther said.

Partnering with the towns and cities tackles one of those barriers. A federal grant that helps reduce the cost per solar module based on the number of participants helps tackle the second barrier.

“It’s like a Groupon for solar,” Luther said. The more businesses and homeowners participate, the lower the cost of the solar modules for all of the participants. That combined with a federal tax credit of 30 percent of the cost of installing a system through 2016 could reduce the cost of a typical system to as low as about $12,500.

Kevin Moore, president of Midwest Wind and Solar, said the falling prices of solar panels and the shortened time for a return on investment are bringing people from all walks of life to green energy. The Solarize Northwest Indiana program makes the systems even more economical.
When he first started the business, Moore said, all the metrics showed his clients would be young, environmentally conscious men. But, eight years in, he has learned that his client base is more diverse than he ever expected.

“One thing we have found that is very interesting is people who are looking at retirement in the not too near future, say 10 years away, they are investing in solar,” Moore said.

One concern as people look to retire is determining how they will live on a fixed income. Solar energy stabilizes a homeowners’ or businesses’ energy costs and provides a level of predictability, he said.

Moore said solar first became popular in the areas where electric rates were the highest such as California and Hawaii, but as the cost for the systems go down, they are popping up throughout the Midwest. More said he has between $4 million and $5 million in installations in his territory of Indiana, Illinois, Michigan and Wisconsin.

“It really all comes down to a financial calculation as to whether people do it or not,” Moore said.

A typical homeowner can see a return on their investment in as little as four to five years depending on the size of the system installed, he said. Currently, cost for electricity is about 12 cents a kilowatt hour. Producing your own solar energy reduces that cost to about 5 cents per kilowatt hour, he said.

The process begins with a phone consultation where technicians look at the site using Google Earth and Streetview to see if the property has a site that would work for an installation.

Technicians are looking for a shade-free south, east or west facing surface. Moore has seen applications mounted on barns, garages, residents, businesses and even ground mounts. Size of the systems is determined by the kilowatt hours the customer uses each month and just how much money they have to invest in the system.

An average 2,000-square-foot home could use a system of about 20 3-by-5-foot solar modules.

“It would get rid of about eight months worth of electric bills a year,” Moore said.

The consultation results in a proposal that details the costs, the savings and projected return on investment. It also includes a bevy of statistics that help drive home the impact switching to solar, such as a simple residential installation is equivalent to planting 4,000 trees or reducing driving by 25,000 miles per year.

“I think what draws the general population to renewable energy first and foremost is financial …The rest, I think that’s icing on the cake. They go, ‘Wow’,” Moore said.

Carrie Napoleon is a freelance reporter.

Learn more:

Informational sessions have been scheduled from 9-11 a.m. May 9 at the Plum Creek Center in Dyer and at 6 p.m. May 18 in the Community Center in Hobart. Dates and times for session in Gary and Valparaiso are to be determined.

Kevin Moore, president of Midwest Wind and Solar is a member of IndianaDG. Congratulations Kevin!

Indiana Rail Road Company has an interest in future of IPL Harding St. coal fired powerplant

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   April 25, 2015  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL)  /   No Comments

INI Railroad coal fuss

Pictured above: Indiana Governor Mike Pence (left), Indiana State Sen. Jim Merritt (R-Indianapolis) and VP Indiana Rail Road Company

A small railroad with big stakes in coal weighs in on Harding Street power plant

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