Illinois launches ‘NextGrid’ utility of the future study

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   March 23, 2017  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Illinois launches 'NextGrid' utility of the future study

Dive Brief:

  • The Illinois Commerce Commission yesterday launched an 18-month study focused on finding new technologies, utility business models and regulatory strategies to transform the state's grid into a more flexible and efficient resource.
  • The NextGrid study will be led by an outside facilitator and will result in a final report late in 2018 that will include "tangible recommendations" to the ICC and Illinois General Assembly.
  • The study mirrors other grid modernization efforts and holistic utility reviews happening in New York, California, Hawaii and other states.

Dive Insight:

It's no longer just a few states undertaking so-called "utility of the future" proceedings. Ohio, Minnesota, New Hampshire, Maryland and now Illinois have all launched some form of these dockets.

The ICC, in a statement announcing the NextGrid proceeding, said "many experts believe that the electric utility industry will evolve more in the next ten years than it has in the past century with new technologies changing the way electricity is bought, sold, generated and  consumed. This transformation raises important questions about how all aspects of the system interact and what that may mean for consumers, regulators, utilities and other stakeholders."

The study, launched as a a "statewide collaborative," includes a wide range of stakeholders: Citizens Utility Board, ComEd and the state's attorney general all signed on to the announcement.

Environmental Defense Fund said it has also been working with CUB on a new regulatory framework aimed at "empowering customers and communities, driving economic development, and creating an innovative, 21st-century utility business model."

ICC Chairman Brien Sheahan cited the state's long history of "progressive leadership in energy policy," from customer choice laws in 1997 to the 2016 Future Energy Jobs Act.  "We need to support innovation by utilities that builds on our strengths, creates value for consumers, and contributes to growth and development," he said in a statement.

The study complements Exelon's Future Energy Jobs legislation, and was also convened at the recommendation of Gov. Bruce Rauner’s transition committee. Among other things, the 2016 law doubled the state’s energy efficiency portfolio and incentivized renewable energy development.

Solar has become America’s fastest-growing, nonpartisan energy source

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   March 18, 2017  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

 Solar has become America’s fastest-growing, nonpartisan energy source

Solar has become America’s fastest-growing, nonpartisan energy source

SB 309 hearing in House Utilities 3/22/17 at 9 am

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   March 08, 2017  /   Posted in 2017 Indiana General Assembly, Net Metering, solar, Uncategorized, wind  /   No Comments

IndianaDG NEEDS YOUR HELP TODAY TO PROTECT

ENERGY FREEDOM AND ENERGY CHOICE!

American flag with solar panels

  • Help us to protect energy choice and energy freedom for homeowners, farmers, schools and businesses--well everybody!
  • Help protect existing net metering for solar and small wind and expand it to include community solar and wind owned and controlled by consumers.
  • Protect clean energy jobs and the small businesses that create them in Indiana.
  • Don't let the BIG electric monopolies control solar.
  • Contact your Indiana State Representative by calling (800) 382-9842. Tell them you oppose SB 309 as it left the Indiana Senate.
  • Find out who your state legislators are by visiting: https://iga.in.gov/legislative/find-legislators/

The House Utilities, Energy and Telecommunications Committee chaired by Rep. Dave Ober (R-Albion) has posted the following:

WHAT: Hearing on SB 309 Distributed Generation & Net Metering, TESTIMONY ONLY

WHEN: Wed., March 22, 2017 from 9:00 am to 2:30 pm EDT

WHERE: House Chambers, State House, Indianapolis

The Members of the House Utilities Committee are:

Chair

Rep. David Ober (R-Albion)

Vice Chair

Rep. Dale DeVon (R-Granger)

Majority Members

Rep. Robert Behning (R-Indianapolis)

Rep. David Frizzell (R-Indianapolis)

Rep. Randall Frye (R-Greensburg)

Rep. Alan Morrison (R-Terre Haute)

Rep. Edmond Soliday (R- Valparaiso)

Rep. Mike Speedy (R-Indianapolis)

Rep. Heath VanNatter (R-Kokomo)

Ranking Minority Member

Rep. Matt Pierce (D-Bloomington)

Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville)

Rep. Karlee Macer (D-Indianapolis)

Rep. Cherrish Pryor (D-Indianapolis)


Join our campaign to save customer owned solar and small wind by providing us this information.

 


 

CAC Kerwin Olson: Is SB 309 anti-solar or pro-solar?

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   March 08, 2017  /   Posted in 2017 Indiana General Assembly, Net Metering, solar  /   No Comments

Image result for kerwin olson

Sunshine laws

Kerwin Olson is executive director of Citizens Action Coalition.

Senate Bill 309, the controversial solar energy bill authored by Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, has garnered much-deserved attention in recent weeks. The discussion has centered on two questions: 1. Is the bill anti-solar or pro-solar? and 2. Will the bill protect consumers or harm them?

Both questions are important, and both have articulate advocates and reasonable people supporting opposite positions. But the true question at the core of this debate is: Who should be able to enjoy the economic benefits associated with energy from the sun? Stated more succinctly, who owns the sunshine in Indiana?

Citizens Action Coalition believes the sunshine belongs to all of us. Everyone, big and small, should be afforded the choice to invest their own money in low-cost solar energy and the opportunity to be participants in the new energy economy.

This includes businesses, farmers and homeowners seeking to reduce their electric bills and make their goods and services more competitive. Municipalities and schools struggling with reduced revenue now see solar and other renewable energy as an opportunity to redirect scarce resources to their missions of serving the public and being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.

And yes, “all of us” includes the monopolies charged with the awesome responsibility of keeping the lights on 365/24/7. CAC applauds the electric utilities in Indiana for their decisions to voluntarily invest millions in utility-scale solar to meet the needs of their customers by providing carbon-free and low-cost electricity, courtesy of the sun.

SB309 threatens this reality of sharing an abundant and free resource for the benefit of all. The bill is a one-sided approach that effectively shifts the economic benefits of solar energy solely to the monopolies while depriving the public at large, and the marketplace, from reaping the economic benefits of Hoosier sunshine. SB309 reduces consumers’ control over their energy costs and reduces competition, which will only drive up costs for everyone and reduce investment and jobs in our state.

Everyone agrees that solar energy is here to stay. As the price of solar has dropped exponentially in recent years, installations and investments are increasing at a rapid pace. Indeed, the solar industry is creating jobs at a rate 12 times faster than the U.S. economy as a whole. Solar energy will be a major contributor to the energy mix and the economy for a long time.

But the question asked here is one the General Assembly should take seriously and deal with in a meaningful and thoughtful way. Will our elected officials block the sun from the public and give the monopolies the exclusive right to the value of the sun’s rays? Or will the legislature recognize what is really at stake and create rules that are fair for all and create a competitive playing field where all are invited to the game?

Duke Energy asks NCUC to deny Cypress Creek Renewables request for longer contracts

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   March 07, 2017  /   Posted in Duke Energy, solar, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Duke tells regulators five-year solar contracts comply with state and federal laws

Duke Energy says the five-year, power-purchase contracts it’s offering for large, utility-scale solar projects do not violate state and federal law. And it calls on regulators to deny Cypress Creek Renewables' request to impose longer contracts.

The company notes that five-year contracts have been adopted in other states. It asserts that five years is a sufficiently long term to make the contracts comply with state and federal law since neither state nor federal regulations define what constitutes a long-term contract.

Cypress Creek, a California-based solar developer, filed a complaint against Charlotte-based Duke Energy (NYSE: DUK) in January. It alleged that Duke had suddenly and unilaterally changed its practice of offering 15-year power-purchase agreements for qualifying solar projects, opting to offer contracts lasting no more than five years.

The case challenges whether Duke’s new policy complies with the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act, called PURPA, and N.C. laws and regulations for enforcing that act.

Developer claims

Cypress Creek said no large-scale project (5 to 80 megawatts) in North Carolina had ever been financed with such a short contract.

It argued that financing would be impossible to get with just a five-year contract. Cypress Creek contends federal PURPA and state regulations require that the contracts be long enough to make projects “reasonably financeable.” So it alleged the new contracts violated that requirement.

Duke takes issue with how Cypress Creek characterizes state and federal regulations and case law. It contends that PURPA and state provisions require only that contracts be long-term enough to give projects “reasonable opportunities to attract capital from potential investors.”

“None of these provisions require that (projects) be able to attract a certain type of investment, or that a contract term be ‘reasonably financeable,’” Duke asserts.

“Neither PURPA nor ...(federal) implementing regulations specifies minimum or maximum terms for PURPA contracts,” Duke says, noting that even Cypress concedes that point. “Further, the (N.C. Utilities) Commission has not previously specified a minimum or maximum term.”

Previous proceedings

Duke also asks the commission to deny Cypress Creek’s request that it hold expedited hearings on the issue to allow for a quick ruling in favor of the developer. Duke says that the normal, lengthier process should be used. And, Duke says, the commission should find against Cypress Creek.

The commission has in the past resisted attempts by Duke to have the length of power purchase agreements for solar projects reduced from the current 15-year period allowed for projects that qualify for standard contracts under PURPA, which are projects under five-megawatts in North Carolina.

But none of those previous proceedings directly addressed power contracts for projects larger than five megawatts to the PURPA limit of 80 megawatts.

John Downey covers the energy industry and public companies for the Charlotte Business Journal.

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