Brookings Institute Report on Rooftop solar: “Net metering is a net benefit”

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 23, 2016  /   Posted in Net Metering, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

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Rooftop solar: Net metering is a net benefit

Rooftop solar is booming in U.S. cities.

One of the most exciting infrastructure developments within metropolitan America, the installation of over a million solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in recent years, represents nothing less than a breakthrough for urban sustainability — and the climate.

Prices for solar panels have fallen dramatically. Residential solar installations surged by 66 percent between 2014 and 2015 helping to ensure that solar accounted for 30 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity. And for that matter, recent analyses conclude that the cost of residential solar is often comparable to the average price of power on the utility grid, a threshold known as grid parity.

So, what’s not to like? Rooftop solar is a total winner, right?

Well, not quite: The spread of rooftop solar has raised tricky issues for utilities and the public utilities commissions (PUCs) that regulate them.

Specifically, the proliferation of rooftop solar installations is challenging the traditional utility business model by altering the relationship of household and utility—and not just by reducing electricity sales. In this respect, the solar boom has prompted significant debates in states like New York and California about the best rates and policies to ensure that state utility rules and rates provide a way for distributed solar to flourish even as utilities are rewarded for meeting customer demands. Increasingly, this ferment is leading to thoughtful dialoguesaimed at devising new forms of policy and rate design that can—as in New York—encourage distributed energy resources (DERs) while allowing for distribution utilities to adapt to the new era.

However, in some states, the ferment has prompted a cruder set of backlashes. Most pointedly, some utilities contend that the “net-metering” fees paid to homeowners with rooftop installations for excess solar power they send back to the grid unfairly transfer costs to the utilities and their non-solar customers.

And so in a number of states, utility interests have sought to persuade state regulators to roll back net-metering provisions, arguing they are a net cost to the overall electricity system.  Most glaringly, the local utility in Nevada successfully wielded the cost-shift theory last winter to get the Nevada Public Utilities Commission to drastically curtail the state’s net-metering payments, prompting Solar City, Sunrun, and Vivint Solar—the state’s three largest providers of rooftop panels—to leave the Nevada market entirely. The result: New residential solar installation permits plunged 92 percent in Nevada in the first quarter of 2016.

All of which highlights a burning question for the present and future of rooftop solar: Does net metering really represent a net cost shift from solar-owning households to others? Or does it in fact contribute net benefits to the grid, utilities, and other ratepayer groups when all costs and benefits are factored in? As to the answer, it’s getting clearer (even if it’s not unanimous). Net metering — contra the Nevada decision — frequently benefits all ratepayers when all costs and benefits are accounted for, which is a finding state public utility commissions, or PUCs, need to take seriously as the fight over net metering rages in states like Arizona, California, and Nevada.  Regulators everywhere need to put in place processes that fairly consider the full range of benefits (as well as costs) of net metering as well as other policies as they set and update the policies, regulations, and tariffs that will play a critical role in determining the extent to which the distributed solar industry continues to grow.

Fortunately, such cost-benefit analyses have become an important feature of state rate-setting processes and offer important guidance to states like Nevada.  So what does the accumulating national literature on costs and benefits of net metering say?  Increasingly it concludes— whether conducted by PUCs, national labs, or academics — that the economic benefits of net metering actually outweigh the costs and impose no significant cost increase for non-solar customers.  Far from a net cost, net metering is in most cases a net benefit—for the utility and for non-solar rate-payers.

Of course, there are legitimate cost-recovery issues associated with net metering, and they vary from market to market. Moreover, getting to a good rate design, which is essential for both utility revenues and the growth of distributed generation, is undeniably complicated.  If rates go too far in the direction of “volumetric energy charges”—charging customers based on energy use—utilities could have trouble recovering costs when distributed energy sources reach higher levels of penetration. On the other hand, if rates lean more towards fixed charges—not dependent on usage—it may reduce incentives for customers to consider solar and other distributed generation technologies.

Moreover, cost-benefit assessments can vary due to differences in valuation approach and methodology, leading to inconsistent outcomes. For instance, a Louisiana Public Utility Commission study last year found that that state’s net-metering customers do not pay the full cost of service and are subsidized by other ratepayers. How that squares with other states’ analyses is hard to parse.

Nevertheless, by the end of 2015, regulators in at least 10 states had conducted studies to develop methodologies to value distributed generation and net metering, while other states conducted less formal inquiries, ranging from direct rate design or net-metering policy changes to general education of decisionmakers and the public. And there is a degree of consensus.  What do the commission-sponsored analyses show? A growing number show that net metering benefits all utility customers:

    • In 2013 Vermont’s Public Service Department conducted a study that concluded that “net-metered systems do not impose a significant net cost to ratepayers who are not net-metering participants.” The legislatively mandated analysis deemed the policy a successful component of the state’s overall energy strategy that is cost effectively advancing Vermont’s renewable energy goals.
    • In 2014 a study commissioned by the Nevada Public Utility Commission itself concluded that net metering provided $36 million in benefits to all NV Energy customers, confirming that solar energy can provide cost savings for both solar and non-solar customers alike. What’s more, solar installations will make fewer costly grid upgrades necessary, leading to additional savings. The study estimated a net benefit of $166 million over the lifetime of solar systems installed through 2016. Furthermore, due to changes to utility incentives and net-metering policies in Nevada starting in 2014, solar customers would not be significantly shifting costs to other ratepayers.
    • A 2014 study commissioned by the Mississippi Public Services Commission concluded that the benefits of implementing net metering for solar PV in Mississippi outweigh the costs in all but one scenario. The study found that distributed solar can help avoid significant infrastructure investments, take pressure off the state's oil and gas generation at peak demand times, and lower rates. (However, the study also warned that increased penetrations of distributed solar could lead to lower revenues for utilities and suggested that the state investigate Value of Solar Tariffs, or VOST, and other alternative valuations to calculate the true cost of solar.)
    • In 2014 Minnesota’s Public Utility Commission approved a first-ever statewide “value of solar” methodology which affirmed that distributed solar generation is worth more than its retail price and concluded that net metering undervalues rooftop solar. The “value of solar” methodology is designed to capture the societal value of PV-generated electricity. The PUC found that the value of solar was at 14.5 cents per kilowatt hour (kWh)—which was 3 to 3.5 cents more per kilowatt than Xcel's retail rates—when other metrics such as the social cost of carbon, the avoided construction of new power stations, and the displacement of more expensive power sources were factored in.
    • Another study commissioned by the Maine Public Utility Commission in 2015 put a value of $0.33 per kWh on energy generated by distributed solar, compared to the average retail price of $0.13 per kWh — the rate at which electricity is sold to residential customers as well as the rate at which distributed solar is compensated. The study concludes that solar power provides a substantial public benefit because it reduces electricity prices due to the displacement of more expensive power sources, reduces air and climate pollution, reduces costs for the electric grid system, reduces the need to build more power plants to meet peak demand, stabilizes prices, and promotes energy security. These avoided costs represent a net benefit for non-solar ratepayers.

These generally positive PUC conclusions about the benefits of net metering have been supported by research done by a national lab and several think tanks. Important lab research has examined how substantially higher adoption of distributed resources might look.

In a forward-looking analysis of the financial impacts of net-metered energy on utilities and ratepayers, Lawrence Berkeley National Lab found that while high use of net-metered solar generation may decrease utility shareholders' earnings, it will have a "relatively modest" impact on ratepayers. The report examined solar penetration levels that are "substantially higher than [those that] exist today" — 10 percent compared to today's 0.2 percent — and concluded that “even at penetration levels significantly higher than today, the impacts of customer-sited PV on average retail rates may be relatively modest." The report further said that utilities and regulators "may have sufficient time to address concerns about the rate impacts of PV in a measured and deliberate manner"

Similarly, a growing number of academic and think tank studies have found that solar energy is being undervalued and that it delivers benefits far beyond what solar customers are receiving in net-metering credits:

      • For instance, a review of 11 net metering studies by Environment America Research and Policy Center has found that distributed solar offers net benefits to the entire electric grid through reduced capital investment costs, avoided energy costs, and reduced environmental compliance costs. Eight of the 11 studies found the value of solar energy to be higher than the average local residential retail electricity rate: The median value of solar power across all 11 studies was nearly 17 cents per unit, compared to the nation’s average retail electricity rate of about 12 cents per unit.
      • A 2015 cost-benefit study of net metering in Missouri by the Missouri Energy Initiative found that even accounting for increased utility administrative costs and the shifting of some fixed expenses, net metering is a net benefit for all customers regardless of whether they have rooftop solar. The study used values for two kinds of costs and two benefits and concluded that net metering’s “net effect” is positive. The typical solar owner pays only 20 percent less in fixed grid costs and costs the utility an estimated $187 per interconnection. Meanwhile, solar owners benefit the system through reduced emissions and energy costs.
      • Likewise, a study by Acadia Center found the value of solar to exceed 22 cents per kWh of value for Massachusetts ratepayers through reduced energy and infrastructure costs, lower fuel prices, and lowering the cost of compliance with the Commonwealth's greenhouse gas requirements. This value was estimated to exceed the retail rate provided through net metering.

In short, while the conclusions vary, a significant body of cost-benefit research conducted by PUCs, consultants, and research organizations provides substantial evidence that net metering is more often than not a net benefit to the grid and all ratepayers.

As to the takeaways, they are quite clear: Regulators and utilities need to engage in a broader and more honest conversation about how to integrate distributed-generation technologies into the grid nationwide, with an eye toward instituting a fair utility-cost recovery strategy that does not pose significant challenges to solar adoption.

From the state PUCs’ perspective, until broad changes are made to the increasinglyoutdated and ineffective standard utility business model, which is built largely around selling increasing amounts of electricity, net-metering policies should be viewed as an important tool for encouraging the integration of renewable energy into states’ energy portfolios as part of the transition beyond fossil fuels. To that end, progressive regulators should explore and implement reforms that arrive at more beneficial and equitable rate designs that do not prevent solar expansion in their states. The following reforms range from the simplest to the hardest:

    • Adopt a rigorous and transparent methodology for identifying, assessing, and quantifying the full range of benefits and costs of distributed generation technologies. While it is not always possible to quantify or assess sources of benefits and costs comprehensively, PUCs must ensure that all cost-benefit studies explicitly decide how to account for each source of value and state which ones are included and which are not. Currently methodological differences in evaluating the full value of distributed generation technologies make comparisons challenging. States start from different sets of questions and assumptions and use different data. For instance, while there is consensus on the basic approach to energy value estimation (avoided energy and energy losses via the transmission and distribution system), differences arise in calculating other costs and benefits, especially unmonetized values such as financial risks, environmental benefits, and social values. In this regard, the Interstate Renewable Energy Council’s “A Regulator’s Guidebook: Calculating the Benefits and Costs of Distributed Solar Generation” and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s “Methods for Analyzing the Benefits and Costs of Distributed Photovoltaic Generation to the U.S. Electric Utility System” represent helpful resources for identifying norms in the selection of categories, definitions, and  methodologies to measure various benefits and costs.
    • Undertake and implement a rigorous, transparent, and precise “value of solar”analytic and rate-setting approach that would compensate rooftop solar customers based on the benefit that they provide to the grid. Seen as an alternative to ‘traditional’ net-metering rate design, a “value of solar” approach would credit solar owners for (1) avoiding the purchase of energy from other, polluting sources; (2) avoiding the need to build additional power plant capacity to meet peak energy needs; (3) providing energy for decades at a fixed prices; and (4) reducing wear and tear on the electric grid. While calculating the “value of solar” is very complex and highly location-dependent, ultimately PUCs may want to head toward an approach that accurately reflects all benefits and costs from all energy sources. Value of solar tariffs are being used in Austin, Texas (active use) and Minnesota (under development).
    • Implement a well-designed decoupling mechanism that will encourage utilities to promote energy efficiency and distributed generation technologies like solar PV, without seeing them as an automatic threat to their revenues. As of January 2016, 15 states have implemented electric decoupling and eight more are considering it. Not surprisingly, it is states that have not decoupled electricity (such as Nevada) that are fighting net metering the hardest. Typically, decoupling has been used as a mechanism to encourage regulated utilities to promote energy efficiency for their customers. However, it can also be used as a tool to incentivize net metering by breaking the link between utility profits and utility sales and encouraging maximum solar penetration. Advocates of decoupling note that it is even more effective when paired with time-of-use pricing and minimum monthly billing.
    • Move towards a rate design structure that can meet the needs of a distributed resource future. A sizable disconnect is opening between the rapidly evolving new world of distributed energy technologies and an old world of electricity pricing. In this new world, bundled, block, “volumetric” pricing—the most common rate structure for both residential and small commercial customers—can no longer meet the needs of all stakeholders. The changing grid calls, instead, for new rate structures that respond better to the deployment of new grid technologies and the proliferation of myriad distributed energy resources, whether solar, geothermal, or other.  A more sophisticated rate design structure, in this regard, would take into consideration three things: (1) the unbundling of rates to specifically price energy, capacity, ancillary services,  and so on; (2) moving from volumetric bloc rates to pricing structures that recognize the  variable time-based value of electricity generation and consumption (moving beyond just peak versus off-peak pricing to  fully real-time pricing); and (3) moving from pricing that treats all customers equally to a pricing structure that more accurately compensates for unique, location-specific and technology specific values.
    • Move towards a performance-based utility rate-making model for the modern era.Performance based regulation (PBR) is a different way of structuring utility regulation designed to align a utility’s financial success with its ability to deliver what customers and society want. Moving to a model that pays the utility based on whether it achieves quantitatively defined outcomes (like system resilience, affordability, or distributed generation integration) can make it profitable for them to pursue optimal grid solutions to meet those outcomes. The new business model would require the PUC and utilities to make a number of changes, including overhauling the regulatory framework, removing utility incentives for increasing capital assets and kilowatt hours sold, and replacing those incentives with a new set of performance standard metrics such as reliability, safety, and demand-side management. New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision  proceeding is the most high-profile attempt in the country to implement a PBR model.

Options also exist for utilities to address the challenges posed by net metering:

    • Utilities, most notably, have the opportunity to adjust their existing business models by themselves owning and operating distributed PV assets (though not to the exclusion of other providers).  On this front, utilities could move to assemble distributed generation systems, such as for rooftop solar, and sell or lease them to homeowners. In this regard, utilities have an advantage over third-party installers currently dominating the residential rooftop solar industry due to their proprietary system knowledge, brand recognition, and an existing relationship with their customers. Utilities in several states such as Arizona, California, and New York are investigating or have already invested in the opportunity.
    • Furthermore, utilities can also push the envelope on grid modernization by investing in a more digital and distributed power grid that enables interaction with thousands of distributed energy resources and devices.

Ultimately, distributed solar is here to stay at increasing scale, and so state policies to support it have entered an important new transitional phase. More and more states will now likely move to update their net-metering policies as the cost of solar continues to drop and more homeowners opt to install solar panels on their homes.

As they do that, states need to rigorously and fairly evaluate the costs and benefits posed by net metering, grid fees, and other policies to shape a smart, progressive regulatory system that works for all of the stakeholders touched by distributed solar.

Utilities should have a shot at fair revenues and adequate ratepayers. Solar customers and providers have a right to cost-effective, reliable access to the grid. And the broader public should be able to expect a continued solar power boom in U.S. regions as well as accelerated decarbonization of state economies. All of which matters intensely. As observes the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center and Meister Consultants Group: “How key state policies and rates are adapted will play a significant role in determining the extent to which the [solar PV] industry will continue to grow and in what markets.”

Advocates: Language in Ohio bill SB 320 (2016) would ‘basically shut down’ solar

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 23, 2016  /   Posted in Net Metering, solar, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Crews work on a solar farm near Minster, Ohio.

Crews work on a solar farm near Minster, Ohio.

Advocates: Language in Ohio bill would ‘basically shut down’ solar

A bill to extend the “freeze” of Ohio's renewable energy and efficiency standards also contains provisions that would undermine solar growth in the state, advocates say.

SB 320, which was introduced last month, “is unprecedented as far as what it's proposing,” said Amy Heart, senior manager of public policy for Sunrun, a residential solar installer.

Specifically, the bill would undermine net metering and allow utilities to enter the rooftop solar business – essentially competing with private companies that must operate under a different set of rules.

The bill, Heart says, would “basically shut down the competitive solar market so it would freeze the industry in its tracks and give the utilities a blank slate to do what they want without oversight by the (Public Utilities Commission of Ohio).”

The bill would also redefine “renewable” energy to include power generated by nuclear plants and even some fossil fuel technologies.

Sen. Bill Seitz, who introduced the bill, could not be reached for comment.

'It's devastating'

There is almost no chance of the bill passing before the Ohio Legislature adjourns in late May. However, it is almost certain to be taken up during the legislature's lame duck session, which will begin in November.

While solar installers now working in Ohio must comply with a raft of commission regulations, it appears that the bill would invite utilities to begin selling solar systems without having to comply with state rules.

Heart said the 100-page bill's sprawling, obscure language required the help of attorneys and regulatory experts to clarify  “what its impact would be on the industry. And it's devastating.”

Trish Demeter, managing director of energy programs for the Ohio Environmental Council, said the bill “would allow a utility to own a behind-the-meter project. If I'm a homeowner and want to do rooftop solar, the distribution utility that would have a vested interest in not seeing solar move forward would be the owner of that project. It seems like an anti-competitive clause.”

The bill also would give utilities “a tremendous amount of power” in negotiating contracts with solar customers, Demeter said. The utility would have the upper hand in determining, for example, how much excess power it would purchase and at what price, and the terms under which it would connect with a customer's solar panels.

“As a customer, how do I know what to negotiate in my contract if the PUC has no minimum standards?” Demeter said. “I just have to trust what that utility tells me? Maybe what they're telling me is an advantage to them and a disadvantage to me.”

Demeter said the bill also would redefine “renewable” to include nuclear power and various “combustion-based technologies.”

“It blows up what 'renewable' means to make it meaningless,” she said. “And the same thing with energy efficiency. It makes it that much easier for utilities to meet their annual targets.”

Net metering changes

The bill also would change net metering rules in a way that would make distributed generation much less attractive. Utilities now calculate energy use and production by net metering customers each month. They can carry over excess power as credits indefinitely.

SB 320 would require an accounting every hour. Excess power would revert to the utility at the end of every hour.

That change in policy, Heart said, “would devalue the solar power being generated. This doesn't exist anywhere in the country. It doesn't fairly account for the solar production on a home.”

As she sees it, the pieces of the bill that would roll back net metering and allow utilities to unfairly compete on rooftop solar dimensions of the bill are “a huge distraction from the conversation Ohio wants to have” on its energy future.


The Ohio Environmental Council is a member of RE-AMP, which publishes Midwest Energy News.

Residents Launch Round One of Columbus (IN) Community Solar Initiative

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 23, 2016  /   Posted in solar, Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Columbus Community Solar Initiative

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

May 22, 2016

 

Contact: Michael A. Mullett

(812) 376-0734

MullettGEN@aol.com

 

Columbus Residents Launch Round One of Columbus Community Solar Initiative to Go Solar Together, Get a Discount with Third Sun Solar

 

Columbus, IN – A group of homeowners in Columbus and Bartholomew County has launched the first round of the planned Columbus Community Solar Initiative to solarize eight homes in the community using the best equipment, practices and prices available from the most qualified vendor responding to the Initiative’s Request for Proposals.  

The Initiative has selected Third Sun Solar to install solar panels for its first group of participants following a competitive bidding process involving ten firms. The group will hold a public information meeting on Wednesday, June 8 at 7:00 to 8:30 PM at the Columbus Area Visitors Center to further inform the community about “going solar” generally, the Round One process specifically, and future plans for a subsequent second round of the Initiative.

“It is an honor to be selected by the Columbus Community Solar Initiative because we know how meticulously they reviewed each bid,” said Geoff Greenfield, President, Third Sun Solar. “We are thrilled to help more people go solar by providing quality arrays that will accelerate the shift to clean energy.”

The Columbus Community Solar Initiative is a volunteer group jointly sponsored by the Energy Matters Community Coalition and the Winding Waters Group of the Sierra Club focused on identifying and assisting interested residents, businesses, community organizations, and governmental entities to “go solar together” so as to maximize the benefits and minimize the costs for all involved.

Community members involved in the Initiative’s Round One Request for Proposals selected Third Sun Solar because of its extensive experience, sterling reputation, proven solar technology and installation practices, solid warranties, attractive pricing, and sufficient scale of operation to partner with the Initiative to achieve its goal of 1,000 solar panels installed in Bartholomew County by the end of 2016 or soon thereafter.

“I am excited to work with an outstanding installer like Third Sun Solar and see how much I can save with my system by being part of a larger group,” said Initiative Steering Committee member and Round One participant Barry Kastner. “I also appreciate having the support of other interested and knowledgeable members of the community as I go through this process individually.  We are all in this together doing the best we can not only for ourselves but for everyone involved, in true Columbus community spirit.”

The Initiative will be open to new members until September 1. City of Columbus and Bartholomew County homeowners, business owners, nonprofit organizations and governmental entities interested in joining the solarize program can locate sign-up forms at:

http://energymatterscolumbus.org/2016/02/01/solar-initiative-documentation/

Third Sun Solar will provide each Initiative participant with an individualized proposal based on the group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, each participant generally saves up to 20% off the cost of their system.


 

Information session details

Wednesday, June 8

7:00 to 8:30 PM

Columbus Area Visitors Center- Barbara Stewart Conference Room

506 5th Street, Columbus, Indiana 47201

 

 


 

 

About Columbus Community Solar Initiative:

The Columbus Community Solar Initiative is a joint project of the Sierra Club Winding Waters Group and the Energy Matters Community Coalition. Affinity groups in the Columbus area, including faith communities and neighborhood centers, are gathering together to address the preservation of our environment through more sustainable use of our limited energy resources by making solar energy a viable option for more households and organizations in our community.

The goal of the proposed Initiative is to install 1000 solar panels within Bartholomew County by December 31, 2016. This goal is based on the demographics of the County as well as the experience of other communities in “going solar” following what is known as the Solarize Model.

 

 

About Third Sun Solar:

Third Sun Solar is a full service clean energy company serving homeowners, businesses, institutions and government entities across the Midwest. We are a licensed electrical and general contractor that has installed more than 600 projects and 10,000 kWs of solar energy systems in 12 states since our start in 2000.  We are a woman-owned, certified B-Corporation with the mission to accelerate the shift to clean energy. Our team of solar consultants, designers, financing experts and NABCEP-certified installers work to make solar easy as we deliver high performance and long lasting solar solutions using our optimized design process.

 

Future of Illinois energy bill still uncertain

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 20, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Illinois Senator Hunter_573e66bddbb40.image

Democratic Sen. Mattie Hunter of Chicago, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee

Illinois Senator Rose_57351b2098882.image

Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet

Future of Exelon-backed energy bill remains unclear

by Dan Petrella,  The Southern, Springfield Bureau

SPRINGFIELD -- It remains unclear whether the Illinois General Assembly will act before the scheduled end of its spring session on legislation that Exelon Corp. says is essential to the future of its financially struggling nuclear power plants in Clinton and near the Quad Cities.

Near the end of a committee hearing Thursday that lasted more than three hours, Democratic Sen. Mattie Hunter of Chicago, chairwoman of the Senate Energy and Public Utilities Committee won’t be coming to the Senate floor for a vote anytime soon.

Exelon has said that it will shut down the Clinton Power Station next year “if adequate legislation is not passed that properly values nuclear power for its economic, environmental and reliability benefits during the spring Illinois legislative session scheduled to end May 31.”

Among many other changes, Exelon’s “Next Generation Power Plan” would extend state subsidies similar to those granted to the wind and solar energy industries to nuclear power, which the company says is warranted because, like those power sources, nuclear doesn’t generate carbon emissions.

But Hunter said there are still ongoing discussions among the company, environmental and consumer groups, and other interested parties that must continue before the legislation is ready for a vote.

“It appears our committee is split,” Hunter said. “I don’t know if we even have enough votes to get it passed anyway.”

While acknowledging that there’s no way to please everyone completely, she said there are signs that negotiations are moving in a positive direction.

Indeed, organizations that often oppose legislative proposals from Exelon and other utilities expressed partial support for the current proposal during Thursday’s hearing or said they’re engaged in discussions with Exleon.

David Kolata, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, a consumer watchdog, said the current proposal “is significantly better than what you’ve seen before from (Commonwealth Edison) and Exelon, ComEd’s corporate parent.

The organization has estimated that 60 percent of ComEd customers would see savings under new rate structures the bill would introduce, Kolata said.

He said one issue that remains is fixing problems with the state’s renewable portfolio standard, which currently calls for 25 percent of Illinois’ energy to come from renewable sources by 2025

Jack Darin, director of the Illinois chapter of the Sierra Club, said his group likewise is at the table with Exleon.

 The Sierra Club wants a comprehensive energy policy that builds on earlier energy conservation efforts, encourages renewable energy development and reduces carbon pollution, Darin said.

“We are working through those issues,” he said. “We have made some important progress.”

But Exelon’s proposal also faces stiff opposition from groups like AARP Illinois, the Illinois Public Interest Research Group and the Illinois attorney general’s office.

Many of their concerns center on the impact the legislation would have on utility customers.

“We think this is a terrible proposal,” said Abe Scarr, director of the Illinois Public Interest Research Group.

Of particular concern to these groups is a proposal to shift from charging customers for energy distribution by the kilowatt-hour to imposing a “demand charge,” which would be assessed based on each customer’s peak usage during the month. Opponents say this could result in wide month-to-month variations in power bills.

“It’s designed to ensure profits and more consistent profits for ComEd and Exelon and not the public policy goals that our state should be pursuing,” Scarr said.

For many in Clinton and the Quad Cities, the issue comes down to jobs and local property tax revenue.

Clinton City Administrator Tim Followell testified that the plant accounts for half of the city’s property tax collections.

Sen. Chapin Rose, R-Mahomet, who represents the plant, issued a statement during the hearing noting that it also provides $7.6 million in tax revenue to the Clinton School District and $1 million to Richland Community College in Decatur.

The plant also provides nearly 2,000 direct and indirect jobs, Followell said.

Sen. Donne Trotter, D-Chicago, the bill’s sponsor, said it is a work in progress and discussions will continue.

Michigan Conservative Energy Forum Ward: “Create Michigan-first energy plan”

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   May 19, 2016  /   Posted in Uncategorized  /   No Comments

Ward, Larry

Ward: Lansing could lead state’s energy future


Last September, in the wake of the EPA’s release of the Clean Power Plan, Gov. Snyder announced that, rather than a plan written by bureaucrats from Washington, D.C., Michigan would take charge of our energy future by developing our own Michigan-first plan.

Now, with the retirement of Consumers Energy’s “Classic 7” coal power plants – and more closures of aging DTE plants to come – it is time to put that plan in motion.

Legislative hearings will begin this week in the Senate energy and technology committee, offering conservatives and Republicans a real opportunity to continue our transition to a true “all of the above” energy mix that makes energy efficiency and use of clean, renewable energy top priorities.

Creation of a Michigan-first energy plan allows us to take ownership of our energy future. Proper planning allows the Governor and the legislature an opportunity to save money for Michigan families and businesses by reducing rates – which is important.

Because, as Dr. Gary Wolfram (Hillsdale College’s director of economics) authored in “Improving Michigan’s Electricity Utility Industry, even though our electricity rates are among the highest in the Midwest, our system remains less reliable and more polluting than our neighboring states.

As Michiganders, we are united by the fact that we all use electricity – for businesses and residents alike, we can and must do better.

With a forward-looking, Michigan-first energy plan, we can capitalize on homegrown renewable energy and energy efficiency technology to help further spur Michigan’s economy, create good-paying jobs, protect our environment and give relief to ratepayers.

Investing in more renewable energy and energy efficiency is an investment in Michigan’s economy and workforce. The recently-released “Clean Jobs Midwest” report found Michigan ranked second in the region for the highest percentage of clean energy jobs, and ranks first in clean vehicle jobs. Over 87,000 Michiganders are today employed in the clean energy and energy efficiency industries.

Leveraging our innovative talent and our robust manufacturing sector, we have emerged as a clean energy economic leader in the Midwest, giving true meaning to the Governor’s phrase “Comeback State.” We are now poised to become a national leader.

Michigan’s clean energy industry only has room to grow. Now our energy future depends on sound policy enacted by the state legislature. Bills addressing the state’s renewable energy and energy efficiency standards are being considered in the legislature – and we have a true opportunity to strengthen our economy and protect ratepayers by increasing our use of renewable energy and energy efficiency.

The Flint water crisis has demonstrated our lack of investment in Michigan communities’ infrastructure, and our energy infrastructure is also in dire need of modernization. It’s time for the legislature to show leadership, and work with Gov. Snyder on a Michigan-first energy plan that would make investing in our renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors a top priority.

Michigan is poised and ready to tap the state’s unrivaled innovative talent and manufacturing expertise to fuel the nation’s clean energy economy. Now is the time for Republicans in Michigan to take ownership of our energy future, and help the state move boldly and decisively forward.

Larry Ward is the executive director of the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum.

For more information on the Michigan Conservative Energy Forum, visit http://www.micef.org/.


Download Dr. Gary Wolfram's (Hillsdale College’s director of economics) white paper entitled “Improving Michigan’s Electricity Utility Industry" Sept. 17, 2015.

Improving Michigan's Electric Utility Industry_2015_Wolfram+White+Paper.compressed


 

 

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