New solar program lets renters buy in
NORMAL — A recent state law is letting the sunshine in for residents previously shut out of solar power, and a local program hopes to help McLean County customers get on board.
Renters and those whose properties aren't a good fit for solar panels can now invest in panels at other homes and businesses through "community solar," including through Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0, a second round of the 2016 group-buy that brought about 430 kilowatts of solar capacity to 30 local homes and businesses.
"We're really excited that's available now because it really expands the eligibility for folks to participate in the program," said Peter Murphy, market development coordinator for the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, a partner in Solar Bloomington-Normal.
Community solar is now possible in Illinois as part of the Future Energy Jobs Act, the 2016 law that also saved the Exelon nuclear plant in Clinton. But the state is also serving as a roadblock on community solar through regulations, meaning exact details on how and when it will be implemented remain unclear.
"Solar installers and developers are putting together their plans and their subscriptions for community solar, but they're still awaiting some policy outcomes and process outcomes before it's available," said Murphy. "Details about those opportunities will become more clear as the program progresses."
Cypress Creek Renewables, which is developing four local solar farms that received McLean County approval this spring, plans to offer community solar at all four, Senior Developer Scott Novack told The Pantagraph.
Murphy said Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 will also, for the first time, offer lease options that let residents, businesses and nonprofits "put solar on your roof without purchasing it outright." The systems will instead be owned by StraightUp Solar, the St. Louis-based installer partnering on the program.
Those interested in participating in Solar Bloomington-Normal 2.0 can attend free public "solar power hour" sessions starting Saturday and running through Sept. 13. The first four are:
• 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, 6880 N. 2075E Road, Downs; no presentation will be given;
• 6 p.m. Thursday, West Bloomington Revitalization Project, 724 W. Washington St., Bloomington;
• 3 p.m. May 30, University of Illinois Extension Office, 1615 Commerce Parkway, Bloomington; and
• 6:30 p.m. May 31, Normal Public Library, 206 W. College Ave., Normal.
"The price points are going to be different for each customer based on their unique wants and needs," said Larissa Armstrong, assistant director of the Ecology Action Center, another partner in the program. "Folks should come learn about pricing and the range of options at a solar power hour, because while the initial pricing structure is designed to be lower, the real bargain of participating in the group purchasing program is the ease of access."
Contact Derek Beigh at (309) 820-3234. Follow him on Twitter: @pg_beigh
Northern Indiana Public Service Company (“NIPSCO”) is announcing the launch of an all-source Request for Proposals (“RFP”) process. Through the RFP, NIPSCO seeks to acquire, construct or contract for additional capacity to satisfy a 2023 capacity need.
To view more information about the RFP, please visit the RFP Information Website at http://www.nipsco-rfp.com/.
NIPSCO has retained Charles River Associates (“CRA”) to manage the RFP process. CRA will also serve as the independent third party evaluating all Proposals.
On Wednesday, May 16, 2018, at 2:00 PM Central Prevailing Time, NIPSCO and the RFP Manager will host an Information Session covering the NIPSCO RFP process. The Information Session will be conducted via WebEx. Instructions for participating in the Information Session are attached as a PDF file.
[Contact IndianaDG for Instructions to participate in the Information Session.]
If you have any questions regarding this notice, please email the RFP Manager at NIPSCO-RFPManager@crai.com.
The RFP Manager
This RFP is a part of NIPSCO's Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) Process.
Questions or want more information contact: Laura.Arnold@IndianaDG.net or call (317) 635-1701.
"The way I see it, we should be doing everything we can to make sure we grow solar. Not only will it create jobs, reduce customer bills and reduce our over-reliance on one energy source, but it will also keep the utility bigwigs shaking in their suits and worried about profits."
COLUMBIA - By now, you've probably heard that Duke Energy and SCE&G launched a surprise attack in the 11th hour against solar energy in the House and killed a pro-jobs, pro-customer solar bill.
What you might not have heard is that killing the solar bill was just one part of Duke and SCE&G's multi-pronged offensive against clean energy.
On the same day that Duke Energy lobbyists were using underhanded tactics to defeat a bill that already had support of a bipartisan majority of House members, SCE&G's lawyers were over at the Public Service Commission double-teaming us.
That day, the corporate utility lawyers actually argued with a straight face that there's not enough sunshine in South Carolina in August to merit paying a fair price for solar. They also said that we don't need any more energy generation sources in South Carolina, despite saying for 10 years that we needed a 2,200-megawatt nuclear power plant.
With its laughable arguments about the lack of sunshine and energy needs, SCE&G convinced the Public Service Commission to set a rock-bottom price for solar power. And now that the commission has agreed with the utilities (as it usually does, because the utilities help get the commissioners elected), the rates will be too low for solar generation to get off the ground.
That's right. In addition to having a monopoly on electrical service, Duke Energy and SCE&G get to set the price that their would-be competitors charge.
The more I dig into these energy issues and how many perks the utilities get, the more outraged I become. Our government should be working for the ratepayers and for the citizens of South Carolina - not for the utility monopolies. Unfortunately, when I look at what all has happened, I have to ask who is in charge.
Think about it. Duke Energy and SCE&G have a guaranteed monopoly on electrical service. Duke and SCE&G got a risk-free sweetheart deal to build nuclear power plants and put the exorbitant charges on the backs of ratepayers. Duke and SCE&G got a small group of House members to kill a solar bill that would have allowed more competition. Duke and SCE&G get to set the price of solar (the closest thing they have to competition) by simply asking the folks they help put on the PSC to set a rock-bottom price for solar.
Judging from their all-out offensive against solar, Duke Energy and SCE&G must be terrified that the growth of solar might cut into their profits.
Being terrified of losing profits is not a position Duke and SCE&G are used to occupying in South Carolina. They have been quite comfortable for decades, protected from competition of any kind by the mighty shield of their monopoly status and friendly regulators.
But now, the dual threat of cost-effective rooftop solar and solar farms clearly has the high-paid lobbyists, attorneys and CEOs shaking in their expensive suits.
The utilities have had the run of this state for too long, and look at what we have to show for it: the highest power bills in the country, two nuclear-plant-sized holes in the ground in Fairfield County, more than 5,000 citizens out of work from the failed nuclear plant and now 3,000 solar workers with their jobs at risk.
The way I see it, we should be doing everything we can to make sure we grow solar. Not only will it create jobs, reduce customer bills and reduce our over-reliance on one energy source, but it will also keep the utility bigwigs shaking in their suits and worried about profits.
There is still time to move solar forward this legislative session. There are still options. I implore my colleagues in the House and members of the Senate to act to advance solar energy growth in the waning days of session. This is what we were elected to do: Protect the interests of the people of South Carolina.
Rep. Ballentine is a Columbia businessman; contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Did you miss the opportunity to testify at one of the two IURC pubic field hearings on the proposed IPL rate increase?
Those who wish to submit written comments for the case record may do so via the Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor or OUCC’s Website at www.in.gov/oucc/2361.htm, or by mail, email, or fax:
- Mail: Consumer Services Staff, Indiana Office of Utility Consumer Counselor, 115 W. Washington St., Suite 1500 South Indianapolis, IN 46204
- email: uccinfo@oucc.IN.gov
- Fax: (317) 232-5923
The OUCC needs to receive all written consumer comments no later than May 17, 2018 so that it can:
- Consider them in preparing its testimony and
- File them with the Commission to be included in the case’s formal evidentiary record. Comments should include the consumer’s name, mailing address, and a reference to “IURC Cause No. 45029.”
Consumers with questions about submitting written comments can contact the OUCC’s consumer services staff toll-free at 1-888-441-2494.
Several additional parties have intervened in this case and are also scheduled to file testimony on May 24, 2018. They include the City of Lawrence, University of Indianapolis, IBEW Local 1395, the Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana, Indiana Coalition for Human Services, Indiana Community Action Association, Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter, Kroger, Wal-Mart, Sam’s East, and the following industrial customers: Allison Transmission, Cargill, Eli Lilly and Company, Indiana University Health, Ingredion, Praxair Surface Technologies, and Vertellus Integrated Pyridines.