Author Archives Laura Arnold

Statewide Focus Needed on Vectren EDG Case to replace Net Metering

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 29, 2020  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Uncategorized, Vectren  /   No Comments

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Statewide Focus Needed on Vectren EDG Case

There needs to be a Indiana statewide public spotlight on Vectren’s EDG tariff case before the IURC since it likely may set the pathway for the next four electric utilities—NIPSCO, Duke, IPL and I&M. to drastically reduce the amount paid to customers for excess DG.  SEA 309 dictates that these DG tariffs must be filed no later than March 1, 2021.

Vectren’s new integrated resource plan puts increased reliance on large scale solar farm output but ignores customer owned solar facilities. Moreover, Vectren’s recent IURC filings seek to reduce the amount paid to Vectren customers for excess generation from their roof top solar units.  This week the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) ruled against solar and net metering advocates with two rulings. First, over the objections of the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Indiana DG, Evansville solar installer Morton Solar and Solarize Indiana the Commission approved several 30-day filings from investor owned utilities requesting approval of annual avoided cost/PURPA rates  . The objections suggested that these Vectren filings were not compliant with federal law under the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (PURPA) requiring utilities to pay reasonable amounts for customer owned DG excess generation. Second the Commission denied a Motion to Consolidate the two Vectren 30-day filings with Vectren’s pending petition to establish Rider Excess Distributed Generation (EDG) in Cause No. 45378.

At stake is the establishment of fair and equitable rates for Vectren customers who produce their own power using solar panels, etc. The consumer groups contend that Vectren’s proposed Rider EDG must be compliant with federal law such as PURPA as well as Indiana law.
Vectren’s proposed EDG rate will not allow cost effective investments for customers with continued 1 to 1 credit of net excess using net metering vs. an anticipated excess DG rate of 3.1 cents.

The consequences of the requested adoption of Rider EDG is evident from what has transpired in other states such as Nevada. After effectively eliminating net metering in Nevada the rooftop solar market came to a grinding halt. The situation was finally remedied after a huge outcry from the public and action taken by the Nevada state legislature to reinstate net metering.

Across the state of Indiana, home owners, businesses, schools and local government interested in installing solar systems to achieve long term energy savings need to realize that although they are not Vectren customers, this case will likely establish an important precedence for the other four (4) investor owned electric utilities who may file similar petition’s with the IURC for low excess DG rates to replace net metering by March 1, 2021.

Thus far Indiana state legislators such as Rep. Ed Soliday (R-Valparaiso) who chairs the House Utility Committee and co-chairs the 21st Century Energy Task Force have not allowed for a comprehensive look at what is likely to happen to various businesses when net metering is eliminated. They have indicated that such a dialogue is still premature since technically net metering is not set to expire until 7/1/2022. Unfortunately, Vectren customers do not have luxury to wait. Vectren has indicated they want approval by the IURC for Rider EDG by the end of this year. Indications are also that NIPSCO will file for a DG tariff before the end of 2020.

Therefore, the time for action is now!

VECTREN WILL OFFICIALLY FILE ITS FINAL INTEGRATED RESOURCE PLAN (IRP) on 6/30/2020 WITH IURC

Although IndianaDG is pleased about some of Vectren’s preferred Portfolio, their IRP appears to ignore any meaningful contribution from Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) such as rooftop solar.
Vectren should design their next RFP expected this fall to provide better opportunities for smaller and more diverse solar resources. Vectren needs to modify the criteria to evaluate bids to give more favorable consideration to DERs.

We sincerely hope that the results from the Vectren Preferred Portfolio will not create another flurry of activities during the 2021 session of the Indiana General Assembly to throw a lifesaver to a sinking and uneconomic and dirty energy industry such as coal fired power plants.

Unfortunately, the state of Indiana appears to continue to lag behind in the high stakes competition with other states to bring new clean energy jobs and related economic development.

Will you contact your state legislators and candidates to explain action is needed now before it is too late?


Here is the link to Utility Articles approving the 30-day filings:
https://www.in.gov/iurc/files/ua_ord_062420.pdf

The 21st Century Energy Policy Development Task Force is expected to meet again starting in mid-August 2020.

SEIA finds rooftop solar is worth 24¢/kWh in Michigan

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 29, 2020  /   Posted in Net Metering, solar, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

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SEIA finds rooftop solar is worth 24¢/kWh in Michigan

Vectren bucks Indiana legislature with plan to reduce coal mix 78% to 12% by 2025

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 22, 2020  /   Posted in Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Vectren  /   No Comments

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Vectren bucks Indiana legislature with plan to reduce coal mix 78% to 12% by 2025

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Published  June 17, 2020

Dive Brief:

  • CenterPoint Energy subsidiary Vectren Energy on Monday announced it would retire 730 MW of coal by 2023, leaving its resource mix at 12% coal-fired power by 2025.
  • The utility's current generation portfolio is 78% coal. Vectren's preferred integrated resource plan, based on an all-resource request for proposals, would add 700 MW to 1,000 MW of solar+storage, 300 MW of wind, 30 MW of demand response resources and 460 MW of combustion turbine natural gas plants. In total, the mix would be 64% renewable energy plus demand response by 2025.
  • Vectren said its proposed plan is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 75% below 2005 levels by 2035, and save customers up to $320 million over the next 20 years. The utility has been under pressure from some legislators in recent years to keep Indiana coal online, but consumer advocates in the state say they're pleased the company followed economic signals, rather than political ones.

Dive Insight:

The falling costs of wind, solar and natural gas resources have pushed utilities across the country to diversify their resource portfolios and take advantage of the favorable economics. But that shift has been more polarizing in states like Indiana where the coal industry makes up a significant portion of its workforce.

"It takes a little bit of courage on the part of Vectren to really rebuke what's been going on at the Statehouse," Kerwin Olson, executive director of Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) of Indiana, told Utility Dive. "They were already under significant pressure, to say the least."

Vectren in 2018 revealed a plan that would have shuttered three coal-fired plants and replace them with a large combined cycle natural gas plant, as well as some solar. In response to that plan as well as a scenario filed by the Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) later that year that would eliminate all coal from its fuel mix by 2028, state lawmakers proposed legislation that would place a moratorium on new resources in the state in a bid to protect coal-fired power from getting replaced.

Though the bill failed in the 2019 legislative session, lawmakers earlier this year managed to pass highly-contested legislation, House Bill 1414, that makes coal plants in the state more difficult to retire.

But despite the legislature's efforts to slow the transition from coal, Vectren's resource mix is taking a dramatic shift in the next five years with its fossil fuel-installed capacity expected to drop from 90% to 36%, while renewables and demand response rise from 10% to 64%.

"House Bill 1414 appears to be a colossal waste of everybody's time, and really underscores how the Indiana legislature is really out of touch with not only where the markets and technology are, but also where the utilities are," said Olson. "So [I'm] thrilled to see Vectren sort of rebuke the political pressure, if you will, to keep coal plants running."

Others noted the utility's move, alongside NIPSCO's, might spur other utilities in the state to move away from coal as well.

"Seems to me that Duke, Indianapolis Power & Light and [Indiana Michigan Power] are now under even more pressure to retire coal plants and make bigger investments in clean energy now that both NIPSCO and Vectren have announced plans for a major energy transition this decade," Principal Energy Policy Analyst at EQ Research Ben Inskeep said in a Tweet.

But one point of contention with clean energy and consumer advocates in the state is Vectren's continued investment in natural gas as well as its plan to keep Unit 3 of its Culley coal plant open into the 2040s.

Vectren's plan is in part a response to last year's partial rejection of its $900 million IRP. State regulators ruled that at $800 million the proposed gas plant was too expensive and could lead to stranded asset costs, but approved the utility's plan to retrofit its largest and "most efficient" 270 MW Culley coal-fired unit with emissions reduction technology at a cost of $95 million.

In response, Vectren elected to keep the unit in its mix, while adding more renewables, demand response and efficiency. It also developed a plan to instead build out smaller, more flexible combustion turbine gas units that it plans to bring online by 2024, allowing it to retire its coal more quickly and offset market risk, according to the utility's stakeholder meeting slides, where it announced its plan.

The units are "designed to back up the renewable resources that supply the majority of customers' energy needs," Vectren said in a statement.

The utility is filing its full IRP with regulators June 30. Overall, Vectren pointed to the advantages of moving its portfolio away from coal and toward more economic options.

"Avoiding future coal maintenance investments will ensure local generation has a responsible renewable-to-carbon balance while ensuring the reliability our customers expect," Lynnae Wilson, chief business officer at Indiana Electric Utility Business for CenterPoint, said in a statement. "We are incredibly sensitive to customer impact, and with stakeholder input, we feel this planning process has produced a cost-effective plan that moves us toward a future built on cleaner generation."

Olson said CAC and others in the state will likely challenge the continued operation of Culley 3 in particular.

"We certainly will not relax our criticism of the continued use of coal and the continued operations of Culley 3, which will become less and less economic as time goes by," he said.


Review Vectren's IRP Presentation HERE:

 

Public Stakeholder Meeting #4 - June 15, 2020

Ruckelshaus: Republicans must lead on clean energy jobs

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 21, 2020  /   Posted in Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized  /   No Comments

John Ruckelshaus photo

Op-ed: Republicans must lead on clean energy jobs

The trend among conservative voters, especially the next generation, has never been more clearly in favor of clean energy.

John Ruckelshaus

Our state is known for its hardworking, resilient people. Prior to being elected to the state Senate, I had the privilege of serving as a deputy commissioner of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development — and that experience showed me firsthand how a talented and dedicated workforce truly can be transformative for a state’s economy.

Today, I am heartbroken to see nearly 550,000 in our state out of work due to the pandemic. Indiana’s unemployment rate was 16.9% in April, the fifth-highest in the nation.

I know that if we support Indiana workers, they can accomplish anything. Our leaders in Washington thankfully have passed stimulus packages that offer support for those out of work; but the truth is, people do not want endless checks from the government. They want to get back to work, period.

One of the quickest ways to do that is to target growing industries that are in need. And there is one sector in need that that had been growing four times faster than Indiana jobs overall: advanced energy.

Prior to the shutdown, Indiana’s advanced energy industries employed more than 90,000 people, which is more than auto manufacturing and nearly twice as many as schools and colleges. However, a recent report found that Indiana’s clean energy sector has lost nearly 15,000 jobs in March and April due to the shutdown. But if Congress acts now and puts the right government policies into place, I’m confident those jobs can be recovered.

Boone and Hamilton Cos. (IN) Solar Co-op RFP Due 7/1/2020

Posted by Laura Arnold  /   June 19, 2020  /   Posted in solar  /   No Comments

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Boone & Hamilton Cos. Solar Co-ops RFP Due 7/1/2020

WEDNESDAY, JUNE 17, 2020

The 24-member Boone County and Hamilton County Solar Co-ops today issued a request for proposals (RFP) from area solar installers. The group members created the co-op to save money and make going solar easier, while building a network of solar supporters.

Local installers interested in serving the group can download the RFP and response template here. Area residents interested in joining the co-op can sign up at the co-op web pages:

Solarunitedneighbors.com/Boone

Solarunitedneighbors.com/HamiltonCounty

The solar co-op is free to join and joining is not a commitment to purchase panels. Co-op members will select a single company to complete all of the installations. They will then have the option to purchase panels individually based on the installer’s group rate. By going solar as a group and choosing a single installer, members can save up off the cost of going solar and have the support of fellow group members and solar experts at Solar United Neighbors.

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