Electric power industry’s traditional revenue collection model, which is based on a fixed tariff applied to volumetric consumption, is showing signs of erosion due to customer self-generation at a time of tepid to non-existent demand growth. The challenge of distributed energy resources (DERs) could not have come at a worse time for the industry – just as massive investments are needed to upgrade and modernize an aging infrastructure, it is facing the prospects of a growing number of consumers buying fewer kWhs and paying even less for the privilege of being connected to the grid under prevailing laws. This is especially true for the distributors of TVA power who are prevented by contract from generating electricity. The only alternative for TVA distributors to improve their distribution system is to charge the heck out of their customers. TVA needs to give their distributors some latitude in creating new ways of generating new sources of revenue. That will require some changes in their contract to allow them to have their own distributed solar programs. Are there any other alternatives?
Archive for financing
These days Barry Goldwater, Jr. is on an unlikely crusade. In March, the former California Republican congressman founded Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed, or TUSK, after Arizona’s largest electric utility proposed a hefty new fee on solar customers and a plan to lower net metering rates, which dictate how much electric utilities pay solar customers for excess energy sold back to the grid. As Mr. Goldwater stated it “Republicans want the freedom to make the best choice.”
Goldwater’s team won a minor victory Thursday, when state utilities regulators narrowly voted to impose an average $5 monthly fee on new solar customers in Arizona. While the ruling was a compromise for the solar industry, and an acknowledgement that solar users shift power costs to the utility’s non-renewables customers, the new fees are just a fraction of the $50 to $100 that APS had asked commissioners to add to solar customers’ monthly bills.
Backed by powerful conservative groups, public utilities in several states are now pushing to curb the solar industry, and asking regulators to raise fees and impose new restrictions on solar customers. And as more people turn to rooftop solar as a way to reduce energy costs—90,000 businesses and homeowners installed panels last year, up 46 percent from 2011—the issue is pitting pro-utilities Republicans against this fledgling movement of libertarian-minded activists who see independent power generation as an individual right. In other words, the fight over solar power is raging within the GOP itself.
“As more customers install solar on their homes, it becomes even more important that everyone who uses the grid shares in the cost of keeping it operating reliably for the future,” APS CEO Don Brandt said in the company’s filing with the state regulatory commission.
(SLevy) That is where ‘Dual Metering’ which is the TVA improvement over ‘Net Metering’ is the better alternative. The general definition of dual metering is “the arrangement that measures energy exported to and imported from the utility grid separately.” In present use within the TVA system dual metering is configured as two meters; one meter to read the home use of electric energy and the other meter to monitor the solar energy generated and sent out to the distribution line. Do not confuse this with ‘Smart Metering’ where electronic measurement devices are used by utilities to communicate information for billing customers and operating their electric systems. Kudos for TVA. Why? Because the individual user should be responsible for his or her share of the cost of maintaining the distribution grid based on how much energy they use. Their use is separately metered under Dual Metering. Now the rooftop solar is also separately metered so that the user can and should be justly compensated for the excess energy their solar system produces that goes out on the grid to be used by the neighbors. This extra solar energy should be fairly compensated as the utility saves money by not having to buy the energy delivered to the grid by the solar system from the utility power provider. So TVA and its distributors have the advantage of being in a position to fairly deal with the solar PV rooftop user/provider. What do you think?
original article in New Republic.
NY Times article:
The Tennessee Valley Authority sharply accelerated a shift away from coal as an energy source on Thursday, saying it would shut down eight electricity-generating units that together will burn nearly a fifth of its coal this year. TVA is to generate 20 percent of its electricity from coal, instead of the current 38 percent. It also plans to increase the use of renewable energy sources like solar and hydropower to 20 percent, from the current 15.7 percent. Bill Johnson, said experts were studying whether more coal-fired plants should be shut down later.
Two other developments hastened the shutdowns: the advent of cheap natural gas, which has turned coal into a costlier fuel, and falling demand for electricity. Thursday’s announcement was the second and biggest step the authority had taken to reduce its appetite for coal. In 2011, T.V.A. agreed to retire 18 coal-fired generating units to settle a lawsuit by states and environmental groups charging violations of the Clean Air Act. Four of those 18 units have been shuttered so far.
Eventually, the authority hopes to get a fifth of its power each from coal, natural gas and renewables and the remaining two-fifths from nuclear plants.
The Tennessee Valley Authority is gathering public input on a long-range plan for the type and mix of energy sources it needs to provide power to the region.
Finding the right mix of coal, nuclear, natural gas, hydro-electric, renewable energy and efficiency programs is the goal of the 18-month-long planning process, TVA Vice President Joe Hoagland said. “It takes a very long, strategic look at the assets TVA needs to provide low-cost electricity for the people in the Tennessee Valley,” Hoagland said in an interview.
The direction TVA takes will ultimately affect how much residents pay for electricity, and the federal utility is embarking on the planning process at a time when it faces scrutiny from a variety of interest groups.
TVA is spending more than $1 billion to install new pollution controls at its coal-fired power plant in Gallatin. Environmental groups sued TVA for not fully studying alternatives, including retiring the aging facility.
Conservation groups and the solar industry in Tennessee have criticized TVA for not doing enough to support that renewable resource. They say TVA’s small-scale solar program is stifling the industry because it sets a cap on solar power far below demand. Some of the solar installation companies have to look outside the state for work. Our polysilicon manufacturers have laid off their work force. The on-again, off-again opportunities for solar installations are killing the solar businesses in Tennessee.
I attended the first meeting along with 15 other people. Promises of answers to questions have not been received by those that asked questions which the moderator could not answer.
Hoagland said gathering input helps TVA understand what the public and other stakeholders consider important. The “Integrated Resource Plan” looks at different fuel options and tries to anticipate how those might evolve over the next two decades, he said.
TVA completed its last plan in 2011 and typically only does an update every three to five years. But Hoagland said changes in the energy industry require an earlier update.
Natural gas prices have dropped dramatically in recent years in the midst of a nationwide surge in production. At the same time, TVA’s growth in power demand has slowed, Hoagland said.
The 2011 plan anticipated natural gas prices at about $6 per million BTUs, escalating over time, Hoagland said. Now, prices are between $3 and $3.50, he said. The current plan also assumed a 2 percent to 3 percent rate of growth, while TVA now anticipates growth at less than 1 percent.
In addition, TVA hopes to complete the Watts Bar Nuclear Unit 2 plant in 2015 and retire at least 2,700 megawatts of less-efficient coal capacity by 2018.
Anne Davis, managing attorney in Nashville for the Southern Environmental Law Center, said Tuesday that she appreciates that TVA is accelerating the start of the new resource plan. She said she expects the new plan to focus on how TVA will replace its “oldest, dirtiest, and least efficient coal plants with clean and modern resources like solar, wind, hydro optimization, energy efficiency, and demand response.”
“The precipitous drop in cost of renewables and technological improvements in efficiency — coupled with enormous public demand for both of these resources — will demand more attention in this IRP,” Davis said by email.
“We have already been working with TVA on these issues, and we are committed to helping TVA modernize its long-term portfolio in a way that’s protective of ratepayers’ health, environment, and pocketbooks.”
The first public meeting was held on Thursday, October 24th in Knoxville. A second is scheduled for Nov. 6 in Memphis. To encourage more input, TVA is allowing the public to participate through online webinars. The public can access those at www.tva.gov/irp.
TVA hopes to use the webinars and a social media outreach effort to boost public participation, particular with younger residents, Hoagland said.
most of this article was taken from the Tennessean article: http://www.tennessean.com/article/20131023/NEWS/310230137/
A solar-powered microgrid demonstrates the potential of coupling big batteries with commercial solar. What if you could finance the energy storage equipment, much the way solar panels are financed, and the batteries provided a revenue stream? Modern grid-scale battery systems are only put in place to save money or provide services to the grid. An example is one installation that includes 402 kilowatts’ worth of solar canopies in the parking lot and, in a twist that differentiates it from most commercial solar projects, a shipping-container-sized battery from startup Solar Grid Storage. Here in Knoxville we have a battery enhanced solar powered car-charging station located at the EPRI location off Dutchtown Road. On a daily basis, though, the battery will deliver frequency regulation services to the local wholesale grid. By providing quick bursts of power to keep a steady balance between supply and demand, battery owner Solar Grid Storage will earn money that is normally paid to natural gas power plant operators.
Here are the factors that are driving the combination of commercial solar and energy storage.
1. The technology is there. Better batteries are in development that will lower cost.
2. The economics can make sense. AES Energy Storage, for instance, provides frequency regulation services at a wind farm in West Virginia, buffered by a 32-megawatt lithium-ion battery bank. Revenue comes from reducing demand charges by using stored energy during peak hours. Most of its customers are in California, which has subsidies for distributed energy storage. By contrast, the desire to have emergency power has become a priority in East Coast states hit hard by Hurricane Sandy and other severe storms.
3. Solar installers want storage — if it pencils out. Military bases and island locations that rely on diesel generators are obvious candidates. A battery can smooth out the flow of power that panels provide to the local grid and address issues, such as the drops in voltage that come when clouds pass over. Batteries could also enable solar installations in places, such as farms, which would have required costly upgrades to the grid infrastructure. The contracts to finance a combined solar and storage system are complex and need to become more standardized, as power purchase agreements are, said president Scott Wiater of Standard Solar. Financing these types of systems is still relatively new and developers need to find customers willing to try not only solar, but also relatively new energy storage technology.
4. NRG Energy Inc. and Exelon Corp.’s Constellation unit say interest in combining solar power with battery storage has soared in the year since Hurricane Sandy knocked out power to millions of homes and businesses on the East Coast. They are among more than a dozen solar providers that have introduced or enhanced in the past year systems that combine rooftop solar panels that generate power and batteries that retain electricity to use later.
People with solar-powered homes and businesses were frustrated to discover that losing power from local utilities also knocked out the inverters that connect rooftop panels to the grid, leaving them unable to tap the electricity they were producing. Adding battery storage solves that problem, said Tom Doyle, chief executive officer of NRG’s solar unit.
It’s also a growing threat to utilities.
“When Sandy came along we really didn’t have a product to keep solar power flowing during blackouts,” Doyle said in an interview yesterday at the Solar Power International conference in Chicago. “Now we can install systems that continue operating when the grid fails, and the costs are coming down.”
Battery storage can add more than 20 percent to the cost of a typical 10-kilowatt solar system for a four-bedroom home, Brendon Quinlivan, director of solar development at Constellation, said in an interview.
original article can be found at: http://www.greentechmedia.com/articles/read/three-factors-driving-the-marriage-of-solar-and-energy-storage and http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-10-23/nrg-and-exelon-see-batteries-spurring-demand-for-solar.html
Tennessee has received $5 million to support research and development of solar energy from the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative.
The funding is part of a $60 million investment in the initiative, which is designed to lower the cost of solar electricity, advance grid integration of solar energy systems and support the growth of the solar energy workforce in the country.
According to a DOE statement, the solar industry has created nearly 20,000 new jobs. An estimated 119,000 people are employed at 5,000 solar energy companies across the U.S. The funding will help provide training for engineers, utility workers and for students.
Study Says Most Americans Would Consider Residential Solar. A study from research firm Market Strategies International finds that interest in residential solar installations is stronger and broader than expected among American consumers, even when those consumers are educated on associated costs. With few exceptions, this interest is strong across virtually all age and income groups.
Survey participants were informed that, “The cost of a typical home solar system is about $30,000 and provides about 60% of a home’s electricity needs. The final costs of a solar system can be reduced through a federal tax credit that allows purchasers to deduct 30% of the systems’ cost from their income taxes. Some states also provide financial incentives for solar installations.”
According to the survey, the information made 51% of respondents more interested in home solar systems, with consumers older than 55, again, the only group to show less interest. A majority of respondents across every income group continued to show interest – even low-income households with incomes under $25,000.
“It’s pretty clear that most utilities in the U.S. have to figure out an effective strategy for working with their customers who want solar power,” says Jack Lloyd, senior vice president of energy at Market Strategies. “Companies will take different approaches in adapting to the situation, but rooftop solar appears to be poised to move beyond its early adopter niche and become a more mainstream phenomenon.”
original article: http://www.solarindustrymag.com/e107_plugins/content/content.php?content.13353#utm_medium=email&utm_source=LNH+10-18-2013&utm_campaign=SIM+News+Headlines
Come out to the 2013 Solar Tour
Knoxville residents and businesses considering solar have an opportunity to learn more at the TN Solar Energy Association’s third annual solar tour on November 2, 2013.
The Tennessee Solar Energy Association (TSEA) in collaboration with the City of Knoxville is holding a discussion on solar for your home or business in the public meeting room of the Knoxville Transit Center. The meeting location will be 301 E Church Ave. First 35 to arrive will be seated on the bus. The remaining participants will be able to car pool and follow the bus on its route. The event will begin at 8:30 am and conclude at 3:00 pm.
At 10 am the bus tour will begin. The following 5 sites will be viewed: the Civic Coliseum parking garage, new solar installations at UT, Calhouns at Turkey Creek, a unique solar roofed subdivision, and a solar array at the Bearden Beer Garden. Participants will be able to dismount the bus and ask questions at each site.
The tour will return to the Knoxville Transit Center at 3:00 PM. A handout will be provided which contains a listing and description of the stops on departure. If after the tour you want more information on solar energy for your home or business, contact email@example.com.
The Tennessee Solar Energy Association is a non-profit charter- member of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES). We are dedicated to educating Tennesseans about the many unique benefits of using solar energy. We believe that widespread adoption of solar technology in the state of Tennessee will help create energy independence, lessen harmful environmental impacts, and result in cost savings for consumers.
The Volkswagen XL1, the most fuel-efficient and aerodynamic production car in the world, made its U.S. debut at the 23rd Annual Society of Environmental Journalists (SEJ) Conference at the Chattanooga Convention Center today. The XL1 offers an estimated European combined fuel consumption rating of 261 mpg (more than 200 mpg estimated in the U.S. cycle) and can cover up to 32 miles as a zero-emissions vehicle in all-electric mode.
“The XL1 offers a glimpse into Volkswagen’s present and future eco-mobility capabilities, and highlights the ultimate successes of ‘Thinking Blue,’” said Oliver Schmidt, General Manager of the Engineering and Environmental Office (EEO), Volkswagen Group of America, Inc. “Volkswagen is proud to debut this ultra-fuel-efficient vehicle before the Society of Environmental Journalists, a group that shares in our commitment to environmental stewardship.”
In addition to the XL1 display, Volkswagen’s participation in the SEJ Conference included a tour of its LEED® Platinum-certified Chattanooga manufacturing plant and solar park; test-drives in its line of eco-friendly cars, such as the e-Golf, Passat TDI Clean Diesel and Jetta Hybrid; and a bird-watching expedition on Volkswagen Chattanooga’s sanctuary grounds.
Leading Utilities Recognize the Need for Solar Energy as Older Nuclear Plants Pass Their Economic Viability
CEOs from opposite sides of the country also spent much time discussing the increasing role of renewable energy and distributed generation.
California is known for having the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy mandate while North Carolina, where Duke is based, also has a growing solar energy presence.
Edison CEO Ted Craver said electric utilities would be mistaken to dismiss distributed generation as merely a “fringe” business in the future. The Edison chief said his company initially started in the field by supplying big solar arrays for “big box” stores.
“A lot of this is really experimental,” Craver said. Utility subsidiary Southern California Edison (SCE) used to rely on industrial customers for one-third of its load but that is now probably closer to 10 percent, Craver said.
While some argue that California policy has been inhospitable to heavy industry, it’s important to realize that manufacturers are looking to generate more of their own power, Craver said.
The utility, SCE, is also investing more in the transmission side of its business to accommodate the growing role of distributed generation in California.
Duke is developing a variety of resources in its service territories — including new combined-cycle and peaking units in Florida — to help compensate for retirement of the Crystal River nuclear plant and potential coal units retirements as well. California is known for having the nation’s most ambitious renewable energy mandate while North Carolina, where Duke is based, also has a growing solar energy presence.