Archive for Training

On Rooftops, a Rival for Utilities


For years, power companies have watched warily as solar panels have sprouted across the nation’s rooftops. Now, in almost panicked tones, they are fighting hard to slow the spread. And yet, to hear executives tell it, such power sources could ultimately threaten traditional utilities’ ability to maintain the nation’s grid. The battle is playing out among energy executives, lawmakers and regulators across the country. At the heart of the fight is a credit system called net metering, which pays residential and commercial customers for excess renewable energy they sell back to utilities. Currently, 43 states, the District of Columbia and 4 territories offer a form of the incentive, according to the Energy Department.

Many utilities cling to their established business, and its centralized distribution of energy, until they can figure out a new way to make money. It is a question the Obama administration is grappling with as well as it promotes the integration of more renewable energy into the grid. “I see an opportunity for us to recreate ourselves, just like the telecommunications industry did,” Michael W. Yackira, chief executive of NV Energy, a Nevada utility, and chairman of the industry group the Edison Electric Institute, said at the group’s convention. But utility executives say that when solar customers no longer pay for electricity, they also stop paying for the grid, shifting those costs to other customers.

Utilities generally make their profits by making investments in infrastructure and designing customer rates to earn that money back with a guaranteed return, set on average at about 10 percent. A handful of utilities have taken a different approach and are instead getting into the business of developing rooftop systems themselves. Dominion, for example, is running a pilot program in Virginia in which it leases roof space from commercial customers and installs its own panels to study the benefits of a decentralized generation.

Featured in the July/August issue of Solar Today Magazine is our remedy for this issue. Solar energy through micro-investing could be a solution for both the utility company and the customer. The individual or business would invest in solar energy with a small monthly purchase, perhaps $5 per month, using the micro-investment plan. This would provide opportunities to for all rate payers to invest in solar projects that would directly benefit them through lower electricity rates and return on investment. It overcomes the financing and siting obstacles that can keep would-be investors on the sidelines. As an example, if all TVA ratepayers became micro-investors at a rate of $5 per month, each year TVA would generate $135 million for constructing solar farms. This model protects everyone’s interest.

Arizona leads states in per-capita solar energy

The report notes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have enacted effective public policy for the development of the solar industry.


Arizona leads the nation in per-capita solar energy, according to a report released Thursday.

Following Arizona, in descending order, are: Nevada, Hawaii, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, Delaware, Colorado, Vermont, Massachusetts, North Carolina and Maryland.

The details are in a report titled “Lighting the Way: What We Can Learn from America’s Top 12 Solar States,” released by the Environment America Research & Policy Center. The organization — online: www.EnvironmentAmerica.org — is a public interest group that advocates for strong environmental policy.

“The sky’s the limit on solar energy,” Rob Sargent, energy program director with Environment America, said in a news release. “The progress of these states should give us the confidence that we can do much more. Being a leader in pollution-free solar energy means setting big goals and backing them up with good policies.”

The report emphasizes that it is not availability of sunlight that makes states solar leaders, but the degree to which state and local governments have enacted effective public policy for the development of the solar industry.

Reference: http://www.thetowntalk.com/article/20130725/BUSINESS/130725020/Arizona-leads-states-per-capita-solar-energy-report-says

Solar energy comes to Holston View Elementary School

Bristol Herald Courier Workers with Ecological Energy Systems install one of 200 panels that is part of a new solar pavilion at Holston View Elementary School in Bristol, Tenn. The solar energy project will help the facility with energy costs while providing students and teachers with a new outdoor classroom facility.


BRISTOL, Tenn. — Holston View Elementary School Principal Jerry Poteat says the newest feature on campus might be the first of its kind in Tennessee.

The 80-foot collection of solar panels will harness energy while providing a learning resource for students and teachers.

A brainstorming session between Poteat, a 35-year science instructor before moving into administration, and officials with Ecological Energy Systems of Bristol, Tenn., went from blueprint to concrete and steel in a little more than a month, with construction of a new solar pavilion classroom center nearing completion.

The photovoltaic unit is comprised of 200 panels stretching across 83 feet of property with each panel generating 245 watts of electricity converted from sunlight. The power offset by the project and produced by this solar system for school use is enough to generate electric power, an average of 65,000 to 75,000 kilowatts, needed to supply eight full-size homes, according to Ecological Vice President of Operations Nick Safay, netting eventual savings for the school system when it takes ownership of the solar unit.

Ecological is leasing the property from the city and the Board of Education, according to Safay, for this community service project that will incorporate a power purchasing agreement that Ecological will use to sell energy to the Tennessee Valley Authority and Bristol Tennessee Essential Services. Tax credits are also being allocated into the financing of the project because of the use of renewable energy sources, he said.

Regional educational neighbors like King University and Virginia Highlands Community College are also looking to integrate instructional programs at the solar energy spot at Holston View, according to the principal.

“It provides a significant amount of clean electricity to the power grid, it’s a learning resource for our students and it is a statement of this community that solar energy is important enough to put our resources behind it and make it work,” Poteat said.

US Utility Business Model Woes

Jennifer Runyon is managing editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com

Jennifer Runyon, managing editor of RenewableEnergyWorld.com, had a three minute conversation with Dr. Stephen Chu, former Energy Secretary that emphasized the need for electric generators and distributors to change their business model to reflect the addition of renewables, particularly solar PV, as a significant addition to the energy mix. Chu feels that utilities ought to own solar panels and energy storage systems that they put on their customers’ roofs and in their garages. He said if utilities could outfit homeowners with solar panels and a 5-kW battery system, they could continue selling that customer power just as they do now. The utility would own the system, maintain the system and the customer would have no out-of-pocket expenses for it other than continuing to buy power at the same rate or at perhaps an even lower rate. This would nicely fit into the TVA distributors future business model for distributed solar installations while preserving the distributor’s mission of providing their customer base with high quality, reliable electric power.

When it’s just a quarter or a half of one percent of a utility’s customers that have their own PV and are selling their solar power to the grid at the retail rate, the utility doesn’t care. But energy storage and PV panel costs are dropping, and once that percentage of utility customers’ that are zeroing out their bill goes to 5, 10 or 15 percent then “it’s a big deal” said Chu.

Chu said he told utilities that PV and energy storage is going to come and they should “form a new business model” NOW so that what today is a potential revenue loss, could become an area of growth for them in the future. Plus, he said this model would eventually lead to a more stable grid for us all.

TSEA’s suggested micro-investment model suggested for TVA would complement the distributor’s suggested model, supplying solar energy at the most affordable prices with ownership of large solar farms in the hands of the ratepayer investors. The TSEA model avoids having to loan money from banks; instead, it will earn interest on the monies deposited in investments increasing the income the ratepayer investors make. The question is whether TVA and its distributors will accept these business model changes.

Runyon’s article

FREE NABCEP 40 HOUR TRAINING WITH THE NABCEP ENTRY LEVEL EXAM


Steve,
I wanted to inform you of some free solar classes I will be putting on. The 40 hour NABCEP course and exam will be given in all three regions of Tennessee. The first one will be in Middle Tennessee ( Spring Hill ) the week of July 22. The second class will be in East Tn , probably the last week of August and probably in Johnson City. The third will probably be in Jackson the week of September 9. The reason I don’t have specifics is that I am still working on venues for east and west Tennessee. If you could please spread the word so we can fill the classes. This is through Tennessee Department of Environment & Conservation; Office of Energy Programs.

Sincerely,
Earl

Earl Pomeroy
UT/CIS, TMEP
6615 Allen Road
Springfield, TN 37172
Office: 615-384-0629
Cell: 615-347-4381
Fax: 615-532-4937
Email: earl.pomeroy@tennessee.edu

Solar Product Development (Taking Great Ideas into a Profitable Reality)

How do you take your idea from a napkin sketch out to volume manufacturing?

FREE WEBINAR
This MOOC will take a brief look at what it takes to move from a great idea into a fully developed and profitable product. We will cover the entire product development cycle but will provide somewhat greater focus on the technical aspects of engineering through manufacturing. We will use real world solar products for an in-depth case study. While focused on solar products, the same general outline may be applied to any mechanical, electro-mechanical product development effort.

Presenter: Tom Ortman is a Mechanical Engineer, working in Commercial and Industrial Product Development for his 35 year career. He worked for companies like Siemens and IBM in his early career, before founding Concurrent Design. In his twentieth year guiding Concurrent Design, Tom has worked for start-ups through Fortune 500 clients. He counts well over 1,600 projects at Concurrent Design, starting in electronics and moving into semiconductor technology, solar energy and clean technology. Concurrent Design routinely works in the full continuum of the product development world from ideation through high volume production.

http://www.concurrentdesign.com/

http://www.concurrentdesign.com/solar_energy_products.htm

go to this site to register

Master Limited Partnership Parity Act – What It’s All About

In the race to capture the economic benefits of the growing clean energy sector, the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act would provide an opportunity for U.S. businesses to mobilize private capital and better compete. It would provide the same tax treatment for investments in clean energy and fossil fuels . Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the bipartisan bill today with original co-sponsors Jerry Moran (R-KS), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI). Congressmen Ted Poe (R-TX), Mike Thompson (D-CA), Peter Welch (D-VT), Chris Gibson (R-NY), and Cory Gardner (R-CO) co-sponsored companion legislation in the House.

“We applaud this bipartisan group of co-sponsors on the introduction of the Master Limited Partnership Parity Act,” says Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s clean energy program. “Our research indicates that nations with consistent, transparent clean energy policies do better in attracting private investment.”

If approved by Congress, this tool could lower financing costs for clean energy projects, some by as much as 50 percent, according to Recycled Energy Development, a waste energy power producer. The market value of the master limited partnerships has grown to about $370 billion The bill is supported by clean energy businesses (PDF), labor and environmental groups, and policy organizations.
A master limited partnership is a business structure that has the tax advantages of a partnership but whose ownership equity can be traded as easily as public stock. Energy projects qualifying as a master limited partnership have access to low-cost capital and liquid investment opportunities as well as a relatively high rate of return for investors. Master limited partnerships have existed since 1981 and are available to investors in fossil-fuel extraction and pipeline projects.

By expanding the list of qualifying projects to include solar, wind, geothermal, and other clean energy and transmission technologies, renewable-power projects could access new financing markets, thereby increasing investment and deployment of these clean technologies.

original article

Returns on investing in solar has banks and investors funding distributed solar

SLevy: Distributed solar is disruptive to electric distributors, especially in regions with high power rates. Solar will accelerate installations, a fact that must be factored into the future business plans of our distributors here in the valley. To support this statement Edison Electric Institute recently published a report entitled “Disruptive Challenges: Financial Implications and Strategic Responses to a Changing Retail Electric Business.” TSEA offers distributors its services in understanding the impact and has suggestions towards solutions to avoid faced with unpleasant alternatives.

There were a record number of solar panels installed in the U.S. on rooftops and on ground-mounted systems in 2012. Now both traditional financing companies and new types of investors are starting to get in on the trend of providing the funds for the high upfront costs of installing solar panels, in exchange for making some money back several years down the road. But the potential to make money in this way has only just started.

Solar leases are a contract between the building owner and SolarCity, whereby SolarCity pays the upfront cost of installing the system, owns and maintains the panels, and the building owner pays for the monthly electricity for the power from the panels over around 20 years. As Ucilia noted on GigaOM Pro today, the residential solar leasing market alone is expected to grow from $1.3 billion in 2012 to $5.7 billion in 2016, according to GTM Research.

SunPower said earlier this month that demand for its residential solar leases is far greater than the money available to finance them.

It’s not just banks and corporate do-gooders that want the opportunity to make a decent return — some 10 to 12 percent in some cases. Crowd-funding is starting to appear as an interesting blip on the radar. Startup Solar Mosaic says that it’s now raised $1 million from its crowd-funders for its solar panel systems, which offer around a 4.5 percent annual yield.

original article

FREE WEBINAR: Best Practices for Effective Energy Efficiency Program Design: From Strategy to Savings

DATE: Wednesday, May 15, 2013
TIME: 1:00 PM ET/10:00 AM PT  

Please join Nexant, Greentech Media, PacifiCorp, and Santee Cooper as we discuss best practices for effective energy efficiency program design, including utility program case studies.  The changing landscape of demand side management (DSM) energy efficiency programs requires utilities to leverage a combination of industry best practices and innovation in technologies to successfully plan, design and deploy DSM programs.  Join us for this one hour webinar to learn about: 
· Effective DSM program design and why it is important
· Defining a program’s success while identifying barriers and challenges in the marketplace
· Meeting compliance requirements and energy savings goals
· Managing increasingly complex programs in a cost-effective manner
· Improving customer and trade ally engagement, satisfaction and participation

Registration Fee: Free

Many types of professions install solar systems

There is the belief that solar installations are limited to a few companies that only deal in solar. That is not the case as illustrated by the following article that describes the various occupations involved in solar construction.

The primary industry begins with solar contractors, and then branches out to electrical contractors and plumbing contractors. General contractors and roofing contractors are also involved in solar installations. Because solar PV is electrical and solar hot water is plumbing-related, the industry sees a lot of participation from plumbing and electrical contractors.
Solar contractors operate independently or in conjunction with other contractors, such as roofers. Every project is different, so who is involved depends on the size and scope of a project. A typical solar contractor can handle a small residential system from start to finish. A large utility-scale project may involve coordinating with a roofing manufacturer or general contractor.
Companies in this sector employ many electricians, but also plumbers, roofers and general construction labor. Given that every project has unique characteristics, every project requires a slightly different skill set. For photovoltaic, the main skill set is electrical. For larger scale projects, a need for steel or concrete professionals or roofers may present itself.The first step to any installation project is engineering, followed by permitting and procurement and installation.

the original article

With so many occupations associated with solar installations the job market is wider in scope than most people realize. Tennessee has enough sunlight to warrant adopting solar both for large farms and distributed solar within our communities. With the price for large installations at prices competing with fossil-fueled power generation, with the advantages of no fuel cost and the environmental benefits – what is stopping our national leaders from promoting this technology? That is a question that only they can answer.