Will Rural America Continue REAPing Renewable Energy Rewards?

Based on a tally of 2013 REAP announcements, the total awards for the Southeastern states approaches $5 million in grants, leveraging more than $15 million in private dollars. These investments include solar photovoltaic installations, energy efficiency equipment, geothermal, and biomass projects.
Energy efficiency awards were particularly notable this year, with diverse projects including irrigation, lighting, agricultural curing and drying, and diesel engines being replaced with electric motors.

Here’s the state-by-state breakdown of 2013 REAP grant awards for our region (rounded down to the nearest thousand):
FL > $354,000
GA > $1,400,000
NC > $1,417,000
SC > $584,000
TN > $1,224,000

Original article

Obama Commits U.S. Federal Government To 20% Renewable Energy Target By 2020

President Barack Obama has issued a presidential memorandum directing the U.S. federal government to pursue a goal of deriving 20% of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The document also instructs all federal agencies to take specific steps to better manage building performance, enhance energy efficiency and reduce energy waste.

The missive represents a follow-through on the president’s plan to counter climate change, announced in June. It directs agencies to achieve the renewable energy consumption target through a number of approved actions. The actions, in order of priority, are the following:

Installing agency-funded renewable energy on-site at federal facilities and retain renewable energy certificates;
Contracting for energy that includes the installation of a renewable energy project on-site at a federal facility or off-site and the retention of renewable energy certificates for the term of the contract;
Purchasing electricity and corresponding renewable energy certificates; and
Purchasing renewable energy certificates.
The memorandum sets a number of interim targets for renewable energy usage up to the ultimate 20% by 2020 goal. The first of these is a 10% target for 2015.

More information

Original Presidential Memorandum

TVA Will Pay 14 cents per kilowatt-hour in 2014

Patty West, director of TVA’s renewable energy programs, said the utility is responding to the market.

“Demand for our renewables programs is strong,” she said. said “We are working with our local power companies to direct capacity to the most cost-effective programs and streamlining the processes for these programs to make it easier for participants.”

Due to the discontent of installers resulting from the October offering in which the entire amount was subscribed in less than one minute, TVA will change its selection process using a random selection of applications. Projects will be have an equal chance of being chosen. TVA will begin accepting projects from its distributors on January 15th and will close the window on February 1st. All the projects will have an equal opportunity of being selected.

Random Project Selection

Random Project Selection

TVA announced today that it will buy up to 126 megawatts of renewable power through its three renewable energy programs. TVA is removing some restrictions on the type of renewable power it buys under its Renewable Standard Offer and is trying to streamline the approval process for new solar and wind projects.


TVA estimates it has about 6,400 megawatts of renewable energy capacity. Beyond its solar contracts, TVA has 4,600 megawatts of generation capacity from its own 29 hydroelectric dams, 1,500 megawatts of wind from its own Buffalo Mountain wind farm and contracts with wind power producers in the Midwest, and 60 megawatts of power under contract from biomass generation from landfill methane.

Igloo-shaped building attracts attention

WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather

Made possible through a grant from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC), the building is solar-powered and made of a material called Colfibrex. It’s water resistant, mold resistant, and very energy-efficient. It’s design makes for a great tornado shelter, too.

The building is open to the public and for all ages. Inside you’ll find materials and video kiosks with information about conservation, sustainable living, recycling “Dos and Don’ts”, and more. Stop in on your next recycling trip, or to arrange a tour ahead of time contact the Athens Public Works Department.

Utility Of The Future Or Future Of The Utility?

Today's distributor financial modelimpact of distirbuted solar on utility revenue

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?

Where will the funds for distribution system come from

original article

A War Over Solar Power Is Raging Within the GOP

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.

Franklin will add second solar panel array

Franklin will lease unused land to a Nashville-based company for the future installation of a new solar panel array.

Energy Source Partners is proposing to spend $2.6 million to build a new solar array on a 3-acre sludge field site near Mack Hatcher Parkway. That array is expected to generate 1 megawatt of electricity, which would be sold to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Over the course of the proposed 20-year contract, the 1 megawatt panels would generate $165,000 for Franklin by the 10th year of the program and about $800,000 from years 10 to 20.

Last year, Franklin leased part of an empty sludge field near its sewer plant off Claude Yates Drive to Nashville-based Energy Source Partners, which paid about $1 million to install 940 solar panels on the land. Those panels, which generate about 200 kilowatts, capture sun rays and convert them to electricity, which is then resold.

A Push Away From Burning Coal as an Energy Source

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.

reference: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/15/us/a-push-away-from-burning-coal-as-an-energy-source.html?emc=edit_tnt_20131115&tntemail0=y

To Those Influencing Environmental Policy But Opposed to Nuclear Power

Four climate scientists, three of whom have published in peer-reviewed literature on energy issues (a sampler from Wigley, Hansen and Caldeira), are pressing the case for environmental groups to embrace the need for a new generation of nuclear power plants in a letter they distributed overnight to a variety of organizations and journalists.Here’s the text of the letter, by Kenneth Caldeira of the Carnegie Institution, Kerry Emanuel at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, James E. Hansen of Columbia University and Tom Wigley of the National Center for Atmospheric Research and the University of Adelaide*:

“To those influencing environmental policy but opposed to nuclear power:

As climate and energy scientists concerned with global climate change, we are writing to urge you to advocate the development and deployment of safer nuclear energy systems. We appreciate your organization’s concern about global warming, and your advocacy of renewable energy. But continued opposition to nuclear power threatens humanity’s ability to avoid dangerous climate change.

At the same time, the need to sharply reduce greenhouse gas emissions is becoming ever clearer. We can only increase energy supply while simultaneously reducing greenhouse gas emissions if new power plants turn away from using the atmosphere as a waste dump.Renewables like wind and solar and biomass will certainly play roles in a future energy economy, but those energy sources cannot scale up fast enough to deliver cheap and reliable power at the scale the global economy requires. While it may be theoretically possible to stabilize the climate without nuclear power, in the real world there is no credible path to climate stabilization that does not include a substantial role for nuclear power.

Quantitative analyses show that the risks associated with the expanded use of nuclear energy are orders of magnitude smaller than the risks associated with fossil fuels. No energy system is without downsides. We ask only that energy system decisions be based on facts, and not on emotions and biases that do not apply to 21st century nuclear technology.

We ask you and your organization to demonstrate its real concern about risks from climate damage by calling for the development and deployment of advanced nuclear energy.
Dr. Ken Caldeira, Senior Scientist, Department of Global Ecology, Carnegie Institution
Dr. Kerry Emanuel, Atmospheric Scientist, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dr. James Hansen, Climate Scientist, Columbia University Earth Institute
Dr. Tom Wigley, Climate Scientist, University of East Anglia and the National Center for Atmospheric Research”

Source for article.

KKR and Google to Invest in Six U.S. Solar Power Plants

KKR & Co. and Google Inc. have struck a pact to invest about $400 million in six solar-power plants being built by Recurrent Energy LLC in California and Arizona. Development of the plants has been under way for years and they are expected to go online and begin producing power in January, the people said.

The plants—five in southern California and one in Arizona—are designed to produce about 106 megawatts of electricity combined, or enough to power about 17,000 U.S. homes, they said. San Francisco-based Recurrent, which will continue as their operator, has struck long-term power supply agreements with three buyers for the electricity they’re expected to churn, the people said.