Feature Image for 10.14.15 Solar Media Update

10.14.15 Solar Media Update

October 14, 2015

By Clara Schopf, Incentive Coordinator, SoCore Energy

Cheap Solar Comes to Wisconsin

  • The Eau Claire Energy Co-Op, a member-owned rural co-op with 11,000 customers, is installing the largest utility-owned solar power system in the state, with 2,816 panels capable of delivering 875 kilowatts of DC power.
    • The co-op’s Member Solar program offers shares of the system to member-customers at cost — only $650 per panel, or $2.10 per watt, a levelized savings of $0.02 to $0.04 per kWh.
  • Most co-ops in the area, including Eau Claire, are served by Dairyland, a coal-heavy generation and transmission co-op which is diversifying, taking bids now for 25 megawatts of solar.
  • Rural co-ops have led the way on community solar in Wisconsin; four others have already built systems, with more plans under way.
    • Up to eight more community solar projects are in the works, according to Tyler Huebner of Renew Wisconsin.
  • Xcel Energy’s Wisconsin operation is developing a community solar offering called Solar*Connect Community.
    • Customers will be able to buy 200-watt shares of PV and get a cash credit on their monthly bill
  • Madison Gas & Electric may be next in line, filing an application with the state Public Service Commission last week for a 500-kilowatt community solar pilot project.
    • Under the proposed community solar tariff, customers would pay $189 per kilowatt upfront, then buy power at 16.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, fixed for 25 years (customers would not be allowed to own the panels or to do virtual net metering).

Massachusetts: A Solar Champion

  • With over 300 MW of installed solar capacity and nearly 10,000 solar jobs, Massachusetts comes in at the 4th strongest solar market in the country.
  • Growth has continued thanks to last year’s unveiling of the state’s SREC-II program.
  • The Commonwealth’s Solar Carve-Out was initially intended to support the development of 400MW of solar, but in an effort to incentivize further growth, the Carve-Out has since been expanded (with goal of 1600MW in mind).
  • DOER did not hold an auction for the newly created SREC-II market this year since all qualifying systems were able to sell their SRECs on the open market.
  • High SREC prices are a major driver of the Massachusetts gold rush, causing developers from across the country to flock to the Commonwealth in search of opportunity.
    • By offering a fixed Clearinghouse Auction price of $300/MWh and maintaining some of the highest Alternative Compliance Payments in the country, the state sends utilities a clear signal that they must continue to invest heavily in solar development.
  • The Massachusetts solar magnet has caused many areas in the Commonwealth to hit their net metering caps, providing cause for concern over the future stability of the commercial market.

Hardware Shortages May Slow Solar Growth in 2016

  • The rush to install solar before the 30% federal investment tax credit reverts to its pre-2006 10% levels at the end of 2016 has sparked a backlog of orders for modules and inverters that could slow solar growth.
  • The shortage is causing scheduling difficulties for electric cooperatives developing utility-scale and community solar projects with average delivery times set at six months from large manufacturers and distributors, and could be fully booked for 2016 by early December.
  • The National Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives urged members to place 2016 solar hardware orders before the year’s end.

Supreme Court to Hear Arguments over FERC Demand Response Rule

  • The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on Wednesday in what is likely the highest-profile energy court case of 2015: the fight over the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 745 and the commission’s jurisdiction — or lack thereof — over retail demand response in wholesale markets.
  • The D.C. Circuit Court vacated the order last year. Arguments will focus on whether FERC “reasonably concluded” it has authority over demand response markets, and whether the circuit court erred in its decision to invalidate that authority.
  • The Electric Power Supply Association, the trade group for competitive power suppliers, challenged FERC’s rule, claiming the commission overstepped its bounds with Order 745 and was regulating retail markets, which fall under state jurisdiction.

In Other News…

The Mississippi Public Service Commission has extended the comment period regarding proposed net metering rules, and it is unclear when a vote will be taken. See article here

Suniva has announced that the 3MW PV project that it is powering at Grand Valley State University in Michigan as part of the Consumers Energy’s Solar Gardens program has officially broken ground. See article here

Leading PV thin-film producer First Solar has signed a module supply deal with Clean Energy Collective for mid-sized community solar projects in Colorado and Texas. See article here

Arizona Public Service claims that rooftop solar users should pay a $67 monthly solar fee to pay their fair share to the grid. See article here

California has passed a law stating the legislature’s intent to authorize the Department of Toxic Substances Control to designate end-of-life PV modules as “universal waste” and “develop a plan for recycling end-of-life photovoltaic modules in the state in an economically efficient manner.” See article here

A report issued by an Ohio legislative committee recommends freezing the state’s frozen RPS indefinitely. See article here

Michigan is now on track to meet mandates set in 2008 to generate about 10% of its energy from renewable sources; and power companies, policy makers, legislators and environmental groups are debating where to place bets on the state’s future energy needs as old power plants are replaced. See article here

California real estate firm Irvine Company announced it will deploy energy storage from Advanced Microgrid Solutions for 24 office buildings that will be equipped with TeslaPowerpacks paired with AMS’ advanced energy management system. See article here

Following a week in which SolarCity and then Panasonic both claimed to have achieved record efficiencies, SunPower has hit back, saying its products are “the most efficient solar panels commercially available today”. Read article here

New distributed generation solar power facilities of 5 MW or less likely will play a “lead role” in Green Mountain Power’s compliance with Vermont’s new renewable energy standard. See article here

New From BNEF

New York Draws Another Solar Manufacturer as it Shapes New Hub: New York is about to become a hub for U.S. solar manufacturing as the state lured a start-up called 1366 Technologies Inc. to build its first factory in Genesee County.

China to Keep Solar Subsidy in Next 8-10 Yrs: Securities News: The subsidy will favor distributed solar power projects to support the sector, Shanghai Securities News reported, citing Liang Zhipeng, deputy head at National Energy Administration’s new energy department.

SunEdison Pivots Away From Yield Companies Unable to Buy Plants: SunEdison Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ahmad Chatila created two companies over the past 15 months to buy his solar and wind farms. Now he’s cutting them off, and investors like it.

House to Join Senate in Resolution Challenging Clean Power Plan: House Republicans plan to join their Senate counterparts in introducing a Congressional Review Act challenge to overturn the Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan, Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) told Bloomberg BNA.

Climate Change Threatens Energy Sector, DOE Report Says: A report out from the U.S. Energy Department Friday says that climate change is threatening energy infrastructure throughout the country.

View All Blog Posts