EPTC launches new registration system

Signing up for a quality training course at WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center is now easier than ever. The EPTC is implementing a new, streamlined registration process with RegOnline, an event management platform.

EPTC instructor J Agee teaches a class on power plant operations. Attendees put their knowledge to work in problem solving exercises on the Miniature Power System.

EPTC instructor J Agee teaches a class on power plant operations. Attendees put their knowledge to work in problem solving exercises on the Miniature Power System. (Photo by Travis Weger, Western Area Power Administration)

The EPTC offers one-of-a-kind power system operations training in Golden, Colorado. Courses cover the principles and operation of power generation, transmission and interconnected system operations complete with unique, hands-on exercises with powerful simulation tools.

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation You are leaving WAPA.gov. recognizes the EPTC as a continuing education provider that adheres to NERC Continuing Education Program Criteria. “However, our comprehensive range of courses can benefit everyone from power plant operators to support staff,” said Randy Manion, acting EPTC program manager.

The new registration system enables attendees to pay for courses online—a previously unavailable option—and provides EPTC and students with an emailed receipt. Here is how the new system works:

  • On the grid listing all available training courses, click the “register” button to the right of the chosen class.
  • Fill in your email and hit continue.
  • Fill in your personal information including your supervisor’s email and your regional block code. There is a space at the bottom of the form for those completing it on behalf of another employee. Hit “Add another person” or “Continue.”
  • Scroll down the checkout screen and hit the “Finish” button. Unless you select “Finish,” you will not be registered.

The system will then send you an invoice with payment details, and send confirmation to the EPTC.

Please let us know if you have any difficulties with RegOnline, or any suggestions to improve the experience.

DGIC: Key Outcomes of NREL’s Utility Technical Assistance Program

Dec. 8, 2016
12:00–1:30 p.m. MT

The quarterly meeting of the Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative highlights the experiences of two utilities who applied for and received assistance from the DOE’s Utility Solar Technical Assistance program pilot. Register today You are leaving WAPA.gov. to learn about two of these in-depth projects:

  • Financial viability of co-located solar-plus-storage facilities in Pasadena, California
  • Project finance for community solar in the U.S. Midwest

The technical assistance recipients and NREL subject matter experts will discuss the key outcomes and lessons learned from these experiences.

Source: WAPA Renewable Energy Program, 12/1/16

Imperial Irrigation District brings 33-MW battery storage system online

California once again showed its leadership in integrating battery storage into the electricity grid last month, when Imperial Irrigation District You are leaving WAPA.gov. (IID) commissioned one of the largest battery energy storage systems (BESS) in the North America.

Imperial Irrigation District built a new substation to accommodate the battery energy storage system near its El Centro gas generating plant

Imperial Irrigation District built a new substation to accommodate the battery energy storage system near its El Centro gas generating plant. (Photo by Imperial Irrigation District)

Representatives from IID joined Coachella Energy Storage Partners (CESP), electric industry leaders and local and state officials, Oct. 26, to launch the 33-megawatt (MW), 20-megawatt-hour (MWh) system. IID installed the lithium-ion BESS to increase reliability while integrating renewable energy resources into the local grid. The storage system allows the utility to balance power, arrest frequency decay, provide spinning reserve, mitigate large fluctuations of energy, increase voltage stability and deliver “black start” power restoration capabilities for the nearby El Centro gas generation plant. A black start is the process of restoring an electric power station or a part of an electric grid to operation without relying on the external transmission network.

Integration poses challenges
The dedication ceremony was the culmination of more than three years of assessment and planning.

Like many utilities, IID is feeling the pressure of increasing amounts of renewables on its electric system. Those pressures are likely to grow as the state pushes toward its goal of a 50-percent renewable energy supply by 2030, especially since IID is located in such a resource-rich area. IID’s grid already carries 900 MW of clean energy—mostly geothermal and solar—with another 1,200 MW of new generation seeking to interconnect to its system.

“Specifically, the integration of solar generation was affecting our balancing authority, and our control performance standard began to suffer,” said Jesse Montaño, IID manager of planning and engineering.

Battery storage was a cost-effective solution to address ramp, regulation, capacity, ancillary services, system reliability and power quality. It is also environmentally friendly because smoothing the power supply and providing a spinning reserve are functions usually performed by expensive fossil fuel generation.

Putting pieces in place
After settling on the appropriate battery storage solution, IID issued a bond and drew on its capital spending budget to finance the $38 million project.

CESP won the district’s solicitation for 20 to 40 MW of grid-scale energy storage, beating out eight other vendors in the final round to serve as general contractor for the project. The company chose the energy project management company ZGlobal Inc. You are leaving WAPA.gov. to oversee construction and General Electric to build the system.

GE supplied a comprehensive package which includes the lithium-ion battery with its inverters, plant controls, transformers and medium-voltage switchgear in a single enclosure. This is one of GE’s largest energy storage projects to date and one of its few lithium-ion storage projects. The company recently rebooted its lithium-ion battery business and also won a contract in April for an 8-MWh battery energy storage system for Con Edison Development You are leaving WAPA.gov. in Central Valley, California.

Now playing
Construction took about one year to complete, demonstrating that a storage battery can be sited and deployed relatively easily. However, every system is different and poses its own challenges to integration. “The BESS replaces some of our need for spinning reserves, but it was continually reacting to mitigate the slow ramping capabilities of IID’s generation fleet,” said Montaño. “We had to adjust reaction parameters on the BESS in order to economically and reliably balance the system.”

Testing followed so that when the BESS came online in October, it was ready to provide benefits to IID and its customers. On top of the operational benefits of increasing reliability and bringing more flexibility to the utility’s system, the BESS offers economic advantages, as well. It enables load shifting that reduces the need for expensive spinning reserves and is expected to result in significant cost savings to rate payers over the life of the project.

Every utility has a different power mix and different load, so battery storage must be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. But IID’s project illustrates many of the technology’s potential benefits and should give power providers elsewhere in the country much to think about.

Source: Public Power Daily, 10/31/16

MRES, city of Pierre launch first South Dakota solar farm

The largest solar farm in South Dakota began producing electricity for Missouri River Energy Services You are leaving WAPA.gov. (MRES) customers, Sept. 30, after officials cut the ribbon on the one-megawatt (MW) array at the Pierre Regional Airport.

Pierre Utilities Director Brad Palmer (left) and Lead Lineman Devin Harris take a moment to enjoy a job well done. Harris was instrumental in tying the airport solar project to the city's distribution system.

Pierre Utilities Director Brad Palmer (left) and Lead Lineman Devin Harris take a moment to enjoy a job well done. Harris was instrumental in tying the airport solar project to the city’s distribution system.

The solar photovoltaic project, a joint effort by MRES, the city of Pierre You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Geronimo Energy You are leaving WAPA.gov. of Edina, Minnesota, covers 9 acres and will generate enough electricity to power 200 homes.

MRES CEO Tom Heller acknowledged that while the facility was significant for the state, it was nevertheless intended only as a demonstration project. “It’s not large. It’s the first one we’ve done. We just want to see what it will do,” Heller said in an interview with a local newspaper.

Identifying partners
That does not mean that bringing the project to completion was a simple task, however. “It doesn’t matter if the project is 1 MW or 100 MW, you have the same number of parts from planning perspective,” explained Jeff Peters, MRES director of federal and distributed power programs. “The sheer number of stakeholders who need to be engaged makes the process daunting.”

Peters ticked off a list that included environmental groups, Native American tribes, the Federal Aviation Administration, city and state regulators and the transmission provider (WAPA). “Even the local newspaper could be considered a stakeholder,” he pointed out. “You have to make sure you identify all of the interested parties and keep them updated on your progress.”

The distribution provider—Pierre Municipal Utilities—was on board with the project from the beginning. “Overall, the community was very much in favor of the project and excited to be hosting the largest solar facility in the state,” said Utilities Director Brad Palmer.

Geronimo Energy, developer and owner of “Pierre Solar LLC,” was another piece of the puzzle that slotted in easily. MRES has a relationship with the company that includes power purchase agreements for the output of two wind energy facilities in Minnesota. The innovative 25-year contract Geronimo structured reduced costs for MRES versus a more traditional deal. The entire output of the solar project will become part of MRES’s wholesale power supply for the benefit of its 60 member communities.

Building easier, not easy
After conducting a solar feasibility study with Geronimo in 2015, MRES chose Pierre for its first solar project.

As a solar site, the Pierre Regional Airport offered many advantages, including a surprisingly high number of sun days and its status as a brownfield. “MRES didn’t want to use any cropland for the demonstration, or property that had residential or commercial potential,” explained Joni Livingston, MRES director of communications and member services.

The proposed site also boasted a southward slope with no obstructions and no need to build transmission. “This was a ‘behind the meter’ installation,” said Peters.

Palmer noted that the location was about as close to a substation as you can get, making it easy to tie into the city’s distribution system. The biggest challenge, he added, came in the form of paperwork. “The FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] had several requirements, including a “glint and glare” study,” Palmer noted. “Another wrinkle is that the Department of Defense was the previous owner of the airport. There were some strings attached when they deeded it to the city, so that added to the authorizations we needed. Eventually, everyone signed off, so it wasn’t so much a barrier as it was just a matter of lengthy application process.”

Partners and stakeholders turned out in force to cut the ribbon on South Dakota's first utility-scale solar farm. From left: Hunter Roberts, assistant energy director, South Dakota Governor's Office; Jeff Peters, director of federal & distributed power programs, Missouri River Energy Services; Harold Schiebout, president, MRES board of directors; Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill; Tom Heller, MRES CEO; Noel Rahn, chairman of Geronimo Energy; and Leon Schochenmaier, city administrator, Pierre Municipal Utilities. Read more.

Partners and stakeholders turned out in force to cut the ribbon on South Dakota’s first utility-scale solar farm. From left: Hunter Roberts, assistant energy director, South Dakota Governor’s Office; Jeff Peters, director of federal & distributed power programs, Missouri River Energy Services; Harold Schiebout, president, MRES board of directors; Pierre Mayor Laurie Gill; Tom Heller, MRES CEO; Noel Rahn, chairman of Geronimo Energy; and Leon Schochenmaier, city administrator, Pierre Municipal Utilities. Read more. (Photo by ©2016. Patrick Callahan).

Up, running
Now that the Pierre Solar LLC has been operational for a few weeks, MRES is just beginning the learning phase of its demonstration. “We are hoping to learn more about interconnecting with the local distribution system, and the array’s effect on the community’s power quality and reliability,” Livingston said. “We will be watching to see how much electricity it produces and at what time of day and how that relates to peak demand. Once we have that information, it may lead to more solar installations.”

Palmer pointed out that there is room at the Pierre Regional Airport for the solar array to expand. He likes the idea of utility-scale and community solar as a way of giving customers more clean energy. “From the utility standpoint, it is easier to integrate and safer for our workers,” Palmer acknowledged. “The economy of scale also makes it more cost effective for the consumers.”

For Peters, the lessons so far are holistic rather than technical. “Each project is different, so you will learn something new with each one,” he said. “The planning process can always improve.”

Free webinars explore community solar issues

Community plus Storage Solutions
Sept. 29, 12 p.m. CDT

As more utilities install projects that allow customers to get their own “piece of the sun,” new approaches and new challenges keep arising. You can learn more about designing solar projects and creating community solar programs by attending a free webinar series presented by the Community Solar Value Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CSVP).

The 2016 lunchtime webinars explore innovations expected to grow quickly in the utility-driven community-solar market. The CSVP team invites guest experts to discuss better solar project design and procurement; strategies to manage solar variability, such as demand response and storage companion measures; program design for targeted customer appeals and win-win programs for low-income communities.

The hot trend of Community plus Storage Solutions You are leaving WAPA.gov. is the topic of the Sept. 29 webinar. While the idea of integrating storage options directly into community solar gardens has been slow to gain traction, a few innovative utilities and third parties have begun to explore such designs on both sides of the utility meter. Find out how industry leaders are facilitating renewables integration in communities around the world. A discussion with provocative what-if questions will follow the presentations.

Shortly after each webinar, either a video or slides in PDF format are posted to the CSVP archive. You can also find webinar recordings from the 2015 series.

The two remaining webinars remaining in the 2016 series are:

  • Thursday October 27 – The Value of Going Local.
  • Thursday December 1 – Smarter Procurement for Community Solar Solutions.

The webinars take place at 12 p.m. Central Time.

Source: Community Solar Value Project, 9/15/16

Tribal solar farm breaks new ground for Navajo Nation

The Navajo Nation, WAPA’s largest tribal customer, is about to join the ranks of utility-scale renewable energy producers with the construction of a 27.5-megawatt (MW) solar farm at Kayenta, Arizona.

Residents of surrounding communities, tribal leaders and officials from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kayenta Solar Farm near WAPA's Kayenta Substation in Arizona.

Residents of surrounding communities, tribal leaders and officials from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the Kayenta Solar Farm near WAPA’s Kayenta Substation in Arizona. (Photo by Travis Weger, WAPA Public Affairs specialist)

WAPA Administrator and CEO Mark A. Gabriel and Chief Public Affairs Officer Teresa Plant attended the groundbreaking ceremony on the Navajo Nation, April 23. Also joining the ceremony were residents of surrounding communities, tribal leaders and officials from the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority, You are leaving WAPA.gov. the primary power provider for the tribe.

The new facility, the largest Native-owned renewable project in the country, is expected to be operational by spring 2017. “We are excited to show that the Navajo Nation can develop an energy project on this scale,” said Deenise Becenti, NTUA spokesperson.

Many reasons to build
In addition to valuable experience, the solar farm will also provide power to a northern section of the Navajo Nation at some of the “lowest consumer electric rates in the region,” according to an NTUA press release. This is significant because of all the Native households in the U.S. that do not have electric power, 75 percent are in the Navajo Nation.

Other benefits of the project include promoting grid modernization and economic development. Construction will require about 100 workers, and there are expected to be five permanent jobs managing the facility. “It may not sound like much,” Becenti acknowledged, “but on the average, each employed tribe member helps to support eight others.”

She added that some people who have left the area to find jobs will be able to return home.

Partnering to reach goals
NTUA has taken the lead on developing the $64 million project, working out an agreement with Salt River Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. for the energy credits. SRP’s purchase of two years’ worth of energy and environmental attributes from the Kayenta Solar Farm is helping to fund its construction. The project is also receiving tax credits and loans, mainly from the Cooperative Finance Corporation, You are leaving WAPA.gov. a finance cooperative run by a network of electric cooperatives.

The purchase of the attributes will help SRP meet its goal of getting 20 percent of its retail energy requirements from sustainable resources by 2020. The Arizona-based public power provider contracted in 2012 to buy renewable energy certificates from solar arrays NTUA rents to low-income customers who do not have access to electricity. NTUA also sells SRP the credits from small solar installations on some utility facilities.

Bringing a large-scale renewable energy project to the Navajo Nation has been a long-time goal of the tribal utility, said NTUA General Manager Walter Hasse in a recent interview. “It is an important next step in the development of a green economy for the Navajo Nation,” he stated.

WAPA pitches in
The solar farm will be connecting to the larger grid through WAPA’s Kayenta Substation. WAPA has a long-standing relationship with NTUA, and has cooperated with the 55-year-old tribal utility on past projects.

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Gabriel said, “We hope to continue building this kind of mutually beneficial partnership well into the future, especially with our Native American customers. Changes in the electric industry are occurring rapidly and WAPA stands ready to continue providing technical assistance in power marketing, resource management and transmission services for the Navajo Nation.”

Source: WAPA Closed Circuit, June 2016

Free webinar discusses valuation of distributed energy resources

Aug. 17
12 p.m. MT

As distributed energy resources (DER) become more prevalent, states across the country are seeking to design consistent and durable valuation and compensation schemes for these resources. What’s a Watt Worth? presents three novel approaches to valuing distributed energy resources (DER) from California, New York and Texas. Speakers will cover locational valuation of DER and DER in wholesale markets, locational net benefits analysis of distribution resource plans and distribution-level markets for DER.

The Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative (DGIC) aims to share knowledge on distributed photovoltaic interconnection practices and innovation. Register You are leaving WAPA.gov. for this free webinar and sign up to receive quarterly updates on DGIC activities.

Source: National Renewable Energy Laboratory, 8/8/16

Free webinar explores potential of carports for community solar

Aug 18, 2016
11:00 AM MDT

The Community Solar Value Project You are leaving WAPA.gov.  will present Making Solar Carports Happen, You are leaving WAPA.gov. a free webinar, on Aug. 18 at 11 a.m. Mountain Time.

Carports add value to parking spaces by providing shade and shelter, and they are usually located in areas with wide-open solar exposure and easy grid access. This could make the structures an excellent design option for community solar gardens that also promote grid-managed electric vehicle charging.

Learn more about all the benefits, as well as the pricing challenges, associated with solar carports and shade structures by joining the CSVP August webinar. Presentations will feature two leading solar carport providers and cover highlights from CSVP’s solar carport market update.

Making Solar Carports Happen is part of a free webinar series that launched June 30 with Can Regulation Make Community Solar Better? Past webinar presentations are available in the CSVP library, along with presentations from other events related to community solar. Upcoming webinars include:

  • September 29 – Community Solar Plus Storage Solutions
  • October 27 – Smarter Procurement for Community Solar Programs

Watch Energy Services Bulletin for more information about registration.

The Community Solar Value Project represents leading energy thinkers and do-ers, ready to “make community solar better,” from both the sponsoring-utility and customer perspective. Focusing on strategic solar technologies, siting and design, and on integrating companion measures, such as demand-response and storage, into program designs, CSVP aims to address solar variability and minimize costs for service and distribution. Developing the market for the community solar model is also a goal of the project.

Extensible Energy, LLC, a San Francisco-area energy consulting and analytics firm, leads the project, with support from Cliburn and Associates, LLC, Olivine, Inc., and Navigant Consulting. WAPA customer Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Public Service of New Mexico are among the utilities participating nationwide. The project is powered by the Department of Energy SunShot Initiative under its Solar Market Pathways program. Sunshot is also a sponsor of the webinar series.

Source: Community Solar Value Project, 7/28/16

NMPP helps members with net-metering service, resource book

If integrating distributed generation is challenging for large utilities, imagine the difficulties faced by rural and small municipal utilities. With 200 member communities located in six western states, Nebraska Municipal Power Pool You are leaving WAPA.gov. (NMPP) doesn’t have to use imagination to identify the needs of its members.

Distributed generation is becoming increasingly popular even in rural communities. NMPP has developed aresource guidebook to help prepare its members to deal with the challenges of interconnection.

Distributed generation is becoming increasingly popular even in rural communities. NMPP has developed a resource guidebook to help prepare its members to deal with the challenges of interconnection.

NMPP is the utility services organization of NMPP Energy, the trade name for a coalition of four organizations based in Nebraska that provide municipal utilities with wholesale electricity, wholesale and retail natural gas and energy-related services. Some of its members serve as few as 200 customers with minimal staff who wear many hats, said NMPP Energy Communications Specialist Kevin Wickham. “We saw the need to help our members with interconnection coming several years ago when some of the states we serve passed net-metering laws,” he recalled.

Building new services
NMPP launched a net-metering service in 2010 that 22 member utilities have used to date. That number is likely to increase as the cost of installing individual solar arrays drops and utilities install community solar projects.

The net-metering program offers members a choice of three options, each for a cost-based, one-time fee. Members may choose from assistance in developing their own policy guideline and procedures, review of customer generation application for interconnection or avoided cost rate development for payment for energy delivered to the utility.

As it developed its net metering service, NMPP was also working on a resource guidebook, Recommended Policy and Guidelines for Interconnection of Customer-Owned Generation Including Net Metering. “The guidebook was six years in the making,” said Wickham. “Initially, we were going to offer it as one of the services available under the program.”

Something everyone needs
In 2015, NMPP and its wholesale power supply organization Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska You are leaving WAPA.gov. (MEAN) partnered to provide the guidebook to all of MEAN’s 54 long-term total requirements power participants. “Distributed generation and customer self-generation has really taken off and we realized that there was a greater need for the information,” Wickham explained.

The guidebook contains policy guidance, sample agreements, industry terms and definitions and case studies from the American Public Power Association. You are leaving WAPA.gov. Members will also find net-metering statutes from the states NMPP and MEAN serve (Wyoming, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa and Kansas). That was one of the bigger challenges in putting together the guidebook, Wickham acknowledged. “Each city council and each utility designs and administers its own policies and procedures around net metering,” he said. “We had to make sure the guidebook was going to be useful to all our customers.”

Input from several regional utilities and trade associations helped NMPP compile a comprehensive resource. Otherwise, the net-metering guidebook was a product of expertise within the organization. “The guidebook wouldn’t have been possible without the cooperation from those utilities, as well as the American Public Power Association,” said Tim Sutherland, MEAN director of wholesale electric operations.

Prepared for future
With an estimated 900 kilowatts of solar power on MEAN’s system, distributed generation has arrived, noted Wickham. “Customers have high expectations when it comes to utility customer service. We  stress to our members to be prepared, starting with things like having an interconnection agreement in place before a customer walks in the door,” he said.

MEAN member utilities, especially the small ones, are finding the resource useful in working out their renewable interconnection policies. “The creation of the net-metering guidebook was the result of being responsive to MEAN’s power participants’ needs,” said Sutherland. “It is just an example of seeing a need and trying to assist our member-owners.”

Utilities can expect to be confronting the challenge of distributed generation and other changes in the electric industry well into the future, Sutherland noted. NMPP and MEAN will continue to look for services, programs and tools to help their member-owners provide consumers with reliable, affordable and sustainable power, he added.

New report looks at utility business models for energy storage

Navigant Research You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Sunverge Energy, Inc. You are leaving WAPA.gov. have teamed up to produce a white paper highlighting opportunities to embrace energy storage in ways that benefit both public utilities and their customers.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that the technical potential of rooftop solar photovoltaics (PV) in the United States represents the equivalent of 39 percent of current U.S. electricity sales. The capacity from solar panels, advanced batteries and other forms of distributed energy resources (DER) is likely to keep growing. Some in the industry see this trend as the beginning of the “utility death spiral.” There are optimists, however, who see the chance for utilities—especially publically owned utilities—to reinvent themselves and their customer relationships.

According to the report, Making Sense of New Public Power DER Business Models, advanced energy storage can optimize DER to provide value on either side of the meter. In three featured case studies, public utilities, including Sacramento Municipal Utility DistrictYou are leaving WAPA.gov. leveraged the diverse services energy storage can offer if coupled with state-of-the-art controls software. Smart storage applications proved to be the key to delivering win-win results such as improved reliability, more resilience and greater customer satisfaction.

Public power providers are uniquely positioned to explore new energy service delivery models that can turn the challenge of integrating DER into customer partnerships. You can learn more about innovative business models and up-and-coming technologies by downloading a free copy of Making Sense of New Public Power DER Business Models.

Source: Public Power Daily, 5/9/16