WAPA’s Renewable Resources Program co-sponsors workshop on tough solar-program challenges

June 7-8, 2017
Golden, Colorado

What is the toughest challenge for an electric cooperative or public power utility in planning for community solar? Many utilities say it is solar resource procurement; for others, the top challenge would be pricing that works for both the utility and the customer, and turning that into a program offer. The Community Solar Value Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CSVP) and WAPA’s Renewable Resources Program have heard these frequently cited concerns, and they are responding with a new, one-and-a-half day workshop, Community Solar Procurements, Programs and Pricing, on June 7-8 at the WAPA Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colorado. Registration You are leaving WAPA.gov. is free and targeted at utilities in the West, whether they are in states like Colorado that have guiding community solar legislation or states in which community solar is an option that requires utility leadership and innovation.

Jill Cliburn explains how the Community Solar Value Project is working to improve the community-scale solar model.

Jill Cliburn explains how the Community Solar Value Project is working to improve the community-scale solar model. (Photo by Community Solar Value Project)

According to Jill Cliburn, program manager for CSVP, this event will be the culmination of a two-and-a-half-year investigation into utilities’ best practices and innovations in community solar. Community solar, or community shared solar, describes a range of programs that allow customers to share, usually by a per-kilowatt-hour subscription or by leasing or buying panels, in a relatively large solar project, regardless of their ability to host a typical rooftop solar system. Projects are currently in place in 29 states, with the total market expected to grow by 20 percent or more annually.

This workshop will feature speakers from utility-led community solar programs, such as those at Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Pedernales Electric Cooperative. You are leaving WAPA.gov. Thought leaders from CSVP’s own expert team, Navigant Consulting, You are leaving WAPA.gov. the Regulatory Assistance Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. and Rocky Mountain Institute You are leaving WAPA.gov. (RMI) will also speak. RMI’s successful Shine Project recently demonstrated ways to dramatically lower local solar procurement costs, whether for community solar programs or other utility needs.

“We’re also making time for participants to share their own unique challenges and solutions, so everyone will leave the workshop with actionable notes and resources,” Cliburn said.

Working with a utility forum group of about 10 utilities in the West, CSVP has put emphasis on practical solutions. For example, the project’s approach to pricing begins with streamlined utility-side economic analysis, but takes into account the market-target price required for program success. CSVP also has introduced new ways to package community solar with other utility program offers. And the project has published easy-to-use resource guides and checklists to help keep other tasks, from market research to completing the project RFP and procurement, on track and on budget.

Community Solar Procurements, Programs and Pricing begins at 3:00 p.m. (MDT) on Wednesday June 7, with a “lightning round” of community solar best-practice presentations and a quick tour of WAPA’s grid simulator, followed by a cash-bar networking reception. On Thursday June 8, the workshop convenes from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with lunch and breaks included. There is no cost for utility representatives to participate in this workshop, thanks to CSVP sponsorship by the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot Initiative and Solar Market Pathways Program and workshop co-sponsorship from the WAPA Renewable Resources Program and Extensible Energy, LLC, You are leaving WAPA.gov. the prime contractor for CSVP. Participants only cover travel and hotel costs and incidentals. For more information, see the registration website or contact workshop coordinator Nicole Enright.

Webinar offers guidance on marketing community solar projects

Update: If you were unable to participate in Market Research and Market Segmentation for Community Solar Program Success, March 1, visit the webinar archive You are leaving WAPA.gov. at the Community Value Solar Project. You can download the presentation to learn about the five-step process to drill down from general to specific research and to organize findings into an action plan.

According to a GTM Research report You are leaving WAPA.gov. cited in Public Power Daily, You are leaving WAPA.gov. the community solar market is poised for significant growth in the coming year. However, interest in community solar among utility customers varies widely based on demographic, regional and lifestyle factors. Utilities might be wondering how to design and implement a community solar program that appeals to customers across market segments.

Angela Crooks, from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot program, attended a CSVP Utility Forum meeting, with Carmine Tilghman of Tucson Electric Power and John Powers, from the CSVP team, including this visit to a solar carport at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District.

Angela Crooks, from the U.S. Department of Energy SunShot program, attended a CSVP Utility Forum meeting, with Carmine Tilghman of Tucson Electric Power and John Powers, from the CSVP team, including this visit to a solar carport at the Sacramento Municipal Utility District. (Photo by Community Solar Value Project)

Five Steps to Tailored Market Research, You are leaving WAPA.gov. sponsored by the Community Solar Value Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CSVP), will move quickly from general guidance to five specific steps that utilities can take to achieve results. The webinar features Jennifer Mitchell-Jackson, a partner in Grounded Research and Consulting You are leaving WAPA.gov.and lead author of a new CSVP market research and market segmentation guide.

Market Research and Market Segmentation for Community Solar Program Success shows how to get a better understanding of different customers’ motivations before you offer a community solar program. This guide describes a five-step process, beginning with assessing research needs and tapping outside sources of community-solar market intelligence, through leveraging available utility data, and carefully designing or obtaining new customer research to address specific needs. It can be downloaded for free from the CSVP website.

The webinar is free but registration You are leaving WAPA.gov. is required. If you can’t participate in the webinar, CSVP will record and archive it for on-demand use.

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. Members are working to develop a decision framework for community-solar program design, focusing first on optimal siting and project design, procurement, target marketing and matching with companion measures that attack solar-integration challenges.

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

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

Make community solar better with free webinar series

Oct. 22, 12 p.m.
Nov. 19, 12 p.m.
Dec. 10, 12 p.m.

The Community Solar Value Project You are leaving Western's site. (CSVP) and Clean Energy Ambassadors You are leaving Western's site. have teamed up to produce a series of free webinars and discussions on how to make community solar better.JillSolarSlide350

The series has enlisted utility leaders and key stakeholders to weigh in on different aspects of this multi-faceted challenge. Discussions will cover such topics as better solar project design and procurement, ways to address solar variability by using demand-response and storage companion measures, program design for targeted customer appeals and win-win programs for low-income communities.

Join Clean Energy Ambassadors on Thursday, Oct. 22, for How SMUD and Other Utilities are Rethinking Marketing for Community Solar. You are leaving Western's site. A long-time leader in US solar energy deployment, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving Western's site. (SMUD) crafted many programs to reduce the economic barriers to solar energy deployment. SMUD’s Solar Shares program targets renters and homeowners who may have solar siting issues to make solar energy accessible when customer-sited generation is not an option. Learn about the innovative solutions SMUD and other utilities are creating to improve upon their past program efforts and to make the benefits of clean energy even more widely available. A question and answer session will follow the presentations.

The November 19 webinar will explore Community Solar that Makes Sense for the Utility and its Low-income Customers. Speakers will discuss projects that address challenges specific to the low income market and different approaches utilities have taken.

On Dec. 10, Holiday Review: New Tools and Resources from the Community Solar Value Project, the final webinar in the series, examines the CSVP’s progress in helping utilities and their customers to work together to speed the transition to a high-value, low-carbon utility of the future.

Recordings of two other discussions, Central Better Community Solar Procurement and Design and How Demand Response and Storage Measures Address Solar Variability and Add Value, are available online.

All webinars take place at 12 p.m., Central Time. There is no cost to participate but registration is required.

Source: Clean Energy Ambassadors, 9/30/15