Community solar workshop presentations now available

If you missed Community Solar Procurements, Programs and Pricing, a workshop WAPA cosponsored with the Community Solar Value Project You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CSVP) and SunShot Solar Market Pathways, you can now download the presentations from the CSVP website.

WAPA Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman (standing right) talks about the opportunities and challenges community solar represents for utilities.

WAPA Energy Services Manager Ron Horstman (standing right) talks about the opportunities and challenges community solar represents for utilities.

The free event was held at WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center in Golden, Colorado, and drew strong attendance from every type of utility, especially in the West. As the workshop title stated, the agenda focused on the logistical aspects of building a community solar project and explored ways to make projects more successful. Speakers and participants discussed best practices for analyzing solar development opportunities, writing requests for proposals, engaging internal and external stakeholders, working with contractors and vendors and designing rates.

Customers share experience
Several WAPA customers were on hand to share their experiences with developing their own projects. Luis Reyes of Kit Carson Electric Cooperative You are leaving WAPA.gov. sat on a panel that focused on improving the procurement process. The Taos, New Mexico, utility launched its first community solar project in 2012 and has an ambitious initiative to install 35 megawatts of photovoltaics this year.

Participants throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks during table-top sessions on program design, procurement, rate design and marketing.

Participants throw ideas against the wall to see what sticks during table-top sessions on program design, procurement, rate design and marketing.

A panel on pricing challenges included John Phelan from Fort Collins Utilities You are leaving WAPA.gov. in northern Colorado. As a pioneer with Rocky Mountain Institute in clean energy and sustainability solutions, the city of Fort Collins has discovered that success brings a new set of challenges. For example, the utility is wrestling with how to design a rate that accommodates both a legacy community solar garden and a new array for qualified low-income customers.

Poudre Valley Rural Electric Cooperative You are leaving WAPA.gov. is currently developing a 6,000-panel community solar project with carve-outs for local nonprofit organizations and another for income-qualified customers. Making community solar available to customers who need the most help with utility bills was another topic that received a lot of attention. Utilities are experimenting with different business models for low-income projects, but most agree on the potential benefits: freeing up more money for other needs, bringing more certainty to monthly bills and raising energy awareness in a hard-to-reach group.

Attendees were all at different points on the learning curve with community solar. Representatives from the City of Fort Collins Utilities, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and the city of Lamar, Colorado, shared their experiences during the free workshop.

Attendees were all at different points on the learning curve with community solar. Representatives from the City of Fort Collins Utilities, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative and the city of Lamar, Colorado, shared their experiences during the free workshop. (Photo by Jill Cliburn)

Ask for more
WAPA thanks the Community Solar Value Project for partnering with us to put on Community Solar Procurements, Programs and Pricing. Utilities are still learning about this form of distributed energy and how to gain the most benefits from it for their customers and their own operations. To learn more, check out the workshop presentations, along with past CSVP webinars. Also, let us know if there are other types of workshops you would like to see WAPA present, or partners or subject matter experts we could collaborate with.

SMUD sponsors solar model car competition

Electric vehicles (EVs) hold a lot of promise for greening the transportation sector, and could do even more if the electricity that powers them comes from the sun. To encourage the next generation of consumers to think about automotive innovation, SMUD You are leaving WAPA.gov. sponsors an annual Solar Car Race for high school students.

Students competing in the Solar Car Race all start with the same kit and then add custom touches.

Students competing in the Solar Car Race all start with the same kit and then add custom touches. (Photo by SMUD)

More than 300 high school students competed in this year’s event, held at Cosumnes River College You are leaving WAPA.gov. on April 19, as part of Earth Week. The competition is open to any high school in SMUD’s service territory.

Community comes together
The race took place in the college’s quad, and the construction department designed and built the wooden race track used by the racers. The event also gives students an excellent opportunity to visit a community college campus and experience what it has to offer.

The Sacramento Electric Vehicle Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. and EV owners were also on hand to exhibit many models of available EVs and to discuss the technology and benefits of driving a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle.

Tools for students, teachers
SMUD provides each school registered with up to six solar car kits, which contain a 12-watt solar module from PITSCO You are leaving WAPA.gov. and car accessories from Solar MadeYou are leaving WAPA.gov. Using the same solar panels, motors and gear sets as a jumping-off point, the students choose their own materials and design the car they are going to race. The entries compete for not only the fastest car, but also for best design, most sustainable, best engineering and most creative design. Each participating student receives an event t-shirt, also provided by SMUD.

In addition to the kits, SMUD also offers professional development workshops for teachers interested in using the solar-powered cars in their science or physics curriculums. A variety of workshops and training, exhibits and online resources are available to both teachers and students through SMUD’s Energy Education & Technology Center.

Racing toward future
Participation in the solar car race has doubled since it began 13 years ago, which is not surprising in a territory that has around 8,000 electric vehicles. The Solar Car Race is loosely based on the Department of Energy’s Junior Solar Sprint, a classroom-based national competition of solar-powered model cars for students, grades six through eight.

As a community-owned, not-for-profit utility, SMUD is focused on balancing its commitment to low rates with the goal of supporting regional vitality, and education is central to that effort. Through events like the race, the Solar Regatta and an Energy Fair, SMUD gives back to its community, while helping to develop the professionals who will create the energy solutions of the future.

Source: SMUD, 4/24/17

LEDs relight Mountain Village

San Miguel Power AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site serving Colorado’s Western Slope, recently teamed up with Cooperative Business Lighting Partners Redirecting to a non-government site and the town of Mountain Village, Colorado, to replace 4,828 conventional light bulbs with efficient LEDs, or light-emitting diodes.

The Relight Mountain Village program provided town residents with deeply discounted LED bulbs to improve lighting efficiency in their homes or businesses. Cooperative Business Lighting Partners sold a variety of LED bulbs at a reduced rate to Mountain Village residents. San Miguel funded the discount with a generous rebate passed through from its wholesale power provider, Tri-State Generation and Transmission AssociationRedirecting to a non-government site along with $20,000 from the town’s energy reduction projects budget.

Cooperative Business Lighting Partners estimates that the project will reduce the town’s overall energy use for lighting by 518,998 kilowatt-hours annually, and have a payback period of less than four months.

Learn more about this stunningly successful community program in SMPA’s December newsletter (page 2).

Source: San Miguel Power Association, 12/2/14

ENERGY STAR launches ‘Change the World’ tour

EnergyStarLogoEnvironmental Protection Agency Celebrates ENERGY STAR Day, Highlights Youth Leaders Protecting the Climate

To raise awareness about the value of energy efficiency to our communities, the ENERGY STAR program is taking its show on the road during the month of October.

The Change the World tour started in Pinconning, Michigan, Oct. 2, when ENERGY STAR partner Community Energy hosted an efficiency makeover of the town’s Boys & Girls Club. Tour events in Western’s territory include building energy-efficient homes in San Francisco, educating low-income customers about saving energy in Colorado and planting trees in Southern California. The tour ends in Arizona on Oct. 28, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony for an extensive energy-efficiency upgrade on a nonprofit housing facility for homeless veterans in Phoenix.

Get on the bandwagon
Check the tour schedule to get ideas about ways your utility could partner with ENERGY STAR to improve your community. In the meantime, you can turn every month into Energy Awareness Month with materials from ENERGY STAR. Let schools in your territory know they can download door hangers and display signs to spread the word about energy efficiency all year round. ENERGY STAR suggests other activities to turn kids into efficiency allies:

  • Take the ENERGY STAR pledge and commit to taking actions such as adjusting thermostats, adding insulation and using ENERGY STAR-certified lighting.
  • Attend local events such as energy efficiency fairs and energy-saving demonstrations and workshops. Current local events can be found on the ENERGY STAR’s Across America map.
  • Share energy-saving stories online, and inspire others to take action.
  • Sign kids up to join Team ENERGY STAR, where they will learn smart energy use with easy-to-download games, tips and tools and activities.

And don’t forget to share your plans and events with Energy Services so we can brag about your accomplishments in the Energy Services Bulletin.

Help for utilities, consumers
For more than 20 years, the ENERGY STAR program has provided utilities with reliable resources for managing loads and building lasting customer relationships. Americans have saved nearly $230 billion on utility bills, preventing more than 1.7 billion metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions.

Today, the ENERGY STAR label can be found on more than 65 different kinds of products, as well as new homes and buildings. Products that have earned the ENERGY STAR designation prevent greenhouse gas emissions by meeting strict energy-efficiency specifications set by the government. For more information about ENERGY STAR, call 888-STAR-YES (888-782-7937) toll free. Source: Environmental Protection Agency, 10/2/2014

DOE offers $15 million to help communities develop solar deployment plans

As part of its “SunShot Initiative,” the Energy Department (DOE) is offering $15 million to help communities develop multi-year solar plans to install affordable solar electricity for homes and businesses.

The Solar Market Pathways funding opportunity is intended to support regional, state, tribal and locally-driven efforts to develop multi-year solar deployment plans that will help provide business certainty and establish a clear path for the next five to ten years of solar deployment. A DOE webinar on April 22Redirecting to a non-government site  will cover types of projects under consideration and what to expect from the concept paper and application process.

DOE expects awardees to convene stakeholder processes to develop their plan, and form subgroups, if necessary, to address specific topics such as the net benefits and costs of solar electricity (to and from the grid). Subgroups might also develop solar deployment programs including commercial property assessed clean energy financing, shared solar or incorporating solar within local emergency response plans.

Concept papers are due May 28 and full applications are due July 3. Read the press release for more information, including registration for the April 22 webinar, or see the funding opportunity announcement (Reference # DE-FOA-0001071).