Still time to register for free community solar workshop

June 7-8
Golden, Colorado

Community Solar Procurements, Programs and Pricing, a free regional workshop for utilities, is filling up fast but there is still room for a few more attendees.

Community solar projects are a successful business model where multiple customers share in a large solar array, paid for through individual utility bills. It has seen such rapid growth across the country that it has become almost commonplace. Despite that fact, utilities are still learning about every aspect of this resource. It is important to get your project off on the right foot or correct missteps before they mushroom.

WAPA’s Renewable Resources Program has teamed up with the Community Solar Value Program You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CSVP) to make it affordable for power providers to share best practices in developing this type of generation. There is no registration fee for this event; attendees need only pay for their travel to Golden, Colorado. “Helping our preference utility customers learn about community solar and other renewable technologies, as well as tools and resources for smooth integration are a core part of WAPA’s Renewable Resource Program,” explained Randy Manion, WAPA Renewable Resources program manager.

The agenda You are leaving WAPA.gov. draws from an investigation conducted by CSVP into utilities’ best practices and innovations in community solar. From design to procurement to marketing, participants will hear from expert speakers and utility peers who will share their experiences. Presentations by WAPA customers include Kit Carson Electric Cooperative You are leaving WAPA.gov. on requests for proposals and Sacramento Municipal Utility District You are leaving WAPA.gov. on integrating community solar with distributed systems.

WAPA’s Electric Power Training Center (EPTC) in Golden, Colorado, is hosting the event. The workshop will begin at 3:00 p.m. on Wednesday, June 7, with a “lightning round” of community solar best-practice presentations and a tour of EPTC’s grid simulator, followed by a networking reception. On Thursday, June 8, the workshop will convene from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., with breaks and a networking lunch provided by Extensible Energy LLC included.

Registration is free, but required. Participants only cover travel and hotel costs and incidentals.

Don’t miss this opportunity to explore this promising strategy for incorporating solar power into your resource mix.

Source: Community Solar Value Project, 5/17/17

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.

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.

Resource planning course includes renewables, new technologies in mix

The time has come to start preparing to meet the challenges of resource planning in a new climate of renewable mandates, consumer expectations, federal regulations and rapidly advancing generation and storage technologies. Resource Planning for Power Systems: Integrating Renewables and New Technologies You are leaving Western's site., a one-day course being offered at Western’s Electric Power Training Center (EPTC) on April 8, is a good place to begin.

New alternatives to conventional generation are already changing capacity planning, portfolio evaluation and resource procurement decisions. Many planners—even experienced ones—may be wondering how to address these issues while still ensuring reliable and economic operation of the bulk power system.

This course will show attendees how to plan their future resource mix in the face of uncertainty. They will gain an understanding of the effect public policies, such as environmental regulations, have on the resource mix and system operations. Presentations will cover strategies for successfully integrating variable resources, storage technologies and demand-response programs into a comprehensive plan.

The agenda is designed to offer something for professionals involved in every aspect of power delivery, from utility system planners and power system operators to emerging technology vendors. Developers of transmission, renewable energy, energy storage and demand-response projects will benefit from the course, as will regulators and lawmakers.

Learn from experts
The instructors bring decades of experience in resource planning to an information-packed schedule. Attendees will learn planning basics, including commonly used calculations, from Michael Henderson, the Regional Planning and Coordination director for Independent System Operator New England. Brian Walshe, president of ION Consulting, will discuss how these principles apply to specific scenarios and how factors like regulations, environmental policies and fuel supplies can affect them.

The case of Hawaiian Electric Company (HECO) offers a close look at the real-world impact of aggressive renewable energy goals on resource planning. HECO Renewable Energy Planning Director Dora Nakfuji will be on hand to share her utility’s experiences.

Here to help
The EPTC will continue to be a resource to help utilities keep pace with rapid-fire changes in the electric industry. Randy Manion, Western’s Renewable Resource Program manager, will discuss plans to enhance the training center’s course offerings to include advanced renewable integration training using the EPTC’s unique model power system. Dr. Bri-Mathias Hodge, manager for the Power System Design and Studies Group at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, will join Manion to talk about NREL’s Visually Informed Wind Forecasting Decision Making Platform Project.

“The EPTC is moving forward on several fronts to make this happen,” said Manion. “We have partnerships underway with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory involving advanced visualization tools for control room operators. We are establishing an EPTC Utility Working group with support from some of the electric utilities leading the country in actively addressing renewable integration. Also, Western is developing an EPTC roadmap with our core partners including the Bureau of Reclamation and Army Corps of Engineers,” he added. 

Resource Planning for Power Systems will take place at the EPTC in Golden, Colorado, convenient to several hotels and restaurants. The cost is $795, with discounts available for government employees, including municipalities. If you work for a government agency, wish to register multiple people, have questions or need more information, please contact the registrar at 720-491-1173.

Tell us what you want from Energy Services

When Western’s Energy Services regional representatives get together to talk about the program, it is not a subdued affair. The five regions within Western are all different from each other, and each representative brings a different perspective on what customers in their service territory need. One thing we do share is a passion for serving our customers, so the discussions can get pretty lively. At the end of a good meeting, however, we walk away with new ideas, renewed determination and a better understanding of the challenges customers face in other regions.

That is a pretty good description of what happened at the annual “face-to-face” meeting Energy Services held at Western Headquarters in October. The meeting gives Energy Services representatives an opportunity to plan for the coming year and to let management, the marketing team and the Equipment Loan Program know what kind of support their efforts need. This year’s meeting was particularly crucial since Western recently parted company with Energy Experts. We are exploring ways to offer customers more relevant technical assistance to replace the resources of the online service provider.

Feeling changes
The utility industry is standing on shifting ground, and power providers across Western’s service territory are feeling the changes. Complying with new regulations, joining a regional transmission organization, competing with new technologies and services, planning for extreme weather and meeting renewable goals and mandates are only a few of the issues keeping customers awake at night.

As we talked (and talked!) about how we can help our customers manage these and other concerns, one word kept coming up: training. The old saying, “Knowledge is power,” is old for a reason. Understanding even just the basics about a situation gives you more control and more options for dealing with it.

Western is in a great position to deliver training, too, in part, thanks to its Electric Power Training Center. For years, EPTC has delivered the highest quality power systems operation training to diverse audiences from power plant operators to dispatchers to support staff who just want to learn more about the business. It  streamlines the process of enrolling participants and hosting workshops.

Creating new product
Energy Services would like to extend EPTC course offerings to other aspects of utility business, such as long-range resource planning, load management and renewables and efficiency integration. Our contacts at the departments of Energy and Agriculture, utilities, universities and professional organizations give us access to experts on a wide array of topics. Training could be offered as on-site workshops or webinars, depending on interest and subject matter.

Speaking of subject matter, this is where you, our customer, can help us. The regional representatives came up with a long list of potential training topics, and we need your help to prioritize it. Please look over the following topics and select your top five concerns:

Your input required
It is quite a list, and likely far from complete. Feel free to add your own ideas about training that could help you or your staff feel more prepared to deal with today’s challenges and the ones you see coming.

Send your suggestions for workshops (or publications, or other types of technical assistance) to your regional representative or to the Energy Services manager. Energy Services is, after all, your program, and we are eager to hear what you want it to be.