IREC releases energy storage guide for policymakers

Webinar April 26
1:30-2:45 p.m. MT

A new tool published by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council, Charging Ahead: An Energy Storage Guide for State Policymakers You are leaving WAPA.gov. provides regulators and other decision makers with specific guidance on key issues for policy consideration, including foundational policies for advanced energy storage—a new generation of technologies characterized by flexible operating capabilities and diverse applications.

The characteristics that make energy storage so valuable and attractive also make it challenging to address in policy and regulatory contexts.

Despite its game-changing potential to transform the electricity system, energy storage is vastly underutilized in the U.S. electricity sector. Its deployment remains hampered by the current features of regional, state and federal regulatory frameworks, traditional utility planning and decision-making paradigms, electricity markets and aspects of the technology itself.

To date, state policymakers and electric system stakeholders have largely navigated energy storage issues without the benefit of a roadmap to inform key regulatory and policy pathways for widespread deployment.

Charging Ahead aims to address that gap by providing an in-depth discussion of the most urgent actions to take in order to enable viable energy storage markets that effectively empower states to take advantage of the full suite of advanced energy storage capabilities. The guide identifies four foundational policy actions states should consider taking:

  1. Clarify how energy storage systems are classified to enable shared ownership and operation functions in restructured markets
  2. Require proactive consideration of energy storage in utility planning effort
  3. Create mechanisms to capture the full value stream of storage services
  4. Ensure fair, streamlined and cost-effective grid access for energy storage system

In addition to these foundational policies, the report provides background on energy storage applications, analyzes regulatory actions states are currently taking, and also puts some context around the valuation of energy storage. Read more.

A free webinar You are leaving WAPA.gov. on April 26 will look at how the report can equip regulators and other stakeholders to integrate energy storage technologies onto the grid. Recommended state policy actions to address energy storage barriers will also be discussed.

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 4/19/17

IREC releases new shared renewables program guide

Artwork by Interstate Renewable Energy Council

The national market for shared renewable energy programs has grown significantly since the Interstate Renewable Energy Council You are leaving WAPA.gov. (IREC) published its Model Rules for Shared Renewable Energy Programs in 2009 and the update of those rules in 2013. Today, interest in shared renewables is growing, along with many more mandatory statewide and voluntary utility programs. To stay current with those industry changes, IREC has released the updated Five Guiding Principles for Shared Renewable Energy.

While many of the original principles remain, the modifications are intended to reflect evolutions in the market, as well as the insights IREC has gained from working with states creating the earliest shared programs. These guiding principles highlight the benefits of shared renewable energy programs to participants, the renewable energy industry, utilities and all energy consumers.

The new Five Guiding Principles are also intended to broadly define what constitutes a shared renewable energy program with a focus on the consumer experience. IREC defines “shared renewable energy” or “shared renewables” programs as programs that enable multiple customers to share the economic benefits of one renewable energy system via their individual utility bills (typically through bill credits). Other “community” renewables programs, such as green tariff shared renewables, group purchasing or aggregate net metering programs are not included under the definition.

The five principles in summary are:

  1. Shared renewable energy programs should expand renewable energy access to all energy consumers, including those who cannot install renewable energy on their own properties.
  2. Shared renewable energy programs should provide a fair value proposition to participants and tangible economic benefits on their utility bills.
  3. Shared renewable energy programs should be consumer-centric and accommodate diverse consumer preferences.
  4. Shared renewable energy programs should encourage fair market competition.
  5. Shared renewable energy programs should be additive to and supportive of existing renewable energy programs, and not undermine them.

Additional IREC resources on shared renewable energy programs include:

Source: Interstate Renewable Energy Council, 2/15/17

APPA publication helps utilities report sustainability activities

It is hard enough to agree on a definition of sustainability, let alone measure and account for it. Yet the general public, along with local, state and federal governments are increasingly calling upon electric utilities to demonstrate sustainable operation. To help power providers meet these demands, the American Public Power Association You are leaving WAPA.gov. is offering a new publication, Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities. You are leaving WAPA.gov.

Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities

(Artwork by American Public Power Association)

Use this resource to learn how to account for and report your utility’s positive economic, environmental and social impacts. You will discover how to build, maintain and use reports to impact your strategy.

Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities describes current trends in sustainability accounting and offers guidance on reporting to stakeholders and employees on your sustainable activities. This publication provides you with up-to-date practices on sustainability accounting and reporting by:

  • Explaining what sustainability reporting is
  • Introducing you to standards-setting entities
  • Describing processes for gathering sustainability statistics
  • Showing how to build and maintain sustainability reports
  • Demonstrating how sustainability reporting can impact utility strategy

Written by Megan Decker and Russ Hissom of Baker Tilly Virchow Krause, You are leaving WAPA.gov. Sustainability Reporting for Electric Utilities will help to establish your utility as a good steward of the resources it uses to deliver reliable and affordable energy to customers.

Source: American Public Power Association, 3/14/16

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 guide supports scaling up residential energy-efficiency programs

The Energy Department’s State and Local Energy Efficiency Action Network (SEE Action) teamed up with the Home Performance Coalition (HPC) to create A Policymaker’s Guide to Scaling Home Energy Upgrades. SEEHPC

Released on Oct. 1, the guide is designed to provide state and local policymakers with a comprehensive set of tools for launching or accelerating residential energy-efficiency programs. HPC President and CEO Brian T. Castelli said, “The work within this guide will empower policymakers with the knowledge they need to create new and effective energy-efficiency programs while strengthening those that already exist. This in turn strengthens our industry as a whole.”

There has never been a better time to launch initiatives to promote residential energy-efficiency savings. Over the past several decades, residential retrofit programs have demonstrated that energy-efficiency measures contribute to achieving multiple benefits. Among them are reducing home energy consumption, stabilizing improvements for the grid by shaving peak loads, saving consumers millions on utility bills and significantly reducing carbon emissions.

The 2009 stimulus program added to the store of lessons learned that guide authors drew on to create new strategies for taking residential energy efficiency to scale.  The guide will help policymakers, including state and local executives, legislators, public utility commissioners and advisory staff to take full advantage of these new policy developments.

The four categories of policies outlined in the guide focus on approaches that have provided a particularly effective framework for successful energy-efficiency programs:

  • Incentives and financing
  • Making the value of energy efficiency visible in the real estate market
  • Data access and standardization

Supporting utility system procurement of energy efficiency These policies are designed to overcome barriers in both the consumer and utility markets. In the consumer market, policies address:

  • Challenges related to the quantification of savings
  • Insufficiently compelling value proposition
  • High first costs

Contractor delivery system challenges Policies for the utility system markets address:

  • Non-alignment between utility incentives and energy efficiency
  • Design of cost-effectiveness tests that systematically undervalues energy efficiency

Local and state policymakers will find the information they need to build smart programs that address financing, incentives, the value of energy efficiency in real estate transactions, disincentives in the utility sector (e.g. reform of cost effectiveness testing), and evaluation, monitoring and verification issues.  The guide also highlights the keys to implementing sound policies.

Visit SEE Action to download the full report, and while you are there, check out the other great resources this program has to offer.

Source: Home Performance Coalition, 10/5/15

Guide to Purchasing Green Power Updated

Through the collaborative efforts of EPA’s Green Power Partnership, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Federal Energy Management Program, the World Resources Institute, and the Center for Resource Solutions the Guide to Purchasing Green Power has been updated to include new and updated information on green power purchasing. The guide provides current and potential buyers of green power with information about the different types of green power products, the benefits of green power purchasing, and how to capture the greatest benefit from a green power purchase. The updated guide and other useful resources can be downloaded from the Green Power Partnership’s publication library.