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.

Learn about green power marketing at Renewable Energy Markets 2016

San Francisco, California
Oct. 16-18

rem2016logo350Caught between customers who are concerned about sustainability and state and federal environmental mandates, power providers are being called upon to add more clean energy to their electricity supply. Whether your utility is ahead of the curve or facing a steep learning curve, Renewable Energy Markets 2016 You are leaving WAPA.gov. (REM2016) offers a variety of resources to help you meet your green power goals.

Now in its 20th year, this annual conference attracts stakeholders across the renewable energy industry. Generators, marketers, utility professionals, purchasers, policymakers and regional representatives will come to San Francisco, Oct. 16-18, to discuss pressing issues, trends and opportunities in the national and international green power markets. “Any electric utility looking at expanding its voluntary green pricing program or getting involved in community- and utility-scale renewables development should consider attending this event,” said Randy Manion, WAPA Renewable Resources Program manager.

Utility concerns addressed
The agenda covers much territory that utilities, both large and small, will find relevant, including sessions focusing on issues specific to power providers.

The annual Renewable Energy Markets conference gathers stakeholders from across the industry to discuss issues that concern power providers, whether they are just beginning to explore options or have an established clean power program.

The annual Renewable Energy Markets conference gathers stakeholders from across the industry to discuss issues that concern power providers, whether they are just beginning to explore options or have an established clean power program. (Photo by Resource Solutions Center)

“Utility and Corporate Roles in a Changing Market” explores what changes utilities can expect in a world where non-utility customers are increasingly executing their own power purchase agreements. At the center of “Innovative Utility Products” are three case studies showing how utilities improved customer relations while adding more renewables to their portfolio. The challenges, successes and customer benefits of building energy storage into utility operations is the topic of “Utility Integration of Emerging Storage & Renewables.”

Those sessions only scratch the surface of what power providers can learn at REM2016. For utility employees who are just wading into renewables procurement there is a pre-conference workshop, “Voluntary Renewable Energy Markets 101.” A two-part presentation on how the Clean Power Plan might affect the renewable energy markets will be of interest to anyone involved in power purchasing.

Many utilities already have strategies for increasing renewables, such as community choice aggregation and community solar farms. Attendees will be able to examine these programs and others from multiple viewpoints throughout the conference.

Honor leaders
An event that attracts so many deeply committed clean energy stakeholders offers the perfect opportunity to recognize exceptional achievement in the industry. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Center for Resource Solutions You are leaving WAPA.gov. (CRS) will present the Green Power Leadership Awards at a luncheon on Monday.

The annual Green Power Leadership Awards honor consumers, businesses and organizations that have helped to further the green power market. The CRS Market Development Awards recognize individuals, companies or other renewable energy industry leaders that are building the market for renewable energy.

The EPA Partner Awards recognize leading Green Power Partners and Communities based on their green power purchase or use of on-site renewable energy applications, overall green power strategy and impact on the renewable resources market. WAPA customer Silicon Valley Power You are leaving WAPA.gov. was among last year’s recipients.

Stop by, say hi
WAPA is participating in REM2016 as a supporting organization and will have a booth on the exhibit floor. Manion will be there to answer your questions about our Renewable Resources Program, Energy Services and the Electric Power Training Center.

“I always welcome the chance to meet with customers, learn about their needs and discuss how WAPA can help them meet their resource planning goals,” Manion said. “But I rarely have the advantage of being able to refer them to so many experts in one place. That is the exciting thing about this event.”