Palo Alto issues request for renewable power

With a target of receiving 33 percent of its electric supply from renewable resources by 2015, Palo Alto Redirecting to a non-government site has issued a request for proposals for renewable power. The California municipal utility is seeking contracts for power for terms ranging from five to 30 years from any resource that meets the California Energy Commission’s Renewable Portfolio Standard eligibility criteria (with a strong preference for proposals that would qualify as Portfolio Content Category 1 Redirecting to a non-government site).

Palo Alto is looking to contract for projects (or off-take shares of projects) yielding between 20 and 60 gigawatt-hours of electric output per year, with deliveries beginning between 2014 and 2016. Proposals are due by October 9.

In June, the city approved three 30-year power purchase agreements for a total of 80 megawatts (MW) of solar photovoltaic power at “extremely low rates.” The flat price of about $69/megawatt-hours “was lower than any previously approved renewable energy projects over the last eight years,” Palo Alto said. The delivery of the power from the new solar facilities is scheduled to start by January 2017.  Source: Public Power Daily Redirecting to a non-government site, 9/16/13

Renewables information easy to access on enhanced USDA Energy Web

USDA’s Energy Web site, launched in January 2012, contains agricultural, economic and social data on renewable energy to assist stakeholders, public users and state and local governments in identifying opportunities, activities and USDA projects in renewable energy.

The Energy Web offers several associated online tools, such as USDA Energy Investment Maps, the Renewable Energy Tool and Investment Projects Reports, along with helpful state links to energy resources within individual states. These features allow users to see where investments have been made, follow projects, evaluate upcoming opportunities and contact regional USDA offices for technical assistance.

Responding to suggestions from users, USDA recently updated the online tools to provide new resources; new reporting features and the investment data, current thru August 2012. Ongoing comments and suggestions are welcomed to help USDA make Energy Web the go-to site for renewable energy.

FortZED: Net Zero Energy in Action

A lot of nothing is going on in a Fort Collins, Colo., community these days. That is, nothing in the sense of the net energy the community uses.

The project is called FortZED (Zero Energy District) a community-driven initiative introduced in 2007 and designed to create one of the world’s largest net-zero energy districts in an existing community. The net-zero energy concept means generating or purchasing as much renewable energy as is used on an annual basis.

The FortZED district encompasses approximately four square miles that include downtown Fort Collins and nearby Colorado State University. It includes almost 6,000 residential and commercial customers (representing about 10 to 15 percent of Fort Collins Utilities’ Redirecting to a non-government site distribution system), eight distribution feeders, approximately 80 MW demand and more than 200,000 MWh/year usage. In a study with the Department of Energy, the utility was able to demonstrate peak reduction of over 20 percent on a circuit in the FortZED area during the demonstration period. Read moreRedirecting to a non-government site Source: Public Power Daily, 11/12/12

New program offers loans for residential energy-efficiency, renewable improvements

Utilities with residential customers who need help financing whole-house improvements or renewable energy systems should explore the PowerSaver Loan Program Redirecting to a non-government site.  The Electric and Gas Industries Association Redirecting to a non-government site (EGIA) has teamed up with Sun West Mortgage Company to create this Federal Housing Administration-sponsored financing program. 

Qualified homeowners may borrow up to $25,000 for energy-efficient and renewable energy improvements to their primary residence.  The allowable improvements include installing insulation, duct sealing, replacing doors and windows, central heating and cooling systems, water heaters, solar panels, energy-efficient roofing and ground-source heat pumps. Coupled with competitive interest rates, PowerSaver offers finance terms of up to 15 years for qualified energy-efficiency home improvements and up to 20 years for renewable energy improvements.  

These competitive interest rate loans are offered through pre-screened EGIA GEOSmart authorized contractors to eligible homeowners at no cost to the contractors. Learn about the requirements Redirecting to a non-government site for becoming a PowerSaver contractor.  

Sun West is now accepting applications Redirecting to a non-government site for California homes, and is expanding PowerSaver to Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah on July 1 as part of its nationwide rollout concluding over the next few months.

Energy self-sufficiency the topic of tribal webinar series

Join Western, the Department of Energy’s (DOE) Office of Indian Energy Policy and Programs, DOE’s Tribal Energy Program for a free webinar, Overview of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Program, Jan. 25, 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM MST.

 This event is part of an ongoing series of webinars to promote tribal energy sufficiency and foster economic development and employment on tribal lands through renewable energy and energy-efficiency technologies. The webinars will:

  • Discuss methods for tribes to evaluate and develop their renewable energy resources,
  • Help them build the knowledge and skills essential for sustainable energy projects,
  • Outline a process of strategic energy planning for tribes interested in improving their energy security, sovereignty and local economy,
  • Provide renewable energy and energy-efficiency information for tribal decision makers, and
  • Offer ways for tribes and utilities to partner in renewable energy and energy-efficiency development.

The webinar series began in August 2011 and will continue through September 2012.  Future topics include:

Feb. 29 – Unwinding Transmission Policies
Learn what transmission policy is, how it is established and who enforces it. Discussions will cover today’s policy issues, such as Order 1000 (Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation), and their potential impact on transmission resources. Register now.

March 28 – Understanding the Interconnection and Transmission Service Queues
Western Area Power Administration has more than 16,000 megawatts of proposed renewable resources in its collective Large Generator Interconnection Queues, representing more than 79 requests. Learn about the procedure for interconnection, how to request transmission service and what tribes can do to gain access to the transmission system. Register now.

May 30 – Today’s Energy Supply – Yesterday’s Grid
Join an informative discussion on how utilities’ generation portfolios are changing—often faster than the grid infrastructure that supports it. Learn how grid operators are integrating new generation and demand (load) response technologies into a system that was not designed for these tasks. Presentations will include transmission studies from the Western Grid Group and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Register now.

July 25 – Grid Reliability – Impacts to Tribal Renewable Projects
In 2008, NERC Reliability Standards Compliance became mandatory, with fines for non-compliance. This has raised the importance of compliance programs throughout the electric industry. This webinar provides an overview of the purpose and organization of a compliance program, and how tribal renewable projects can be impacted by reliability requirements. Register now.

Sept. 26 – DOE Office of Indian Energy’s START Program Status Updates
Get your update on the DOE Office of Indian Energy’s Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) and the range of projects that were selected in 2012. START and Alaska START aim to advance clean energy generation in Indian Country by providing Native American tribes and Alaska Native governments with strategic technical assistance. Register now.

Presentations from past webinars are available from the Public Renewables Partnership and will be updated with each webinar.

The EPA Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that supports commercial and institutional energy users’ procurement of green power by offering expert advice, technical support, tools and resources.

Learn how utilities can support renewable projects in schools

Free webinar series helps utilities save money and better serve their customers

Join the Clean Energy Ambassadors (CEA) Tuesday, Sept. 20, at noon Central Time for the next free event in the Lunchtime Webinar Series, Utility Support for Renewables in the Schools External link information.
An executive at GE stated a few years ago, that “wind is not a science project anymore,” meaning, of course, that wind technology had become a reliable, mainstream resource for utilities. The same is true of photovoltaic systems. By the time today’s fourth-graders graduate high school, wind and solar power could well make up 20 percent or more of most utility resource portfolios. So what can utilities do to introduce school kids to the resources that will be a part of their not-too-distant energy future?

This webinar explores how community-owned utilities nationwide are helping to bring working renewable energy demonstration projects and curricula to local schools and how you can join them—whether your utility prefers to own the generation or to facilitate school- or third-party ownership.

Speakers will share current success stories of consumer-owned utilities that encourage renewable energy in the schools, including a school-based wind projects in Iowa and South Dakota and school-based solar projects at co-ops and public power utilities nationwide. Larry Flowers, who helped initiate the Wind Energy for Schools program for US DOE and is now promoting school programs through the American Wind Energy Association External link information will talk about his experience working with electric co-ops and public power. Jill Cliburn, a regular contributor to the Clean Energy Ambassadors’ blog, brings her field experience to a discussion of School Solar Best Practices, including using voluntary subscriptions, low-cost financing and power purchase agreements to help support school solar projects.
CEA Webinars are held from 12-1 pm Central time (11 a.m. – noon Mountain Time) on the third Tuesday of each month. Because they are focused on the needs of consumer-owned utilities primarily in the Midwest and Plains states, the discussion can be specific, candid and informal. Register today for this free webinar to secure your place.

USDA grants fund renewable, energy-efficiency projects in Western territory

More than 180 agricultural producers and rural small businesses in Western’s 15-state territory received grants from the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) to help them reduce their energy use.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced on Aug. 17 the awarding of funds through USDA’s Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) totaling more than $11.6 million and covering all 50 states. “These investments enable our farmers, ranchers and rural small business owners to develop renewable energy systems and make energy-efficiency improvements that will save them thousands of dollars in energy costs each year,” said Vilsack.

Award funding  is contingent on the recipient meeting the conditions of the grant agreement. Grants can finance up to 25 percent of a project’s cost, not to exceed $500,000 for renewables or $250,000 for efficiency. Eligible projects include energy-saving equipment, systems or improvements, energy audits and renewable energy development assistance. Applicants must be project owners located in a rural area, and the project must be technically feasible. An example is the Simpsons Brothers Greenhouses in Ovid, Mich., which received an $18,000 grant to make energy-efficiency improvements, such as installing greenhouse energy curtains designed to reduce energy consumption by 42 percent.

State, tribal or local government agencies; higher education institutions; rural electric cooperatives or public power utilities are eligible to apply for REAP grants. Utilities may also bring the benefits of energy efficiency and renewable energy into their communities and strengthen customer relations by helping consumers apply. Farmers, ranchers and small business owners may need energy audits or other types of technical assistance to improve their chances of receiving funding.

If your utility assisted a customer with applying for a REAP grant, share your experience with Energy Services. If you would like more information on the Rural Energy for America Program, contact your Rural Development state program office. Download the list of this year’s REAP awardees to see what kind of projects are receiving funding.

Webinar offers tribes guidance for winning utility renewable RFPs

Join Western and the DOE Tribal Energy Program for a FREE webinar, Aug. 17, on Challenges and Opportunities with Tribal Renewable Energy Development, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Mountain Time.

Utilities in Western’s 15-state territory need renewable energy and renewable energy certificates to meet goals and mandates. Native American tribes have abundant renewable resources on tribal lands, and jobs and economic development would come from building generation projects. This webinar is for tribes who are interested in responding to renewable Requests for Proposals from utilities, or who simply want to learn more about the competitive power market. 

There are many challenges that beset renewable project development—from transmission interconnection and availability to conditions that are unique to each tribe. Speakers from utilities, government agencies and developers will offer their perspectives on how tribes can navigate the obstacles to create winning partnerships that result in successful tribal renewable projects. Expect frank discussions on what utilities expect in a tribal proposal to a renewable RFP, along with examples of success. See the full agenda.

Register online, or contact Guy Nelson at 541-994-4670 or 541-921-1127 for more information. Due to limited space, early registration is STRONGLY encouraged.

Free webinar focuses on utility renewables projects

Working with Utilities on Renewable Energy & Energy Efficiency Projects, on  April 28, at 10 a.m. MT,  describes how municipalities can improve their economy, save energy and integrate energy efficiency and sustanable energy technologies with little or no expense. Speaker Vincent DeVito of Bowditch & Dewey LLP offers compelling reasons why utilities would benefit from working with communities and developers on renewable energy projects.

Following the presentation, participants will be able to ask questions and share their own experiences.

Although there is no cost for the webinar, registration is required. Participants will receive login information after registering.

This is the second in a five-part series, “Creating a Plan for Growing Your Local Economy Through Energy Savings and No- or Low-Cost Sustainable Energy,” hosted by Energy Forefront. For more information, call 303-281-9111.

Join us at the Customer Connections Conference

The American Public Power Association’s annual Customer Connections Conference happens Oct. 24 through 27, in Anaheim, Calif. This event promises lots of valuable information and insight for utilities at a time when we must create a new definition of customer service.  That’s why Breaking News will be covering Customer Connections live.

Bookmark this site and check in frequently during the conference to learn what the experts are saying about designing and implementing programs that meet your customers’ needs and help your utility meet its goals. We will be reporting from these dual track sessions (Pacific Time):

Monday, Oct. 25

  • 10:30-noon:  Customer Service Roundtable
  • 1:30-2:45p.m.:  Can You Prove the Savings for Your Energy Efficiency Program?
  • 3-4:15p.m.:  Social Media: Building the Case, Executing the Strategy, Capturing the Learnings

Tuesday, Oct. 26

  • 8:30-10 a.m.:  Top Five Smart Grid Communications Challenges
  • 10:15-11:45 a.m.:  New Age Distributed Generation: Emerging On-site Generation Options for Your Customers
  • 1:15-2:45 p.m.:  Integrated Marketing Communications: What’s the Right Mix?
  • 3:00-4:15 p.m.:  Joint Action/State/Regional Organization Roundtable

Our coverage isn’t just for those who can’t make it to Anaheim. Attendees are free to add their views in the comments section, too. Or e-mail the editor, and you just might get yourself a guest contributor spot.