Archive for community choice aggregation

Nexamp installs Northeast’s largest community solar project at ski resort

Nexamp announced the completion of construction at its first community solar project, the 2.3-MW “Nexamp Peak” at Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort, the largest ski and snowboard resort in southern New England. Covering 12 acres near the base of the resort, the project is the largest community solar project in the northeast. Local community solar subscribers joined officials from Jiminy Peak and Nexamp for a ceremonial “flip the switch” celebration at Nexamp Peak. Commercial operation of the project will commence in the coming weeks, upon final approval from the local electric utility.

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Combined with Jiminy Peak’s existing 1.5-MW wind turbine, 75-kW cogeneration unit, and extensive conservation efforts, this new solar array will enable the resort to offset 90% of its energy needs from local renewable resources, making Jiminy Peak one of the greenest four-season resorts in the nation.

“It’s important to us that we operate our resort as good neighbors and good stewards of the environment, which is why we’ve worked so hard to leverage as many renewable energy sources as we can,” said Tyler Fairbank, CEO of Jiminy Peak Mountain Resort. “We were thrilled to partner with Nexamp on both of these fronts to add solar energy into the mix in such a way that the neighboring community can benefit from the facility, too.”

Over 100 local residents will directly benefit from the project through Nexamp’s Solarize My Bill community solar program. Participants will pay a 15% discounted rate for the value of the electricity generated by their share of the Nexamp-owned solar project, which will be applied directly to their existing electricity bills.

“This project marks a tremendous milestone for us,” said Zaid Ashai, CEO of Nexamp. “Massachusetts has an opportunity to be a national leader in solar energy, and its residents and businesses are more aware than ever of the potential for clean solar power to lower their utility costs. Nexamp’s fully-integrated project development capabilities, combined with our Solarize My Bill community solar program’s unparalleled savings, ensure that we will remain a key piece of the energy transformation within the Commonwealth and beyond.”

Marin Clean Energy focused on promoting local power projects as it celebrates its fifth service year

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By Richard Halstead, Marin Independent Journal

Marin Clean Energy officials are highlighting the joint power authority’s efforts to stimulate the creation of local renewable energy projects and local jobs as the authority celebrates its fifth year and the opening of its new San Rafael headquarters.

“Survival of the agency is no longer at issue,” said Marin County Supervisor Damon Connolly, a Marin Clean Energy board member. “The debate has changed; now it’s about continuing to meet goals and benchmarks that we set for ourselves.”

Marin Clean Energy is the first successful attempt in California to launch a new, public model for providing electricity to residents. It was founded to jump-start the use of renewable energy sources by stimulating demand; it offers customers the opportunity to buy electricity that is supplied by 50 to 100 percent renewable sources. It competes with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. as a retailer of electricity, but PG&E continues to maintain power lines and other electrical power infrastructure.

Marin Clean Energy serves about 137,500 customers in Marin County, the city of Richmond and the unincorporated areas of Napa County. It is adding the cities of San Pablo, Benicia and El Cerrito and expects to have a total of about 165,000 members by the end of this month.

Marin Supervisor Kate Sears, who heads Marin Clean Energy’s board of directors, said “we are extremely proud to announce that 10 new local projects will be providing service for our customers.”

Sears said that since Marin Clean Energy began serving customers it has generated more than 2,400 California jobs. She said Marin Clean Energy’s new solar projects will create more than 750,000 union work hours in just 12 months.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-San Rafael, said, “I’m especially excited about the new clean energy production that is now under construction here locally. That has always been one of the better parts of the promise of Marin Clean Energy, and it’s happening now.”

The agency has its naysayers, however. Jim Phelps of Novato, who has worked as a consultant to the electric and petrochemical industries, and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 1245, which represents PG&E’s electrical workers, have hammered MCE for its use of renewable energy certificates, typically referred to as RECs. RECs are tradable commodities that certify that 1 megawatt-hour of electricity has been generated from an eligible renewable energy resource.

Critics of the use of RECs assert that they are priced too low to effectively stimulate the creation of new, renewable energy production. Marin Clean Energy and others who use RECs acknowledge their shortcomings but say they are currently the only game in town.

Projects announced Thursday will produce about 63,000 megawatt hours per year, sufficient energy to meet the average electricity consumption of about 10,400 Marin Clean Energy residential customers, said Jamie Tuckey, a Marin Clean Energy spokeswoman.

In most cases, Marin Clean Energy has encouraged development of the projects by agreeing to purchase a certain amount of electricity at a specified price over the next 20 to 25 years. The largest project, 30,000 megawatt hours per year, is being financed by Waste Management and will convert landfill gas at Redwood Landfill in Novato to energy. The project is scheduled to begin generating energy this year and the contract is for 20 years.

The second-largest project, 19,800 megawatt hours per year, is slated to go online this year on land in Richmond that Marin Clean Energy will lease from Chevron. Marin Clean Energy is investing $125,000 from its local renewable development fund to help cover predevelopment costs for this project. Marin Clean Energy has an agreement to purchase the project from developer Stion in its seventh year.

Four of the projects will be in Novato, and one will be in Larkspur. The Larkspur project, 600 megawatt hours per year, will be a rooftop solar project.

Connolly said that since Marin Clean Energy began serving customers it has doubled the amount of renewable energy purchased for homes and businesses in its region, reduced greenhouse emissions by 59,421 tons, sourced green power from more than 30 California suppliers and saved customers more than $5.9 million in energy supply costs last year alone.

Marin Clean Energy, which has 23 full-time employees, celebrated its service anniversary with a party at its new headquarters at 1125 Tamalpais Ave. in San Rafael. It has moved from a 2,188-square-foot space to offices with 10,710 square feet. The meeting room in the new headquarters is named after former Marin County Supervisor Charles McGlashan, one of Marin Clean Energy’s founders who died of a sudden heart attack in 2011.

Connolly said Marin Clean Energy would not exist today if not for McGlashan’s “passionate dedication and leadership.”

 

LIPA approves solar feed-in tariff program

Originally published: June 29, 2012 8:03 PM

By MARK HARRINGTON  mark.harrington@newsday.com

LIPA trustees this week gave formal approval to a new solar program that will encourage construction of commercial solar power plants around Long Island that will sell electricity back to the authority much the way local power plants do, but without the emissions.

Approval of the so-called solar feed-in tariff on Thursday starts the ball rolling for companies and investors to construct mid- to large-size solar farms on commercial and municipal rooftops and other open spaces beginning July 15, when LIPA begins accepting applications.

Several solar installers at a LIPA trustees meeting this week applauded the program, saying it would likely lead to the creation of hundreds of jobs and up to 50 megawatts of combustion-less power. The Long Island Solar Energy Industries Association called it a “substantial and positive” step to building a local renewable energy portfolio. A megawatt of solar energy produces enough electricity to power 125 homes.

The $11.5 million program, paid for by ratepayers at around 44 cents a month, allows companies to negotiate 20-year contracts to sell solar power to LIPA for 22 cents a kilowatt hour. The program is considered ideal for companies with large warehouse roofs, which can accommodate dozens of solar panels.

The program differs from LIPA’s traditional rebate program — which continues — that gives ratepayers refunds of around a third of the cost of solar systems. With a feed-in tariff, there’s no rebate; producers are paid only for the actual energy their systems produce.

While the new solar program has caught the interest of installers and commercial firms, Michael Deering, vice president of environmental affairs at LIPA, said much of the early interest in the program is coming from municipalities.

“I expect we’ll have a significant number of applications come in right out of the box,” he said.

Solar installations provide two benefits to LIPA: They produce peak power on the long, sunny days of summer when LIPA’s system hits its peak. And they are also dispersed around the region, helping to lower stress on the system by cutting the need to pipe plant power to far-flung places.

LIPA enters the peak summer season without one major power source: the 660-megawatt Neptune Cable. The $1.75 billion cable has been out of service since early June because of two related transformer failures. Michael Hervey, LIPA’s operating chief, said a spare transformer is in place and can be used if needed this summer.

The expansion of solar comes as LIPA continues to review around a dozen proposals for new power around Long Island, including new gas-fired plants in Kings Park, Shoreham and Yaphank, and potentially a new cable. LIPA is also renegotiating its power supply agreement with National Grid, which owns 17 former Lilco plants around Long Island, including large steam-generators in Northport, Island Park and Port Jefferson. LIPA this week said a new agreement with National Grid could give it the flexibility to upgrade the plants to new levels of efficiency.

Paul DeCotis, LIPA’s vice president of power markets, said LIPA is considering opening the bidding process for new power sources that are used primarily for peak power, and said solar peaking units could be among the power sources being considered.

 

Marin Energy Plans Rooftop Solar Project at San Rafael Airport

By Patch Staff

By this fall, sunlight captured from the rooftop of San Rafael Airport buildings will be juicing selected homes in Marin.

The Marin Energy Authority, which administers the Marin Clean Energy program, said in a release that it has signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with the small county-owned airport for 972 kilowatts of rooftop solar power, the largest solar project in Marin.

The power is being purchased for Marin Clean Energy customers through MEA’s feed-in tariff program and the project is expected to be installed and operational by fall 2012.

Novato residents are in the process of switching over to Marin Clean Energy power or opting out and remaining with Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E will deliver power to both types of customers). The Novato City Council voted to join the joint powers authority in September 2011.

Dawn Weisz, MEA’s executive officer, said the authority has more than 45 megawatts of new California solar projects in its contracted portfolio.

“These new projects demonstrate our commitment to adding more renewable energy onto the grid on behalf of our customers,” she said.

Airport manager Bob Herbst said the project is a first step to providing renewable locally generated energy to nearby customers.

“We believe in renewable energy and in the importance of renewable practices in every aspect of our lives and businesses,” he said.

MEA said its feed-in tariff program is designed to provide local residents and property owners who build small‐scale renewable generation systems, like solar or wind, with an opportunity to sell the electrical output directly to MEA at a fair-market price. It also benefits Marin by reducing climate impacts of electrical generation and providing local economic benefits, the joint powers authority said.

Sen. Mark Leno, who represents Marin municipalities, called the airport installation an “incredbly important solar project for Marin.”

“As a supporter of the Marin Energy Authority since its inception, I am proud of the agency’s progress to increase local power generation within our community,” he said.

Feed‐in tariffs minimize the time and effort required to contract with power generators by standardizing the price MEA pays. The tariff targets systems of up to one megawatt that can connect to PG&E’s local distribution system.

MEA board member and Ross Town Councilmember Chris Martin said the green jobs associated with the installation are “a welcome addition to Marin County.”

Marin Clean Energy is a community-based, not-for-profit agency that offers Marin electricity users a choice of cleaner, greener non-polluting energy – guaranteed. Marin Clean Energy partners with PG&E to deliver and maintain the power lines as they always have, but the electricity procured by Marin Clean Energy is 50-100% renewable at affordable rates. For more information about Marin Clean Energy, visit www.marincleanenergy.com.