Archive for mea

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.

 

The value of Marin Clean Energy — choice, rates and local power

By Christopher Martin and Larry Bragman

MARIN CLEAN ENERGY is a public agency that helps electricity consumers take action to protect our planet by offering a way to dramatically reduce environmental impacts.

Any Marin electricity consumer can choose to have their energy needs met with one of MCE’s high value options — Light Green’s 50 percent renewable energy or Deep Green’s 100 percent renewable energy.

Customers may also choose to keep PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy service.

Due to state actions, historically, investor-owned utilities (IOUs) like PG&E, have been the default service provider with no consumer choice.

In 2002, after PG&E’s bankruptcy, state legislators passed California’s Community Choice Aggregation law, transferring the default status from the IOU to local CCA programs. State law mandates that all CCA programs operate as “opt out” programs.

MCE is California’s first operating CCA, although there are several others in development, and as a result, is in the process of becoming Marin’s default electricity provider.

This is ideal because it puts you, the consumer, in the driver’s seat. Participation with MCE is completely voluntary; consumers are mailed five separate notices so they may freely select their energy provider.

Ultimately, the choice is yours; consumers benefit by finally having a real and meaningful choice in their energy supply.

MCE is proud to offer a cleaner, more sustainable energy product at rates that are stable and affordable. MCE is committed to keeping costs as low as possible.

Beginning July 1 2012, it’s estimated that 50 percent renewable energy will cost an average household approximately $2.50 more per month as compared to PG&E’s 20 percent renewable energy.

An average commercial customer can expect to pay approximately $3.31 less in a summer month and $4.67 more in a winter month for MCE’s 50 percent renewable energy.

A rate calculator will soon be available on MCE’s website for account-specific cost analysis.

MCE values public participation and transparency. Rates are developed, discussed, evaluated and approved locally at accessible public meetings. MCE invites you to attend and provide feedback.

Regularly scheduled meetings occur on the first Thursday of each month at 7 p.m. (750 Lindaro St. in San Rafael).

As a local, community-based organization, MCE reinvests revenues to provide greater rate stability and greener energy to its ratepayers, rather than investor dividends.

A portion of the funds MCE customers spend on their electricity bill stay in Marin to fund programs such as:

• Installing electric vehicle-charging stations;

• Distributing $500 solar or energy efficiency rebates;

• Supporting local community events, youth sports and nonprofit organizations; and

• Developing local, renewable energy projects.

MCE recently signed a 20-year contract with the San Rafael Airport for 972 kilowatts of rooftop solar power, the largest solar project in Marin, and is developing plans for a 1 megawatt solar shade covered parking lot in Marin.

The airport project, which will cover 48 existing roofs, was designed locally by REP Energy and will be financed locally through the Bank of Marin. It will result in approximately 25 local jobs over a 3 month period and is scheduled to provide power for MCE customers by fall 2012.

The 1 megawatt solar project, which will cover about eight acres of already-existing parking lots providing shade for cars and electricity for MCE customers, is scheduled to be operational in March 2014.

MCE provides worthwhile value for a small premium. The increased renewable energy procured by MCE means less dependence on foreign and domestic fossil fuels, a reduced carbon footprint, community support and development, and new green energy.

The choice, as always, remains with the consumer and that’s a win-win situation “… for us, our kids, our environment, and our future.

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.