Net metering rules: reasonable limitations or detrimental restrictions? PUCO hears both sides

An uncommon opportunity for “utilities, environmental groups and other stakeholders” to testify before the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) elicited diverse opinions on the PUCO’s recent changes to net metering rules in Ohio, Gongwer Ohio reports. The new net metering rules may reduce the amount of credit that net metering customers receive for power returned to the grid (see our November 15, 2017 blog post). PUCO Chairman Asim Haque said the direct feedback at the January 10 hearing (see our January 9, 2018 blog post) was “extraordinarily helpful.” FirstEnergy, American Electric Power, and Dayton Power & Light (DP&L) all expressed support for the new rules. In particular, DP&L counsel Michael Schuler argued that the rules “strike a delicate balance that both encourages the development of distributed generation . . . while also ensuring reasonable limits to ensure safe and reliable service.” Environmental groups, however, “suggested the rules could be detrimental to those who have already installed solar or wind energy by not crediting them for their existing value.”

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind

Solar enthusiasts gather to celebrate community cooperative’s success

The Loraine County Solar Co-op has seen a “sixfold uptick in photovoltaic system installations” over the past two years, progress that local solar energy supporters recently gathered to celebrate, the Oberlin News-Tribune reports. The Oberlin People’s Energy Coalition “began a journey in January 2016 toward partnering with Community Power Network to help local homeowners obtain rooftop solar power,” according to the article. Before then, “only five Oberlin homes had solar panels.” Solar United Neighbors of Ohio was formed; the group “lobbies for pro-solar policies and can advise those who encounter obstacles in going solar.” With the assistance of a grant from the Green Edge Fund of Oberlin College, “40 individuals, businesses, and institutions seized the opportunity to purchase systems at a discounted price.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar

Third Sun Solar program will bring solar to Habitat for Humanity homes

Ohio-based Third Sun Solar is partnering with Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio for the Buy One Give One Program that will provide solar power for some Habitat families, Solar Power World reports. For every residential solar system sold between October 1 and December 31 of this year, Third Sun “will donate one solar panel” to Habitat. Geoff Greenfield, president of Third Sun, “said the program should result in enough panels to provide a solar system for three to four Habitat families,” according to the article. President and CEO of Habitat for Humanity-MidOhio E.J. Thomas said he is “excited about this first of its kind partnership,” and while some Habitat homes have included solar installations in the past, “these have been single projects, while this program has the potential to serve many homes.” For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar

First Solar’s new Series 6 panels will be “revolutionary”

The unveiling of a new production line at First Solar Inc.’s Perrysburg Township plant gave a group of media members and Wall Street analysts “a glimpse into the company’s future,” The Toledo Blade reports. The company spent “$177 million to retool the plant” for its new Series 6 production “beginning early in next year’s second quarter,” according to the article. The new “efficient and flexible” production line will “produce enough panels annually to generate 600 megawatts of power.” The new Series 6 panels “will be nothing short of revolutionary,” according to Mike Koralewski, First Solar’s global manufacturing leader. First Solar “uses thin-film technology based on a cadmium-tellurium formula” which in the past had created smaller panels than the silicon-based panels made by other manufacturers. The Series 6 will match the size of silicon-based panels, making them “very competitive.” For more, read the full article

Manufacturing, Logistics & Transp., Renewable Energy, Solar

Will PUCO’s new net metering rules hinder solar’s growth in Ohio?

Environmental advocates are concerned about Ohio’s new net metering rules that change “how utilities compensate customers who supply their own excess generation to the grid,” MidwestEnergyNews.com reports. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) released the new rules, which “would not credit customers with the ‘capacity’ portion of their overall rate” for that excess generation, but would credit them “just the energy-only portion . . . about 85 percent of the bundled rate,” according to the article. This change represents “a shift from the PUCO’s previous position”; in 2014, the PUCO “moved to require utilities to compensate net metering customers for the full retail rate.” The new rules also could “discourage customers from shopping for competitive rates or switching electricity suppliers,” because they “provide only for credits against future charges, rather than direct payment of amounts due.” Customers who shop for a different supplier would risk losing the value of credits they’ve earned. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Solar project will supply a third of Monroeville’s power

The village of Monroeville is partnering with Eitri Foundry to create a solar park at the Monroeville Reservoir, a project that should “power about a third” of the village, the Norwalk Reflector reports. Village council president pro-tem Chris Raferty said the Monroeville Solar Park “will decrease our usage costs incrementally.” Local contractors “are placing about 15,000 solar panels on 18 acres,” and EHOVE Career Center students have been working on the job site twice a week, doing both hands-on tasks and learning trade coordination, according to the article. The park will have “a 360-degree, controllable live-feed camera” which will monitor the solar field and “keep track of ‘the clear view of the western horizon to monitor for severe weather,’” in coordination with NOAA Weather Service in Cleveland and “the local SKYWARN team.” For more, read the full article

 

Renewable Energy, Solar

New Concord adopts solar-related ordinance, proposes another for wind energy

New Concord’s Village Council has adopted “an ordinance modifying the zoning code” that will “pave the way for the construction of a solar array at the Garland Commons development,” The Daily Jeff reports. Additionally, the council “is considering an ordinance that would green light the construction of wind turbines at the site,” according to the article. While New Concord already had zoning language that permitted some solar systems, the modifications “will allow for conditional use of solar arrays a little larger” than previously permitted, Councilman Bil Kerrigan said. There are no current provisions for wind turbines, so the council will “offer three readings” of that ordinance to allow time for public comment. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar, Wind

PUCO ruling likely to reduce credits to net metering customers

Some Ohio electric utility customers who generate power through solar panels or other renewable energy systems may soon receive less credit for doing so, The Columbus Dispatch reports. A recent Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) ruling is likely to reduce the amount that electric utilities credit their net metering customers who send excess energy back to the grid. Under the revised regulations, credits for excess generation will be calculated based on the energy-only component of the utility’s standard service offer. That change means the credit to AEP customers, for example, could “be reduced by about 30 percent.” Trish Demeter, vice president for policy at the Ohio Environmental Council, called the ruling “a step back.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission

Village of Yellow Springs unveils 6-acre solar array

The village of Yellow Springs became a little greener recently when it “unveiled its newest source of energy — 3,024 solar panels tied into the grid on about 6 and a half acres of village owned land,” the Dayton Daily News reports. The solar array “brings the village’s total energy supply to 93 percent renewable energy sources,” according to the article. Village Manager Patti Bates said she and Electric Superintendent Johnnie Burns “started talking about the idea of the array in late 2014 to add more green energy to our portfolio and reduce the amount of energy we buy off the market.” Yellow Springs hired Dovetail Solar and wind to install the project, and entered into “a 25-year lease agreement with AEP Onsite Partners, LLC,” with an option to buy in six years. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, Solar

Solar, wind, and natural gas groups unite to oppose DOE proposal to support coal and nuclear plants

An alliance of 20 trade organizations representing wind, natural gas, and solar power industries is voicing opposition to the Department of Energy (DOE)’s proposal to subsidize coal and nuclear power plants, Cleveland.com reports. Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s proposal “argues that the large, old coal and nuclear plants, which run 24 hours a day, add ‘resiliency’ to the grid” that protects it during weather disruptions or terrorist attacks, according to the article. The trade groups counter that the Trump administration has not demonstrated “problems with the existing system,” and that the proposal would increase costs to consumers. The Ohio Public Utilities Commission of Ohio has also criticized the DOE plan (see our November 2, 2017 blog post). For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, Solar, Transmission, Wind
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