Author Archives: energy

Community Solar Has Great Growth Potential

One solar sector that has the potential for significant growth in the 2017 -2018 time frame is “Community Solar” in select states in the U.S.  According to a recent Green Tech Media report while there are only 80MWs of community solar projects in operation there are 2.5GWs of projects in the development pipeline.  There is however a very select number of states that have the regulatory processes and utility commission approvals of viable programs where this activity will be concentrated.  Those states are:

  • Massachusetts
  • Minnesota
  • Colorado
  • New York
  • Maryland

It is also true that the promise of “Utility Scale” Community Solar(i.e. 10MW or greater) is not developing due to the requirement in most instances of a least one large corporate customer to account for 40%-50% of the output of the solar project.

Rural Electric Co-ops account for the largest number of programs online and in development, but the small customer bases limit the scale of these programs.

Navigating the specific regulations of each state, city, and program takes dedicated effort to succeed in this exciting growth segment for solar.

California RAM Programs Ending

The final RAM RFO offering are now ended, but the utilities can use this purchasing mechanism for future RFOs as they may seem fit to offer.

This program was a great boon to 20MW size solar projects in California from it’s inception until its final termination with filings in late 2015 and early 2016 to request termination from the CPUC.

 Solar Investment Due Diligence | Solar Farm Technology California


New California Governor Jerry Brown Calls for Feed-in Tariffs to Develop Distributed Generation

January 3, 2011 by Paul Gipe

In an undated posting on Governor Jerry Brown’s campaign web site, the then candidate called for building 12,000 MW of distributed generation out of 20,000 MW of new renewable generation.

Governor Brown specifically calls on the legislature to introduce feed-in tariffs to accomplish this task.
Brown’s position on distributed generation and feed-in tariffs is the most ambitious–and the most specific–of any sitting US Governor.

California has lagged far behind other US states since Brown’s previous tenure as Governor in the early 1980s. At best California produces two percent of its electricity with wind energy and less than one percent from solar energy. Several Midwestern states generate more than seven percent of their electricity with new renewables, mostly wind energy.

12,000 MW of new distributed renewables could produce 15-25 TWh of generation, or about 5%-8% of current consumption. Total new renewables proposed by Brown could generate 30-40 TWh per year for about 10%-13% of consumption.

Below is an excerpt from Brown’s campaign web site titled Jobs for California’s Future. In the campaign’s vernacular, distributed generation is called Localized Electricity Generation.

“My goal is that by 2020, California should produce 20,000 new megawatts (MW) of renewable electricity, and also accelerate the development of energy storage capacity. California can do this by aggressively developing renewables at all levels: small, onsite residential and business systems; intermediate-sized energy systems close to existing consumer loads and transmission lines; and large scale wind, solar and geothermal energy systems. At the same time, California should take bold steps to increase energy efficiency.

“Below is my plan to get us there. It will produce a half a million new jobs in research, development, manufacturing, construction, installation, and maintenance over the next decade.

“1. Build 12,000 MWs of Localized Electricity Generation
California should develop 12,000 megawatts of localized energy by 2020. Localized energy is onsite or small energy systems located close to where energy is consumed that can be constructed quickly (without new transmission lines) and typically without any environmental impact.

Solar systems of up to 2 megawatts should be installed on the roofs of warehouses, parking lot structures, schools, and other commercial buildings throughout the state.

Solar energy projects up to 20 megawatts in size should be built on public and private property throughout the state. For example, we should create the California Solar Highway by placing solar panels alongside our state highways.

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) or Legislature should implement a system of carefully calibrated renewable power payments (commonly called feed in tariffs) for distributed generation projects up to 20 megawatts in size. Holding down overall rates must be part of the design.”

-Paul Gipe

Solar Investment Due Diligence | Solar Farm Business Plan