Pew Report on Clean Energy Urges National Policy; IndianaDG Says State Energy Policy Also Needed Like FITs January 24, 2013Posted by Laura Arnold in Federal energy legislation, Feed-in Tariffs (FiT).
Tags: Aaron LeMieux the founder and CEO of Tremont Electric, community energy systems, Dan Ferber, Feed-in Tariffs, Laura Arnold President Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, national Clean Energy Standard, Pew Charitable Trust, Phyllis Cuttino director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program, Pike Research
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Workers assemble a wind turbine blade at a factory in Grand Forks, North Dakota, in 2006. (Photo by tuey via Creative Commons)
The Midwest has the potential for a thriving clean energy industry, but only if coherent policies are enacted at the state and federal level, clean-energy experts say.
Experts on the Midwestern clean-energy sector say the region stands to benefit because of its research universities, strong supply chains and a high level of manufacturing know-how.
But whether it does or not depends largely on policy-makers.
According to a report issued last week by Pew Charitable Trusts, hurdles to an expanded U.S. clean-energy sector include a lack of a national clean-energy standard and longstanding tax breaks for oil, gas and coal producers. Unless these and other issues are addressed, they could lead to billions of dollars of economic activity moving overseas, the analysis concluded.
“The Midwest looks to me like a great place for clean energy,” said Phyllis Cuttino, director of Pew’s Clean Energy Program. But, she added, clean-energy leaders in the Midwest and nationwide “all said the same thing: The thing that makes it really hard for us is that we can’t plan.”
These conclusions come from two lines of investigation Pew undertook to prepare the report. They commissioned a detailed analysis of clean-energy trends by Pike Research, industry analysts who specialize in global clean-technology markets. Pew also conducted five regional roundtables of clean-energy business leaders, including researchers, manufacturers, companies deploying solar and biomass, and investors, as well as one national roundtable, all to get the industry’s take on how current policy was affecting them, and which policy changes would help.
Pew found that the industry was at a tipping point in the United States and globally. Investment is on the rise, prices for clean energy are falling, and more and more clean energy is being deployed.
“Clean energy is here to stay. It’s not niche. It’s quickly becoming cost-competitive and going into the next phase,” Cuttino said.
Indeed, investment rose six-fold between 2004 and 2011 and was projected to continue to rise. Clean-energy installations—installations of solar photovoltaics, onshore and offshore wind, marine and hydrokinetic energy, geothermal, concentrating solar thermal, and biomass—will create $1.9 trillion in revenue globally and $269 billion in the United States between 2012 and 2018, the Pike Research analysis concluded.
“We’re at a moment that looks like the auto industry at the turn of the 20th century or the early days of computers,” Cuttino said. “A whole bunch of actors are rushing in; we have an oversupply of production capacity, and more investments are coming because of the perception it’s going to take off.”
As a result, the race is on between nations seeking to become global leaders in clean energy technology, the Pew analysis concluded. That race will not last forever, business leaders warn, and it’s not yet clear whether the United States in general, and the Midwest in particular, is going to win.
Good news, bad news
There are some encouraging signs for the industry, both in the Midwest and nationally, Pew found. The United States attracted a record $48.1 billion in private clean-energy investments in 2011, and the nation remains a leader in clean-energy innovation.
But the Pew report pointed to signs of trouble. While U.S. solar installations have doubled each year since 2009, both Germany and Italy installed more than three times as much new solar last year. And China installed three times more wind in 2011 than the United States.
“These trends are worrisome because these are technologies that we really invented and we used to manufacture and export,” Cuttino said. “Now we’re finding that we’re not playing at the same levels as other countries. Of the top 10 wind and solar companies in the world, we only have one of each,” she pointed out.
The reasons for this include fierce international competition, including tariffs, tight credit markets, and policies that favor established fossil-fuel-based power over clean energy in the United States.
What’s more, in other nations clean energy has not become the political football it has become here, said Aaron LeMieux, the founder and CEO of Tremont Electric, a six-year-old Cleveland-based company that specializes in harvesting kinetic energy.
“When we go to other countries like Japan, there’s a compelling understanding of what clean energy is and the need to have new [energy] technology alongside existing technology,” LeMieux said. In the United States, in contrast, “renewable energy technology tends to be a partisan argument between Democrats and Republicans.”
“At our business roundtables, they were kind of shocked that this had become a politicized issue,” Cuttino added. “They’d seen government engage in support for new and emerging industries—computers, trains, railroads and others. They couldn’t understand why not this sector.”
Investment without rewards?
As a result of our policy confusion, “we continue to innovate, but we don’t necessarily reap the rewards of our innovation and risk taking,” LeMieux said. “That’s passed to other countries to be able to build, manufacture, and deploy these technologies.”
In Pew’s roundtables, business leaders like LeMieux named the U.S. clean-energy industry’s biggest obstacles as policy uncertainty, global oversupply, international competition, access to credit and private investment, and the uneven playing field with established fossil-fuel-based energy.
But new national policies would create opportunity as well. A national Clean Energy Standard could stimulate demand for renewable energy. Such a standard would be broader than state renewable energy standards in that it might include natural gas and nuclear. The nation could invest more in basic energy research, which lags dramatically behind comparable investments in the health-care and defense sectors, Cuttino said.
Effective policies to facilitate private sector investment in the industry could help, business leaders told Pew.
For example, the Advanced Energy Manufacturing Tax Credit, which was established as part of the 2009 Recovery Act, provided a 30 percent tax incentive for investments of clean energy manufacturing. Far more companies applied than received funds, and it was documented to create 17,000 jobs at 180 facilities in 43 states, Cuttino said. The tax credit has expired but could be renewed.
Clean-energy business leaders also suggested such measures as getting rid of special tax credits for oil and gas industries. Some suggested getting rid of all subsidies, or taxing the health and environmental costs incurred by burning gas, oil and coal, Cuttino said.
“Now is the time for our policy makers to really level the playing field so that entrepreneurs and business leaders can compete with our competitors throughout the world,” LeMieux said.
We also need a clear national policy aimed at phasing in more clean energy, LeMieux said. “Quite a few other countries are leading the charge in terms of clean energy. All have a national energy strategy.”
That strategy should include a clean energy standard, the business leaders assembled by Pew concluded. Although 33 states have renewable portfolio standards, the lack of a federal standard harms the industry and keeps it from growing, LeMieux said.
“We’re trying to tell people in Washington, D.C., that this is a big issue.”
A manufacturing powerhouse
With effective policy changes, the Midwest could become a national leader in clean energy manufacturing, technology and R&D, LeMieux said.
“The Midwest is the manufacturing powerhouse of the nation. It always has been,” he said.
And more clean energy could mean more good jobs in the region, said Laura Arnold, president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, an Indianapolis-based nonprofit that promotes distributed renewable energy.
The real economic development potential is not just building wind farms, Arnold said. “The real potential is in the manufacturing, not just buying and installing and producing renewable electricity. That’s where the middle-class manufacturing jobs come from.”
Companies producing those jobs could make renewable energy components for export as well as domestic markets, Arnold said. Abound Solar, a Colorado-based company, was planning to create 800 jobs in Tipton, Indiana, to manufacture solar photovoltaic panels and they were planning to export 90 percent of what they made. In that case the plans were canceled, but they showed what’s possible, Arnold said.
The United States in general, and the Midwest in particular, “has the manufacturing know-how to put out a quality product,” Arnold said.
States matter, too
The policy changes Pew suggests could go a long way, but changes at the state level are also essential, Arnold said.
Germany and Italy, for example, have feed-in tariffs, which reward people for installing solar panels by ensuring a long-term, steady, and high price for the electricity they generate. If Midwestern states chose to establish such policies, markets would grow, helping the region’s clean-energy industry flourish, Arnold said.
In Indiana, in contrast, “you can’t buy electricity from anyone other than your friendly electric utility,” she said. Policies that allow more choice would grow the market for renewable energy, she emphasized.
Other state and local policies could spur demand for renewable energy in the region. Today, there are people in urban neighborhoods who might want to install solar panels but don’t have good exposure to the sun. If a church in the neighborhood has an annex with a great rooftop, they could provide solar power to their neighbors, but only if local and state policies allow for community energy systems, Arnold said.
“I’m not sure how to do that with national legislation. I think it has to be done at the state level to permit more creative ways for people to own a piece of a small distributed system,” she said.
“Yes, there’s an overriding need for national policy, Arnold concluded. “but the real nitty-gritty work still has to take place at the state level.”
Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story misidentified the solar company that had planned to locate in Tipton, Indiana.
CAC says–”IPL: Stop investing in the past; Start investing in the future! Tell the IURC to say NO to IPL rate increase!” January 21, 2013Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, Office of Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC), Uncategorized.
Tags: Citizens Action Coalition (CAC), IPL Environmental Compliance case in Cause No. 44242
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Do you agree that IPL should stop investing in the past and start investing in the future? Should IPL reconsider renewing and extending Rate REP or feed-in tariff which allows customers to invest in renewable energy and distributed generation?
Click this link below for information from Citizens Action Coalition (CAC) concerning the upcoming field hearing for the IPL Environmental Compliance case in Cause No. 44242.
For details on how to participate in the hearing see: http://indianadg.wordpress.com/2013/01/17/voice-your-view-on-ipl-environmental-compliance-case-12413/
Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) is currently seeking permission from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to raise rates in order to install pollution control equipment on their fleet of aging coal-fired power plants. IPL’s almost exclusive reliance on coal (approximately 99% of the electricity generated by IPL is from burning coal) continues to expose ratepayers and shareholders to enormous costs and risks and is contributing to significant public health and environmental problems.
It’s time for IPL to begin to diversify their generation portfolio and move into the 21st century by making meaningful investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency. Investing in renewables and efficiency will reduce ratepayer and shareholder risk, protect our health and the quality of our environment, and put money back into Hoosiers’ pockets by creating jobs and reducing monthly electric bills.
Let us know if you plan to attend the hearing. See you there!!
Mother Jones: Are Green Power Programs a Scam? Why does NIPSCO want a new Green Power Pilot Program? October 9, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Duke Energy, Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: Duke Energy GOGREEN, Indiana green power programs, Renewable energy credits (RECs)
Dear IndianaDG Readers:
Why does NIPSCO really want to create a new green power pilot program? Part of the answer can be found in the petition and testimony NIPSCO filed earlier this year to create a voluntary green power rider pilot program as follows:
This case is now completed and is awaiting a final order from the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC). I fully expect that it will be approved by the IURC.
Both Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) and Duke Energy Indiana have programs like the one proposed by NIPSCO.
To read the most recent IPL 2012 Green Power Tariff Rider Annual Report click HERE > 43251 IPL Green Power Tariff Rider Annual Report_2012-09-28
Unlike most utility reports filed with the IURC, this is a short and sweet 12-page report with lots of bar charts and graphs. Apparently as far as green power tariffs go IPL’s is a good one–meaning that the cost to IPL customers to essentially purchase Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from large out-of-state wind farms is very low.
The real question in my mind is what does purchasing these wind energy REC’s via IPL’s green power tariff do for IPL customers except make them feel good.
Does it improve the air quality in Indianapolis? NO
Does it create green jobs in Indianapolis? NO
Does it help to demonstrate the viability of urban friendly renewable energy technologies such as solar PV or CHP? NO
To get the details of the IPL Green Power Option program click HERE > Rider 21 Green Power 7-31-12
To see Duke Energy Indiana’s GOGREEN tariff click HERE >DE–IN_Rider_56_07_23_09_GOGREEN
The GOGREEN Tariff is only two-pages and shows that it became effective July 22, 2009.
I would note that not everyone shares my view (or the one expressed in the Mother Jones article below) on the subject. A recent article By Mary Ellen Gadski on June 27, 2012 in Indiana Living Green extols the virtues of these programs. See http://www.indianalivinggreen.com/squandered-indiana-ipls-green-power-option/ The author does ask:
“Are these programs effective at encouraging the markets in alternative power? Or are they merely a voluntary tax on environmentally aware do-gooders? Signing up for the Green Power Option is an easy way to express public demand for green power and demonstrate to our state legislators that we want an alternative to burning coal.”
I don’t intend to answer all the questions raised by these Indiana electric utility green power programs, I just merely want us to start asking the right questions. Are the green power options for Indiana electric ratepayers good or what would be better? I suppose it would not be much of a surprise to learn that I support feed-in tariffs (FITs) as a far better way to bring renewable energy into the grid to serve Indiana ratepayers. FITs have many other side benefits as well including green jobs creation and improving environmental quality. Creating renewable energy right here in our own backyard through distributed generation also does not require costly new transmission lines. You make it here and use it here.
I think what we really need is a good honest debate or educational forum on the subject of green power riders. Are you interested?
Laura Ann Arnold, Laura.Arnold@indianadg.net
Are you paying for renewable energy, or just a bunch of hot air?
—By Laura McCandlish
THE TWISTING TURBINES on the Columbia River Gorge ridges were one of the first things my husband and I noticed en route from Baltimore to our new house in Oregon. So a few weeks later, when a hawker at the farmers market urged me—with a $5 token for free veggies and a postcard with pictures of children lounging in front of local windmills—to sign up for a renewable energy program called Blue Sky, I didn’t hesitate. For less than an extra $10 a month, my utility, Pacific Power, would supply our home with electricity from wind turbines instead of coal.
But it turns out ditching dirty energy is more complicated than that hawker would have me believe. From the windmill postcard, you’d think my premium would go straight to local projects. Not quite: True, Pacific Power operates one wind farm in Oregon, but that’s largely because the state mandates that utilities get 25 percent of their power from renewables by 2025. My well-meaning purchase has little to do with those windmills. Instead, Pacific Power hands my Blue Sky money over to companies that buy renewable energy certificates (RECs) from wind farms, mostly in other states, and other renewable projects like methane-burning landfills. Consumers need to understand that the electricity “is not going from the windmill on the ridge to your toaster,” says Pacific Power spokesman Tom Gauntt. Michael Gillenwater, a Princeton researcher who codeveloped the EPA’s carbon emissions tracking system, says it’s more like donating to a cause. “What you are doing is subsidizing the market for renewable energy.”
NREL Project Shows Solar Installations Over Time: Underlines Role of State Incentives October 8, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), IPL Rate REP, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: NREL Open PV, Open PV Project, solar pv installations over time, SRECtrade blog
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Dear IndianaDG Readers:
I have learned recently that many solar PV advocates were unaware of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) Open PV Project. In particular, the self-reported data on solar PV installations in Indiana today (10/08/2012) shows:
- Indiana Total Results: 222 solar PV installations
- Indiana Solar PV Cost/Watt: $9.37
- Capacity (MW): 3.74 MWs
With the flurry of Interconnection Applications in Indiana to use both IPL’s Rate REP feed-in tariff and the NIPSCO feed-in tariff we can expect the total MW’s of solar PV installed to skyrocket in the next year. For example, an IPL customer will have 12 months from the approval of their Rate REP contract by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to actually install and connect their project to the grid. Given that IPL’s Rate REP program expires March 30, 2013, we will not completely see all the results of the IPL pilot program until March 30, 2014.
Many of us who have reviewed the Open PV Project data reported on the NREL website believe there is under reporting of solar PV installations here in Indiana. This project depends entirely on voluntary reporting so please help us to increase awareness of this website and to encourage everyone to report their installations.
In the meantime, I hope you find the following article from the SRECtrade Blog interesting. I encourage your questions and comments on how we can continue to promote solar PV and other distributed generation technology installations here in Indiana.
One idea is to expand the concept of the NREL Open PV Project to include solar thermal, passive solar, geothermal and CHP installations throughout the State of Indiana. Such a comprehensive listing of renewable energy projects and distributed generation would certainly increase the understanding of the extent and importance of these energy technologies in our state.
I plan to devote more attention to this project in future blog posts and in other on-line forums via Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Will you help?
Laura Ann Arnold, Laura.Arnold@IndianaDG.net
Original Article: http://www.srectrade.com/blog/
October 4th, 2012
At SRECTrade we spend most of our time thinking about SRECs and how to effectively manage their creation and sale. We deal with a relatively abstract concept and are sometimes left wondering after a particularly long day of answering client questions and crunching data sets, what all of this stuff means on the ground. That’s why we really like the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) Open PV Project, in particular the Solar PV Installations Over Time graphic that they’ve produced. NREL shows PV installations from 2000 to 2012 by intensity (presumably driven by capacity installed) and location. The visualization is fascinating because it can be read as a story about the growth of the US solar industry over the last decade from both a policy and resource perspective. Solar is concentrated around population centers where it’s needed most The distributed, non-centralized aspects of solar are much discussed. Solar can be deployed right at the load on a home or business without the adverse environmental impact of doing the same thing with say a coal-fired power plant. The NREL visualization proves the distributed nature of solar in practice at a national level. Over time it appears that solar installations are predominantly clustered in zones that mimic areas of high population. This is evidenced in the early years where most solar capacity is installed in California around the high-density populations zones of the Bay Area and southern California cities. For rough comparison see the map of solar installed as of 2012 relative to the population density map below. Filler
Source: https://www.census.gov/geo/www/mapGallery/2kpopden.html, “2000 Population Distribution in the United States”
Source: https://openpv.nrel.gov/time-mapper, “Solar Installations Over Time”
Solar deployment is driven by state-level policies Solar deployment can also be tied to both federal and state-level energy policies that were enacted over the last decade (Energy Policy Act of 2005, the Federal 1603 Grant, California Solar Initiative, and SREC markets among myriad others) but the deployment seems to concentrate around some areas over others, suggesting that local and state factors outweigh the current federal incentive structure. Viewing the NREL visualization only it looks like solar installation activity is predominantly in California from 2000 to 2004 with flashes of activity in Florida, the Rocky Mountain West, Minnesota/ Wisconsin, and what looks like the Tennessee Valley Authority region. By 2007 solar installations appear to be widespread around major population centers around the country. The mid-Atlantic and the northeast states look as if they are exploding as their SREC markets come on line in the mid-2000s, while other areas seem to slow down. As an SREC company we know that each SREC market is different depending on the particular structure of the market as dictated by the policies that created the program. So perhaps not surprisingly we get phone calls and emails on a daily basis asking us about opportunities in states without comprehensive solar policies such as an SREC program. Our stock answer is to reach out to the state legislature and engage with grassroots activist groups like the Vote Solar Initiative. SREC markets are by no means perfect, but they are a key tool for states to drive solar development in the absence of a national standard. The end of the visualization shows the SREC market states (DC, DE, MA, MD, NJ, OH and PA) covering the map in white.
Feed-in Tariff (FIT) contract for Indianapolis Airport solar PV farm under IPL Rate REP scheduled for approval by IURC September 5, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP.
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The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) has on its agenda today (9/5/2012) for its weekly conference final approval for the Indianapolis Airport Authority (IAA) contract with Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) for a 15 year feed-in tariff under Rate REP. The weekly conference by Indiana regulators is expected to approve the 30 day filing.
Details will be available later this afternoon. Contact Laura Ann Arnold at Laura.Arnold@indianaDG.net for a copy of the approved contract.
Tags: Citizens Action Coalition Executive Director Kerwin Olson, Dean Leischow with Sunrise Energy Ventures, Hoosier Environmental Council (HEC) Executive Director Jesse Kharbanda, IPL VP William Henley, Laura Arnold President Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance
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As Indiana utility ends feed-in tariffs, some question motive
Workers install solar panels on the roof of an Indianapolis home in 2009. Indianapolis Power & Light may soon have more solar power installed in its service area than any other utility in the Midwest. (Photo courtesy EcoSource, Inc., used with permission)
Last month, Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL), an investor-owned utility that provides electricity to 470,000 customers in central Indiana, put out a press release boasting about its support of 30 MW of new solar developments.
The new developments would make IPL the leading provider of solar power among Midwestern utilities, the company claimed, citing Solar Electric Power Association’s 2011 utility solar rankings. IPL also touted the 300 MW of wind power already in its portfolio.
The utility’s claims were repeated in glowing news reports around central Indiana.
But what the company did not say was that the 30 MW of new solar was all that remained of an innovative feed-in tariff project that would have incorporated up to 100 MW of renewable energy into their generating mix, and is now ending—over the protests of both renewable energy developers and environmentalists.
“They did a 180-degree turn on the program,” said Laura Arnold, the president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance.
“It’s really disappointing,” said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council, an Indianapolis-based environmental group. “Just three years ago, IPL was part of a broad coalition of utilities that were rightly calling public attention to climate change and the need for a comprehensive national policy,” he added. “Now IPL is withdrawing one of its only existing policies to begin the long process of cutting carbon.”
IPL did not respond to several phone calls and emails requesting comment.
Unlike many other states, Indiana does not require utilities to incorporate increasing amounts of renewable energy into their generating mix via a renewable portfolio standard, although it did institute modest voluntary goals in 2011 that aim for 10 percent renewable energy in the state by 2025. The state also has no law mandating a renewable feed-in tariff—a policy that requires utilities to provide customers that provide electricity to the grid from solar, wind or biomass a long-term rate high enough to justify their initial investment.
As a result, any feed-in tariff program by an Indiana utility is voluntary. The state’s public utility commission, the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission, approved IPL’s pilot feed-in tariff program, which it calls its Rate Renewable Energy Production (Rate-REP) program, in March 2010.
Under the program, as originally proposed, solar, wind and biomass developers would apply to IPL to participate, and the winning companies would build projects providing up to 100 MW of power—about 1 percent of IPL’s generating mix. In exchange, IPL would contract with the companies to pay them between 7 cents per kilowatt-hour for wind and 24 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar over a 10-year period. (IPL’s current contract terms guarantee a fixed rate for 15 years rather than ten.) IPL would charge slightly higher rates to its customers to cover the cost difference.
The policy worked: Within a year, solar and wind developers applied to build 170 MW of projects, Arnold said.
Then IPL pulled the plug.
‘Considerable return’ on investments
In a June 28 letter to the chair of the IURC explaining the company’s reasoning, William Henley, IPL’s vice president of corporate affairs, first lauded the pilot program, saying that it “had generated benefits for both customers and the Company.”
Customers, Henley wrote, would be paid for 15 years at rates high enough to cover costs and generate a “reasonable return on their investments.” IPL and its customers would benefit by “sourcing renewable energy from within IPL’s service territory at a set cost for 15 years to hedge against the potentially higher cost to comply with future renewable energy purchase mandates and to help keep the investments local.”
If it was so successful, then why did IPL terminate the program? In his letter to IURC chairman James Atterholt, Henley listed several reasons.
With 300 MW of utility-scale wind farms under contract and several MW of solar, IPL had enough renewable energy in its generation portfolio to promote clean energy and hedge against future renewable energy purchase mandates, he wrote. But today’s higher costs of renewable energy, as compared to “traditional forms of generation” such as coal, “must be balanced against other expected cost increases such as those necessary to comply with Environmental Protection Agency mandates,” Henley wrote.
Henley also maintained that costs for solar panels may soon rise, causing demand to fall.
And he said that “Rate REP has not generated the interest among customers that IPL originally expected.”
That’s highly misleading, say renewable energy advocates.
Afraid of competition?
By 2011, a year after the pilot program was launched, the company had 170 MW of proposed projects, more than the program could accommodate. Then IPL moved to end it.
“We believe they withdrew the program because the program would have been quite successful,” said Olson. “Utilities have fought solar PV for decades, especially rooftop PV. You’re generating your own power. It’s competition and loss of business,” Olson explained.
At the time of IPL’s announcement in late June, IPL had contracts for 2 MW in solar projects, and in their July 19 press release, they announced that Sunrise Energy Ventures, had won a reverse auction to supply 30 MW of solar energy to IPL’s mix. (In the reverse auction, the contractors proposed a price at which to sell electricity, and IPL chose the lowest bidder.
Dean Leischow, managing director of Sunrise, told Midwest Energy News the company plans to build three 10 MW, 70-acre solar farms in fields on the outskirts of Indianapolis. IPL has agreed to pay the company a fixed rate for 15 years.
As a result, IPL could lead all Midwest utilities in the amount of solar power generated in their service territory, according to Solar Electric Power Association’s 2011 utility solar rankings, IPL maintained in its press release.
That sounds about right, said Leischow, of Sunrise Energy Ventures.
“The Midwest is not a hotbed for renewable energy, so that would make it fairly easy for IPL to take a lead position. I think IPL going out with 30 MW puts them in the lead,” he said. “It’s an exciting project for Indiana and an exciting project for us, and I’m looking forward to getting it rolling.”
And Ken Zagzebski, IPL’s president and CEO, also touted the deal.
“IPL’s interest in solar energy is part of our commitment to a more diversified portfolio of power generation that includes appropriate renewable sources that allow us to provide safe, reliable energy at some of the most affordable residential prices in the nation,” Zabzebski said, according to the company’s July 19 press release.
But Olson had a very different take on the situation. “There’s lots of greenwashing going on,” he said.
Indiana Culver Duck farm taps waste product to create methane; Electricity to be sold under NIPSCO feed-in tariff August 19, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: Culver Duck, Culver Ducl's plant manager Tim McLaughlin, Herb Culver Jr., Indiana waste-to-energy, NIPSCO feed-in tariffs, Norma McDonald of Organic Waste Systems, Wightman Petrie
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By TIM VANDENACK, The Elkhart Truth
Published 7:56 a.m., Friday, August 17, 2012
MIDDLEBURY, Ind. (AP) — There’s solar power and wind power.
Now Culver Duck Farms is taking the move toward use of renewable energy resources a step further — it plans to use the duck parts that don’t make it to the dinner plate to help power the facility. Duck offal would be put into what’s called an anaerobic digester to produce methane, making Culver Duck one of a select group of ag operations nationwide using such technology.
“It’s just good stewardship and it should reduce the carbon footprint of the plant,” said Tim McLaughlin, Culver Duck’s plant manager, in a story published Friday by The Elkhart Truth (http://bit.ly/N4ZePg ).
Over the long haul, it will also cut energy costs and turn Culver Duck — which processes around 6.5 million ducks per year — into a “zero discharge plant,” according to McLaughlin. That means the facility will largely recycle, on site, all the waste and byproducts it generates, including the duck offal — blood and innards — that’ll help fuel three generators.
“The bottom line here — being green does have an economic basis,” said David Turner, an environmental consultant out of Winona Lake working with Culver Duck.
The new $4 million power-generating facility — fired by methane produced from the duck parts and other inputs — is under construction north of the main Culver Duck building outside Middlebury. Work started last spring and it should be partially operating by Thanksgiving.
When fully operable, perhaps by year’s end, it will generate around 1.2 megawatts of power. That’s more than the 0.7 to 0.8 megawatts Culver Duck actually needs and, to put it in perspective, is enough to meet the energy needs of around 120 homes.
The heat exhaust from the three 0.4-megawatt generators will also be tapped to heat cleaning water at the Culver Duck facility, a family-owned business headed by Herb Culver Jr.
As is, Culver Duck pulls energy from the power grid, the Northern Indiana Public Service Co. grid. NIPSCO, according to a 2011 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency press release, operates four coal-fired plants that, between them, have a generating capacity of 3,300 megawatts.
That arrangement would actually continue when Culver Duck’s power-generating facility comes on line. The energy from the new complex would be sold by the company to NIPSCO per a special 15-year agreement and distributed over NIPSCO’s network.
However, the energy produced at Culver Duck would offset NIPSCO power generated by fossil fuels, reducing carbon emissions by that much, at least theoretically. A Culver Duck press release estimates the firm’s new power generating facility will help reduce carbon emissions by more than 11,000 tons per year.
Culver Duck will get a return on the $4 million investment in as little as four years, according to McLaughlin. The plans are being privately financed, but as a renewable energy project, Culver Duck can tap into special federal tax incentives.
The firm has also applied for a U.S. Department of Agriculture grant.
Duck offal may not seem like a traditional energy source, and it isn’t, at least here in the United States. Turner knows of just three other facilities in Indiana utilizing anaerobic digesters to produce methane, and cow manure, not duck offal, is the main input at those complexes.
Likewise, Norma McDonald of Organic Waste Systems, the Belgium-based firm assisting Culver Duck, said there’s just one other U.S. duck processing facility using the technology, in New York. Around 200 agricultural facilities in the United States in all use anaerobic digester technology, but most are on dairy farms, cow manure being the chief input.
“That is probably about 1 percent of the number that there could be if the U.S. market were mature, similar to Germany, Denmark, Norway,” said McDonald, who’s based in Cincinnati. The technology is much more common in Europe, in part because higher energy prices there make it more economically feasible.
At the Culver Duck plant, duck offal will be combined with corn silage and other materials and placed in the digester, a huge, 900,000-gallon cylindrical vat still getting the finishing touches. The mix devised by Organic Waste Systems facilitates bacteria growth, which in turn breaks the offal and silage down, leading to methane production.
“There’s nothing synthetic about it,” said Turner.
The methane will be collected and then used to fire the three generators, which have yet to be installed. The properties of methane are similar to natural gas, which, when burned, releases fewer pollutants than, say, coal, according to McDonald.
Culver Duck had sold the unused duck offal — 18,000 pounds of it a day — for use in animal feed. Following a controversy in 2008 over tainted animal feed from China, though, the company started moving away from the practice, not wanting to get caught up in any repeat flap.
That was perhaps the most immediate spur for Culver Duck officials, aided in their plans also by Wightman Petrie, an Elkhart engineering consultant. Even so, McLaughlin said such an operation had long been mulled among company officials.
“Taking care of our environment always pays back,” he said.
Information from: The Elkhart Truth, http://www.etruth.com
IBJ: IPL pulling plug on renewable-energy effort; IndianaDG disappointed Feed-in Tariff (FIT) or Rate REP not to be extended after 3/30/13 July 7, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, Uncategorized.
Tags: Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), Indianapolis Power and Light Rate REP, IPL feed-in tariff
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Dear IndianaDG Blog Readers:
This is the follow-up to our blog post with the News Release and Letter sent to Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) President and CEO Ken Zagzebski. See http://wp.me/pMRZi-Kb. It is interesting to note that the letter sent to Ken Zagzebski by Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, Citizens Action Coalition and the Sierra Club has yet to receive a response. Instead, IPL VP William Henley sent a letter to Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) Chairman Jim Atterholt.
Click here to read the letter IPL sent to the IURC: Letter from William Henley to Atterholt_2012-06-28
Henley’s letter also indicates that parties to the proceeding in Cause No. 44018 would also be contacted but as far as I know that also has not happened as of this blog post.
Please watch for additional blog posts on IPL’s Rate REP for further updates and analysis.
Laura Ann Arnold
P.S. A big “THANKS” to IBJ Report Chris O’Malley who wrote this story.
Indianapolis Power & Light says it will stop buying electricity from customers who generate it from renewable sources—a blow to advocates of wind, solar and other clean forms of energy.
The 6,152 solar panels atop the Maj. Gen. Emmett J. Bean Federal Center generate about 1.8 megawatts of electricity that’s sold to Indianapolis Power & Light. (AP photo)
The utility’s 3-year-old Renewable Energy Production program, or REP, expires next March 30. Proponents of renewable energy, who’d praised IPL for creating the program, in recent months implored the utility to extend and expand it.
So far, IPL has agreed to purchase 2.2 megawatts of power generated by a handful of customers under contracts of up to 15 years. IPL estimates it will pay about $567,000 for that power.
Projects providing another 30 megawatts are pending, including a 10-megawatt solar farm slated to be built this summer at Indianapolis International Airport.
An additional 30 megawatts will be obtained through a “reverse auction,” which favors the applicant offering to sell power to the utility at the least unit cost.
“IPL anticipates more projects proposed before the program expires in March,” said Crystal Livers Powers, spokeswoman for the utility serving 470,000 customers, principally in Marion County.
A letter IPL sent June 28 to Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission Chairman James Atterholt cites several reasons for not continuing the pilot.
IPL said it already has contracts to purchase 300 megawatts of electricity generated by utility-scale wind farms to promote clean energy and as a hedge against high costs that might result from a federally mandated renewable energy program in the future.
“However, in the current energy environment, increasing the amount of renewable energy, which now costs more than traditional forms of generation, must be balanced against other expected cost increases such as those necessary to comply with Environmental Protection Agency mandates.”
IPL said earlier this year it may have to spend upward of $900 million to equip its power plants with scrubbers to reduce harmful emissions.
IPL’s ratepayers will pay for those upgrades through higher electric bills.
The utility also cited rising costs for photovoltaic solar panels, in part due to higher levies on panels from China, and the phaseout of federal tax incentives for renewable projects.
Thus, customers proposing renewable energy projects might find their costs rising unless IPL pays them more for power under the long-term contract.
IPL pays anywhere from 7.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for large wind turbines to 24 cents per kilowatt-hour for solar projects.
IPL ratepayers shoulder the cost of buying renewable power under the REP program, and paying more for power under the program would “put pressure on customers’ rates at a time when rates are expected to increase due to the new environmental compliance costs,” IPL wrote.
Finally, IPL told the commission the REP program has not generated the level of interest among customers that it originally expected.
IPL theorizes that part of the problem may be the economic downturn. The greatest interest has been from developers interested in creating projects that are eventually sold to third-party investors, the utility said.
Though many developers have sought to partner with IPL customers so they can qualify for the REP program, such projects are a “financial play” that benefits tax investors “and only marginally benefits host customers who do not always understand the obligations and risks that must be assumed as a result of such a partnership.”
It’s true that some of the projects are complicated. The airport’s solar farm, for example, is being constructed through a joint venture of three local firms: architectural/engineering firm Schmidt Associates, telecommunications services firm Telamon Corp. and Johnson-Melloh Solutions, a contractor involved in several renewable projects around the region.
The Indianapolis Airport Authority expects to collect $316,000 annually from the solar-farm partnership, which will feed all the solar panels’ output into IPL’s grid.
Many IPL customers simply will not embark on renewable projects unless they have the long-term financial assurances the REP program provides, said Laura Arnold, president of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance, who said she’s disappointed in IPL’s decision.
“Even when the customer wants to do this, they often don’t have the cash upfront” for the investment, she said. “There’s not going to be as much interest” now.
“The idea of just abandoning the program—a program that had so much interest—is clearly wrongheaded,” said Dave Menzer, who heads the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal” campaign in Indiana.
If anything, Menzer said, renewable power now looks more cost-effective when factoring-in the hundreds of millions of dollars IPL will need to spend on additional pollution controls on its coal plants.
Those costs will soar further for future carbon dioxide emission caps, he added.
Ratepayers can pay for either those pollution upgrades or for renewable generation, “but if we had our choice, let’s promote new technology and clean energy and job creation,” he said of renewable generation.
On the other hand, some industry critics say a utility can generate a higher rate of return on a conventionally fueled power plant and that such a prospect is foremost in the minds of investor-owned utilities.
To that extent, IPL is looking to add additional generation in the form of natural-gas-fueled plants. Late last month, the subsidiary of Virginia-based AES Corp. issued a request for proposals for 600 megawatts of gas-fired generation, starting in 2017.
Such generation could replace a like amount of existing coal-fired generation at its Eagle Valley plant in Martinsville or its Harding Street facility.
IPL said it’s evaluating whether to build a natural gas unit in the Indianapolis area, as well as considering whether to buy existing power plants “or some combination of these options.”
IPL’s so-called net metering program will continue. Under net metering, IPL issues a credit on the bills of customers who generate excess power each month through renewable sources, up to 1 megawatt.•
Indiana Groups Urge Indianapolis Power and Light to Extend Feed-in Tariff Pilot Program Called Rate REP June 27, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), IPL Rate REP, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: Indianapolis Power and Light, IPL feed-in tariff
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Indiana DG/Citizens Action Coalition/Sierra Club Hoosier Chapter
For Immediate Release: June 27, 2012
Laura Ann Arnold (317) 635-1701 or (317) 502-5123
Kerwin Olson (317) 702-0461
David Menzer (317) 727-8467
RENEWABLE ENERGY, CONSUMER ADVOCACY AND ENVIRONMENTAL GROUPS
JOIN TO ASK IPL TO EXTEND RENEWABLE ENERGY PILOT PROGRAM
Download News Release: IPL Rate REP News Release-FINAL-2012-06-27_as sent
Indianapolis, IN. Three statewide groups, representing renewable energy, consumer and environmental interests in Indiana, joined together to send a letter to Ken Zagzebski, President of Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), asking the electric utility to extend and expand a renewable energy program known as Rate REP or Renewable Energy Production, commonly referred to as feed-in tariff (FIT) or Clean Local Energy Accessible Now (CLEAN programs).
“We want to commend IPL for its leadership in offering Rate REP,” said Laura Ann Arnold, President of the Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance. “But due to major changes made to the program and approved earlier this year by the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), the program really needs to be extended past the initial three year pilot.”
Arnold pointed out that the program is capped at 1% of IPL’s retail sales. This could bring as much as 100 MW’s of renewable energy into central Indiana; however, thus far, less than 2.5 MWs have been approved by IPL’s Rate REP, which became effective on March 30th, 2010.
By comparison, the electric utility that services NW Indiana, Northern Indiana Public Service Corporation (NIPSCO), recently implemented a FIT pilot program in cooperation with Indiana DG, CAC, and Sierra Club, that became effective less than a year ago on July 14th, 2011. As of this month, NIPSCO indicates that nearly 25 MW’s of solar PV, wind and biomass projects are pending under their feed-in tariff.
Therefore, it appears that NIPSCO in one year has nearly 10 times as many projects pending as the projects approved by IPL. It is generally believed that the Indianapolis Airport solar farm with 10 MW’s of solar PV is still under review for a Rate REP contract at IPL.
Arnold noted that before IPL proposed making significant changes to Rate REP after only the first year of their 3 year pilot program, 170 MWs of solar PV and wind projects had already been proposed. Arnold wonders what will happen to said projects if the IPL program is discontinued.
“We are hopeful that IPL will continue this program in an effort to diversify their generation portfolio, bring investment to Indianapolis which will create desperately needed jobs, and help decrease their environmental footprint which is of great importance in the wake of new and pending EPA regulations, especially considering the risk IPL and its customers currently face due to their heavy reliance on coal fired power plants,” said Kerwin Olson, Executive Director of CAC.
Dave Menzer, Campaign Representative for the Sierra Club’s “Beyond Coal Campaign” stressed that more renewable energy resources need to be added to IPL’s generation mix to improve Indiana’s environmental quality. Menzer stated that Sierra Club is urging other Indiana utilities to consider voluntarily offering more renewable energy programs such as FITs.
“The Sierra Club supports a transition to a clean energy economy, and one of the best tools to attract private investment in solar and wind farms is to offer a fair fixed rate to the developer for the power they are producing and putting back on the grid. Given the incredible interest IPL has seen, it would a huge step backwards to allow these programs to expire.”
Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance (http://www.IndianaDG.net) is the group which is the successor-in-interest to Indiana Distributed Energy Advocates which was a participant in both the IPL Rate REP and the NIPSCO feed-in tariff cases before the IURC. IndianaDG works with national/international groups such as the Alliance for Renewable Energy which works to promote feed-in tariff programs as the most effective public policy to deploy renewable energy resources in the most cost effective way.
Citizen Action Coalition’s (http:/www.citact.org) mission is to initiate, facilitate and coordinate citizen action directed to improving the quality of life of all inhabitants of the State of Indiana through principled advocacy of public policies to preserve democracy, conserve natural resources, protect the environment, and provide affordable access to essential human services. With a continued emphasis on truly clean renewables, distributed resources, and energy efficiency, CAC is a firm believer that clean, safe, and affordable energy is not only attainable, but it is our right as an essential human service.
Sierra Club- is America’s largest and most influential grassroots environmental organization. Inspired by nature, we are 1.4 million of your friends and neighbors, working together to protect our communities and the planet. More information about the “Beyond Coal Campaign” can be found here: http://www.beyondcoal.org/
Download letter: Letter to IPL on Rate REP–2012-06-27–FINAL as sent
27 June 2012
Ken Zagzebski, President and CEO
Indianapolis Power and Light
One Monument Circle
Indianapolis, IN 46204
Dear Mr. Zagzebski,
We, the undersigned organizations, represent both businesses doing business with individual ratepayers and individual ratepayers of Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL). We are writing to urge that you initiate a proceeding before the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) to extend and expand opportunities for IPL customers under Rate REP or feed-in tariff. As it is currently written, IPL’s Rate REP pilot program is scheduled to expire March 30, 2013.
Rate REP was originally approved in Cause No. 43623 as a three year pilot program in an IURC order dated February 2nd 2010, and became effective March 30, 2010. Most recently, Rate REP was revised by an IURC order on March 7th, 2012, in Cause No. 44018 and at page 35 states:
“If IPL wishes to continue Rate REP or make further changes to Rate REP beyond the three-year pilot program, it must comply with the 43623 Order and initiate a proceeding at least nine months prior to the end of the three-year pilot period.”
Given that the Rate REP will currently expire on March 30th, 2013, the nine month deadline to file is this June 30th, 2012. Hence, the undersigned strongly urge that IPL immediately contact the IURC and indicate IPL’s intent to initiate such a proceeding to 1) evaluate the Rate REP pilot program and 2) consider various options to extend and expand the current Rate REP tariff for IPL customers.
If it is not possible for IPL to file a petition to initiate such a docket before June 30th, we urge that IPL formally contact the IURC to request an extension of time to initiate such a new docket. In addition, the Commission also specifies at page 33 of the 44018 Order:
“…we will also require IPL to modify Rate REP to set aside 30% of the energy available under Rate REP to establish a reverse auction open to developers of renewable energy projects.”
The reverse auction RFP was issued on June 15th, 2012, and bids are due July 13th, 2012. Therefore, it is not likely that IPL and others will know the response to the reverse auction until well after June 30th, 2012. Given this information, it would appear reasonable for IPL to request such an extension of time.
Furthermore, the undersigned organizations would like to schedule a meeting as soon as practicable with IPL and all other stakeholders, including the Office of the Utility Consumer Counselor (OUCC) and the other parties in Cause No. 44018, to discuss Rate REP, as well as all possible options to further promote renewable energy and distributed generation including but not limited to Rate REP.
We would also like to commend IPL for its leadership in promoting customer renewable energy and distributed generation by initiating Rate REP as a pilot program.
Laura Ann Arnold, President
Indiana Distributed Energy Alliance
Kerwin Olson, Executive Director
Citizens Action Coalition of Indiana
David Menzer, Campaign Representative
Sierra Club “Beyond Coal Campaign”
Cc: John Haselden, IPL
James Atterholt, Chairman, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
Parties to 44018:
Jason Stephenson, Counsel for IPL
David Stippler, Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
Karol Krohn, Office of Utility Consumer Counselor
Anne Becker, Counsel for Ecos Energy
Stuart Gutwein, Counsel for Bio Town Ag
David McGimpsey, Counsel for EDP Renewables