Midwest Energy News: Indiana coal controversy prompts push for more transparency in utility planning; Impact on IRP Rule? October 14, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Duke Energy, Edwardsport IGCC Plant, Indiana Michigan Power Company (I&M), Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC), Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized, Vectren.
Tags: Bowden Quinn--conservation organizer for the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity (CPCN), Citizens Action Coalition (CAC), Columbus (IN) attorney Mike Mullett, Ed Simcox with the Indiana Energy Association, Hoosier Environmental Council Executive Director Jesse Kharbanda, Indiana Energy Association (IEA), Indiana Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) rulemaking, Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission
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The Edwardsport coal-to-gas plant under construction in Indiana. Cost overruns and other controversy surrounding the project have helped drive efforts to reform Indiana’s utility planning process. (Photo via Duke Energy)
For the first time in 17 years, Indiana’s public utility commission is rewriting the state’s rule governing how utilities develop long-term plans to meet electricity demand.
The new rule could force the state’s five investor-owned utilities to face more public scrutiny in developing their plans, and perhaps move more quickly than they might otherwise toward reducing carbon emissions.
But the utilities are pushing back, saying that since they have the most skin in the game, they should have the most say over their plans.
Public comments have already been taken on the rule, known as the Integrated Resource Planning Rule, and the state’s public utility commission will issue the final rule in a few months.
Under Indiana law, utilities must obtain a permit called a Certificate of Public Convenience and Necessity before beginning construction of a new power plant. To obtain this permit, they must show that the new power plant is needed to meet electricity demand and is the best, most affordable way to do so. They do that via an Integrated Resource Plan, which they have to file with the public utility commission, known as the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC).
In the past, the integrated resource plans “have been very black-box procedures,” said Bowden Quinn, conservation organizer for the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, who has led that group’s effort in pushing for a new rule.
“There was no avenue for participation,” he said. “They just filed them.”
Coal-to-gas plant controversy
IURC began updating the rule in large part because of the perception that they let too much slide on the controversial Edwardsport coal gasification project, which ran significantly over budget and spawned a huge scandal involving cozy relations between Duke Energy and the IURC, said Mike Mullett, an attorney from Columbus, Indiana, who represents the Hoosier Chapter of the Sierra Club, other environmental groups and the consumer advocacy group Citizens Action Coalition before the IURC.
In that case, the commission issued Duke Energy the certificate of public necessity and convenience, but later, Duke asked for almost $1 billion more than the $1.985 billion they’d originally been approved for, spawning legal action and additional IURC hearings.
“This update is in many respects a response to Edwardsport,” Mullett said.
In particular, the commission sought to push utilities to better estimate financial risk and uncertainty on projects like Edwardsport that embrace new technology. The Edwardsport plant is designed to produce coal gas, and it’s one of two coal gasification plants in the United States that are currently under construction.
The proposed IRP rule raises the bar for utilities in several ways, Mullett said.
The first is increased transparency. At least two public meetings would be required any time an investor-owned utility develops an integrated resource plan (IRP), and more if the public expresses a strong interest. And a new provision called a compliance determination allows the commission to force utilities to redo the planning process if those meetings didn’t happen.
Utilities also “have to have a demand forecast that meets certain best practices,” Mullett said. That plan needs to include a variety of scenarios, including energy efficiency programs, Mullett said. And in a significant departure from the old rule, the IURC must determine whether utilities are actually in compliance with the rule, then issue a ruling saying that they are.
Utilities have objections
The state’s utilities have no problem with more transparency, said Ed Simcox, president of the Indiana Energy Association. “For the company to unveil in an IRP process what their long-range plans are is not objectionable,” he said.
But Indiana’s five investor-owned utilities do object to provisions allowing the state’s regulators to verify whether they’re complying with the new rule. In proposed edits of the rule submitted to the utility regulatory commission the trade group representing the state’s five investor-owned utilities, the Indiana Energy Association, struck that provision entirely. The IEA represents Duke Energy, Vectren, Indiana Power & Light, Indiana Michigan Power, and Nipsco.
They also have problems with another part of the rule that requires them to meet with environmental and ratepayer groups as the plan is being developed, rather than being presented with it after the fact. That gives those groups more input and perhaps influence on utilities’ long-term planning decisions, said Jesse Kharbanda, executive director of the Hoosier Environmental Council.
Such input matters, Kharbanda said, because it will allow advocates to “make sure utilities are properly modeling for prospective carbon rules, changes in renewable energy, capacity and operating costs, and things like combined heat and power.”
But the utilities are “very uneasy because it’s not them having unfettered discretion,” Mullett said. The current director of IURC’s electricity division, who reviews the utility filings, is someone who “asks hard questions and cares about the answers,” he explained.It’s possible that hard questions from the IURC about whether the utilities are complying with the rule could delay approval of an IRP, which could delay approval of a power plant a utility wants to build. “That could delay a power plant, which could delay them from getting access to the money machine” that electricity ratepayers provide, Mullett maintained.
Simcox says the utilities are not necessarily opposed to more public input while they’re developing IRPs. But, he said, “the devil’s in the details.”
“To advise the public what companies are doing in terms of long-range planning is not an objection. The fine line is this: The companies are the entities that are responsible for producing and delivering power. The buck stops with them. You can’t have outside parties dictate to them what they’re going to do and how and when they’re going to do it.”
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.
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
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
Elkhart Truth: Goshen, IN BZA board wants more guidance on solar energy requests; Can you help? Part 2 of 2 June 27, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), local zoning for solar in Indiana, NIPSCO feed-in tariffs
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The Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals went with the city staff recommendations on three solar requests, but asked for more guidance on how to handle them in the future, since board members expect to see more of them.
by: Justin Leighty
GOSHEN — The Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals went with the city staff recommendations on three solar-panel requests Tuesday but asked for more guidance on how to handle them in the future, since board members expect to see more of them in the future.
“Once you start seeing a trend of stuff coming to the BZA, it’s something to look at,” said Kelly Huffman, a board member.
The board took the recommendation of Richard Miller, who lives near an existing solar installation. “I think the staff and you as commissioners will have more and more applications, and I would hope that you could spend some time and really do some planning on what and how the zoning ordinance should affect it,” Miller said.
The board approved a request by Miller’s nearby neighbor, Joy Hess, to expand the existing solar panels at her home on Carter Road.
The board denied requests by residents on 14th Street and Ryegrass Court because of the city’s zoning ordinance. Those residents can still install solar panels on roofs, just not as free-standing units. The city’s zoning ordinance treats such units the same as a detached garage or a shed, limiting the total size on any residential lot of “accessory structures” to no more than the size of the ground floor of a home.
The board asked the city staff and the city’s plan commission to look at the solar issue and see if, perhaps, the city council should change the zoning code to treat solar panels differently.
Jim Kolbus, the board’s attorney, said, “I think these are going to be coming more and more to the board.”
The only other major item on the board’s agenda Tuesday afternoon was to find out why Old Bag Factory owner James Rupright hasn’t complied with the board’s requirements for using the space across Chicago Avenue from the retail center as a parking lot.
Rupright told the commission that the process cost him $12,000 more than he expected.
Board chairman Ardean Friesen said, “I think what’s happening at the Old Bag Factory is a great thing and I want it to continue,” but said he’s concerned about safety with cars parked blocking the views of the intersection with North Indiana Avenue.
The board gave Rupright until August to start installing a sidewalk and curb to mark off the parking area and increase safety.
Elkhart Truth: Goshen, IN solar proposals may not see light of day; Want to use NIPSCO feed-in tariff; Part 1 of 2 June 26, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Feed-in Tariffs (FiT), Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals (BZA), local zoning for solar in Indiana, NIPSCO feed-in tariffs
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Dear IndianaDG Readers:
This is Part 1 of a two-part story from the Elkhart Truth concerning zoning variance requests in Goshen, Indiana for proposed solar PV systems. There has been a great deal of interest in the NIPSCO electric service territory by customers to install solar PV systems to use the NIPSCO feed-in tariff. Customers who install solar PV systems from 5-10 kW may sign a contract with NIPSCO under the feed-in tariff program to receive $0.30/kwh for a 15 year contract. The NIPSCO feed-in tariff pilot program was approved 7/14/2011 and is scheduled to run until 12/31/2013.
I t appears there is a need for a serious conversation amongst consumers, solar installers and planning officials in NIPSCO-land to address these issues.
See Part 2 of 2 for the results of the Goshen BZA hearing.
Laura Ann Arnold
Solar installations in Goshen continue to grow, but two of the three requests before the city’s Board of Zoning Appeals Tuesday may not happen because of zoning codes.
by: Justin Leighty
GOSHEN — What do free-standing solar panels, a shed, a porch and garage all have in common? In Goshen, the same zoning requirements apply to all of them, which is why two proposed solar installations may die today, June 26.
There are a total of three solar panel requests coming to the Goshen Board of Zoning Appeals, but only the one that’s an expansion of an existing solar setup got a recommendation from the city’s staff, and that one’s mounted on a roof.
The number of solar installations is growing. There are roughly 10 in the city right now, according to the building, planning and zoning departments. “One of the reasons they’re becoming more prevalent is NIPSCO’s incentive to buy back electricity,” said Rhonda Yoder, city planning and zoning administrator.
“A lot of places, they just get attached to a roof,” Yoder said.
Two of today’s requests, though, seek to have ground-mounted panels in the middle of neighborhoods.
Ryan Smith, assistant planning and zoning administrator, wrote in his notes to the board, “while the planning and zoning office supports solar energy and alternative energy in general, and the 2004 comprehensive plan encourages the exploration of solar as a source of renewable energy as a means to fossil fuel reduction, this does not exempt the installation of solar panels from standard zoning consideration as an accessory structure.”
He notes that state law prohibits cities, towns and counties from unreasonably restricting solar energy, but the law allows for some general regulations.
“While no specific provisions for solar panels in terms of Goshen’s zoning ordinance are currently in place, the planning office’s preferred configuration for solar panels are flush-mounted on building roofs,” Smith wrote to the board. That gives the best access to the sun and minimizes the glare and visibility of the panels, he explained.
Yoder said any free-standing panels “are treated as accessory structures. Total accessory square footage has to be less than the first-floor square footage” under the existing ordinance.
In the case of 520 Ryegrass Court, where Jeremy Comment, Fofoa Finau and Jamie Yoder-Zingo want to install panels, the fact that the home is a split-level home means that the garage and proposed solar panels would be larger than the first floor of the home, even though the solar array itself is smaller than the first floor. Smith recommended that the board deny the request, but suggested that a smaller set of panels would fit better in the neighborhood.
The situation at the home of Jeff and Chris Kauffman at 923 S. 14th St. is tighter, with a detached garage and porch already taking up more space than the home. Smith suggested the board deny that request, too, but proposed that the Kauffmans could put solar panels on the roofs of the garage and home.
That’s the case at Owen Hess’ home at 506 Carter Road, where solar panels already exist on a pool house roof. The proposal, which got Smith’s approval, would add another five feet of solar panels above the existing ones.
Please find below the staff reports regarding the solar PV system variance requests for the Goshen BZA meeting 6/26/2012:
Information provided by:
Assistant Planning & Zoning Administrator
Goshen City Planning & Zoning
204 E Jefferson, Suite 4
Goshen, IN 46528
(574) 534-3505 ex. 285
Pulaski County (IN) School Wind Turbine is Churning; Utilizing Net Metering with NIPSCO and not Feed-in Tariff April 3, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Net Metering, Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO), Uncategorized.
Tags: Northern Indiana Public Service Company, Performance Services, PowerWind turbine, Tim Thoman, West Central School Corporation (WCSC) wind turbine project
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Dear Blog Readers:
The West Central School Corporation wind project apparently joins the North Newton School Corporation in deciding to use net metering rather than NIPSCO’s feed-in tariff (FIT).
To view the earlier blog post on the West Central School Corporation wind project. please visit http://wp.me/pMRZi-wG.
Also see the blog post on the North Newton School Corporation wind project at http://wp.me/pMRZi-BU
So what does this mean for any future wind turbine projects using the NIPSCO feed-in tariff? Let me know what you think.
Laura Ann Arnold
updated: 4/3/2012 12:28:06 PM
A 300 foot wind turbine project by the West Central School Corp. is delivering electricity. The school system says the turbine, built by Indianapolis-based Performance Services, is designed to eventually pay for itself, and any additional electricity will go to Northern Indiana Public Service Co.
April 3, 2012
Francesville, Indiana. West Central School Corporation (WCSC) wind turbine project is now complete and began producing electricity on Friday, March 30, 2012.
WCSC is one of the first public school corporations in Indiana to utilize net metering with Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO). The project includes one 321-foot high, 900 kW, three-blade PowerWind turbine on school property, with Performance Services serving as the design builder. The project is designed to pay for itself and at the same time significantly reduce the cost of energy at the schools, offsetting nearly 100% of the electrical bill at the campus. In doing so, the school corporation hopes to be able to maintain the existing tax rate. Over the 25-year life of the project, net revenue is expected to exceed $4 million after all project related costs.
An essential component of the wind project is a renewable energy curriculum. Lessons plans, a K-12 curriculum map, and unique learning opportunities will be made available for K-12 students. This project will become a real-world lab in which WCSC students will have the opportunity to learn and explore renewable energy first hand.
Tim Thoman, President of Performance Services noted, “We are excited to bring another PowerWind turbine online for an Indiana public school. West Central has shown great leadership in their vision to reduce operational costs for their corporation over the next 25 years. Superintendent Chuck Mellon has been patient awaiting final interconnection approval from NIPSCO. Performance Services is grateful to have had the opportunity to work with West Central School Corporation on this important community wind project. “
For more information about West Central School Corporation, visit
Performance Services is an Indianapolis-based design-build engineering company that specializes in constructing and renovating schools, universities and healthcare facilities to deliver optimal environments through both the Guaranteed Energy Savings Contract and Design-Build procurement methods. Innovative wind power and geothermal systems are integral to the energy services portfolio. The company has provided energy services to customers since 1998 and is the leading qualified provider of guaranteed energy savings projects and ENERGY STAR labeled schools in Indiana. To learn more, visit
PowerWind GmbH is a German OEM of onshore wind turbines (500 kW, 850 kW, 900 kW and 2500 kW) and service provider, focusing on Community-scale wind projects. These wind farms of between 1 MW and 30 MW are mostly locally owned; the energy is often consumed in the immediate vicinity of the turbines. Typical customers include local businesses, factories and farmers, regional project developers and power providers, schools and universities as well as municipalities and leisure facilities. Backed by U.S. growth investor Warburg Pincus, the company has a successful four-year operative track record in eight countries.
Source: West Central School Corp.
Tags: Ecos Renewable Energy, Porter County solar farms
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|Reprinted at: http://www.indianaeconomicdigest.net/main.asp?SectionID=31&subsectionID=306&articleID=64030
2/18/2012 12:37:00 PM
|Post-Tribune Original article: http://posttrib.suntimes.com/opinions/10640914-474/solar-farms-are-short-on-details.html
Why Ecos Renewable Energy isn’t being more forthcoming with information about a series of proposed solar panel farms in Lake and Porter counties seems a bit of a mystery. None of the four would-be local farms — proposed for Hobart, Merrillville, and Portage and Union townships in Porter County — is in a sensitive area, and at least the first areas appear to be welcoming the plants with open arms.Only the Union Township site received any negative feedback, as some neighbors in the area had concerns about noise and property value effects, leading the Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals to turn down the plan. Officials elsewhere have been happy about the investment in their communities.
Yet, Ecos, a Minnesota-based company, won’t discuss its local plans, nor others they may be developing here or around the state. According to a Northern Indiana Public Service Co. spokesman, Ecos has made “quite a few” proposals to the utility, which would buy the energy the plants produce.
Alternative energy projects have attracted much attention in recent years, as traditional fuels become more expensive and pollution has become a greater concern. Although wind power has some critics, negative stories have been minimal on solar power, which has improved over the years enough that even areas such as Indiana, which aren’t that sunny, can produce power from the sun.
These proposed solar plants seem like a good thing, and they should be built. It would be easier to support them, though, if their builders would tell us that in their own words.
Tags: Minnesota-based Ecos Energy, Porter Township solar farm, Union Township solar farm
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|Dear Blog Readers:Sorry that I missed this story last month. I will look to find a more current update on these proposed solar projects in Porter County.
Laura Ann Arnold
2/3/2012 12:56:00 PM
|Amy Lavalley, Post-Tribune Correspondent
VALPARAISO — The Porter County Board of Zoning Appeals nixed a solar farm planned for Union Township and continued a decision on a second in Portage Township, pending information on landscaping on the site and the zoning of nearby land.The decisions, on the first solar farms in the county, came at a Wednesday public hearing on the matter, during which several Union Township landowners expressed concern about noise and property values. The plan for Portage Township garnered some support, though a resident of a nearby subdivision was unhappy with the proposal for the same reasons as the people in Union Township.The similar plans – the Portage Township solar farm is slightly larger – call for solar panels on 11 acres on each site. Energy collected at them would be sold to Northern Indiana Public Service Co.Representatives from Minnesota-based Ecos Energy said they are serving as development consultants for private investors. Ecos also is involved with plans for solar farms in Hobart and Merrillville.
The BZA voted down the Union Township site, south of Ind. 130 at 495 W. County Road 450 North, with a 4-1 vote. The Portage Township proposal is on the southwest corner of Robbins Road and North County Road 450 West, just outside the city limits.
The Portage Township site is zoned for light industrial, while the Union Township plan was for land zoned rural residential/light industrial, causing consternation for nearby neighbors.
“I cannot see how this is going to improve my property values,” said Bill Tharp, who lives cross the street. “I do not understand why we would ever want to do this, especially in a residential area.”
Chris Little, director of development for Ecos, and Brad Wilson, the company’s project manager, said a solar farm was a better use for the land for neighbors than a warehouse or other facility that would generate heavy traffic or emissions.
That wasn’t enough to sway the board.
“I think it’s a good project. Renewable energy, everyone’s for that. I don’t think it’s the right property,” board member Rick Burns said. “I think it’s a good idea. I don’t think it’s the right location.”
Little and Young said that, through their pending agreement with NIPSCO, the solar farms must be located at the selected sites.
“If we move the project, the project dies,” Little said.