Comparison of State Net Metering Available in Freeing the Grid 2.0: Policy Report Card Goes Digital; Indiana Net Metering Gets a “B” July 16, 2012Posted by Laura Arnold in Net Metering, Uncategorized.
Tags: DSIRE, Freeing the Grid, Indiana REMC net metering, Indianapolis Power & Light (IPL) net metering, Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), IPL feed-in tariff, Laurel Varnado, Vote Solar
Dear IndianaDG Blog Readers:
If you were familiar with the earlier versions of Freeing the Grid (FTG), you will love this new and improved digital version. This should make the task of explaining net metering policies to state legislators and regulators even easier now with this redesigned information. Indiana remains steady with a solid “B” Report Card on net metering since the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (IURC) approved new net metering rules last summer. The problem though is that these new net metering rules still only apply to the five (5) Investor-Owned Electric Utilities, namely, IPL, Duke, I&M, NIPSCO and Vectren. The most recent status reports on net metering can be found on this blog at: http://wp.me/PMRZi-oi.
But our report card grade of “B” doesn’t really tell the whole story. We still have Rural Electric Cooperatives or REMC’s that either do not have a net metering policy at all or they have what is called “net billing”. Net billing only offers customers perhaps one-third of the retail electric rate for the electricity that their solar or wind system puts back into the grid. Due to their contracts with either Hoosier Energy or Wabash Valley Power, many REMC’s cannot or will not permit net metering for systems larger than 10 kW. Some REMC’s require onerous fees as well.
So our work is not done yet on net metering here in Indiana.
Also since Indianapolis Power and Light (IPL) has decided not to continue their feed-in tariff known as Rate REP, we must also address solar PV systems larger than 1 MW. At the end of a 15 year Rate REP contract with IPL, company officials suggested that these projects such as the proposed Indianapolis Airport solar farm just net meter. That presents two problems. First, the current net metering rules only allow systems up to 1 MW to net meter while the proposed solar farm at the Indianapolis Airport is 10 MW. Second, the proposed Indianapolis Airport solar farm is using a third-party leasing agreement. That’s OK under the IPL Rate REP but the IURC net metering rules currently do not permit third-party net metering. See the problem now? Our work is not done my friends.
Laura Ann Arnold
from VoteSolar, July 16, 2012
Today we launched a snazzy new interactive web version of Freeing the Grid, our policy guide that grades all 50 states on two key programs: net metering and interconnection procedures. Together these policies empower American energy consumers to use rooftop solar and other small-scale renewables to meet their own electricity needs.
Now in its sixth year of production, Freeing the Grid is intended to help state policymakers, regulators, advocates and industry stakeholders improve net metering and interconnection rules. The new web version is designed to make it easier to access, understand and share best practices and state progress on these foundational renewable energy policies.
Check out Freeing the Grid for yourself! You’ll find:
- Animated introduction to net metering and interconnection policies;
- Interactive U.S. map that can be filtered by year, policy and key program characteristics;
- Grade and policy summary for each state available in printable PDF format for easy offline use;
- Additional detailed information regarding the latest net metering and interconnection rules from DSIRE, the go-to resource for current clean energy policies nationwide;
- Feeds of relevant blog posts and action alerts from us and our partners at IREC as well as other fancy ways you can get social with your media.
Good net metering and interconnection rules help keep energy dollars invested in the community, they put people to work wherever there’s a roof, and they reduce the need for expensive, polluting power plants – and that benefits us all. Every state has the power to change those rules and unleash that solar power potential.
While there’s still plenty of room for improvement, it’s exciting to see states of all shapes, sizes and political persuasions already making real renewable progress. Check for yourself which states are head of the class and which deserve a detention when it comes to their renewable policies.
Laurel Varnado, representing our partners on the project, the good folks at IREC said, “Freeing the Grid is a step-by-step guide for making all 50 states clean energy leaders. With this new web-friendly format, we have made it even easier for states to adopt policy best practices and continue to drive American renewable energy progress.”
Like rollover minutes on a cell phone bill, net metering gives renewable energy customers fair credit on their utility bills for valuable clean power they put back on the grid. Net metering best practices have evolved to include virtual net metering, meter aggregation and other innovative community shared models.
Interconnection procedures are the rules and processes that an energy customer must follow to be able to “plug” their renewable energy system into the electricity grid. In some cases, the interconnection process is so lengthy, arduous and/or expensive that it thwarts the development of clean energy altogether. A straightforward interconnection process can cut through unnecessary red tape.
We produce Freeing the Grid in partnership with IREC and the North Carolina Solar Center, which manages the DSIRE database. We’re proud to add that its grading methodology was also adopted for use in the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative, which aims to reduce the cost of going solar by 75% before the end of the decade.
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