June 17, 2013
Solar energy is going to play an increasingly important role in the next 20 years, Georgia Public Service commissioners said Monday during a panel discussion of the state’s solar industry. The commission is wrapping up hearings on Georgia Power Co.’s 2013 integrated resource plan, which is a long-range plan for the utility that forecasts electric power needs for the next three years. The commission, a state agency that regulates utilities, is expected to issue a decision on the plan July 11.
Georgia Power’s plan doesn’t include any new capacity including solar, coal and nuclear. The utility company does plan to convert some coal plants to natural gas. The only additional solar comes from a 2012 initiative for Georgia Power to buy 210 megawatts of solar capacity for about 20,000 customers.
“If nothing happens, if there’s no change that can be brought about in the integrated resource plan — adding the additional solar — the only solar you are going to see for the next 20 years, unless there’s another change made in three years when we review the plan again, will be solar put on facilities and consumed onsite,” Commissioner Tim Echols said.
Echols and Commissioners Chuck Eaton and Bubba McDonald Jr. joined Rep. Rusty Kidd, I-Milledgeville, along with members of the solar industry and Lanier Technical College educators at the school’s Oakwood campus. Many people in the audience work in the solar industry or are interested in using solar to reduce energy consumption and save money.
Attendees were also treated to a tour of the college’s solar and thermal energy installations on various buildings around campus by Sam Ajlani, the college’s solar technology lead instructor. The technical college also offers a solar technology program and workforce training.
“You see we are producing even though it was kind of a partly cloudy day, we’re producing sunlight,” Ajlani said, referring to a solar array.
The discussion had a town hall feel, with many questions and comments from the audience. Many people emphasized the significant drop in the cost of solar technology, but criticized commissioners for not taking advantage of the alternative energy sooner. Eaton said the benefit of Georgia’s conservative energy strategy is it can take advantage of current lower capital costs and improved technology.
“Obviously, solar is getting a hard look at the commission these days,” Eaton said. “There’s some huge benefits to it that I see.”
Mark Bell, head of Empower Energy Technology, a solar installation company, said what’s made solar successful in other states is a combination of legislative policy and programs and procedures that allow stability and consistency in the market. “I think the commission has done a great job in the last few years educating itself on solar,” Bell said.
Kidd has sponsored a bill that would create a statewide rural community solar initiative to encourage solar generation facilities and ensure all electric customers can opt into the service. The Georgia General Assembly can consider the bill during its next term in January.
Commissioners may vote to change the utility plan, Eaton said.
The commission has taken testimony and comments from a variety of groups and companies. A final round of hearings by the commission is scheduled for today and, if necessary, Wednesday, he said.
Georgia Power has recently announced their new solar program called the Georgia Power Advanced Solar Initiative (ASI). The intent of the program is for Georgia Power to purchase 210 MW of solar power via a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with 45 MW of Distributed Generation and 60 MW of Utility Scale to be deployed in 2013 and 2014. Any available capacity within the program would rollover 2015 and any excess subscription to the program will result in a waiting list. A high level overview of the program looks like this:
Small Scale Solar (Distributed Generation)
- Less than or equal to 100 kW
- Must be installed within 6 months of acceptance date
Medium Scale Solar (Distributed Generation)
- Greater than 100 kW and less than or equal to 1 MW
- $0.13/kWh or “Appendix B” escalating price schedule (not appealing)
- Collateral security required (negotiating to make it less onerous)
Utility Scale Solar
- RFP process
- Up to developer to determine cost, but there is a “not to exceed” price of $0.12/kWh
- Expect approximately $0.09/kWh to be the range
We anticipate that the program will sell out very quickly. So, if you have been thinking about installing solar at your facility this is a great time to do so. The Economics of Solar Power have never been greater! To learn more or to setup a consultation, contact Mark Bell at 404-681-3270 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
(And what you can do about it)
We’ve had a number of customers contact us lately to talk about their energy bills and what they see as a dramatic increase in prices. They are not mistaken. Electricity prices have gone up – in fact, in some cases, by quite a bit. For the typical Georgia Power Corporation (GPC) Residential customer, the average monthly power bill has increased from $109.50 in 2009 to $129.68 in 2011.
That’s an increase of over 18% in a little more than a year. In addition, the news is not any better if you’re a small to mid-size commercial customer.
Here’s the breakdown of the rate increases (see the Fuel Cost Recovery Schedule in PDF):
TOTAL: $ 20.18/month
Furthermore, you need to understand the difference between what the PUBLISHED electrical rate is and what your EFFECTIVE rate ultimately is after you add in all charges, fees, and taxes. There is a dramatic difference to what those two numbers usually are.
For most commercial customers, your bill is comprised of three main components: a) Consumption – as measured in kWh (kilowatt hour); b) Bill demand – as determined by your Peak Demand in kW and finally; c) Compliance, recovery, fees, and taxes.
Consumption is fairly straightforward in that it is a measurement of how much electricity you’ve used over the month. If you have 10, 100 watt lamps (which equals a 1,000 watts) and you leave them on for 1 hour then you have used 1 kWh.
Bill Demand is a function of the Peak Demand that you have used in a month. That is, it is the charge the utility passes onto you in order for them to meet your maximum amount of energy usage in a period of time. This is very important because the utility typically locks you into your maximum bill demand based upon the HIGHEST 30 minutes or an hour (varies depending on your utility) over the previous 11 months (or other period of time). You are effectively penalized for your worst period of performance, or highest peak usage, and that bill demand factor stays with you for 11 months. That can be very costly.
Finally, you have a variety of miscellaneous charges that are added to the bill that are not captured as part of the consumption (kWh) or Bill Demand (kW). Those typically contain meter charges, environmental compliance costs, Nuclear Construction Cost Recovery (5.8619% of the bill), Fuel Cost Recovery, Franchise fees, and taxes. Again, these can add up to quite a bit. (To see a complete breakdown of the rate plans and tariffs go to http://www.georgiapower.com/pricing/gpc_rates.asp)
(As an aside, Residential customers are typically not charged on a Bill Demand basis. However, they do still pay consumption charges and the other associated fees. Large Industrial customers, while having a published rate, sometimes have their own rate plans.)
It’s pretty confusing, right? Well, let’s take a typical customer’s bill and see what the PUBLISHED rate is and how that varies dramatically from what the customer’s EFFECTIVE rate is. As a rate payer your focus should be on the EFFECTIVE rate and how you can control it.
Here’s one of our customer’s bills from 2/11/10-3/14/10 (for privacy, we’ve removed any personal account information):
Note that this customer is on a GPC PLM rate plan. To figure out his EFFECTIVE rate take the Cost of service for this month ($1043.56) and divide it by the total kWh used for the month (6960) and you get $0.150/kWh.
Now let’s take a look at our customer’s bill a year later for the period 2/13/11 – 3/14/11 (the period of time doesn’t correspond exactly but cost and usage should scale on a daily basis on average).
Using the same calculation as above, take the monthly cost of electricity ($1193.61) and divide it by the amount of kWh used (6880) and you get an EFFECTIVE rate of $0.173/kWh. That’s a 15% increase in one year. And, this customer has the benefit of having a 22 kW Solar PV system and an Empower Edge Energy Management system. His EFFECTIVE rate could be even higher.
So, what can be done to get a handle on Energy Cost for your small to medium size commercial facility? (Unfortunately, your tactics as a Residential Customer are really only to reduce your Consumption at this point.). The good news it that there are tactics and technology that can help you control costs but first you need to understand how your power bill is constructed.
- Start reducing your consumption by ensuring that energy loads are turned off during hours when your facility is not occupied or when they are not needed. Utilize advanced lighting controls such as Wattstopper that turn on and off lighting loads automatically or install thermostats and HVAC controls such as Vykon that dynamically adjust temperatures and settings based upon occupancy and comfort levels. The savings to be recouped are significant.
- Get your Bill Demand down by dramatically cutting your Peak Demand. This can be accomplished with advanced metering such as Eaton Power Xpert which gives you instantaneous information on energy usage. Combine this info with an intelligent energy controller such as the Vykon Jace and your ability to control you peak demand is greatly enhanced. Energy usage can be managed proactively instead of waiting for next month’s energy bill and then retroactively reassessing. It’s extremely important to control Bill Demand since, depending on your facility’s Load Factor, it can represent up to nearly 60% of your energy bill.
- Change your rate plan. This is really advantageous to only a select number of customers and its important that you have a very good understanding of your energy consumption before you do this. Once you change plans you can be locked into it for two years. However, for some companies, there can be some significant savings to be had. For example, if you are 2nd or 3rd shift company or a restaurant that opens in the late afternoon or the evening, there are some advantages to moving to a Time of Use (TOU) plan. The reasons these can make sense is that the plans reward you for shifting your energy usage to those periods of time that are different from the peak demand times of the utility (typically after 7 P.M.)
The takeaway is that you do have control over your energy costs. Large facilities have been deploying these techniques for years. In the past, on site generators were used to “shave” the energy usage of a particular facility which in turn saved them from expensive peak demand charges. But now, thanks to the combined trickle down effects of technology, memory, storage, and programming, effective Energy Management is now within the realm of the small to medium commercial customer.
In fact, for some customers the Return of Investment (ROI) can be significant. In addition, more financial and leasing institutions have embraced Energy Management and Energy Services Contracts as a strong, viable program. Some lease programs require a minimal security deposit and the energy savings alone can cover a significant portion of the lease payment. For those customers who wish to simply pay for it outright, Section 179 allows for 100% deduction of equipment in year 1.
From the Solar Alliance
There are “Four Pillars” of energy policy required to drive real, cost-effective solar markets, all founded in critical Guiding Principles (download PDF). Put in place four simple policies, and any state or utility can develop a world-beating solar market. Get the details wrong in just one, and the market can come to a halt.
- Standards and Incentives: All energy is incentivized. Good incentive design can ramp your solar market up as you rein in spending.
- Net Metering: Solar customers save energy – they should save money, too. Learn how to give customers energy choice so that their energy savings can help pay for their solar investment.
- Interconnection: A solar system can’t go in unless the rules for grid connection are fair and streamlined.
- Utility Rates and Revenue Policies: The electric bill is where clean energy turns into dollars and cents. Smart rates can drive clean and efficient use of energy while making sure utilities are paid in full; bad ones can encourage sloppy use of energy. Utility revenue policies can also encourage efficient use of energy and on-site generation by customers while maintaining utility profits.
To learn how Empower Energy Technology can assist your company in managing your energy usage and cost, contact Mark Bell at 404.681.3270 or send an email to email@example.com.
According to a new research paper by Pike Research, Smart Buildings: Top Trends to Watch in 2012 and Beyond, the smart building industry has been busy over the last few years. At Empower Energy, we agree.
From the report:
Advances in technology that make it easier to manage energy have considerably broadened the energy conversation, engaging not just facility managers, but also CEOs and CFOs. Although the effects of the global economic recession are still felt throughout the building and construction industries, technology vendors and integrators have continued to uncover new opportunities to improve energy efficiency in the existing building stock. The potential for energy efficiency has hardly been tapped even today.
The one certainty is that demand for smart building technologies will continue to grow. The value proposition for many of these technologies has been demonstrated and a growing number of building owners are starting to adopt them with positive results. As the technology continues to evolve, improve, and decrease in cost, efficient and intelligent technologies will start to become an even more pervasive fixture in buildings worldwide.
If you are seeking a smart building technology integrator to help your company implement energy efficiency in its building, Empower Energy is here for you. Contact Mark Bell at 404.681.3270 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Strategic energy efficiency investments just make sense in today’s uncertain world.
Read the full Pike Research Paper, Smart Buildings: Top Trends to Watch in 2012 and Beyond (http://www.pikeresearch.com/research/smart-buildings-ten-trends-to-watch-in-2012-and-beyond)
Solar and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) Natural Gas Generators
Given the recent substantial increase of natural gas supply leading to the sharp decline of natural gas cost, Combined Heat and Power Natural Gas Generators should become a very interesting alternative energy team. Empower installs natural gas “peaker’ generators with our Edge energy management solution enabling live load generation and “least cost energy” during peak power usage. This feature enables our customers to use inexpensive natural gas ($.10-.11/kWh) during late afternoon hours when solar production is fading versus expensive peak utility grid power from the electric utility ($.16-20/kwh) when needed to meet your power needs. One or more generator units may be used to generate the necessary power to reduce utility power demand to an acceptable cost. Empower install CHP systems to supply 200kW to 2000kW of peak power.
The hidden value of CHP systems is the ‘free’ heat that is generated by the peaker generators. This heat can ne used to heat water for commercial and manufacturing needs, provide warmth for warehouse and manufacturing operations, and even provide cooling using absorption chillers. The CHP systems are classified as Co-Generation Systems. As such, these systems may provide Federal or State tax incentives to offset the cost of these systems. Below are some of the features and benefits for the CHP solution:
|Closed Transition Switch with Empower EDGE Energy Management||Enables “Live” load to be added to the grid without interrupting power to the factory|
|Combined Heat and Power||Uses ‘waste’ heat to heat water, provide warmth in Winter months, or power auxiliary absorption chiller and claim Federal and State tax incentives for CHP systems.|
|Standby/Critical Power||Allows your business to run effectively during a power outage or forced load reduction by the Electric Utility|
|# x 200 kW CHP Generators&||Provides power generation flexibility by operating individual units as needed at full efficiency versus low speed/low efficiency|
|Natural Gas Cost vs. Electric Cost||Natural Gas offers a 30+% savings over electric grid power during peak periods when solar array production is limited|
Empower Energy Technology embraces new soucres of energy into the energy supply eco system. A recent NY Times article by Kate Galbraith suggest that solar energy is competing with CHP energy:
Of all the types of energy embraced by the green community, “combined heat and power” probably has the clunkiest name. But proponents hope that C.H.P. systems, which can be installed in homes, will one day compete with better-known technologies like solar panels.
Because solar photovoltaics provides the lowest cost per kilowatt over it’s 30 year+ lifetime ($.08-.11/kwh), solar PV offers the best technology hedge for electric energy rates. Nevertheless, solar will never produce enough power in the late afternoon to cover all of the ‘peak demand’ hours that require the highest rates from utilities. Natural gas CHP peaker power plants offer scaleable, efficient, cost-effective energy to fill the gaps that solar PV cannot supply.
To learn more, Contact Mark Bell at 404.681.3270 or send an email to email@example.com.
June 15 Event Provides Day of Latest Insight on Solar Industry
Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association will kick off an exciting day of presentations and panel discussions on solar energy development in Georgia, the Southeast and the nation on June 15, 2012, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. at the GTRI Conference Center, 250 14th Street, Atlanta.
Don’t miss this great opportunity – now available for the Early Bird price of $99 for members or $159 for non-members – to hear about solar deals taking place nearby and elsewhere – and what financial tools are available to get them from concept to finished product.
Rhone Resch has been working in the clean energy sector for more than 20 years. He will bring keen insight on evolving federal policies as well as innovations around the U.S. Resch holds an MPA from Syracuse University’s Maxwell School, a master’s in Environmental Engineering from SUNY Syracuse and a B.A. from the University of Michigan. He served as a program manager at the EPA’s Climate Protection Division during the Clinton Administration.
Attendees at this year’s Southern Solar Summit will also hear about the latest developments in the U.S. military’s leadership on solar deployment from Col. Dan Nolan, U.S. Army (Ret.), founding principal of the military “Green Hawks” and featured energy expert in the documentary “Carbon Nation.” A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, Col. Nolan holds a master’s degree in strategic planning from the U.S. Naval War College and was a principal advisor to General Tommy Franks at U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Fla.
And those are just two in an exciting line-up of solar energy expertise. Other panelists at the Southern Solar Summit will include SunPower’s Jim Torpey, Steve Leffin of UPS, Enfinity’s Rafael Dobrzynski and Colin Murchie of SolarCity. The day will also include lunch and cocktail-hour networking opportunities. Last year’s summit sold out. So, don’t risk missing the exciting, informative line-up this year because you waited too long to register. Take advantage of the Early Bird prices and reserve your space today. After May 31, the cost of reservations for the Solar Summit will go up.
Energy Strategy: Where Are We Now? Where Are We Headed?
Many businesses are initiating energy programs. For companies operating formal energy programs, these programs are typically less than 5 years old. Market trends suggest that the demand for energy resources will rise dramatically over the next 25 years:
• Global demand for all energy sources is forecast to grow by 57% over the next 25 years.
• U.S. demand for all types of energy is expected to increase by 31% within 25 years.
• By 2030, 56% of the world’s energy use will be in Asia.
• Electricity demand in the U.S. will grow by at least 40% by 2032.
• New power generation equal to nearly 300 (1,000MW) power plants will be needed to meet electricity demand by 2030.
• Currently, 50% of U.S. electrical generation relies on coal, a fossil fuel; while 85% of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions result from energy-consuming activities supported by fossil fuels.
Sources: Annual Energy Outlook (DOE/EIA-0383(2007)), International Energy Outlook 2007 (DOE/EIA-0484(2007), Inventory of U.S. Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: 1990-2005 (April 2007) (EPA 430-R-07-002)
If energy prices also rise dramatically due to increased demand and constrained supply, business impacts could include:
• Reduced profits due to high operating costs.
• Decline of sales of energy-using products.
• Loss of competitiveness in energy intensive businesses.
• Disruptions in supply chains as suppliers are unable to meet cost obligations or go bankrupt.
Recent history also demonstrates that catastrophic weather events, terrorism, and shifting economic centers are not just events of our imagination but realities of our lifetime.
Given this challenging landscape, what steps do U.S. businesses need to take today to survive a potentially disruptive energy future?
The Future of Corporate Energy Management (Learn more – click here)
Implementing Energy Management Solutions from Empower Energy allows you to take control of when, how and where you spend your energy dollars. Contact us and let us show you how and why.
Mark Bell, Empower ET
404.681.3270 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Survey by Kelton Research finds continued widespread public support for development of solar energy, federal incentives for solar, across political spectrum.
WASHINGTON – Americans overwhelmingly support the use and development of solar energy as well as federal investments for solar, according to a new national poll. These and other findings were reported recently in the 2011 SCHOTT Solar Barometer(TM), a nationally representative survey conducted annually by independent polling firm Kelton Research.
For the fourth consecutive year, the survey found that about nine out of 10 Americans (89 percent) think it is important for the United States to develop and use solar energy. Support for solar is strong across the political spectrum with 80 percent of Republicans, 90 percent of Independents and 94 percent of Democrats agreeing that it is important for the United States to develop and use solar.
The survey also found that Americans want federal incentives for solar. More than eight out of 10 Americans (82 percent) support federal tax credits and grants for the solar industry similar to those that traditional sources of energy like oil, natural gas and coal have received for decades. Seventy-one percent of Republicans agree, as well as 82 percent of Independents and 87 percent of Democrats.
Furthermore, when asked to select an energy source they would financially support if they were in charge of U.S. energy policy, 39 percent of Americans chose solar over other sources such as natural gas (21 percent), wind (12 percent), nuclear (9 percent) and coal (3 percent). Among Independents, solar is more than twice as popular as any other energy source (43 percent for solar compared to 20 percent for natural gas).
“In this tough economy, Americans want to see solutions coming from Washington,” said Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “For members of Congress trying to find ways to create jobs, solar is a win-win. Thanks in part to proven policy successes like the 1603 Treasury Program, the solar industry has doubled its workforce in the last two years and now employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,000 businesses spanning every state. And solar enjoys overwhelming support across all political affiliations – Republicans, Democrats and Independents. It’s clear that solar has the strong support of the American people. Now it needs the support of U.S. policymakers in extending job-creating policies like the 1603 program to make sure solar continues to work for America.”
Despite weeks of news coverage about the bankruptcy of solar panel manufacturer Solyndra, the survey shows that Americans’ support for solar remains strong. In fact, the vast majority of Americans support solar manufacturing in the United States. Eight out of 10 (82 percent) think it is important for the federal government to support U.S. solar manufacturing, and a majority of Independent voters (51 percent) think it is “extremely important.”
The poll also found that Americans prefer to buy solar-made products. A majority of Americans (51 percent) said they would be more likely to purchase a product if they knew it was made using solar energy. Consumers in the key age demographic of 18 to 44 years old are even more likely to buy solar-made products (61 percent).
One challenge that the solar industry faces is educating the public about how they can become consumers of solar power. Despite the cost of solar modules decreasing by 30 percent since the beginning of 2010 and residential solar leasing models that allow consumers to go solar with no upfront cost, 48 percent of Americans cited cost as their biggest concern with choosing solar energy.
“The fourth annual Solar Barometer shows that Americans overwhelmingly understand the benefits of solar energy for our country,” said Tom Hecht, President, Sales, Marketing and Business Development, SCHOTT Solar PV, Inc. “However, this poll also indicates that we as an industry have more work ahead of us to educate Americans about the benefits of solar for them as individuals. Prices for solar continue to decline and those who currently own solar systems are earning a return on their investment after only a few years. Solar energy systems are also extremely reliable, which is why companies like SCHOTT Solar back their modules with warranties of up to 25 years.”
“For the fourth year in a row, an overwhelming majority of Americans agree on the importance of solar power,” said Rachel Bonsignore, Associate Director, Kelton Research. “This year’s survey continues the trend of remarkably consistent support for solar.”
The Solar Foundation, in partnership with GreenLMI and Cornell University, has pre-released its top-line solar jobs numbers from its National Solar Jobs Census 2011. Click here to read the press release.
In part, Census 2011 found:
- 100,237 jobs as of August 2011
- 6.8% growth from August 2010 to August 2011
- 6,735 new solar jobs created between August 2010 and August 2011
Follows is the full Press Release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 19, 2011
National Solar Jobs Census 2011 Finds Solar Companies Hiring Faster Than Rest of Economy Preliminary data finds new job creation in solar despite overall down economy
WASHINGTON, DC – The Solar Foundation today announced that 100,237 Americans are now working in the U.S. solar industry, according to preliminary data from the “National Solar Jobs Census 2011: A Review of the U.S. Solar Workforce.” Solar businesses added 6,735 new workers in all 50 states since August 2010, which represents a 6.8 percent growth rate. The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 measured solar employment during the period between August 2010 and August 2011.
The U.S. solar industry’s job growth outpaced the overall economy and fossil fuel electric generation when compared to overall economic data from Economic Modeling Specialists, Inc. (EMSI). During the same 12-month period, jobs in the overall economy grew by a mere 0.7 percent, while fossil fuel electric generation lost 2 percent of its workforce.
“The U.S. solar industry is creating jobs at a far greater pace than the economy as a whole,” said Andrea Luecke, executive director of The Solar Foundation. “The National Solar Jobs Census series provides a definitive measure of the U.S. solar workforce and its growth over time. It proves where smart solar energy policies are having the most impact both in terms of states and across the vast solar supply chain.”
“Solar is a job-creating phenomenon in an economy that is flat-lining, with near 7 percent year-on-year increase in the number of Americans working in the industry,” said Danny Kennedy, president of residential solar installer Sungevity and member of The Solar Foundation’s board of directors. “This is a sign of a thriving industry – due to the demand for lower cost, clean electricity that creates value in America.”
The full National Solar Jobs Census 2011 report will be made available at Solar Power International ‘11 in Dallas on October 17. The Census examines employment along the solar value chain, including installation, wholesale trade, manufacturing, utilities and all other fields and includes growth rates and job numbers for 31 separate occupations. It also examines solar employment at the state level.
The National Solar Jobs Census 2011 was conducted by The Solar Foundation and Green LMI (a division of BW Research Partnership) with technical assistance from Cornell University.
“By using high-quality research methodology, we can ensure that these numbers are as accurate as possible,” said John Bunge, Associate Professor in the Department of Statistical Science at Cornell University’s School of Industrial Labor Relations. “Using both primary and secondary data sources, along with careful statistical analysis, gives us high confidence in the results.”
Economic Modeling Specialists Inc.: http://www.economicmodeling.com/
National Solar Jobs Census 2010: http://www.thesolarfoundation.org/research/national-solar-jobs-census
About The Solar Foundation: The Solar Foundation is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit that, through research and education, promotes the use of solar energy to meet the world’s energy needs. Read more at www.TheSolarFoundation.org.