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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 28, 2011

Colorado Solar Permitting Fees May Fall With New Legislation

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/colorado-solar-permitting-fees-may-fall-new-legislation/

A few weeks ago we posted on the adverse impact of solar permitting fees on residential and other small-scale distributed solar PV projects.  Vote solar provides an update and progress in Colorado:

Vote Solar recently teamed up with COSEIA to collect and evaluate the current state of [solar] permitting in 34 local jurisdictions throughout the state.  Survey says? In practice, solar permitting requirements vary widely from one jurisdiction to the next due to different permitting plan review processes and other extraneous fees. This has resulted in piecemeal local permitting practices that are often costly, complex, non-transparent and time-intensive. The process is arduous for solar installers and increases costs to consumers. Among the 34 cities and counties surveyed, Breckenridge, Colorado Springs, and Denver are doing permits on the fast and cheap. On the slower, more expensive end are Arapahoe County, Aurora and Commerce City…

The findings reinforce the need for Colorado’s juridications to adopt standardized, streamlined solar permitting practices. The Colorado Fair Permit Act (HB 11-1199) has passed out of the House on a 64-1 vote and now moves on to the Senate. Stay tuned!

Solar permitting remains a looming cost barrier to distributed solar, so it’s great to see that Vote Solar’s Project:Permit is gaining traction.

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Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

Community Broadband, A Level Playing Field?

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/community-broadband-a-level-playing-field/

Communities pursuing their own broadband network are met with accusations from massive incumbent telephone and cable companies saying that it is not fair for local governments to compete against the private sector. Continue reading

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Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

iProvo for Dummies

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/iprovo-for-dummies/

Jesse Harris, of the Free UTOPIA blog, gave a presentation explaining broadband network concepts and definitions without technical jargon. Continue reading

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Article, Resource filed under Broadband | Written by admin | No Comments | Updated on Mar 27, 2011

Sascha Meinrath on Broadband

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/sascha-meinrath-on-broadband/

A short video of Sascha Meinrath discussing the power of community networks, the need for broadband competition, and why the National Broadband Plan misses the mark. Continue reading

Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 25, 2011

UK Solar Incentive Cuts May Also Distribute Solar Rewards More Widely

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/uk-solar-incentive-cuts-may-also-distribute-solar-rewards-more-widely/

A proposed revision to the United Kingdom’s feed-in tariff program may have created an uproar, but it may also help spread the economic benefits of solar more widely. 

The proposed changes, announced last week, would reduce solar payments for large solar projects (50 kilowatts and larger) by 50 percent or more, but leave payments for smaller projects largely intact.  The following tables illustrate:

Old Tariffs Price paid per kilowatt-hour
GBP USD Size
£0.41 $0.66 < 4kW retrofit
£0.36 $0.58 4 to 10 kW or <4 kW new build
£0.31 $0.51 10 to 100 kW
£0.29 $0.47 100 kW to 5 MW
 
New Tariffs Price paid per kilowatt-hour
GBP USD Size
£0.41 $0.66 < 4kW retrofit
£0.36 $0.58 4 to 10 kW or <4 kW new build
£0.31 $0.51 10 to 50 kW?
£0.19 $0.31 50 to 150 kW
£0.15 $0.24 150 to 250 kW
£0.09 $0.14 250 kW to 5 MW

The new tariffs will help redistribute more of the feed-in tariff (FIT) program revenue to smaller projects.  The most likely manner is simply by giving less money per kilowatt-hour (kWh) to the large projects, leaving more for the small projects.  The following charts will illustrate. 

Let’s assume that under the old FIT scheme, each project size tranche provided 25% of the solar PV projects under the program (see pie chart).

However, since a 2 MW project produces many more kWh than a 3 kW project, the revenues will skew heavily toward the larger projects.  For the sake of simplicity, I assumed that the midpoint of each size tranche was a representative project and that they all produced the same kWh per kilowatt of capacity. 

The revenue distribution can be seen in the second pie chart:

Essentially, all the FIT Program revenue was going to the largest projects.  Even if three-quarters of projects were under 4 kW, they would still only represent 3 percent of program revenue, with 93 percent accruing to the projects over 100 kW.

Under the new FIT scheme, the prices paid to larger solar PV projects are sharply reduced. With projects evenly distributed between the now six size tranches, much less of the program revenue goes to large projects.

The projects under 100 kW have roughly tripled their share, from 3 percent to 10 percent of revenues. 

Of course, the lower prices for large solar projects could have another impact: killing large solar projects completely.  Let’s assume that the new prices for projects over 50 kW (that experienced the steepest revenue decline) are simply too low and that all development ceases. 

The first pie chart shows the project allocation in the FIT program without any projects over 50 kW.  As described, we have an even distribution (# of projects) between the smallest three size categories, and no projects 50 kW or above.

The next chart shows the revenue allocation of the FIT program under this assumption.  Now, nearly 30 percent of program revenue accrues to projects 10 kW and smaller. 

If we assume that instead of an even allocation of projects, we have an even allocation of capacity between the size tranches (e.g. 30 MW, 30 MW, 30 MW), then the revenues would be split evenly between the remaining size categories and two-thirds of the solar FIT program would be flowing to solar projects 10 kW and smaller.

While it’s unlikely that the government plans to eliminate the large solar PV market with its price revisions, the overall effect is likely to be a transfer of program revenues to smaller projects.  The advantage in this strategy is that these revenues will be spread over a much larger number of projects and project owners, creating a larger constituency for supporting solar power and solar power policies.

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Article filed under Energy, Energy Self-Reliant States | Written by John Farrell | No Comments | Updated on Mar 25, 2011

Utilities in Ohio Claim They Can’t Meet State’s Solar Standard

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/utilities-ohio-claim-they-cant-meet-states-solar-standard/

Vote Solar reports that Ohio utility First Energy is claiming for the second straight year that it can’t meet the state’s solar carve out. 

First Energy Corp – which is parent company to Toledo Edison, Ohio Edison and Cleveland Electric Illuminating - reports that they were unable to find enough solar renewable energy credits in Ohio needed to satisfy their 2010 benchmark for solar energy. First Energy has filed for  force majeure for the second year in a row claiming that it was a circumstance beyond their control, a legal ‘act of God’,  that prevented the company from buying the needed SRECs….it’s awfully suspect that an Act of God would occur twice in a row.

It is, for two reasons. First, as we detailed in our 2009 report – Energy Self-Reliant States – Ohio is like many states in having sufficient rooftop space for solar PV to supply 20 percent of the state’s electricity.  There’s no shortage of sunshine.

Additionally, it’s far less expensive for the utility to buy solar than to pay the alternative compliance payment.  In 2011, utilities must either acquire the necessary solar renewable energy credits (RECs) or pay $400 per megawatt-hour (MWh) that they fail to acquire. 

However, a large-scale solar PV system in Ohio with an installed cost of $6 per Watt only needs 22.6 cents per kWh ($226 per MWh) to break even over 25 years (if they use federal incentives).  With a long-term contract with a known price for solar RECs (something they have yet to offer), First Energy can surely find a solar developer willing to help them out.

After all, that’s exactly what other Ohio utilities are doing:

First Energy could have followed the example of AEP Ohio, a neighboring utility that has successfully entered into a long term PPA with a 10 MW solar farm and is in development for another 49 MW solar facility as we write. If AEP can do it, so can First Energy.

First Energy’s problems with solar have little to do with God or their state’s solar resources, and everything to do with giving up.

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Article, ILSR Press Room filed under Broadband | Written by Christopher | No Comments | Updated on Mar 23, 2011

New Map of Publicly Owned Broadband Shows Impressive Coverage Across America

The content that follows was originally published on the Institute for Local Self-Reliance website at http://www.ilsr.org/new-map-publicly-owned-broadband-shows-impressive-coverage-across-america/

ILSR has released the Community Broadband Map, showing the location of over one hundred communities that have rejected the tyranny of existing carriers and built their own networks.  Along with the map, ILSR has released a report, Publicly Owned Broadband Networks: Averting the Looming Broadband Monopoly.

“The Community Broadband Map reveals the depth and breadth of publicly owned networks,” says Christopher Mitchell, Director of ILSR’s Telecommunications as Commons Initiative. 

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