PG&E noteholders propose injecting $29.2B in utility in exchange for majority stake

Author: Sept. 26, 2019  Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • A group of Pacific Gas & Electric noteholders on Wednesday proposed injecting $29.2 billion in new money into the bankrupt utility in exchange for control of the company and new debt ahead of the Thursday deadline for the utility’s exclusive filing period.
  • The proposal includes $14.5 billion to pay fire victims and $11 billion for insurance subrogation claims. In exchange, noteholders want 59.3% of the reorganized PG&E’s outstanding common stock.
  • Earlier this month PG&E filed its own plan for exiting Chapter 11, which included $17.9 billion to pay wildfire claims. On Wednesday, the utility requested a federal bankruptcy judge extend its period of exclusivity, during which only it can propose a reorganization plan, until Nov 29.

California proposes IOUs collect $900M annually for wildfire fund, with one major hurdle for PG&E

Author: RobertWalton@dogteamwetdog   Published: 9/25/19

Dive Brief:

  • The California Public Utilities Commission issued a proposed decisionMonday that would authorize the state’s investor-owned utilities to collect $902.4 million annually for a wildfire mitigation fund authorized by state lawmakers this summer.
  • The $21 billion fund would be seeded by both shareholders and ratepayers. AB 1054 determined that customers would pay into the fundthrough a $2.50 monthly charge on bills that has been in place since the state’s energy crisis, and had been slated to roll off.
  • For bankrupt Pacific Gas & Electric, the utility will need to exit Chapter 11 by a legislatively-set June 30, 2020, deadline in order to access the new fund.

Dive Insight:

California utilities say they are reviewing the proposed decision, but that it appears consistent with the legislature’s intent. The state’s utilities have all struggled with wildfire dangers — PG&E’s liabilities related to the state’s 2017 and 2018 fires helped push it into bankruptcy and set the stage for the fund’s creation.

At one point, PG&E said its fire liabilities could total $30 billion. The utility has since reached two major settlements.

Southern California Edison said it was reviewing the proposed decision, but “we agree that imposing a non-bypassable charge to support the wildfire fund is just and reasonable and consistent with the intent of AB 1054.”

The commission’s proposed order sets the maximum annual revenue requirement for the Wildfire Fund non-bypassable charge at $902.4 million, from the state’s three largest investor-owned utilities.

For PG&E, that would mean collections up to $404.6 million; Southern California Edison could collect up to $408.2 million, and San Diego Gas & Electric could collect $89.6 million.

The revenue requirements were legislatively set, and in line with AB 1054, according to the commission’s proposed decision, which notes that “once the revenue requirement is set by this decision it cannot be changed until 2036.”

Recommended Reading:

: Interview With Alfred D. Swailes Owner A&A Distributor

Author: Published: 9/25/19



Welcome to A&A Premium Paint Distributors! A&A Premium Paint Distributors is a family-owned and operated business located in Washington, DC. Since March 2009, we have provided premium paints, paint supplies and equipment to customers locally, nationally, and worldwide. Our company is licensed, insured and holds a variety of certifications.

A&A Premium Paint Distributors offer a voluminous inventory of economical and premium paint, supplies and equipment for various industries. Some of those industries include construction, commercial and residential properties, government, automobile, rail, aircraft, street and highway, healthcare, food and beverage, and fire protection.
We’ve made ordering bulk orders easy and efficient for you. To place an order, you may contact an A & A Premium Paint Distributor today or complete the voluntary form and a representative will promptly respond to your request.
Go Green Interior and Exterior Paints
Yes, you can still go green when it comes to painting. Purchasing premium paints reduces the number of coats, saving you time and consumption. A & A Premium Paint Distributors carry brands of ecological paints, known as eco-friendly. Eco-friendly paints are low-VOC, Formaldehyde-Free Paint, water based or Latex based that are low in odor and non-hazardous to the environment and people. Contact us for additional information about our green paint products.
Our Certifications:
  • Federal Government/ CCR/ Small Business/ DBE
  • US Department of Transportation/ DBE-MBE
  • Washington DC/ CBE and Section 3, DDOT
  • Maryland Certified- MBE/ DBE
  • VirginiaCertified-DBE
  • Airport LDBE

Call Us Today At ♦ (202) 409-5173

Business Hours


YP Reviews

Be the first to review us
Your feedback is important!

How to Pay for Commercial Solar: A Financing Guide for Contractors

Author: Gwen Brow Published: 9/24/2019     The Aurora Blog

C&I Financing Blog Post Cover - small

We explore some of the common commercial solar financing approaches, including power purchase agreements (PPAs), leases, energy services agreements, sale leasebacks, partnership flips, and solar loans. We introduce what you need to know about each, with insights from Dan Holloway, VP Origination & Acquisitions at Sustainable Capital Finance, and Conrad Chase, VP Sales and Business Development at PV Booster.

Financing options for solar projects can be complicated, and that is particularly true for commercial and industrial (C&I) solar projects. Yet understanding the available financing tools is essential for solar contractors operating in this space. After all, determining how to pay for a solar project of this size is a critical first step to getting the project off the ground.

In this article, Part 4 of our Unlocking Commercial Solar series, we provide an introduction to some of the common commercial solar financing options—including considerations for determining which may make sense in different instances. While the complexity of these financing mechanisms means that a deep exploration of each is beyond the scope of this article, we’ll get you familiar with the basics and include links to other sources where you can learn more.(Looking for a more introductory overview of solar finance for both residential and commercial projects? Check out our  Solar Finance Primer!)

We spoke with practitioners in the field to get real-world perspectives on these commercial solar financing mechanisms and what you should know about them. We talked with Dan Holloway, VP Origination & Acquisitions at Sustainable Capital Finance, a financier that provides commercial solar PPAs, and Conrad Chase, VP Sales and Business Development at PV Booster, a manufacturer of rooftop solar trackers for commercial and industrial rooftops.

Holloway is responsible for building and managing relationships with all of SCF’s Developer and EPC Partners. He previously worked at Cobalt Power, a large EPC in Mountain View, California, where he was involved in the origination, development, construction and financing of over 200 solar projects. Chase as well has worked with many commercial clients to help them navigate the commercial solar financing process.

Aurora Solar supports both residential and commercial solar design and sales.

Learn more in a free demo.

In the commercial solar sector, there are a variety of different ways that a project can be financed, but some of the most common are: solar power purchase agreements (PPAs), solar leases, energy services agreements, tax equity financing structures such as sale leasebacks and partnership flips, and cash or loanpurchases of the system. Let’s take a closer look at each.

We’ll start off with PPAs and leases, two of the most prevalent options for financing C&I solar projects. As we explain in our primer on solar financing options,under both PPAs and leases, the PV system is owned by a third-party financier—rather than the solar developer or the customer who will use the power it produces.

The third-party owner will receive any tax incentives from the system, such as the 30% Federal Investment Tax Credit (ITC) and depreciation. They can pass those savings on to the customer in the rates they offer, making this a preferred option for customers with low or no tax liability (i.e. taxes owed)—such as nonprofits. However, in both leases and PPAs, the commercial customer may be given the option to buy the PV system at certain points during or at the end of the contract.


Under the terms of a PPA, the solar customer agrees to purchase the power the solar energy that is produced by the PV system from the system owner at a certain price over a set number of years. The term length of a PPA typically ranges from 10 to 25 years.

A solar power purchase agreement or PPA has historically been one of the dominant ways that commercial solar projects are financed. Holloway notes that, in the commercial and industrial sector, PPAs are “still the primary funding source that I’m aware of.”

And as noted above, the ability for customers without high tax bills to indirectly benefit from another entity taking tax incentives on their behalf is also a big contributor to the popularity of PPAs. “Nonprofits, and other organizations that do not have the ability to take advantage of the Investment Tax Credit—think schools, municipalities, churches, and charities like Boys and Girls Clubs—is in a position where there’s no other way that they can take advantage of the ITC; they need someone to do that on their behalf. And [one of] the only financing vehicle[s] they can use to do that would be a PPA.”

PPAs are popular for other reasons as well. One is that they can be structured so that there is no upfront payment (no money down) required from the customer. Additionally, the long-term nature of some PPAs (e.g. 25 years) can allow for lower payments.

PPAs may also be structured with an escalator—meaning that the price the customer pays for the energy they purchase will increase at a certain rate over time. For customers looking to maximize their savings at the outset, escalators provide a mechanism for lower costs at the start of the contract.

PPA Considerations

If there is an escalator in the agreement, customers should look closely to see how the rate of increase compares to historic rate increases from their utility. While no one can read the future and know exactly how a utility’s rates will increase, it’s important that the escalator is based on reasonable assumptions of future utility rate increases. This minimizes the risk that the customer someday ends up paying more for solar energy than they would have buying power from the grid.

(You can also learn more about our partnership with SCF in this blog post.)


Leases are another common way of financing commercial solar properties, and they share a number of similarities with PPAs. As with PPAs, the PV system is owned by a third-party financier and the deal can be structured so that there is no upfront payment.

However, instead of purchasing the actual power produced by the system at a per-kWh price as would be the case in a PPA, under a lease the customer pays a fixedrate over a set number of years. While this fixed rate is based on the estimated production of the system and it’s assumed value, the cost that the customer pays is not directly tied to system production.

Whereas under a PPA, the customer’s solar bill will fluctuate seasonally with lower charges when the system produces less, a customer will a solar lease knows that their payments will always be the same. On the one hand, this provides consistency and the ability to plan costs; on the other, if production is lower than anticipated for reasons other than a problem with the system—for instance, during an unusually rainy year—the customers bill will not be proportionally reduced.

Similarly, due to the fixed nature of lease payments, leases do not include escalators as many PPAs do.

Types of Leases: Operating vs. Capital Leases

There are two types of solar leases, with different accounting implications for companies: capital leases and operating leases. While an exploration of the full accounting implications of operating versus capital leases is beyond the scope of this article, a primary difference between the two is that operating leases are not held on the balance sheet of the company, while capital leases are.

As Holloway explains, “Most companies primarily use operating leases in the [C&I solar] space, as capital leases end up on your balance sheet. Most companies prefer to keep as much of their financing off balance sheet as possible for the simple reason that it decreases the amount that they can borrow.”

In essence, an operating lease acts more like renting equipment, whereas a capital lease acts more like a loan and includes some of the benefits and risks of ownership.

Lease Term Length

The length of a solar lease can vary widely, from as few as seven years to as many as 25. However, commercial solar leases are often shorter than commercial solar PPAs. “While it’s possible to offer longer term Operating Leases, this is not currently the industry norm,” says Holloway. “In my experience, the vast majority of operating leases still fall into the 7-10 year term length category.”

The length of the lease will impact how much the customer pays. As Holloway explains, “If you only have seven or 10 years to amortize those payments, those payments are going to be considerably higher” than a longer-term agreement.

Energy Service Agreements

Another type of commercial solar financing that is similar to an operating lease is an Energy Service Agreement. As the American Council for an Energy Efficient Economy explains, “Under an ESA, a service provider delivers energy-saving services using equipment it owns and operates.” Like an operating lease, this is a type of off-balance sheet financing, making it popular with businesses.

While legally distinct from leases, in practice, ESAs are similar to operating leases in that the customer pays a fixed rate for the “service” of solar energy (though ESAs can also be used to finance a variety of other building energy upgrades). In many cases, the ESA provider guarantees a certain level of energy savings.

Chase explains that many companies—especially ones with multiple sites or portfolios of properties—“often use energy service agreements as a no-risk way to finance a number of energy improvements, and essentially receive a guarantee of savings.”

Tax Equity Project Financing: Sale Leasebacks and Partnership Flips

As you can probably tell from our coverage of leases and PPAs above, the “tax equity” of a solar project—or the ability to reduce taxes owed by taking advantage of certain policy incentives like the ITC—is a valuable commodity for entities with high enough tax bills to make use of it.

While tax equity is important in many types of solar financing like PPAs and leases, there are other types of financing agreements that have been developed specifically for the purpose of allowing certain groups with high tax bills (tax equity investors) to utilize the tax equity of a project in exchange for investment.

These tax equity deals are a special category of solar project finance. They includepartnership flips and sale leasebacks, among other structures. While these arrangements are too complex to cover fully in this article, we’ll provide a brief introduction to them and the basics of how they work.

Partnership Flips

In a partnership flip, a deal is structured so that the tax equity investor receives the majority (e.g. 99%) of income allocation of the project for a certain duration of time—specifically until the ITC recapture period has elapsed.. Following that point, the contract specifies that their allocation “flips” such that they can be bought out, or stay in the partnership while being allocated a minority (e.g. 1%) of the project’s income & cash allocations, with the majority then being allocated to the project sponsor.

As Holloway explains, “The tax equity partner’s goal is to monetize virtually all of the tax benefits. Their goal is not to own the asset for the long term… [just to] be a partner in the deal until the benefits of the tax equity—the ITC, depreciation, etc.—have been monetized.”

“At that point the tax equity partner “flips” out of the deal; they go from being [for example] a 99% income allocation partner to 1%. Then the sponsor has a 99% allocation, and they are in it for the long haul.”

A partnership flip is one of the most common forms of tax equity financing in solar.

See how Aurora helps solar companies design and sell better solar

Sale Leasebacks

In a sale leaseback, the tax equity investor purchases the PV system from the project sponsor. They then lease the system back to the project sponsor who retains the right to use and operate the system and receive revenue through its operation. The sponsor has the option to purchase the system at some point.

Transaction Costs Impact the Use of These Financing Options

Solar project finance deals like these bring together several parties with different interests and goals in a project. Negotiating legal terms that are acceptable to all can be costly. As Chase explains, “because there are so many parties involved, there are high transaction costs to securing this type of finance.”

These high costs typically mean that such deals only make sense for large projects above a certain value. In addition to the large commercial sector, these types of finance structures are well established in utility scale; however, they are impractical for many smaller commercial projects.

Debt Financing (Loans)

In addition to the variety of financing options discussed above, in which ownership of the PV system is held by someone other than the user of the solar energy (at least for a period of time), a commercial solar customer can choose to purchase their PV system—outright (cash) or through a loan.

In these cases, the tax benefits go to the customer. Since cash deals are straightforward, we’ll restrict our discussion to loans. Solar loans are similar in many ways to other types of loans that you may be familiar with in your daily life.

Types of Debt Financing

There are multiple types of loans, including secured loans, which are “secured” by the lessee’s assets, and unsecured loans, which are not. For customers comfortable using their assets—like their real estate property—as collateral, secured loans can enable customers to get a better rate or to get a loan that they might not otherwise qualify for. To do that, the customer must own their building.

Additionally, another form of debt financing that has emerged in some areas is Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) financing. In PACE financing, the loan for the solar installation (or other property improvements, like energy efficiency upgrades) are repaid in the property taxes of the project site. PACE is only available in areas that have enabling legislation, but can be another good option of financing solar—particularly since in some cases the loan can be repaid over as many as 30 years.

Debt Financing Considerations

A key limitation when comes to solar loans is whether the project owner (commercial customer) has strong enough credit to get a rate that makes this option financially feasible—or to get a loan at all. For large companies this may be straightforward, but for others, especially small businesses, it can be a challenge.

Chase explains why asset-backed lending can be a good option for some customers. “Say your commercial solar customer is a building owner—a family business that’s been around for 20 years and they don’t have investment grade credit. They still may qualify for a loan, but they may have to have a very high interest rate. Ultimately, they may determine it’s not worth it, depending on how much they’re saving.”

“The benefit of PACE or a real estate loan is that their credit rating is not an issue because the loan is backed by the actual asset value of the property. That directly opens up project financing for solar and other energy upgrades to a whole group of customers that didn’t have access before.”

Of course, whether this option is a fit depends on the goals of the commercial property owner. For instance, the lower borrowing rates of a real estate-backed loan may be appealing companies that plan to own the project site for the long-term—particularly if the solar project increases the value of their property. However, it would make less sense for a customer interested in selling their property.

As you can likely tell, commercial solar finance can be complex! In this article we’ve only scratched the surface of the details of each of these common solar financing methods: solar PPAs, solar leases, energy service agreements, tax equity financing structures including but not limited to sale leasebacks and partnership flips, and debt financing.

Depending on the role your solar company takes in C&I solar projects, you don’t need to be an expert in these kinds of solar financing mechanisms. However, it is important to understand the diverse financing options available and their implications. This will let you guide your commercial customer in understanding what options may be available to them and what questions they may want to ask.

Determining how to pay for the system is a critical first step to closing the sale, so the more you can do to help your commercial customer navigate this (sometimes daunting) process, the more likely you’ll be able win commercial solar business.

Santee Cooper to shutter half its coal over next decade

Credit: Flickr; Mrs. Gemstone

Dive Brief:

Interview with Larry Sally | Interim Chairman Benedict College(CDAC)-HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant

Author: HBCUColition@gmail          Published: March 20, 2018

BCU CDAC Leadership


  • Ron Butler | Executive Director
  • Larry Sally | Interim Chairman (Benedict College)
  • Jeffrey Higgs | Treasurer (LeMoyne-Owen College)
  • Linda Tillman | Secretary (Langston University)
  • Bobby Pamplin | Parlimentarian (Hinds Community College)

About Us

HBCU Community Development Action Coalition promotes, supports, and advocates for historically black colleges and minority serving institutions (MSIs), community development corporations (CDCs), and the community economic development industry whose work creates wealth, builds healthy and sustainable communities, and achieves lasting economic viability.  HBCU CDAC fulfills its mission of service to its members working in disinvested urban and rural communities through education, resource development, advocacy, networking, and training.

CDAC Board of Directors List 2016/2017

Member Office/Member Institution/Company Contact Information
Larry Salley Chairman Benedict College
Henry Golatt Vice Chairman
Morris Autry Secretary
Ilene Garner Treasurer University of the Virgin Islands
Cynthia Beaulieu Member Southern University at New Orleans
Darrin Dixon Member Southern University at Shreveport
Murphy Cheatham Member DeSoto Economic Development Corporation
Barry Gregory Member Grants and contracts management professional
K. Lavon Burbank To Be Confirmed as Member Community Development Relationship Manager


Name Title Time in Position Contact Information
Ron Butler CEO 6 years
Henry Golatt COO 1 year
Natasha Campbell Chief Strategist New
Danielle Le blanc National Initiatives Director New
Ray Parris Social Media Manager New

HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant

March 20, 2018 — The Historically Black Colleges and University Community Development Coalition (HBCU CDAC) – a national non-profit organization that promotes, supports, and advocates for HBCUs and minority serving institutions, and community development corporations (CDCs) – was awarded a $250,000 one-year planning grant from The JPB Foundation. The grant was awarded to expand access to clean energy in low-income communities and aligns with two of The JPB Foundation’s program areas – environmental and poverty. The JPB Foundation awarded the grant to the HBCU CDAC in partnership with Benedict College to develop a comprehensive strategic implementation plan to pilot eight (8) clean energy and sustainability projects in HBCU communities across the country.

“The $250,000 grant is a significant milestone in our larger vision of activating HBCUs to leverage their know how and resources to strengthen the vitality of their surrounding communities,” shares Ron Butler, Chief Executive Officer of the HBCU CDAC. “We see clean energy as an opportunity to foster healthy and sustainable communities, create economic opportunity for local residents through job training and entrepreneurship, and close the gap in the innovation economy.

The grant was specifically awarded to support the HBCU Clean Energy Initiative (HBCU CEI), a coalition of fourteen (14) HBCUs established in 2017 pursuant to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the HBCU CDAC and the United States Department of Energy (DOE). The MOU formed a partnership between the DOE and the HBCU CDAC to promote clean energy adaptation and economic opportunities in the communities where HBCUs are located. The grant will allow the HBCU CDAC to catalyze the wealth of HBCU faculty and student talent to build on its relationships within local communities and deepen its role as an innovative leader in transforming economically challenged and underserved communities. Further, the grant will help to identify, create, and expand access to opportunities in the clean energy economy for families who live in HBCU communities as well as HBCU students and faculty.

“HBCUs graduate twenty-five percent of African–American STEM graduates, uniquely positioning them and the communities they serve to be global leaders in the growing solar and energy efficiency industries,” said Congresswoman Alma Adams who heads the Congressional HBCU Caucus and has been a strong advocate of the HBCU clean energy initiative. I’m thrilled to learn that HBCU CDAC has received this significant grant to further their investment as these 14 HBCUs, including Johnson C. Smith University in North Carolina, and I look forward to continuing to work together to increase the resources available to HBCUs and the students they serve.”

During the year-long strategic planning period, HBCU CDAC will engage HBCU faculty and students, local residents, job seekers, businesses, local government, clean energy experts, and other key stakeholders through a series of round table discussions and targeted conversations to validate the eight (8) pilot projects and gather stakeholder feedback around the projects. The pilot projects include: 1) solar panel installation in low income communities and job training for the installation, 2) ground mount solar on HBCU campuses to reduce utility costs, 3) community awareness and education to include youth employment programs, 4) a national HBCU campus energy challenge, 5) STEM-enrichment program for K-12 students, 6) creation of a sustainable business model for each HBCU community, 7) industry wide diversity and inclusion campaign to create career pathways in clean energy, and 8) developing tools and resources that help grow and develop new and existing businesses in the clean energy economy.

Ultimately, the comprehensive strategic implementation plan developed under the grant will be submitted to The JPB Foundation for consideration for a major grant to implement the pilot projects.

The HBCU CEI seeks to bring to scale the Baltimore Solar Initiative, which became of success of how to create jobs and train local residents to join the solar industry workforce while expanding access to solar energy for low-income residents in the communities surrounding Morgan State University. The Baltimore Solar Initiative was co-led by HBCU CDAC participating institution, Morgan State University, and a number of local Baltimore sustainability stakeholders. The HBCU CDAC seeks to replicate that success given its potential to meaningfully impact the lives of individuals with the greatest need.

Participating colleges and universities include:

Benedict College, South Carolina
Claflin University, South Carolina
Coppin State University, Maryland
Florida Memorial University, Florida
Johnson C. Smith University, North Carolina
Morgan State University, Maryland
Norfolk State University, Virginia
North Carolina A and T University, North Carolina
Prairie View A and M University, Texas
Southern University, Louisiana
Tennessee State University, Tennessee
Texas Southern University, Texas
University of Maryland Eastern Shore, Maryland
University of the Virgin Island, USVI

About the HBCU Community Development Action Coalition:
The HBCU Community Development Action Coalition promotes, supports, and advocates for historically black colleges and minority serving institutions (MSIs), community development corporations (CDCs), and the community economic development industry whose work creates wealth, builds healthy and sustainable communities, and achieves lasting economic viability. HBCU CDAC fulfills its mission of service to its members working in disinvested urban and rural communities through education, resource development, advocacy, networking, and training.

About The JPB Foundation
The JPB Foundation was established to advance opportunity in the United States through transformational initiatives that empower those living in poverty, enrich and sustain our environment, and enable pioneering medical research.


Dallas Post Tribune
HBCU-led Clean Energy Initiative Receives $250,000 Grant – 3/24
The Triangle Tribune (Durham)
Circulation: 10,000
HBCU-led clean energy initiative receives grant – 3/26
The Carolinian (Raleigh)
Circulation: 1,205
HBCU-Community Development Coalition led clean energy initiative receives grant (pg 7) – 3/22
San Bernardino American News
Circulation: 10,000
HBCU-led clean energy initiative receives grant (pg 7) – 3/22
Inside Philanthropy
UVPM: 158,131
A Rising Foundation Looks to Historically Black Colleges as Clean Energy Leaders 3/28

Interview With Eric Darrisaw

Author:  Ronald Bethea          Published:9/17/2019     PCPC LLC

Eric Darrisaw

Eric Darrisaw

Omniresearch Group

Greater New York City Area


Omniresearch Group ( provides quantitative analytics, workshops, specialized research, consulting and emerging manager services to Plan Sponsors and money managers.

Services include: risk management performance measurement and attribution, asset liability modeling, transition consulting, transaction cost review, peer group analysis and hedge fund portfolio construction

For more information please contact 347 582 7538 or


Join now to see all activity

NFI, Penske to deploy electric trucks in Southern California

Author:       Published: August 28,2019    Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • NFI and Penske will use electric eCascadia trucks built by Daimler in their operations, the automaker said this week on Twitter.
  • Penske will use the trucks in its Southern California network, while NFI will use them in its drayage operations. NFI ordered 10 of the trucks. It’s not clear how many Penske ordered.
  • “NFI will operate the eCascadia as part of its drayage fleet that runs between the Port of Los Angeles and our 15 million sq. ft. distribution campus in Chino, CA,” Bill Bliem, the senior vice president of Fleet Services at NFI, told Supply Chain Dive in an email. “The port operations are perfect for providing feedback on these trucks, and as range and weight capabilities enhance, we intend to expand into other dedicated operations.”

Dive Insight:

NFI’s test case in drayage is a good candidate for electrification, according to Suzanne Greene, the manager of the Sustainable Supply Chains program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “Drayage is a good option because they know where their chargers are, they know what their route is,” Greene said in an interview with Supply Chain Dive.

Some drayage operations have even looked into the use of overhead catenary wires to power trucks, she said. The kind of equipment being run by carriers and logistics providers is becoming increasingly important for shippers who are making commitments to reduce their carbon footprint throughout their supply chain.

But it can be difficult for shippers to demand carriers use electric fleets. Greene worked with her colleagues at MIT to see if they could negotiate with big logistics providers bringing goods onto campus to use “electric anything,” she said. “We couldn’t make that happen.”

Greene said they’re still working on it and offering the status as a preferred carrier to whatever company can make it happen. Some companies were eager to meet the request but not able to say yes.

“When we were doing that, I definitely felt like we were pushing the envelope,” she said.

A shipper with more heft in the industry, like Walmart, might have more luck with this kind of demand. But even then, it comes down money. “That is the big question, right?” Greene said. “Who pays?”

U.S.-based shippers interested in picking their carriers based on fuel efficiency can turn to the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay tool to see average fleet emissions. Of course, this average isn’t going to change much with just a handful of electric vehicles, so a direct conversation with the carrier can be helpful, Greene said.

“When people start asking these questions and asking for electrified trucking then the carriers will move,” Greene said. “They want to serve us and make money, but we have to be asking these questions.”

These are not the first carriers to start the process of electrifying their California fleets. DHL announced the addition of 63 electric delivery vehicles earlier this year, and the U.S. Postal Service said it was piloting electric cargo vans for routes in Fresno, California.

A lot of this change is currently taking place in California, where regulations likely play a role. The California Air Resources Board has set rules for truck manufacturers requiring a certain percentage of their sales be electric trucks by specific years, according to Trucks. The CARB recently provided one-on-one assistance to truck drivers and fleet owners looking to understand the latest air quality rules and how to comply.

Dominion launches electric school bus initiative, aims for 100% electric fleet in Virginia territory by 2030

Author: Robert Walton                Published: 8/30/19     Utility Dive

Dive Brief:

  • Dominion Energy on Thursday unveiled an electric transportation initiative aimed at replacing all diesel school busses in its Virginia service territory with electric busses capable of operating as a grid asset.
  • The utility wants to have 50 buses operating by the end of 2020 and 1,000 in 2025. Doubling that, the third phase of the program calls for reaching 100% electric buses by 2030.
  • Dominion says zero-emissions buses will improve air quality and reduce carbon emissions, while school districts would also see lower costs. The utility would pick up the price difference in cost between EV and diesel models.

Dive Insight:

Dominion’s bus replacement program looks like an easy win for school districts, but the utility says benefits will extend further by helping manage the electric grid and incorporating renewable energy.

“Once phase 2 is fully implemented, the buses’ batteries could provide enough energy to power more than 10,000 homes,” Dominion said in a statement. The buses will serve as a grid resource by storing wind and solar energy, and then injecting energy onto the grid during peak demand when the buses are not needed for transportation.

Dominion said it plans to offset the additional costs of the electric buses, including charging infrastructure. Operating and maintenance costs are lower with electric school buses, and the utility said this can provide a 60% annual cost reduction for districts.

“We’re committed to lowering our carbon emissions, but we can’t do it alone,” Dominion Chairman, President and CEO Thomas Farrell II said in a statement. “Transportation is the number one source of carbon emissions in the US … We think that electric school buses will provide a wide range of benefits for the customers and communities we serve, including cleaner air, cost savings for school districts, and enhanced grid reliability.”

The utility will need authorization from the state to move ahead with the program, and it has already brought on board Gov. Ralph Northam, D, who said the state is “leading the way in promoting electric vehicle technology and improving our environment.”

Dominion sad it has planned a “tele-town hall meeting” for Wednesday to provide school districts with more information about the program.

“Bus manufacturers will be able to submit bids through an RFP process and school districts can express their interest in participating in this groundbreaking program to receive the buses as soon as next year,” Dominion said.

The initial rollout is expected to cost $13.5 million, which Dominion saidwould not be passed on to customers.

School buses and other large fleets are being considered for their potential to act as grid resources. Earlier this month, California regulators approved a $1.7 million San Diego Gas & Electric pilot that will connect 10 electric school buses with the state’s energy market.

Former FERC adviser puts $5.7B price tag on PJM’s clean energy market policy

Author: l     Published: 9/3/2019   Utility Dive

PJM’s proposal to prevent state energy policies from affecting market prices is one of several high profile issues that could see advancement at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) with the Aug. 31 retirement of Commissioner Cheryl LaFleur.

But that policy could increase costs in PJM’s $10 billion capacity market by $5.7 billion a year, according to a study released Wednesday by Michael Goggin and Rob Gramlich, vice president and founder, respectively, of consulting firm Grid Strategies.

The report is a way to account for FERC and Regional Transmission Operator (RTO) interference, Gramlich, former advisor to ex-Commissioner Pat Wood, said in an email to reporters. By attempting to remove the market influence of state subsidies, the price floor for capacity auctions would increase and lead to higher near term capacity price charges in customer bills. Grid Strategies’ study says customers in the PJM area would pay on average $6 more on their monthly bills under PJM’s proposal.

“PJM’s markets are currently facing a complex scenario where one state’s policy choices are impacting other states that may not have the same policy view.”

Susan Buehler Spokesperson, PJM Interconnection

Utilities Missing Out On Intelligent Automation Opportunities

Author: CAPGENINI Published: 9/17/2019

The traditional utilities business model is under pressure worldwide, but new technologies have the power to transform the industry. Intelligent Automation opens the possibility of using digital technologies to streamline operations and deliver a better customer experience.
Your competitors are already getting ahead:

  • Vermont Electric Power Company is using data science and machine learning to develop a weather forecasting system. That means more efficient solar and wind farms.
  • GE Renewable Energy is designing virtual wind farms with machine learning to optimize production of individual turbines.
  • Exelon is resolving complaints on outages and bills with an AI-powered chatbot which is reducing churn and improving the customer experience.

Do not get left behind. Resistance to automation can be an issue but these initiatives are vital to meet the growing demand for clean, cheap, reliable energy. Early adopters are already gaining a competitive advantage, so make sure you are ready to deliver the utility of the future. Find the right use cases that can deliver high value with minimal complexity. Read how Intelligent Automation will transform the utilities industry.


Copyright 2019 Industry Dive

Crowdfunding platform launches $20M Opportunity Zone fund

Author: Mary Diduch    Published: September 09, 2019 12:43 PM    TRD NATIONAL

CrowdStreet CEO Tore Steen and vice president Darren Powderly (Credit: CrowdStreet and iStock)

CrowdStreet CEO Tore Steen and vice president Darren Powderly (Credit: CrowdStreet and iStock)

A crowdfunding platform is piling into Opportunity Zones.

CrowdStreet is launching a $20 million fund that will target new developments and redevelopments in small and mid-market designated Opportunity Zones, the Oregon-based firm said Monday.

The firm did not specify in which cities it is looking to place investor capital. However, the targets do not appear to be major gateway markets.

“These markets are up-and-coming metro areas with population and job growth rates that, in many cases, are outpacing larger 24-hour cities such as New York and San Francisco,” said CrowdStreet’s Ian Formigle in a statement.

The fund will be managed through CrowdStreet Advisors, the company’s registered investment advisory service that administers real estate investments for its clients.

Numerous Opportunity Zone-related funds have popped up over the last year and a half, seeking to capitalize on the program that provides long-term investors significant tax benefits for pouring capital into designated regions, most of which are distressed.

Starwood Capital Group and Brookfield Asset Management are among the firms that also launched massive Opportunity Zone funds for projects across the country.

CrowdStreet said it also has raised equity on its marketplace for six projects located in Opportunity Zones. Since its launch in 2014, the firm said it has crowdfunded $700 million in capital through its platform for real estate projects across the country.

Solar ITC Extension Would Be ‘Devastating’ for US Wind Market: WoodMac



The booming U.S. wind industry faces an uncertain future in the 2020s. Few factors are more important than the fate of the solar ITC.

The U.S. is on track to add a record 14.6 gigawatts of new wind capacity in 2020, and nearly 39 gigawatts during a three-year installation boom from 2019 to 2021, according to Wood Mackenzie’s 2019 North America Wind Power Outlook.

But the market’s trajectory begins to look highly uncertain from the early 2020s onward, and solar is one of the main reasons why, the report says.

Since the dawn of the modern American renewables market, the wind and solar sectors have largely been allies on the national stage, benefiting from many of the same clean-energy policies and sharing big-picture goals. Until recently, wind and solar companies rarely found themselves in direct competition.

But the picture is changing as solar catches up to wind on cost and the grid penetration of renewables surges. What was once a vague alliance between the two fastest growing renewables technologies could morph into a serious rivalry.

While many project developers are now active in both sectors, including NextEra Energy Resources, Invenergy and EDF, the country’s thriving base of wind manufacturers could face tougher days ahead.

The ITC’s inherent advantage

At this point, wind remains solar’s bigger sibling in many ways.

But it’s long been clear that wind would lose its edge at some point. The annual solar market now regularly tops wind. The cost of solar energy is falling more rapidly, and appears to have more runway for further reduction. Solar’s inherent generation pattern is more valuable in many markets, delivering power during peak-demand hours, while the wind often blows strongest at night.

And then there’s the matter of the solar ITC.

In 2015, both wind and solar secured historic multi-year extensions to their main federal subsidies. The extensions gave both industries the longest period of policy clarity they’ve ever enjoyed, setting in motion a tidal wave of installations set to crest over the next few years.

Even back in 2015, however, it was clear that solar got the better deal in Washington, D.C.

While the wind production tax credit (PTC) began phasing down for new projects almost immediately, solar developers were given until the end of 2019 to qualify projects for the full ITC.

And critically, while the wind PTC drops to nothing after its sunset, commercially owned solar projects will remain eligible for a 10 percent ITC forever, based on the existing legislation. Over time, that amounts to a huge advantage for solar.

In another twist, the solar industry is now openly fighting for an extension of the 30 percent ITC, while the wind industry seemingly remains cooler on the prospect of pushing for a similar prolongation — having said the current PTC extension would be the last.

Plenty of tailwinds, too

If things go well, annual installations could bounce back to near-record levels by 2027 after a mid-decade contraction, the report says. But if they go badly, installations could remain depressed at 4 gigawatts or below from 2022 through most of the coming decade, and that includes an anticipated uplift from the offshore market.

An extension of the solar ITC without additional wind support would “severely compound” the wind market’s struggle to rebound in the 2020s, the report says. The already-evident shift in corporate renewables procurement from wind to solar could intensify dramatically.

The other big challenge for wind in the 2020s is the lack of progress on transmission infrastructure that would connect potentially massive low-cost wind farms in interior states with bigger population centers. A hoped-for national infrastructure package that might address the issue has not materialized.

Even so, many in the wind business remain cautiously optimistic about the post-PTC years, and developers continue to build out longer-term project pipelines.

Turbine technology continues to improve. And an extension of the solar ITC is far from assured.

Other factors that could work in wind’s favor in the years ahead include:

  • The nascent offshore sector, which despite lingering regulatory uncertainty at the federal level looks set to blossom into a multi-gigawatt annual market by the mid-2020s. Lobbying efforts for an offshore wind ITC extension are gearing up, offering a potential area for cooperation between wind and solar.
  • The potential linkage of policy support for energy storage to wind projects, building on the current linkage with solar.
  • Growing electric vehicle sales and a shift toward time-of-use retail electricity billing, which could boost power demand during off-peak hours when wind generation is strong.
  • The land-use advantages wind farms have over solar in some agricultural regions.


Earth to Congress: You Can Deliver a Climate Win Today

Author:         Published: 

The solar ITC is set to begin phasing down for new projects at the end of this year.

The solar ITC is set to begin phasing down for new projects at the end of this year.

As politicians eye 2020 elections, they’re missing a glaring opportunity to deliver a win on climate for all Americans.

While a major climate bill seems unlikely in advance of the 2020 election, Congress doesn’t need to wait to take action on our energy future. We already have proven, successful policies on the books that can help.

Earlier this summer, more than 900 solar companies sent a letter to Congress calling for an extension of the 30 percent solar investment tax credit (ITC). Without politically viable options on the table to address climate change, the ITC is the strongest policy we have to create clean energy jobs, invest billions into our economy, and power our country with carbon-free and reliable solar energy.

We know the ITC works — it’s a proven bipartisan tax policy that helped create the solar industry we know today. Since its inception in 2006 under President Bush, solar prices have dropped more than 80 percent and cumulative solar deployment has increased by more than 10,000 percent. The ITC has generated $140 billion in private investment, created thousands of U.S. businesses and more than 200,000 jobs.

This American success story is still being written, and we have a chance to build on it with an extension of the ITC. Preliminary research from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables shows that by 2030, an extension of the credit would result in an additional 81 gigawatts of solar deployment. To put that in context, extending the ITC would result in 363 million fewer metric tons of CO2 emissions added to our atmosphere from 2020 to 2030. Those are real results for our climate and our economic future.

Looking ahead to 2030, solar will be the leading source of new electricity generation as cities and states aim to power their operations with increasing amounts of renewable energy on short timelines.

To be clear, the solar industry makes a strong business case on its own. Regardless of what happens in Washington, the industry will keep growing. It’s not about standing on our own two feet but about maximizing the benefits of this clean energy resource for all Americans.

Polling shows that Republicans and Democrats agree that there is a need to address climate policy. The costs of not acting will be in the trillions of dollars.

Our push to extend the ITC is about accelerating the growth of energy sources that preserve the climate and public health. Through policy certainty and the right recipe for private investment, we can deploy the 420 gigawatts of solar we’ll need to reach our 2030 goals. It’s about companies hiring more workers from communities across the country and it will spur innovation. Letting the ITC expire will effectively stifle market opportunities for the 10,000 companies that work in the industry today, and to whose benefit?

As we race ahead to the 2020s — what we’re calling the Solar+ Decade — solar will combine with storage, wind and other renewables to completely reshape our energy landscape. To do this, we need the right policy mechanisms in place. The ITC is one piece of this puzzle, and we’ll need to continue our state-level advocacy efforts as incumbent generators fight to stave off obsolescence.

Already, members of Congress are beginning to see the importance of this policy to so many Americans. A bipartisan coalition recently introduced the Renewable Energy Extension Act, which calls for a five-year extension of the ITC.

As Congress returns from August recess, one thing should be crystal clear: Now is not the time to turn our backs on one of the most successful federal policies we have to reduce emissions, today.


Abigail Ross Hopper is president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), the national trade organization for the U.S. solar energy industry.

2019 Maryland Solar Congress

Author: Lauren Barchi            Published: August 27, 2019

Join solar supporters from around the state for a day of learning and celebration

Dear Ronald,

We’re excited to share with you a day full of solar learning, sharing, and celebrating at the 2019 Maryland Solar Congress. We’ve lined up a full slate of presentations, group discussions, and workshops designed for every level of solar knowledge. Whether you’re a long-time solar advocate, a solar newbie, or somewhere in between, we’ve got something for you.

Saturday, September 14, 2019
9:30 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Homer S. Gudelsky Institute for Technical Education (GITE)
1264-1398 Hungerford Drive
Rockville, MD 20850

RSVP today!

The 2019 Maryland Solar Congress brings together solar supporters from across the state to learn and discuss the current solar landscape and future for solar energy in Maryland. Breakfast and lunch will be provided for all attendees. Read on for a full agenda of the day’s activities. The event is FREE and open to the public, and everyone is welcome to attend!

Can’t wait to see you there!

Lauren Barchi
Maryland Program Director
Solar United Neighbors


9:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.      Registration, breakfast refreshments

10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.    Welcome Remarks

10:40 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.    Presentations – Session 1

–    Solar 101
Learn about how solar works for a residential home—from the equipment, how it connects to your roof, warranties, incentives, and financing options.

–    Community Solar 101
Learn about Community Solar and how it can enable individuals, businesses, or organizations to purchase or lease a “share” in a community solar project.

11:40 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.    Presentations – Session 2

–    Zoning Laws and Grassroots Advocacy
We will be discussing the recent changes in statewide zoning laws, and what they mean for the future of solar. We will also be talking about how you can get involved with the Solar United Neighbors Advocacy Team to fight for your solar rights!

–    Solar 201 – Battery Storage and Electric Vehicles
Technology is advancing every day. In this discussion, we will break down the new solar-adjacent technologies, and discuss how they integrate with distributed electricity generation.

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.      Lunch and Electric Vehicle Showcase

Sign up to bring an EV »

1:30 p.m. – 2:20 p.m.        Presentations – Session 3

–    Solar Homeowner Panel
Hear from real solar homeowners on what it means to go solar. The panelists are all solar homeowners who will discuss their experience with Solar United Neighbors, and how solar homeownership has benefited them.

–    Solar Democracy and Equity Collaborative
Solar United Neighbors is now a part of the Solar Democracy and Equity Collaborative. This group is made up of 6 pro-solar organizations working to expand access to solar for low and moderate income communities. We will discuss the collaborative and how Solar United Neighbors will be participating.

2:30 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.        Participatory Open Forum Discussion

We will re-convene at the end of the day to discuss themes, insights, and questions from the day. During this discussion, we will have staff members available to provide individualized support for solar-related issues and questions.

3:30 p.m. – 3:45 p.m.        Closing remarks

5 Reasons Blockchain Is Game-Changing for Solar Energy

Author:  Gwen Brown        Published: February 21, 2018         Aurora Blog

In December 2017, the value of the digital currency bitcoin hit an all-time high, with a single bitcoin valued at over $17,000. If you had bought $100 of bitcoin in 2010, your investment would have been worth over $28 million at that time, according to Fortune.

That might have you kicking yourself for not paying attention to bitcoin sooner. But if you’re like many of us, bitcoin—and blockchain, the mechanism behind it—remains something of a mystery. In today’s article, we offer a brief introduction to what blockchain is and why this technology matters for solar.

The uses of blockchain go far beyond creating currencies like bitcoin—and have important implications for the energy sector, including the solar industry. First, a huge amount of energy is consumed in the creation (“mining”) of bitcoin and that energy consumption is expected to continue to grow, potentially undoing the climate benefits of clean energy development. On the bright side, however, solar could provide a cost-effective power source for bitcoin mining, presenting business opportunities to solar developers.

Additionally, there are a wide number of potential applications of blockchain technologies that could help advance solar energy—such as enabling peer-to-peer energy sharing, connecting solar projects with interested investors, or providing a mechanism for compensating solar energy producers.

What is blockchain? How does it relate to bitcoin?

[Already a blockchain expert? Jump ahead to see how it’s impacting the solar industry.]

A blockchain is an encrypted digital ledger of transactions which is maintained by a distributed network of users’ computers, rather than a central authority. The name blockchain comes from the fact that bundles of transactions in the ledger are called “blocks.” As they are added to “chains” of existing blocks, transactions in any preceding block cannot be altered or deleted.

A key innovation of blockchains is that although the ledger is public, it is designed so that the record cannot be altered, enabling transactions between parties that would not otherwise trust each other. As Morgan Peck explains in Spectrum, the journal of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), this approach “reliably incentivizes a network of potentially dishonest participants to process transactions and secure a single version of those events.” (For a detailed overview of blockchain, Peck’s article is an excellent starting point)

The first and most-well known application of blockchain is bitcoin, a digital currency created in 2008 following the Great Recession. It was touted as a currency option that could replace the role of financial institutions, in tracking and reconciling financial transactions, with code and a network of computers around the world. Since then many other blockchain-based cryptocurrencies  have emerged, such as Ethereum, Ripple, and LiteCoin.

A blockchain contains bundles of transactions called blocks.A blockchain contains bundles of transactions called “blocks.” Once added to the chain, the transaction ledger in a block cannot be changed, creating a consistent version of events for all users in the network.

How does a blockchain work?

Different types of blockchains use different mechanisms to “lock” the blocks in the chain and prevent altering of the data. Bitcoin operates with a “Proof of Work” approach, in which adding a block to the chain involves solving complex math problems with powerful computers in order to find the “hash” or code that will “lock” the next block in the chain. “Miners,” who put in the computational work to find these hashes, are incentivized to do so because whoever finds the correct hash is paid in bitcoin for that service.

Finding the right hash requires significant computing power (and thus electricity). As Peck explains, “Any changes in old blocks will result in invalid hashes for all subsequent blocks.” Likening hashes to keys that open locks, she notes “it’s as though the design for the lock at the end of the chain depends on all the locks that came before it.”

This makes attempts to alter prior blocks in the chain almost impossible, because that would require redoing all of the computational work for that block and all subsequent blocks. Additionally, while a would-be attacker attempted to do that with their limited resources, other players in the network would constantly be “mining” new subsequent blocks. Therefore, as long as an attacker does not control more than 50% of the whole system’s computation power, they will never catch up with the rest of the players.

Finally, the system is structured so that the computation involved in finding the right hash gets harder over time. This keeps the rate at which blocks can be added consistent in spite of increases in computing power.

Why does blockchain matter for solar?

1. Bitcoin uses huge amounts of energy

Many of us entered the solar industry to make a positive difference in the world—including helping to tackle climate change. But energy consumption for bitcoin mining could negate climate gains made with clean energy. As bitcoin becomes more and more popular the amount of energy being consumed to create it is reaching astonishing levels.

While bitcoin mining operations are distributed around the world and no single authority tracks exactly how much energy is consumed for these activities, researchers have estimated the scale of the energy impact. Writing in Spectrum, Peter Fairley cites Dutch researcher Sebastiaan Deetman of Leiden University whoestimates the current energy draw of bitcoin at 700 MW per year  and concludes that by 2020 it could reach 4 gigawatts—as much energy as the country of Denmark.

A December 2017 Grist article offered a much more distressing assessment , estimating that, at its current growth rate, the bitcoin network will use more electricity than the United States by 2019. The author asserts that this phenomenon is essentially undoing the gains made in tackling climate change through the growth of clean energy.

Bitcoin mining operations have already caused local grid disturbances in some areas. In Venezuela, where bitcoin is seen by many as a more viable currency than the Venezuelan bolívar (now almost worthless due to inflation), there are reports of bitcoin mining causing instability on the electricity grid .

Bitcoin mining operations require significant computing power and thus electricityBitcoin mining operations  require significant computing power. As a result, they consume massive quantities of electricity. 

2. Powering bitcoin mining with solar could present new opportunities

Despite these troubling energy and environmental implications, the bitcoin network’s need for cheap power raises the question, what are the opportunities for powering bitcoin mining with solar energy?

At least one company is already getting into this space. A company called Envion has a business model that involves the use of mobile bitcoin mining servers (housed in shipping containers) that run on excess energy from solar farms when there is overcapacity in a local area. This makes use of energy that would otherwise go to waste without energy storage, while providing a cheap—and carbon-free—source of power.

Writing for Greentech Media, Tam Hunt highlights the financial opportunities of a number of different approaches for powering bitcoin mining with solar energy . These include the use of off-grid solar farms, or using bitcoin mining as a way to monetize solar production without a power sales contract, which can sometimes be difficult to obtain.

The implications of blockchain for the solar industry extend far beyond bitcoin. While bitcoin uses a blockchain as a financial ledger, tracking the creation and movement of currency, blockchains can be used to create decentralized public ledgers of many other kinds of transactions and agreements. As a result, blockchain opens up many other potential innovations for the solar industry:

3. Blockchain could track and compensate solar energy production

One promising use of blockchain is to verify and compensate the production of solar energy. Writing in MIT Technology Review, Mike Orcutt discusses how these kinds of applications could transform the modern electricity grid , eliminating layers of government and utility intermediaries involved in compensating producers of solar and other renewable energy. This could include using blockchain to track the production and sale of renewable energy credits—likeSRECs.

What is SolarCoin?

A related application already developed is SolarCoin , a blockchain-based cryptocurrency created to incentivize greater investment in solar energy. Whereas bitcoin is created by expending energy for computation, the creation of SolarCoin is tied to solar energy production. Owners of solar systems can register them with the SolarCoin Foundation and receive one SolarCoin for each megawatt hour their system generates.

Although creation of SolarCoins is tied to actual production of solar energy , anyone can purchase existing SolarCoins. Those who want to monetize their SolarCoin  can convert it to bitcoin and from there into the currency of their choice.

Unlike many solar incentives, like the Investment Tax Credit or SRECs, One interesting characteristic of SolarCoin is that it doesn’t just benefit the system owner. In the case of leased residential systems, the homeowner is the one eligible to receive SolarCoin rather than the company that owns the system. The SolarCoin Foundation explains  that they structured the system this way because they believe it more effectively achieves the project’s goal of driving greater solar investment.

Solar installers can also benefit. “For an installer, SolarCoin represents an alternative free revenue for promoting solar power and the use of renewable energies. Installers who refer claimants to the SolarCoin program are entitled to a 10% bounty of the annual claim amount for each facility to be paid out in SolarCoin.

And, as John Cromer of Community.Solar explains , another benefit of SolarCoin is that it provides documentation of the amount of solar energy being produced by small systems, data which is currently poorly tracked. Community.Solar provides solar continuing education courses; they use the SolarCoin blockchain to track course participation, and even offer free SolarCoin registration of solar arrays.

4. Blockchain could facilitate solar energy transactions and peer-to-peer energy purchases

Blockchain could also enable peer-to-peer trading of solar energy—simplifying the process of connecting solar energy producers with consumers who want access to sustainable energy.

Australian startup Power Ledger  is already using a blockchain platform for this purpose. They note that their service allows solar producers to be paid immediately for the energy they produce, in contrast to a typical utility payment cycle of 60 to 80 days.

This approach could provide an alternative to net metering. It could also offer a solution to the same challenge that community solar and virtual net metering seek to solve—allowing households and businesses that can’t go solar themselves to partake in energy from off-site solar projects.

Another example you may have read about is a company called LO3 Energy  that is using blockchain to manage the purchase and sale of energy among participants in a solar-powered community microgrid in Brooklyn.

Blockchain can facilitate peer-to-peer energy trading, letting solar energy producers power consumers in their communitiesBlockchain can facilitate peer-to-peer energy trading. This could enable solar energy producers to provide energy to consumers in their local community. 

5. Blockchain could support investment in solar projects

Blockchain could also be used to make investment in solar projects more accessible, helping to increase solar capacity. Writing in Forbes, Roger Aitken notes that “Sun Exchange, a peer-to-peer solar equipment leasing marketplace based in South Africa, has raised $1.6 million (m) in seed financing… to ‘accelerate global access’ to solar power.” Sun Exchange’s  mission is “to enable anyone to go solar and transition the planet into a clean energy economy of abundance.”

The company essentially offers a solar crowdfunding platform using blockchain. Investors around the world can buy individual solar cells in arrays for schools, hospitals, wildlife refuges, and other customers in developing nations. They operate in areas that lack consistent access to electricity, but where solar energy is an abundant resource. The systems are leased to customers and investors earn income—in bitcoin or South African Rand—through energy payments once the project is deployed.

While many of these applications are in their early stages, it is clear that the potential uses of blockchain for advancing solar and other forms of clean energy, and even transforming how we manage the electricity grid, are significant.

In fact, a team at the Rocky Mountain Institute (whose work on community solar we highlighted in a previous blog post) recently joined forces with an Austrian blockchain startup to create a non-profit called the Energy Web Foundation . The Foundation has created its own blockchain specifically for the energy sector, which they will use to test promising applications for the industry.

Whether you’re a bitcoin enthusiast or cynic, other blockchain applications may one day transform the solar industry so you might want to keep an eye on these emerging developments!

DISCLAIMER: This article has been published for informational purposes only. Aurora Solar does not provide investment, financial or legal advice, and this article is not a recommendation of any cryptocurrency.

  • technology

TECHNOLOGY What Is a Virtual Power Plant & Why Does It Matter for Solar?

Author: Lisa Cohan           Published:   July 31, 2019                    Aurora Blog

The solar industry—and the energy sector more broadly—is changing fast. Virtual power plants are one example of how technology and policy developments are enabling new business opportunities.

Using software, a virtual power plant (VPP) combines power from a number of independent sources located at numerous sites, creating a network that supplies power 24/7.

Because much of the focus of virtual power plants is to provide clean energy, solar companies have opportunities in this market—which expected to yield a compounded annual growth rate of more than 20 percent during 2017-2023 according to one market research report.

Aurora Solar supports both residential and commercial solar design and sales.

Learn more in a free demo.

VPPs Depart from the Centralized Plant Model

Until recently, the U.S. has focused on large centralized plants, often fossil-fuel plants, to provide power to the grid. Power has flowed from the utility to the business or customer.

But now, small and independent producers are producing solar, wind, and other renewable resources from many different locations all over the U.S. and feeding some or all of that power to the grid. (As discussed in some other Aurora Blog articles, the energy produced by grid-tied solar PV systems can provide a valuable revenue stream for customers with net metering.)

The increased production of these distributed resources has disrupted the centralized power model (one reason utilities are changing their compensation policies for solar customers) and there is a need for new ways to integrate these distributed resources. A virtual power plant can do just that, often providing reliable power by utilizing renewable energy and batteries that store the solar.

How the Solar Industry Benefits

Virtual power plants are part of a future trend that will include solar energy. With a VPP, rooftop solar PV systems on homes and businesses, coupled with batteries, can be aggregated and deployed in an optimal way using software to meet energy needs on the grid.

“As subsidies for solar PV decline over time, customers will be seeking new ways to maximize the value from their solar PV systems. Being part of a VPP is a key way to achieve that goal,” says Peter Asmus, research director, Navigant Research.

See what successful solar installers are saying about using Aurora

Important Milestones for Solar-Powered VPPs

Earlier this year, the solar industry experienced a notable milestone with regard to virtual power plants. Sunrun set a precedent for the industry when it became the first company awarded a contract to supply capacity to a wholesale power market from a VPP. Under the contract, Sunrun will provide solar energy and storage aggregated from a number of homes.

What’s exciting about this contract was Sunrun’s ability to compete with other power generators in ISO New England’s Forward Capacity Market, which is designed to ensure the New England power system has enough resources to meet its future demand.

Operators of energy resources such as solar compete in these markets to receive a commitment to supply capacity in exchange for a capacity payment. This VPP contract shows that local solar resources can compete with centralized power in price-sensitive power markets.

Independent system operators like ISO New England are independent, federally regulated entities created to coordinate regional transmission in a way that’s non-discriminatory while ensuring the reliability of the electric system. Sunrun garnered a contract to provide 20 MW of capacity from its home solar and battery systems to the ISO beginning in 2022.

Sunrun offered the power as a “hybrid” resource. That means it will aggregate solar from panels on thousands of houses, instead of from a single facility. New federal requirements calling for a level playing field for all resources made the breakthrough possible.

In another solar industry example, Tesla is working to establish a VPP in South Australia. The plan calls for installing Powerwall 2 battery units and solar panels in homes, and calls for 50,000 connected homes, each with a 13.5-kilowatt-hour (kWh) Tesla Powerwall 2 battery and a 5-kW rooftop solar system.

The Bottom Line for Solar Companies

“I would advise solar companies to do their homework about regulations in their specific territories and monitor policy and regulations, supporting changes that enable VPP deployments,” says Navigant’s Asmus.

Virtual power plants, while still in their early stages, can provide a valuable mechanism for aggregated energy from distributed solar PV systems to compete against traditional fossil fuel resources to meet energy needs on the grid. For solar companies with the resources to manage and aggregate many PV systems, virtual power plants can present new and exciting business opportunities.


NC WARN is a 30-year-old 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization tackling the accelerating crisis posed by climate change by building people power for a swift North Carolina transition to clean power, and by promoting energy and climate justice.

Author: NC WARN            Published: September 8, 2019 






group shot

NC WARN staff with Rev. Nelson Johnson of Beloved Community Center celebrating the installation of their rooftop solar system for our solar freedom test case.

NC WARN is a member-based nonprofit tackling the climate crisis – and other hazards posed by electricity generation – by watch-dogging Duke Energy practices and building people power for a swift North Carolina transition to clean, renewable and affordable power generation and increased energy efficiency.

In partnership with other groups, and using sound scientific research, NC WARN informs and involves the public in key decisions regarding their health and economic well-being. Dedicated to climate and environmental justice, NC WARN seeks to address the needs of all of the public by intentionally including those often excluded from participation because of racism, sexism, classism, and other forms of oppression.

(Read more about our Equity & Inclusion work.)

About Us

The Urgent Climate Crisis

  • Climate change is devastating millions of people around the world, especially people of color and low-wealth communities who are least responsible for causing the climate crisis. Climate change is very close to moving past a point of no return, accelerating under its own momentum no matter what humans do.
  • Unchecked, climate change would lead to a different planet for which human life is not adapted.
  • NC-based Duke Energy is one of the world’s largest corporate electric utilities and one of its biggest polluters.
  • Through legal and regulatory challenges and direct appeals for cooperation, NC WARN and allies are vigorously pressing Duke Energy to join – or at least stop impeding – the clean energy revolution.
  • That shift could be pivotal in averting a runaway climate-economic-social catastrophe.
  • We’re turning the tide but must quicken the pace. That’s why we need you. Join today!
  • Environmental Justice

NC WARN’s environmental justice work goes back to its beginnings.  Watch our 13-minute video NC WARN Highlights: The First 15 Years to learn more about our early campaigns, including the successful fight against a PCB landfill in Warren County — the very campaign that gave rise to the term environmental justice.

In May 2018, we joined with a dozen other organizations to file a Title VI complaint with the EPA alleging that North Carolina regulators discriminated on the basis of race and income level in issuing permits and certifications for the proposed Atlantic Coast Pipeline, the route of which would disproportionately affect low-income people and people of color.

Another Environmental Justice concern is factory farming in eastern North Carolina. We’ve cautioned Duke Energy and Duke University against unwarranted enthusiasm for the idea of using hog waste to fuel a campus gas plant and urged them to prioritize the health and safety of hog farm neighbors. We’ve told the NC Utilities Commission to quit pretending biogas from hog waste is a practical renewable energy source.

We established a Hurricane Florence Just Recovery fund and raised over $21,000 for front-line groups in eastern North Carolina (so far: Down East Coal Ash of Wayne County, Pitt County Coalition Against Racism and Peace in the Park of Robeson County). Read Organizing Director Connie Leeper’s op-ed about why.

More Environmental Justice resources:


Power 52 Foundation and Their Mission

Author: I95         Published: June 14, 2019

I95 Business - The POWER Behind Power52

I know that we can save underserved communities in Baltimore,” Ray Lewis empathetically declares. With all the negative stories in the press coming out of Baltimore, these may seem like strong words and a challenging goal, but for anyone who has watched and listened to Ray Lewis over the years, one would be foolish to doubt that he will deliver. While people are more familiar with Lewis as the two-time Super Bowl champion and 12-time Pro Bowler for the Baltimore Ravens, he is also a co-founder of Power52, Inc., and vice president of Power52 Energy Solutions. Pairing together Power52 Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, with Power52 Energy Solutions, a for-profit corporation, the mission is to train and employ disadvantaged individuals within the clean energy sector and improve access to clean energy to historically underserved communities in Baltimore and across the nation. Power52 Foundation is led by co-founder and CEO Cherie Brooks, a Baltimore City native who is passionate about transforming the lives of at-risk adults, returning citizens and at-risk individuals in the nation’s historically underserved communities. Brooks wears many hats – leader, fundraiser, educator and sometimes cheerleader – and helps chart a better course for the lives of the men and women who come though the workforce development program she oversees. “Power52 Energy Institute is the first Clean Energy Private Career School approved by the Maryland Higher Education Commission,” says Brooks, of the workforce training program. She notes that it is also accredited by The National Center for Construction, Education & Research (NCCER). Each cohort is 11 weeks and includes classroom instruction, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) certification, CPR training, lab hours and job readiness training. The standardized curriculum covers the basic concepts of Solar Photovoltaic systems and their components. Each Power52 Energy Institute graduate earns a Power52 Certificate of Completion, NABCEP (North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners), NCCER and OSHA-10 credentials, enabling them to immediately enter the clean energy workforce. Jobs after graduation start as high as $19 to $20 an hour. “Even if they decide solar is not for them, they can walk onto any construction site and be prepared to be hired. NCCER has a large footprint in the construction industry, so having that NCCER certification opens doors,” says Brooks. “We’ve also had individuals graduate and go into sales and graphic design because they understand the technical aspect of solar.” Power52 Energy Solutions is actively involved in ensuring that the curriculum is aligned to meet workforce needs. Rob Wallace, co-founder and president of Power52 Energy Solutions, who has more than 11 years’ experience in program management, renewable energy systems design and development, systems implementation, training and technology management, says that one of the first elements of the program is to change how the participants view themselves. “The street way of living has to change. We must reinvent the individual in three ways: spiritual in that your past does not dictate your future; physical through nutrition and health lessons; and technical with the skills to work in the solar industry,” says Wallace. “These individuals have been told they are not smart and will not be successful. We have to tear them down to the foundation and then rebuild them.” Wallace says that one of the key components is mentorship. “I had a mentor in construction – George Brown, who built over 150 churches. CLICK LINK TO READ FULL ARTICLE……











Outages begin to mount as Dorian slams into US

Author: Robert Walton        Published: September 5, 2019      Utility Dive

UPDATE: Sept. 5, 2019: South Carolina Electric & Gas, a Dominion-owned utility, on Thursday morning reported more than 128,000 customers were without power, mostly along the state’s coast. According to the National Hurricane Center, Hurricane Dorian — a Category 3 storm as of Thursday morning at 8 a.m. — was located 70 miles south-southeast of Charleston, South Carolina, with maximum sustained winds of 115 mph.

Hurricane Dorian on Wednesday morning continued its creep toward the U.S. mainland, but had slowed to a Category 2 storm — meaning electric utilities in its path could be spared the worst. But up and down the East Coast they remain on alert, having spent the last week preparing.

Tens of thousands of workers are ready for any necessary restoration work, even as utilities hope for a best-case scenario.

Dorian at 5 a.m. EDT Wednesday was located about 90 miles east of Daytona Beach, Florida, moving north-northwest at about 8 mph with sustained winds of 105 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.

Credit: National Hurricane Center The center warned of a “life threatening storm surge and dangerous winds” for Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina.

South Carolina Electric & Gas says it has 2,000 employees ready to go and 140 crew members from other utilities. Jacksonville-based JEA has crews arriving from Texas. Duke Energy turned a Florida cow pasture into a staging ground for thousands of workers. Santee Cooper brought in additional workers and was preparing to staff call centers 24 hours a day.

Credit: Duke Energy
According to the Edison Electric Institute, utilities in Dorian’s path all activated emergency response plans and pre-positioned workers and equipment in areas most likely to be hit. EEI said crews from at least 36 states, the District of Columbia and Canada have been offered, and “all pre-staging resource needs have been met.” “Due to the uncertain track of the storm, mutual assistance networks continue to stage and reposition crews that are ready to deploy to the areas impacted by Hurricane Dorian,” the group said.

‘A very unpredictable storm’

It has become a familiar routine for utilities on the Atlantic coast, and there are signs that years of practice and grid hardening are paying off.

“We learn from every storm,” Florida Power & Light spokesman Bill Orlove told Utility Dive. “We are always refining how we respond to storms.”

South Florida is expected to miss the brunt of Dorian, but FPL on Tuesdayrestored power to 70,000 customers and warned of more outages to come. Most resulted from trees and vegetation falling on equipment and power lines.

The utility had lined up a workforce of 17,000, Orlove said, with utilities from Maine to California preparing to offer mutual assistance as needed. But as the storm tracked north, the utility was considering shifting crew needs and staging locations.

“Preparations really started last week. … As the storm slowly starts to drift north we’re starting to reconsider those numbers of out of state crews,” Orlove said. “Dorian has been a very unpredictable storm.”

FPL’s preparations, alongside efforts to underground power lines, harden poles and make substations more secure from flooding, have shown results. When Hurricane Wilma struck Florida in 2005, it took more than two weeks for the utility to return power to 95% of affected customers. After Hurricane Irma hit in 2017, it took less than a week to reach that recovery milestone.

“Those improvements have definitely paid off for our customers,” Orlove said.

Once FPL’s territory is in the clear and customer power has been restored, Orlove sad the utility will send its crews to help others.

Relief in Puerto Rico

So far, the worst damage from Dorian is in the Bahamas, where the stormstalled for almost two days as a Category 5. Assessments are still underway, but recovery is expected to cost billions and the death toll of 7 is likely to rise.

It is a scene familiar to Puerto Rico, which was devastated by Hurricane Maria two years ago. That storm destroyed the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority’s (PREPA) utility grid, necessitating a full rebuild. And while that effort has helped strengthen the distribution system, experts on the island say it likely isn’t ready for a real test.

Agustin Carbo, senior manager of microgrids at Environmental Defense Fund, lives in Puerto Rico. He lost power for months when the island’s grid was destroyed by Hurricane Maria, but says it is apparent that improvements have been made — both to the grid, and how the utility prepares for storms.

Before Maria, “there were many flaws in the planning process,” Carbo told Utility Dive.

The island failed to line up mutual assistance, for instance. And its electric grid was rickety from years of little investment. “This time we were more ready,” Carbo said, noting there were mainland utility crews ready to assist and a partially-hardened system as Dorian formed.

Dorian was initially forecast to strike parts of Puerto Rico, but changed course. Carbo says he is thankful because despite improvements, “we are not 100% ready.”

PREPA’s long-term plan for the island envisions eight largely self-sufficient electric minigrids, which Carbo said will make power restoration easier in the future. Technical hearings on the 20-year plan begin Sept. 4, he said. In the meantime, the island’s grid has been improved but remains vulnerable.

“There are still challenges. The utility still has not completed the restoration of some lines. There [are] still a lot of poles that won’t resist a storm,” Carbo said. But, ultimately, utilities and their customers may be at the mercy of nature when storms like Dorian and Maria strike, he added.

“No one could be ready for something so outrageous and so big,” he said.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article misidentified the Jacksonville-based municipally-owned utility, JEA.