Archive for 2013

Commercial PACE: Program Development and Implementation webinar August 14

Posted on: August 2nd, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

ICLEI- Local Governments for Sustainability, in collaboration with The Solar Foundation, will present a free webinar on “Commercial PACE: Program development and implementation” as part of the U.S Department of Energy SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership.

This webinar will inform participants of the important aspects of Commercial PACE programs that make them viable financing tools for state and local governments looking to support investment in energy efficiency and resource efficiency in office, multi-family, retail spaces, warehouses, and other commercial properties. Speakers from Lean County, Florida, and Washington, DC, will discuss what logistical and political obstacles they faced, how best to work with local contractors, and what benefits can be derived from pursuing a Commercial PACE Program.

Speakers include:

Kristin Dozier, County Commissioner, Leon County, FL

Maggie Theriot, Director, Office of Resource Stewardship, Leon County, FL

Dave Good, Program Manager, District Department of Environment, DC

Julia Burrows, President, Greenwise Joint Venture, Sacramento, CA

Registration info: https://www3.gotomeeting.com/register/184624678

Harmonizing Interconnection and Permitting Processes case study available

Posted on: August 1st, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

The “Harmonizing Interconnection and Permitting Processes: Vermont Public Service Board” Case Study provides an overview of the State of Vermont’s harmonized permitting, inspection and interconnection (PII) review process for all residential-scale PV systems under 10kW. The harmonized PII process is designed to reduce soft costs associated with permitting, inspection and interconnection by 1) limiting the time involved in permitting systems under 10kW to a maximum of 10 business days after filing, 2) allowing for self-certification to Public Service Board interconnection rules, and 3) requiring utilities to review interconnection requests within the above-mentioned 10-day period. This streamlined process has helped residential-scale solar developers reduce costs associated with permitting by up to $1,500 per system under 10kW and allowed the Public Service Board to more carefully scrutinize larger-scale systems that are more likely to have an impact on Vermont’s electric grid.

This case study was created as part of the North Carolina Solar Center’s efforts under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership, funded by the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative. As a member of this partnership, the North Carolina Solar Center provides information and technical expertise to local governments interested in implementing solar programs and policies.

Johnston County now turning landfill gas into electricity

Posted on: July 29th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

SMITHFIELD — Johnston County is now using trash to power 1,500 homes, a move county officials say helps both the environment and the county’s pocketbook.

About 30 people gathered Wednesday at the Johnston County Landfill for a ribbon-cutting ceremony and tours of a new facility that collects gas from the landfill. The gas is then turned into electricity using a generator and sold to Duke Energy Progress.

The facility began running last month and produces up to 1.6 megawatts of electricity when working at capacity.

As trash decomposes, it produces gasses such as methane and carbon dioxide that contribute to climate change. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, methane gas is the second most common kind of greenhouse gas released by human activities in the country, and 17 percent of it comes from landfills. Methane has a much greater environmental impact than carbon dioxide.

In 2010, Johnston County contracted the company C2i Methane, based in New York, to use its own money, not county funds, to build the facility. C2i Methane owns the facility and has a 20-year agreement with the county for gas collection. The revenue from selling the electricity will be shared by the company and the county.

Officials with the county have wanted to create this type of project since the early 1990s, but at the time there wasn’t enough money to make the project happen, said Rick Proctor, solid waste division manager for the county.

In 2007, North Carolina established a Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency Portfolio Standard, which requires 12.5 percent of the electricity a public utility company sells in North Carolina to be produced with renewable sources by 2021. That has caused power companies to become more interested in buying the electricity produced through landfill gas, making the effort profitable, Proctor said.

“That’s what the developers really liked, and we had the door open for it,” Proctor said.

C2i Methane partnered with local groups, including Caterpillar and SCS Engineers in Charlotte, to build the facility.

Pipes were placed into the landfill’s trash heaps to capture the gas, said Matt Wells of C2i Methane, who gave tours of the facility. The gas is then heated and cooled to remove moisture.

The methane is then pumped into a huge Caterpillar 3520 engine, large enough to be enclosed by a small trailer and burning hot to the touch. The generator turns the methane into electricity, which is then added into the power grid through lines provided by Duke Energy Progress.

The rest of the gas, mostly carbon dioxide, is “flared off” during the process into the atmosphere.

As of now, the system produces 1.6 megawatts of electricity each year, said Annika Colston, president of C2i Methane. But Colston hopes to increase that amount to either 2.4 or 3.2 megawatts.

“As they bring in more waste, we can increase the capacity of the project,” she said.

Even after a landfill closes, the trash still produces gas, so the methane could continue to be collected for years to come, she said.

Johnston County is only the latest landfill to use methane as fuel for factories or to generate electricity. According to the EPA, at least 30 other landfills in North Carolina use methane gas to generate power, including the closed North Wake Landfill in Raleigh. In December, a Richmond, Va., company agreed to pay Wake $17.7 million over 15 years to extract methane gas from the South Wake Landfill.

 

Reposted from the Raleigh News & Observer

Asheville forum offers opportunity to provide input for template solar ordinance for NC

Posted on: July 26th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

Presented jointly by
the NC Solar Center & the NC Sustainable Energy Association

 
 
Thursday, August 8, 2013 | 4:00 PM – 7:45 PM
Ferguson Auditorium
Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College
340 Victoria Road
Asheville, NC 28801
 
Join the NC Solar Center and the NC Sustainable Energy Association for the third in a series of five public fora designed specifically to spark critical information sharing on the technical, social, and environmental aspects of solar projects, with the goal of informing the development of a template solar ordinance for NC. Following this event, subsequent meetings are planned for the following times and locations:

 

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 | 4:00 PM – 8:00 PM
Carolina Civic Center
315 North Chestnut Street
Lumberton, NC  28359
 
 
Friday, October 18, 2013 | 1:00 PM – 5:00 PM
Harris Conference Center
3216 Central Piedmont Community College Harris Campus Dr.
Charlotte, NC 28208

 

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North Carolina has experienced dynamic growth in solar photovoltaic system development; much of it in rural areas of North Carolina where jobs have been created and tax bases have grown.  Still, there is limited education for the general public, land owners, and local governments on facilitating this type of development in a way that harmonizes with local needs.  Though some towns and counties have already passed solar ordinances to provide a useful guide for the development of solar projects, many others have not. This forum series offers a chance for local education and discussion on solar development, as well as an opportunity for all stakeholders to begin to provide input to the drafting of the template solar ordinance for North Carolina. The template solar ordinance will be available in October and can be adapted and adopted by counties and municipalities across the state.   We encourage your attendance at this dynamic and informative event.
 

Seating is Limited:   Register today

 
 

Benefits of Attendance

 

  • Increase your understanding of local solar development and permitting processes and issues.
  • Learn about stakeholder values regarding solar energy facilities and land use.
  • Learn how solar affects local communities.
  • Explore best practices for solar siting.
  • Network with energy leaders, consumers, planners and many others.
  • Participate in break-out session and panel discussion.
  • Play a part in the process of developing a set of common ‘rules of the road’ for solar energy facilities in North Carolina.
  • Hear from experienced individuals who own land and knowledgeable professionals from an array of backgrounds.

 
 

Attendee Profile

 

  • Electric Utilities and Independent Power Producers
  • Local, State and Federal Government Officials and Staff
  • Clean Energy Business Owners and Employees
  • Planning Agencies, Energy Advisors and Consultants
  • Clean Energy Architects, Engineers and Construction Representatives
  • Community College and University Researchers
  • Commercial and Industrial Energy Customers
  • Clean Energy Technology Adopters, Site Owners and Managers
  • Manufacturers of Renewable Energy Systems
  • Clean Energy System Integrators
  • Start-up Entrepreneurs

 
 

Agenda

3:30 – 4:00 PM  Check-in/Registration
4:00 – 4:15 PM  Welcome/Introduction and Overview:
Tommy Cleveland, NC Solar Center Renewable Energy Project Coordinator
4:15 – 4:30 PM  Overview of Template Ordinance Version 1.1 &

 

Introduction to Institute for Emerging Issues Commons Tool for Public Input

Miriam Makhyoun, NCSEA Manager of Market Intelligence
Tommy Cleveland, NC Solar Center Renewable Energy Project Coordinator
 

4:30 – 5:15 PM  General Discussion: Legal (Beth Trahos of Smith, Moore, Leatherwood), Agriculture, Forestry, Environmental, Planning communities (Chris Martin of Cleveland County and Lisa McCarter of the town of Waxhaw), and Government (Michael Brown of N.C. Department of Revenue)

(Moderated by Adam Lovelady of the UNC School of Government)
 
 
5:15 – 6:30 PM   Break
 
6:30 – 7:15 PM   Solar Industry Panel Discussion Moderated by Miriam Makhyoun, NCSEA Manager of Market Intelligence
 
 

Networking

7:15 – 7:45 PM
 
 
Light refreshments will be provided.
Live text polling will take place throughout the event to inform the drafting of a template solar ordinance for North Carolina communities to adopt.
Seating is Limited:   Register today

Property Taxes and Solar PV Systems: Policies, Practices and Issues report issued

Posted on: July 24th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

The N.C. Solar Center and Meister Consultants Group have released a report under the SunShot Solar Outreach Partnership on current state practices associated with the assessment and taxation of PV equipment. Property Taxes and Solar PV Systems: Policies, Practices, and Issues is intended as a resource for industry stakeholders, property owners, and state and local government officials involved in the administration of property taxes.

Property taxes can represent a significant ongoing cost for PV system owners, and under some circumstances may prove to be a determining factor in whether or not a facility is built. Many states have adopted policies specifically addressing how different types of PV systems should be valued for property tax purposes. However, the other states have not adopted such policies, and even explicit policies sometimes fail to fully address the myriad of different circumstances present in the current PV market. The frequent lack of clarity presents challenges for both owners of PV systems and government officials involved in the administration of property taxes, as each seeks to ascertain the appropriate treatment for solar PV systems and understand the implications it holds. The report covers how different states classify, assess, and tax PV property, the relative burden of property taxes in different jurisdictions, issues which complicate the assessment and taxation process, and strategies for resolving these issues.

 

Click here to read the entire report

35-Acre Solar Farm Under Construction In Orange County, NC

Posted on: July 19th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

A new six megawatt solar farm is under construction the Orange County community of White Cross. When it’s completed, it will be the second largest in the Triangle. The project is being designed by Chapel Hill based company, Strata Solar. The firm’s Blair Schoof says when it’s up and running, the 35-acre farm will provide energy for about 750 homes.

Strata Solar is the state’s largest solar developer, responsible for generating more than 145 megawatts around the state. Schoof says two farms in the Triangle area are already operational with eight more planned for next year.

“Last year in 2013 we completed 12 and the year before we did three utility-scale solar farms,” Schoof said. “So we’re getting up there in numbers. The trend next year will be to do more of the same of this size solar farms, and we’ll also be increasing the footprint of these farms. So you can keep your eye out for 20 megawatt farms and 100 megawatt farms and beyond.”

The farm being built in Orange County required the clear-cutting of 35 acres of woodland. Those trees were used on site as mulch to control erosion. The White Cross solar farm will begin generating electricity in three months and will sell the power to Duke Energy.

 

Reposted from WUNC.org

Calling for stakeholder input for the template solar ordinance for NC

Posted on: July 19th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

North Carolina is rapidly becoming a leader in the nation for solar energy development. By the end of 2012, the state had 229 megawatts (MW) of total installed capacity, ranking it sixth in the US. Despite this growth, North Carolina lacks a unified approach toward regulating development in a responsible and efficacious way. Only 18 counties and 34 cities have established ordinances specific to solar development, often containing significantly diverse development standards.

The N.C. Solar Center and N.C. Sustainable Energy Association have embarked on a project to develop a template solar development and permitting ordinance. The template is intended for local governments to adapt and adopt. The project goal is to facilitate the development of solar utilizing the most responsible and acceptable methods. Thus, this process requires the input of a multitude of stakeholders, from industry, government, and local communities, in order to create the most relevant and effective policy for North Carolina.

In order to achieve this transparency and gather important input, we are employing the NCSU Institute for Emerging Issues “Commons”. This online tool will allow us to gather your input on 10 key challenges we have identified for drafting the template ordinance. On the Commons, you will be able to suggest your individual ideas as well as comment on and rate any user’s ideas their feasibility, effectiveness, and innovation for each of the 10 challenges.

In order to provide input on the Commons you must first register, which is a free and quick process. You will then need to use your Commons username and password to log into the site each time you would like to provide input.

The Commons tool will accept input only until August 11. At this time solar industry and general stakeholder working groups will receive a report summarizing the input received from the Commons tool and will have access to review all of the input directly in the tool as well. These two groups will work together to create a draft template ordinance. After several rounds of revisions, the latest draft will pass to a final steering committee established by the NC Sustainable Energy Association and the NC Solar Center. This steering committee will consist of approximately 20 stakeholders representing key stakeholders including planning, local government, agriculture, forestry, economic development, environmental, wildlife, utilities, solar industry, and others. This committee will draft the final template ordinance using all the input gained in the earlier stages of the project. The goal is to unveil a final template solar ordinance in November.

 

Click here for the Template Solar Ordinance for North Carolina Commons Working Group.

2nd Annual Appalachian Energy Summit gathers higher education leaders across the state

Posted on: July 18th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

The 2013 Appalachian Energy Summit will take place July 17-19, 2013 on the campus of Appalachian State University in Boone, a beautiful place to be during the North Carolina summer. The general public is graciously encouraged to attend a public keynote presentation on Wednesday July 17 at 7pm. For 2013, we will carefully add select industry experts in hopes of building connections that truly enable this transformation while adding to our vibrant regional economies.

Over three days, summit participants will learn from a series of plenary presentations, experience panel discussions featuring industry experts, and work together in a series of breakout sessions designed to both inspire and organize our future collaborative efforts.

The Appalachian Energy Summit is the annual gathering of the University of North Carolina Energy Leadership Challenge. Through this initiative, campus leaders from across higher education in North Carolina share goals to reduce energy expenditures, transform energy utilization and reduce the environmental impacts of both higher education and the state. 

The N.C. Solar Center’s clean transportation staff are attending and will be moderating the transportation breakout session on Thursday.  Discussions in this breakout will will cover items ranging from data collection, publicizing alternative transportation options for students and staff (fleet managers), and opportunities for installing solar collectors over parking lots across campuses statewide, among other topics.

To read more about the additional breakout sessions and more about the conference in general click here.

 

N.C. Solar Center and SEM Co-Founder Bob Kingery Team-Up To Offer Renewable Energy Management Program

Posted on: June 25th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

The N.C. Solar Center and Southern Energy Management Co-Founder Bob Kingery partner to offer Certificate in Renewable Energy Management

Raleigh, NC – For the second year in a row, the N.C. Solar Center and Southern Energy Management co-founder Bob Kingery are teaming up to offer a program focused around renewable energy project development and management. The Certificate in Renewable Energy Management (CREM) program is geared toward working and transitioning professionals interested in learning more about the technology, financing, and policy surrounding renewable energy development. Topics are presented across a 40 hour course that runs from September 12 through November 19 and is accessible both online and in the classroom. The program culminates in a final group project, where groups present projects varying from renewable energy exploration and feasibility studies to experimental product development and investment pitches.

The program’s continued success has hinged in large part on participation from local industry experts like Southern Energy Management’s (SEM) co-founder Bob Kingery. Founded in 2001, Mr. Kingery helped navigate Southern Energy Management to become one of the area’s premier solar energy firms. The level of experience that Mr. Kingery and other industry leaders bring to the CREM program helps provide invaluable market insights for program participants.

“A unique aspect of the CREM program was that it provided us with information on the present and future challenges facing the development and maturation of the renewable energy market from experienced professionals at a variety of different positions in the industry” said Will Etheridge, a graduate of the program and current member of the Customer Advocacy team at Southern Energy Management. “This information has helped prepare me, and others like me, for the real-world challenges involved in developing and managing renewable energy projects and technologies.”

Another program graduate, David Arney, wrote that, “[the CREM Program] was a perfectly balanced mix of renewable education, business class, and group-style working projects that I believe every student gained immensely from. I felt like this class truly was the ‘nugget’ of information I’d been looking for, and I can’t recommend it highly enough.”

For those interested in learning more about the N.C. Solar Center’s Certificate in Renewable Energy Management Program, please visit  go.ncsu.edu/crem.

Program Contact: Lyra Rakusin, N.C. Solar Center: (919) 513-7769
Media Contact: Sam Burner, SEM: sam@southern-energy.com or (866) 575-9151

About Southern Energy Management
Southern Energy Management is a North Carolina-based sustainable energy company offering energy efficiency testing, green building verification and turn-key solar services for homeowners, builders, and business owners across the Southeast. A certified B Corp, SEM’s two-part mission is to improve the way people make and use energy and to build a prosperous company that supports people and the planet. SEM is among a small handful of companies in the U.S. to earn the national ENERGY STAR Sustained Excellence Award for being named Partner of the Year six consecutive times, in addition to being named a CED N..C Company to Watch in 2011 and receiving the 2011 City of Raleigh Environmental Stewardship Award. For more information, visit www.southern-energy.com.

About the N.C. Solar Center
The North Carolina Solar Center, at N.C. State University, is a public service center with the mission of advancing a sustainable energy economy by educating, demonstrating and providing support for clean energy technologies, practices, and policies. The N.C. Solar Center serves as a resource for innovative, clean energy technologies through demonstration, technical assistance, outreach and training. It also administers the Database of Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE), a resource providing financial incentives and policies. For more information, visit ncsc.ncsu.edu.

Serving Critical Infrastructure with Microgrids, Combined Heat & Power and Solar PV

Posted on: June 25th, 2013 by shannon No Comments

 

A recently released report, “Combined Heat and Power: Enabling Resilient Energy Infrastructure for Critical Facilities[1] offers examples of critical infrastructure facilities that maintained onsite electric and thermal services during Superstorm Sandy with combined heat and power (CHP).  Critical infrastructure (CI) collectively refers to those assets, systems, and networks that, if incapacitated, would have a substantial negative impact on national or regional security, economic operations, or public health and safety.  While Superstorm Sandy caused extended power outages along the east coast of the United States, these and other critical facilities in the affected area with CHP were able continue their operations despite the emergency status of the power grid. The report was prepared for Oak Ridge National Laboratory by ICF International and several of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Regional Clean Energy Application Centers (CEACs), including the Southeast CEAC managed by the N.C. Solar Center.  Besides offering examples of how actual CHP facilities performed, the report contains information on the strategic application of CHP systems to provide CI facilities with reliable power, as well as state and local policies that promote this application.

Along with enhanced disaster resiliency, CHP systems for CI facilities deliver energy efficiency and cost savings to end users, local utilities, and the electric grid on the whole.  During normal operation, combined heat and power systems operate at an average efficiency of 80% or higher, compared to an average of 45% for utility grid power and onsite thermal generation.  An independent localized grid, termed a microgrid, enables CHP-powered CI facilities to island from the utility grid in anticipation of an emergency.  During such times, microgrids with CHP can maintain utilities for CI facilities without demand for grid power, freeing utility power resources to serve other needs until the grid is restored to full capacity.  Development of a CHP based microgrid for a CI facility, such as a hospital, institutional campus or government facility establishes reliable onsite base load infrastructure that can be complemented with intermittent distributed energy resources, such as solar photovoltaics (PV).  A district energy system provides the infrastructure necessary to distribute heating and cooling to CI facilities in a campus setting.  Great care must be taken to analyze the facility’s electric and thermal needs, and select the combination of CHP, district energy and other DG resources to reliably and cost-effectively provide the desired CI energy infrastructure.

Several of the facilities described in the report “Combined Heat and Power: Enabling Resilient Energy Infrastructure for Critical Facilities” utilize the effective design and technological benefits of an integrated CHP and solar PV microgrid system.

 

  • South Oaks Hospital is a 245-bed healthcare facility located near Long Island in Amityville, NY, that operates a 1.25 MW CHP system coupled with a 47 KW PV solar system.  On During Superstorm Sandy South Oaks isolated itself from the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) grid on and remained disconnected from the grid for approximately fifteen days.  During this time, the Hospital admitted patients from other sites that had been displaced by the storm and offered refrigeration for vital medicines to those who had lost power and had no means of keeping medicines refrigerated.  At the request of the utility, the Sandy Oaks remained islanded, despite the partial restoration of local power, affording the utility time to restore the grid to normal.

 

  • Princeton University operates a 15 MW CHP system integrated with a 5.3 MW solar PV system.  The CHP system produces electricity, steam, and chilled water for the campus, and during Superstorm Sandy the University was able to continue normal operations by disconnecting from the grid and relying on its CHP microgrid district energy system to power the campus.  Non-critical loads around campus such as administration buildings and some classrooms were shut off to keep the CHP system within its generating capability.  The CHP based microgrid system supplied campus with needed energy for three days until the University was able to receive power from the macro utility grid.

 

  • The Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center, Marine Air Ground Task Force Training Command in Twentynine Palms, CA  (MCAGCC) operates a 7.2 MW CHP system that is complimented by a 4.8 MW solar PV system and 1.0 MW of fuel cells. By the end of 2013, an additional 9.2 MW of CHP will be operational, for a total of 16.4 MW of CHP.  “Strategic energy planning is a key component of our master plan,” says Commander Rob Tye, head of the facilities management division at Twentynine Palms.  “[The CHP system] is helping us treat energy as a resource rather than as an expense.” (cite CI CHP report) Since the installation of the CHP system, capable of operating independent of the grid, the base has had to disconnect from the utility grid to operate in “island mode” a number of times due to curtailment by Southern California Edison.

 

State and local policymakers in the Northeast and other areas are considering CHP and solar PV-powered microgrids as a strategic resource for strengthening CI facilities against future storm events.  An example of recent legislation supporting the use of CHP as CI was recently passed by the Texas Legislature and signed by Governor Rick Scott on June 14, 2013.  HB 1864[2] instructs the Texas Energy Conservation Office to issue guidelines for conducting feasibility analysis of CHP for government facilities meeting the definition of CI.  These analyses are already required under legislation passed in 2012, and these new guidelines will establish clear criteria for decisions on whether to implement CHP based on cost / benefit ratios.

The N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Power and Industrial Efficiency (CPIE) team supports advanced deployment of microgrid powered CHP and other distributed energy resources through it’s work on the DOE Southeast CEAC and other strategic initiatives.  At the 2012 N.C.  Sustainable Energy Conference, the N.C. Solar Center’s Clean Power team organized a panel session describing the roles and capabilities of CHP systems in microgrid systems.  This year, at the same conference, the session topic grew into a separate, pre-conference Smart Grid Forum that focused heavily on microgrid applications.  The CPIE team works increase awareness of market opportunities to develop this transformative technology by working alongside the N.C. Solar Center’s Renewable Energy program on technical assistance efforts, and working with the Research Triangle CleanTech Cluster[3] on awareness of policies that promote applications of microgrids with CHP.



[1] Oak Ridge National Laboratory, ICF International and DOE Clean Energy Application Centers, March 2013; available at http://www1.eere.energy.gov/manufacturing/distributedenergy/pdfs/chp_critical_facilities.pdf

[2] “An Act relating to certain energy security technologies for critical governmental facilities”, Texas Legislature; http://www.legis.state.tx.us/BillLookup/History.aspx?LegSess=83R&Bill=HB1864

[3] http://www.researchtriangle.org/clusters/cleantech