SEPA Awards Honor Leadership in Customer Programs and Innovative Business Models for Solar Electric Power

Washington, D.C., October 22, 2013 – The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), an educational non-profit focused on helping utilities integrate solar electric power into their energy portfolios, today announced the winners of its 2013 Utility Awards Program.  This year’s honorees – Green Mountain Power (GMP), Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) and Orlando Utilities Commission (OUC) – were selected for their leadership in customer programs and innovative business models that advance the use of solar.

“We applaud each of the winners for their commitment to integrating solar into their portfolios,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA President and CEO. “This is a pivotal year for solar power as we push the limits of the technology further than ever before and see demand for renewables rising at utilities across the country. An increasing number of American households have access to clean renewable solar electric power with the help of local utilities.”

2013 Winners include:

  • Investor-Owned Utility of the Year – Green Mountain Power – In its “Solar Capital of New England” initiative, GMP aims to build more solar capacity per person in Rutland, Vermont, than any other city in the region. GMP initially expected to reach 6.25 MW of installed solar capacity by 2017, but it is now on track to reach that goal by 2014, and plans to grow to 10 MW by the end of 2014. GMP is helping revitalize a blighted area of Rutland by building its new Energy Innovation Center, a LEED-certified, partially solar-powered one-stop shop, and a solar farm at the Rutland Regional Medical Center. The utility also has partnered local colleges to promote careers in the renewables industry, and works with Renewable Energy Vermont, a non-profit that supports local developers and educates consumers about net metering opportunities.  Green Mountain Power was joined as a finalist by Georgia Power and Tucson Electric Power.

    “We are honored to be selected as SEPA’s Utility of the Year,” GMP President and CEO Mary Powell said.  “Solar has been a cornerstone of how we move toward the cleaner, greener, cost effective future that we envision for our customers. We are determined to partner in deeper and more meaningful ways with customers to achieve their energy goals in a way that works for our entire customer base and will help us expand our portfolio of renewable energy statewide, helping Vermont’s economy and environment.”

  • Public Power Utility of the Year – Orlando Utilities Commission – OUC’s “Share the Sun” Community Solar Farm provides residential and small commercial customers with the opportunity to benefit from solar without making an upfront investment or maintaining a rooftop solar installation. Customers were invited to subscribe to the farm in 1 KW increments, with a maximum of 15 KW, and the program was fully subscribed, with 39 customers, in just six days.   OUC’s innovative community solar farm showcases a program that can be replicated by public power utilities in all regions.  Other finalists for the Public Power Utility of the Year award were American Municipal Power and City of Palo Alto.

    “I was happy to see the community solar farm subscribe so quickly. It’s clean, green renewable energy at an affordable price,” OUC Board President Dan Kirby said, “and it shows how important renewable energy projects like this are to our customers and our community.”

  • Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year – Kit Carson Electric Cooperative – KCEC’s Community Solar Program, which is administered by the Clean Energy Collective, gives members in its New Mexico territory the opportunity in solar panels. Electricity generated by the panels is then credited back to members’ electric bills.  This third-party administered model of community solar offers new opportunities for utilities, and Kit Carson’s program is the latest effort by the co-op to advance solar power in its community, setting a standard that inspires electric co-ops across the country. Included in these efforts is Kit Carson’s continued work to encourage its generation and transmission association to raise the 5% contractual limitation on renewable energy, which Kit Carson has already reached.  The other finalists for the Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year award were Delaware Electric Cooperative and Sulphur Springs Valley Electric Cooperative.

    “We are very fortunate to have a Board of Trustees, employees and a community that embrace innovations in creating a mix of renewable energy with the power we purchase. The support we have received locally for our solar program has been inspirational,” said KCEC CEO Luis Reyes.

Awards will be presented on Tuesday, October 22, during the SEPA Annual Membership and Utility Awards Luncheon, which will take place from 12:30 to 2 p.m. at McCormick Place in Chicago.  The event is open to all SEPA members. Following the luncheon there will be a panel discussion with representatives from the winning companies, as well as Utility CEO of the Year David Bissell from Kaua’i Island Utility Cooperative, discussing how their utilities have achieved such success and key issues impacting their business.

About SEPA

SEPA is an educational non-profit organization based in Washington dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios. The SEPA Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings report is one of many market intelligence, utility interaction and educational services SEPA provides to its utility and solar industry members. For more information about SEPA, visit our website at www.solarelectricpower.org