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Fact Finding Missions
The SEPA International Fact Finding Mission takes a select group of utility decision makers outside the United States to gain international perspectives on integrating renewable resources, policies and solar technologies.
The U.S. Fact Finding Mission enables utilities to learn from their colleagues in other states.
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SEPA is proud of the success of the Fact Finding Mission program and the value it has brought to utility decision makers who have participated in these trips. SEPA will continue this program in 2014.
SEPA will not have a Fact Finding Mission in 2013. We have assessed the mission opportunities and the resources available for 2013 and have decided to focus on other educational programs and new offerings for our members.
We hope you will join us and participate in these other events and, of course, join us in 2014 for the next Fact Finding Mission.
If you have any questions, please contact Cynthia Hunt Jaehne, Education Manager, at 202.595.1148 or email@example.com.
Interested in joining us for the 2014 mission? Email your contact information and we will make sure that you get the details first!
SEPA's Fact Finding Missions have quickly established themselves as one of the best resources to get hands-on experience with solar technologies, programs and policies.
Contact Cynthia Hunt Jaehne at 202.595.1148 or firstname.lastname@example.org, to find out how you can participate in an upcoming SEPA Fact Finding Mission.
SEPA went east for its second annual U.S. Fact Finding Mission in 2012. The one-week tour brought utility executives and managers to solar sites in New York and New Jersey. The emphasis of the tour was on a first-hand observation of how utilities in the region are designing and managing solar programs for customers, investing in utility-scale projects, and handling interconnections and grid integration issues. This tour included an inside look at New Jersey - one of the most dynamic solar markets in the U.S. Three New Jersey utilities secured top 10 positions in SEPA's 2011 Utility Solar Rankings report.
Attendees heard from experts at several of the region's most solar-active utilities, including:
In addition, the mission explored the challenges of incorporating solar into urban grids, discussed and observed the development of solar at brownfield sites, and learned about innovative business models linking utilities with non-profits, community organizations and industrial customers.
For more information about this Fact Finding Mission, please view our information flyer.
For the fifth international mission, SEPA returned to Germany, the site of the first mission. Although its solar resource is on par with that of Anchorage, Alaska, Germany continues to lead the world in solar capacity. Of Germany's 17 GW of solar, most has been installed in the past five years. The drivers for this dramatic growth are supportive national policies, including a feed-in tariff (FIT) that is currently the subject of intense debate across Germany. U.S. utility executives and managers learned how the FIT has evolved, how successful it has been in achieving its goals, and how German utilities are responding to the integration of large amounts of distributed solar and other renewable resource generation into their systems.
Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff stated at a recent Arizona Solar Summit, that we should be looking at how Germany is managing its renewable energy market. “We should be able to learn from them…We haven’t pursued that extensively," (Phoenix Sun).
For the first time, SEPA brought its Fact Finding Mission (FFM) to the United States. The purpose of the program was for utilities to learn from one another's experience and to gain perspectives on solar technology and policy first-hand. In the U.S., solar has grown rapidly and is becoming more popular across the country. California, where the largest growth started and still continues, was a natural choice for the debut of a domestic Fact Finding Mission. Participants spent a week engaging with Southern California utility counterparts, government officials and solar industry representatives. They also saw first-hand examples of how the region is developing a sustainable solar market and how they are preparing technically for even greater solar integration in the future. View the itinerary here.
Left: Workers install modules during construction of the 21 megawatt Blythe PV Solar Power Plant.
Right: Aerial view of completed Blythe facility. Both photos courtesy of First Solar.
In 2009, Italy became the second fastest growing solar market in the world. With SunEdison's completion of the 70 MW Rovigo solar plant, Italy is now home to the largest single PV power plant in Europe. Supportive policies and (more recently) efforts to improve the authorization process have contributed to this explosive growth.
The SEPA delegation traveled to Italy and learned:
This was an invaluable learning experience and an unparalleled opportunity for the utility delegates to network with their peers. The group met with key utility players as well as representatives from the Italian government, the solar industry and the solar and utility associations. They also met with other solar stakeholders and visited several solar power plants as they traveled through Italy with stops in Milan, Venice and Rome. View the itinerary here.
Click here to view the report.
Each year, SEPA leads a group of utility leaders beyond the U.S. border to learn about solar market development in another country. In July 2010, SEPA took a group of 18 utility executives and managers to Japan. The “Land of the Rising Sun” has been an early leader in solar technologies with a sustainable long term rooftop PV market, and currently has ambitious goals to regain its leading position that it lost to Germany in 2004. With a strong focus on developing solutions for the integration of high penetration level of PV into the grid and a national policy that sets a clear direction for the future of Japan’s energy supply, Japan has provided an excellent learning environment for the SEPA delegation.
In May 2009, SEPA took a group of 16 utility executives and managers to Spain. In 2008, more than 3 gigawatts of solar electricity was integrated into the Spanish grid, resulting from a high feed-in tariff with no market limits; 98 percent of the installations were ground-mounted and only 2 percent roof-mounted. Spain provided an excellent learning environment for the SEPA group, which explored both photovoltaics and concentrating solar thermal electric installations during the trip.
Upon returning from the trip, SEPA hosted a webinar to share lessons learned with all its members who weren't able to make the trip to Spain. The MP3 of the webinar is available for download by members.
In June 2008, SEPA took a group of 31 utility executives and managers to Germany. Germany is one of the top photovoltaic markets in the world, largely due to its long-established feed-in tariff program. The country has developed both rooftop and ground-mounted PV market segments, as well as a strong manufacturing base.
A summary report of the trip and its findings is available to members and non-members
Quotes from Participants
Below are testimonials from four participants on SEPA's 2011 International Fact Finding Mission to Italy.
“An extraordinary opportunity to understand the challenges and opportunities for solar development in the U.S. and the key role utilities can play in the transition to renewable energy.” – Robert Revelle, Vice President, Atlantic City Electric
“The SEPA fact finding mission provides a great opportunity to explore how other countries are developing energy policies and strategies to promote renewable generation. The mission provides an open forum to learn from others’ experience.” – Lonnie Carter, President & CEO, Santee Cooper
“In the 26 years I've worked at my utility, I've been to a lot of meetings and events. This is by far the best industry event I've ever attended.” – Glenn Moore, Vice President, Delmarva Power
"Before the trip, I looked at solar only from the immediate concerns of my utility. This experience has given me a new perspective - solar has a global significance." - Ali Yari, Director, Electric T&D Engineering, San Diego Gas and Electric