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The Southeast solar equation: Collaboration + compromise = market growth

The emergence of a growing solar market in the Southeastern United States has occurred in a relatively short time and, in some cases, is the result of surprising and surprisingly effective collaborative efforts that reached across traditional political and industry divisions. The signs of continued growth were unmistakable at Solar Power Southeast, May 7-8 in Atlanta.

MIT's 'Future of Solar' report: Why it matters

Some of the recommendations in the "Future of Solar Energy" report, authored a team at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, may elicit knee-jerk concerns and criticisms — and are not totally devoid of self-interest. But the paradigm shifts the report calls for in solar energy research and policy present clear opportunities for utilities, policy makers and other solar industry stakeholders that deserve careful consideration.

The irresistible advance of solar energy -- and utilities

Speaking at the opening session of the Solar Electric Power Association's 51st State Summit April 26 in San Diego, Ron Binz, former chair of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, shared his views on the future of the energy sector. He sees solar, utilities and the Internet as essential parts of the future.

SEPA researcher powers up Utility Solar Database upgrade

Researcher and data expert Daisy Chung has spent the past 14 months working on an upgrade of SEPA's Utility Solar Database, a unique clearinghouse of information on utility-owned and -initiatied solar projects and programs across the country. Chung talks about how she helped take the USD from data overload to solar geek nirvana.

SEPA Announces Judges for Solar Power Players Awards

NIne industry experts will select the winners of the Solar Electric Power Association's 2015 Solar Power Player awards, which honor the best in innovative and replicable utility solar projects and programs. This year's panel include representatives of last year's award winners, as well as four returning judges.

What Al Gore got wrong about utilities and solar

Liberal icon Al Gore and conservative Tea Party leader Debbie Dooley both love solar, but criticize utilities for standing in the way of solar growth. But speakers at the Bloomberg New Energy Summit in New York told a different, more complex story about utilities' active role in solar market growth and grid transformation.

The key to grid integration of solar: visibility

For solar energy to be fully integrated onto the electric grid, it must first be “visible" -- so utilities and grid operators can fully manage the flow of solar power from rooftop installations as well as larger-scale projects. SEPA's upcoming Solar Integration Workshop will focus on the complex issues surrounding visibility and how utilities and solar technology firms are responding to the challenges.

Germany's Energy Transformation: Coming to a grid near you

Germany's Energiewende aims to create an energy system run on 80 percent renewables by 2050, but that means the country's utilities must start making major changes to the electric distribution grid now. What will the future distribution system and distribution system operators look like in Germany and the United States?

51st State goes live with new visions for energy system change

Beyond coming up with visions for a 21st-century energy system from the ground up -- as if for a new state with no regulations or market structures -- the biggest challenge for groups and individuals submitting concepts for the Solar Electric Power Association's 51st State Initiative may have been getting out of their own frames of reference. Readers will now be able to judge how well they did as all papers received meeting the initiative guidelines are posted on the 51st State website.

Utility-scale solar in 2014: Unpredictable, diverse and counting down to ITC sunset

2014 was utility-scale solar’s most successful year ever, with 115 projects of 5 megawatts (MW) or more completed for a total of 3,550 MW. It was also the year when utility-scale solar stopped being predictable as the market's underlying geographic, system capacity and policy trends underwent some noticeable changes.

SEPA Opens Nominations for Solar Power Player Awards

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has opened nominations for its annual Solar Power Player Awards -- formerly the Utility Solar Awards -- to be announced at Solar Power International (SPI) in September in Anaheim.

Telling the solar story at PV America

Held March 9-10 in Boston, SEPA and SEIA's PV America solar conference was focused on New England markets and policy. But this year's event seemed to reach beyond regional boundaries, reflecting a solar industry immersed in ever-increasing and accelerating levels of technical innovation, market growth and policy sophistication -- with good stories to tell.

PV America awards spotlight New England solar projects

Five very different solar projects receive PV America Project of Distinction Awards, with innovative solutions to spreading solar from rooftops to former military bases and hazardous waste sites.

Utility solar's record 2014 Q4: More projects, more diversity

The utility-scale solar market, the segment that has led the dramatic growth of solar in the United States over the past few years, continued to expand in the fourth quarter of 2014, according to analysis conducted by the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA). Beyond newly added solar capacity, we see signs of emerging markets for solar outside California and the Southwest, and some significant changes in the contractual structure of projects.

Figuring out distributed energy storage in Texas' deregulated market

Oncor Electric Delivery Company, the largest electricity transmission and distribution business in Texas, made a big splash in the energy industry news in November when it announced plans to invest $5.2 billion in up to 5 gigawatts of electric energy storage. But as the company faces opposition from some major power players in Texas, the near-term future of energy storage in the state is an open question.

A 51st State Initiative Update: Phase 2 -- Getting over the big wall

The Solar Electric Power Association's original goal for its 51st State Initiative was to challenge solar and utility industry stakeholders to come up with ideas for building an energy market from the ground up, as if for a 51st state with no regulatory or market structures in place. Now the organization has announced a second phase of the project in which it will again challenge stakeholders to take these concepts and come up with road maps for implementation.

Expanding opportunities for solar collaboration in Minnesota -- and at SEPA

Earlier this month, Julia Hamm, SEPA's CEO, traveled to Minnesota to do something she, or any other SEPA representative, had never done before -- testify at a state legislative hearing. Her appearance at the hearing reflects the increasingly rapid transitions underway in the utility and solar industries, the resulting challenges for policy makers and SEPA’s own evolution to stay in front of these changes.

Electric co-ops get creative to finance solar

Across the United States, electric cooperatives serving rural areas and small towns are fielding a growing number of requests from their owner-members to provide options for them to use solar energy. But as nonprofit businesses that cannot take advantage of the 30-percent federal income tax credit, co-ops have had to come up with smart, creative ways to finance and deliver solar power at competitive prices.