SEPA Blog Site : Utlity Solar Blog

Cost vs. output: A maturing solar industry focuses on long-term project performance

The Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Asset Management and Performance conference, held recently in Newport Beach, California, reflected both the shifting focus of a maturing technology sector and the healthy debate taking place around key issues. SEPA staffers Jennifer Szaro, Erika Myers and Daisy Chung report on conference highlights.

SEPA's 51st State: A virtual 'atlas' for energy system transition

The need for a set of regional “road maps” for energy system change is a main driver for the second phase of the Solar Electric Power Association’s (SEPA’s) 51st State Initiative. The individuals and groups set to create these maps range from a major investor-owned utility to nonprofits to individual researchers.

Breaking down the AM and O&M silos for utility solar

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) is rolling out a new initiative on utility solar asset management and operations and maintenance -- aka AM and O&M. Daisy Chung, SEPA's Research Manager on the project, talks about why these two functions have traditionally been separate -- and often at odds -- and the need for better integration.

Why FERC 745 is about more than demand response

Barring some unexpected turn of events, the U.S. Supreme Court's pending decision in FERC v. EPSA -- aka the FERC 745 case -- is already shaping up as the top energy story of 2016. As the industry waits for the court's ruling, Frank Lacey, a member of the SEPA Board of Directors, says the impact of its decision could reach far beyond demand response.

SEPA statement on ITC extension

SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm says ITC extension will widen solar options and increase value of distributed energy for consumers and the grid.

Utility solar Q3 market update: ITC expiration or extension?

The impending -- and now potentially averted -- expiration of the 30-percent federal investment tax credit for solar drove a number of trends in the utility solar market in the third quarter of 2015 -- including a record-breaking 1.7 gigawatts of new construction.

SEPA Statement on Paris Climate Agreement

SEPA President and CEO Julia Hamm sees the Paris climate agreement as a tremendous opportunity for the U.S. energy sector and an inspiration for cross-industry innovation and collaboration.

Minnesota: A case study on why solar policy matters

With its history of populist, progressive politics, it is probably less surprising than one might think that Minnesota has emerged as a solar market leader in the Midwest. Mike Taylor, SEPA's former director of research, sees the state as a case study in the opportunities and challenges generated by policies aimed at expanding the solar market.

Untangling rate reform debates with smart meters

Transforming our energy system will require the development of services and technologies that provide complementary customer and grid solutions. SEPA Research Analyst Ryan Edge sees advanced "smart" inverters as an integral part of this evolving landscape and perhaps a key to solving divisive debates on net metering and rate reform.

PEER: A new green rating program aims to get the waste out of energy systems

The energy system of the future will not only be distributed, low-carbon, dynamic and resilient; it will be much more transparent and superfocused on eliminating every kilowatt hour of waste and inefficiency. It may also come with a LEED-like green rating certification -- Performance Excellence in Electricity Renewal or PEER -- that could drive significant bottom-line savings and customer engagement

The case for more controllable loads -- and the 51st State

What if we could create an energy system that provides signals and incentives to help people use power when it is actually more available and cheapest? Michael Jacobs of the Union of Concerned Scientists talks about how his group will explore a range of technologies to make this idea a reality in its submission for SEPA's 51st State Initiative.

Public Utilities and Co-ops Lead in Texas’ Competitive Solar Market

If any doubts remain about the ability of renewable energy -- wind and solar -- to compete in energy markets purely on a bottom-line basis, Texas is now putting such uncertainty to rest. SEPA's fact-finding mission to the Lone Star State digs into the details.

The nagging divide when we talk about solar -- and what to do about it

A recent meeting of the Maryland Public Service Commission offered a clear view of the nagging divide that often emerges with utilities and solar industry representatives talk about solar energy. But SEPA's Bob Gibson said some presentations at the event provided good, rough-cut ideas for collaboration -- and hope for optimism.

What's missing from media coverage of net metering

Media coverage of net metering debates tends to reduce the story to two sides: utilities seeking to block solar versus the solar companies fighting to expand it. California's efforts to reform its net metering policies provide an extensively documented example of how the complexities of the issue are being missed.

The big question for energy storage -- valuation

The question for energy storage is no longer when prices will fall and how big the market will be, says Matt Roberts of the Energy Storage Association. It's all about how storage will be used and valued as the transformation of the energy system unfolds across the country.