Utility Solar Blog : Utlity Solar Blog

The future is now: Voices from the 51st State Summit

The utilities and energy system of the future are emerging in the United States today -- with changing trends in technology, business models and policy moving ahead in diverse forms and at varying speeds in different regions across the country. It's forcing stakeholders in all parts of the industry to think outside the box and experiment with new ways forward, said participants at SEPA's 51st State Summit last month in San Diego.

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 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.

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.

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.

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.

SEPA project aims to spread community solar

A $705,830 competitive award from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative will allow the Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) to launch a groundbreaking research initiative aimed at accelerating the spread of community solar energy programs across the country.

Tanuj Deora Joins SEPA as Chief Strategy Officer

The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has announced that Tanuj Deora has joined the educational nonprofit's executive team in the newly created position of Chief Strategy Officer and Executive Vice President. Deora will provide strategic direction and leadership for SEPA and oversee the organization’s advisory services, education, research and communications activities.

Multiple strategies needed to cut solar interconnection times

When utility customers decide to go solar, the question frequently uppermost in their minds is -- “How long will it take before my system is up and running?" The National Renewable Energy Laboratory, along with the Solar Electric Power Association and other organizations, have launched the Distributed Generation Interconnection Collaborative to help the solar industry cut interconnection time and costs.

Arizona's utility-owned solar programs: New price models, grid integration and collaboration

While left off most year-end reviews, the approval of programs that will put two Arizona utilities in the rooftop solar business could be 2014's watershed event. Rather than the potential setback for solar some advocates and installers fear, the programs that Arizona Public Service and Tucson Electric Power will launch this year could be a pivotal step toward much-needed new pricing models and technology for integrating more renewables onto the grid.

The Caribbean is a test-bed for solar utopia

On the surface, the azure blue waters of the Caribbean Sea have the makings of a solar energy utopia — combining the islands' warm, sunny climate and retail electricity prices topping 60 cents per kilowatt hour. But, as with most ideals, the devil is in the details, and the Caribbean represents a real-time laboratory for two of utilities' most pressing solar challenges: grid integration and cost recovery.

Mainstreaming solar energy means trade-offs -- and rewards

Two concentrated solar power plants are among five finalists for a major industry award, nominations that underline the technical achievements and increasing acceptance of large-scale solar into the United States' energy mainstream. CSP may remain controversial in the public mind for its costs and environmental impacts, but anyone who has seen one of these mammoth projects spreading out over thousands of acres of public land in the American Southwest cannot help but be a little awestruck.

51st State has space for a range of ideas for new energy system

The Solar Electric Power Association's 51st State Initiative is looking for impatient innovators, like the individuals who posted comments to articles about the nonprofit's effort to draw ideas for an energy system of the future. From energy efficiency to cut demand, to combined heat and power plants to provide electricity for local manufacture of solar panels, the 51st State is already generating a broad range of possible solutions for building a clean, affordable and sustainable energy system from the ground up.