Greetings, Dear Freinds, Visitors/Readers/Viewers,
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Great News! On the last day of the SPI (Solar Power International) 2012, I actually reached a Eureka moment while interviewing Mr. Paul Spencer, President and Founder of CEC, Clean Energy Collective. Periodically, I’ve received emails from those of you who also want to participate in solar yet may be living in apartment complexes, condos, within strict homeowner association rules, in a house with more shaded orientations, or uncertain of the future location, your questions will be answered by today’s post/interview.
Through a progression of events, from an electrical engineering background, to building software companies and an off-grid home, then expanding into building community home projects (from which Mr. Spencer had the opportunity to work with the CO utility company in dealing with some heavily shaded homes in a net metering community), he came to realize that since only about 15% of electrical customers in U.S. can put solar on their homes directly, the true solution to making a dent in the renewable energy world would require a more pervasive and fractional/part ownership of solar, based on partnership. Below, Mr. Spencer will explain how CEC accomplishes this in the interview:
Eureka! The light bulb went on for me! To truly solve our energy problem, having significant amount of our power coming from renewable energy source, we all need to be in partnership, be it utility companies with individual home owners/renters, be it developed nations with developing nations, be it manufactures with distributors, interdependent and cooperative partnership is crucial in our transitioning into the renewable energy age. Out of this realization Clean Energy Collective (CEC) was born, started in Carbondale, CO and now in three states (CO, NM, MN) and will continue its expansion. The CEC set up does not only respond to the concern toward variability from distributed power (small users) by utility companies, but also assists individuals who want to participate in solar (but cannot due to different reasons mentioned in the above paragraph) to overcome much hurdles and insures that solar panels will continue to be maintained properly by experienced solar professionals . Furthermore, CEC is the perfect solution that addresses all concerns/obstacles toward Feed-In-Tariff incentive policy. To truly transition into renewable energy age, we need to see far more than just the 15% electrical customers to participate in solar. We need to cover as many rooftops, as much of the surface areas available, with solar installations. CEC (Clean Energy Collective), partnered with FIT (Feed-In-Tariff) will enable us to spread the sunshine multi-fold! This would also help consumers to reduce the amount of paperwork or legal maze individual consumers would have to deal with because the collective organizations would handle initial legal agreement with the utility company or later daily maintenance issues.
In an ideal world, with more participation, eventually utility companies will also be able to function as power storage for the solar power that people generate through their collective panels. FIT (Feed-In-Tariff), implemented properly and effectively, will help to provide consumers with incentive to remain connected to the grid because they will be able to gain/produce/earn/benefit from the connection. With Sun being part of my name, I have a particular fondness for the solar industry of all renewables, in addition to the fact that it is the cleanest, safest, and least likely to instigate war among nations. The way to insure solar industry’s position in the future is continued drop in cost through massive implementations, requiring incentive. This would also increase job creations and economic growth. Another mechanism, PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) is presented at Solar Power International 2012. But FIT is a more inclusive and more effective mechanism than PPA because FIT provides a clearly defined feed-in rate, applicable to all users (small as well as medium) without need to negotiate for each contract. As long as there is need to negotiate the rate for each contract, there may be a wide range of variability in rates even within the same district, translating into potential fairness issue or sellers (solar generators) being at the mercy of buyers (utility companies). So, I was really happy to have learned about CEC (Clean Energy Collective), potentially solving the difficulty in variability FIT may have originally presented to utility companies. CEC, combined with FIT, does appear to provide the path that will maximize the possibility of our future expansion in solar energy use. Thank you, Mr. Spencer, for helping to shed the light and providing us with this workable solution, very succinctly presented. With CEC, I will look forward to more sunshine for every one in the future.
*I should qualify that any/all editorial remark(s) regarding Feed-In-Tariff (FIT) in this post were by yours truly, sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker alone. Mr. Spencer only concentrated on presenting Clean Energy Collective. I felt the need to make this clear because I distinctly got the feeling that FIT is a topic that should only be whispered in one’s ear and not a favored subject for discussion during SPI2012. I certainly do not want Mr. Spencer get in trouble on my account. This is all quite perplexing to me, for FIT had been an overwhelmingly accepted incentive policy in many other countries and had proven to be successful in creating jobs and bringing local economic prosperity (for any region that had effectively implemented it). FIT, effectively implemented, may potentially increase the longevity/need of utility companies and vast growth of solar implementations. Then why only whisper FIT? It should be discussed and welcomed! It should be shouted out loud! THIS/(FIT) MAY POTENTIALLY BE THE POLICY THAT WILL INSURE THE VIABILITY/LONGEVITY FOR UTILITY COMPANIES, providing incentive for people to remain connected to the grid.
~have a bright and sunny day~
gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker, firstname.lastname@example.org