Community Solar Through SEPA & Paul Spencer of Clean Energy Collective

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Dear Friends, Visitors/Viewers/Readers,

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Updates on our# Solar-FIT For Sunshine State petition: 165 signatures strong. We need more! Please help us to spread more sunshine by signing this petition and sharing it with others. It is our shared responsibility to move toward the renewable energy age and Sunshine is the cleanest, healthiest, and least war-prone way to go!
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What a great way to share and obtain valuable information without increasing carbon footprint or cost! SEPA (Solar Electric Power Association ) is now presenting a series of webinars that will help to provide better understanding of how Community Solar can help Utilities to achieve their goals, sponsored by Clean Energy Collective. This is a two-part community solar webinar series where SEPA staff share insights and findings from the recently released Utility Community Solar Handbook. The first  episode of this series took place on June 13, 2013, on Utility Managed Community Solar. The second episode of this series will take place on June 27, 2013 , Highlighting Trends From SEPA’s 2012 Top 10 Utility Solar Rankings and the third episode will take place on July 11, 2013, Leveraging Community Solar to Meet Utility Goals – Experience and Insights from Clean Energy Collective and Xcel Energy.You may sign up for the remaining episodes of this series here.

During the first episode, in the short 30 minutes, Bob Gibson (VP of Education and Outreach at SEPA) and Mike Taylor (Director of Research at SEPA) presented very succinctly why utility companies would want to work with community solar program:

Community Solar @ Westmill Solar Cooperative (Creative Commons GNU Free Documentation License)

  1. Increase customer access to and participation in solar
  2. Support the local PV industry
  3. Proactive customer engagement with the utility
  4. More cost effective than smaller, distributed projects
  5. Meet regulatory requirements at lower cost
  6. Increase customer equity from solar projects

and highlighted key considerations for utilities interested in designing or optimizing utility-managed community solar programs and for stakeholders looking to support them.

The participant take-aways included:

  1. Motivations and drivers for community solar
  2. General guidance categories when moving forward with a community solar program
  3. Chief considerations when implementing community solar
  4. Utility-managed community solar decision points, lessons-learned and what to do differently in future projects to optimize result

In case you’d like a deeper understanding of what community solar program/farm represents, explained below (in italic form, source: Wikipedia) and also by Clean Energy Collective President Paul Spencer in the video :


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A community solar farm or solar garden is a solar power installation that accepts capital from and provides credit for the output and tax benefits to individual and other investors. The power output of the farm is credited to the investors in proportion to their investment, with adjustments to reflect ongoing changes in capacity, technology, costs, and electricity rates. Companies, cooperatives, governments or non-profits operate the farms.

Centralizing the location of solar systems has advantages over residential installation that include:

  • Trees, roof size and/or configuration, adjacent buildings, the immediate microclimate and/or other factors which may reduce power output.
  • Building codes, zoning restrictions, homeowner association rules and aesthetic concerns.
  • Lack of skills and commitment to install and maintain solar systems.
  • Expanding participation to include renters and others who are not residential property owners

(Source: Wikipedia)
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Community solar program/farm is a great way to enable the segment of population (mentioned above) that otherwise would not have been able to participate in solar to share the benefit of sunshine effectively and responsibly. It would also be able to work in conjunction with incentive program such as Feed-In-Tariff. If you’d like to find out more and missed the first episode of this series, recordings and slides from the first episode (June 13, 2013) are available at SEPA website for webnars.  If you want to Learn How Community Solar Can Help Utilities Achieve their Goals, registration for future webinars are available here. If you’d like some help in starting your community solar farm/program, you may want to contact Clean Energy Collective to get some answers.

This is a great opportunity for any one assessing whether community solar is a viable option for them and how to create a program that optimizes project development and results. Utility project case studies will help illustrate lessons learned. There will be a Q&A session following the presentation.

Participant take-aways (provided by SEPA, below) will include:

  • How community solar can be leveraged to meet utility goals – RPS, customer satisfaction, etc.
  • Key considerations for making smart community solar decisions and a successful program design.
  • Considerations for deciding whether community solar should be developed alone or with a third party.
  • How to evaluate the available roles, options and variables that might impact your decision

Date: Thursday, July 11, 2013. 11am Pacific/2pm Eastern. Estimated duration: 1 hour.

Speakers: Fran Long, Product Developer – Renewable Energy, Xcel Energy; Paul Spencer, Founder and CEO, Clean Energy Collective; Becky Campbell, Senior Research Manager, SEPA (moderator)

Cost: Free to SEPA members and the media (subject to verification); $199 for non-members

Target Audience: Utility strategic planners, renewable program staff and other interested solar and community stakeholders

All registered attendees will receive the presentation slides and recording within two business days after the webinar. The recording and slides from the first part of the series are also available on the website.

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~have a bright and sunny day~

gathered, written, and posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker

any of your comments or suggestions will be welcomed publicly below in the comment box and privately via sunisthefuture@gmail.com (be sure to note in the email if you do not want your email to be shared).

Homepage: http://www.sunisthefuture.net

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