November 22, 2017
MISSOURI Solar industry looks for catalyst to fuel its future
(Originally published on https://www.eenews.net/energywire/stories/1060067167/feed November 22nd, 2017)
Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News reporter
Published: Wednesday, November 22, 2017
Missouri jumped out to become a surprise leader in the Midwest in deployment of customer-owned solar generation thanks to millions of dollars in incentives that have since dried up.
Now, like a runner who sprinted to a big lead early in the marathon that is the electric-sector transformation, the state's solar industry is looking to catch a second wind as neighbors like Illinois are poised to pass it by.
Mary Shields, the new executive director of the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association (MOSEIA), describes the state's solar market today as "static," leading locally based installers to look to other states for opportunities.
MOSEIA this month gathered in Springfield for its annual conference that focused on policy and regulatory changes to help kick-start a new wave of solar growth, such as expanding the availability of net metering.
"Net metering is high on our list because it provides people choice," said Shields, a former energy trader and SEIA national board member.
The group's strategy session comes just weeks before the General Assembly reconvenes. The Public Service Commission also is exploring a wide range of issues related to distributed energy resources.
The PSC on Monday hosted a daylong workshop as part of a series of proceedings focused on "emerging issues" in the utility sector.
The meeting focused on existing levels of distributed energy resources in Missouri and forecast growth, possible changes to accommodate or facilitate distributed energy expansion and grid upgrades necessary to do so.
Collectively, the state's three investor-owned utilities have more than 130 megawatts of customer-owned renewable generation connected to their systems, company executives said. Most of it is solar installations driven by a $2-a-watt rebate authorized by the same 2008 ballot initiative that established Missouri's 15 percent renewable energy standard.
St. Louis-based Ameren Missouri, the state's largest utility with 1.2 million customers, said customer-owned solar on its system will continue to grow. But the pace of growth and timing is a wild card.
In a recent long-range plan filed with state regulators, the utility estimates it will have between 114 and 930 MW of renewable distributed energy plugged into its distribution grid in 2037, with most of the new capacity added after the early 2020s.
The huge range of potential for solar growth doesn't take into account the looming trade case that threatens to erode solar economics across the nation by imposing tariffs or quotas on imported solar panels (E&E News PM, Oct. 31).
Among the ideas raised in the PSC workshop was a value of distributed energy analysis.
"The fact that there was broad support for that was significant," Hall said in an interview after the meeting.
Ameren Missouri is among those groups that sees benefit in a value of such an analysis, Tom Byrne, senior director of regulatory affairs, said in an interview.
Ameren views distributed energy as an increasingly important part of the grid's future, so it's important "that we understand all of the costs and all of the benefits," he said.
Renewable energy advocates say they, too, want a study that fairly measures what customer-owned solar brings to the grid.
Finding common ground on who should perform such analysis, what should be measured and how to value attributes for the purpose of compensating excess generation won't be easy, though.
For instance, a key benefit of rooftop solar is avoided air pollution that might otherwise be emitted from an Ameren coal plant. But placing a per-kilowatt-hour dollar value on avoided emissions is beyond the scope of the rate-setting analysis that economic regulators typically do, Byrne said.
James Owen, executive director of Renew Missouri, disagrees. Any value-of-solar analysis should consider the benefit of avoided emissions.
In the end, he said, a study would resolve some of the disputes.
"Is it going to take a lot of time? Yes. Is it going to take a lot of money? Certainly. But this is only going to become more of an issue," he said.
Net metering and value-of-solar analysis will be part of a second distributed energy analysis workshop at the commission in January.
That's also when the Legislature reconvenes. And clean energy advocates are already girding for legislation that would weaken the state's net-metering policy.
A bill pushed by the Missouri Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives and supported by investor-owned utilities passed the House by a 2-to-1 margin last year before fizzling in committee in the Senate (Energywire, April 12).
At the core of H.B. 340 was language that would enable electric suppliers to charge customer generators for standby generation, capacity, interconnection or other costs. Missouri's 2007 net-metering law currently prohibits such fees.
Owen said he already knows a similar bill will be filed again.
Even though Republicans hold a veto-proof majority in the Missouri Legislature, clean energy advocates intend to do more than play defense. They plan to pitch conservative lawmakers on the economic benefits associated with solar development and the benefits to the grid.
"From our perspective, it is how do we keep the solar jobs we already have and, beyond that, grow," said Shields.
MOSEIA wants to expand the state's 2007 net-metering policy to include systems beyond the current 100-kilowatt limit. They want to enable more community solar and third-party solar development aimed at helping large energy users meet renewable energy goals.
Shields said there's also a case for additional rebates or other financial incentives for solar development in Missouri.
Unlike Missouri's previous rebate program, which led to a boom-and-bust cycle, rebates could be specifically targeted to help incentivize solar development on specific parts of the grid where it would have the greatest benefit for improving resilience.
The discussion about the future of solar deployment in Missouri comes as states across the Midwest have adopted wildly different policies over the past year that will define their solar market growth trajectories.
Illinois last year passed sweeping energy reforms that call for more 2,700 MW of solar, at least half of which must be community and distributed projects.
Meanwhile, Kansas regulators this summer ruled that residential customers with rooftop solar systems aren't paying their fair share to maintain the grid — a decision that paves the way for new utility surcharges (Energywire, Sept. 22).
And Indiana's Legislature passed a bill that will phase out net metering in five years. While the measure sparked a boom in solar activity among customers who want to lock in net-metering terms, advocates see a bleak long-term future for the state's solar market (Energywire, Feb. 17).
Renewable advocates are hoping to avoid a similar fate in Missouri, and they're hopeful that support from conservative lawmakers and corporate energy users who want the ability to contract for renewable energy will help them make their case.
Owen said, "It's a big deal to a lot of big businesses."
Twitter: @jefftomich Email: email@example.com
September 25, 2017
July 12, 2017
The City of Kansas City is using funding from the recently approved GO Bond Issues to improve traffic signal synchronization in several intersections across the Metro area, reducing vehicle idling and is apart of the City’s larger plan to reduce green house gas emissions and enhance the quality of life for visitors and citizens alike.
This is part of the City’s commitment to reducing its municipal and citywide greenhouse gas emissions to 30 percent below pre-2000 levels by the year 2020. To accomplish this, the City has invested in energy efficiency, solar, hybrid vehicles, and electric vehicle charging stations (among other efforts) and was one of the first cities in the United States to promote benchmarking and efficiency upgrades in public and private buildings throughout the city.
These investments haven’t gone unnoticed. The American Council for an Energy Efficiency Economy recognized Kansas City as one of the most improved cities in the United States. Kansas City jumped eight spots in the rankings and is now ranked 19th in terms of large U.S. cities.
But now, the federal government is shirking its duty to improve the economy and keep its citizens safe. The City of Kansas City is proposing another resolution would reaffirm Kansas City’s commitment to the City’s Climate Protection Plan, signed in July 2008, and in conjunction with Major James’ signing of the Climate Mayors letter. This letter, which has been signed by 325 mayors in 45 states, represents 62 million Americans. This comes after President Trump withdrew the United States from the Paris Climate Agreement on June 1, 2017. This withdrawal occurred even though 195 countries, including the United States, signed the agreement in December 2015.
This resolution has been added to the agenda for the Finance & Governance Committee meeting, happening on Wednesday, July 12th at 8:30am in the 10th floor committee room at City Hall. The meeting is open to any and all concerned citizens who would like to show their support on the issue.
We encourage our supporters to attend. Contact Renew Missouri by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more. We hope to see you there.