The Week in Solar: April 16-22, 2017

Each week, Bay Area Solar Solutions LLC takes a look at the world of solar and how it affects Floridians. Below is the week of April 16-22, 2017; click on the red links for the highlighted article exclusive.

House, Senate move closer on implementation of solar Amendment 4

Jim Turner of The Palm Beach Post reports on the activity of Florida’s Solar Amendment, Amendment 4.  The Florida House and Senate are currently accepting proposals in order to finalize the amendment.  The bill was voted on in August of 2016 and focuses on solar tax-breaks for residential and commercial properties; more on Amendment 4 can be found here.

“I haven’t heard from one constituent that they’re having a problem with solar contractors…I’m of the position of, let’s focus this on what the voters intended it to be, which is on cutting taxes for those individuals who choose to put solar in place and to make it more of a viable option.”

–Senator Jeff Brandes (R, St Petersburg)

The Florida Takeaway:  Floridians voted YES on Amendment 4 it seems LIGHT YEARS ago, and the process in order to enact it seems like it’s taking just a tad too long.  Unfortunately, the language of the bill is being fought over, and the original language seems to be in question.  We should take notice of this, Floridians!  FPL has been accused of introducing language favorable for power/utility companies and against third-party solar contractors.  The bill is not only favorable for solar, but also for smaller solar companies such as Bay Area Solar Solutions by streamlining the process, especially for permits and product information.

Report: Middle-income homeowners make up 70% of solar customers (with 3 critical charts)

“In the four states that make up 65% of residential solar installations, most households have incomes between $45,000 and $150,000, new research from GTM Research and PowerScout reveals,” begins Frank Andorka in his latest article for PV Magazine.  Andorka cites new studies from GTM Research and PowerScout in an effort to disprove the myth that solar is only for the wealthy.  Andorka provides several graphs from the aforementioned studies as well as reasoning that several factors (such as subsidies and rate structures) help solar become a more than viable option.
Solar for the average household.  Source:  PV Magazine/GTM Research, PowerSource
The Florida Takeaway:  It’s time for solar, Floridians!  Most Floridians fall into the aforementioned financial gap, and the myth that solar is only for the rich must be dispelled.  Solar is a great investment for the middle and lower class!  The general statement is that if one can afford to pay their utility bill each month, they can afford solar.  Solar advocates and businesses such as ourselves must continue to educate the public about solar–with so many benefits (especially in the financial realm), it’s time for Floridians of all financial classes to know that they can own their own power.

Utilities experiment with big batteries in Phoenix to tackle one of solar’s major problems

The Republic’s Ryan Randazzo writes of utility solar and battery solutions in recent piece.  Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) is running tests with solar and batteries to solve issues such as cloud cover and night power generation.  The battery system is $2 million dollars and the testing will last six months.  APS will involve over 1,600 residents with solar and credit them during the process, writes Randazzo.

“The peak demand on the power grid in metro Phoenix often occurs around sunset, so batteries can help match power supply with demand.  The batteries also can help stabilize the grid when clouds pass overhead, causing the output of solar panels to fluctuate.”–Ryan Randazzo

“Think of it like a shock absorber,” said John Pinho, project integration manager for APS. “They are used to absorb these shocks and flatten out demand on the feeder (power line).”

The Florida Takeaway:  It would be AMAZING if we could get the Florida Public Service Commission to cut a deal with solar and utility companies to run similar tests.  Yes, we already know that solar still works in cloudy environments, but with batteries to help with storage during low usage hours and at night time, the results of the study will be interesting to uncover.  Floridians have the option of obtasining battery storage, as it comes in handy when power outages occur.


SEIA: Rick Perry isn’t targeting wind and solar

PV Tech’s Danielle Ola recently addressed Solar Energy Industry Association’s (SEIA) meeting with Energy Secretary Rick Perry.  SEIA met with Perry to introduce themselves as an entity and their mandates, writes Ola.  PV Tech reports that SEIA feels that Perry treated the meeting as “business as usual.”  SEIA, in knowing that Perry had success with renewables as Texas governor, could use Texas as a springboard for national solar.  “We look at this study for an opportunity for us to present a very positive case about why solar has provided some really important benefits to the grid and that going forward, solar is going to be a really strong and ‘good citizen of the grid’ so to speak. We are still less than 2% overall generating capacity in the US, and obviously a higher percentage in some states than in others, so there are obviously issues that have to be addressed with renewables and forms of energy that are on the grid,” offered Christopher Mansour (VP of federal affairs, SEIA).
Energy Secretary Rick Perry meets with SEIA; CourtesySunLink LinkedIn
The Florida Takeaway:  It will be important for Floridians to keep an eye on Perry as well as President Donald Trump.  Trump is not as fond of renewables as fossil fuels, and may coax Perry to side with fossil fuels.  Yes, Texas enjoyed massive success with solar and wind under Perry, but it seems Perry might be swayed somewhat.  SEIA has worked hard to promote and enable state and national solar, and it is disappointing for the entity to feel as if they were dismissed by Perry.  HOPEFULLY such is not the case, and Perry heeds SEIA’s advice in promoting solar mandates and policies that will make solar brighter for consumers nationwide.  Especially here in Florida–we must keep an eye on Perry regarding renewables–it’s time to live up to our name as the Sunshine State, Floridians!


The new all-of-the above: HECO looks to wind, solar and beyond for 100% renewables mandate

Hawaii is aiming for 100% renewable power across the state, writes Utility Dive’s Robert Walton.  Hawaii Electric Company (HECO) has massive plans to achieve such–100% renewable power by 2040.  HECO is creating a “Power Supply Improvement Plan,” that must be finalized in June and accepted by the Public Service Commission.  The Commission recently rejected a proposal, citing cost concerns.  Demand management, demand response, and storage are key components of such an undertaking, writes Walton.  HECO also desires to implement electric cars in order to attain the measure.

“One of the things that makes the Hawaii grid different from the mainland is the reliance on distributed, connected resources. Whether they be solar PV or electric vehicles or dedicated storage, they are going to be relied on more heavily to actually operate the grid…Not just at the distribution level, but the entire system.”

–Colton Ching, Senior VP, Planning & Technology, HECO

The Florida Takeaway:  Hawaii is miles ahead of Florida on solar, especially when it comes to a Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS).  Many states have them, and it’s time for Florida to get shining.  Hawaii’s high goal is encouraging for other states, especially Florida, where our solar capacity is much higher.  Hawaii faces its own grid issues, and Florida is no different–yes, it would be a massive undertaking for Florida to become 100% renewable by 2040.  But we can do it, Floridians!  Hawaii’s attempt is encouraging, and the work will be worth it.  We must lobby for a RPS–please contact your local representatives on such–so we can receive an amazingly clean, sustainable form of bankable power–Florida solar!





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