A very important rate case with Consumers Energy is currently before the MI Public Service Commission. This case (U-20697) will determine what the new ‘net-metering’ credit will be for homeowners and business that sell extra solar generated electricity back to Consumers. Under the current law established in 2008, the amount that a homeowner would receive was the retail rate at around 15 cents per kWh. But under the new law enacted in 2016, each utility in Michigan must go through a MPSC rate case to establish a new amount, called the Distributed Energy Tariff.
Consumers Energy no longer wants to pay a solar owner the same ‘retail’ amount of 15 cents per kWh. They only want to pay 7.4 cents per kWh even though Consumers will take that solar electricity and turn right around and sell it to some other customer for 15 cents per kWh. GLREA is extremely disappointed in Consumers for proposing this and is fighting it tooth and nail. It’s clear that Consumers doesn’t properly value the benefit of getting extra solar electricity from solar owners by proposing only 7.4 cents per kWh,
Consumers is trying to stop the expansion of residential and small business solar so they can maintain their monopoly control of providing energy. GLREA thinks that’s fundamentally wrong and will urge the Public Service Commission to reject Consumers proposal. We need your help in this campaign. Please email John Freeman at Jfreeman13@comcast.net if you would like to help.
Consumers Energy recently launched a new feature, Green Button Connect, that allows their residential customers the ability to seamlessly share their energy use data with the 3rd parties of their choosing. This is a completely free program for all parties involved, but does require the 3rd parties (contractors, installers and similar) to register with Consumers Energy. To learn more about this opportunity, email firstname.lastname@example.org
City of Muskegon Heights has a solar partnership with Chart House Energy of Muskegon and New Energy Equity of Annapolis, MD. The City will host 645 kW of solar systems on five City properties that will provide 47% of the City’s total electric consumption. This will result in excess of $100,000 in annual savings for the City. New Energy Equity will finance the projects under an Energy Services Agreement with no upfront cost to the City. Chart House Energy will train and employ local underemployed or unemployed people during the installation. Muskegon Heights’ City Hall and Department of Public Works will each host roof mounted solar arrays. The water Filtration Plant and Pumping Station will each host ground mounted solar arrays. Chart House Energy hopes to complete work at all sites by the end of June. More details
NASA has teamed up with NanoAvionics to test out a new type of solar sail system. If it successfully deploys in low Earth orbit, the uber-light composite boom solar sail could pave the way for larger solar sails. Solar sailing, a term first coined by science fiction writer Arthur C. Clarke in his 1964 short story “Sunjammer,” is a method of powering small spacecraft without the use of an expensive propellant. Instead, the spacecraft has a large, mirror-like sail, which absorbs solar energy and is powered by the momentum produced by photons as they bounce off the reflective sail. This flow of photons continuously builds thrust, powering spacecraft for long distances through the frictionless vacuum of space. More details
Southern California Edison has announced a massive proposed procurement of energy storage resources, amounting to a combined 770 MW and 3,080 MWH. Six of the seven energy storage projects will be paired with existing solar installations. The systems are being installed to replace grid capacity currently provided by four gas power plants sited along the Southern California coastline. If approved by the California Public Utilities Commission, the project developers – NextEra, Southern Power, TerraGen, and LS Power – will be on a tight deadline, with the utility expecting the storage systems to be online by August 2021. More details
Ted Talk by Monica Araya covers the bold, innovative steps taken by Costa Rica during the past 70 years. They have abolished their army and use renewable energy to supply 100% of their electricity. Oil used for transportation is next on the sustainability agenda. This Ted talk is about 15 minutes. Watch here.
Smart Circuit Panel is being commercialized by San Francisco-based Span, a company led by executives and lead engineers from Tesla, Amazon Echo, and Sunrun. The panel creates a single point of control for generation, energy storage and devices in the home. When the power goes out, Span automatically islands the house and allows the homeowner, via a cell phone, to prioritize energy use for appliances and connected devices, so that the most important are energized first. This extends the time that the home can use on-site energy during an outage. Battery power isn’t wasted on unimportant functions. The smart panel monitors and controls 32 circuits. The panel simplifies installation of solar, energy storage and electric vehicle charging. Span expects to begin deploying the systems this month and will initially focus on California.
Ford Patent application has been made for a roof-mounted device that, with a flip of a switch, cocoons the entire parked vehicle in a shield of solar panels. It’s been more than 6 years since Ford unveiled its 8 kW C-Max Solar Energi Concept, a rooftop solar system that tracks the sun’s movement and uses a Fresnel lens to concentrate energy. Toyota, Hyundai, Nissan, and Tesla have all made forays into using rooftops to solar charge an EV or hybrid. Lightyear (see photo), the Dutch solar-car company, designed its Lightyear One vehicle to be aerodynamic while maximizing the space for solar cells. The car, if left in the sun, averages about 20 miles of added electric range in a day. More details
U.S. Air Force has launched its secret X-37B space plane for a long-duration mission in low Earth orbit. The cargo includes a solar panel developed by the Naval Research Lab that will be used to conduct the first orbital experiment with space-based solar power. The premise is to convert the sun’s energy into microwaves and beam it down to earth.
Tesla has quietly made Model 3, and likely Model Y, ready for bidirectional charging, which could enable some game-changing features in the near future. Vehicle-to-grid technology, which enables a vehicle to send power back into the grid, could make it possible to use vehicles for storing electricity for home or grid use. More details
Michigan Climate Action DIGITAL Summit was held on May 5. The Summit recording is now online watch now.
American Solar Energy Society’s 49th annual National Solar Conference, SOLAR 20/20: Renewable Energy Vision will now be held virtually June 24-25 to ensure the safety of all our participants. The conference will feature technical sessions, provocative plenary panels, an action focused town hall and solar citizen session, as well as networking opportunities, and more. Register today at ases.org/conference
NetZeroBuild Summit 2020, bringing together the key stakeholders involved in the Midwest’s value chain for net-zero construction in residential, commercial, academic and government buildings, is in Novi from August 25-26 (New dates due to delay related to the coronavirus.)
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