Posts Tagged "commercial solar"

FTC Won’t Investigate GMP

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In the past few years Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) have become a heated topic in Vermont. So much so, that it peaked the interest of Vermont Law School (VLS) and elicited a letter from the Vermont Attorney General. If you have been following the story about the sale of RECs within Green Mountain Power (GMP) territory, this update will be of interest to you. According to a February 10th article in Times Argus, The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) decided not to investigate GMPs marketing of RECs, but said that communication to the public should remain clear. [A GMP Press Release from September 19th 2014 is available here] Kevin Jones, a VLS professor was not happy with these results. Last year VLS challenged GMP handling of their RECs, and specifically aimed this criticism towards Vermont’s SPEED law saying that, “From an environmental and electric rate (perspective), the SPEED program has been a failure”. Kristen Carlson, a GMP representative, addressed this issue by bringing to light that the sale of RECs allows for clean energy to be bought at a lower price. Thus boosting the sale of clean energy and allowing Vermont to become a leader in clean energy production. Rates are in fact lowered through the out-of-state sale of RECs. In turn the environment has greater protection through financial support, not greater pollution. [More about GMP on RECs can be found here] As the issue became more public, it morphed into a criticism of the definition of “credit”. While companies that sell energy from renewable sources such as wind, solar, and hydro are creating renewable energy, they are selling the “credits”. Thus, selling the right to call them renewable. This is no way negates the fact that these energy sources are in fact creating energy from a source that has renewable attributes, only that the jargon used, must reflect the credit exchange. In essence, this is what the issue has boiled down to. Meanwhile, those of us installing solar and wind generators in Vermont are happy to sell RECs out of state, to insure that Vermont resident’s get lower clean energy rates and that our environment is protected for future generations. Maybe we use “clean energy” instead of “renewable energy”, but the effects are the same. On Thursday a letter was sent from the FTC to a GMP lawyer saying, “Although no findings have been made that these claims [made by VLS] violate the law, we urge GMP in the future to prevent any confusion by clearly communicating the implications of its REC sales for Vermont customers and REC purchasers.” To this end, we attempt to clarify the issues here and educate our Vermont Community Solar participants on the function of RECs. Read the entire article...

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2014: 173,807 jobs and a new installation every 2.5 minutes

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2014: 173,807 jobs and a new installation every 2.5 minutes

This is what the solar industry has brought us in 2014. An article published today highlighted the invaluable progress that the solar industry has had on the market in recent years. Imitating what the president said in his state of the union address, “America installed twenty-two times more solar in 2014 than in 2008”. That is a remarkable increase for an economy just on the brink of recovery. This growth is defined in detail in The Energy Collective’s new article.    The most excitement I get from this article are the numbers in job growth. 80,000 new jobs in the solar industry since 2008. Now this is by no means enough to keep up with the growth required by our current form of economics. However, for a relatively new industry, it begs attention. I am even inclined to argue that it is a step in the right direction for our investment in the future. It is a solid investment, whatever the intentions. Read the full article...

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Locally Owned Solar Creating more Jobs

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Locally Owned Solar Creating more Jobs

After 4 years in Business, Soveren is looking at how we impact our community. A November 8th article from the San Diego Press discussed the higher rate of job creation by locally owned clean energy companies. Based on a report by the Institute for Local Self Reliance, John Farrell spells out the striking difference between locally owned and absentee owned energy production.  Based on the graphic here, locally owned projects bring in on average twice as many jobs as absentee owned projects. The elements of a project that determines job creation is size, location, materials and labor used. If the project is locally owned there is a higher chance that it will use local materials and labor, as well as benefit local shareholders and investors. If a company from out of state were to install a project in southern VT, they would import the developers, investors and probably even the installers. Only a few subcontractors would be hired. Because Soveren is a locally based company, we develop our projects right here, hire local labor, and invest in the local economy. Those who participate in our projects live here in VT and reap the benefits, sinking their savings right back into the local community. It is a structure that benefits all involved without outsourcing or importing any major investments. We support local manufacturers as much as possible, hire people from the area, sell to people from the area, and support local banks and credit unions, triggering a market based approach to climate change and self reliance. We keep our rates as low as possible, while providing VCS participants with the best PV technology the market can provide. With an insulated approach to community solar, VCS ensures its participants a stable and clean source of energy. All this while building the green collar work force and feeding the local economy. At this point taking fossil fuels out of commission is only a bonus. But isn’t that why we are doing this, to preserve our future? We don’t just want to preserve a future, we want to build a clean and prosperous...

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Community Solar for Businesses

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Community Solar for Businesses

Vermont Community Solar is now offering businesses the opportunity to purchase capacity in group net metered solar farms in southern Vermont. Capacity in these solar farms is available to any business that is served by Green Mountain Power legacy. Ideal candidates will have the ability to take advantage of federal and state tax credits, and have at least $130/month in electricity expenses. The solar farm pictured above is located in a field owned by the Scholl family, 1¼ miles north of the Putney General Store on Rt. 5. The site has been secured through a 50-year land lease agreement, which will remain intact in the event the land changes hands. Soveren Solar is the developer and installer of the Scholl Solar Farm, and provides the ongoing operations and maintenance of the facility. In addition, Soveren Solar serves as the group administrator, handling all group billing and administrative duties. Businesses who purchase capacity in a Vermont Community Solar Project will become owners of specific solar equipment, and members of the larger net-metering group. The electricity produced by the solar farm will be metered by Green Mountain Power, and net metering credits will be assigned to each group member in proportion to their ownership stake in the solar farm. Prospective member-owners of Vermont Community Solar Projects should be: Located in Green Mountain Power’s utility service territory Includes heritage CVPS customers Must be in good standing with GMP regarding on time payment of bills Able to use commercial tax incentives Business must be registered as a corporation or other acceptable taxable entity Possess federal and state tax liability in order to benefit from tax incentives Committed to working cooperatively with the group of owners Willing to pay share of land lease, taxes, and maintenance costs Net metering credits from these systems may be applied to any utility bill in Green Mountain Power utility service territory. Participants in Vermont Community Solar can be either commercial or residential. However the incentives for commercial participants are significantly higher. Ownership in the solar farm may be sold or transferred at any time. An average system size is 6kW, which will produce an average monthly net metering credit of ~ $130. Capacity in these systems are available on a first-come first-serve basis until the entire project is reserved. Soveren Solar will provide a waiting list for businesses interested in purchasing capacity at a future sites. Soveren Solar is pleased to offer area businesses the opportunity to purchase capacity in an offsite solar farm. Offsite solar preserves all the same ownership and tax benefits as onsite solar, and is an attractive option for any business with an electric bill, a tax bill, and nowhere to put a solar system.   Scholl Solar Farm: Solar Array Layout   Locals know to look for Gary Scholl’s playful and encouraging messages, which he mows into field each summer. In 2012, Gary mowed “PLAY ON.”  [UPDATE: 10/8/14 This array has been installed and all capacity in the system has been sold. Soveren Solar has built three more Vermont Community Solar projects this past summer and is looking for residential and commercial participants. If you are interested in being part of one of these projects, please get in...

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