SolarApp and local permitting

As summer winds down, we wanted to provide some updates and recent news related to SolarAPP and local permitting, and make sure you’re aware of key upcoming opportunities to continue engaging with this important program.

First and foremost, there have been a number of funding announcements for this program:

  • $500k from the DOE Solar Energy Technologies Office to NREL and partners to perform research on permitting process trends, cycle times, and cancellations.
  • $695k from the DOE Office of Technology Transitions Technology Commercialization Fund to NREL to begin work on the SolarAPP software platform.
  • $695k of in-kind contributions from the solar industry to match the DOE OTT investment.

These investments, totaling nearly $1.9 million, will be critical in beginning the foundational work to create a streamlined permitting process for solar nationwide. You can read more about the funding announcements and related news coverage here. 

In addition to establishing key funding, a number of news stories have cropped up over the last few months related to solar permitting, demonstrating progress in a number of jurisdictions across the country. We look forward to continuing to build on this momentum as we work with AHJs to pilot and implement the SolarAPP platform.

  • Senators Martin Heinrich (D-NM) and Susan Collins (R-ME) introduced the American Energy Opportunity Act, which will provide voluntary assistance and tools to local governments to simplify, standardize, and automate clean energy permitting. A House companion bill is expected to be introduced soon. Previously, Senator Collins and Senator Lindsay Graham (R-SC) sent a letter to Assistant Secretary of Energy Dan Simmons in support of solar soft cost reduction funding. 
  • In a Fox 5 Las Vegas story on July 25, the city’s new video inspection program was highlighted, including an interview with a Sunrun employee voicing his support for this innovative tool, saying the video inspections “actually help me do my job better.”
  • COSSA announced their new “Solar and Storage Friendly Communities” campaign, which will provide rankings and rewards for AHJs that improve their solar and storage permitting processes.
  • A Triple Pundit article on July 5, Cost of Rooftop Solar Power Set for Another Steep Plunge, covered the funding announcements and other program updates, noting that “there is some heavy firepower behind the campaign to bring SolarApp into being.”

REIA & the 2019 NM State Legislative Session

Following is a recap of the NM bills that REIA had involvement in and the status of those bills after the March 15, 2019 legislative session.:
HB210, Community Solar Act: This bill was promoted as a way to make solar more accessible to New Mexicans. However, REIA had concerns about the lack of a cap for these types of installations, prioritization that these projects would have in the utility interconnection queues, potential for projects (up to 10 MW) to clog up feeder lines and lack of any local preference. REIA did engage with the bill sponsors and supporters to have these concerns addressed to no avail. The bill stalled at the end of the session and did not pass. This bill will probably be back and we have engaged with some of the people behind the bill in the hope of changing it to one that REIA can support.
HB291, Efficient Use of Energy Act Amendments: This bill directs Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) to implement energy efficiency programs for customers. The bill also directs the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to adopt a rate adjustment mechanism that “decouples” utility revenues and sales. Decoupling is an initiative that REIA has invested significant resources (mainly legal fees) in recent years and therefore found this component of the bill very appealing. It is the belief of REIA that decoupling will make Distributed Generation (DG) solar less threatening to utilities and therefore make our industry more stable.
SB518, Solar Market Development Tax Credit: REIA supported this bill in its original form which allocated $10 million per year with-out a sunset clause. During the session, the bill was amended to a $5 million per year allocation with a 10 year sunset. It was felt by the REIA Board that the reduction in allocation would not be sufficient to adequately fund the market and could be disruptive to business. Subsequently, REIA withdrew is support for this bill. Ultimately, although the bill passed through all of the necessary committees, it did not get a vote on the house floor on the last day of the session.  
SB51, Renewable Energy Services for State Facilities: Currently only 2 of the State of NM buildings have solar. This bill would have directed the state to analyze all buildings and put renewable energy systems (think solar) on those buildings that could realize cost savings. Seemed like a no-brainer. This bill did not make it out of the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB489, Energy Transition Act: this high profile bill increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 and 100% carbon free energy by 2045 for IOUs. There are slightly lower thresholds for electrical co-ops. The bill also provides economic development funding in the area of the San Juan generating station that is planned to be fully shutdown by 2023. Additionally, it enables PNM to sell low-interest bonds, to re-coup the remaining principle of its investment in the San Juan generating station. While this bill may not directly benefit residential and commercial solar, the thought was to be good solar citizens and support the bill. This bill passed and was signed by the governor.  

HB210, Community Solar Act: This bill was promoted as a way to make solar more accessible to New Mexicans. However, REIA had concerns about the lack of a cap for these types of installations, prioritization that these projects would have in the utility interconnection queues, potential for projects (up to 10 MW) to clog up feeder lines and lack of any local preference. REIA did engage with the bill sponsors and supporters to have these concerns addressed to no avail. The bill stalled at the end of the session and did not pass. This bill will probably be back and we have engaged with some of the people behind the bill in the hope of changing it to one that REIA can support.
HB291, Efficient Use of Energy Act Amendments: This bill directs Investor Owned Utilities (IOU) to implement energy efficiency programs for customers. The bill also directs the Public Regulation Commission (PRC) to adopt a rate adjustment mechanism that “decouples” utility revenues and sales. Decoupling is an initiative that REIA has invested significant resources (mainly legal fees) in recent years and therefore found this component of the bill very appealing. It is the belief of REIA that decoupling will make Distributed Generation (DG) solar less threatening to utilities and therefore make our industry more stable.
SB518, Solar Market Development Tax Credit: REIA supported this bill in its original form which allocated $10 million per year with-out a sunset clause. During the session, the bill was amended to a $5 million per year allocation with a 10 year sunset. It was felt by the REIA Board that the reduction in allocation would not be sufficient to adequately fund the market and could be disruptive to business. Subsequently, REIA withdrew is support for this bill. Ultimately, although the bill passed through all of the necessary committees, it did not get a vote on the house floor on the last day of the session.  
SB51, Renewable Energy Services for State Facilities: Currently only 2 of the State of NM buildings have solar. This bill would have directed the state to analyze all buildings and put renewable energy systems (think solar) on those buildings that could realize cost savings. Seemed like a no-brainer. This bill did not make it out of the Senate Conservation Committee.
SB489, Energy Transition Act: this high profile bill increases the Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030 and 80% by 2040 and 100% carbon free energy by 2045 for IOUs. There are slightly lower thresholds for electrical co-ops. The bill also provides economic development funding in the area of the San Juan generating station that is planned to be fully shutdown by 2023. Additionally, it enables PNM to sell low-interest bonds, to re-coup the remaining principle of its investment in the San Juan generating station. While this bill may not directly benefit residential and commercial solar, the thought was to be good solar citizens and support the bill. This bill passed and was signed by the governor.  

Suniva’s Solar Trade Case

suniva solar trade case

The US Government will move forward with Suniva’s Solar Trade Case. Suniva has requested a four-year tariff schedule on solar panels imported from anywhere in the world. If approved, the tariff would double the price of solar panels imported into the US. Although Suniva manufactures its solar panels in the US, they sold a majority stake and control of the business to a Chinese Company in 2016.

SEIA (Solar Energy Industry Association) has launched a campaign to stop the proposed tariff on the grounds that Suniva is not a representative of the domestic industry as it has been defined. REIA intends to everything in its power stop this blatant attempt to slow down the solar industry. The hearing is scheduled for August 15th at the International Trade Commission headquarters in Washington, D.C.

Solar Fiesta and Community Fair 2017

decoupling

Solar Fiesta

Sponsorship Opportunities and Benefits

Leadership Level:
Top sponsor placement in all print and on web site.
Full page color ad in program.
Five (5) Fiesta shirts w/logos and names.
10’x20′ booth space.
$5,000.00 tax deductible sponsorship.

Support Level:
Middle sponsor placement in all print and on web site.
Half page color ad in program.
Three (3) Fiesta shirts w/logos and names.
10’x10′ booth space. (Upgrade to 10’x20′ at 50%)
$3,000.00 tax deductible sponsorship.

Associate Level:
Lower sponsor placement in all print and on web site.
Quarter page color ad in program.
Two (2) Fiesta shirts w/logos and names
10’x10′ booth space. (Upgrade at 75%)
$1,000.00 tax deductible sponsorship.
___________________________________________________________________________________
The sponsorships will help pay for the cost of advertising, the program, tee shirts, etc. The program will be a special print version of the “Sun Paper” in full color and will include the advertising for the sponsor as outlined above. The shirts provided for the sponsors will be long sleeve collared shirts with the company’s logo, the Fiesta logo, and the name of the person at the Fiesta. Sizes and names will need to be supplied two months in advance.

Standard booth size is 10’x10′. It can be upgraded to 10’x20′.

Advertising sizes can be upgraded to a half or full page ad.

Growing Industry in New Mexico

industry in new mexico

A report out by the Solar Foundation shows that the solar industry continues to have a positive economic impact on the country. According to the report, “The industry added $84 billion to the nation’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2016.”

The study also found that the solar industry created 260,000 jobs, with one solar related job supporting an additional 2.03 jobs. These workers, who earned $50 billion in compensation, then contribute to other economic activity, considered induced impacts, based on spending by workers and employees, and this contributed an additional $62.5 billion in sales to the economy.

The top five states for the solar industry are California, Florida, New York, Ohio and Texas. While New Mexico is the best state suited to install solar, it ranks 8th for solar jobs per capita. Even though it has the second highest range for PV generation hours, it is cooler here than Arizona, so panels actually generate more energy.

REIA wants to see New Mexico take it’s rightful place among the top states with the best economic impact from the growing solar industry.

This is the kind of economic impact that could really help New Mexico. Solar jobs year/year growth in our state increased 64% between 2015 and 2016 from 1,899 jobs in the sector to 2,929 jobs. Policy makers looking for job creation opportunities should be looking for ways to support the growing solar industry in New Mexico. It’s the best opportunity for growth that we have.

Fact sheet: New Mexico Solar Jobs Census 2016

NCREB Funded Solar Energy Projects

Albuquerque RFP

The City of Albuquerque Purchasing Division is seeking sealed electronic bids for the
following goods and/or services by the designated times and dates:

RFB#: P2017000030
Description: New Clean Renewable Energy Bond (NCREB) funded Solar Energy Projects
Due by Date and Time: Wednesday, July 5, 2017 @ 4:00 PM

BID FORMS AND INFORMATION CAN BE ACCESSED AT
http://www.cabq.gov/vendor/solicitations.html

For additional information or questions, contact the City Purchasing Office at (505) 768-3320. For TTY call (505)768-2983.

Thank you,

Jenny Ramirez
Assistant Procurement Officer
City of Albuquerque
One Civic Plaza Dr. NW | 7th Floor, Room 7012
Telephone: 505-768-3330
http://www.cabq.gov/dfa/purchasing/purchasing/

US Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

The following analysis from the US Energy Information Administration shows U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions from 1990 to 2014.  Figure 11 shows that the DECLINING CARBON INTENSITY OF THE ENERGY MIX SINCE 2008 HAS CONTRIBUTED TO A GENERAL DECOUPLING OF CARBON DIOXIDE EMISSIONS FROM ECONOMIC GROWTH.  As we continue to increase our nation’s capacity to generate electricity from the sun, we can continue to grow the US economy without increasing our carbon emissions.  That’s good news for all of us.

https://www.eia.gov/environment/emissions/carbon/

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