Berkeley becomes first US city to ban natural gas in new buildings

By Sarah Ravani San Francisco Chronicle Berkeley became the first city nationwide to ban the use of natural gas in new low-rise residential buildings in a unanimous vote Tuesday by the City Council. The ordinance, introduced by Councilwoman Kate Harrison, goes into effect Jan. 1, 2020, and phases out the use of natural gas by requiring all new single-family homes, town homes and small apartment buildings to have electric infrastructure. After its passage, Harrison thanked the community and her colleagues “for making Berkeley the first city in California and the United States to prohibit natural gas infrastructure in new buildings.” The city will include commercial buildings and larger residential structures as the state moves to develop regulations for those, officials said. The ordinance allocates $273,341 per year for a two-year staff position in the Building and Safety Division within the city’s Department of Planning and Development. The employee will be

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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

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Decoupling limitations & Solutions: Decoupling Part 3

When would decoupling be “anti-consumer?” If the future means selling less power, then less rate revenue means recovering past investments in coal power plants (now stranded assets) becomes impossible.  Investors will not earn their allowed returns.  Time to remove utility returns from the MONOPOLY board!  Decoupling solves this problem, and that’s exactly why some consumer advocate groups don’t like it.  Some claim the utilities made bad long term investments, so their investors should suffer the consequences of continuing to buy coal!  Maybe, but keep in mind, customers always bear the burden of the bad decisions made by the regulated monopoly.  Others rightly claim that decoupling alone only guarantees returns for the utilities and does nothing to lower rates for consumers. Decoupling alone does not encourage utilities to value demand management over production.  It only makes them indifferent to energy efficiency or alternative energy sources like DG.  Decoupling alone merely protects

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Why decoupling? Smarter renewable tech ahead!

Why Decoupling? The near future grid will be unrecognizable.  According to a recent report by GTM research, 9 out of 10 solar systems will be paired with storage by 2023.  Smarter tech ahead has a mean result of lower electric rates, decreased revenue, and the ability of customers to go “off line,” means utilities could soon be in a desperate state.  Without decoupling, we’ll see a world of mergers, hostile take overs, grid defection, and business crisis. At least in New Mexico, PNM recognizes that investing in the lowest-cost of power supply (solar + storage) is their best option.  However, real competition will continue to come from distributed generation (DG), including residential, commercial, and community solar systems.  Soon renewable energy technology will enable large power users to rely on microgrids through the addition of solar plus storage systems.  Once the utility starts losing the large industrial users, they will inevitably raise

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Decoupling Series: What is a regulated territorial monopoly?

This is part one of a three part series on the past, present and future of utility regulation alongside the growing renewable energy industry.  REIA supports introducing a decoupling mechanism to PNM because it will change the way utilities do business in New Mexico.  If you’re interested specifics about the rate case, that information is here. Status Quo Blues:  Regulated Territorial Monopolies Utilities set up as regulated territorial monopolies for a couple of reasons.  As utilities began, they needed enormous initial investment, a barrier to entry requiring government intervention.  With high fixed costs, utilities also needed large numbers of customers to obtain a meaningful return on investment.  Because competition created crisscrossed electric wire madness, the government allowed monopolies to form.  Competition usually discovers the optimal way to produce services to maximize profit and efficiency, so a monopoly does not naturally work to a customer’s advantage.  As a result, monopolies have potential

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Green tech jobs on the upswing in New Mexico

New Mexico joins 8 other states in MONEY magazine that shows green tech as the “hottest up-and-coming job” in the state.  In New Mexico, solar panel installation employment has been projected to increase 25% between 2017 and 2019 with a mean salary of $42,920.  MONEY’s study identified the fastest-growing occupation in each state, and for New Mexico, solar panel installer wins the number one job. This just adds to the argument that renewable energy is New Mexico’s future economic gold mine.  Add smart policy that encourages the adoption of renewable energy through tax incentives, utility decoupling policy, and PACE (a program that makes solar accessible to everyone by attaching installation costs to a property’s taxes) means New Mexico can look forward to a growing economy and rank first in the nation for something good!  New Mexico has long been recognized as one of the best states in the nation to

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PNM shares 2017 Interconnection Data

PNM interconnections

2017 Interconnection Data now available–compiled by Alaric J. Babej, PNM Technical Program Manager, Renewables PNM has shared their interconnection data as requested by members at our annual meeting.  Despite the elimination of the state tax credit, 2017 was another record year for the total number of interconnections through PNM with a total of 3529 interconnections, almost 25 MWdc installed.  Congratulations New Mexico Installers! EXECUTE PNM AGREEMENTS FASTER: As you may or may not know, PNM has made progress in energizing their document processing procedure.  Please check out the Docusign System.  It’s important to provide PNM with your customers valid email address in order to keep this process moving smoothly.

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State of Solar in New Mexico 2018

You probably already know that New Mexico gets an overall grade of B and is considered a solar friendly state. This grade is based on NM solar incentives and utility policy. But you may not know that much of this state’s friendly solar policy is due to the work of REIA-NM. A couple of examples include property tax exemption, sales tax exemption, RPS, solar carve-out, net metering and interconnection agreements. Your business directly benefits from these policies. Much of our work seems invisible, mostly because of the issues solar companies do not need to face, like the elimination of net metering and the implementation of solar tariffs.  While New Mexico ranks close to last in the nation on other issues, Renewable Energy Policy puts us near the top, currently ranked 14.  The state’s position dropped a few spots with the expiration of the state solar tax credit, but through the

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What you need to know about the complaint against Vivint Solar

It’s important to know exactly what Attorney General Hector Balderas identified in the complaint against Vivint Solar, so you can build a better sales team. REIA-NM recommends all solar companies use the Distributed Generation Disclosure Form mandated through New Mexico law.  The recent case against Vivint Solar should provide you with enough reason to take this extra step to inform your customers. It’s important to consider the counts brought against Vivint Solar and review your current sales tactics accordingly.  Sometimes company owners may not be clear about what sales people tell customers to get a sale.  Make sure your sales people are trained and reflect your brand appropriately. Check out this summary of allegations against Vivint Solar.  If you have any questions, please contact the NM Attorney General’s Office. Count One: Representing goods or services as having characteristics, uses, or benefits that they do not have.  This includes overestimating savings

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Hire a REIA-NM local solar company to install solar: ethical, accountable and professional

home owned solar

It’s never been more important than now to hire a local solar company that’s also a REIA-NM member to install your solar system. On March 8, 2018, the New Mexico Attorney General, Hector Balderas, brought a suit against Vivint Solar, accusing the company of unethical and unfair business practices.   According to KOB4, “The complaint states that Vivint goes to great lengths in advertising that it will design, install and maintain a Solar System for a customer for “free,” when in fact Vivint has “skillfully crafted, baited and set a ‘free’ trap.” We should all know that nothing is free.  Yet, these door-knocking sales agents don’t sell solar systems, they sell electricity produced by solar systems.  Few customers understand the impact of the long-term contract until its too late. Back in 2015, REIA heard members’ concerns and realized these door-to-door tactics might stain the good reputations of our local solar businesses. REIA-NM actively addressed the issue in 2016. We

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