Utilities traditionally have met renewable portfolio standards with power purchases from IPPs. But new approaches are allowing utilities to build their rate bases with investments in solar...
Solar Mandate? Like it or Not, Consumers Pay
SBC funds total $700,000 for 1998. The first large-scale PV rooftop project in the eastern U.S. is receiving $250,000 of Rhode Island SBC funds as Project SunRIse. It will install 250 kW of new PV capacity, with a $1-per-Watt subsidy, by the end of 1999. The pilot phase of 50 kW will lower the installed cost of a grid-connected PV system by up to 30 percent, using state SBC funds and other federal support. %n12%n
The smallest SunRIse system, at 250 Watts, costs $2,800, which can be financed for about $15 a month. These PV systems can be expanded. The UL-listed "plug and play" AC module for the PV systems can be wired into a customer's service panel by a small cord to the building's load center.
Leigh Seddon, Solar Works president, indicates that a one-page interconnection agreement faxed by the customer to any of Rhode Island's four electric utilities expedites a PV hook-up for a customer, due largely to the UL-listing of the equipment. A 10-year maintenance contract is included in the price of the system, along with a year warranty.
A Solar Schools Initiative also is part of the Rhode Island SunRIse program. It provides PV systems to middle and high schools across the state. %n13%n
After a study of near-term niche PV markets, %n14%n the Rhode Island SBC funds will also be used to host an outdoor PV lighting workshop bringing together manufacturers with potential customers in Rhode Island and Massachusetts. Other near-term markets identified were rooftop PV-augmented uninterrupted power supply, residential rooftop PV and PV for wireless communications.
Two more PV projects, worth $450,000, were recommended by the collaborative effort for SBC funding and were approved by Rhode Island regulators. %n15%n A $150,000 project is for commercial buildings. Sun Power Electric installs and owns the PV systems. A $300,000 PowerLight project integrates PV systems on flat roofs.
The new retail electricity markets opened in Rhode Island and Massachusetts in early 1998 found few small customers switching to new suppliers. Why? Competitors couldn't match the utility's standard offer prices. However, a Middletown, R.I. discount store proposes to purchase PV electricity and sell the green power to ReGen. ReGen is a renewable energy service of AllEnergy, a marketing affiliate of New England Electric System. In April 1998, AllEnergy began soliciting customers in the two states to buy a ReGen "power upgrade service" at $8 per month, or $96 per year. A block of 250 kW worth of power will be supplied into NEPOOL from the new PV, and from municipal landfill gas and wind resources. The ReGen customers remain on the utility's standard offer rates, but pay AllEnergy a premium for the new resources flowing into NEPOOL.
New York. While no electric industry restructuring law has passed the New York legislature, the New York State Public Service Commission has issued restructuring case orders for its six major investor-owned electric utilities.
Beginning July 1, an SBC for energy efficiency, research and development, low-income and environmental protection applies to restructuring cases.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority is the