Democratic Energy Media Roundup – March 4, 2015

A clean energy report looks at the tension between utilities and consumers, and we take a look at political crossover: how distributed energy and local control is becoming more of a bipartisan issue.

Chris Mooney with the Washington Post leads the roundup with two articles on how solar energy plays in conservative parts of the nation.

WV Far Behind in Solar Industry Job Creation, HB2201 Would Only Make It Worse

Dan Heyman has a solid piece on Public News Service about the impact of HB2201 on WV’s already dismal job creation record.

Does the “Compact” Between Regulators and Utilities Really Exist?

Utility lawyer Scott Hempling always has something well informed and original to say about electricity in the US.  This month’s essay is no exception:

I recently came across this quote:

Electric Industry’s War on Solar Comes to WV

In the fight over preserving net metering, the electric industry’s war on solar, declared in 2013 by the Edison Electric Institute, has come to the WV Legislature.  The war has come in the form of two vague and misleading words, “cross-subsidization”.

Can a State’s Solar Party Start Without It?

In about half of U.S. states, an individual or business can have solar installed on their roof owned by someone else, and either buy the power or lease the array from that third party. These power purchase or lease models drastically simplify the process of going solar (at a price), avoiding the work of managing tax credits, utility or state rebates, and system maintenance.

It also appears that a state’s solar market doesn’t really start growing until solar gets simple.

PUCO Dumps AEP’s Ohio Coal Bail Out

The Public Utility Commission of Ohio has told AEP that is will not allow the company to lock Ohio rate payers into power purchase agreements with AEP’s uncompetitive coal burners.  FirstEnergy also has a similar bail out plan pending before PUCO.

Could Solar Shine in a Tucson City-Utility Partnership?

A city in the sunny southwest, Tucson is wondering how it can maximize its use of cost-effective, economy-boosting solar power. Is a partnership with the electric utility, as seen in Minneapolis, the answer?

Go Solar at Home!

The next step in expanding the use of rooftop solar in Plano and North Texas!

How and Why Utilities Make Solar Look Expensive

I’m visiting the wonderful folks from Sustainable Tucson in Arizona next week to talk about the opportunities that solar and clean energy offer their local economy. In preparation, I’m looking at their current monopoly electricity provider, Tucson Electric Power. Remarkably, the utility acquires just 4% of its electricity from renewable resources (and over 70% from coal), despite being at the heart of the best sunshine in the country.

Unveiling the Five Pillars of Energy Democracy

Exciting changes are on the horizon for our century-old utility structure as solar power, energy storage, and electric vehicles open new avenues for utility customers to produce their own power and control their energy use. Utilities are scrambling to remain relevant in this technological firestorm, and energy wonks are envisioning a new business model––Utility 2.0––that keeps utilities afloat as their customers “cut the cord.”