Topics in this September 2011 Green Power Update.
Wind Energy Update
New wind energy projects under construction
Everpower has formally broken ground on its 75 megawatt (MW) Highland North wind project in Cambria County. The project should be operational by November and, once completed, will produce enough electricity to power nearly 22,000 homes annually. Not only will this new wind project bring clean electricity to the region, it will also benefit the local community through payments of $1.8 million in local property taxes and $2.7 million to landowners for leases.
Duke Energy also began construction last month on its Laurel Hill Wind Project in Lycoming County. The project is expected to be operational by September 2012 and will consist of thirty 2.3 MW turbines with a total installed capacity of 69 MW – enough to power 20,000 homes each year. Delaware Municipal Electric Corporation has agreed to purchase the electricity from the wind farm through a 25-year power purchase agreement with Duke Energy.
Once these wind farms are operational, Pennsylvania will count 18 wind farms, bringing the state's total installed wind energy capacity to 892.1 MW – enough to power nearly 260,493 homes every year.
Mehoopany Wind Project gets a boost from power purchase agreements
In July, BP Wind Energy announced that it had entered into two long-term power purchase agreements for its proposed Mehoopany Wind Farm in Wyoming County. This is a crucial step in the development process: long-term power purchase agreements for power produced at a wind farm are a key requirement in moving a project forward.
The two agreements negotiated by the National Renewables Cooperative Organization are with Old Dominion Electric Cooperative for 75 megawatts (MW) and with Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative, Inc. for 20 MW.
Once completed, the 144 MW Mehoopany Wind Farm will generate enough electricity to power more than 40,000 homes each year. The company expects construction to begin by the fourth quarter of 2011 with commercial operations starting at the end of 2012.
Solar Energy Update
Solar energy reaches the century mark in Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania is now home to 100.4 megawatts (MW) of installed solar energy according to PJM's Generation Attribute Tracking System (GATS), the organization that tracks renewable energy generation throughout the region. The solar energy from these systems is producing enough electricity to power over 12,600 homes every year.
This is an incredible success story. In four short years, solar has grown from 3 MW to 100 MW and has helped create as many as 6,700 jobs and more than 600 solar businesses in the state.
While this is a tremendous accomplishment, the faster-than-projected growth of solar is crashing the market for solar renewable energy credits (SRECs). PPL's most recent long-term SREC procurement cleared at $107.83 and the most recent spot market has been ranging from $20-45. Such low pricing makes it more difficult to finance solar projects, placing the industry at risk.
There is a way Pennsylvania can continue to celebrate this success and protect its thousands of solar jobs: pass the Solar Jobs Bill (House Bill 1580) this fall. The Solar Jobs Bill adjusts the solar ramp of our Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard (AEPS) to bring demand more in line with supply. To learn more about this important bill click here.
The PennFuture Energy Center will be working hard this fall to garner support for the Solar Jobs Bill. We are currently hosting a series of outreach events dubbed “Speak Out for Solar" to provide workers, citizens, solar businesses and other solar stakeholders the opportunity to be heard. A successful event was held at Bucks County Community College on September 13 and another will be held September 29 at GSP Consulting in Pittsburgh from 7:30-9:30am. Join us for this free breakfast event by registering at www.pennfuture.org/PghSolar.
Additionally, PennFuture, Vote Solar, the Solar Alliance and SUNWPA are hosting a Solar Education and Advocacy Day and Evening Reception on Monday, October 24 at the State Capitol in Harrisburg. Stay tuned for more information on this event and how you can register.
Largest U.S. silicon thin-film solar project unveiled in Pennsylvania
A 2 megawatt (MW) solar farm began powering the administration buildings at Air Products' worldwide headquarters in Allentown this past July. The 15-acre installation was made possible by a $1 million grant from the Commonwealth Financing Authority's solar program and is currently the largest silicon thin-film project in the United States. The project will reduce the company's carbon emissions by nearly 2,000 tons per year, the equivalent of taking 400 cars of the road.
Air Products tapped into its connections to make the project a reality. Astronergy and ENN Solar use Air Products' SunSource™ Solutions products to manufacture the silicon thin-film panels used in the project.
PUC issues tentative order on PPA net metering
The Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission (PUC) recently held a public comment period on its tentative order to allow for third-party operators of distributed renewable generation systems to net meter.
The third-party ownership or power purchase agreement (PPA) model is a growing trend in helping to finance renewable energy systems such as solar. A PPA is a financial arrangement wherein a building owner (residential or commercial) allows a third-party developer to install, own, operate and maintain a clean energy system such as a solar photovoltaic (PV) array on its property and agrees to purchase the power produced for a fixed price and term.
This model can create a win-win for both the building owner and the developer. The building owner benefits from a stable and sometimes lower price of electricity from the clean energy system without having to worry about the maintenance and operation of said system. Conversely, the developer is able to acquire tax credits while generating income from the sale of clean power to the building owner.
The Tentative Order clarifies that customers participating in a third-party PPA model will still be entitled to net meter that system as long as the system does not generate more than 110% of the customer's electric consumption and meets the size limits defined in the current net metering regulations. This is great news and should allow more customers to participate in this innovative financing model.
Energy Efficiency Update
New supplier helps customer manage energy usage
Respond Power, a retail electric supplier, recently launched a program called Respond Power Rewards that will allow customers to manage their power consumption via smart meter technology.
Currently, Respond Power is marketing the program to customers in the PPL service territory, where both residential and commercial consumers have smart meters. Smart meters allow Respond Power to track a customer's electricity consumption on an hourly basis. The company alerts enrolled customers a day in advance as to when peak price spikes will occur the following day. The company then tracks the customer's hourly usage during the targeted peak hours and, at the end of the month, a virtual Smart Bill is created. If the Smart Bill is lower than the regular bill, the customer receives a rebate for the difference.
The company also offers these customers a Price Alert Rewards program that provides incentives for responding to price alerts by cutting back their usage even if their Smart Bill is greater than their regular bill.
Don't have a smart meter? Act 129 requires Pennsylvania utilities to install smart meters in all new construction, and for all customers, within 15 years. If a customer wants a smart meter sooner and agrees to pay for the new meter, the utility is required to install it. As more smart meters go online across the state, it is our hope that innovative programs such as Respond Power Rewards will proliferate.
If you are an electric customer in the PPL service territory and are interested in switching to Respond Power, visit https://www.respondpowerrewards.com/.
PECO customers save $131 million thanks to Act 129 programs
Since October 2009, 227,000 PECO customers participating in its Smart Ideas energy efficiency and demand response program have saved $131 million in energy costs. According to PECO, this energy savings has the same environmental impact as removing more than 81,000 cars from roadways or planting more than 930,000 trees.
PECO launched the Smart Ideas campaign to comply with Act 129, which requires electric utilities in the state to reduce their overall electricity load - by 1 percent by 2011 and by 3 percent by 2013, and reduce peak demand by 4.5 percent by 2013 - by offering customers a portfolio of energy efficiency and conservation programs.
To learn more about the PECO program visit www.peco.com/SmartIdeas or call 888-5-PECO-SAVE.
If you are not a PECO customer, please visit your utility's website to learn more about energy-saving programs in your area:
Met-Ed, Penelec and Penn Power
PPL Electric E-power
Duquesne Light Watt Choices
Allegheny Power Watt Watchers
Clean Transportation Update
Pennsylvania receives high ranking for its growing clean vehicle industry
One may not think of Pennsylvania as a hub for the automobile industry, however, a recent report, "Supplying Ingenuity: U.S. Suppliers of Clean, Fuel-Efficient Vehicle Technologies," ranks Pennsylvania as one of the top 15 states for autoworker employment in clean, efficient technologies.
The report, released jointly by the Natural Resources Defense Council, the National Wildlife Federation and the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), examined the supply chain for clean and efficient vehicle technologies in the United States. Supply chain companies include those that develop and supply the critical components for advanced internal combustion engines and vehicles, hybrid power trains and plug-in electric vehicles, and which create electric vehicle charging infrastructure.
Pennsylvania currently has 13 facilities and 8,662 employees working primarily on components for plug-in electric vehicles and other common components.
As the Obama Administration continues to develop auto standards for model years 2017 to 2025, more long-term investment in clean and efficient vehicle technology will continue to drive the creation of these jobs.
A copy of the report, including an interactive map, can be found at: www.nrdc.org/transportation/autosuppliers/.
Giant Eagle unveils two CNG fueling stations
Giant Eagle, a multi-format food and fuel retailer, recently unveiled its first compressed natural gas (CNG) fueling stations at its Beechnut Drive retail support and distribution center near Pittsburgh. The station is the first of its kind in southwestern Pennsylvania.
The company expects to sell fuel to consumers at a price between $1.90 and $2.00 per gasoline gallon equivalents (GGE) – about a third of the cost of gasoline and diesel. The fuel stations will be self-serve and open 24/7. The company will provide a video to show first-time users of CNG how to properly fuel their CNG-powered vehicle at the station.
According to Giant Eagle, CNG holds several environmental advantages over traditional fuel. It reduces particulate matter emissions by 94 percent, carbon monoxide emissions by 75 percent, nitrogen oxide emissions by up to 49 percent, and carbon dioxide emissions by 25 percent. CNG vehicles also run 50 percent quieter than diesel trucks.
New electric vehicle models introduced
A number of innovative partnerships were announced this past summer to drive electric vehicle sales to the next level. For starters, General Motors and LG Group announced they will jointly design and engineer electric vehicles. LG already supplies batteries for GM's plug-in electric hybrids, the Chevy Volt and Opel Ampera. According to both companies, the new partnership will help to expand the number and types of electric vehicles produced, growing the portfolio.
Additionally, Ford and Toyota announced a new collaboration to develop a hybrid system for rear-wheel-drive light trucks and SUVs. The companies signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) and a formal agreement is expected next year.
These recent announcements are in response to new emissions and fuel-economy standards being imposed in markets around the world. It is expected that electric and hybrid vehicles will play a significant role in meeting the U.S. standard of 54.5 miles per gallon by 2025.
Other Clean Energy News
Utilities testify on the impact of state-mandated energy programs
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives' Republican Policy Committee invited PECO, PPL, FirstEnergy, Duquesne Light and the Energy Association of Pennsylvania (EAP) to testify on the “Impact of State-Mandated Energy Programs" on August 22.
PECO, FirstEnergy, Duquesne, and EAP all urged lawmakers to take steps to weaken long-standing clean energy laws based on claims that these clean energy rollback proposals are needed to reduce costs to consumers. Yet, they failed to acknowledge how their policy proposals would affect company profitability. Are these three utility companies and the utility trade organization truly becoming champions of the consumer, or are there other motivations behind their recommendations?
PPL stood as the lone utility that defended these laws. PPL stated that Pennsylvania's clean energy laws should not be altered or eliminated and urged lawmakers to give these policies and markets time to work. PPL has been able to deliver benefits valued at more than twice the cost of its Act 129 programs and has also developed significant renewable energy business ventures.
To read more on the utility company testimonies, click here. PennFuture attended the hearing and will be submitting a request to testify before the Committee on these issues.
The PennFuture Energy Center will continue to keep you informed about future legislative hearings on this topic and provide you with opportunities to take action. In the meantime, please sign our Petition on Clean Energy Principles and encourage others to do the same.
Chambersburg gives green light on landfill gas project
In August, the Chambersburg Borough City Council authorized an agreement that will allow methane gas from the Blue Ridge Landfill in Scotland, Pennsylvania to generate between 10 and 15 percent of Chambersburg's electricity. The Borough entered into a 10-year power purchase and sales agreement with PPL EnergyPlus, LLC, and an interconnection and construction agreement with PPL Renewable Energy LLC, for the project, which is expected to become operational in 2013. Through the agreement, the borough will receive six megawatts (MW) of power directly from the new plant that will be purchased at a rate of $63 per kilowatt hour – 15 percent less than current retail electric rates.
Is that wind in my beer? Yards Brewing Company goes 100 percent green
Philadelphia's Yards Brewing Company recently became the first Pennsylvania brewery to be powered by 100 percent wind energy. Yards took advantage of the growing competitive retail electricity market in Pennsylvania to go green. The company chose the CleanSteps (SM) WindPower product offered by Washington Gas Energy Services (WGES) to supply the brewery with 100 percent wind energy.
This move continues the Yards tradition of sustainability. Yards earned the PennFuture Green Power Turn it On! Award in 2009 and was named Green Business of the Year in 2010 by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce.
Interested in going green? It's easier than ever to switch your electricity service to a competitive supplier with a renewable energy product. There are many companies offering 100 percent local wind for close to what you're currently paying for electricity. Visit PennFuture's green shopping page to learn more about suppliers are in your area and the products they offer.
Annual Green Power Awards Luncheon 2011: Philadelphia and Pittsburgh
This year, you have two opportunities to celebrate Pennsylvania's Green Power Heroes. In Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, we will honor the businesses, organizations and individuals across the Commonwealth that are building a 21st Century green energy economy. We will also bestow a special award in each city -- the Citizens' Choice Green Power Hero Award – based on recommendations from PennFuture members and supporters.
Date: Thursday, October 6, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Location: ACE Conference Center (Lafayette Ballroom)
Date: Thursday, October 27, 2011
Time: 12:00 PM - 2:00 PM
Location: The Fairmont Pittsburgh
For a list of awardees and to register, click on the luncheon you would like to attend:
Philadelphia, PA - 10/6
Pittsburgh, PA - 10/27
Clean Fuels Standard Event
The PennFuture Energy Center will host a free event on October 12 at the Harrisburg Hilton in Harrisburg, PA from 10:30 am to 2:00 pm to allow industry and other stakeholders to provide feedback and input to Northeast States for Coordinated Air Use Management (NESCAUM) on the regional Clean Fuels Standard (CFS).
In 2008, Pennsylvania agreed to work with 10 Northeast states to develop a framework for a regional CFS that would promote a diverse portfolio of clean, low-carbon fuels. In 2010, a draft framework was created and, just last month, a macroeconomic study of the framework was completed. NESCAUM, the organization facilitating the regional CFS effort, is now seeking input from a wider range of businesses, industries, stakeholders and other interested parties.
NESCAUM needs to know what you think and they'd like your recommendations on how to revise and improve the draft framework. A formal comment period on the CFS closes on October 31 so make sure your voice is heard.
Event details and a draft agenda can be found here. If you are interested in attending the event, RSVP to Evan Endres at firstname.lastname@example.org
The CFS can make it possible for Pennsylvania to grow its economy, reduce its dependence on foreign energy sources and improve its environment. However, if the CFS policy does not have the support of Pennsylvania businesses, we will miss out on these vital opportunities. Now is the time to be heard and to help shape CFS policy.
Methane + carbon: A parallel strategy for clean power and climate action
Giving the public a say in public lands--show your support in Williamsport on July 28
MAREA report points to declining solar prices
A Climate for Change
We rocked it in Pittsburgh last week!
Guest post: Toxic algal bloom threatens wildlife and shuts down drinking water to toledo
A Bear in the Woods
PA's Environmental Rights Amendment: A Note of Thanks