This is your SolarWakeup for November 20th, 2017
Short Week. I will be off for Thanksgiving and the Wednesday edition is up in the air depending on if there are enough articles to send your way. Enjoy your holiday and make sure to do something that we can all be thankful for – starting with the 1st item on the rundown.
Your Comment? Have you taken a few minutes to send comments to the trade representative ahead of the December 6th hearing? You can use this script from SEIA and send the comments on this page. Make sure to have your entire office do this as well.
Tesla’s Rig and Roadster. No doubt, Elon puts on a show. Electrification of transportation is the leap we need for climate change. At 500 miles per charge, I am also interested in the impact to the grid for the electrification of freight. With an 8-pin charger (and a dose of real-life needs), some engineers are theorizing that the “mega-charger” could be up to 1.6MW of power to charge the semi in 30 minutes. Power density times massive scale (3.5 million trucks in America) means having to re-rethink the energy grid, mostly around our highway system. Best of all, this will get financed through non-dilutive funding from 1,000 rich people that want to go fast – placing $250k payments for the new roadster. If the money were in my account, it would no longer be there either because this thing is sick.
Public Manufacturers. As JA Solar goes private with its manufacturing, I wonder how long it will take for all of them to be off the public markets. In relation to Renesola, taking the manufacturing private while keeping the public vehicle to focus on owning assets, it comes across as an internal reverse merger. This strategy makes sense to me, I wouldn’t be surprised if it is replicated again.
Another Great Speaker. I’m excited to have Amy Harder from Axios join us at SolarWakeup Live! DC. Amy has been covering energy for years and was in Bonn for COP23 last week. Axios has an incredible insight to the DC ecosystem and was the publication that brought us Trump’s “I want tariffs, bring me tariffs.” I look forward to speaking with Amy about the news of energy. Get your tickets here.
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This is your SolarWakeup for November 17th, 2017
A Nuclear Mea Culpa? Citing customer frustrations, South Carolina’s SCE&G will be canceling a set of rate increases stemming from the construction of the failed VC Summer nuclear plant. The shareholders of the utility will be ‘paying’ for $2.2billion in construction costs in what appears to be future reduced ratepayer earnings over the next 50 years. In short, it seems like the ratepayers are lending the write down of the losses. While the reporting appears to show a utility showing ‘remorse’ over its business actions – utility monopolies continue to operate in a dreamland far away from reality.
In Murphy We Trust. With the election of Phil Murphy, who ran strong on the solar issues, New Jersey is looking to reinvigorate its market. While projects are happening, it is nowhere near the scale as previous eras in the New Jersey solar market. David Crane has been named to the transition team which bodes well for us looking at markets for a long term sustainable sector. I look forward to seeing how that plays out as he takes the Governor’s mansion.
Subsidy Prescription. The DOE NOPR is looking like FERC is open to the idea, Commissioner Chatterjee is quoted wondering why anyone would consider it controversial. The article also goes into the concept of resiliency and focusing on the power plant as opposed the distribution lines. When I was in Boston a few weeks ago, a million customers lost power – some for as long as a week. They didn’t lose power because generators went down, they lost power because trees and wind took down the transmission infrastructure. In my mind the controversy is based in the cost to consumers. If ISOs offered $10billion in incentives for resiliency, I doubt a single coal plant would be offered. My interview with Jon Wellinghoff covers much of this.
MA NEM Cap. If you haven’t listened to or read the latest podcast (there is a full transcript on the page) you are missing on vital information for your business or understanding the impacts to your customers’ business. The other interview that will come out next week is with Senator Boncore about the NEM cap in Mass. While the takeaway is muted, there are a bunch of crumbs that would make me look hard to ignoring NEM caps for my business. More to come on this.
Kentucky Coal. Even in coal country with what I would assume to be a utility friendly regulatory body, PPL is shutting two coal plants that are old (~50 years) and would cost too much to make compliant with environmental standards. These aren’t the first and far from the last coal plants to close – this is purely a consumer induced move since customers want cheaper energy and clean air & water.
Live! DC. The event will now feature Congresswoman Gonzalez-Colon, the resident representative of Puerto Rico. Puerto Rico is more than a goodwill story, it has been one of the most enticing solar markets plagued with external issues. Now that the grid is torn apart and people have no energy, it represents a challenge to rebuild the grid in a 21st century way. I look forward to having this discussion and finding the path to the opportunity that it represents for the solar industry to help.Get your tickets now.
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This is your SolarWakeup for November 16th, 2017
DC Tickets. 4 of the speakers are almost confirmed, as soon as they are, you will be told their names. Andrea Luecke and Dr. Lidija Sekaric are confirmed and two more have signaled their availability. Solar Foundation is doing great work including the ongoing jobs census, analyzing diversity in solar and now their leadership on helping rebuild Puerto Rico. Dr. Sekaric spent the entire Obama tenure working on solar related issues including as the director of the SunShot initiative. She is now at Siemens working on innovation in energy including how microgrids are put together. I will be talking to her about the City that gets 100% of its power and energy from renewable energy – what does that look like and what would it cost? Get your tickets now, early bird pricing only goes until Thanksgiving.
Bourbon With Your Whine. The WTO is likely to allow retaliatory tariffs against US goods if Trump goes forward with 201 tariffs. The threat now looks to target bourbon and cheese, neither of which have really anything to do with solar except for their lobbying impact on two important individuals – Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Maybe someone needs to get Duterte from the Philippines to target US investment into local real estate, that could get some attention.
CAISO Projects. Advisory work – I am looking for a few projects that have CAISO interconnection but no offtakers. If you have this or know where I could find it, please let me know. My advisory work keeps the SolarWakeup lights on for everyone.
Puerto Rico Update. An interesting pro and con take on the topic of how to rebuild the grid in Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, as Bernie Sanders points out, more than 50% of the Americans in PR still don’t have power after two months. Imagine that happening anywhere in the US – it would never happen.
On To Emissions. The finish line isn’t at 100% renewable energy for operations after all. Microsoft is out with a goal to drop emissions 75% by 2030. Google had previously outlined its energy goals to not only match geography but also time of use. It may seem like corporations were close to finished, but it seems like they are just getting started.
Solar On Coal Mines. Solar should have a quiet goal of getting Senators Capito and Joe Manchin to be as avid of solar supporters as they are coal today. Part of that is showing the value of land is greater with solar and the second would be to switch the economy into a solar focused one. There are great teams on the ground in West Virginia looking at this and doing some ‘greenfield’ development. Rocky Mountain Institute also published a report appropriately titled ‘A Second Life For Legacy Mining Sites.’
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This is your SolarWakeup for November 15th, 2017
We’ve Got You Covered On SMART. If you were to look around other publications you would be hard pressed to find information about the SMART program release in Massachusetts even though it’s the most important topic in the State in years. Not to worry, we’ve got you covered with information that you need to figure out your bidding strategy. Not to shorten it to a few words, you have a 40 minute information filled interview with the person in charge of the program. This platform isn’t about covering news, instead looking to give you exactly the facts you need to run your business.
The Point of Live! Events. It’s been two weeks since SolarWakeup Live! in Boston. The people that attended that event already knew what you are only reading today. They also know more information about NEM caps than you. My reason for creating the events and asking for your trust in the content is to change the way you have experienced conferences. Right now, you go to conferences for networking, not content. You go for several days and spend thousands on a badge. While I look forward to having people travel to SolarWakeup Live! events, I trust that you believe in the content you’ve been reading for 5 years on this site. Live! DC is coming up in a few weeks and there are still tickets available. If you live on the East Coast you should either be at Live! DC or waving signs in front of the USTR hearing on December 6th.
When, Not If. This is a unanimous assumption in the solar industry, storage is coming. It may not pencil everywhere today, neither does solar but it will grow like a hockey stick similar to the solar growth from 2007 to today. It may actually happen faster than solar since the solar penetration aids in the market growth. In the near future, I will share with you my upcoming venture which involves energy storage with a value proposition aimed at the solar industry.
Terminate That Language. Schwarzenegger is right, stop talking about climate change especially to people outside of your echo chamber. Clean air, clean water and solar energy. All of these things poll at over 70%. Monopoly utilities poll at well below 50% so play the spread between those two issues and you will win people over. Great coverage from Amy Harder at Axios from COP23 in Bonn.
Micro And MacroGrids. This may be the 2017 buzzword of the year, microgrids. Really what we are talking about is power generation and power controls inside a disconnect switch. If the grid shuts off, the home/building/network can continue to function within the designated panel loads. The trick comes with multiple power generation sources on the inside of the disconnect switch. When you look at it this way, I’ve come to learn that there are less suppliers able to participate than you would expect. Backup power may be a better way to sell this, it also allows a homeowner to buy emotionally as opposed to asking for payback numbers.
Who Is Terence Stewart? Making the case for 201 tariffs is always tricky, you have to lie to yourself and the people you are speaking to. I don’t know who this lawyer is that got to write for the WSJ on behalf of the 201 petitioners, but he did a poor job. It took GTM’s Shayle Kann more than 140 characters but less than 280 to destroy the case he was making.
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