Rebecca Cantwell, CO SEIA Executive Director, about settling with Xcel and moving solar forward

Rebecca Cantwell is the Executive Director of COSEIA, one of the best State level trade associations. Rebecca has been the director for 5 years and brought COSEIA through a multitude of regulatory issues. With a small budget of about $250,000, COSEIA brings results in a true David versus Goliath fight.

COSEIA is an independent entity. It may be listed as an affiliated partner, COSEIA does not report to or receive funding from SEIA. This is a separation that has been made clear to SolarWakeup by many State SEIA groups.

Most recently, COSEIA was in the room where it happens. Negotiating with Xcel Energy in Colorado has been a nearly yearlong effort. Through many full days of sitting in Xcel conference rooms, COSEIA was an intervenor in all three solar related dockets. The group came to a settlement which had some positive effects which Rebecca covers in great specificity in our conversation.

What struck me is that even though COSEIA was an intervenor, SEIA also deployed resources by intervening in two of the dockets. That means COSEIA and SEIA were duplicating efforts, representing their own memberships. I would see it more effective to send capital to the State and align the interests of both SEIA entities.

In the coming weeks, we will be speaking with more State level directors on how the State level chapters are driving their markets forward.

If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher radio. Please subscribe and share with your friends how much EnergyWakeup is helping you!

John Gurski, Founder and CEO of Energy Toolbase, a solar startup creating a smarter proposal

This week I spent time with John Gurski, the young and hungry CEO of Energy Toolbase. While I was familiar with Energy Toolbase COO, Adam Gerza, I had not met John yet and was surprised to find out he was based in South Florida. So I made the drive to join him and some of his team at their offices.

John has spent time as a solar developer, pitching clients and working on roofs. It was 2012 when he came up with the problem, how can you create a better proposal for customers without having to copy and paste inside an excel file. The only problem was, he didn’t know how to code. So like any reasonable solar developer, he taught himself.

Launching in 2014, John convinced his fiancée, now his wife, and his father to man the startup alley booth for the newly founded Energy Toolbase booth at Intersolar NA. With initial clients signed up, the company was off to a big start.

Now the team is over a dozen, 3 offices and revenue in the millions. Energy Toolbase has taken the proposal tool further by integrating sophisticated rate analysis and a robust database of utility rates. The team scours the utility rate schedules and updates them for their users on an ongoing basis.

Coming soon is the complete overhaul of their storage analysis platform. With the ability to either upload 8760 data or create a simulated version based on energy bills, contractors and developers will be able to model demand reduction, demand shifting and demand arbitrage with the new release.

I love spending time with startup founders that choose solar over other fields. Energy Toolbase is a success story and they have not raised any money, yet.

If you enjoyed this episode as much as I did, make sure to subscribe on your favorite podcast platform including iTunes, SoundCloud and Stitcher radio. Please subscribe and share with your friends how much EnergyWakeup is helping you!

Illinois Energy Bill Makes Progress – Demand Charges Are Dropped

 Senate Bill 2814 introduced during the regular session came back during the latest special session with a new amendment, House Amendment 2. This amendment had multiple objectives but the primary one is a mechanism to keep two nuclear power plants in operation. The two plants, Clinton Power and Quad Cities, were announced to be closed on June1st 2017 and 2018, respectively.

The Zero Emission Standard is the vital part of the bill that Exelon has stated would allow the plants to remain in operation. The bill also includes a fix of the renewable portfolio standard and energy efficiency investments, both touted as a positive step forward by the environmental lobby.

Two sections of the amended SB 2814 are worrisome to the solar industry, the net metering changes and demand charges. The demand charge section is onerous in its complexity, it would render the ability for consumers to know how to use energy cost effectively impossible. At the same time, it would be increasingly difficult for solar installers to explain the potential savings to homeowners or business that want to invest in solar.

Yesterday, the Governor’s Policy Advisor on Energy, Jason Heffley, found the demand rates to be “insane rates” and should be rejected. On a policy call, Representative Will Guzzardi, who sits on the Energy Committee currently reviewing the bill, said that he would not be surprised that the bill would pass without dropping the demand charge language.

Today, Governor Rauner’s team met with officials from ComEd and Exelon to discuss the issue of the demand charges. Shortly after the meeting, ComEd announced that it was dropping the demand charge provisions from the bill. The nuclear power plants, the company stated, will stay open for at least another decade.

In a statement from TASC spokesperson, Amy Heart said about the agreement, “There may still be important tweaks needed to the bill, including ensuring a full stakeholder process at the Commission when the 5% net metering cap is reached to guarantee a fair valuation of the benefits of rooftop solar, ensuring distributed solar can continue to thrive, creating job opportunities and improving Illinois’ environment.”

By Yann Brandt, November 22nd, Updated 10:07pm