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Form AND Function: Why the Paris Agreement’s Legal Form Is So Important

Form AND Function: Why the Paris Agreement’s Legal Form Is So Important

Because the Paris Agreement is a universal, legally binding agreement to tackle climate change under international law, it joins other such agreements as the highest expression of political intent and will.
Ohio Residents Can Now Choose Green Power

Ohio Residents Can Now Choose Green Power

2002-03-12 [SolarAccess.com] Residents in four Ohio communities will be able to choose to receive power from Green Mountain Energy Company and AMPO, Inc., thanks to a new four-year agreement. Customers in Alliance, Sandusky, London and the village of Lagrange can now choose their power provider based on a law allowing communities to join together to form larger bargaining groups. Residents […]
AWEA CEO Denise Bode Resigns After Four Years

AWEA CEO Denise Bode Resigns After Four Years

Denise Bode, CEO of the American Wind Energy Association, announced today that she is resigning, effective January 1, to return to private practice as a tax attorney.
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Transitions

Thomas G. Mason is the new general manager and chief executive officer (CEO) of the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA).
Testing the Limits of the California Solar Act

Testing the Limits of the California Solar Act

In November, the California Appellate Court upheld a trial court decision that homeowners improperly installed a solar energy facility on their home in contravention of the community's covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs). As more and more single-family residences have sought to take advantage of affordable solar installations, they have been aided in their goal by the California Solar Rights Act, which protects individual homeowners' access to the sun. The Act has restrained homeowners associations (HOAs) in their ability to push back against the often aesthetically unappealing structures by limiting the restrictions HOAs are able to impose. Yet, because of the court's decision in Tesoro del Valle Master Homeowners Association v. Griffin, HOAs may have regained some power in ultimately determining the size, scope, and location of solar installations on homes.
The Need for a Federal Net Metering Law

The Need for a Federal Net Metering Law

Should the US have a Federal Net Metering Law? In this month's Ozonal Notes Home Power's Richard Perez argues in favor of passing such legislation. Read why he thinks it makes sense. You may be surprised.
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Wayne Todd makes move to U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
US and China Join Paris Agreement, Bringing it Much Closer to Taking Effect

US and China Join Paris Agreement, Bringing it Much Closer to Taking Effect

The United States and China on Sept. 3 formally joined the Paris Agreement in a ceremony in Hangzhou, China, ahead of the G20 Summit. President Obama and President Xi both deposited their country’s official instrument with United Nations Secretary, General Ban-Ki Moon.
Minnesota Now Has Interconnection Proposal In Hand

Minnesota Now Has Interconnection Proposal In Hand

  Minnesota has been under a looking glass of late, as it turns its attention to planning for the modernization of an outdated electric grid to handle growing amounts of distributed renewable energy. Among the numerous energy issues to be addressed is updating its interconnection policies, which are widely regarded as a critical component of any state’s policy toolkit. IREC and two respected partners – the statewide Fresh Energy and regional Environmental Law & Policy Center– decided to join efforts and late last week put a proposal into the hands of the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission that would help the state implement interconnection changes based on a compilation of best practices and lessons learned from other states. If implemented, the changes would allow for fair, expedited interconnection of clean renewable energy for more Minnesota consumers – while ensuring the safety and reliability of the distribution grid. The approach was rather unique. A joint motion was filed requesting that the commission reopen its 2004 interconnection order and adopt new interconnection procedures based on an accompanying ready-to-adopt proposal. Drawing from IREC’s extensive national experience on interconnection, the proposal reflects vetted best practices compiled from our work on this issue in states across the country. Importantly, the proposal is customized to meet specific needs in Minnesota and presented in an “all-in-one” format so it can most easily be implemented. This action wasn’t out of the blue. It stems from the considerable challenges with Minnesota’s interconnection process exposed during the launch of Xcel Energy’s Community Solar Gardens program. It also comes on the heels of specific calls by the commission to address interconnection in their comments on grid modernization.  The time is certainly right for Minnesota to update its interconnection procedures. Its current procedures are over a decade old and in need of a retrofit to keep pace with state policy goals and consumer demand for clean energy. Our collective goal is to enable the resource-constrained Minnesota commission to adopt the best new procedures in an expedited manner. Sky Stanfield, who represents IREC in regulatory matters and has worked with a number of states to facilitate meaningful interconnection reform, was deeply involved in the process. She has this to say about last week’s action. “States with high penetrations of distributed energy often experience very similar interconnection growing pains as their market expands.  It makes sense to follow the best practices that have been developed and tested by other states. Learning from the experience of others results in safer and more efficient processes and also results in a more efficient regulatory process where each issue does not have to be relearned.” “Minnesota has been a leader among Midwest states in looking to develop its solar potential,” says Brad Klein, senior attorney with the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “Together, we’re working to advance the policy framework to allow that solar vision to become a reality.” And Holly Lahd, director of energy markets at Fresh Energy adds this: “Our current interconnection process slows down new solar projects for customers, businesses, and utilities. Improving the way we connect those projects to the grid will help save everyone time and money.” Why are interconnection standards so important? They specify the process that customers, developers and utilities must abide by when a customer seeks to connect a distributed generation resource, often a renewable energy system, to the electric grid. They specify technical engineering requirements, timelines, fees and standardized procedures for conducting utility studies to determine whether particular systems can be safely interconnected. So, strong interconnection standards can provide predictable, streamlined, expedited, and cost-effective processes for all involved parties: the end-user energy consumer, the developer and the utility. For utilities with higher volumes of interconnection requests, good standards can help them manage the processes effectively and efficiently, while still maintaining grid reliability and safety. Inadequate or poor standards, on the other hand, can lead to costly delays and unnecessary fees and requirements that ultimately impact the economic viability of projects, as well as the consumer experience and investor confidence. More states are increasingly adopting procedures based on the FERC Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) model and IREC Model Rules. The proposal submitted to Minnesota would align its interconnection procedures with this emerging national consensus, while also being responsive to local realities. The impact of such an update would be broad, as the recommended procedures protect energy customers from avoidable and unreasonable costs. And available data suggests that Minnesota interconnection customers are experiencing delays and related costs in the current interconnection process. The model rules also provide consistency and ease of access to distributed generation project developers who often operate in multiple states. Why does MN need updated interconnection standards now? State and national markets for distributed generation, particularly distributed solar, have seen transformational growth in the 12 years since the commission adopted Minnesota’s interconnection procedures. In 2004, there were 235 distributed qualifying facilities on distribution utility systems in Minnesota, according to utility reporting to the Department of Commerce. By the end of 2014, there were 2,463 projects, with significantly more projects in the pipeline. In the Midwest region, Ohio, Illinois and Iowa, have all recently taken action to update their interconnection standards based in part on the updated SGIP.  Not just a Midwest phenomenon, states across the country are tackling interconnection with increasing fervor: New York, North Carolina, and South Carolina have recently adopted updates to their state standards. Arizona, California and Maine are working through active proceedings, and IREC expects several more states will turn their attention to this paramount issue in the years to come. More information about interconnection standards can be found at www.irecusa.org and at freeingthegrid.org.  Image: bacho12345 / 123RF Stock Photo      
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Transitions

Rebecca Klein, JD, has been elected to the board of directors for Avista Corp.