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"We feel that encouraging more sustainable energy use in Kentucky is an excellent way to care for God's creation."

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April

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Apr 28, 2011

Feed In Tarrifs with "TLC"

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 28, 2011 09:25 AM

The Clean Energy Opportunity Act, introduced in the Kentucky General Assembly this year and supported by KySEA, would establish Feed In Tariffs, along with a Renewable and Efficiency Portfolio Standards.

A Feed In Tarriff (FIT) establishes a fixed premium prices for the sale of renewable electricity by using standard long-term contracts.  FITs can apply to / be available to anyone that connects an eligible generator to the electricity grid.  When it comes to renewable energy policies, FITs are the most widely implemented, around the world. 

 As of 2008, 45% of all global wind development and 75% of all world solar wind PV capacity developed under FITs policies. And, 48 nations have them in place.

“Feed In” refers to: feeding electricity into the electricity grid.

“Tariff” refers to: the price paid for electricity.

FITs:
•    Accelerate renewable energy development
•    Establish a long-term commitment to a renewable energy economy

Successful FITs require “T.L.C”:

Common characteristics of successful FITs are transparency, longevity, and certainty or TLC. 

Transparency refers to purchase agreements that use standard offer contracts with established fixed rates. 

Longevity requires long-term (often 10-40 years) power purchase contracts. 

Certainty refers to fixed process, long-term contracts, and access to the grid.  It has also been noted that, in addition to T.L.C, it is important to include rates based on costs - of generating power - plus a reasonable return on investments. 

Who is Eligible?:
Anyone with an eligible renewable energy facility can participate.  Some examples of individuals, as well as groups, that can become eligible to sell renewable energy through these policies include: farmers, homeowners, small and large businesses, non-profits, industry, public agencies, electric utilities, etc. 


How are FIT Prices Set?:
First, the FIT payment level is based on technology.  These prices are subject to change, and will certainly adjust over time.  The costs of FIT payments are passed onto ratepayers through each utility companies’ general rates. 

Advantages:
FIT policies accelerate the development of renewable energy, and lowers the costs and risks for investors (through T.L.C).  They improve, and better maintain, local economy and production by creating an in-state distributed generation, as well as local economic development in all regions of the state.  In turn, this ensures that renewable energy will be developed in-state.  Similarly, these policies also support in-state manufacturing of renewable energy equipment.

Complimentary Policies:
Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS) set renewable energy production targets that utilities in a state must meet.  Implementing FIT policies alongside a RPS provides a powerful mechanism to achieve these goals.  As mentioned earlier, FIT ensures local economic development and distributed generation.  Complimentary to this, RPS policies ensure that utility companies are proactive in terms of investing in renewables.  If these policies were to be implemented here, locally in Kentucky, economic benefits would certainly be distributed across all regions of the state.  

Global Successes:
Successful FITs can be found in Germany, Italy, and Ontario.  Germany’s implementation of this policy, specifically from the years 2000-2009, created approximately 300,000 jobs.  They were also able to add 20,000MW of wind power, as well as 8,700MW of solar PV, during this period as a result of FITs implementation.

Italy began implemented FITs in 2007.  While Italy’s population is only 1/5 of the size of the U.S. population, they have been able to exceed our solar PV capacity by 1.5 times.   Another result of Italy’s implementation of a FIT includes the installation of 2.4 times more solar PV since 2008.

Finally, Ontario implemented their FIT policy in 2009 and have seen success.  Data collected from November 2010 show that there is over 2,600MW of renewable energy under contract there, at this time.  Their installed PV capacity increased from 2MW to 48MW in one year, also.  It is projected that, by the year 2012, Ontario will have the largest solar PV market in North America.

This information was adapted from a presentation that Andy McDonald, of member groups' Kentucky Solar Partnership and  Appalachia Science in the Public Interest, did during KySEA's Clean Energy Summit in January.

Apr 19, 2011

Solar Panels Light Up Cincinnati Zoo

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 19, 2011 09:20 AM

Re-posted from The Cincinnati Enquirer, article by Mike Boyer

Visitors to the Cincinnati Zoo are marveling at a new sight: Nearly 4 acres of solar panels have been installed over a vast span of the parking lot.

Cincy Zoo Solar PanlesSolar panels installed at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden parking lot will generate 20% of the zoo's electricity.

Billed as one of the largest public urban solar displays in the country, the $11 million solar "canopy" will do much more than help control the zoo's utility bills and shelter visitors from the elements when it's turned on in mid-April, developers say.

While it puts solar technology on display, the project also "will help put Cincinnati on the map as a national leader in the adoption and promotion of clean energy," said developer Steve Melink, Clermont County businessman and renewable energy advocate.

Workers finished installing the last solar panels Friday. The project has already sparked calls from more than a dozen zoos from as far away as California and Oregon interested in the project and how it was put together.

Mark Fisher, the zoo's senior director of facilities, planning and sustainability, said it's creating a buzz from visitors as well. "Some people wonder what the heck it is, and those who have heard about it are surprised at how big it is," he said.

According to Melink, the project consists of 6,400 photovoltaic solar collection panels assembled on more than 100 metal arrays, 15 to 18 feet high. They cover about 800 of the 1,000 parking spaces at the zoo's main entrance. The project is designed to produce 1.56 megawatts of electricity, about 20% of the zoo's annual need and enough to power 200 homes.

It isn't the largest solar project in Ohio. The Wyandot Solar farm, a utility-sponsored project near Upper Sandusky, covers about 80 acres and is designed to produce more than 10 megawatts of electricity.
Because the zoo's parking canopies are so public, officials say it will dramatically spur interest in solar here.

"The education aspect is worth a lot," says Raju Yenamandra, vice president at SolarWorld, a German-based company that produced the zoo's solar panels at its plant in Hillsboro, Ore. He thought so highly of the zoo project that he accelerated the delivery schedule for the zoo's solar panels, so the project would be ready this spring.

"When you think of the number of people who visit the zoo (about 1.3 million annually), particularly younger kids, the educational aspect will be fantastic," he said.

Solar canopies, which harness the sun's rays for electricity and provide shelter from its harsh rays, have been popular in warmer climates such as Southern California and Arizona. They're gaining in popularity in other parts of the country in the face of rising energy prices and government incentives to make solar technology more affordable.

"We're bidding multiple projects all over the country," said Dana Rudolph, president of ProtekPark Solar, which fabricated and installed the metal structures holding the solar panels. ProtekPark, a sister company of greenhouse constructor Rough Brothers, has been building parking canopies for about 10 years but lately found solar projects are the fastest-growing part of its business. It recently supplied metal canopies for solar projects at two community colleges in New Jersey.

The Cincinnati Zoo project grew out of a casual meeting between Fisher, Melink and Jeremy Chapman, Melink's business development manager, at a green building conference in Phoenix two years ago.
Fisher, who was looking for opportunities to expand the zoo's growing green profile, said Melink was looking for a signature project to demonstrate its developing solar installation business: "I told them: I have a parking lot."

Melink, which is developing a smaller pre-engineered solar array system for homes and businesses, was intrigued.

"We want to make a difference," he said. "And this was the scale we wanted."

The biggest hurdle was structuring the project's financing.

"It was about 99% financing and 1% engineering," Melink said.
The project relies on financing through a combination of federal New Market Tax Credits and federal energy tax credits through PNC Bank. It relies on cash from the tax credits, sales of electricity over the next seven years to the zoo and selling the renewal energy credits generated by the investment to Akron-based FirstEnergy.

Fisher said that initially the parties couldn't make the deal work financially until the non-profit Uptown Consortium and New York City-based National Development Council agreed to contribute New Market Tax Credits allocated to them toward the project.

Fisher said the project allows the zoo to lock in the price for about 20% of its electricity at about 8 cents a kilowatt hour for the next seven years. The agreement gives the zoo the option to buy the system in the eighth year if it chooses.

 

Note: Ohio passed a statewide alternative energy standard in 2008 that incentizes the use of renewable energy sources, including solar.

Apr 13, 2011

U.S. Slips in Clean Energy Race: Ky Implications

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 13, 2011 03:51 PM

Re-posted from the Public News Service-KY
April 11, 2011

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Germany has pushed the United States down a notch in a new report that tracks investments in the clean energy sector.

The U.S. is now third, Germany second and China is number one, according to the report from Pew Charitable Trusts, and the research finds a connection between those investments and strong clean energy policies.



Matt Partymiller, operating manager of Solar Energy Solutions in Lexington, says lack of decisive action by the federal government and particularly by the state of Kentucky means that some clean energy firms are having a hard time securing capital for their products. 

"What we need to see from the government is a clear plan, set forth probably through legislation, that signals what will be happening on their part in clean energy over the next decade.

Mixed signals are what's really driving indecision and uncertainty in the U.S. clean energy market."

Phyllis Cuttino, director of the Pew Clean Energy Program, sees fast-growing competition to gather up investment cash, both from the private and public sectors. She wants the report to serve as notice that action must be taken soon to ensure that the U.S. continues to be a major exporter of clean-energy products and technologies.

"

As the size of the industry grows, so do the stakes. Countries are adopting policies and programs to attract investment and create manufacturing opportunities."

And Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, compares the clean-energy race to the Internet race, to make the point that it's important for the United States to be the leader.

"If you can imagine a world - Google, and Twitter, and eBay and Amazon are all Chinese companies - how does that work for the U.S. economy?"

But many Kentuckians wonder how clean energy will work for Kentucky's economy. Matt Partymiller of Solar Energy Solutions says in a state with such heavy ties to coal, green power is unfairly seen as the archenemy of fossil fuels.

But he believes Kentucky ratepayers will benefit from clean energy sources in the future. 

"We now see hydro and wind power at parity or close to parity with many new fossil fuel resources. We need to be making these investments now, to ensure that our electricity prices stay inexpensive over the long run."

The Pew report notes that clean energy investments are up 30 percent globally, and says the U.S. is still seen as a leader in developing the next generation of clean-energy technologies and products.

Click here to read the entire report.

Apr 08, 2011

KySEA Put Clean Energy Solutions "On the table"in Frankfort

by Nancy Reinhart — last modified Apr 08, 2011 03:33 PM

"All options on the table is what we're going for," said Rep. Jill York (D) after Kentucky Sustainable Energy Alliance members gave compelling testimony about clean energy solutions in Frankfort last month.

Throughout the session, legislators discussed the adverse impacts that rising energy bills are having on Kentucky's families, farms and businesses. But House Bill 239, the Clean Energy Opportunity Act, championed by Sponsor Mary Lou Marzian (D) and supported by KySEA, was the only legislation heard this year that offered concrete solutions to Kentucky's energy challenges.

The bill was given a discussion-only hearing before the House Tourism Development and Energy Committee, chaired by Rep. Leslie Combs, on March 3rd. 

So far this year, KySEA also:

  • Organized and hosted the first-ever Kentucky Clean Energy Summit for a sold-out crowd of 150 participants.
  • Sponsored a Clean Energy Lobby Day with 40 people lobbying 30 legislators in support of the Clean Energy Opportunity Act.
  • Worked with bill sponsor, Rep. Mary Lou Marzian, to host a press conference about the bill.

 

As the KySEA mission statement says...

"We believe bold action is needed...to simultaneously address the goals of job creation and entrepreneurship; public health, climate and environmental protection; and poverty reduction and community development."

And, we're working to ensure that bold action happens in Kentucky, sooner rather than later.

What's next for KySEA?

We have learned a lot over the last year and during this last session. And, we have a lot to consider in the coming year, including questions about the alliance, outreach and legislative strategy. We'll be making decisions about these important issues at our upcoming face-to-face meeting.

SAVE THE DATE:  Tuesday, May 24th from 10 am to 4 pm in Lexington - exact location TBA. Email nancy@kysea.org if you have questions.

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In May 2008, a host of Russell Area Technology Center students and electrical technology instructor Doug Keaton gathered around a 60-foot tall, 1-kilowatt wind turbine to celebrate its opening operation. Using electricity generated by the turbine is just one part of Russell ATC's larger plan to reduce the school's energy costs by 25%.

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