As we in the mid-Atlantic hunker down for a major blizzard, nothing is stopping advanced energy from marching on. We’ll let you know next week if this major weather event causes problems for our grid (as it has in the past), or if advanced energy saves the day (again). Meanwhile, we have news from AEE member companies, and a big year ahead for New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding.
First, AEE member company Apex Clean Energy has had a busy January. The Charlottesville, Virginia–based firm landed a Department of Defense contract worth nearly $500 million over 30 years to provide renewable energy as well as energy from tradition sources. The contract will cover development of on-site solar and off-site wind installations in Virginia and Texas, with the power benefiting the U.S. Army. Conventional energy, as well as renewable, will be provided during the first 10 years of the contract, after which all the power will come from the new solar and wind facilities.
Apex also announced a deal to develop what will be the largest wind farm in the state of Tennessee – thanks to the continuous improvement in wind turbines, which is making wind development feasible in more areas of the Southeast. “Tennessee has not traditionally been a state that has a lot of wind energy production in it, but Crab Orchard wind will be a 71 MW, $100 million project,” Mark Goodwin, president of Apex Clean Energy, told AP. “That has been enabled by the advancements in technology over the years. The wind resource in Crab Orchard is excellent, so we will be able to deliver very cost-effective electricity.” Output from the Crab Orchard installation will get pumped into the grid via Tennessee Valley Authority transmission lines.
Meanwhile, the merger of Clean Power Finance and Kilowatt Financial has given birth to Spruce Finance, which is also a new member of AEE. The spruced-up firm offers financing for the full range of distributed energy resources – everything from solar to insulation and HVAC – to maximize savings for customers. “Our experience in the solar business showed that offering a solution that only addresses part of the utility bill makes the sale more complicated and makes it harder to motivate the consumer,” CEO Nat Kraemer told Utility Dive. “Our financing targets total bill savings.”
Spruce is prepared to be a competitor to those utilities that only want to boost electricity consumption, but would rather be a partner, as utility business models evolve to maximize customer benefit rather than sales. Next week, James Tong, VP of Strategy and Public Affairs for Spruce Finance, will join New York Public Service Commission chair Audrey Zibelman and Michael Ferguson of Standard & Poor’s for an AEE webinar on “What Does It Really Take to Modernize the Grid?” AEE Senior Vice President Lisa Frantzis will moderate this discussion of organizing principles for the grid of the future, which takes place Wed., Jan. 27, at 1pm ET. Register now!
Zibelman’s New York PSC is, of course, at the leading edge of creating that grid of the future, complete with a new regulatory scheme to support utilities in opening up the grid to distributed energy resources. In a detailed update on New York’s Reforming the Energy Vision proceeding, Utility Dive predicts that 2016 will be the year that the dream of a new utility business model becomes a reality. But that means there’s a lot of work ahead.
“Creating value for customers is a central goal of the REV initiative. As open markets are designed for resources on the distribution system, customers of all sizes will be able to choose from a wide array of distributed resources to produce and store their own power, as well as reduce their usage,” writes Herman Trabisch. “Virtually all of the energy stakeholders in New York are on board with that vision, including the state’s regulated electric utilities. The challenge, however, remains in how to properly structure markets on the distribution system so both DER providers and the incumbent utilities can thrive.”
If you want to learn more about any of these things, join us next week for “What Does It Really Take to Modernize the Grid?” AEE Senior Vice President Lisa Frantzis will moderate this discussion of organizing principles for the grid of the future, which takes place Wed., Jan. 27, at 1pm ET.