California's Utilities Must Lower Barriers to Energy Storage Systems

In a proposed decision issued yesterday from the California Public Utilities Commission, an administrative law judge (ALJ) determined that energy storage devices (i) that are paired with net energy metering- (NEM) eligible generation facilities, and (ii) that meet the Renewables Portfolio Standard Eligibility Guidebook requirements to be considered an "addition or enhancement" to NEM-eligible systems are "exempt from interconnection application fees, supplemental review fees, costs for distribution upgrades, and standby charges when interconnecting under current NEM tariffs.  

The issue of whether solar PV-integrated energy storage could interconnect through NEM tariffs heated up in recent months as utilities in California determined that such systems were not NEM-eligible and therefore imposed additional requirements (and costs) in order for a paired solar PV system itself to be NEM-eligible.  These requirements and costs acted as a barrier to using energy storage technologies with distributed generation.  But in this proposed decision, the ALJ encouraged the state's utilities to take a "more proactive and collaborative approach to avoid creating barriers," and found that energy storage should be exempt from these additional requirements when certain conditions are met.  

Sizing.  The proposed decision states that NEM-paired storage systems with storage devices sized at 10 kW or smaller are not required to be sized to a customer's demand or the NEM generator.  For NEM-paired storage systems with storage larger than 10 kW, (x) the discharge capacity of the storage system may not exceed the NEM generator's maximum capacity, and (y) the maximum energy discharged by the storage device shall not exceed 12.5 hours of storage per kW. 

Metering.  With respect to metering requirements, the proposed decision again draws distinctions between storage systems above 10 kW discharge and those at 10 kW and below discharge capability, although the decision proposes to impose certain requirements on both categories in order to "preserve the integrity of NEM."  For systems at 10 kW and below, the decision proposes using a de-rate factor to measure the AC energy that flows into, and out of, the NEM generator.  NEM-paired systems larger than 10 kW will be required to adhere to metering requirements similar to those under the NEM Multiple Tariff Facilities provision of utilities' NEM tariffs, although the costs of metering will be capped at $500.  In either category, the proposed requirements aim to ensure that only NEM-eligible generation receives NEM credit.  

The full proposed decision may be viewed here:  CPUC Proposed Decision re Energy Storage

Long Island Power Authority Announces New And Expanded Clean Solar Initiative Feed-In Tariff Program

The Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) recently announced its Clean Solar Initiative Feed-In Tariff-II (FIT-II), a feed-in tariff program for solar projects between 100 kW and 2 MW in size and located in LIPA’s service territory. FIT-II is currently open for public comment, and will be effective only upon formal approval by the LIPA Board of Trustees.

FIT-II is capped at 100 MW, and follows the first version of the Clean Solar Initiative Feed-In Tariff (FIT-I). Unlike FIT-I, projects will not be selected for participation in FIT-II on a first-come, first-served basis. Instead, all applications submitted within the application period will be evaluated; those that pass a preliminary screening process of technical and administrative review will be eligible for further consideration under a Clearing Price Auction mechanism.

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CPUC Approves Standard Contract for New California Feed-In Tariff

The California Public Utilities Commission has adopted Decision 13-05-034, approving PG&E, SCE, and SDG&E’s joint standard contract for California’s expanded feed-in tariff (FiT) program. D.13-05-034 also revises several provisions of the FiT tariff and addresses two petitions to modify D.12-05-035, the Commission’s previous decision implementing the expanded FiT. The most recent legislation affecting the FiT, SB 1122 (2012), directing the utilities to procure 250 MW from bioenergy projects, is not addressed in D.13-05-034, but will be implemented in a later decision.

Barring any delays in finalizing the contract and tariff revisions ordered in D.13-05-034, the utilities will begin accepting Program Participation Requests for the new FiT on October 1, 2013 and the first bi-monthly FiT program period will commence November 1, 2013.

For details on changes to the FiT approved in D.13-05-034, and requests for modification rejected by the Commission, read on.

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Gov. Kitzhaber Names Margi Hoffman as Oregon's Energy Policy Advisor

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber announced today that he has named Margi Hoffman to serve as his Energy Policy Advisor.  She will join the Governor's office on April 2.

Ms. Hoffman has served as Senior Vice President and Director of Oregon Operations with Strategies360, a strategic consulting firm, and has also worked closely with Renewable Northwest Project (RNP) .  The news release from the Governor's office can be found here.

Congratulations, Margi!

Southern California Edison Begins Process to Reform CREST Power Purchase Agreement

Citing changes in market conditions, Southern California Edison (SCE) announced last week that it is beginning the process of reforming the standard Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) it uses for its California Renewable Energy Small Tariff (CREST) program. CREST is SCE’s feed-in tariff program for eligible renewable energy projects under 1.5 MW. The PPA for each of these projects is a standard, non-negotiable PPA under either a full buy/sell or excess power purchase program for a term of 10, 15, or 20 years. Of the 247.7 MW allocated to SCE by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) for CREST, SCE states that it has 214.1 MW either under contract or in the queue.

In its press release, SCE states that it will publish the proposed pro forma PPA on its website on June 2. It also states that the proposed “CREST PPA is based on SCE’s pro forma Solar Photovoltaic Program PPA for projects less than 5 MWs, and has been modified to make it applicable to all technology types and to be in compliance with the requirements of the CREST Tariff and CPUC Decision (‘D.’) 07-07-27.” Comments on the proposed PPA will be due by June 22, with the submission of the new PPA to the CPUC planned for August 2011.

LexisNexis Selects Renewable + Law Blog to its Top 50 Environmental Law Blogs List

Having first reported to our readers in February that LexisNexis had nominated the Stoel Rives Renewable + Law Blog for its Top 50 Environmental Law & Climate Change Blogs for 2011 award, we are pleased to announce we made the list of winners! In publishing its Top 50 list, LexisNexis declared that our Renewable + Law bloggers’ “avowed passion for solar energy, wind energy, biofuels, ocean and hydrokinetic energy, biomass, waste-to-energy, geothermal and other clean technologies is evident in the care they take with this blog-the posts are frequent, the topics are interesting and cutting edge, and the writing is top notch.”

 

Thanks again to all our readers who make regular use of Renewable + Law Blog and those who wrote in to support us for this award. We're honored and inspired, and we plan to keep those Blogs and letters coming.

 

FERC and Feed-in Tariffs: Opportunities and Challenges in California and Other States Webinar - March 2, 2011

Seth Hilton, Jason Johns, and Morten Lund will be presenters at the following webinar on Wednesday:

FERC and Feed-in Tariffs: Opportunities and Challenges in California and Other States
Wednesday, March 2 at 11:00 a.m. CST/ 9:00 a.m. PST.

After prolonged consideration by the California Public Utilities Commission, California recently adopted a reverse auction mechanism for renewable energy projects 20 megawatts or smaller. That program initially arose from the California Public Utilities Commission's efforts to expand an existing feed-in tariff program and was structured as a reverse auction mechanism to avoid potential conflicts with Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) jurisdiction. This webinar will explore feed-in tariffs and similar programs, such as California's Renewable Auction Mechanism. It will also address the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission's decision in October concerning the California Public Utilities Commission's proposed feed-in tariff for combined heat and power generators, as well as the implications of that decision for feed-in tariff design.

Learning Outcomes

  • Discuss feed-in tariff policies, including benefits and drawbacks
  • Analyze FERC's decision on California's feed-in tariff for combined heat and power generators
  • Recognize the implications of FERC's decision on feed-in tariff design
  • Examine California's Renewable Auction Mechanism and feed-in tariff
  • Compare California's feed-in tariff with those in other states while examining feed-in tariff success in other states

ALJ Releases Ruling Setting Briefing Schedule for CPUC Implementation of Amendments to CA Feed In Tariff Program

From our colleage Seth Hilton:

In 2006, Assembly Bill (AB) 1969 ushered in the era of the Feed In Tariff (FIT) in California. AB 1969 added section 399.20 to the Public Utilities Code, which allowed for tariffs and standardized contracts for eligible renewable resources up to 1.5MW owned by, and located on, public water and wastewater treatment facilities. In 2007, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) expanded the program to all utility customers. In 2008, Senate Bill (SB) 380 established a standard tariff for all utility customers and applied that tariff to San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) in addition to Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison (SCE).

Also in 2008, the CPUC adopted the final tariff structure and standardized contracts. The pricing for the tariffs was set at the market price referent (MPR), as adjusted by time of use (TOU) factors. A more detailed description, and the MPR and TOU tables, is available here. The total cap of the program is currently 500MW divided between SCE, PG&E, and SDG&E.

In 2009, SB 32 was signed into law, which, among other things, increased the eligible project size to 3MW. SB 32 went into effect on January 1, 2010. However, the CPUC has not yet fully implemented these amendments to the FIT program.

On January 27, 2011, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Anne E. Simon released a ruling setting the briefing schedule in response to the CPUC’s implementation of SB 32. The ruling states that respondents must, and other parties may, file briefs on such issues as eligibility, program size and requirements, and the setting of the tariff price, or any other issue they believe to be “relevant to the Commission’s implementation of SB 32.”

ALJ Simon’s ruling further stated that parties may also file, as a separate action in their brief, a request for any “further activities” they believe should be conducted (i.e., workshops, hearings, etc.).

Filed briefs must be no more than 50 pages and must be filed and served by respondents, and may be filed and served by other parties, no later than March 4, 2011. Reply briefs, which can be no more than 25 pages, must be filed by served no later than March 22, 2011.