FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces Federal and Private Sector Actions to Accelerate Electric Vehicle Adoption in the United States
The Obama Administration is taking responsible steps to combat climate change, increase access to clean energy technologies, and reduce our dependence on oil. That is why, today, on the heels of the United States Department of Energy’s (DOE) first-ever Sustainable Transportation Summit, the Administration is announcing an unprecedented set of actions from the Federal government, private sector, and states, as well as a new framework for collaboration for vehicle manufacturers, electric utilities, electric vehicle charging companies, and states, all geared towards accelerating the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure and putting more electric vehicles on the road. The collaboration, forged by the White House in partnership with DOE and the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Airforce and the Army, and the Environmental Protection Agency, and is centered on a set of Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure that nearly 50 organizations are signing on to today. By working together across the Federal government and with the private sector, we can ensure that electric vehicle drivers have access to charging stations at home, at work, and on the road – creating a new way of thinking about transportation that will drive America forward. Today’s announcements include: Unlocking up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees and inviting applications to support the commercial-scale deployment of innovative electric vehicle charging facilities; Launching the FAST Act process to identify zero emission and alternative fuel corridors, including for electric vehicle charging across the country, and standing up an effort to develop a 2020 vision for a national network of electric vehicle fast charging stations that will help determine where along the corridors it makes the most sense to locate the fast charging infrastructure; Announcing a call for state, county, and municipal governments to partner with the Federal government to procure electric vehicle fleets at a discounted value; Leveraging the power of data and hosting an ‘Electric Vehicle Hackathon’ to discover insights and develop new solutions for electric vehicle charging; Publishing a guide to Federal funding, financing, and technical assistance for electric vehicles and charging stations; and 35 new businesses, non-profits, universities, and utilities signing on to DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge and committing to provide electric vehicle charging access for their workforce. Today’s announcements build on a record of progress from multiple programs across the Administration that are working to scale up electric vehicles and fueling infrastructure, including at the Departments of Energy, Transportation, Defense, and at the Environmental Protection Agency. In fact, in the past eight years the number of plug-in electric vehicle models increased from one to more than 20, battery costs have decreased 70 percent, and we have increased the number of electric vehicle charging stations from less than 500 in 2008 to more than 16,000 today – a 40 fold increase. UNPRECEDENTED ELECTRIC VEHICLE COALITION FORGED AMONG NEARLY 50 VEHICLE MANUFACTURERS, ELECTRIC UTILITIES, ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING COMPANIES, STATES, AND ORGANIZATIONS TO INCREASE ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE Today, in collaboration with the Administration, nearly 50 industry members are signing on to the following Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure. This commitment signifies the beginning of a collaboration between the government and industry to increase the deployment of electric vehicle charging infrastructure. Building on existing partnerships among federal government, states and communities, electric vehicle and charging infrastructure manufacturers and retailers, electric utilities, national laboratories, universities, and nongovernmental organizations, we endorse the following guiding principles to enhance electric vehicle use and create a national, household, workplace, and urban charging infrastructure that is available to all Americans: Drive the market transformation to electric vehicles by making it easy for consumers to charge their vehicles with grid-connected infrastructure that is accessible, affordable, available and reliable, and interconnected with other low-carbon transportation options where feasible. Promote electric vehicle adoption by increasing access to charging infrastructure and supporting the development of plug-in electric vehicles that are as accessible, available, and convenient as gasoline-powered vehicles. Promote a robust market for vehicle manufacturers, utilities, equipment service providers, and support industries that ensures a consistent user experience, customer choice, and allows for a streamlined permitting process. Enhance American manufacturing competitiveness, innovation, and the development of advanced technology. Attract and leverage private, State, and Federal investment in electric vehicle deployment, infrastructure, research and development, and education and outreach. Enable smart charging and vehicle grid integration through solutions such as demand response, and other energy storage and load management strategies. Signatories to the Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure include the following industry members, agencies, organizations, and states: Avista Berkshire Hathaway Energy BMW California Air Resources Board ChargePoint Consumers Energy Con Edison Connecticut Green Bank Dayton Power & Light Company Duke Energy Edison Electric Institute Electric Drive Transportation Association (EDTA) Eversource Energy EVGo Florida Power and Light Company Ford Georgia Power General Motors Greenlots Hawaiian Electric Hawai`i Electric Light Maui Electric Indianapolis Power & Light Company Kansas City Power & Light Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC National Association of State Energy Officials (NASEO) National Grid NextGen Climate America New York State Nissan Orange and Rockland Portland General Electric PPL Electric Utilities Pacific Gas & Electric PNM Resources Puget Sound Energy Southern California Edison Southern Company: Alabama Power Southern Company: Georgia Power Southern Company: Gulf Power Southern Company: Mississippi Power State of California TECO Energy Tesla Westar Energy EXECUTIVE ACTIONS TO INCREASE CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE Providing Financing to Scale Up Charging Infrastructure Unlocking Up $4.5 billion in Loan Guarantees and Inviting Applications to Support Innovative Electric Vehicle Charging Facilities: Today, the DOE’s Loan Program Office (LPO) issued a supplement to its Title XVII Renewable Energy and Efficient Energy (REEE) Projects Solicitation, clarifying that certain electric vehicle (EV) charging facilities – including associated hardware and software – is now an eligible technology under the solicitation. The solicitation can provide up to $4.5 billion in loan guarantees to support innovative renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in the United States. Loan guarantees can be an important tool to commercialize innovative technologies because these projects may be unable to obtain full commercial financing due to the perceived risks associated with technology that has never been deployed at commercial scale in the United States. The DOE’s LPO supports a large, diverse portfolio of more than $30 billion in loans, loan guarantees, and commitments to approximately 30 closed and committed projects nationwide, including leading edge renewable energy projects, advanced technology vehicle manufacturing facilities, and two of the first new nuclear reactors to begin construction in the United States in more than three decades. Publishing a Guide to Federal Funding, Financing and Technical Assistance for EVs and Charging Stations: DOE and DOT are publishing a guide to outline specific examples of funding programs, financing incentives, and technical assistance to help advance the nation’s economic, environmental, and energy security, through the support of EVs and charging stations that reduce petroleum use and greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector. It will also list current tax credits and incentives applicable to EV charging. The DOE’s Alternative Fuels Data Center provides a comprehensive database of federal and state programs that support EVs and infrastructure. Supporting the Development of Electric Vehicle Charging Corridors Launching the Process to Designate Alternative Fuel Corridors as Part of the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act: Today, the DOT is soliciting nominations from State and local officials to assist in making designations for alternative fuel corridors. Section 1413 of the FAST Act requires that the Secretary of Transportation designates national EV charging, hydrogen, propane, and natural gas fueling corridors, and the nomination process will ensure that the corridors proposed for designation will create a national network of alternative fuel facilities. In designating corridors, the DOT will (1) consider the nominated facilities, (2) incorporate existing corridors designated by States, and (3) consider the demand for, and location of, existing fueling stations and infrastructure. DOT will also evaluate applications based on their ability to reduce emissions and collaborate across the public and private sector. Details on this program can be found here or here. Developing Criteria and Proposing a Plan for a National Network of Fast Charging Stations for EVs: DOE and DOT have agreed to partner on the development of a 2020 vision for a national network of fast charging stations for EVs in order to facilitate coast to coast, nationwide zero emissions travel. Building upon DOT’s planned designation of alternative fuel corridors under the FAST Act, DOE and DOT, in cooperation with the DOE National Laboratories, DOT Volpe Center, and other government and industry stakeholders, will commence efforts in fiscal year 2017 to develop criteria that will help identify specific locations for siting fast charging infrastructure adjacent to the DOT-designated national and community corridors. The proposed effort will address four key areas important to evaluating the potential for a national network for fast charging including: (1) siting criteria for charging locations; (2) charging and utility infrastructure needs and cost assessment; (3) impacts of electric demand charges to consumers and utilities; and (4) potential longer-term innovations including evolution up to 350 kilowatt (kW) fast charging. The partnership will address these questions to provide the necessary information for the basis of a dialogue with stakeholders to help define public-private partnerships, funding, and financing models for implementing a national fast charging network. Along those lines, the DOE and DOT will be convening stakeholders this fall to identify critical needs for a national network of fast charging stations. Expanding the Electric Vehicle Fleet Inviting State, County, and Municipal EV Fleets to Join Forces with the Federal Government in EV Procurement: The Office of Federal Sustainability is inviting State, county and municipal government fleets to join forces with Federal agencies to maximize their collective buying power, and aggregate their EV and charging infrastructure purchases. In doing so, governments at all levels can lower their procurement costs, expand technology availability, and increase automotive manufacturers' demand certainty. The Office of Federal Sustainability will partner with government and agency fleet purchasers to coordinate and aggregate the purchasing of EV fleets, with distinct acquisition procurement strategies to be determined. Alone, the federal government plans to purchase more than 500 plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEV) or EVs in fiscal year 2017. DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) will be Signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the American Public Power Association (APPA) to Collaborate on Municipal Fleet Electrification: Through this agreement, EERE and APPA will ensure collaborative efforts to enable electrification of personal and fleet transportation in municipalities throughout the United States. EERE and APPA will provide information to increase education and awareness of the benefit of EVs to public power utilities and local officials, and develop a community action plan focused on smaller communities with fewer than 200,000 electric customers. The partnership will also work to enhance workplace charging efforts at public power utilities, study the impacts of EVs in public power communities, and share insights regarding infrastructure installation and EV interaction with the modern grid. Driving Technological Innovation and Increasing Access to Data Leveraging the Power of Data through an ‘EV Hackathon’: Today, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) is announcing that they will host an EV hackathon this fall. Hackathons are events that bring together coders, data scientists, topic experts, and interested members of the public to discover insights and develop new solutions. The event will take place in concord with the release of anonymized data on EV charging stations to the research and software development community. The ‘EV Hackathon’ represents a unique opportunity to bring together the EV and software communities to collaborate to enhance EV deployment. Conducting a Technology Study to Explore the Feasibility for Fast Charging, up to 350 KW, for EVs: DOE will partner with industry, the National Laboratories, and other stakeholders to develop a study that will examine the vehicle, battery, infrastructure, and economic implications of direct current (DC) fast charging of up to 350 kW, which is expected to be completed by the end of 2016. A 350 kW charging system could charge a 200 mile range battery in less than 10 minutes. The implementation of DC fast charging has the potential to impact many technology areas and tackle key technological barriers associated with high rate charging (50 kW and above), and fast charging increases the utility of EVs, aides in their adoption, and helps enable widespread use of EVs. Announcing that the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) will Lead Research to Achieve the Strategic Battery500 Goal: A multi-partner team, led by PNNL as part of the Battery500 research consortium, will receive an award of up to $10 million per year for five years to drive progress on DOE’s goal of reducing the cost of vehicle battery technologies. Battery costs exceeded $500/kWh when President Obama launched his EV Everywhere Grand Challenge goal of making EVs that are as affordable and convenient for the American family as gasoline-powered vehicles, and low-cost, high performance batteries are a key component of the strategy to attain the President’s goal. The Battery500 Consortium aims to triple the specific energy (to 500 WH/kg) relative to today's battery technology while achieving 1,000 electric vehicles cycles. This will result in a significantly smaller, lighter weight, less expensive battery pack (below $100/kWh) and more affordable EVs. The Battery500 consortium will include four DOE National Laboratories and five universities in an effort aimed at achieving revolutionary advances in battery performance. Consortium partners include the following: Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (research partner and advisory board) Brookhaven National Laboratory Idaho National Laboratory SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory Binghamton University (State University of New York) Stanford University (research partner and advisory board) University of California, San Diego University of Texas at Austin University of Washington IBM (advisory board) Tesla Motors, Inc. (advisory board) Increasing Charging Infrastructure in Our Homes and Workplaces The Standard for High Performance Green Buildings Will Consider a Revision to Encourage EV-Ready Building Practices: By employing EV-Ready building practices, multi-unit dwelling and commercial building developers can prepare a facility with electrical infrastructure to accommodate a future charging station installation, resulting in significant cost savings for building owners and tenants. To encourage more EV-Ready development in cities and states across the country, an EV-Ready building code measure has been introduced to the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE) 189.1, a standard for high performance green buildings that in 2018 will become the basis for the International Green Construction Code. Through the adoption of this EV-Ready building practice, cities and states can align with the EV building strategies identified by Federal agencies in the 2016 Guiding Principles for Sustainable Federal Buildings. Expanding DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge to Include 35 New Businesses, Non-profits, Universities, and Utilities: DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge encourages America’s employers to commit to providing EV charging access for their workforce. Vehicles are parked at homes and workplaces most of the time, making the Workplace Charging Challenge a significant opportunity to expand our nation’s charging infrastructure. In fact, charging at work can potentially double an EV driver's all-electric daily commuting range. Participating employers include organizations that are assessing their employees’ need for charging to those who have successfully launched workplace charging programs. DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge has grown to more than 350 partners since its launch in January 2013, and is on track to meet its goal to partner with 500 United States employers by 2018. The 35 new partners announced today include: Bates College Berkshire Hathaway Energy CenterPoint Energy, Inc. City of Seattle Clean Future, Inc. Confluence Environmental Center Con Edison Duke Energy Carolinas Duke Energy Florida Duke Energy Indiana Duke Energy Kentucky Duke Energy Ohio Duke Energy Progress Eugene Water & Electric Board Fresh Start Detail Co. Hawai`i Electric Light Company Hawaiian Electric Company Hyundai Joseph Hughes Construction Maui Electric Company Morris Energy Consulting NIKE, Inc. North American University North Coast Electric Olympic College Orange and Rockland Utilities Southern Company: Alabama Power Southern Company: Georgia Power Southern Company: Gulf Power Southern Company: Mississippi Power Southwest Clean Air Agency Sustainable Future LLC The Valley Hospital University of Oregon Utah Valley Hospital PRIVATE SECTOR COMMITMENTS TO INCREASE ELECTRIC VEHICLE CHARGING INFRASTRUCTURE Twelve utilities and charging companies are announcing commitments to increase deployment of EVs and charging infrastructure, and to use the Guiding Principles to Promote Electric Vehicles and Charging Infrastructure to work together to accelerate EV deployment. Utilities Avista commits to install electric vehicle supply equipment (EVSE) in its Eastern Washington service territory, as part of a two-year pilot program recently approved by the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission. Provided full participation levels, Avista expects to install a total of 272 EVSE connection ports in approximately 200 different locations: 120 in residential homes, 50 at workplaces, and 30 in public locations, including 7 DC fast chargers to enable regional EV travel. Florida Power and Light (FPL) is committed to the mass market adoption of EVs by working with local, state, and federal stakeholders on initiatives that will help drive EV adoption. FPL will continue to educate and support residential and commercial customers on the benefits of EVs and work with them to remove barriers to adoption. FPL also commits to continue to place EVs into its fleet when possible. The Hawaiian Electric Companies have committed to work with all stakeholders to support EVs as part of reaching the islands’ goal of 100 percent renewable energy for electricity by 2045. The Hawaiian Electric Companies will continue to install more DC fast charging stations, research demand management and demand response strategies in EV charging and seek new policy and infrastructure opportunities to provide reliable, clean power for EV charging. Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L) commits to continuing its leadership and support of the electric transportation market by deploying 10 percent of its Clean Charge Network in underserved and low-income areas of its service territory. KCP&L believes that charging infrastructure should be available and accessible to its customers of all income levels. National Grid commits to help accelerate EV and EV charging market growth in the Northeast, by bringing forward regulatory proposals for new EV charging infrastructure development and consumer education in the territories it serves. These initiatives will build on the company’s planned efforts to demonstrate new technologies such as DC fast charging, expand workplace charging for employees, and increase plug-in vehicles and technology deployment within the company fleet. Portland General Electric (PGE), Oregon’s largest electric utility company, commits to engage stakeholders and submit a proposed plan to Oregon Public Utility Commission in 2016 defining the utility role in transportation electrification, pursuant to recently passed Oregon legislation, which identifies transportation electrification as key to meeting Oregon’s greenhouse gas emissions targets. PGE also commits to work with Federal partners, including DOT and DOE, and the Edison Electric Institute in appropriate leadership roles to continue to advance transportation electrification. PGE will spend 5-10 percent of its corporate fleet budget on electrification, and commits to encourage and incentivize PGE employees to acquire EVs and serve as ambassadors for electrification. The Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) will provide the associated infrastructure to the City of Albuquerque for their purchase of an all-electric bus fleet for the soon to be built Albuquerque Rapid Transit system. The project is the first of its kind in New Mexico and the first all-electric Bus Rapid Transit system in the United States. Southern California Edison (SCE) will collaborate with stakeholders to develop plans to meet California Senate Bill 350 requirements for on-going, comprehensive utility programs and investments to accelerate widespread adoption of transportation electrification. SCE’s plans will complement stakeholders’ efforts to expand available charging infrastructure, deliver effective market education and outreach, encourage incentives, and improve customers’ experience. SCE will also launch its Clean Fuel Reward program in 2016 to provide incentives to residential EV owners using proceeds from California’s Low Carbon Fuel Standard program. Southern Company and its electric-generating traditional operating companies – Alabama Power, Georgia Power, Gulf Power, and Mississippi Power – have been and will continue to be leaders in the advancement and promotion of the electric transportation market. Southern Company remains active in both the on-road and non-road markets, working with industry, municipalities, government, and the military to further the use of electric transportation and to ensure the development of necessary charging infrastructure. Southern Company is committed to consumer education through social media outreach and community charging programs as well as special concierge events provided through the REVolution program. The Southern Company Energy Innovation Center, meanwhile, continues to facilitate and encourage industry research aimed at improving the effectiveness and cost-efficiency of EV technology. The Edison Electric Institute (EEI) will work with its member electric companies and their associated state regulatory commissions to a) provide the charging infrastructure needed to scale electric transportation, b) develop measures that support the market while controlling costs and ensuring benefits are shared by all customers, and c) engage in direct outreach and education to customers. Charging Companies ChargePoint commits up to $20 million toward the deployment of a national network of high-speed charging stations as part of public-private partnerships. This includes research and development investments, site identification, smart city deployments and DC fast charger corridors. ChargePoint will work with the DOT, other Federal, State, and local government agencies, and private entities to determine the optimal location for such high-speed charging stations, and to secure financing from private entities and through public-private partnerships. In order to future-proof the network, ChargePoint is committed to developing a line of high-speed DC fast chargers with 125-350 kW charging capacity. ChargePoint commits to work with the broader industry to develop the standards necessary for interoperability, allowing drivers to use one account to charge at stations manufactured by multiple vendors. ChargePoint commits to make access to its high-speed network simple, accessible and convenient through industry-leading driver services and mobile applications. ChargePoint commits to work with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) to make data available to help optimize their vehicle programs and better understand driver behavior. ChargePoint commits to work with utilities to make data available to help improve vehicle grid integration and better understand driver behavior. EVgo commits to invest $100 million in EV infrastructure over the next 5 years to expand its nation-leading charging network. This investment will focus on providing customers with access to high-speed charging at charging rates significantly faster than what is available on the market today. BUILDING ON PROGRESS The above-mentioned private sector commitments announced today build on a history of progress to increase EV adoption and promote EV charging infrastructure, which is illustrated by the following: Automakers BMW Group is dedicated to improving EV technology and increasing EV adoption. In pursuit of this goal, the BMW Group has committed to producing BMW iPerformance vehicles, or plug-in hybrid versions of all of its volume models. The first model, the BMW X5 xDrive40e, was released in fall 2015, and was followed this year by the 330e Sedan and the 740e xDrive Sedan. The BMW Group is committed to advancing battery technology through research partnerships, including with the DOE’s Argonne National Laboratory, and will continue to support DC fast charging infrastructure in the United States. BMW successfully launched ‘project i' with the plug-in hybrid i8 and the all-electric i3 in 2014, and the inclusion of a plug-in hybrid version in all of its volume models. Ford is investing an additional $4.5 billion in electrified vehicle solutions, adding 13 new electrified vehicles to its product portfolio by 2020. More than 40 percent of Ford’s nameplates globally will be electrified by the decade’s end. General Motors will introduce the industry’s first long-range, affordable EV later this year. The Chevrolet Bolt EV will provide more than 200 miles of range on a full charge, be priced under $30,000 (net full federal tax credits) and will be produced at General Motor’s assembly plant in Orion Township, Michigan. The 2017 Chevrolet Bolt EV, along with the range-extended electric Chevrolet Volt, will soon be included in the General Motors and Lyft Express Drive fleets in select markets. This short-term vehicle access program will provide exposure to EVs from the largest EV fleet in ridesharing to drivers and passengers alike. General Motors also will continue investing in battery technology and expertise, including at the largest battery lab of any automaker in North America, and remain a champion of workplace charging. General Motors has installed over 500 workplace chargers for use by employees and visitors to General Motors campuses around the United States. Mercedes Benz will have 10 plug-in hybrids available by next year. Nissan has sold more than 95,000 LEAF EVs in the United States, and uses a multi-pronged approach to invest with charging partners to install EV charging infrastructure at corporate workplaces, metro communities and Nissan dealerships. Nissan has led the tenfold increase in CHAdeMO fast chargers available nationally since 2013 with now more than 1,840 fast chargers available at retail, hospitality, fueling station, and dealership locations. These fast chargers can charge an all-electric LEAF up to 80 percent in 30 minutes, greatly extending the range of the vehicle. In addition, under the ‘No Charge to Charge’ promotion, Nissan has made over 900 of these public Fast Chargers available for free to new LEAF buyers for 2 years across 38 key markets, with another 12 markets launching in 2016. As a result, Nissan’s expansion of metro-area fast charging will cover cities and communities representing 90 percent of LEAF sales. Nissan continues to work collaboratively with charging network providers, charger manufacturers, utilities, retail site hosts and importantly, other automotive OEMs to ensure the continued growth of open-standard fast charging to expand and connect Nissan’s community charging network investment across the country. Tesla will start volume deliveries of Model 3 in late 2017, which will have a range of at least 200 miles, meaning that affordable long range EVs will be available on the market sooner than analysts predicted. Tesla has already started operations at the $5 billion Gigafactory it is building outside Reno, Nevada, which will manufacture batteries, ensuring that EVs are powered by American-made, high-quality, and affordable batteries. Charging Companies ChargePoint operates the largest and most open EV charging network in the world, with more than 30,000 total charging spots and over 330 DC fast charging locations. To date, ChargePoint drivers have traveled 396,800,000 miles on the ChargePoint network. Recently, ChargePoint successfully completed the Express Corridor project, in which it deployed nearly 100 DC fast chargers along the East and West Coast, including in partnership BMW. EVgo works closely with automakers like Nissan, BMW, and Ford to develop a vehicle-centric customer experience. These partnerships have brought customers faster charging speeds and more charging locations, allowing EVgo to operate 700 DC fast chargers in more than 35 top metro markets across the country. In 2015, EVgo's public high-speed charging network delivered more than 21 million EV miles, saving nearly 900,000 gallons of gas and offsetting nearly 10 million pounds of carbon dioxide. Utilities Avista, in Spokane, Washington, is committed to supporting electric transportation, starting with its first installation of three public EV charging stations in 2010. Avista followed this with a commitment to electrify its fleet with at least 5 percent of fleet budget allocated to electrification, installation of workplace charging and participation in DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge, with over 40 port connections planned at its facilities over the next four years; ongoing technical support and education for residential and commercial customers; and collaboration with regional utilities to form the Pacific Northwest Utilities Transportation Electrification Collaborative as a forum to share best practices and accelerate the transition to electric transportation. Most recently, Avista successfully filed and received approval from the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission to proceed with a pilot program to install utility-owned EV charging infrastructure at customer homes, businesses and public locations. Consumers Energy has submitted a proposal to the Michigan Public Service Commission to advance EV infrastructure in Michigan. Consumers has developed a comprehensive program to enable EV travel across the state with the placement of DC fast chargers at 30 locations, increase the presence of Level 2 chargers by 400 units, generate Workplace Charging programs with 40 employers, and reinstate home charging incentives for 2,500 customers. This broad approach will help escalate EV adoption, expand customer transportation options, incite and support Michigan’s motivation toward smart mobility, emerging technologies, job creation, and sustainability. Eversource Energy, with a goal of reducing the region’s carbon footprint, has created EV opportunities for its customers, and employs a multifaceted approach to reducing emissions for its fleet vehicles as well. As of the end of 2015, there were about 6,500 EVs in the company’s service territory with over 700 publicly accessible charging stations in the region. In 2014, along with other utility members of the Edison Electric Institute, Eversource pledged to commit five percent of its annual fleet spending on EV technologies. The company’s support has funded EV rebates for about 450 vehicles in Connecticut. In Massachusetts, Eversource serves as a commissioner on the Commonwealth’s Zero Emission Vehicle Commission, which serves to study the economic and environmental benefits and costs of increased use of zero emission vehicles in the Commonwealth. Eversource is working with the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources on programs to advance the EV market through a combination of studies, outreach and education, and the rate pilot program. Eversource is committed to explore solutions that support EV owners in its service territory, while ensuring system reliability for all of its customers. Florida Power and Light (FPL) launched its EV program in late 2010 with a focus on ensuring that it meets customer EV needs, enabling the market to grow, and ensuring reliable service. Initiatives include education and outreach, technology pilots, employee workplace charging, fleet charging, an EV website, and local, state and federal industry involvement. The company operates a large electric fleet with over 570 HEVs and 156 PHEVs / EVs, and has installed 74 Level 1 charging stations with 139 charge ports, and 83 Level 2 stations with 160 charge ports to support both its fleet and employee vehicles. In June 2015, the company joined DOE’s Employee Workplace Charging Challenge and saw employee ownership of EV’s increase 500 percent in 12 months. Georgia Power, the largest subsidiary of Southern Company, launched a Get Current.Drive Electric TM initiative intended to help facilitate the adoption and use of EVs in Georgia. This comprehensive program promotes public education, the building and operation of public/community charging stations, and the offering of promotional rebates to residential and business customers for installing EV chargers. Through this two-year program, the company estimates that more than 2,500 charging stations will be installed statewide to support current and future EV drivers. The Hawaiian Electric Companies have provided customers with EV charging options since 2010, including discount utility rates for EV charging and partnerships to increase home and public charging opportunities. Hawaiian Electric, Maui Electric and Hawaii Electric Light companies have installed eight DC fast charging stations on Oahu, Maui and Hawaii Island with more to come. The stations are strategically located to reassure the islands’ growing number of battery EV drivers struggling with range anxiety or unable to charge in their residences. A utility proposal for improved time-of-use rates at present is before regulators. And the JUMPSmartMaui is a collaborative demonstration project between Japan, Hawaii and Maui that incorporates Smart Grid, renewable energy, and all-EV solutions to achieve a cleaner future for Maui. Kansas City Power & Light is deploying over 1,100 charging stations as part of its Clean Charge Network to transform the market in Kansas City, Missouri. The Clean Charge Network is a network of ChargePoint Level 2 charging stations as well as DC fast chargers available to the public at locations throughout the KCP&L’s service territory. Since deployment of the Clean Charge Network began in January 2015, the Kansas City metropolitan area has become number one in the United States for EV driver growth and has experienced a more than 400 percent increase in EV charging sessions, number of EV drivers, and electrical usage for EV charging. Louisville Gas & Electric Co and Kentucky Utilities Co developed a program that strives to expand EV infrastructure around the Commonwealth of Kentucky. In 2016, the Kentucky Public Service Commission approved the companies' application to install up to 20 Level 2 public charging stations in its service territories and an unlimited number of private entity sponsored stations. The companies will begin to roll out the stations in 2016. Michigan Utilities in conjunction with the Michigan Public Service Commission introduced a variety of Level 2 home charging reimbursement incentives in 2011. The incentive programs helped stimulate Michigan’s EV adoption with over 3,500 customers participating. National Grid has supported the EV market in the Northeast since 2011 when it began installing more than 150 public charging stations, in partnership with the EVSE industry, host site customers, and state agencies. Today, more than 3,000 drivers have used these stations, filling up at locations across Rhode Island, Massachusetts, and upstate New York. National Grid has also installed work place charging in more than 10 different company facilities and hosted multiple “ride-n-drives” for employees. NV Energy, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy operating company, has proudly supported the electrification of transportation in Nevada since 2009. The company embraced a three-pronged effort and various strategic partnerships to achieve its EV success. First, it established a favorable rate structure for residential and commercial customers to charge EVs at their homes or businesses, which has the ability to lower both EV charging and overall home or business energy costs. Second, a shared-investment program and partnership with major customers resulted in more than doubling the number of public charging stations in Nevada. These public charging stations are providing charges to EV owners at no cost for the first five years. NV Energy’s third major initiative has been to partner with the Nevada Governor’s Office of Energy, the DOT and rural electric associations to develop the Nevada Electric Highway, which is connecting major population centers in the state with a DC fast charging network that aligns with interconnecting highways. Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) continues to expand its fleet of alternative-fuel vehicles—one of the nation’s largest among electric and gas utilities—by investing at least one-third of its annual fleet procurement on EVs, totaling more than $100 million. Portland General Electric (PGE) has demonstrated a commitment to EV charging and education on electrification, including: operation and improvement of “Electric Avenue” – which highlights colocation of 6 chargers, four of which are DC fast chargers; installation of EV chargers at PGE workplace locations, with 51 total chargers planned; encouraging business customers’ installation of workplace charging and their participation in the DOE’s Workplace Charging Challenge; delivery of education and technical assistance on electrification to retail customers; and continued annual sponsorship of the EV Roadmap Conference that emphasizes sharing of best practices and lessons learned. PPL Electric Utilities is working to encourage the everyday use of EVs throughout its service territory in central and eastern Pennsylvania. The utility uses 15 Chevy Volt vehicles as part of its fleet, and has developed an internal car-sharing program to make the EV cars available for employees’ business use. PPL also offers free charging to employees through EV chargers installed at several locations. PPL is committed to investing more than 10 percent of its fleet budget on fleet electrification and is committed to buying only bucket trucks with electric lifts. Finally, the company has created a website to share information on cars and incentives with its 1.4 million customers. San Diego Gas & Electric recently received approval from the California Public Utilities Commission to install 3,500 charging stations at 350 locations in San Diego County. Southern California Edison (SCE) recently started a pilot funded by all customers to install up to 1,500 EV charging stations and launch expanded EV market education programs; is conducting a one-year pilot at the Los Angeles Air Force Base to demonstrate vehicle-to-grid vehicles; and recently completed pilots on workplace smart charging for its employees. SCE spent 20 percent of its recent annual fleet budget on electric drive vehicles; offers seven residential and commercial rates designed for transportation electrification; includes EV charging and solar carport as part of its energy efficiency contract with Federal Aviation Administration in Palmdale California; and conducts on-going testing and evaluation of several heavy duty EVs for air districts. Southern Company launched SO Prize in 2014, an internal ideation competition that elicited nearly 1,000 innovative ideas from among the employee workforce. One of the winners of SO Prize was a proposal called REVolution, which provides for a special concierge-type service designed to help consumers pick the best EV for their lifestyle. The REVolution team has since conducted onsite events in Pensacola, Destin, and Panama City, Florida, and is exploring other ways of expanding consumer outreach through online methods. In addition, the Southern Company system’s internal fleet of cars, line trucks and other vehicles is moving toward a goal of being 10 percent electric by 2018. The Edison Electric Institute signed an MOU with the DOE last year that has since led to collaboration between utilities and the Federal government on a wide range of actions, including launching an education and outreach campaign, building analytical support for investment in EV infrastructure and technology, and providing a forum for stakeholder engagement. Westar Energy was an early adopter of EVs with 10 percent of on-road fleet being electric, and has committed more than 5 percent of annual spending on EVs. Westar also installed 65 charging stations throughout its service territory. Additionally, Westar has responded to the DOE Workplace Charging Challenge by making EVs available to employees through a centralized vehicle pool for business travel and by providing free workplace charging to employees who purchase EVs. ###
Если 2015 год был плохим для компаний, связанных с солнечной энергетикой, то начало 2016-го выдалось просто кошмарным: за месяц с небольшим цены их акций рухнули на десятки процентов, а по сравнению с максимумами прошлого года – в несколько раз.
BLOOMBERG: Warren Buffett controls Nevada’s legacy utility. Elon Musk is behind the solar company that’s upending the market. Let the fun begin.
By Noah Buhayar | January 28, 2016From Outside the Public Utilities Commission office, which is on the second floor of a modern, three-story building about 7 miles from the Strip in Las Vegas, a chorus of women are shouting to the tune of a Beastie Boys classic: “We’re gonna fight ... for our right ... to go soooolar!”It’s Jan. 13, a crisp desert morning with high, wispy clouds. Cars zoom by on a nearby freeway. Across the street, construction workers are leveling ground in front of a subdivision. Local TV news crews close in on the women as several hundred other protesters wave signs that read “Don’t hog the sun” and “Save our solar jobs.” Another poster takes a jab directly at the local power company: “Don’t be shady NV Energy.”Many of the protesters are employees or customers of SolarCity. Started a decade ago by Tesla Motors Chief Executive Officer Elon Musk and two of his cousins, Lyndon and Peter Rive, SolarCity has brought renewable energy to the masses in more than a dozen states, generating about $350 million in annual revenue. The company designs, installs, and leases rooftop solar systems at prices that allow homeowners to save on their monthly power bills—and fight climate change along the way. For a 20-year commitment, SolarCity will set customers up with panels for no money down. After starting in California and expanding to Arizona and Oregon, SolarCity began selling in Nevada in 2014 and quickly became the state’s leading installer of rooftop panels.SolarCity’s success is partly because the government provides subsidies and enables an arrangement called net metering, which allows homeowners with panels to sell back to the grid any solar energy they don’t use. This helps offset their cost of power when the sun’s not shining. Like more than 40 other U.S. states, Nevada forces utilities to buy the excess energy at rates set by regulators—usually the same rate utilities charge (hence, the net in net metering). In Nevada, it’s worked well. So well, in fact, that NV Energy, the state’s largest utility, is fighting it with everything it’s got.First, NV Energy deployed its lobbyists to limit the total amount of energy homeowners and small businesses were allowed to generate to 3 percent of peak capacity for all utilities. Then it expertly argued its case before regulators, who rewrote the rules for net-metering customers. In December it scored a major win: Nevada’s Public Utilities Commission (PUC) imposed rules that not only make it more expensive to go solar, but also make it uneconomical for those who’ve already signed up. Similar regulatory skirmishes are playing out in dozens of other states, but no other has gone as far as Nevada to undermine homeowners who’ve already installed solar arrays.All this has enraged independent, free-market, and environmentally conscious Nevadans. All day on Jan. 13 people enter the hearing room to give the sole commissioner an earful. (Two more commissioners are piped in via video from Carson City, where the hearing is happening simultaneously.) The bureaucrats sit blankly behind their desks as employees from SolarCity and a competitor, Sunrun, explain that they’d been let go because the commission’s recent ruling killed their companies’ business in the state. Some of the roughly 18,000 customers who have already put solar panels on their roofs say the officials have rigged the game against the players. One homeowner threatens a $1 billion class-action lawsuit. Another compares NV Energy to King George III.“Are you getting kickbacks?” demands one woman, who asks the commission for records proving it made its ruling in the public’s interest.“Answer her,” shouts a man in the crowd.“Resign!” yells another.At one point, Mark Ruffalo shows up. The actor has flown in for the rally and makes his way into the commission office flanked by two SolarCity employees. A half-dozen camera crews follow him to the mic, and he receives a standing ovation after he calls the commission the “anti-Robin Hood” for taking from the people and giving to a monopoly. “The utility has the whole pie,” Ruffalo adds. The citizens, he says, “just want a tiny, little slice.” A local TV reporter, realizing she just got the Hulk on film for her segment, pumps her fist.None of it sways the commissioners, and at around 4:30 p.m. they make a show of cross-examining each other before voting unanimously to deny requests to delay the new rules. It’s another victory for NV Energy and its owner, Berkshire Hathaway, the investment company controlled by Warren Buffett. He didn’t respond to requests for comment.“The outcome was horrendous” in Nevada, says SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive. Homeowners no longer have any financial incentive to put panels on their roofs, and those who already did may end up paying an additional $11,000 over the next two decades, he says. “We will fight this. We will fight it legally, and I’m highly confident we will win.Not that long ago, things were far more cordial between SolarCity and Nevada officials. “They sold themselves as being solar-friendly,” Rive says. “It was, ‘Hey, we are for solar. We want to make solar work.’ ” It probably didn’t hurt that SolarCity also had created scores of jobs wherever it went and that it was a no-brainer to tap the sun’s potential in a state that’s largely desert.In 2004, Rive, his wife, and Musk were in an RV on their way to Burning Man. Rive was casting about for a business idea that could “have an impact on humanity,” and Musk suggested that his cousin look into solar power. “He didn’t say how or what, but just get into the industry,” Rive told the San Jose Mercury News in December. When Rive got back from the festival, he told his brother about the conversation. They founded SolarCity on July 4, 2006. The company’s mission: to help people leave fossil fuels behind. Musk, who had made a fortune on PayPal and was dreaming up rocket ships and electric cars, put up some capital and became chairman. Musk didn’t reply to an e-mail seeking comment.SolarCity grew into one of the country’s largest solar operators in the years that followed. In the markets it entered, it hired hundreds of people to sell, maintain, and install its systems. But Rive didn’t enter Nevada. To make its contracts work, SolarCity needed the right policies in place. For years the state provided rebates for homeowners who wanted to go solar through a lottery system. The randomness turned potential customers off, he says.Nevada’s legislature had been gradually changing incentives for solar customers for years and, in 2013, it did away with the lottery for rebates, so anyone could get one. The state also set a new cap on installations—3 percent of the utility’s peak demand. Such provisions usually appease utilities and give regulators a chance to study what it means to have more small solar systems on the grid.SolarCity had begun a national search to figure out where to open a call center in late 2012 and considered Nevada. Governor Brian Sandoval’s office offered a sweetener, Rive says. Nevada had set up something called the Catalyst Fund to encourage companies to locate operations in the state. In the economic development trade, “it’s called ‘love money,’ ” says Ross Miller, a former secretary of state, who served on the board that doled out the funds. SolarCity’s grant was announced in March 2013. The company would get paid as much as $400,000 annually for three years if it met certain hiring targets. “You had me at Elon Musk,” Miller told Vegas Inc., a business news outlet, at the time.In August of that year, SolarCity had an opening ceremony for its Vegas office, which was to serve as its main call center and handle sales and administrative functions nationally. Sandoval called the opening a “watershed moment” for the state and joined with Democratic U.S. Senator Harry Reid in cutting a green ribbon with a giant pair of scissors. “Nevada is going to be your home for a long time,” Reid said. “And we’re going to do everything we can to make it one that’s a happy, happy home.”With the new net-metering and rebate policies in place, SolarCity began taking applications on May 1, 2014. Charlie Catania called that same day. Catania, who resembles Regis Philbin, came to Vegas in the 1970s and spent most of his career at Caesars Palace working in the baccarat pit. “I wanted to be a good steward of the environment,” but going solar was always too expensive, he says. By signing with SolarCity, he anticipated saving money over time, because his energy rates would be locked in for 20 years. That would help him minimize the impact of any increases NV Energy might make. “I’m 71,” he says. “If I live to 91, when my lease is up, hallelujah.”Thousands more followed Catania, signing contracts with SolarCity, Sunrun, and other providers. They were retirees, computer programmers, bartenders, young, old, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian. Most were in southern Nevada. By and large, the homeowners who went solar cared about the environment. But the thought of saving a few bucks—and sticking it to NV Energy—didn’t bother some of them, either.To meet the demand, Rive opened more operations centers in the state, where its crews of installers would grab panels and other supplies before going out on a job. The company had created something called the Chairman’s Cup—after Musk—to honor the most productive warehouse nationally. In 2015 its two locations in the Las Vegas area dominated the competition, winning almost every month.The growth was good. But another problem was looming: Rive and his staff thought their industry was about to reach the 3 percent cap.Buffett got into utilities in 1999. While many investors chased the latest Silicon Valley IPO, he bought a nice electric company in Des Moines. Building power plants and maintaining the grid offered almost endless opportunities to reinvest cash, which he had a lot of. And, as a monopoly providing an essential service, the local power company wasn’t going away anytime soon. Owning utilities isn’t “a way to get rich,” he later said. “It’s a way to stay rich.”By 2013 the energy unit at Berkshire had expanded to include power companies serving parts of Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah. It had also invested billions of dollars in wind farms in Iowa and giant solar arrays in California andArizona. Two months after SolarCity got its love money from Nevada, Buffett offered$5.6 billion to buy NV Energy. Soon after Berkshire completed the purchase, NV Energy accounted for about a fifth of the company’s energy revenue.Because power companies operate in a highly regulated industry, they stay close to elected officials. NV Energy’s ties in Nevada were particularly strong. Two of its lobbyists—Pete Ernaut and Greg Ferraro—have been friends with Sandoval for decades. Sandoval told the Reno Gazette-Journal that the lobbyists had first suggested he run for governor in 2010. Both ended up serving as advisers to his successful campaign and have continued to lobby him in office.The governor has tried to avoid favoritism—and, at times, has promoted policies that helped the solar industry and vetoed legislation that the utility wanted. Even Robert List, SolarCity’s lobbyist in the state, says Sandoval is “a man of total integrity.” Still, it’s difficult for the governor to get away from the perception that “he’s being influenced by them,” says Jon Ralston, the host of a political affairs show on Las Vegas’s PBS station.As the 2015 legislative session opened in Carson City last February, the rooftop solar industry was focused on lifting the 3 percent cap. Buffett’s utility was set against it. “We had numerous conversations with the NV Energy lobbyists, and they were swarming all over the building constantly,” List recalls. “Nobody could seem to find a middle ground.”On March 9, Ernaut sent a briefing document on net metering to two of Sandoval’s senior advisers, according to an e-mail that Sunrun obtained through a public records request. “Net metering is not about customer choice and competition,” it said. Rooftop solar customers, it went on, were already getting a subsidy, and it would only increase if the cap were lifted to 10 percent, as the solar industry wanted. All customers would have to pay higher rates if that were allowed, according to the document. Instead, the utility argued it would be more cost-effective to generate power from large-scale solar arrays.A month later, Rive went to see the governor. Sandoval began the meeting by handing over a printout of his Wikipedia page, Rive recalls. Someone had just inserted information about NV Energy’s lobbying on net metering in the governor’s biography and wrote—erroneously—that he could lift the cap to prevent solar companies from cutting jobs.“He was really upset, like fuming out of the ears,” Rive says. “He goes, ‘This is what you guys are doing. This is all you.’ … And I’m like, ‘Whoa. Hold on. Hold on. I’m here to talk about the solar future of the state. This is not us.’ ”“The governor did not express frustration,” Mari St. Martin, a spokeswoman for Sandoval, says of the meeting. But he “did bring up the questionable, petty tactics of some members of the rooftop solar industry, which included misleading online postings about the governor’s authority on the issue.”The debate dragged into May. SolarCity and the other installers needed a resolution. Only the state legislature could lift the cap, and the session was scheduled to end on June 1. After that, lawmakers wouldn’t convene for a regular session again until 2017. NV Energy, SolarCity, and other solar companies agreed to legislation that eliminated the cap. But it also required the utilities commission to study net-metering rates and eliminate any unreasonable shifting of costs to other customers. It set a Dec. 31 deadline for officials to review and approve new rates that the utility would submit. “We literally had a gun against our head to support it,” Rive says.NV Energy made its case to the utilities commission in late July, kicking off a five-month process that culminated with the December decision. Staff spent hundreds of hours requesting data and reviewing information. There were four days of hearings. Nowhere in all this, Rive says, was there any hint of changing rates for people who had already gone solar.Ultimately, the commission decided that everyone who put panels on their roofs should be treated the same. It also found that small commercial and residential net-metering customers were getting more than $16 million in subsidies a year from other people. To fix that, the commissioners agreed on New Year’s Eve to two rate increases and one decrease. A residential solar customer in southern Nevada, for instance, would see her monthly service charge gradually step up in annual increments from $12.75 to $38.51 in 2020. The amount she got paid for the electricity she produced would plunge by about 75 percent during the same period. She’d also get a slightly cheaper rate on the energy she drew from the grid.NV Energy tried to explain the changes by posting sample bills on its website. A southern Nevada homeowner called Jane Doe residing at (the wishfully named) 1234 Happy Dr. in Las Vegas, for instance, would end up paying $94.64 for her January bill vs. $84.66 under the old rates. NV Energy’s sample bills also account for only the first year of changes the commission approved. SolarCity’s pricing undercut NV Energy by just a little bit in Nevada before the new rates, Rive says. So he knew immediately that he could no longer do business in the state.A day after the ruling, Rive announced that SolarCity would cease sales in Nevada. Later, he said the company would have to dismiss 550 workers in the state. Sunrun and other solar companies followed suit. SolarCity still employs more than a thousand people in Las Vegas at its call center, but they mostly serve other states.Throughout the process, says Kevin Geraghty, NV Energy’s vice president for energy supply, he’d been frustrated by how the solar industry has tried “to influence what is a technical, financial analysis with emotion.” If you go solar, he adds, “you have to pay your fair share” for the grid. He says rooftop solar customers will continue to enjoy “substantial” savings on their utility bills. A homeowner’s payback on a rooftop system ultimately depends on the trajectory for NV Energy’s rates, he says. Recently, the utility has managed to cut them several times.Geraghty blames SolarCity for confusing customers. “That’s what they did in Nevada,” he says. “They’ve done it everywhere they’ve been.” The commission came out with a ruling that the solar companies didn’t like because “they didn’t challenge the facts and figures,” Geraghty says. “They rolled out the same tired, generic, rooftop solar arguments. And in the face of facts and information, they failed.”“NVE is wrong—their data was flawed, and everyone except the commission recognized this,” The power struggle in Nevada is hardly unique. Solar is booming in the U.S., in part because of a stunning drop in the price of panels. Adjusting for inflation, it cost $96 per watt for a solar module in the mid-1970s. Process improvements and a huge boost in production have brought that figure down 99 percent, to 68¢ per watt today, according to data from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Leasing from companies such as SolarCity has only sped up adoption. And a multiyear extension of the 30 percent federal solar tax credit in December has also helped.In just a decade, solar has gone from an enviro’s dream to a serious lobby that will be fighting these kinds of battles nationwide for years. More than half of U.S. states werestudying or changing their net-metering policies in the third quarter of 2015, according to the North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center. Just about everywhere solar companies go, the industry has stirred up popular support, often with help from celebrities. On Jan. 24 a pro-solar group arranged for musicians Michael Franti, Bob Weir, and Sammy Hagar to play a free, acoustic concert in San Francisco.Power companies may not be winning any popularity contests, but they’re developing their own renewable energy to keep up with changing attitudes and to meet state mandates. In North Carolina, Duke Energy is spending $900 million on solar. Buffett’s company had committed $15 billion across all its operations through 2014 to all types of renewable energy. Last year it pledged to double that as part of an Obama administration climate pledge. Much of this money has gone to its Iowa utility, MidAmerican Energy, which can generate about 30 percent of its power from wind turbines.Buffett’s company has also bought renewable energy through long-term contracts. Last year, NV Energy signed up to purchase power from a giant First Solar installation outside Las Vegas for $38.70 per megawatt-hour. Analysts said at the time that it was one of the cheapest rates on record. Commissioners cited projects like that for why it made no sense to continue encouraging net metering in Nevada. If the goal is to put more solar on the grid, it’d be far cheaper for NV Energy to procure it.This, of course, is of little consolation for the Nevadans who’ve already blanketed their roofs with solar panels. The public outcry seems to have registered with NV Energy. On Jan. 25 it said it would ask the commission to allow existing net-metering customers to stick with the old system for two decades in some instances. “A fair, stable, and predictable cost environment is important to all our customers,” Paul Caudill, the utility’s president, said in a statement. The commission will soon rehear that portion of the case.Even if the utility’s proposal is accepted, it may not go far enough for the solar industry. The December decision could be challenged in court—or taken straight to voters. SolarCity and other groups are trying to get the issue on the November ballot.Caught in limbo are people such as Dale Collier. The day after the commission hearing, he showed off a 56-panel system on his home in the Las Vegas suburb of Henderson. It cost him about $48,000 to install in 2011. SolarCity hadn’t yet set up shop in Nevada, so he paid for it by refinancing his house. The system took his NV Energy bill down to about $80 a month from the $330 it used to average, he says. One year, he got a $1,355 check from NV Energy because his solar power was helping the utility meet its renewable energy requirements. “It was the smartest thing I’d ever done,” he says. “Now, it’s the stupidest thing I’ve ever done.”Collier had planned to retire from his job flying small cargo planes. But he doesn’t want to stop working until he has a better handle on his monthly bills from Buffett’s utility. “If it goes totally haywire, I’m going to look at batteries,” he says. “I’d love to just go off the grid totally, and tell them to f--- off.”—With Mark Chediak and Chris MartinWarren Buffett: 48 Empowering Lessons from Warren Buffet for Life Changing Success in Investing, Business and Life (Warren Buffett book, warren buffett way, warren buffett biography) by Anthony Clark Tap Dancing to Work: Warren Buffett on Practically Everything, 1966-2013 by Carol J. LoomisBuy new: $12.66 / Used from: $1.97Usually ships in 24 hours
Дорога в будущее, где доминирует «чистая энергия» — выработанная без вреда для окружающей среды — никогда не была и вряд ли когда-то будет гладкой. Не проходит, кажется, года, чтобы не обнаружилось очередное препятствие. Головной болью последних двух лет были государственные субсидии: они щедро выделялись развитыми странами, сильно поспособствовали становлению домашней генерации, но должны теперь резко […]
SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) announced that it has been compelled to cut over 550 jobs and closed its one month-old West Las Vegas training center in Nevada.
RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) — The company that lets you compare air fares and translate foreign languages online wants to make it easier to weigh the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on household rooftops. Google is rolling out a new online service that quickly tallies up considerations of going solar and whether homeowners should consider buying or leasing photovoltaic panels costing thousands of dollars. Google's Project Sunroof combines the eye-in-the-sky images behind Google Earth with calculations on how much shade trees cast over a rooftop, data on local weather patterns, industry pricing and available subsidies to arrive at its bottom line. The service expanded in December to analyze properties in the Raleigh area, as well as 15 other metro areas in Arizona, Nevada, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, and Colorado. Interested potential customers are referred to solar-panel installers for further follow-up, cutting their marketing costs, said Carl Elkin, the senior software engineer behind the service. "We at Google believe in solar energy. The solar industry needs our help," he said. Google has invested more than $1 billion in recent years into solar energy, including $300 million earlier this year into a fund that finances residential rooftop projects installed by SolarCity Corp. Google invested $280 million in the publicly traded company in 2011. Project Sunroof launched this summer in San Francisco and Fresno, California, and Boston, where Elkin works. The metro areas were picked based on several criteria, including Google's available satellite imagery and local market conditions including government incentives, Elkin said. Google's proposition is a faster, simpler way of sizing up possible pros and cons of solar than calling out someone for a site evaluation or using the more complex calculator offered by the U.S. Energy Department. An Associated Press reporter who plugged in his Raleigh home address was informed that installing solar panels would likely be a money-loser based on the amount of usable annual rooftop sunlight, shading from surrounding pine trees, and current household power use. But if the reporter chose to pursue the idea further, buying rather than leasing or a loan would be the better deal. Google's increased involvement in solar comes as some states begin to re-evaluate policies that have helped stimulate the rapid growth in turning the sun into electricity. All but a handful of states have laws allowing what's called "net metering" for homes or businesses — basically selling power from rooftop cells they don't use themselves, usually to the local electric utility, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures. In December, Mississippi became the 46th state to adopt broad rules promoting solar power. In Texas and some of the remaining states, individual utilities may offer similar solar-purchase options, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association, a national trade group. Solar accounts for about 1 percent of the country's total reported electricity generation, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. About two-thirds of that is from utility-scale solar arrays that are often spread across rural tracts. But as many as two dozen states are considering changes that would reduce the incentives for solar customers under the theory they too should pay for the broader power grid. Nevada utilities regulators last week adopted a policy to reduce by 75 percent over five years the amount Las Vegas-area electric company NV Energy pays customers for extra power their solar panels produce. The change means rooftop solar customers will pay more of the costs now shifted to non-solar customers to maintain the utility's transmission lines and power generation. ___ Follow Emery P. Dalesio at http://twitter.com/emerydalesio. His work can be found athttp://bigstory.ap.org/content/emery-p-dalesio -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
Interesting news from Nevada: the state now has solar feed in tariffs on a rational economic structure. It’s still not all the way there but the structure is now sensible: and this is the way that all such tariffs will end up to. Simply because it’s the only rational way, economically, to do it. Instead […]
On Wednesday, Nevada’s Public Utility Commission (PUC) radically revised the state’s net-energy metering (NEM) rules, which determine the price utilities pay for electricity supplied by customer-sited solar panels to utilities. Under the revised NEM rules, utilities will pay significantly less for electricity purchased from customers with rooftop solar panels than they [...]
SolarCity Corp. (SCTY) has released a statement that it will stop operating in Nevada if the state Public Utilities Commission's ("PUC") proposed decision on rooftop solar is passed.
SunPower Corp. (SPWR) has started construction of Boulder Solar, a 100-megawatt (MW) AC solar power plant in the Eldorado Valley of Boulder City, NV.
I love the Wall Street Journal, I really do. I read it every day, all the sections. It's really the only "national" newspaper we have that isn't a joke. The New York Times is still too local and doesn't have enough business news, plus it wears its politics not only on its sleeve, but on both sleeves and on its shirtfront as well. USA Today qualifies in the "joke" category. The Washington Post is a mere ghost of its former self. And I read the Wall Street Journal because by and large the articles are pretty factual and don't seem biased, at least on the surface on the surface. But every so often, the Journal just can't help itself, and it has to publish something really nutty about energy. For some reason they hate renewable energy, and continue to ignore facts and data and trends that I can easily find just by reading a couple of free digital newsletters. Hey, these guys are professionals, they should be better at this than I am. I just sit here north of San Diego, mostly looking through the palm trees and watching the pelicans fly over the ocean. An example: on September 22, the Journal published an article entitled "The Biggest Misconceptions People Have About Renewable Energy." The article is made up of comments by experts, with opinions all over the map. The panel was assembled by John Hofmeister, former president of Shell Oil Co, whose entry for biggest misconception is that if you're under 40, you're too stupid or naive or misinformed -- or maybe even lazy; get out of your parents basement and get a job! -- to understand the following not-very-difficult facts. His version of the facts is "renewable energy is intermittent, small scale, too costly and capital intensive to be commercial." And another of the assembled experts, Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, contributes two sentences as her view of "biggest misconception." The second sentence is "Solar power only works when the sun is shining and wind-generated power only works when the wind is blowing; it's not a constant energy source." Who does her syntax? Doesn't she mean "they're not a constant energy source?" And who exactly is it that has the conception that the sun shines at night and the wind blows all the time? Probably not even the most primitive tribe in the most unreached portion of the Amazon or Papua New Guinea. As for Mr. Hofmeister, given that my company constructed an $800 milllion 256 MW solar plant on 2000 acres of land in El Centro, California, and is selling that power at a competitive price to San Diego Gas & Electric, it's hard to see why he says that renewables are "small scale." Has he never driven past wind farms on the way from LA to Palm Springs? Or even just flown over west Texas and looked down? It's true that there is no single renewable project yet to rival Shell's attempt to drill for oil in the Arctic, which press reports indicate was a failed $7 billion expenditure on one well, now abandoned and written off. This extravagant waste of his shareholders' money may not qualify him as an oil expert, let alone an expert on renewable energy. There are many, many reports that indicate that Mr. Hofmeister and other critics are a bit off the mark on the issue of cost, not just of their own arctic fantasies, but of renewables in general. And how they compare against traditional power sources -- his concern about not being "commercial." Remember Three Mile Island? The unfortunate Pennsylvania location in 1979 of what is still the most consequential nuclear accident in US history, although the Russians and the Japanese have since then seized the radioactive trophy for worst global nuclear meltdown from us. The remaining unit of the two unit plant, the unit that was not damaged in the accident and then cleaned up and shut down, is now facing competition in the marketplace from renewables and natural gas. In fact, its owner, Exelon, announced that the plant had failed to win a bid in a recent auction and that it might well need to be shut down. On the same day another utility, Xcel Energy which owns plants in the Midwest and Colorado, stated that it was moving more quickly to more wind and solar power and less coal in its generating mix in Minnesota than it had originally planned. I have never been to Minnesota but I doubt that it is a solar mecca, although I am ready to stipulate that the wind blows there. The Xcel move was characterized by company officials as "really a business decision about what we think is right for the future." Let us assume that "business decisions" don't generally favor purchasing higher cost inputs compared to lower cost one's for your principal product. Xcel and Exelon are not alone. Another traditional, large utility, Entergy, announced recently that it will shut down its Pilgrim nuclear plant in Massachusetts, and is considering the same fate for it Fitzpatrick nuclear plant in New York. In both cases the culprit is competitive wholesale power prices. There is little doubt that the continuing slide in solar panel prices has begun to convince even the doubters that they should relook at their generation plans. A recent report from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory entitled "Utility Scale Solar 2014" concluded that the wholesale price of electricity from these large scale plants was now five cents per KWh, a "record low." Project construction costs have gone down dramatically in the last ten years, and conversion efficiencies, and thus capacity factors have increased. The result is dramatically lower prices for solar kwh. And if you don't believe "studies" by academics under government contract, then here are real examples: in July, NV Energy in Nevada announced two long-term contracts with reputable, credit-worthy solar companies, one with SunPower for 4.6 cents/Kwh and one with First Solar for 3.87 cents/Kwh. Developers of solar plants who I know well indicate that they're bidding less than four cents in auctions -- and losing. Bear in mind that Warren Buffet owns NV Energy, and he is not generally known as a left-wing renewables nut. Probably the most interesting recent "confession" from a utility comes from the Xcel CEO who in an all-source procurement selected 2.5 cent wind generated electricity over gas plant electricity for 3.2 cents. And gas is trading at Henry Hub for October have been around $2.38 per mmbtu. So why does the Wall Street Journal run an article in which the subhead reads "Bill Gates recently noted that the cost of decarbonization using today's technology is 'beyond astronomical.'"? Why indeed, I asked myself. Then in reading the article it turns out that the Journal was taking from another article, this one in the Financial Times, and very selectively quoting Mr. Gates. The FT article was titled "Gates to double renewable energy investments." Not quite what the Journal carelessly implied. Bad journalism and egregious taking quotes out of context -- we expect better of the Journal. In fairness, one should point out that the editors of the Journal did finally run a balanced and accurate article on renewables, perhaps with gritted teeth, but run it they did. It was written by one of their staffers, Keith Johnson, and was entitled "Six Myths About Renewable Energy" and took on the "too expensive" and "too small to matter" shibboleths accurately and with real data. It also debunked the unfortunate "millions of green jobs" myth, about which the renewable industry itself has not been honest. This article was nicely done, up to date and generally accurate, and I do hope that Mr. Johnson still has his job at the newspaper. RF Hemphill is a former CEO of a multi-billion dollar global electric power and distribution company and is the author of Stories From The Middle Seat: The Four-Million-Mile Journey to Building a Billion Dollar International Business. -- This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.
AP Photo/Al Goldis, FILE In a highly competitive market, firms stand to lose everything by making unnecessary or unprofitable investments, but that may not be the case when it comes to some regulated utilities. Warren Buffet-owned NV Energy is in the midst of a regulatory approval process with the Nevada Public [...]
Warren Buffet is generally regarded as something of a demi-god in investing circles. Most of the praise comes for his stock picking abilities though, rather than for his ability to select good managers at good companies and give them the freedom to run those firms well. That acumen is a critical component of Berkshire’s success, as one of Buffet’s portfolio companies recently demonstrated. Nevada utility company NV Energy is ideally positioned to benefit from solar power. Nevada is one of those states with a lot of sun, a lot of land,…
The air conditioners have spoken: EcoFactor looks like the winner. EcoFactor has filed a report with the Nevada Public Utilities Commission showing that in 2013, the company’s smart thermostat and home energy management platform reduced air conditioning usage by 11 percent in 2013 through a program with NV Energy. On average, [...]