News Article | April 26, 2017
Clearing a legal hurdle that may affect other Virginia school systems, Arlington Public Schools has created a new type of purchasing authority so it may enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) for solar power. Arlington’s School Board created that authority by amending its purchasing resolution at its April 20, 2017 meeting, by unanimous vote. The school system staff plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for solar power in October, and complete its first PPA project by September 2018, according to a draft timetable. Arlington officials concluded that the previous version of its purchasing resolution, which satisfied the requirements of the Virginia Public Procurement Act, did not permit procuring construction or capital projects through “alternate methods” such as power purchase agreements (PPAs). Arlington Public Schools (APS) officials determined that such alternate methods of procurement must meet the requirements of Virginia’s Public-Private Educational Facilities and Infrastructure Act of 2002 (PPEA). Specifically, according to the approved amendment, “Section 56-575.16 of the PPEA requires that APS may not consider any Unsolicited PPEA Proposal nor solicit PPEA Bids or Proposals for a Qualifying Project until APS has adopted and made publicly available guidelines that are sufficient to enable APS to comply with the PPEA. These Guidelines are adopted by the [School] Board for the purpose of satisfying that requirement.” APS purchasing office staff and legal counsel prepared the proposed amendment, modeling it on procedures outlined in the PPEA. The new provisions, now incorporated in the APS Purchasing Resolution, call for competitive bidding on any PPA project, and require School Board approval before any PPA agreement is signed. “This is a really big deal for us,” said school board member Barbara Kanninen. “We are opening up the opportunity to have solar power for Arlington Public Schools. That’s really forward thinking, it’s smart energy use and I’m fully supportive of this.” School board member James Lander noted the opportunity “to walk the walk that we talk when we talk about being a progressive environment, a forward-thinking community.” He added that solar on schools “will allow instructional opportunities for our students.” In public comments prior to the vote, Tim Whitehouse, executive director of Chesapeake Physicians for Social Responsibility, said that the group’s 150 members in Arlington “strongly support the effort of the Arlington School Board to enter into power purchase agreements for solar.” He added, “We’ve seen in schools where this happens, children get interested in renewable energy and the school systems develop programs that help educate the kids.” Will Driscoll (author of this article) of Arlington 350 noted that prices for installed commercial solar declined 20 percent in 2016, creating an opportunity for the school district to save money with solar. Noting that the school board must approve any PPA agreement before it may be signed, and could reject any agreement they find unsatisfactory, he said “we have nothing to lose, and much to gain.” The new provisions provide an opportunity for solar contractors to submit an unsolicited proposal to APS, along with a proposal review fee of $2,500. Any such proposal may prompt the school district to undertake a solar project, in which case the school district would solicit competing bids, in accordance with PPEA guidelines. The provisions call for APS to hire “qualified professionals” from outside the APS staff to review all solicited proposals. These professionals may include an architect, professional engineer, or certified public accountant. APS will also hold a public hearing prior to entering into any PPA agreement. To date, Arlington has installed a 497 kilowatt solar system on Discovery Elementary School and a 90 kilowatt system on Wakefield High School, both through outright purchase during the construction phase for each school. Will Driscoll is a writer and analyst. Previously he conducted environmental analyses for EPA, as a project manager for ICF Consulting. His publications include the book Nonproliferation Primer (MIT Press).
News Article | February 23, 2017
With today’s low solar prices, schools can save money by installing rooftop solar, and use the savings to improve education. Schools in three Virginia communities are leading the way, achieving net energy savings after commissioning 1.7 megawatts of solar systems in 2016. Student leadership, power purchase agreements, and one outright purchase helped make it happen. In Albemarle County, students helped drive a decision to install 1.1 megawatts of solar on six schools. Back in 2014, Sutherland Middle School students gave pro-solar testimony in Richmond at a hearing on Dominion Virginia Power’s resource plans. Meanwhile, students at Monticello High School wrote to the school board to make the case for solar. The school division last year added rooftop solar to these schools and four others, by entering a power purchase agreement (PPA) with solar developer Secure Futures in Staunton. The school division projects savings of at least $80,000 over the life of the 20-year PPA agreement, based on a projected annual increase of two percent in Dominion Virginia Power’s electricity rates. (Photos below.) Arlington’s new Discovery Elementary School is jam-packed with 497 kilowatts of solar panels. That much solar was possible under Virginia’s net metering law because the school is heated using electric-powered geothermal heat pumps—so the school can net meter not only its air conditioning and lighting load but also its electric heating load. The school district paid $1,369,500 for the solar system, funded through the same bond used to build the school. The cost will be paid off in 14 years, assuming a two percent annual increase in energy costs, and the solar panels should produce free electricity for many years after that. (That 14-year amortization is based on the bond’s interest rate of 2.63 percent and full-year 2016 energy cost avoidance of $101,000, increasing by two percent per year.) The school is designed as a net-zero-energy building, and ran at net-zero in 2016. (Photo below.) Lexington City Schools, which operates just three schools, added a 91.5 kW solar system to the Lylburn Downing Middle School. “No matter how big or how small a school division you are—and that translates into real life, no matter how big a corporation or how small—you make an impact on the environment” explained School Principal Jason White in a video interview with Washington and Lee University’s Rockbridge Report. Lexington School Superintendent Scott Jefferies added that the solar project “speaks beyond how much you can actually save financially—more so … that you’re actually trying to do something good for the environment.” Like Albemarle County, Lexington financed this solar system through a PPA with Secure Futures. Looking Ahead: To accelerate placement of cost-saving solar systems on schools—and to show our children that we care about their future—Virginia legislators could extend the right to enter into power purchase agreements (PPAs) beyond the current pilot program in the Dominion Virginia Power territory. The legislature could also allow customers to net meter more solar-generated electricity than they consume, because we need all the solar we can get, and because Dominion claims it has difficulty siting solar generation. And soon, legislators will need to increase the net metering limit, now fixed at one percent of total electricity consumption. Virginia can produce 32 percent of its electricity from rooftop solar, according to a National Renewable Energy Laboratories report. Virginia’s 2,093 public schools, with unshaded roofs ideal for low-cost commercial scale solar, represent a promising component of that potential. Our progress in 2016 moved us eight schools closer to that target. Will Driscoll is a writer and analyst. Previously he conducted environmental analyses for EPA, as a project manager for ICF Consulting. His publications include the book Nonproliferation Primer (MIT Press).
Sankovski A.,ICF Consulting |
Barbour W.,U.S. Environmental Protection Agency |
Pepper W.,ICF Consulting
Environmental Economics and Policy Studies | Year: 2014
This paper describes two mitigation scenarios leading to the stabilization of atmospheric CO2 concentrations at 550 and 750ppm. These mitigation scenarios are developed from the A2-ASF baseline scenario, which characterizes a regionalized world with continuous population growth (to about 15 billion in 2100), relatively slow technological progress, and high CO2 emissions reaching 28 Gt of carbon by 2100. It is argued here that large-scale GHG emission abatement measures needed to reach the agreed stabilization targets in such a world can be implemented only if negative impacts of global climate change become imminent and severe and opportunities for adaptation are limited. A single measure to reduce GHG emissions in the current analysis is a carbon tax on fossil fuels, the full amount of which is translated into an increase in corresponding fuel prices. This increase leads to an absolute reduction in fossil fuel use and a switch to non-fossil energy sources, such as nuclear energy and renewables. In order to reach the desired stabilization target, the 2100 total energy use has to be reduced to 50% of the baseline level for the 550ppm level and to 70% for the 750ppm level. At the regional level, the largest relative reductions are implemented in regions with relatively high per capita GDP growth and regions with a relatively low cost of renewable energy. © 2000, Springer Japan.
Hecht J.,ICF International |
Reid S.,ICF Consulting |
Chalak A.,American University of Beirut
Journal - American Water Works Association | Year: 2015
Advances in choice modeling allow for the approximation of the spread of preferences within a population and the estimation of individual-level preferences. These techniques translate preference estimates into information that is more useful from a managerial perspective. This study illustrates the application of such techniques to stated preference data collected for a water and sewage utility in the United Kingdom. Using a choice experiment, customers' willingness to pay for various water and sewage service improvements was estimated. Results showed a substantial willingness to pay for various private-good services (such as water and sewage services) and public-good environmental services (such as reduced greenhouse gas emissions). The customer population was segmented according to customer preferences, allowing for a description of the characteristics of each segment. Potential customer demand was forecasted for different packages of service improvements offered to customers at varying prices. The analysis thus addressed issues of customer acceptability and equity relating to the provision of service improvements. 2015 © American Water Works Association.
Ivanov C.,Power System Engineering Inc. |
Getachew L.,Power System Engineering Inc. |
Fenrick S.A.,Power System Engineering Inc. |
Vittetoe B.,ICF Consulting
Utilities Policy | Year: 2013
We examine the demand impact of a smart meter pilot conducted by Connexus Energy from 2008 until 2010. We focus on the amount of peak time energy use reduction, either through forgone usage or load shifting to off-peak times, as a result of enabling technologies in the form of in-home displays and smart thermostats. The in-home display allows the treatment group members to voluntarily alter their power use during "red alert" (critical peak) days. The smart thermostats also installed for the treatment group enable the utility to reduce AC usage of that group during red alert days by remotely turning up the temperature setting by 3 degrees Fahrenheit (°F) (i.e., a form of direct load control). We use hourly fixed effects models to examine peak time energy use changes in the summer of 2010. We find that treatment group members reduced their peak time energy use relative to the control group, which had no in-home displays or smart thermostats. Treatment group members who had the enabling technologies used, on average, 0.47 less kW, or 15% less energy, during peak hours on an average red alert day. © 2012 Elsevier Ltd.
News Article | November 23, 2015
A new series of reports commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Electricity Delivery and Energy Reliability through Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory's (Berkeley Lab) Electricity Markets and Policy Group will advance the discussion by examining issues related to electric industry regulation and utility business models. The unique point-counterpoint approach sharpens the debate on tradeoffs in achieving multiple objectives for the electric system, including reliability, affordability, cleaner resources and more flexibility. The reports in the Future Electric Utility Regulation series will each be written by different thought-leaders in the electric industry, while Berkeley Lab—which serves as technical editor and contributes to the report writing—manages the series. The first two reports were recently released. The first report, 'Electric Industry Structure and Regulatory Responses in a High Distributed Energy Resources Future,' discusses likely changes in electric industry structure and regulation in the year 2030. The authors, Steve Corneli of NRG and Steve Kihm of Seventhwave, develop new tools to examine the relationship between natural monopoly, competitive alternatives and regulatory responses considering both potential profitability and the social benefits of coordination. They extend the analysis to a world where distributed resources such as rooftop solar and storage are competitive with grid power in price and performance and describe two alternative (but not mutually exclusive) views of the future. The second report, 'Distribution Systems in a High Distributed Energy Resources Future: Planning, Market Design, Operation and Oversight,' covers distribution system planning and markets in such a future. The report offers a practical three-stage framework to guide the evolution of utility distribution systems with growth in distributed resources, lays out three possible models for future operation of distribution systems, and considers pros and cons of an independent distribution system operator versus the utility serving in that role. Authors are Paul De Martini of ICF Consulting and Lorenzo Kristov with the California ISO. Additional reports underway in the series, and expected publication dates, include: Explore further: NREL releases report on testing electric vehicles to optimize their performance with power grids