All posts tagged 'Connecticut'

CT’s Field of Dreams: If We Build It, Electric Vehicles Will Come to the State

September 2, 2010 08:39
A panel of Connecticut’s energy, environmental, transportation and economic development leaders reached consensus this week on a road map for supporting the next generation of plug in electric vehicles. The initiatives identified in the report, state officials said, promise to create incentives for electric car consumers and send clear signals to the automobile industry and trade allies that Connecticut should be high on the deployment list for the next generation of clean cars.  Officials also promised that the efforts would help the state to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and promote energy independence and security. The Electric Vehicles Infrastructure Council, which was formed last November in response to an executive order issued by Gov. M. Jodi Rell, issued its Final Report Wednesday, identifying strategic priorities intended to pave the way for improvements like a network of public and in-home charging stations and legislative priorities that would offer tax incentives to help consumers avoid sticker shock. Council members emphasized in the final report that Connecticut’s goal is to gain early access to the first wave of mass-produced electric cars, vehicles promising to promote green jobs and smart grid features while reducing carbon dioxide, a key contributor to global climate change. Two automobile manufacturers with next generation electric cars in development, General Motors and Nissan, have already informed the state government that, especially given the interest and industry support demonstrated by the work of the Council, they plan to include Connecticut in their first wave of product roll-outs this fall.  While welcome news, that also puts pressure on the state’s electric utility industry, building officials, transportation officials, utility regulators and others to work together to develop public electric vehicle charging stations and facilitate the deployment of affordable home charging stations so that electric vehicles can charge in garages overnight. Only 24 Connecticut motorists have registered plug-in electric vehicles in the state so far, but the Council’s Final Report sets a goal of 25,000 by 2020.  To achieve that goal, officials agreed they need to work together to streamline regulatory and permitting processes, encouraging overnight charging with favorable “time-of-use” electric rates, and build public-private partnerships to develop a network of convenient charging stations across the state to ease so-called “range anxiety,” the fear that a motorist might not be able to find charging stations on the road.  Rapid installation of home charging stations is also critical, officials said, to ensure that electric vehicle buyers can get the home equipment installed promptly after purchasing the new vehicles from auto dealer showrooms. The Council concluded that addressing these infrastructure concerns and enacting tax incentives and other laws that streamline approvals for electric vehicles will induce consumer interest in buying the vehicles and attract the industry to prioritize the upcoming product releases in Connecticut. Many of the more than 30 recommendations of the Council are underway already, as officials form implementation teams to begin to tackle the challenges of the industry. Author’s Note: The author is a member of the Council, having been appointed by Gov. Rell to serve as a representative from the private sector member of the electric energy industry.  All documents and presentations assembled by the Council can be viewed by copying the following URL into your browser:

Climate Change | Green Marketing | Renewable Energy

Top 10 List for Solar as Connecticut Considers Solar Strategy

January 21, 2010 05:44
As the legislative season heats up again in Connecticut, with a session scheduled to commence in early February, some energy industry lawyers, policymakers and leading Legislators themselves have been talking over the last few weeks about what Connecticut should do to improve the deployment of renewables generally and solar in particular.  There seems to be more recognition that, for Connecticut to achieve its broad greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies and climate change mitigation goals, more needs to be done to promote investment in renewables in the state and, if green jobs can be created along the way, all the better. A question that keeps coming up in Connecticut is how New Jersey, which has a similar climate and is not even in the top-ten list among states with respect to the intensity of sunshine, could achieve status as the state with the second largest quantity of installed solar photovoltaic capacity, second only to California.  If you look at per-square-mile or per-capita statistics, New Jersey can even boast that it has the most installed solar projects in the U.S. So what has New Jersey done to promote solar PV? After implementing one of the more aggressive renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in the country as part of the Energy Master Plan, with its mandate that 22.5% of the energy supply be generated from renewable sources by 2021, the NJ RPS also contains a solar “carve out” of 2.12% by 2021.  This is the amount of energy supply required to come from solar PV.  The state also decided to wean itself from the grant-based program except for residential and small commercial on-site solar P/V installers, because the available grant funds alone would not support the growth needed to achieve the RPS and solar carve-out.  And so, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities adopted a rule that instituted a massive increase in the “alternative compliance payment,” or ACP, for solar from $350 (the amount for other renewables) to initially $711 per megawatt hour.  This is the amount that has to be paid into the fund if load-serving entities do not have enough solar energy in their portfolios.  And hence, the solar renewable energy certificate, or SREC, was given a massive increase in valuation.  Since SRECs typically trade at 75% to 80% of the ACP, market values for SRECs rose to the $600 to $650 range. Especially when these state incentives are combined with the federal renewable energy investment tax credit and accelerated depreciation allowed, the market signals sent in New Jersey to the solar industry have attracted business investment on a grand scale, created green jobs and market-based renewable investments along the way. In my view, Connecticut needs to take similar steps.  The following strategies would help Connecticut facilitate deployment of solar photovoltaic installations in a market-based approach that reduces the reliance on direct governmental grants, promote the creation of green jobs, and attract private capital investments.  Here’s my Top-10 List: 1.      Create a Solar PV Carve-out within the Class I RPS to mandate separate solar RPS. 2.      Create separately-recognized solar renewable energy certificates, or SRECs. 3.      Substantially increase the alternative compliance payment amount for solar PV. 4.      Allow electric distribution companys (EDCs) to conduct auctions or otherwise conduct a process to acquire long-term SREC contracts (+/- 15 years), but mandate transparent pricing to send market signals in real time. 5.      Allow EDCs and capacity and peaking generation contractors to install on-site solar (with reasonable size limits to protect viability of non-utility market for projects) and recover project costs through rate base.  (For private wholesale generation sites, this can be done through a cost of service contract for differences with an EDC.) 6.      Establish one-stop-shopping with the Connecticut Department of Public Utility Control or other capable agency to certify completion and verify qualifying amounts of SRECs generated by a solar project installed in Connecticut with transparent market prices to facilitate open trading of SRECs. 7.      Authorize Connecticut to negotiate a compact or memorandum of understanding  with New Jersey and other states with similar programs to allow for the cross-border recognition and free trade of SRECs (at least through other states that comprise the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI) or Northeast regional transmission organizations (i.e., ISO New England, ISO-NY, and PJM) with comparable GIS tracking systems). 8.      Adjust real and personal property tax law to ensure that solar improvements are not taxed. 9.      Revise zoning law to define solar as a beneficial use such that solar projects cannot be denied without substantial evidence in a written record finding that a solar project is not a beneficial use in a specific case.  Consider establishing exclusive jurisdiction for larger scale solar PV projects with the Connecticut Siting Council for projects equal to or greater than 1MW to expedite siting by petition for declaratory ruling. 10.  Allow for unlimited size of net metered solar projects behind customer meters provided that system size cannot be greater than customer’s on-site electricity requirements, subject to standard interconnection agreement with EDC following EDC confirmation of no adverse impact on distribution system.  Please write in on this blog and let me know what would be on your wish list to help facilitate the deployment of solar and other renewables in Connecticut.

Climate Change | Solar Energy


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