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The Nuts and Volts of Community Solar... USGBC Green Scene RJM Construction 701 North Washington Avenue February 26, 2015 Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA.

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Presentation on theme: "The Nuts and Volts of Community Solar... USGBC Green Scene RJM Construction 701 North Washington Avenue February 26, 2015 Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Nuts and Volts of Community Solar... USGBC Green Scene RJM Construction 701 North Washington Avenue February 26, 2015 Brian Ross, AICP, LEED GA

2 Community Solar is simple. 1.You buy a subscription in a solar installation. 2.The sun shines on the solar panels and electricity comes out. 3.The owner of the solar installation reports how much electricity came out. 4.The utility credits you as if the solar panels were on your roof and connected to your meter... What is “Community Solar”? 2

3 Questions? Time for Happy Hour?

4 Source: Bloomberg New Energy Finance $76.67/watt $0.67/watt The wholesale price of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels ($/watt) has dropped by 99% since Evolution of Solar Energy...

5 $0.67/watt The wholesale price of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels ($/watt) has dropped by 99% since More significantly, since 2007, the price has declined by 83% $4.00/watt

6 Source: Tracking the Sun VII Briefing, LBN Labs Evolution of Solar Energy... Cost decline of solar PV panels drives down installed costs for both rooftop and solar farm/gardens DOE estimates that rooftop installed costs will soon be low enough to create a self-sustaining solar energy market. However, there are still significant barriers to individuals and businesses being able to participate.

7 So, how does this work? Community solar allows people who can’t install their own solar energy system to install a “virtual” system. The solar installation is not at your building, but you benefit from it as if it were. Graphic credit: CERTs Guide to Community Solar

8 Who can participate... ? Any Xcel energy electric customer (residential, business, government, etc.). Customer is defined by an electric account within the same county or adjacent county as the solar installation A few co-ops also have community solar programs Does the utility own the solar energy system? Not in Xcel territory (yet). All systems are owned by third parties, although the benefits are passed on to you via your Xcel electric bill Other utilities that have programs do own the systems. What is it that I’m buying? Panels? Shares? You buy a “subscription” that entitles you to receive electricity from a solar “garden.” It’s really simple, here’s how it works... 8

9 Who am I buying from? What are “third parties”? Are they trustworthy? How do I get my electricity? A variety of players are involved in the development, management, and administration of a community solar garden... Okay, maybe it’s not quite that simple 9 Graphic credit: CERTs Guide to Community Solar

10 Developers – Acquire sites, bring financing, pull permits, get approvals Builders – Manage the construction process, put bricks and mortar on the ground Owners – Acquire the building after construction for investment return or use Property managers – Ensure the building and grounds are kept up to standards, manage cash flow, manage rental and re- rental process Renters – Sign leases to use the property for set periods of time with conditions that must be met Think of a CSG as a development 10

11 Developer – Acquire sites, bring financing, pull permits, get approvals Solar Installer – Manage the construction process, put panels and racks on the ground Site Owner – Provides the building or land on which the solar installation is developed Subscription Manager – Ensure the solar installation is managed over time, sell and buy subscriptions, track production, report production to utility Subscriber – Sign agreement that provides up to 25 years of solar electric production Think of a CSG as a development 11

12 CERTs - Community Solar Resources More Resources:

13 “Community Solar Gardens” (CSGs) Who thought of all this?

14 Community Solar Gardens? Community Solar Gardens (CSGs) grew out of a broader concept of “community solar” that has been around for 15 years or more The first CSG is credited with being developed in 2006 in Ellensburg, Washington, a 26 KW system. A number of states have passed CSG laws or related enabling legislation.

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16 Minnesota’s “Community Solar” juggernaut.... Minnesota’s CSG law is unique in that it is “uncapped.” After months of arguing about the interpretation and application of the law, the Xcel Energy tariff was opened in late December Xcel had over 420 MW of proposals in the first week If even half of these are developed, Minnesota will have more community solar than the rest of the nation combined. Minnesota Community Solar Law 16

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18 Xcel Energy CSG Program

19 Xcel must create a “community solar” tariff (MN Statutes 216B.1641) that would enable the financing of community solar systems Maximum CSG size is 1 MW, no fewer than 5 subscribers per CSG, smallest subscription is 200 watts. Must credit subscribers at “value of solar” or applicable retail rate Minnesota Community Solar Law 19

20 Xcel Energy Tariff on Assignment of Renewable Energy Credits By signing this Community Solar GardenSolar*Rewards Community Subscriber Agency Agreement and Consent Form, the Subscriber agrees to all of the following: 1. Assignment of Renewable Energy Credits (“RECs”), Energy and Capacity to Northern States Power Company... The Subscriber also agrees that the Community Solar Garden Operator has authority to assign all RECs associated with the photovoltaic energy system at the Community Solar Garden to Northern States Power Company, and that if the Community Solar Garden or a person or entity on its behalf has assigned the RECs to Northern States Power Company, then all RECs associated with the Subscriber’s share of the photovoltaic energy system at the Community Solar Garden shall belong to Northern States Power Company. To REC or not to REC... 20

21 Xcel Energy Tariff – Bill Credits for Subscribers To REC or not to REC... 21

22 Status of CSG Market Businesses and institutions are making significant CSG investments:  Several large Minnesota companies have recently made large commitments to solar via the new community solar garden program, including Ecolab’s commitment to power nearly 100% of its Minnesota electric needs through solar production (16 MW of solar capacity).  The Saint Paul Public Housing Authority issued an RFP in November for 16 hi-rise apartment buildings, three community centers, and its central administration building  A number of local governments are preparing RFPs for bids on CSG subscriber opportunities (but Trevor will tell you all about that... )


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