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2017 Kicks Off with New Research, Partners and Web Improvements

In 2016, the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) expanded the scope of its research, with a robust list of reports and other papers, encompassing a range of topics related to distributed energy resources (DERs).  Now we are intent on building on that foundation in 2017, beginning with a new paper on proactive solutions to reduce curtailment risk (see the blog summary).

Other new releases set for the first quarter of the year include an asset manager’s guide for solar and energy storage and the first two member briefs of 2017 focusing on smart thermostats and solar for low-income communities. More details are below.

SEPA’s Utility Solar Database (USD) is getting a major revamp this year — with details still to come. But one of these changes will come from a new partnership with data research firm RateAcuity, through which our members will be able to access the latest utility rate information. This data will allow our members to easily understand and compare different components of utilities’ rate schedules. Be on the lookout for more rate analytics information in the future from that partnership.

Finally, if you are with a utility, we urge you and your colleagues to participate in our annual utility survey, which is accepting data through March 3. We have expanded the survey this year to include solar, advanced metering infrastructure, energy storage, and demand response. We will publish the results of the surveys beginning in July. The Top 10 utilities in each category will also be recognized at SEPA’s Utility Conference in April.

Please also check out our new and improved website, which includes a SEPA Knowledge web page, which is specifically designed to allow users to more easily and quickly search our research products, blogs, webinars, and the USD.

As always, we look forward to your feedback and questions. Please contact me anytime at emyers@sepapower.org.

Reports

Proactive Solutions to Curtailment Risk: Identifying new contract structures for utility-scale renewables

This report, written in conjunction with ScottMadden, tackles the problem of utility-scale project curtailment with a new approach to power purchase agreements, aimed at allocating risk evenly between developers, utilities and customers — and turning distributed generation from “must-take” to dispatchable power. With an eye to achieving the state’s goal of 100-percent renewable generation by 2045, PPA models in the report seek to incentivize dispatchability, preserve system flexibility and maximize value for consumers.

Effective Asset Management for Solar and Energy Storage

Our first partnership product with Garnet3 Consulting, which specializes in management of renewable energy projects, will be an online slide-deck that provides information on different elements of solar and energy storage asset management. It explains common project needs that require the leveraging of sensible asset management, and offers suggestion on what “good” (as opposed to “marginal”) asset management may look like. The information also details what factors of PV operation may influence solar asset health, and how asset managers play a role to mitigate associated risks.

Member Briefs

Are You Smarter Than A Thermostat?

Twenty-five years ago, the most advanced demand response air conditioning cycling programs
would broadcast either an “off” or “on” signal to homes, giving them a monthly bill credit for participating.  However, the advent of the smart thermostat has revolutionized these AC programs’ effectiveness, using home-by-home personalization.  A combination of program design, consumers’ in-program historical behavior, the homes’ thermal characteristics, and new compensation methods allow more predictable and effective energy savings and measurable data, at lower costs.

Low-Income Solar

Solar programs aimed at low-income communities have historically been difficult to implement at scale — think roof-by-roof Habitat for Humanity projects.  However, lower solar costs and new design ideas have brought fresh energy to this underserved and important market segment. This member brief explores the various low-income solar program models and proposes novel designs that allow a large-scale PV system to be dedicated to a low-income customer segment while reducing utility bill subsidization at the same time.

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