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SEPA Announces Finalists For 2016 Solar Power Players Awards

The Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA) has announced the finalists for its 2016 Solar Power Player Awards, with the winners to be honored at special event Sept. 13, at Solar Power International (SPI) in Las Vegas. The awards recognize the innovative and leading role U.S. utilities and their partners in the solar industry are playing in the growth of smart solar programs that expand consumer access to clean energy and provide replicable models for other companies to follow.

Finalists in four categories were chosen from dozens of nominations received from utilities and partnering organizations across the country. Winners will be announced Aug. 30, in advance of the Sept. 13 awards luncheon at SPI.

  • Investor-owned utility of the year finalists: Avista Utilities, Washington State; Pepco Holdings, District of Columbia.; Southern California Edison, California.
  • Public power utility of the year finalists: CPS Energy, Texas; Guam Power Authority, Guam; and Village of Minster, Ohio.
  • Electric cooperative of the year finalists: BARC Electric Cooperative, Virginia; Green Power EMC, Georgia
  • Innovative partner of the year finalists: Clean Energy Collective, Colorado; EnergySage, Massachusetts; PowerFin Partners, Texas

The finalists were reviewed, and winners chosen, by a panel of energy industry executives and experts, including representatives of some 2015 winners.

Paula Mints, Founder and Chief Market Research Analyst at SPV Market Research, who has served on the judges panel for the past three years, said narrowing the field “is always a tough and gratifying job. But this year in particular, the high quality of the submissions made choosing the best among them almost impossible. Each project represented the best example of utilities and the solar industry working together as true partners.”

“As solar and other distributed technologies become increasingly sophisticated, utilities are also shifting their internal cultures to promote the kinds of innovative projects and programs we’re seeing among this year’s award finalists,” added Julia Hamm, SEPA President and CEO. “And that shift toward innovation encourages other utilities to study these models and move forward with their own programs, producing benefits for customers and the grid.”

SEPA Solar Power Player Awards 2016 finalists

The Smart Electric Power Alliance has announced finalists for its 2016 Solar Power Player Awards in four categories. Winners will be announced Aug. 30 and honored at a special luncheon Sept. 13 at Solar Power International in Las Vegas.

Investor-owned utility of the year

Avista Utilities: Beginning in 2015, Avista launched a three-pronged solar strategy, including a community solar program, a solar estimator web portal for customers considering a rooftop installation, and the Buck-a-Block solar grant program to help schools and nonprofits go solar.

Pepco Holdings: With the help of a grant from the Department of Energy SunShot program, Pepco worked with a number of industry partners to develop advanced tools for increasing the amount of solar utilities can integrate on distribution circuits, while maintaining system reliability.

Southern California Edison (SCE): In one year, SCE cut its approval time for rooftop solar installations from an average of 73 days in 2014 to 2 ½ days in 2015, a 96-percent reduction.

Public power utility of the year

CPS Energy: The CPS Simply Solar program offers two options for the utility’s customers to go solar — community solar and a rooftop solar leasing program with no upfront costs that provides customers with a bill credit.

Guam Power Authority (GPA): GPA is aggressively standing up solar on Guam, most recently partnering with the U.S. Navy, its largest customer, on a plan to site 45 megawatts (MW) of solar on military property.

Village of Minster: This small Ohio town — population 2,850 — has built a 4.2-MW solar plant with 7 MW of storage, creating a project that provides four revenue streams to the village and its project partner.

Electric cooperative of the year

BARC Electric Cooperative: This rural cooperative, serving three counties in northwest Virginia, is developing the first — and already fully subscribed — community solar project in its state. The project will include a solar classroom providing educational opportunities for local schools.

Green Power EMC: Green Power helped 38 electric cooperatives across the state of Georgia to implement a comprehensive solar strategy, increasing solar capacity commitments from 7.5 MW to more than 240 MW. It also provided solar training to more than 1,500 utility staff members.

Innovative partner of the year

Clean Energy Collective (CEC): CEC has been instrumental in the spread of community solar projects across the U.S., with a particular focus on partnering with utilities, offering a turnkey model that helps utilities maintain revenue and customer relations.

EnergySage: National Grid leveraged and co-branded EnergySage’s Solar Marketplace website to launch its SolarWise Rhode Island program, which allows the utility’s customers to receive and compare competitive quotes from pre­screened installers in their area.

PowerFin: In partnership with CPS Energy, PowerFin developed the SolarHost program, which provides utility customers a no-money-down option for hosting solar on their rooftops. All power generated from the installations goes to CPS, while hosting customers receive a substantial bill credit.

SEPA media contact:
K Kaufmann
[email protected]

Awards luncheon contact:
Corinne St. Laurent
[email protected]