Posts made in March 2020

High Volume Interconnection Queues

March 20,2020

Mark D. Marini,
Secretary
Department of Public Utilities
One South Station
Boston, MA 02110

dpu.efiling@mass.gov
Kate.Tohme@mass.gov

D.P.U. 1955

Submitted by Doug Pope, President

Dear Secretary Marini:We appreciate the Department of Public Utilities exploring the use of working group sessions to engage developers, utilities and public policy stakeholders in deliberative discussions of how to facilitate installation of increasing levels of solar PV and energy storage to achieve GWSA goals in Massachusetts.Ina typical adjudicatedproceeding, our participation, if allowed as an intervener, would be difficult if not prohibitively expensive,and if through an industry association, diffused. We very much appreciate this working group format.

ISA In-Series Application -A Case Study:

Despite the often-public statements of amore progressive policy of Eversource towards renewables, the old policy of reviewing solar projects in series in the interconnection study process continues, even after working group discussions in DPU 19-55.

On or about August 14, 2018, SRE Energy filed a Standard Application to interconnect a 1 MW AC, 1.391 MW DC solar PV system at 4 Wildberry Way, Westport, MA, 02790. SRE was informed that there were 4-5 projects ahead of the 1 MW projecton Wildberry Way in the Impact Study queue and that the process could take 1.5 to 2 years to process the Impact Study,as Eversource was handlingImpact Studies in series,as opposed to in aggregate or in a parallel process as isthe practice with other utilities. Pope Energy is the originator of the project and the local developer on behalf of SRE Energy.

A Distributed Generationprofessional from Distributed Generation at Eversource has been working with an experienced Project Developerfrom SRE Energy relative as to the queue position status of this project. As of approximately twomonthsago, this project is third in the queue behind a 4.5 MW and a 2 MW project respectively. While the 1 MW Westport project does not require a transmission study, those projects ahead of this project do require transmission studies and,as Eversource policy dictates, the Wildberry Way project will not get started until the other projects have been studied in conjunction with the transmission study which will not be complete until December of 2020.

Eversource will study these projects in series and,if complete, hold the ISAs until the transmission study is complete.

As stated at the DPU 19-55 working session, I believe that the position of Eversource to conduct interconnection applications in series is against public policy. This is contrasted with Unitil and National Grid,who have approached developers as customers.Unitil has been a pleasure to do business with,as has National Grid,albeit they have had problems with growth and integrating solar into their system.To be clear, those management decisions and attendant growth pains have caused great financial risk todevelopers, but the use of economic power or “leverage”was never part of the problem.

Legislators, regulators at both DOER and the D.P.U. have often observed available capacity in both net metering and SMARTin Eversource territoryas evidence that there is ample capacity left in the solar programs. However, in the SMART program, due to the in-series,ISA study policyof Eversource,developers are unable to access that available capacity.As former Assistant Attorney General of Massachusetts, John Roddy has been known to say,“If it seems unfair, seems unjust, it is probably illegal.”

In Stat. 2016 c. 75 (11), the legislature directed DOER to “develop a statewide incentive program to encourage the continued development of solar renewable energy generating resources by residential, commercial, governmental and industrial electricity customers throughout the commonwealth.”

Does it seem reasonable to have a solar program seeking to encourage solar investment within Massachusetts and have those investors wait for twoyears or greater to know if those investments are financially feasible? Does it seem reasonable for landowners, farmers, corporations, non-profits and public entities to have a solar developer approach them for a solar project, a landorrooflease, a parking lot canopy project or a behind-the-meter applicationand have to wait twoyears and expect that proposal to be credible? Is this what was intendedby Stat. 2016 c. 75 (11), by all the revisions to the Green Communities Act, by Kain vs. MassDEP?

In both the 19-55 working group sessionsand for years at D.P.U. hearings, Eversource,in contrast to the other EDC’shas been “requesting direction from D.P.U.”

The direction from D.P.U. in guidance documents and eventual litigation of the19-55tariff,as well as within the Grid Mod and rate setting proceedings, should set clearprogram parameters for the EDCs and never let this kind of “leverage” currently exercised by Eversource intentionally delay the implementation of state policy.

This includes the D.P.U. setting performance standards in both guidance,tariffs and baseline assumptions at the TSRG. If ISO-NE accepts 2minutes or 30seconds as response times in certain equipment currently, then those are the timeframes that should form the basis for baseline assumptions. Yes, it may be advantageous for the grid to have different timeframes in the future. But the EDCs should not have the ability to unilaterally cause delay by adopting unreasonable standards through a process where “the Utilities have the final decision” within the TSRG.

Planning Interconnections for Solar and Other DER Through 2030

At the working session, I inquired if the transmission studies being conducted by each respective utility were studying a static condition, just those whose applications have been received, or greater interconnection requirements based upon legislation, court cases and regulations already in place.The answer from all of the utilities was a static condition, just those applications received.

At some point the D.P.U., DOER, and DEP, together as departments under EOEEA,need to internalize the obligations, including both the cost and the benefitsof achieving net zero energy emissions by 2050. It would appear that the 2050 Roadmap process currently under consideration by EOEEA is perhaps the start of this process.

The 2020 Regional Electricity Outlook report byISO-NEhas been the most dynamic report of its kind from this organization,describing the transition to renewables by the New England states. True to form,ISO-NEdoes not forecast DER penetrations beyond contracted or publicly stated programs. ISO-NE looks to the states to determine the amount of DER that is to be installed to meet that state’s renewable energy goals.

Why would the EDCs only be studying the static condition of existing interconnection applications when the SMART program is going to be expanded by some number and the compliance obligations are well above even that number? Will the Boston area, let’s call it the 128 Transmission System Upgrade RFP due March 4, 2020,be conducted to build to static conditions? Are large amounts of solar DGtogether with the “electrification of everything”1going to be coordinated with wind transmission lines pushing north and west?

To assist in long-term system planning,D.P.U.19-55 should be about setting targets to be interconnected each year and tying those targets to rate based ROI returns for the EDCs. The policyof restricting EDC responsibility to install DERs as percentage of load should be discontinued. WithDER generation being pushed up onto transmission and withthe “electrification of everything,” the cost of DER generation should be levelized across all ratepayers. Without long-term systemand interconnectionplanning, the deployment of DERs will continue to be choppy,poorly coordinated between regulatory departments and will not be made in the best interest of having net-zero emissions by 2050.

The Brattle Group, in their Achieving 80% GHG Reduction in New England by 2050September 2019report,indicated that “between 2019 and 2050 between 3.5 GW and 6.6 GW of renewable capacity, including 2-5 GW of solar and 2-3 GW of wind,will need to be added each year on average” to meet the targets New England has for itself.Since Massachusetts consumes approximately 45% of ISO-NE load,that would equal 0.9 -2.5 GW of solar and 0.9 –1.35 GW of wind per year from 2019 until 2050.

19-55 Interconnection –Guidance

In the interim, the D.P.U. needs to instruct all EDCs to conduct aggregated, group interconnection applications and Impact Studies for solar and solar + storage projects with all haste. No in-series review of solar projects is allowed. No solar or solar + storageproject should take more than 55 business days,and under no circumstance should the entire process, including ISO-NE,take more than 180 calendar days.As systems are automated, the timeframes for the completion of Impact Studies should shrink substantially and the EDCs should be rewarded for speeding up the processes.

The D.P.U. may need to work with ISO-NE in the streamlining of their portion of DER review. Area Studies should be calculated to deal with as-incurred solar and solar + storage applications while the entire system is being reviewed. If bonafide issues arise for a particular substation under unique circumstances,that substation could be identified to the Department and an extra 3months could be providedfor that particular application.

If there are conditions that encourage the development of solar projects,such as permissive zoning, then the EDCs should step up their efforts to accommodate such demand.

In no way should any EDC be allowed to take twoyears to complete an Area Study, holding off DER interconnectionapproval until completion of the study. Means and methods should be established to allow the interconnection of DERs while larger studies are conducted.

Privacy: As a policy, it should be part of tariff, including a guidance document, that all ISA applications may have the following information disclosed to encourage communication amongst common circuit or substation applicants:

  1. the Applicant Entity’s name
  2. the person representing the Applicant
  3. the active phone number and email address for said person
  4. the mailing address of the Applicant
  5. the size of the solar in AC as well as the storage facility in AC, if any.

With annual interconnections of DER set as goals per year, the EDCs could either hire qualified engineers internally or seek additionaloutside utility-scale engineering firms and attract them to servicing interconnection requirements of Massachusetts. It is our understanding that the engineering firms that service the EDCs is a select handful of firms and they are often overloaded with work or very expensive due to lack of competition.

The D.P.U.,along with all other departments under EOEEA, should set a clear path to 2030 for the interconnection of DER projects in conjunction with the Brattle Group recommendations. In so doing,D.P.U. and EOEEA would set the planning parameters for accomplishing Governor Baker’s net-zero goals for 2050, set planning direction for the EDCs and transmission companies,and allow the development and installation companies to see a clear path for building companies and employing skilled personnel.

At this writing, we are all dealing with the coronavirus with an uncertain economic landscape once this is over. If the above recommendations are put in place, long-term employment would be provided for thousands of workers for over ten years.

Thank you for your consideration.

Best Regards,

Doug Pope

Solar Panels on Farm

The Impossible Solar Farms

Solar energy has become more affordable, beneficial, and accessible in the past several years, which has sparked a movement in the world. Unlikely solar farms are now popping up in parts of the world we never thought could be possible, and they’re working.

Even in places such as Alaska, they are implementing solar farms that are powering homes and towns. This seems so unlikely considering the little amount of sunlight the state of Alaska gets throughout the year.

Solar Farms Spreading All Over the State

Less than six hours of daylight in the winter months, it seems impossible for this farm to harness enough solar energy to power anything. Renewable IPP, an Alaskan Solar Company made this solar farm the largest in the entire state. This solar farm is capable of powering about 120 homes year-round with 11 rows of panels.

A more northerly solar farm is in Fairbanks, AK. Golden Valley Electric Association is just about 200 miles from the arctic circle and consists of a three-acre solar farm. This is the largest at this latitude in the state, even though there are smaller solar farms setup further north.

How Do They Give Us Enough Energy?

With all the snow and minimal sunlight in several parts of Alaska, we wonder how solar farms harness energy for homes and the power grid. Snow and ice can end up covering solar panels in the winter months, which means people have to be hired to clear the snow and ice off for the farms to work properly. In the month of December where it’s mostly dark, there is no reason to go out and keep clearing off the panels, so they let the snow build-up until the month of February.

Another technique these farms use is angling the solar panels, so that the snow will then slide off fairly easy making it less of a struggle clearing off the snow as frequently. New techniques are being implemented such as clear coating the panels to make them slippery.

There is a carbon cost of installing solar farms, but the cost outweighs the future carbon footprint. Alaska is a state where it’s experiencing some of the worst effects of climate change. The fact that solar farms are popping up and benefitting the grid in the state just means that there is no reason for other parts of the country or world to disregard solar energy production.

Pope Energy in Massachusetts

Pope Energy provides photovoltaic solar energy projects across the New England region, as well as New York. If you’re a commercial business owner, landowner, or farmer, consider investing in solar energy projects. Contact Pope Energy at 855-767-3363!

solar energy and wildfires

Solar Energy Helping Brushfire Communities

Tesla and Atlassian is deploying energy systems to help communities who have been affected by the wildfires in Australia. Australia has been investing in Tesla Energy for energy storage systems to prevent high electricity rates and power outages.

The Wildfires in Australia

Australia faced wildfires that devastated the communities and wildlife in the region. The infrastructure was affected as well, and flooding and storms added to the damage already there. Resilient Energy Collective is helping out by installing solar and battery solutions for sustainable energy in communities that need it the most.

Who is Helping?

A collaborative effort from 5B providing solar systems Tesla providing battery storage, and the funding of $12 million is coming from Mike & Annie Cannon-Brookes. Solar panels are being rolled out for generating electricity within hours with MAVERICK solar technology. Powering back the local grids no matter how remote in the brushfire communities is essential for Australia to recover from this devastating disaster. The energy for these communities will stay on day and night, and it also takes up less space generating twice as much power per square meter.

How is this Benefitting Communities?

With the help collaborative efforts, we’re providing clean, reliable, and resilient solar energy systems to power communities devastated by the brushfires in Australia. A sustainable future is in the future for Australia. Communities will not have to rely on fuel-powered generators that provide short-term solution for all the thousands of people.

  • Save thousands of dollars in fuel costs
  • Communities can focus on the rebuilding process
  • Save time and energy

This solar farm is pre-built and can be folded up and transported to the destination in need. It’s a fantastic, efficient solution to help people after a natural disaster recover their power and focus on getting their houses and lives rebuilt.

No matter the area of disaster, solar energy is playing a major role in giving communities their energy back and more. Pope Energy specializes in providing photovoltaic solar energy projects in the New England area of the United States to system owners, landowners, farms, and real estate owners.

Contact Pope Energy at 855-767-3363 today!

Restored solar energy project

Restoring Your Solar Project with Pope Energy

Solar energy is improving by the day. Researchers and scientists are developing new ways to harness solar energy for efficiency and a less-costly expense. If you’re a business owner, a landowner, or a farmer with a solar energy project that has been neglected or unfinished, there is a way to restore that project and improve your energy usage.

With Pope Energy, you could finish that photovoltaic solar project or make some changes for improvements if it’s an old solar farm. 

Why Do Solar Projects Stall or Fail?

Depending on location or company you’re investing with, there can be some failures and stalling situations during a solar energy project. Inexperience, engaging poor developers, designers and specifying non-Tier 1 materials for your project are most frequent reasons for project failure.  This is not the case with Pope Energy. When it comes to solar photovoltaic projects, we have years of development and design-build construction experience to assist with the development and construction of your project with Tier 1 materials to ensure the successful development and operation of your solar project.

Here are some reasons why solar energy projects fail or get put on hold:

  • Development Deficiencies – Development of a solar project is a long-term real estate and electrical infrastructure community asset. Short term thinking nearly always causes problems with long term project success.
  • Financial Reasons – Whether this has to do with the solar company or the individual investing, solar energy projects can be stalled by finances. The building process may cost more than was planned, causing the individual or the company to halt the process.
  • Land Surveying – Every aspect of land surveying will need to be incorporated into developing a solar farm, or any type of solar project. If you’re a landowner and start building a solar project, land surveying will have to come first. If this is not incorporated, then you’ll run into some problems along the way including disputes. This will put a pause on some solar projects.
  • Building Codes and Laws – Building codes should never be overlooked because the county or state will put a halt to your solar investment.

We’re Witnessing Major Solar Projects Being Restored

Countries around the globe that have stalled or failed solar projects are looking to restore these projects and get back on track to contributing to the renewable energy movement. Even after natural disasters and major storms, we’re seeing countries looking to rebuild power grids with an emphasis on solar energy. Smaller countries like the Bahamas that are susceptible to hurricane season are smart to look for new ways to restore their power grid. Small islands that get wrecked by hurricanes need a more efficient system, so that when they do get hit by hurricanes, they don’t have to worry as much to restore power to their country.

In recent years, hurricanes have ravaged small islands and coastal regions in the United States. With some solar energy systems, there have been damages and destruction, but we’re also seeing some undisturbed systems. This helps countries look at how certain solar projects can withstand major storms. If solar energy can withstand natural disasters and major storms, this will be a vital part of preventing people from losing power.  

How Can Pope Energy Help You?

If you’ve had trouble with restoring your solar energy system, and you would like to finish it or restart it, Pope Energy is here to help. We offer design, development and construction of solar photovoltaic projects, solar energy storage, and maintenance services. Investing in solar is the future, if you are interested in leasing land for solar development and receiving a long-term revenue stream, or if you’re looking for an efficient way to cut energy bills, prevent power outages, and save the environment, solar energy is the only choice you should make.

Contact Pope Energy at 855-767-3363 today to find out how we can help you get your solar energy system back running or back on track to being completed without any stalling.