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NEWSLETTER MAY 10, 2018

Ed Mazria, global leader in green architecture, headlines May 18 symposium

Edward Mazria, founder of Architecture 2030 and international speaker on designing zero-energy buildings and communities, is the keynote speaker for a symposium on May 18 in Carbondale.

“Building(s) for a Sustainable Future” is presented by CLEER, CORE and Garfield Clean Energy. The symposium is aimed at accelerating energy innovations in the building sector.

Mazria will discuss the opportunities the built environment presents for tackling global concerns about energy, resources and resilience, and explain some of the tools available to transform the way buildings are designed, built and operated.

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The symposium is set for 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at the Third Street Center, 520 S. Third St., in Carbondale. Early bird tickets, available through Friday, May 11, are $45 and include lunch.

In his keynote, Mazria will share the 2030 Challenge, which calls for all new buildings, developments and major renovations to be carbon-neutral by 2030. It’s been adopted by the American Institute of Architects and most of the top 20 architectural firms in the country.

He will also discuss his latest initiative, Achieving Zero, a roadmap for completely phasing out carbon emissions from the building sector by 2050.

Building(s) for a Sustainable Future is intended to spark bold solutions that can help meet clean energy and greenhouse gas emissions targets set by the state of Colorado and communities. Some local communities have committed to carbon neutrality by 2050. Since buildings account for more than 40 percent of energy use in the U.S., reducing energy consumption in this sector is essential for reaching these goals.

Other speakers at the symposium include:

  • Rebecca Foster, energy efficiency programs expert with the Vermont Energy Investment Corp.
  • Eric Harrington, builder of high-performance homes
  • Nikki Maline, U.S. Department of Energy-certified Home Energy Score Rater
  • Josie Plaut, associate director for the Institute for the Built Environment at Colorado State University
  • Shanti Pless, senior research engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory
  • Kelly Vaughn, buildings program marketing director for Rocky Mountain Institute

The symposium will feature interactive, hands-on sessions for architects, builders, designers, real estate professionals, lenders, representatives of local and state agencies, and community leaders.

Discussions will focus on designing a local net-zero district, enhancing efficiency programs for existing buildings, and strengthening policies and standards that support community clean energy targets.

Continuing education credits for professionals

  • The symposium is approved for AIA LU/HWS credits. More info here.
  • Real estate professionals who attend the session on energy in real estate transactions are eligible for two hours of continuing education credits.

To register, visit 2018-buildings.eventbrite.com or call CLEER at (970) 704-9200.

Xcel Energy opens direct sales to customers for solar power

Xcel Energy is offering a direct deal to residential and commercial customers to purchase off-site solar energy for little to no added cost on their monthly electric bill.

The utility’s Renewable*Connect program will be open to residential and class C commercial customers from 9 a.m. on May 23 to 4 p.m. on July 18. It will reopen for all other commercial and industrial customers for a two-day period, from 9 a.m. on July 30 to 4 p.m. on July 31.

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The limited-time offer is tied to a 50-megawatt solar array slated to be built near Deer Trail in eastern Arapahoe County.

Xcel’s power mix is already 29 percent from renewable energy sources. Participating in Renewable*Connect allows customers to increase their power to 100 percent renewable energy.

Under the Renewable*Connect pricing offer, customers pay an added charge for the solar energy, and collect a renewable energy credit that offsets almost all of the charge. The net cost will vary over time based on actual energy production at the facility and the market cost of other energy fuels.

Xcel customers can sign up for a Renewable*Connect contract on a month-to-month basis, or enter into a five-year or 10-year contract. The best pricing is for the multi-year contracts.

Based on the U.S. average household monthly electric demand of 600 kilowatt hours, the month-to-month contract would add about $2.50 to a household’s monthly utility bill. Those with five-year contracts could see an increase of $1 or less, and those with 10-year contracts could pay no more than their current cost.

Customers can be homeowners or renters. The contract travels with the customer if they move during the contract period to a different residence within Xcel service territory.

Customers can decide how much solar energy they want to buy, based on average annual usage. They will be purchasing kilowatts of power generation capacity, in increments of 0.5 kilowatts, using much the same calculation as for an on-site solar array. The monthly charge and credit is based on kilowatt-hours of electric usage.

Xcel Energy’s website offers more information and you can also sign up for their email list to learn more. Here are the links:

Legislature puts Colorado Energy Office on stable footing

The Colorado Legislature used its annual budget measure to create a permanent line item in the state budget to fund the Colorado Energy Office, according to Kathleen Staks, executive director of CEO.

The action comes after the Legislature failed to appropriate state funds for CEO in the 2017 session, leaving the agency constrained for a year and operating with a bare-bones staff.

Colorado’s annual Long Appropriation Bill, House Bill 18-1322, provides $13.8 million in funding for the office for the 2018-19 fiscal year. The agency will be able to employ nearly 25 full-time staff.

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The allocation includes $6.5 million for energy assistance payments to low-income households and $313,000 for grants for electric vehicle charging stations.

“Moving forward, the Colorado Energy Office will now have a consistent General Fund base budget included as a line item in the state budget for our programming each year,” Staks wrote in an open letter to agency partners.

“This success would not have been possible without the ongoing support of our partners and the willingness of key legislators from both chambers and both parties to work with us to identify a sustainable path forward for the office,” she added.

Legislators also passed Senate Bill 18-003, which adjusts the agency’s mission by repealing inactive programs and giving the agency more flexibility in dealing with a variety of energy resources.

“Our work focuses on both reducing energy costs for consumers and supporting innovative energy projects that result in additional clean, affordable, and accessible energy options,” Staks said.

With secure funding in place, Staks said the agency will now focus on strategic planning and visit communities across Colorado to learn about energy-related needs and opportunities.

“This will inform future program offerings and ensure that we are addressing statewide energy needs and priorities,” Staks noted.

Legislators approve home and utility-scale battery storage measures

Heather McGregor
Clean Energy Economy News

The 2018 session considered 13 bills related to clean energy; four won approval. Battery storage of renewable energy, for homes and for energy utilities, will be allowed under two bills passed by the Colorado Legislature.

Legislators also approved a bill that updates the Colorado Energy Office (see related story) and a measure that eases restrictions on cyclists approaching intersections. The 2018 session ended May 9.

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The partisan divide in the Colorado Legislature, where Democrats control the House and Republicans control the Senate, resulted in only those four clean energy related bills winning passage in the 2018 session. Another nine went down to defeat, often getting killed in committee as soon as they moved from one chamber to the other.

Senate Bill 009 explicitly allows electric utility customers to install their own battery storage systems, and directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission (PUC) to adopt rules governing installation, interconnection and use of customer-sited battery systems.

At the utility level, House Bill 1270 calls on the PUC to set rules for investor-owned electric utilities that choose to invest in large-scale battery storage. Legislators called on the PUC to consider costs and benefits, grid reliability, and whether battery storage can reduce the utility’s need for additional peak generation or transmission capacity.

Summary of clean energy bills at the close of the 2018 legislative session

Bills passed – 4

1. SB 003 Colorado Energy Office:
Introduced Jan. 10, passed Senate Feb. 22, passed House April 19, sent to Gov. John Hickenlooper for signature May 3

  • Adds nuclear and hydroelectric power to CEO’s portfolio, broadens CEO’s outreach to include all energy sources and provides four years of funding for the agency.

2. SB 009 Allow electric utility customers to install energy storage equipment:
Introduced Jan. 10, passed by the Senate Feb. 8, passed by the House March 5, signed by Gov. Hickenlooper March 22

  • Declares that consumers of electricity have a right to install, interconnect and use electricity storage systems (batteries) on their property, and directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to adopt rules governing the installation, interconnection, and use of customer-sited distributed electricity storage systems.

3. HB 1270 Public Utilities Commission evaluation of energy storage systems:
Introduced March 6, passed House April 5, passed Senate April 23, Conference Committee report approved by House and Senate May 8

  • Directs the Colorado Public Utilities Commission to establish mechanisms for the procurement of energy storage systems by investor-owned electric utilities, based on an analysis of costs and benefits as well as factors such as grid reliability and a reduction in the need for additional peak generation or transmission capacity.

4. SB 144 Regulation of bicycles approaching intersections:
Introduced Jan. 29, passed Senate Feb. 21, passed House April 16, signed by Gov. John Hickenlooper May 3

  • Allows local governments to adopt local rules governing cycling through intersections, specifically allowing cyclists to roll through stop signs after slowing down, and allowing cyclists to proceed through a red light after stopping to look for traffic.

Bills “postponed indefinitely” – 9

1. SB 064 Require 100% renewable energy by 2035
Introduced Jan. 12, PI’d Feb. 1 by Senate Agriculture, Natural Resources & Energy Committee

  • Would have updated the renewable energy standard to require that all electric utilities, including rural electric co-ops and municipal utilities, derive their energy from 100% renewable sources by 2035.

2. SB 117 Collect long-term climate change data
Introduced Jan. 29, PI’d Feb. 13 by Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

  • Would have required the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment to collect and report on greenhouse gas emissions data.

3. HB 1080 Climate Leadership Awards program
Introduced Jan. 17, PI’d Feb. 7 by House Natural; Resources & Environment Committee

  • Would have required a state climate change officer to develop a climate leadership awards program to recognize organizations and individuals that provide leadership in response to climate change.

4. HB 1274 Reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 2050
Introduced March 7, passed House April 3, PI’d April 11 by Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

  • Would have required that by 2050, statewide greenhouse gas emissions  be reduced by at least 80% of the levels of greenhouse gas emissions from a 2005 baseline.

5. HB 1297 Climate change preparedness and resiliency
Introduced March 16, passed House April 24, PI’d May 1 by Senate State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee

  • Would have adopted two greenhouse gas emission reduction goals: reducing greenhouse gas emissions statewide 26% by 2025 when compared with 2005 levels, and reducing carbon emissions from electric power plants 25% by 2025 and by 30% by 2030 over 2012 levels.
  • The bill also would have called on the Colorado Resiliency and Recovery Office (within the Colorado Department of Local Affairs) to assess the economic and environmental impacts of climate change under various scenarios, update the Colorado resiliency framework, and support locally-led climate resilience initiatives.

6. HB 1085 Health effects of industrial wind turbines
Introduced Jan. 18, PI’d Feb. 8 by House Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Would have required the Department of Public Health and Environment to research the health effects of noise and stray voltage from wind energy turbines on humans and animals.

7. HB 1107 Prewire residence for electric vehicle charging port
Introduced Jan. 18, passed House Feb. 14, PI’d March 20 by Senate Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Would have required builders of new residences to offer buyers the option to accommodate electric vehicle charging systems.

8. SB 216 Alternative fuel vehicle charging by public utilities
Introduced March 19, PI’d March 27 by Senate Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Would have allowed Xcel Energy and Black Hills Energy to invest in charging ports for electric vehicles (EVs) and fueling stations for CNG vehicles, as well as transmission and delivery infrastructure upgrades so the electric and natural gas grids can handle the increased load.
  • The point of the bill was to allow these investor-owned utilities to spread the costs of investments across their whole ratepayer base. A similar bill introduced in 2017 also failed to win legislative approval.

9. SB 047 Repeal tax credits for innovative vehicles
Introduced Jan. 10, passed Senate March 23, PI’d April 18 by House Transportation and Energy Committee

  • Would have repealed the state income tax credits for innovative motor vehicles and innovative trucks for purchase and leases effective Jan. 1, 2019. Currently the tax credits are scheduled to expire in 2021. A similar bill introduced in 2017 also failed to win legislative approval.

Northwest Colorado COG Energy Program installs first solar array

The Northwest Colorado Council of Governments is installing its first solar electric system, expanding on years of success providing free home energy upgrades to low-income households.

“This is an exciting avenue for our Weatherization Assistance Program, and we look forward to helping more of our clients in the future with this sustainable solution for reducing electrical utility bills,” said Nate Speerstra, Northwest Colorado COG’s energy program manager.

 

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Northwest Colorado COG is partnering with the Colorado Energy Office and Xcel Energy for the pilot program, which is designed to to provide solar electric systems for qualified households enrolled in the agency’s weatherization program.

For years, the agency has worked with households in 13 counties, improving home efficiency by installing attic insulation, cutting air leakage through the building shell, and installing high-efficiency furnaces. These measures cut heating utility bills significantly.

“We haven’t had as many options for reducing our clients’ electric bills,” Speerstra said. These upgrades were limited to LED light bulbs and ENERGY STAR refrigerators.

With this pilot program, focusing on a renewable energy solution, the electric portion of the utility bill can be significantly reduced, he said.

Northwest Colorado COG identified a client with particularly high electrical usage, and has hired a solar contractor to install a 3.5 kilowatt, roof-mounted solar array.

“The modeling for this array predicts that it will generate over 5,000 kilowatt-hours per year, which means a likely savings of $660 a year for our client” Speerstra said.

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