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- As Solar Interconnection Costs Rise, Who Should Pay to Improve the Grid?
The cost of connecting a completed solar project to the grid is rising. James Hasselbeck, the Director of Operations at ReVision Energy, told attendees of the NH Energy Summit in September that “We’ve seen those interconnection costs double to triple in the past 3 years alone in the state of New Hampshire.” “The same exact equipment that used to cost us $100,000--maybe $150,000--is now costing upwards $300,000 to $400,000,” said Hasselbeck, “And there’s been additional needs and additional equipment that solar developers are being asked to provide that we haven’t seen before and that’s really making some of the financing structures quite challenging.” And it’s not just New Hampshire, it’s all over New England. One Rhode Island developer told the Energy News Network this spring that the cost per megawatt is now three to five times higher than it was ten years ago. To a certain extent, these increases are predictable. Our grid wasn’t built to handle the demands of a distributed energy future, and we need to invest now to realize savings down the road. In a traditional hub-and-spoke grid, power plants connect to the high-voltage transmission grid, but as we build more small-scale renewable energy sources, more and more generators are connecting directly to lower-voltage distribution networks. This will mean that investment will need to shift away from transmission toward distribution. Bloomberg New Energy Finance predicts that investment in electricity grids globally will need to grow from roughly $235 billion in 2020 to $636 billion by 2050, and that 63% of that investment will be at the distribution level, up from 52% today. But the question policymakers must ask now is who pays these costs, and what is the process for deciding how to spend that money. The model that exists today in many states is called the “triggering cost-causer pays.” Under this model, utilities make no plans for new generation until a project asks to interconnect. They then conduct an interconnection study, and the generator has to pay for any upgrades the utility demands. If the generator disagrees with the methodology used to determine those costs, they’ve got no recourse other than to pound sand and find a new project to develop. Cost-causer pays is not the only framework to pay for these upgrades, however, and some states are getting serious about the alternatives. On the other end of the spectrum is the idea that upgrades to the distribution grid are valuable not just to the individual energy project hoping to interconnect, but to society as a whole, meaning the cost should be shared. A perfect example is the replacing of fuses with reclosers. Fuses need to be replaced whenever a circuit is shorted by, say a branch touching a wire in a wind storm. This is time consuming and costly for utilities and ratepayers. Reclosers are more like the circuit breaker in your basement, and can be reconnected remotely, without a line crew being on site. Swapping out fuses is a key grid modernization investment for many distribution utilities, and is also a common requirement for large commercial solar arrays to connect to the grid. Yes, these investments are triggered by the developer, but all ratepayers will have shorter outages and cheaper rates in the long term as a result. The question of how to share the costs of these upgrades is being discussed all around the country, and the time has come for that discussion to come to New Hampshire too. The Public Utilities Commission should open a docket to take up these concerns, and investigate what best practices exist to accelerate the transformation of our shared grid. Article published in the October 2021 edition of the Green Energy Times.
- The American Jobs Plan: Clean Energy Highlights
Clean Energy NH has combed through the recently released press release on "The American Jobs Plan". This plan is President Biden's initiative to revitalize the American economy by investing in its people. “The American Jobs Plan will invest in America in a way we have not invested since we built the interstate highways and won the Space Race.” This includes the biggest investment in clean energy from the government that the U.S. has ever seen. With our infrastructure in a dire state, after years of neglect, this is the perfect time to invest in the future. Clean Energy NH presents this overview of clean energy highlights from the recently released plan: The Plan will – Deliver... a renewed electric grid, and high-speed broadband to all Americans. Put hundreds of thousands of people to work building new transmission lines, capping old oil and gas wells.... Modernize the countries’ buildings, from homes and commercial buildings, to schools and hospitals. The President’s plan invests an additional $621 billion in transportation infrastructure and resilience, including: Repairing roads and bridges while funding improvements to air quality, limiting greenhouse gas emissions, and reducing congestion. $85 Billion to modernize existing transit $80 billion to address Amtrak’s repair backlog; modernize the high traffic Northeast Corridor; improve existing corridors and connect new city pairs; and enhance grant and loan programs that support passenger and freight rail safety, efficiency, and electrification. $174 billion investment to win the electric vehicle (EV) market, including: Consumer point of sale rebates and tax incentives to buy American-made EVs, while ensuring that these vehicles are affordable for all families and manufactured by workers with good jobs replace 50,000 diesel transit vehicles and electrify at least 20 percent of our yellow school bus fleet utilize the vast tools of federal procurement to electrify the federal fleet, including the United States Postal Service. The Plan will also invest $100 Billion to re-energize America's power infrastructure through: Building a more resilient electric transmission system A targeted investment tax credit that incentivizes the buildout of at least 20 gigawatts of high-voltage capacity power lines and mobilizes tens of billions in private capital off the sidelines – right away. Establishing a new Grid Deployment Authority at the Department of Energy that allows for better leverage of existing rights-of-way – along roads and railways – and supports creative financing tools to spur additional high priority, high- voltage transmission lines. A ten-year extension and phase down of an expanded direct-pay investment tax credit and production tax credit for clean energy generation and storage. Establishing an Energy Efficiency and Clean Electricity Standard (EECES) President Biden’s plan reforms and expands the bipartisan Section 45Q tax credit, making it direct pay and easier to use for hard-to-decarbonize industrial applications, direct air capture, and retrofits of existing power plants. Building, Preserving and Retrofiting more than 2 Million Homes and Commercial Buildings The Plan will upgrade homes through block grant programs, the Weatherization Assistance Program, and by extending and expanding home and commercial efficiency tax credits. President Biden’s plan also will establish a $27 billion Clean Energy and Sustainability Accelerator to mobilize private investment into distributed energy resources; retrofits of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transportation. A $180 Billion investment will invest in research & development and technologies of the future including: Investing $35 billion in the full range of solutions needed to achieve technology breakthroughs that address the climate crisis and position America as the global leader in clean energy technology and clean energy jobs. $5 billion increase in funding for other climate- focused research, $15 billion in demonstration projects for climate R&D priorities, including utility-scale energy storage, carbon capture and storage, hydrogen, advanced nuclear, rare earth element separations, floating offshore wind, biofuel/bioproducts, quantum computing, and electric vehicles, as well as strengthening U.S. technological leadership in these areas in global markets. Jumpstarting clean energy manufacturing through federal procurement The Full release can be found at Whitehouse.gov
- Member Spotlight: Energy LB
Generating energy in a clean way is important, and using that clean energy efficiently is the cornerstone piece of the puzzle. When thinking about sustainable, clean energy, it is easy to focus on the production of the energy itself. Our February Clean Energy NH member spotlight, Energy LB, is tackling the other side of the equation: efficiency and resource optimization. Energy LB is an engineering company focused on energy efficiency and power/resource optimization technologies in commercial and industrial facilities. Energy LB designs comprehensive engineered solutions using leading edge technologies to increase the productive output of existing equipment and resources. Their solutions help facilities reduce emissions, minimize repairs, extend equipment life, and increase production. All of which reduce cost and increase operational profitability. Based in Nashua, NH, Energy LB has been working in the New England area since 2014. Projects have ranged across states including New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts and with varying degrees of complexity, from the energy consumption perspective. Energy LB will assess and analyze the performance data and characteristics of multiple sub-systems including heating, cooling & chilling systems and associated water infrastructure, electric distribution networks and attached loads, steam/boiler systems, lighting and controls, and more, all with the ultimate goal to maximize efficiency and operations. In 2021, Energy LB hopes to diversify their portfolio of completed projects to larger industrial facilities and multi-faceted commercial/industrial and mixed use facilities. Their goal is to continue providing energy efficiency and optimization services to a growing customer base that is interested in power quality, efficiency, consistency and reliability. Lastly, and towards these ends, Energy LB is actively engaged in the development and deployment of data science techniques - Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, leveraging the Industrial Internet of Things - leading to better and more rapid analysis of energy consumption, demand patterns, and facility power modeling. In parallel, leveraging data taken from a customer facility, including in real time, and the models they produce can lead to innovative and powerful new solutions and techniques of efficiency and reduction. “Energy management and optimization is a vital and integral element of the transformation of industry and commerce at every level toward seamless connectivity, data sharing, and Industry 4.0 ” says Energy LB’s Laurence Bleicher. An example is the collaboration of Energy LB with The Morrison Communities in Whitefield, NH. An assisted living and skilled nursing community of up to 80 residents, Energy LB worked with Morrison to install high efficiency LED lighting in 2019. This past winter there were upgrades to the water and heating systems. While to date the measurement and verification is not yet complete, these upgrades will improve the burn efficiency of the fuel oil used for heating by 8-12%. The solution set also included High Performance water filtration and conditioning that will save an estimated additional ~10+% in fuel use. Continuing efforts are being considered and scoped out to address other sub-systems in need of upgrades, and renewable possibilities, all with energy profile in mind. Another notable project was completed at XMA Corporation in Manchester, NH, manufacturers of RF and Microwave components for the aerospace, telecom, medical tech, and other industries. XMA presented unique challenges with respect to implementing LED technology and controls , due to very specific technical requirements critical to their production process, and work areas. Energy LB collaborated with XMA to identify and deploy a suitable and successful illumination scheme. HVAC measures were put in place to reduce the duty cycle, as well as wear, on the cooling units. Further areas for improvement in this area were identified, with recommendations for additional steps and energy reduction measures. Currently, several engagements in diverse and dynamic industrial facilities are underway, where power quality and reliability are central issues. They position themselves as ongoing partners and resources to their customers, providing expertise and practical solutions as businesses evolve. They are eager to engage with customers and facilities all across NH and New England who are looking at reducing consumption costs to reach financial targets, while creating a smarter and leaner energy profile, to reach sustainability objectives, hand in hand. Operational energy optimization. Good for business. Good for the planet. Learn more about Energy LB and connect with them to explore how to increase your efficiency by visiting www.energylb.com! ENERGY LB RESOURCES LLC 20A Northwest Blvd Box 279 Nashua, NH 03063 603-275-7238 contact@energyLB.com www.energyLB.com @energyLBRes
- Member Spotlight: EV Launchpad
The pandemic may have altered or slowed typical driving habits, but it hasn’t slowed the momentum behind local efforts to accelerate the transition to electrified transportation by innovative Clean Energy NH member EV Launchpad. In this edition of the Clean Energy NH Member Spotlight, we’ll learn more about EV Launchpad’s exciting new developments that make electric vehicle (EV) charging simple, affordable, and accessible. Run by the team of James Penfold and Gary Bergeron, EV Launchpad has three locations in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and offers EV charging solutions across Northern New England. For James, whose always been passionate about mobility, the transition to the EV market came naturally following his earlier career with bicycle electronics and lithium ion batteries. Partnering with Gary Bergeron, a longtime electrical contractor with expertise in renewables since the first stages of solar development, was a no-brainer, and now EV Launchpad is on the forefront of the EV charging market in New England. What sets EV Launchpad apart is their focus on future-proofing, accessibility, and user experience. With clients ranging from homeowners and municipalities installing level 2 charging stations to assisting the NH National Guard with solar and microgrids, the EV Launchpad team is well-versed in helping their clients select the best technology for their unique applications. EV Launchpad works with their clients to design, build, and install charging stations that will meet the needs of EVs not just today, but in 3-5 years’ time as the industry continues to expand. Right now in New England, we’re not even scratching the surface of what’s going on across the country. While we haven’t reached critical mass of EVs yet, trends show a clear indication that EV adoption is increasing at exponential rates year-over-year, even in a non-ZEV state like NH. According to the July 2019 report for the Office of Strategic Initiatives “Evaluating Electric Vehicle Infrastructure in NH”, the national EV market has grown at an annual rate of 40% since 2012 and NH alone saw a 42.5% increase in new EV registrations between 2017 and 2018. This rapid growth is an important aspect for potential EV charging site hosts to consider, and EV Launchpad offers products and services that meet immediate charging needs while also facilitating simple, inexpensive additions in the future. Publicly accessible EV charging is critical for facilitating the expansion of the EV market. NH has relatively few public level 2 and level 3 charging stations, especially compared with neighboring states and Canada, and existing charging stations are now often full to capacity. In order to help site hosts install charging stations, EV Launchpad focuses on providing Open Charge Point Protocol (OCPP) complaint technology that allows owners to mix-and-match the best technology for their needs at an affordable price. This facilitates a competitive marketplace that encourages product development. Think of it as hardware and software that “plays well together” without costing an arm and a leg or committing to one brand for the long-haul. In addition, EV Launchpad offers charging stations that can start out basic but easily swap over to accept payments, track data, and allow site hosts to effectively manage their energy use. Imagine a very durable EV charging station with a unique pedestal design that gives a high- quality user experience and is simple to install and manage, and you have a clear picture of what EV Launchpad can offer in their “PowerBase”. The systems are designed to be “plug & play” so instead of waiting for a technician, anyone can plug in the charger. Furthermore, the systems are simple to service; instead of the hassle of scheduling a troubleshooter, the system owner can remotely identify the problem and have a new charger sent the next day if necessary, maximizing up-time. And if in five-years there’s newer, better tech, they can easily swap out the old for the next generation charging technology. The turnkey PowerBase system can accommodate 1-4 units and is scalable for the future. Excitingly, EV Launchpad recently released their new “ChargeDepot”, the world’s first rapid-deployment charging hub. Imagine no need for digging up your parking lot, no downtime, and the complete package for EV charging all-in-one, and you can envision the benefits of ChargeDepot. Designed to utilize existing utility infrastructure, prevent the need for timely and costly installation hassles, and incorporate renewable energy and energy storage to reduce demand charges, ChargeDepot is a significant opportunity for rapid deployment of EV charging stations. EV chargers can drastically increase site hosts demand charges, so incorporating renewable energy such as solar with on-site energy storage is an effective way for site hosts to manage their energy and reduce costs. EV Launchpad recently finalized the first ChargeDepot pilot, a four-unit station at the XL Fleet headquarters in Massachusetts. XL Fleet is a leader in connected fleet solutions for commercial and municipal vehicles. ChargeDepot is being used to support charging for XL Fleets’ continued expansion into plug-in vehicle conversions. Next for ChargeDepot is a 20-unit installation, which will occur soon with another partner in New England. ChargeDepot can scale upward from 20 vehicles in four-vehicle increments, allowing for quick deployment of more EV charging, a commonly recognized need across New England to facilitate the fast transition to electric transportation. Learn more about ChargeDepot and EV Launchpad at www.evlaunchpad.com
- Member Spotlight: ABC Energy Savings
This 4th of July, many more air conditioners were humming in homes across New Hampshire as residents hosted non-traditional Independence Day celebrations due to the COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted large celebrations and much-loved firework displays. The cooling season in the Granite State is in full swing, but is your AC costing you more money due to an inefficient home that leaks that blessed cold air? Now is an ideal time to consider the energy efficiency of your home, and so Clean Energy NH spoke with our member ABC Energy Savings to learn more. ABC Energy Savings is run by Bob Eldredge, a seasoned veteran of the industry with over 10 years of experience in the energy efficiency and renewable energy industry. He specializes in independent energy audits and consulting services in the central, southern, and seacoast regions of NH, serving customers in the Eversource, Liberty Utilities, and NH Electric Coop territories. According to Bob, this is a great time to consider evaluating your home’s energy efficiency because the state’s NHSaves program will pay up to $8,000 (90% of the project) of cost-effective energy improvements such as weatherization, up from the usual $4,000 (50% of the project). ABC Energy Savings invoices NHSaves for the balance of the project, so the customer doesn’t have to pay the full amount up front and wait for a rebate check! Importantly, funding is first-come, first-served and is subject to change without notice. Additionally, work must be completed by November 15th, 2020. So what exactly does an energy audit entail? Bob walked us through the process and each aspect of what you can expect: A thorough assessment of a home to prepare a plan on how to slow down heat loss in the winter and slow down heat transferring into a home/building during summer months; Evaluate insulation and air flow through a home/building (excess air flow accounts for about 20% of a home’s heat loss); Conduct blower door test to measure the excess air flow rate, find sources of air leakage, and redo test after work to ensure home is not sealed too tight. If home is too tight, then recommend Heat (HRV) or Energy Recovery Ventilation (ERV) for automated air exchanges; Investigate health and safety matters, like moisture issues and air flow between garages and living space. Are fire and carbon monoxide detectors installed? Recommend changes and improvements to heating and cooling systems to improve comfort and decrease annual heating and cooling costs. i.e. cold climate mini-splits, wood or pellet stoves, upgrade to Energy Star furnaces and boilers; Recommend ways to decrease electrical consumption, i.e. replace incandescent light bulbs with LEDs, minimize phantom/vampire loads, retire old freezers and refrigerators (especially the old kitchen ones moved into the basement to keep a few beverages cold; Recommend renewable energies like solar photovoltaic Provide a written report including recommendations, estimated costs and estimated pay- back New Hampshire is a state with widely dispersed old housing stock, meaning almost every home can benefit from some sort of energy efficiency measure(s). According to Bob, common issues include very little or no insulation and significant excess air flow, along with wet basements, bathroom fans that lead directly to the attic, and kitchens without fans exhausting air to the outside. Bob also shared with us the most common energy efficiency improvements that can be made to NH homes. We need look no further for the answer than the name of his company: ABC Energy Savings reveals the Attic as the first priority, Basement second, and the Center of the home is the third priority: ATTIC – The first priority is to reduce the warm air leaving through the upper level (i.e. attic flat) that results in cold air being pulled in through the lower level to replace it. Then, upgrade insulation levels to the best possible extent to exceed the NH Energy Code. BASEMENT – The second priority is to seal up all the cracks and gaps in the basement and crawlspaces that allow air to flow into the home. Then, at a minimum, insulate down to the grade level and then down to floor level. CENTRAL – The third priority is to reduce air flow in the central part of the home, i.e. caulk between window/door trim and drywall, weather-strip doors, use electric outlet gaskets on outlets in exterior walls. Then, if exterior walls need insulation, insulate with dense pack cellulose or alternative cost-effective solutions. While implementing energy efficiency measures will save money on energy costs, they can also improve overall home comfort. Bob says the key element is reducing the excess air flow through a home, which will cut out that uncomfortable cold and drafty feeling. In addition, cellulose insulation in attic or exterior walls does a great job reducing outside noises for a quieter home. To learn more or connect with Bob at ABC Energy Savings, visit www.abcenergysavings.com, email Bob@abcenergysavings.com, or call/text 603-344-4540. To learn more about the NHSaves energy efficiency programs - visit www.nhsaves.com and to see if your home qualifies and you’d like to work with ABC Energy Savings, visit https://energyaudit.nhsaves.com/referral/85
- Member Spotlight: Granite State Solar
In challenging times when we’re encouraged to stay inside, the bright sunshine of a New England spring day is even more welcome and appreciated. At Clean Energy NH, we’re big fans of utilizing natural, renewable sources of energy including the sun’s powerful rays; and we need look no further for experts of solar energy than our May 2020 Member Spotlight company, Granite State Solar. Thrice voted Best of Business in the solar energy category, Granite State Solar is well known for their professionalism and commitment to consumer experience. Granite State Solar offers custom solar panel system design and installation featuring leading-edge products hand-selected to best meet the needs of their customers. The company was founded in 2008. Based in Bow, New Hampshire, Granite State Solar proudly performs all of their solar work by their 20 employees including certified technicians, electricians, and engineers. Since 2015, Granite State Solar has installed approximately 8,000kw and more than 25,000 solar panels in 169 communities across the state. That means there are Granite State Solar installations in nearly three-quarters of all communities across New Hampshire! If you live in Derry, you may have seen their installation of 10 solar trackers along the side of a hill that help save the town money by producing local, clean energy. Granite State Solar also installed 144 panels for the town of Webster, and small commercial systems for Berube Trucking in Bow and Argo Cycles in Raymond. If you’ve been considering solar for your home or business, Granite State Solar can help evaluate your property to identify the best location using state of the art solar exposure technology and an advanced program for roof measurements with no climbing or yardsticks necessary! A solar advisor can also discuss your current and future energy needs and help you determine which products are best for your unique situation. You can appreciate this educational visit and rest assured you’ll never be pressured or expected to make a quick decision. Granite State Solar shared some common solar myths with us and the facts to help anyone considering solar better understand the technology and their options. Myth #1: Solar is too expensive. Yes, solar is an investment, but for many homeowners, it’s not out of reach. In fact, a recent study out of Berkeley found nearly half of solar adopters in 2018 had a household income of under $100,000. As with many technologies, the price for being an early adopter was high, but Granite State Solar has witnessed costs fall significantly as panels and inverters improve. Myth #2: solar works when there’s a power outage. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case without a battery backup. A grid-tied system without a battery backup only works when grid power is present. The system turns off when the grid goes down to prevent energy from your panels going back onto the grid. This is a safety measure to protect utility line service technicians working to resolve outages. However, Granite State Solar is thrilled to offer batteries that can provide a supply of back-up energy. Learn more about Granite State Solar online at their website: https://www.granitestatesolar.com/
- Understanding the FERC Petition Against Net Metering
This blog post is courtesy of our friends at Vote Solar. All ownership and credit is provided to Vote Solar. The official brief can be found here. Background There are approximately 2.3 million current participants in net metering programs in the United States, spanning 49 states and including many investor-owned utilities, electric cooperatives, and municipal utilities. Net metering is a policy that has been voluntarily adopted by state legislatures, state utility commissions, municipal authorities, or electric cooperative boards. Federal law does not require states or other authorities to offer net metering. Traditional net metering is an electric utility billing practice where the utility determines a retail customer’s retail electric bill by allowing electric generation that is sent to the grid to offset or “net” the electricity imported from the grid on a unit for unit (or 1:1) basis. Net metering policies vary widely based on system and program size limits, the length of the billing period to calculate the “net” bill, and the treatment of “net excess generation,” among other elements. Legal Framework for State Net Metering Policy Under the United States Constitution and the Federal Power Act (“FPA”), the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”) holds exclusive jurisdiction over the transmission of electricity and the sale for resale of electricity in interstate commerce. Broadly speaking, any electric generator that is selling its electric output to a utility could be subject to FERC’s exclusive wholesale jurisdiction and rate regulation, preempting a state’s ability to set rates for that generator’s output. However, the Public Utilities Regulatory Policy Act (“PURPA”) gives states reasonable discretion to determine a regulated utility’s “avoided cost” of producing electricity, which sets the upward limit that a utility must pay a PURPA qualifying facility (“QF”) when it is forced to purchase its wholesale electric output. Net metering is a mechanism that determines how much a customer will be billed for retail electric service, which takes into account electricity generated and consumed on the retail customer’s side of the utility meter (a.k.a., “behind the meter”) and any exports to the grid. In a 2001 case, MidAmerican, FERC held that such energy exports did not trigger its exclusive wholesale jurisdiction if the customer-generator was participating in a program to net their retail consumption of electricity from the utility against the production from their onsite generation facility. It was only if there was net excess generation (e.g., generation exceeds the usage of the retail customer over a predetermined interval, such as a billing period) that FERC would exert its jurisdiction and consider the net excess generation to be a jurisdictional wholesale transaction governed by PURPA and the FPA. Since FERC determined that retail “netting” was a retail billing practice and did not constitute a jurisdictional wholesale sale, most states have adopted a net metering policy by statute or regulation and many electric coops and municipal utilities have created voluntary programs for members. Current Challenge to Legality of State Net Metering Policy On April 14, 2020, an organization filed a petition asking FERC to reverse its MidAmerican decision and to invalidate all net metering statutes and regulations across the continental United States. The petition does not call out any specific state implementation of net metering, but asserts that FERC must assert wholesale jurisdiction over all electricity exports from net metered facilities and cap the value of exports at the utility’s avoided cost. In effect, the organization is seeking to make electricity generation by individual customers—most commonly through rooftop solar panels—regulated as if they are large, commercial power plants. If FERC grants the petition… ● Approximately 2.2 million homes and 100,000 other customers, across 49 states, will see increased electric bills due to the loss of net metering ● Existing net metering customers may lose legacy rights granted by state regulators to continue net metering for some period of years into the future ● Individuals and small enterprises with net metering systems will be exposed to new tax liabilities, forcing them to pay taxes on the energy they generate for the grid’ Currently, netting of exports is not generally considered taxable (see, for example, the South Carolina Department of Revenue Ruling 10-10) ● State public utility commissions and a range of stakeholders across the country could be required to convene resource-intensive technical investigations to determine avoided costs—a major burden and distraction for state governments that are already facing an ongoing pandemic and economic crisis ● Status quo in the state-federal jurisdictional divide for energy policy and regulation would be disrupted. State legislatures and utility commissions would lose policy flexibility to design retail distributed generation and distributed energy resource programs, potentially hampering ongoing utility grid modernization efforts and many other programs administered by states. If FERC refuses to grant the petition… ● States will continue to have retail rate authority to evaluate the rate making impacts of net metering and to take all measures necessary to ensure just and reasonable rates for all ● Customers will continue to have an avenue to invest in onsite solar and to help support the building blocks of a modern, resilient, and affordable grid of the future. Next Steps On April 15, 2020, FERC issued a procedural notice in the docket (Docket No. EL20-42-000). FERC set a deadline of May 14, 2020 for all comments and interventions.
- Member Spotlight: ecoCFO
We sat down with our longtime business member and 2020 organizational sponsor, ecoCFO to learn more about the company and their unique experience and offerings! Location – Portsmouth, NH Length of time in business – since 2013 Number of employees - 5 employees Website: https://www.ecocfo.com/ What is ecoCFO's mission? What, how, and why? ecoCFO is the outsourced CFO and accounting department for our cleantech, renewable energy, and nonprofit clients. We take care of their financial needs, allowing them to focus on providing solutions to tackle climate change and the environmental crisis. Our core competency is building finance and accounting infrastructure with a balance of simplicity and sophistication to support our clients' core mission - whether it's tech development, project development/construction/operations, R&D, or advocacy - all within the Cleantech space. Why? We believe not only in the mission of the industry, but also that there are incredible economic opportunities to be unlocked by some of the smartest problem solvers on the planet. We are not engineers, scientists, electricians, or PhDs, but we believe we can make the greatest impact on the mission of cleantech by aiding them with strong financial planning, accounting operations, and infrastructure. We've identified this need in cleantech startups as it is often overlooked by founding leadership teams, and the economic viability of cleantech and renewable energy technology companies is vital. They need the back-office infrastructure and all the controls in place to be in compliance with the IRS, investors, and government agencies. They need this in order to do all the wonderful things that cleantech companies do. It's essential, especially during these uncertain times, for a cleantech business to have a solid financial base to continue to innovate and grow. Our team members have expertise with venture capital-funded startups, state and federal energy regulations, financial planning and analysis, cash flow forecasting, financial reporting, and business systems and controls. We understand that it can be cost-prohibitive for startups or SMBs to hire a full-time CFO and accounting department and that most of these companies do not have founding members on their teams with that skill set. To fill that need, we provide lower-cost, expert consulting to get these companies started, and build finance and accounting infrastructure that resembles companies further along in their life cycle so that it's not an inhibitor as they enter high growth mode. Describe what the company does for its clients: We provide outsourced CFO services, accounting, and strategic planning for our clients. We offer financial planning and analysis (FP&A), cash flow forecasting, budgeting and reporting, guidance during capital raising and M&A activities, implementing accounting systems and controls, board and investor reporting, as well as manage the audit and tax process with external CPA firms. We are the finance and accounting department for our clients. Our clients are creating incredible technologies that are moving us toward the clean energy, circular economy. That's half the challenge. They also need to run viable businesses. That's where we come in. We create from scratch and run their back-office systems, controls, and processes. We've been serving the needs of clean technology and renewable energy companies for years, bringing together the right team of financial and accounting experts with in-depth industry knowledge and technical skill. We help businesses take advantage of federal and state incentives and tax credits, wade through existing regulations, and plan out a strategy for the future. Moving from operational growth to liquidity requires strong financial management and accounting excellence. Companies need to demonstrate strong financial controls and acumen. ecoCFO puts these procedures and controls in place for our clients so that we can meet the expectations of the board members, investors, partners, and potential acquirers. What sets ecoCFO apart from other financial service companies? Not only do we have deep expertise and years of experience in financial services, accounting, and federal and state regulations, we also have real and practical experience with solar, wind, hydro, CHP, as well as energy storage development, financing, construction, and asset management. We have done work in water and wastewater treatment, waste management and recycling, EVs and batteries, sustainably produced materials, and with various cleantech nonprofits. Cleantech companies have specific requirements from a financial and regulatory perspective, and this has a significant impact on both short and long term financial and strategic planning. Because of that, we do much more than the accounting for these companies. We run large projects for some of our clients and have deep relationships with the key players in the industry. Our clients are funded by groups such as the Department of Energy, Clean Energy Venture Group, Breakthrough Energy Ventures, Saudi Aramco, Flagship Ventures, Volta, Intel, Applied Ventures, Hegemon, Braemar, Prelude, Blackrock, Credit Suisse, NYSERDA, MassCEC, and now more than ever, the SBA. We know what controls and systems they will need. We also know how to connect these companies with the vendors, lawyers, VCs, CPAs, and auditors that have cleantech expertise as we've worked with them for years. Are there any new/popular services or items you want to highlight? We are working very closely with our small business clients to make sure they apply for (if eligible) and receive all the federal and state loans and grants available to them during the COVID-19 pandemic. The CFO's role at a time like this is essential. We have run countless cash flow forecasts and scenarios in the last 2 months in an effort to plan and prepare for possible outcomes. Over the previous 6 months, 5 of our companies have executed A or B round financing events, so we have been busy building countless financial models and populating data rooms to support those negotiations. I'd say the last six months have been one of the busiest times, as we kicked off annual budgeting for the upcoming year, and then rolled right into audit and tax season. We have a couple of hundred reporting entities and project companies that are subject to audit requirements, so working through that is a significant undertaking for all involved. Challenges What are some challenges facing the clean energy/cleantech industry that you feel are most important to address? I think we all have our eyes on oil and gas prices, spark spreads, and COVID-19 right now. It's truly a unique and challenging time. When these massive federal bills are passed, it gives me pause as we are racing to digest all of this new information without clear guidance on the possible drawbacks. I feel a potential challenge or drawback to the SBA programs is that there will be tax breaks or other favorable laws afforded to us in the future that those who received PPP loans will be deemed ineligible. That may very well be fair, and we often make short term decisions at the expense of long term upside; however, in this situation, we probably don't know what those long-term sacrifices are yet. It's all moot, though, if someone is in a position where taking PPP is your last line of defense to ensure the business outlasts the pandemic. The economic slowdown caused by the fight against the coronavirus is taking a toll on parts of the cleantech and renewable energy industry the same way that it's affecting the rest of the economy. We all need to pull together to make sure that the cleantech and renewable energy businesses in New Hampshire make it through this period and come out the other side ready to grow and continue our mission. What do you want potential future clients to know about ecoCFO? We speak your language of acronyms and know the impacts they have on your businesses. Whether it's ITC, RECs, MACRS, NPDES, DPU, PUC, or any other number of them, we're right there with you. Secondly, it seems counterintuitive, but we look forward to the day you hire full-time finance and accounting staff. We will even help you do it because it means it's another success story for us where we supported you to the point that you've grown enough to justify it, and we helped you get there. In the meantime, outsourcing your finance department is an excellent way to both reduce the cost and time of handling it in-house. At the same time, you also gain specialized cleantech & renewable energy industry expertise from our experiences elsewhere. CENH involvement Why does ecoCFO support Clean Energy NH? Our mission aligns well with Clean Energy NH. We are committed to working with companies that are building an eco-friendly future for the state. We are devoted to making sure these companies succeed by providing our financial expertise in tandem with the advocacy work that CENH does on behalf of its membership. There are viable, lucrative economic opportunities for businesses in New Hampshire that are untapped. There's an opportunity to create jobs and wealth for the founders and social wealth for everyone in terms of a cleaner environment. Both Clean Energy NH and ecoCFO are looking for ways to support this goal. What would ecoCFO say to potential new members? It's never too late to make a difference. Clean Energy NH provides a valuable educational service to the state, making sure that these issues are front and center in the business community. Its track record of success and impact is unparalleled in the last five years, and its potential for more significant impact is not limited by skills or capabilities, but rather the financial means to take on additional dockets, initiatives, and policy interventions. New Hampshire Why does ecoCFO like being based in the Granite State? We have it all here. With the White Mountain National Forest, the Appalachian Trail, Lake Winnipesaukee, and of course, the Beaches. You can feel like you're on vacation with a 15-minute drive no matter where you live. It's an ideal state for anyone who loves the outdoors, and it's a great setting to raise a family and for this kind of business. Plus, the craft beer scene just keeps getting better. Are there things the state can do to be more encouraging or welcoming to the clean energy/cleantech industry? It is estimated that 21 percent of electricity in the United States will come from renewable sources this year, up from 10 percent in 2010. But as a state, NH is lagging far behind, providing only about 1 percent of energy from renewable sources. We don't want to miss out on the jobs and the economic boom that will eventually come from this section of the economy. We encourage our state government to reconsider net metering for the solar industry and for everyone to reach out to our senators and US Representatives to include the renewable energy industry in the next round of COVID-19 relief programs. Learn more and connect at www.ecocfo.com!
- CENH Releases 2019 Clean Energy Employment Report, an Inside Look at the Cleantech Industry
Over the last several years the New England region, along with the nation, has witnessed a maturing and evolving clean energy and clean technology, or cleantech, industry. Cleantech jobs have expanded greatly with new businesses opening their doors and hiring a full range of skilled employees around the state. New Hampshire is no exception and Clean Energy New Hampshire (CENH), the state’s leading clean energy and cleantech educator and advocate, is thrilled to release a key report highlighting positive growth in the industry and confirming a total of 17,000 employed in cleantech within the Granite State as of the end of 2018. CENH is proud to release the 2019 New Hampshire Clean Energy and Employment Report. “We’re excited to release this report to provide an update to our 2014 Cleantech Market Report and further showcase the significant strides this industry has made in our great state,” says Michael Behrmann, Director of Business Development at CENH. “This report is a step forward for the Granite State as we begin discussing impactful ways to respond to the current economic challenges and what industries may deliver enhanced results with focused support coming out of the pandemic. The cleantech industry has continued to show growth throughout different industry sectors and can serve the citizens and businesses in this state extremely well by expanded energy independence, use of clean fuels, and greater workforce and economic growth. Cleantech is a general term applied to innovative technologies, products, and services that enhance performance in the energy, construction, utility, transportation, and waste industries, usually focused on energy applications. Jobs in cleantech range from clean energy installers and energy efficiency contractors to those involved with financing and legal aspects as well as advanced manufacturing, consulting, and software development. The cleantech sector is a rapidly expanding global industry and provides desirable well-paying jobs for NH’s residents. CENH, working with numerous stakeholder organizations in the state, hopes greater attention and investment can be brought to this dynamic industry in the years to come. Greater understanding of the value of this industry to the state can inform policies and state action to encourage growth and foster a favorable business climate. As employers and employees who work in the state look to an unknown economic future, cleantech can help us successfully rebound from the pandemic more quickly, all while providing well-paying jobs and bringing about a successful transition to a local, clean economy. The complete report can be accessed via the Clean Energy NH Homepage!
- What You Can Do to Help Clean Energy During COVID-19
Clean Energy NH (CENH) is closely monitoring the status of discussions for state and federal aid to various industries to alleviate impacts caused to our economy by the COVID-19 pandemic. At this time, oil prices are down dramatically. Fossil fuel interests are calling for a bailout in the form of a major purchase by the federal government, and likely more. Fossil fuel interests are well-positioned with funding and lobbyists to influence government spending. The clean energy industry, however, also deserves attention and aid from the federal government. As the pandemic has developed, we have witnessed solar energy projects being delayed or cancelled. Many projects are facing supply chain or workforce issues, coupled with the difficulty of receiving timely permitting and inspections. Energy efficiency contractors are unable to perform critical weatherization work or energy audits, forcing drastic layoffs and threatening the future of the energy efficiency workforce. Offshore wind efforts cannot host public meetings or continue coordination among stakeholders, dragging out already prolonged project timelines and threatening project viability. The list goes on and on. All told, the clean energy industry employs hundreds of thousands of Americans, larger than the fossil fuel industry, and contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to our nation’s economy. It is in our nation’s interest to support the clean energy industry as a smart investment in our energy future. Federal support for many renewable energy technologies is already in place in the form of the Investment Tax Credit (ITC). The ITC is in the process, however, of being permanently phased out. The continuation and expansion of this important program is something CENH sees an opportunity to support clean energy during this time of economic downturn.. As one example, by extending the ITC for the next 5 years and re-instituting the grant in lieu of tax credit, as well as expanding eligibility for energy storage, electric vehicles, advanced biomass heating technology and other technologies, the federal government can provide a simple and cost-effective stimulus. The federal government can also play a vital role in providing stimulus to energy efficiency efforts.. The energy efficiency sector added more new jobs in NH in 2019 than any other energy sector but is now facing some of the largest layoffs. While the short-term business loan program is helpful, the federal government can help this sector by expanding energy efficiency tax credits and instituting an efficiency and conservation block grant program, similar to that of the 2009 stimulus. This will ensure long-term support for the industry after the pandemic. What You Can Do Today! CENH is calling on our members and supporters to encourage our Federal delegation to prioritize these items as Congress considers further economic stimulus. Please contact Senators Hassan and Shaheen and your US House Representative. A phone call is best and only takes about one minute but can make a huge difference. Ask them to push for the inclusion of the policies described above in the next round of economic stimulus. It is critically important at this time to support renewable energy, clean transportation, and energy efficiency as we begin the long road ahead of economic recovery. You can find their contact information here; https://www.usa.gov/elected-officials. Thank you!
- Member Spotlight: Freedom Energy Logistics
If someone were to quiz you on three energy buzz words, you might think you solved the test by proudly exclaiming “non-wires alternatives!” In this case, you’d be wrong. Our February Clean Energy NH member spotlight claims the top three energy buzzwords: Freedom Energy Logistics. Dissecting each word of the company’s name provides a solid overview of their work. “Freedom” can refer to the company’s consulting and procurement services that help its clients choose energy options that suit their cost preferences and renewable energy priorities. “Energy” can refer to the company’s unique methods of electricity and natural gas supply purchasing, as well as their renewable energy options. “Logistics” can refer to the way they advise their customers on ‘how and when’ to intelligently purchase electricity. Add these three buzzwords together and you have Freedom Energy Logistics, twice named to the INC 5000 list in 2017 and 2018. Founded in 2006, Freedom Energy Logistics has fourteen years of experience serving some of the region’s largest manufacturers, municipalities, and businesses. As an energy management firm, Freedom’s 25 employees help clients make the most cost-effective decisions on where to source power. Some of those 25 employees are young energy professionals, welcomed into the “Freedom Family” from partnerships with local colleges and universities. Freedom sees it as their corporate responsibility to help develop the future work force and leaders of New Hampshire by investing and empowering their employees to better themselves, refine their skills, and ultimately advance their careers. Freedom earned the “Coolest Company for Young Professionals” in 2018 by Stay, Work, Play. Headed by father-son team August (Gus) and Bart Fromuth, Freedom Energy Logistics joined Clean Energy NH in 2020 after serving as the Premier Sponsor of the 2019 Local Energy Solutions Conference, the state’s largest conference for clean energy. Freedom offers a range of “green energy” services for clients seeking to reach renewable energy goals. These include efficiency upgrades (through partners offering efficiency services), direct-to-green/virtual net metering, a unique power-purchasing agreement between clients and local renewable generators, and green energy contracts. Freedom also offers services relating to another three-term energy buzzword: Community Choice Aggregation (CCA). Under CCA, local governments can procure and provide electricity to their residents and businesses on a competitive basis. CCA programs can harness private sector innovation to lower costs for customers and provide other energy services. Clean Energy NH is proud to work alongside members like Freedom Energy Logistics to provide important education and technical assistance for the future of CCA. Learn more about Freedom Energy Logistics on their website, www.felpower.com.
- NH Hosts First Gulf of Maine Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting
On December 12, the Bureau of Offshore Energy Management (BOEM) hosted the first Gulf of Maine Intergovernmental Renewable Energy Task Force Meeting at the University of New Hampshire. This meeting was the kick-off for the new Task Force, which includes members of state agencies, state and local officials, and tribal representatives from Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine. Governor Sununu opened the meeting and expressed great interest and enthusiasm for the Task Force’s work and the future of the offshore wind industry in the Granite State. Furthermore, the meeting was standing-room only, demonstrating the deep interest of stakeholders and members of the public in offshore wind energy. Clean Energy NH was present at the Task Force Meeting and has compiled some highlights below. If you missed the meeting or want to learn more about any of the items described below, BOEM will be posting all of the day’s presentations online here: https://www.boem.gov/renewable-energy/state-activities/gulf-maine-intergovernmental-renewable-energy-task-force-meeting The Task Force provides a mechanism for coordination with stakeholders. The purpose is to provide a platform for information exchange, as the Task Force is neither a decision making nor approval body. A final charter will be finalized and released after January 3rd. The process for offshore wind energy development is as follows, with approximate length of time for each stage of the process: · Planning & Analysis (up to 2 years) · Leasing (1-2 years) · Site Assessment (approximately 5 years) · Construction & Operation (2 years) Activities involved during these phases include identifying lease areas, environmental review, sale notices, comments, and auctions, site characterization surveys and site assessment plans, and engineering reports. See BOEM’s presentation for a helpful chart describing each phase, the associated work to be completed during each phase, and sample time frames. This means New Hampshire could see offshore wind projects in approximately 10 years. However, the state has the ability to prepare and benefit from economic development in the very near future through offshore wind supply chain development. Representatives from New Hampshire, Maine, and Massachusetts presented on each state’s renewable energy goals and perspectives on offshore wind development. Agencies in New Hampshire that are very involved in offshore wind include the Office of Strategic Initiatives and the Department of Business and Economic Affairs, and representatives from many others are involved with the Task Force to ensure economic and environmental interests are well-represented. All meetings of the Task Force are open to the public, who were permitted to state comments during a portion of the meeting. Stakeholders representing Eversource, IBEW, commercial fisherman, and climate advocates expressed their views. Comments were overwhelmingly positive although a few stakeholders expressed concern and caution for how development could impact fishing interests and wildlife. An important resource for offshore wind environmental impact literature is called “Tethys” and can be accessed at https://tethys.pnnl.gov/institution/boem-office-renewable-energy-programs The meeting continued with presentations from Task Force members including the Navy, Coast Guard, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, National Marine Fisheries Service, NOAA Coastal Zone Management, Northeast Regional Ocean Council, New England Fishery Management Council, and Responsible Offshore Development Alliance. Information was also presented by the U.S. Department of Energy. The next meeting of the BOEM Task Force has not yet been scheduled. Clean Energy NH will send an update when the next meeting is scheduled, and we encourage our members and supporters to attend meetings if they are interested in offshore wind!