Tag: "smud"

02/28/20

  04:46:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 411 words  
Categories: All About Solar Power, PWP, LADWP, BWP, GWP, Residential Solar, Ranting

SMUD Scheme Threatens New Solar Homes Mandate

With very little fanfare, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District ("SMUD") just convinced the California Energy Commission to allow it to offer a SMUD-owned alternative to installing solar power systems on new homes under California’s just instituted New Solar Homes mandate. As other municipal utilities lined up in support – including PWP, LADWP, BWP and GWP – it is clear that this is nothing short of a full-on assault against the New Solar Homes mandate. Here’s our take…

Solar installed on a new home

Solar added to a new home in Altadena

The intent of the New Solar Homes mandate was to install appropriately sized solar power systems on every new home in California.  There are many benefits to such a program, including providing distributed power across the grid, thereby increasing grid reliability, as well as generating jobs and raising public awareness as solar becomes commonplace. 

The SMUD scheme thwarts all of that.  Instead, a SMUD-owned solar farm would have it production allocated across participating new homes.  (Tellingly, the SMUD scheme does not permit privately built community solar farms to participate in the program!)  Worse yet, the SMUD scheme effectively prevents subsequent home owners from adding local solar, since the first 4,700 kWhs must come from the SMUD-owned facility.

So how did this get approved?  In addition to all of the municipal utilities in California lining up behind SMUD’s power grab, so did much of the building industry (as they can simply fill out paperwork for compliance instead of actually building solar systems), and the IBEW (whose members get employed when utility-scale solar farms are built).  On the short end of the stick are local solar contractors, and consumers who lose the power to choose their own, local solar system because the builder decided to opt-into SMUD’s scheme.

What say you, PWP?

Which brings this back home.  While Pasadena Water and Power did not submit their own letter of support (that we could find), their trade association, the California Municipal Utilities Association, did.  Now there aren’t that many new homes being built in Pasadena at this point, but can we expect to see a similar power grab from PWP?  LADWP did submit their own letter and there are plenty of new homes going up within the City’s boundaries - is a similar scheme in the works?

The utilities rely on consumers being largely uninformed as to these schemes to push them through.  We will be keeping an eye on what our local utilities bring forward in the coming months.  Watch this space.

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03/06/13

  08:44:00 am, by Jim Jenal - Founder & CEO   , 361 words  
Categories: Solar News, Utilities, Commercial Solar, Energy Storage

SMUD & Stem Partner to Study High Solar Penetration

At a time when some utilities seem to be doing all that they can to curtail the growth of solar, it was encouraging to see a news item today highlighting a partnership between the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and California-based Stem which provides energy monitoring and management solutions.  Together, they are embarking on a two-year research project to “study the impact of high penetration solar photovoltaics (PV) on the grid.”

Stem’s technology monitors a building’s energy consumption and uses storage to shift demand from peak to off-peak periods - the exact sort of technology that we have asserted in the past will be necessary to allow solar to silence its critics.  Now, it is working with SMUD to develop the data to achieve that end.

From the Press Release:

During the first phase of the project, Stem and SMUD will work with residential and commercial customer volunteers from a solar-powered community to install Stem’s PowerMonitor data collection and analysis solution, examining the impact of a high penetration of PV on distribution circuit power quality. The data collected by Stem will inform SMUD of the amount of PV that can be added to a distribution feeder while maintaining grid stability and power quality.  These results will answer key questions including the effects of the second-by-second ramp rates of PV on SMUD’s system, and how distributed storage can be used to mitigate these effects.

“We’re looking forward to exploring the potential for the greater integration of solar energy into Sacramento’s electric distribution system,” said Mark Rawson from SMUD.  “Stem’s technology will enable us to both gather information and test solutions to possibly enable more clean energy in our community.”

Potential follow-on work may include SMUD deploying Stem’s distributed storage systems to test the potential for automatic, fast-responding distributed storage to improve power quality for customers on circuits with a high penetration of PV.

Frankly, we need to see a lot more of this sort of collaboration between technology companies and utilities and it is not at all surprising to see a Muni leading the way.  We will be following this closely over the next two years to see how their research plays out.

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Jim Jenal is the Founder & CEO of Run on Sun, Pasadena's premier installer and integrator of top-of-the-line solar power installations.
Run on Sun also offers solar consulting services, working with consumers, utilities, and municipalities to help them make solar power affordable and reliable.

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