Out With the Old, In With the New: U.S. Electricity Retailers are Ditching Fossil Fuels

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The era of renewable energy is underway! The public is raving about renewable energy and it’s social impact because it’s cleaner, high-tech, provides new jobs and is the future of energy. As customers have been demanding options for 100% renewable energy, three U.S. electricity providers have made that possible for customers.

Three retail electricity providers will be providing customers the option to buy 100% renewable electricity. When one makes the switch, others will follow. The three providers providing customers with this option are Portland General Electric, Appalachian Power and Gexa Energy. Although these retailers are offering customers 100% renewable plan options, the plans are not the same.

What’s The Difference Between The Three?

Appalachian Power services customers in Virginia and they will begin to utilize their Wind, Water & Sunlight service to supply 100% renewable power to any customer in Virginia—both residential and industrial. Appalachian Power serves 341 megawatts of 100 percent renewable energy available from owned, operated or contracted wind, hydro and solar projects.

Portland General Electric’s plan for their customers has been named the “Green Future Impact”, which will only be available to large commercial and industrial customers. This program gives their customers a way to meet aggressive sustainability and climate goals. “Cities and large customers are leading the way to a clean energy future. We are pleased to offer another cost-effective way to help them achieve their green energy goals,” said PGE President and CEO Maria Pope. “Together, we are making Oregon an example in the fight against climate change.”

Located in Houston, Texas, Glexa Energy’s plan is vastly different than Portland General Electric. Glexa Energy will only be offering 100% renewable energy to all future residential, but they are the only company offering this to customers at no additional cost. “We’re dedicated to the lives of Texans, and with our plans backed by 100% renewable energy, customers don’t have to choose between caring for the environment and low cost,” said Brian Landrum, president of Gexa Energy.

The Future of Renewable Generation

Energy providers are taking advantage of consumer demand for renewable energy. Now that these small players have taken steps to implement 100% renewable options for their customers, others are sure to follow. Bigger and more powerful companies and entities will become more likely to join the cause. Although this is a win for renewable energy, it is going to take time for other companies to make the switch.

Intersect Energy is prepared to help you take the next steps towards a renewable energy future and make a social impact. We provide commercial and industrial companies with dynamic and alternative energy development. We offer assessment, design, financing, installation and management. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

How Renewable Energy Can Create Billions of Dollars in Health Benefits

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The advantages of using renewable energy just keeps growing! In a recent study conducted by MIT, it was stated that ten states in the Midwest and Great Lakes region of the US could potentially be on the receiving end of close to $5 billion in health benefits in 2030. What is the cause of the additional benefits? Let’s take a deeper look.

Health Benefits and Potential Costs

Health concerns have been on the rise in recent years due to climate change, however as more states shift to renewable energy, the concerns have been reduced. One major change has been the decrease in greenhouse gases that negatively affect air quality. This has resulted in cleaner air, which has greatly improved the respiratory and cardiovascular health for those in the states with high renewable energy usage.

Reaching the $5 Billion Goal

For the states in this region to reach this goal, they will need to produce a certain percentage of their electricity from renewable energy sources. Currently, the mark has been set to 13 percent. However, if the states are able to exceed that number and reach 19.5 percent, they could receive up to $13.5 billion in health benefits in 2030 as opposed to $5.8 billion in costs. These numbers were calculated using a formula combining economic and air pollution models. If the states are able to achieve this goal, it could potentially lead to other states in the US committing to renewable energy, thus continuing the improvement of air quality.

Interested in learning more about solar energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

New Jersey’s Plan to Reach the State’s 100% Clean Energy Target with Distributed Energy Resources

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Clean EnergyThe Garden State is paving the path to achieve 100% clean energy by 2050. To begin the process, Gridworks, GridLab and the Center for Renewables Integration joined forces to outline the benefits and necessary steps to reach New Jersey’s goal of 100% clean energy in their 2019 Energy Master Plan.

2019 Energy Master Plan

This master plan outlines the capabilities of distributed energy resources (DER) and how they can provide services to help homeowners and utility scale customers. DERs include solar panels, power plants, electricity storage, small natural gas generators, etc. Most of their solar development in New Jersey has come from the residential and C&I sectors. This transition concludes that DER will provide new services for both utilities and customers to reduce overall energy demand and create jobs across the state of New Jersey.

“In 2001, the year before I became the President of the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities, New Jersey had 6 solar installations across the entire state,” said Center for Renewables Integration (CRI) co-founder Jeanne Fox. “We pioneered innovative solutions then and now have more solar installed than any state in the Northeast. The principals in this report build on our past progress and will keep New Jersey on the forefront of fighting climate change for years to come.”

Key Recommendations

In order to reach the 100% renewable energy goal that New Jersey has set, Gridworks, GridLab and the Center for Renewables Integration outlined four key recommendations in the 2019 Energy Master Plan.

  • Integrate DER
  • Encourage electrification of buildings and transportation to reduce emissions
  • Deploy clean technologies in low-income communities
  • Conduct Holistic Grid Planning to reach 100% carbon free goal

Community solar will play a leading role in achieving this goal, which can offer access to clean energy for all New Jersey residents. Jeff Cramer, Executive Director of the Coalition for Community Solar Access (CCSA) explained, “We look forward to working with all DER providers and key decision makers in New Jersey to ensure community solar is largely included into the distributed energy resource mix that is currently being planned.”

At Intersect Energy, we are committed to helping New Jersey reach their goal of 100% clean energy by 2050. We offer a wide variety of renewable energy installations/services such as wind and solar. As renewable energy continues to increase in popularity, we are here to help our customers transition to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Contact us today if you have any questions or inquiries regarding renewable energies. We look forward to hearing from you!

New Solar Permit Software Could Bring Big Changes to the Solar Energy Market

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Solar PermitWith over 2 million solar customers in the U.S., new technology to help store solar power is on the rise. This technology is helping to reduce the cost of solar installations and is saving money for local governments. Solar power and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) are joining forces with the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) and many others to develop a new automated solar permit software for distributed solar storage.

The Cost

The cost to install solar energy in the U.S. has decreased 70% over the last 10 years, but costs are still much higher compared to other countries. The reason that the cost is higher in the U.S. is largely due to costs associated with permits, inspections and cancelation fees.

New Technology Will Reduce Costs

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Technology Transitions awarded the NREL $695,000 from their Technology and Commercialization Fund to develop a software platform called Solar Automated Permit Processing (SolarAPP) that will significantly reduce the time and cost of permitting applications. In turn, this will make solar energy more affordable for businesses, which will expand solar energy development and job growth.

“Inefficient permitting can cause frustration and added costs for Americans who just want to go solar,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, President and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association. “A streamlined, easy-to-use solution such as SolarAPP can cut down on burdensome applications and connect solar projects to the grid faster. A more reliable permitting experience will help both inspectors and solar customers save time and money without sacrificing safety or quality.”

The SolarAPP initiative builds on previous and existing programs, which will provide a streamlined process that will increase efficiency and reduce the time and cost of solar installation. This new initiative will lead to lower cancellation rates across the board and will make it more efficient and cost effective for business owners to access clean, affordable solar energy. This new platform could also benefit local governments that are facing budget constraints and growing workloads to keep up with the accelerated pace of solar energy development.

Interested in learning more about solar energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next solar energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

Renewable Energy Power Capacity Takes The Leap Over Coal

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Renewable EnergyThe good news just keeps coming in for renewable energy! With the U.S. making stronger efforts to reduce pollution and implement new forms of alternative energy, there has been a steady power shift in relation to energy usage. This past April was a milestone for renewable energy, and the total generating capacity of renewable energy amounted to 21.56%, while coal’s capacity dropped from 23.04% to 21.55%. This shows that a significant change is on the horizon as renewable energy is becoming more popular than coal. Natural gas, as well as renewable energy, are taking more and more market share at the expense of coal. Let’s take a deeper look at this development.

Coal is Cooling Down

With data released by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), the trend becomes crystal clear. Coal is on the way out, while renewable energy and natural gas are on the way in. Additional statistics presented by FERC suggest that additional units for coal added were only two units, while solar, wind and natural gas combined amounted to over 3,000 unit additions.

Regarding retirements of units, coal unit retirements amounted to 50 units while solar, wind, and water combined only amounted to 21 units retired. Finally, the high probability of units to be added for coal amounted to 2 units while solar, wind, and natural gas amounted to over 55,000 units. This certainly backs up the notion that coal is on the way out and renewable energy is taking over slowly but surely.

Renewable Energy is Taking Over

While capacity does not translate in actual generation of energy, the trend shows that over time, renewable energy will overtake coal in both capacity and energy generation. Currently, coal contributes to 21.55% of total generating capacity, while wind, solar and water combined contribute to roughly 19% of total generating capacity. But with the predicted data from FERC, it can be inferred that renewable energies will overtake coal sooner than later. Natural gas is the number one contributor to total generating capacity with 44.44%. Natural gas will hold the number one spot for quite some time.

At Intersect Energy, we provide our clients with the highest quality service to help them lower their business’s impact on the environment while increasing the efficiency and effectiveness of their respective businesses. We offer a wide variety of renewable energy installations/services such as wind and solar. As renewable energy continues to increase in popularity, we are here to help our customers transition to renewable and sustainable energy sources. Contact us today if you have any questions or inquiries regarding renewable energies. We look forward to hearing from you!

Renewable Energy Prices Continue To Fall– Making Them Comparable To Fossil Fuel Prices

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Renewable energy sources such as hydroelectric power, wind power, and concentrated solar panel energy are continuing to decrease in price. The good news was contained in the newest Renewable Power Generation Costs report released by the Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). IRENA also predicted in their report that renewable energy sources will be cheaper than fossil fuels by the year 2020, which is fantastic news for not only the renewable energy industry, but the world in general!

Cost Reductions

Hydroelectric power is the cheapest source of renewable energy at an average cost of $0.05 per kilowatt hour (kWh). Not far behind are solar and geothermal energy, which cost an average of $.10/kWh. Finally, wind power is the most expensive of renewable energy sources, which costs an average of $0.13/kWh. It is important to understand that these statistics are based on global information and individual projects pertaining to renewable energy can range from $0.05/kWh to $0.25/kWh. This is still great news as to compare these prices with that of fossil fuels, which range from $0.05/kWh to $0.15/kWh, the price difference is minuscule.

What Cause the Price Reductions?

The cost reductions in renewable energy have come about because the price to build and run new renewable energy plants has decreased. The global weighted-average cost for renewable energies are as follows: bioenergy electricity fell by 14%, solar PV and wind fell by 13%, hydropower fell by 11%, and most significantly, concentrated solar panels (CSP) fell by 26%. As the total cost to operate the plants continues to decrease, incremental but noticeable decreases in per kilowatt hour prices for renewable energies will continue to decrease as well.

Benefit to Society

Up until this point, the main topic of this article has been focused on the numbers and how renewable energies are now able to compete with fossil fuel prices. But, there is a greater benefit to mention. With diminishing usage of fossil fuels and increased usage of renewable energy, our environment will benefit and pollution will begin to slow down. Renewable energy will never run out, while fossil fuels have a limited supply. The sustainability of renewable energy creates optimism that the climate objectives in the Paris Agreement can be met–now it’s just a matter of making sure we can accelerate the growth of renewables.

If you are interested in joining the movement towards renewable energy, contact the team at Intersect Energy today! We provide analysis, financing, and structuring of alternative energy solutions for your site with a goal of reducing the site’s environmental impact while maximizing savings for you as the site owner. Contact us today to get started on your next renewable energy project. Make sure you keep up with the latest news in the world of renewable energy by following us on LinkedIn!

The Emissions Cap—Will there be enough green energy to go around?

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The Big Apple is known for its beautiful skyline and architecture—but these buildings will go through some major changes in the next couple of months. On Earth Day, Mayor Bill de Blasio signed legislation that requires buildings 25,000 square feet or larger to cut greenhouse-gas emissions 40% by 2030. There are just about 50,000 buildings in the city that are subject to these new rules, and these buildings account for about a third of the cities carbon footprint. The city has a goal to reduce carbon emissions by 80% by 2050.

How They Will Achieve These Goals

Now that this legislation has been put into place, this is going to bring a challenge for landlords to find low-carbon or emissions-free electricity. The only option for many landlords is going to be to plug their buildings into green power sources through the grid. The legislation establishes caps on the amount of greenhouse-gas emissions permitted per square feet.

“This will be the largest disruption in the history of New York City real estate,” said John Mandyck, the chief executive officer of the Urban Green Council. “Buildings will have to do deep energy retrofits or buy green power or eventually look at carbon trading. We get that it’s tough and that billions of dollars will need to be spent to reduce carbon emissions. But new technology and new business models will be invented to help buildings get there.”

What This Means For Renewable Energy

The city is targeting 1,000 megawatts of solar installed by 2030, and 500 megawatts of battery storage by 2025. “This legislation was critical to building demand for a greener grid in the city,” explained Mandyck. “And where there’s demand, supply will follow. The council effectively primed the pump.” Currently, there are 154 megawatts of solar generation in the city with no significant battery storage capacity—which is partly due to the FDNY prohibiting lithium batteries due to fire risks.

As one of the most populated cities in the world, New York City will help to lead the way for green energy. Not only are green energy solutions good for the environment, but they can help your bottom line. At Intersect Energy, we provide alternative energy solutions for commercial and industrial companies alike. If you are looking to reduce your environmental impact and maximize your savings, Intersect Energy is here to help. Contact the team at Intersect Energy today! Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Renewable Energy On the Rise in Pennsylvania

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Pennsylvania’s two energy giants—natural gas and nuclear power industries—have been pitted against each other in the debate over the state’s proposed $500 million nuclear rescue package. Renewable energy advocates believe they hold the swing vote and are requesting a seat at the table to determine if this bill will pass. Let’s take a deeper look at the specifics of the plan and what it means for the energy industry moving forward.

Nuclear Rescue Plan in PA

The proposed $500 million Pennsylvania nuclear rescue plan will cost each state household about an additional $1.77 per month in increased electric rates. This new bill will require utility providers and other retail sellers of electricity to purchase half their power from zero-emission nuclear power plants. In addition, this proposed bill requires urgent action to avert closure of Exelon’s Three Mile Island Unit 1 Reactor.

Green Power Bills in PA

Philadelphia area legislators are set to introduce green energy bills that will increase the share of solar and wind power in the state. The green energy bills will help reduce carbon emissions by requiring renewable energy to make up 30 percent of all power sold in the state by 2030, up from the current law that sets a target of 8 percent by 2021.

“The time is now, while you’re talking about the nuclear bill, to start talking about where do we want to be by 2030 and 2050 in terms of solar and wind in Pennsylvania, because otherwise, we’re going to be left behind,” said State Rep. Steve McCarter, (D., Montgomery), who is sponsoring a house version of the legislation.

Environmentalists are Torn

Currently, Pennsylvania’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards require 18 percent of electricity be derived from renewable energy sources. Without this nuclear rescue package, some environmentalists fear that the closure of even one reactor will result in an immediate increase in gas-fired production, which would increase the state’s emission levels.

There are environmentalists who oppose this bill because it will not help increase renewable energy. “What we want is a climate bill that would put the state on track to decarbonize the power sector, not just a nuclear subsidy bill,” said Szybist, of the NRDC.

Interested in learning more about how renewable energy can help your business? As a Distributed Energy System developer, Intersect Energy has the expertise and services you need to find solar power opportunities and capital. Contact us today! Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

The Future Looks Bright—and Affordable—for Renewable Energy

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According to the most recent Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) analysis, the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for lithium-ion batteries has dropped 35% since the first half of 2018. Even more shocking is its decrease since 2012—a whopping 76%—meaning renewable energy is going to start to give non-renewable power generation a run for its money. The renewable energy experts at Intersect Energy are here to further explain the most recent findings on renewable energy, and what it means for you and your wallet.

A Decrease in Price Means an Increase in Renewable Energy

Back in 2012, the cost of battery storage was a definite deterrent—at $800/MWh (megawatt-hour), it’s no surprise that renewable energy wasn’t the first choice back then. Now that prices have significantly dropped, all the way down to $187/MWh, it is safe to say that the electricity that is produced by renewables and integrated with batteries is a clean, affordable option, and will gain increasing popularity over fossil fuels.

Why There Has Been Such a Significant Decrease

The cost of lithium-ion batteries are not the only renewable energy input that has lower costs. In fact, according to Elena Giannakopoulou, head of energy economics at BNEF, the LCOE per MWh for onshore wind has decreased by 49%, solar by 84% and offshore wind by 56%. Giannakopoulou claims that this decline is occurring because of advances in technology, scale of economies, price competition and improved manufacturer experience.

How This Impacts You

Thanks to these recent findings and dramatic cost reductions across the renewable energy spectrum, it means that battery storage—combined with solar or wind projects—can now compete with coal and gas-fired generation. Even in markets without subsidies, this dynamic duo of battery storage and solar or wind will be capable of supplying enough dispatchable power. Plus, an Energy Innovation report recently stated that not only could wind and solar replace approximately 74% of the U.S. coal fleet, but that its customers will also enjoy immediate savings.

Ready to start reaping the many benefits of renewable energy? Contact the team at Intersect Energy today! Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.

Key to Clean Energy: Batteries

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In a world that is becoming increasingly aware about climate change, the surge for renewable energy over the past two decades continues to increase. Just a few years ago, wind and solar technologies that were new and expensive are now the key to cost-competitive low carbon energy solutions. Finding cost-effective storage to keep up with the demands for renewable energy has become the next big challenge, and batteries have become the solution. Large battery installations are being built around the world, and they might end up in your neighborhood.

Batteries Just Got Cheaper

Batteries offer a viable solution for storing renewable energy, and fortunately—over the last year—the price of lithium-ion batteries has fallen by 35%. As the need for batteries increases, the cost of batteries continues to drop. This means it will be more cost efficient to store more solar and wind power. In addition, according to a new Bloomberg New Energy Finance report, the cost of wind in solar has dropped by approximately 10-24 percent since last year. This is a major win for renewable energy because it’s helping them compete with fossil fuel-generated power.

A Bright Future for Batteries

These new massive battery storage projects are already being built in places like Florida and California to replace natural gas, and many more are in the works. Florida Power & Light Company, a subsidiary of NextEra Energy, plans to build the world’s largest solar-powered battery. This new solar-powered battery will replace 1,638 megawatts (MW) of generating capacity of two aging natural gas power generating units with clean and renewable energy. This capacity will be equal to some 100 million iPhone batteries.

“This is a monumental milestone in realizing the full benefits of solar power and yet another example of how FPL is working hard to position Florida as the global gold standard for clean energy,” Eric Silagy, president and chief executive officer of FPL, said in a statement. This project is just one of the latest plans around the world for the development of these renewable generation systems.

The Increased Demand

The increased demand for battery storage is influenced by government policy. In states like California, Hawaii, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Jersey and Oregon, they have adopted storage mandates and regulations. When businesses invest in these battery storage projects, federally a 30 percent Investment Tax Credit is available if it is associated with a renewable power generation project.

While the U.S. electric grid doesn’t necessarily need more storage now, with the increasing integration for wind, solar and other renewable energy resources, energy storage will become more important. If you’re looking to find solar power opportunities, Intersect Energy is here to help. Don’t forget to stay up to date with all the latest news in the renewable energy industry by following us on LinkedIn.