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‘Climate action equals smaller energy bills’ is the message every Canadian needs to hear

Clean Energy Canada - Wed, 08/31/2022 - 05:00

There are perhaps no two forces more anxiety-inducing than the existential threat of climate change and the very personal threat of rising living costs.

But how do climate action and affordability overlap with each other?

This was an area of research we wished to better understand: the intersection of our greatest long-term threat and our most salient near-term one. Do people believe climate action would make life more affordable for them, or do they assume it would be yet another hefty bill atop a seemingly ever-growing stack?

While research shows climate action actually lowers energy bills, it was clear that people’s perceptions might not align with reality — and that these perceptions could heavily impact the next few years of political discourse. Especially as the Conservative Party of Canada’s leadership front-runner (whose fate will be confirmed on Sept. 10) sharpens his “axe the carbon tax” talking points.

Accordingly, Clean Energy Canada and Abacus Data conducted a series of Ontario-based surveys and focus groups this summer, given the political importance of Canada’s biggest swing province along with our desire to understand how recent regional EV investments were resonating with residents. What we found was that while almost everyone we surveyed saw climate action as broadly beneficial, many felt climate efforts were likely to cost them more over the short term — even if such efforts might save them money in the long run.

While participants strongly supported climate action regardless of this cost, it was clear that if our current climate efforts had an Achilles heel, a belief that it might cost people more in the short term was it — regardless of whether that was true.

It would be hard to overstate just how critical affordability concerns are right now to people. Last year, 90 per cent of Canadians ranked a pocketbook issue as a top concern likely to impact their vote in the 2021 election, while a deeper analysis revealed economic anxiety cuts across the political spectrum.

That said, a number of arguments did resonate strongly with those we engaged in this research, encouraging them to see climate action as beneficial to their cost of living.

Electric vehicles were widely understood as cheaper to fuel than gas cars, and participants viewed EV rebates (federal and provincial) along with government investments in charging infrastructure as effective ways to improve affordability.

This was consistent with a poll of 1,500 Ontarians we did in May, which found 63 per cent of Ontarians believe EVs are cheaper than gas cars when one considers the full cost of ownership, like fuel and maintenance.

They’re not wrong. Clean Energy Canada analyzed a number of popular electric and gas car models earlier this year and compared ownership costs over eight years. With just one exception, the electric version of every car looked at was cheaper — usually significantly so.

Another highly persuasive argument for participants was around energy security. While oil and gas prices are driven by factors outside our control — geopolitics and the manoeuvring of countries like Russia and Saudi Arabia — clean electricity is produced and priced in Canada.

These arguments were not only effective but grounded in reality.

Here in Canada, for example, provinces such as Quebec, Manitoba and BC with the cleanest electricity grids tend to have the lowest electricity costs in the country, while provinces such as Saskatchewan and Alberta highly dependent on fossil fuels charge ratepayers the most.

Meanwhile, the International Energy Agency expects average household energy bills in advanced economies to decline between 2020 and 2050 — with even steeper declines if governments achieve their net-zero ambitions by 2050.

Modelling from the Canadian Climate Institute similarly found that Canadians will spend a smaller percentage of their incomes on energy en route to net-zero.

These trends aren’t hard to explain: even if you’re spending more on electricity, a lack of fossil-fuel costs and improvements in energy efficiency add up to net savings.

Still, other climate action benefits were more obvious to people, from cleaner air to improved economic prosperity.

Nearly everyone we spoke to knew EV manufacturing was a major economic opportunity for Ontario. This wasn’t particularly surprising, considering Ford, General Motors and Stellantis have all made recent investments to manufacture EVs or EV batteries in the province — with plenty of political photo-ops, to boot.

But while Canadians now generally understand the link between economic growth and climate action, climate-ambitious governments would be wise to better communicate the cost-of-living benefits of their climate efforts while, at the same time, ensuring greater access to these long-term cost-saving solutions today.

And that includes Ontario Premier Doug Ford. The province has made big investments to manufacture EVs, while Ford now has his eye on a 100 per cent clean electricity grid. The premier has always expressed concern over Ontarians’ cost of living. He now has a critical opportunity to merge his oldest message with his government’s new, more climate-friendly vision.

In our current inflation crisis, it’s more important than ever that Canadians see a light at the end of the tunnel — and that climate action will take them there.

Those who paint climate action as an expensive luxury are out of step with reality, and yet, there remains a real gap between evidence and perception.

The climate reason is clear. The economic argument is strong. With a compelling cost-of-living case on its side, climate action will be that much more durable in the face of politicians who still wish to “axe the carbon tax.”

This post was co-authored by Abacus Data’s David Coletto and originally appeared in the National Observer.

The post ‘Climate action equals smaller energy bills’ is the message every Canadian needs to hear appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

We Finally Have a Bold National Climate Change Law… What’s Next?

Solar Foundation - Thu, 08/25/2022 - 11:26

If, like the team at IREC, you’re passionate about tackling the impacts of climate change and building a more sustainable and just future powered by clean energy, chances are you’re still basking in the glow of the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act—the most ambitious climate legislation in U.S. history. 

Signed into law by President Biden on August 16, 2022, the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) is, as the New York Times detailed, the “largest climate investment ever made by Congress, amounting to roughly $390 billion over 10 years.” $369 billion of that is allocated to programs that support the transition to clean energy sources (including energy efficiency and energy storage) and electric vehicles and other decarbonization technologies. 

Analysis by the Princeton University-led REPEAT Project on the likely climate impacts estimated that the IRA could cut U.S. emissions to 40% below 2005 levels by 2030, getting us two thirds of the way to the nation’s current 2030 goal and eliminating an additional billion metric tons of CO2-equivalent compared to existing policies. “And by driving down the cost of clean energy,” says Jesse Jenkins, Princeton energy systems engineer who helped lead the modeling effort, “it can make it easier for states or cities or companies to take further climate actions on their own.”

Many other organizations have already done an excellent job summarizing the details of the provisions in this expansive law, so we don’t aim to recreate the wheel with this article. Rather, we’re looking ahead at the road to a 100% clean energy economy that this bill paves, and exploring the complementary actions that will be needed to make the most of this historic moment. 

We know that the Inflation Reduction Act will massively increase the amount of renewable energy being installed in the United States, yet there remain a number of different barriers that—if not addressed—stand to significantly slow or complicate the process. IREC focuses on building the foundation for the rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency, so our focus every day is on identifying the regulatory, workforce, and local barriers that stand in the way of a 100% clean energy future, and working strategically to break them down. Read on for our take on some of the barriers that will be critical to address.

What’s in the Inflation Reduction Act? While we won’t devote this article to the details of the IRA, it’s helpful to know a few key highlights to understand its impacts.  A few of the notable elements of the IRA are that it:
  • ★ Restores clean energy tax credits and provides certainty on them for the next 10 years (through 2032).

  • ★ It restores the Investment Tax Credit and Production Tax Credit to their original 30% level for the next two years, before creating a technology-neutral tax credit starting in 2025, with requirements for paying prevailing wages and using apprenticed labor.

  • ★ It also establishes a standalone tax credit for energy storage, which has historically had to be paired with solar to qualify. 

  • ★ Provides significant funding for the U.S. Department of Energy to make loans, including for infrastructure upgrades on the electricity grid, which will be important in accommodating an influx of additional renewable energy generation. 

  • ★ Provides a number of different sources of funding for local communities to support this transition, increase resilience to the impacts of climate change, and address historic environmental injustices.
To get more into the details, here are a few articles you may find helpful: 
(This is not intended to be a comprehensive list, just a few resources we found helpful.)   Building the Clean Energy Workforce We Need

The Inflation Reduction Act includes a number of great wins for workers, measures that will ensure clean energy jobs continue to be quality, family-sustaining careers. But many, many more workers will be needed to support the kind of industry growth that the IRA puts us on a path toward. To put in context the kind of growth we are talking about, new analysis from the BlueGreen Alliance estimates that 5 million clean energy jobs will be created over the next decade!

Already 89% of solar employers and 80-91% of energy efficiency employers (depending on sector) report that it is somewhat or very difficult to fill their open positions. Without a sufficient supply of workers, it will take significantly longer to develop the clean energy and energy efficiency projects that this legislation enables.

Creating Inclusive Pathways to Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency Employment

Simply filling these jobs is not enough. It is critical to ensure these jobs are accessible to all. We know that clean energy industries remain predominantly white and male, not reflecting the diversity of the broader U.S. population. Ensuring that people of all backgrounds and walks of life have inclusive pathways to these quality jobs is an essential part of making the most of this momentous milestone in our nation’s history, and bringing its benefits to all Americans.

To help ensure we have the workers we need and that these job opportunities are inclusive for all, the National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance—led by IREC and the National Council on Workforce Education, NCWE—has been convening the many different types of organizations involved in clean energy workforce development to align on common challenges and the best solutions. To date, nearly 500 organizations from across the nation have participated, ranging from employers to training providers to community-based organizations to policy makers. 

The first year of the Alliance’s work, supported by Bank of America, will culminate this year in IREC’s annual Vision Summit on October 19, a one-day in-person and virtual conference, followed by the publication of a preliminary report on the Alliance’s findings. (Interested in getting involved? Join the program’s mailing list here.)

In a related effort, over the next three years, under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, IREC will be playing an active role in helping the Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP)—the nation’s largest whole-home energy efficiency program—recruit more workers, with a focus on increasing awareness of and access to these roles among underserved and energy-burdened communities. WAP retrofits homes of over 35,000 income-eligible households every year at no cost to residents, providing critical savings on energy costs and improving health outcomes.

Expanding Clean Energy Apprenticeships

The IRA instituted new labor requirements that companies must meet to receive the full value of federal incentives. Primarily affecting larger renewable energy and energy storage projects (> 1MW), commercial energy efficiency projects, and the construction and operation of a wide variety of manufacturing and fuel production facilities (including electric vehicle charging), employers will need to pay at least prevailing wages and have a minimum percentage of certain personnel performing construction, alteration, and repair work be apprentices in a Registered Apprenticeship Program (RAP). Projects that do not meet these new requirements, which will go into effect 60 days after the Secretary publishes related regulations, will only be eligible for 20% of the full value of the relevant tax credits or deductions. 

Helping employers navigate the U.S. apprenticeship system and implement RAPs to train workers is another key area where IREC is providing leadership. As detailed in an article for Solar Power World earlier this year, there are currently few existing options for solar apprenticeships. Through the Solar Ready Veterans Network™, which helps veterans access the benefits of solar careers, IREC and SEIA have been working to advance the use of RAPs across the solar industry. (RAPs are one of the best workforce development tools for attracting veterans, as veterans enrolled in a RAP are eligible for housing allowances through GI Bill.) Solar employers are invited to complete a brief survey to help us better understand industry perspectives and challenges related to registered apprenticeship programs. 

IREC is also a key partner on a recently announced Department of Labor award for a new National Apprenticeship Hub focused on providing support to the clean energy and energy efficiency industries. Stay tuned for more information coming soon on how to access free technical support for understanding the options for RAPs to train the workforce that will be needed to meet the growth that is expected from the IRA and other recently approved legislation. 

Training Workers Who Interact With Clean Energy

IREC is also directly working to increase clean energy knowledge and awareness among workers who are beginning to interact with these technologies more and more—such as building, fire, and safety officials. Under a 3 year program, IREC and its partners are expanding the knowledge of 30,000 code and safety professionals through one of the most widely-accessed clean energy clearinghouse websites, which houses expert information on clean energy codes, standards, permitting, and inspection. By increasing the familiarity and confidence of these key stakeholders to permit and inspect DERs, the project is reducing barriers to widespread clean energy deployment. Building operators and owners also need clean energy skills to adopt and operate clean energy technology. IREC continues our work in this arena with a program funded by NYSERDA to bring building controls and electrification training to the higher education setting through a partnership with the State University of New York.

Improving Interconnection Rules

To get clean energy projects connected to the grid, the local utility must approve the project’s interconnection application. Unfortunately, outdated and inefficient interconnection policies have consistently proven a barrier to the rapid installation of clean energy. IREC is the nation’s leading nonprofit expert on interconnection policies for clean energy and has helped shape the interconnection policies in over 40 states. 

The significant increase in clean energy projects being developed as a result of the IRA will make effective interconnection policies even more critical. It is well documented that when policies that accelerate distributed clean energy growth take effect without effective interconnection policies in place for clean energy projects, significant backlogs can occur.

For example, after a new community solar program took off in Minnesota, interconnection delays in one utility territory were so bad that an analysis by the Minnesota Solar Energy Industries Association estimated it would take 260 years to clear the backlog at the utility’s current pace of review! It will be critical for states to proactively examine their interconnection policies to avoid similar bottlenecks in development. 

Relatedly, new tax credits for storage will increase storage installations. This is fantastic news because the unique characteristics of storage—namely that it can release energy on command, not just when the sun is shining or the wind is blowing—provide essential flexibility to enable a grid powered predominantly by renewables. Unfortunately, energy storage faces unique interconnection challenges in states that have not updated their interconnection rules to tailor them to this technology. 

IREC and a team of industry-leading partners have been working to give states and utilities the tools they need to reduce the costs and time to safely interconnect energy storage and solar-plus-storage systems. The Toolkit and Guidance for the Interconnection of Energy Storage and Solar-Plus-Storage provides vetted, consensus-based solutions to eight regulatory and technical barriers to the interconnection of energy storage and solar-plus-storage systems to the distribution grid. IREC and partners are also engaging in extensive training efforts to familiarize regulators and utilities with these solutions. (Sign up for our next training, an introduction to energy storage-related interconnection standards, on September 13th.) 

Efficient interconnection policies that are appropriately tailored to clean energy technologies, including storage, will be fundamental in unlocking the potential of this landmark climate act.

Resources to Help Communities Lead the Way on Clean Energy 

Clean energy development happens at the local level—and the Inflation Reduction Act recognizes this, with several measures aimed at providing funding to communities for development of clean energy and clean transportation. It also provides funding to address environmental and energy injustices, including grants to reduce pollution and increase climate resilience. 

As we enter this phase of rapid clean energy growth, communities will need support to avoid unnecessary barriers to clean energy installation and to manage related considerations, such as equity and land use. IREC’s local initiatives program focuses on giving local communities the tools they need to improve clean energy outcomes in their backyards, from helping cities, towns, and counties become “open for solar business” to improving the codes and standards that affect how clean energy systems are installed, inspected and permitted. 

By progressing through the achievements necessary to achieve, bronze, silver, or gold designation under the SolSmart program—led by IREC and the International City/County Management Association (ICMA)—over 450 communities across the country have made it easier for their residents and businesses to install solar. Independent research found that SolSmart designation is associated with the installation of 18-19% more solar capacity per month. The SolSmart team also provides valuable technical assistance to support communities in this work. 

As more communities around the nation start to see high levels of solar and other renewable energy growth, programs like SolSmart can help them navigate these changes and make their local regulations and practices more supportive, and ensure equitable access to solar in their areas. SolSmart can also help communities consider how solar fits into their local context, such as this report to help rural communities in Southwest Virginia make decisions about large-scale solar development. (The IRA earmarks funds for programs like the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Energy for America Program that supports the generation, storage, and use of renewable energy in rural communities.)

Another IREC-led program, the Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC), brings together diverse stakeholders to identify challenges that are slowing clean energy installation. This includes instances where gaps or lack of clarity in codes, standards, and other policies result in confusion in the permitting and/or installation of clean energy systems. By bringing together stakeholders with different needs to come to consensus on recommendations, SEAC is playing a unique role in improving the landscape for DER installations. 

To date, this consensus-based effort has made dozens of recommendations to improve key codes such as the International Building Code, the International Electrical Code, and the International Residential Code. So far, 16 of these recommendations have been accepted and are resulting in tangible code improvements and several more are pending consideration. 

IREC’s Local Initiatives program is also active in Puerto Rico, which has faced devastating impacts from hurricanes that are becoming increasingly common due to climate change. IREC’s Puerto Rico Solar Business Accelerator is helping the island’s nascent solar industry take off—through financing innovations, workforce development, technical assistance, and direct support to communities to develop microgrids that give them the energy independence they so desperately need. 

Similar efforts to ensure local communities have the resources they need to effectively support this clean energy growth, and avoid unnecessary bottlenecks, will be essential to making the most of the IRA.

The Inflation Reduction Act is the most aggressive climate law in American history and a hugely important step in our efforts to confront climate change and bring about a cleaner, more equitable future in which clean energy and energy efficiency meet our energy needs. But to achieve its full potential we will need to actively break down the regulatory, workforce, and local barriers that stand in the way of rapid clean energy deployment. This is IREC’s focus and we invite you to join us on this critical journey.  

The post We Finally Have a Bold National Climate Change Law… What’s Next? appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

America’s Inflation Reduction Act just gave Canada’s economy a shot in the arm

Clean Energy Canada - Mon, 08/22/2022 - 08:00

The Senate Democrats’ heroic rescue and rebranding of President Joe Biden’s proposed Build Back Better Act is ripped from the pages of a political thriller. Villainous-turned-virtuous coal barons, deft political misdirection, malicious foreign governments, and a guest appearance from the eponymous Larry Summers are featured in the resurrection of a bill thought long dead.

The Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) will single-handedly move the U.S. out of the climate-laggard column as the country parts company with former stablemates Russia, China and Iran. Importantly, the IRA also clearly names fossil fuels as largely responsible for recent inflation-related affordability concerns for many Americans.

While the IRA’s US$374 billion over 10 years is less than the US$550 billion contemplated in the Build Back Better bill, the IRA’s climate and energy measures should be sufficient to put America on a path to cut greenhouse gas emissions 40 per cent by 2030. The bill includes support for the domestic manufacturing of key aspects of the clean energy transition, including solar panels, batteries and heat pumps. It also supports clean energy projects and provides consumers with tax credits to support the adoption of low-carbon technology, including electric vehicles (EVs) and household appliances. And finally, it supports adaptation projects in communities worst hit by climate change.

The IRA is a Democratic Frankenstein: part industrial strategy, part climate plan and part social justice — all with a protectionist bent. Nevertheless, it is a monster that will fundamentally and permanently change the U.S. manufacturing landscape. Future administrations will be hard-pressed to undo the IRA as EVs, clean steel and heat pumps are produced in red states, and requirements to use domestically sourced materials and onshore manufacturing appeal to the GOP base.

While the IRA has the potential to impact Canada’s economy in many ways, three key opportunities stand out: automobiles, batteries and construction materials.

The IRA extends the US$7,500 tax credit for new EVs and introduces a US$4,000 credit for used EVs. These tax credits provide a massive opportunity for Canada to supply electric cars and their parts to the U.S. market. Prior to the bill, tax credits expired once an automaker reached EV sales of 200,000 vehicles, meaning companies like GM and Tesla haven’t been able to benefit from them for years. The new uncapped tax credit will drive EV sales and leverage Canada’s recent efforts to land agreements with Ford, GM and Stellantis and their unions to assemble EVs in Canada.

Even more important to Canada are the new rules on batteries. Starting in 2024, to access the EV tax credit, the vehicle must not only be built in North America, but its battery must contain at least 50 per cent mineral content sourced in North America or by a U.S. trading partner (i.e., not China), and 60 per cent of the battery components (by value) must be made or assembled in North America. These percentages rise by 10 per cent annually until they reach 80 per cent in 2027 and 100 per cent in 2029, respectively.

Being one of the few nations with all the critical metals and minerals required for battery production — along with the ability to produce refined battery materials with a low-carbon footprint due to Canada’s clean electricity grid — Canada stands to benefit from the IRA’s battery content requirements and eat into China’s 79 per cent market share of the global lithium-ion battery market. Canada’s battery mineral production just needs to pick up the pace.

And finally, in February, Biden announced a Buy Clean Task Force to use the federal government’s purchasing power — the world’s largest — to create demand for low-carbon materials while restricting access to high-carbon imported steel and aluminum. The IRA provides the funding needed to implement this executive order, including more than US$5 billion to purchase low-carbon construction materials for federal buildings, highways, bridges and homes, alongside another US$5.8 billion to install “advanced industrial technology” in steel, cement and other industrial facilities.

In the short term, this could create opportunities for Canadian industrial exporters, which are among the cleanest in the world. Between 92 per cent and 99 per cent of Canada’s steel, aluminum and cement exports went to the U.S. in 2021, representing a $24-billion market. Considering that Canadian producers are on average 15 per cent to 74 per cent less CO2-intensive than their U.S. counterparts, the IRA’s Buy Clean provisions should boost these industries in Canada.

Over time, the IRA’s investments will push American manufacturers to decarbonize and improve transparency. This will put pressure on Canadian firms to do the same in order to stay competitive. Fortunately, Canada is developing its own Buy Clean strategy, which should use federal infrastructure investments to incentivize cleaner industrial production at home. Given our two countries’ highly integrated markets, it makes sense for Canada to align our respective standards and data, ensuring Canada’s low-carbon building materials have preferential access to U.S. procurement processes.

The IRA reinforces that Canada’s climate ambition is the best path forward for sustained job growth. Opportunities in the emerging clean economy will be seized by countries and industries that lead. Climate change costs us all, but Canadian workers will pay an additional price if future Canadian governments backtrack on Canada’s climate progress.

This post was co-authored by Rachel Doran and originally appeared in the National Observer.

The post America’s Inflation Reduction Act just gave Canada’s economy a shot in the arm appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

EV experts release new recommendations for tackling Canada’s EV supply crunch

Clean Energy Canada - Thu, 08/18/2022 - 05:00

French version below


OTTAWA — With gas prices soaring, more Canadians are looking to bypass the pump by switching to an electric vehicle. But finding one to buy is a challenge.
 
Earlier this year, the federal government committed to introducing a zero-emission vehicle mandate—a measure requiring carmakers to sell an increasing proportion of EVs in the country—as a way to address the issue. Timing and details of the policy have yet to be revealed.
 
A new white paper from Clean Energy Canada and industry group Electric Mobility Canada released today lays out recommendations for how Canada can design a truly effective zero-emission vehicle mandate—and fix Canada’s EV supply problem once and for all.
 
Currently, high EV demand is being held back by supply issues, with many prospective drivers on wait lists ranging from months to years. Automakers are sending their limited EV inventory to jurisdictions that already have supply regulation, like B.C., Quebec and California, leaving less for the rest of the country.

As the recommendations point out, a well-designed mandate is imperative to even out supply and ensure automakers prioritize all of Canada when deciding where to send their electric cars.
 
The policy is also critical to realizing Canada’s climate ambitions. Transportation is the second-largest source of emissions in the country, and Canada’s recent Emissions Reduction Plan is dependent on a zero-emission vehicle mandate in order to achieve Canada’s 2030 climate target.
 
“A national ZEV mandate is the most cost-effective way to cut carbon pollution and ensure Canada meets its ZEV sales targets. Increasing access to EVs also protects Canadians from rising fossil fuel prices while supporting our burgeoning EV manufacturing and battery industry,” said Joanna Kyriazis, clean transportation manager at Clean Energy Canada. 
 
“As the federal government and provinces like Ontario are investing billions to develop a Canadian EV industry, we have to make sure that all Canadians have access to Canadian built EVs. In 2011, both the federal and the Ontario governments invested more than $70 million to help Toyota build the RAV4 EV, but due to lack of mandate, 100% of these vehicles were sent to the U.S., preventing Canadians who helped pay for their assembly from accessing them. In addition, a ZEV mandate will provide market predictability to the industry and help attract more companies in Canada” said Daniel Breton, CEO and president of Electric Mobility Canada.

KEY RECOMMENDATIONS
  • EV sales requirements must start in 2024 to ensure automakers take action immediately and increase annually en route to Canada’s 100% EV sales by 2035 target, in line with B.C., Quebec, and California.
  • Automakers should earn credits for EVs sold, which can be used towards their EV targets in the same year, traded with other carmakers or banked for future years.
  • Vehicles eligible for credit:
    • Battery-electric and hydrogen fuel cell vehicles would be eligible for full credit.
    • Certain plug-in hybrids would receive partial credit as transition vehicles for Canadians not yet ready or able to go fully electric, but the policy would phase the sale of these vehicles out over time, as they are not technically “zero-emission.”
    • Used EVs and conventional hybrid vehicles would not be eligible for credit. 
  • Bonus partial credits should be rewarded to automakers who increase EV sales in Northern and remote communities.
  • Strong financial penalties should apply if automakers do not comply.
  • The mandate should be designed in a way that increases zero-emission vehicle supply in every region across the country and ensures ZEV inventory is more fairly distributed across provinces

KEY FACTS
  • In 2020, transportation accounted for 24% of Canada’s greenhouse gas emissions—the second largest source after oil and gas, at 26%. Passenger vehicle emissions account for nearly half of transportation emissions.
  • A majority (55%) of dealerships don’t have a single zero-emission vehicle in stock. Outside of B.C., Quebec, and Ontario, this percentage rises to 82% of dealerships.
  • Wait times are also high, with 64% of Canadian dealerships surveyed reporting wait times of three to six months (or more) as of December 2021. Wait times have increased substantially in 2022 as they are now ranging from six months to three years in the majority of cases.
  • B.C. and Quebec already have zero-emission vehicle mandates in place, and their policies are working: the two were home to 70% of Canada’s EV inventory in February 2021, with just 36% of the population. According to StatsCan, B.C. and Quebec also saw electric cars make up 15.5% and 12.7% of new car sales, respectively, in the first quarter of 2022, compared to just 5.3% in Ontario. New Brunswick, who offers a higher ZEV rebate than B.C. saw sales of 2.3%.
  • Many of the world’s largest car markets have adopted or will soon adopt a ZEV mandate. In addition to BC and Quebec, California plus 15 other states (accounting for nearly 40% of the U.S. car market), China and South Korea have ZEV mandates. The U.K. is developing its own now too. Meanwhile, the EU has tailpipe emission standards so stringent they effectively require automakers to sell more ZEVs to comply and has regulated a ban on the sale of internal combustion engine vehicles by 2035.
  • The U.S. states with a ZEV mandate, have more than double the EV market share of states without the policy in place.
  • In 2021, global electric car sales represented 9% of the total car market, according to the International Energy Agency. China’s EV market share rose to 16% and Europe’s to 17%, with individual European countries far surpassing that percentage. Meanwhile, Canada’s EV market share sat at 5.5%.

RESOURCES

White paper | How Canada can design a truly effective zero-emission vehicle mandate

Report | The True Cost
 
Blog | Five must-haves for an effective zero emission vehicle standard
 
StatCan | New motor vehicle registrations: Quarterly data visualization tool

Op-ed | What can feds do to support emerging electric vehicle industry? (Hill Times)
 
Poll | Almost 80% of Canadians open to owning an electric vehicle
 
Ontario | Ontario puts a charge into electric vehicle production

CONTACT

Keri McNamara
Senior Communications Specialist
778-951-8060

Anna Schuett
Manager, Communications & Events, Electric Mobility Canada
514-787-2757

Des experts en véhicules électriques publient de nouvelles recommandations pour remédier à leur pénurie au Canada

OTTAWA – Avec la flambée du prix de l’essence, de plus en plus de Canadiens cherchent à éviter la station-service en optant pour un véhicule électrique. Mais il est difficile de trouver un véhicule à se procurer.
 
Plus tôt cette année, le gouvernement fédéral s’est engagé à introduire une norme Zéro Émission – une mesure exigeant des constructeurs automobiles qu’ils vendent une proportion croissante de véhicules électriques au pays – afin de résoudre ce problème. Le calendrier et les détails de cette politique n’ont pas encore été révélés.
 
Un nouveau livre blanc de Clean Energy Canada et de Mobilité Électrique Canada, publié aujourd’hui, présente des recommandations sur la façon dont le Canada peut concevoir une norme véhicules zéro émission (VZE) vraiment efficace et régler une fois pour toutes le problème de l’offre de VE au Canada.
 
À l’heure actuelle, la forte demande de VE est freinée par des problèmes d’approvisionnement, et de nombreux conducteurs potentiels sont sur des listes d’attente allant de plusieurs mois à 3 ans. Les constructeurs automobiles envoient leurs stocks limités de VE dans les territoires et pays où l’offre est déjà réglementée, comme la Colombie-Britannique, le Québec et la Californie, ce qui laisse moins de place au reste du pays.
 
Comme le soulignent les recommandations, une norme bien conçue est primordiale pour équilibrer l’offre et faire en sorte que les constructeurs automobiles donnent la priorité à l’ensemble du Canada lorsqu’ils décident où envoyer leurs voitures électriques.
 
Cette politique est également essentielle à la réalisation des ambitions climatiques du Canada. Le transport est la deuxième plus grande source d’émissions au pays, et le récent Plan de réduction des émissions du Canada dépend d’une norme VZE afin d’atteindre l’objectif climatique du Canada pour 2030.
 
“Une norme VZE est le moyen le plus efficace de réduire les émissions de GES et de faire en sorte que le Canada atteigne ses objectifs de vente de VZE. L’augmentation de l’accès aux VZE protège également les Canadiens contre la hausse des prix des combustibles fossiles tout en soutenant notre industrie florissante de fabrication de VE et de batteries”, a déclaré Joanna Kyriazis, gestionnaire du transport propre à Clean Energy Canada. 
 
“Alors que le gouvernement fédéral et les provinces comme l’Ontario investissent des milliards de dollars pour développer une industrie canadienne des VZE, nous devons nous assurer que tous les Canadiens aient accès à des VZE de fabrication canadienne”. En 2011, les gouvernements fédéral et ontarien ont investi plus de 70 millions de dollars pour aider Toyota à construire le RAV4 EV, mais en raison de l’absence de norme VZE, 100 % de ces véhicules ont été envoyés aux États-Unis, empêchant les Canadiens qui ont contribué à payer leur assemblage d’y avoir accès. De plus, une norme VZE fournira une prévisibilité de marché à l’industrie et aidera à attirer plus d’entreprises au Canada”, a déclaré Daniel Breton, PDG et président de Mobilité Électrique Canada.

PRINCIPALES RECOMMANDATIONS
  • Les exigences en matière de ventes de VZE doivent commencer en 2024 pour que les constructeurs automobiles passent immédiatement à l’action et augmentent chaque année en route vers l’objectif canadien de 100 % de ventes de VZE d’ici 2035, à l’instar des objectifs de la Colombie-Britannique, du Québec et de la Californie.
  • Les constructeurs automobiles devraient obtenir des crédits pour les VZE vendus et pouvoir les utiliser pour atteindre leurs cibles de ventes de VZE de la même année, les échanger avec d’autres constructeurs automobiles ou les mettre en réserve pour les années à venir.
  • Véhicules admissibles aux crédits:
    • Les véhicules électriques à batterie et les véhicules à pile à hydrogène seraient admissibles à un crédit complet.
    • Certains véhicules hybrides rechargeables recevraient un crédit partiel en tant que véhicules de transition pour les Canadiens qui ne sont pas encore prêts ou capables de passer au tout électrique, mais la politique éliminerait progressivement la vente de ces véhicules au fil du temps, car ils ne sont pas techniquement “zéro émission”.
    • Les VE d’occasion et les véhicules hybrides conventionnels ne seraient pas admissibles au crédit. 
  • Des crédits partiels bonifiés devraient être récompensés aux constructeurs automobiles qui augmentent les ventes de VZE dans les communautés nordiques et éloignées.
  • De fortes pénalités financières devraient s’appliquer si les constructeurs automobiles ne se conforment pas.
  • La norme VZE devrait être conçue de manière à augmenter l’offre de VZE dans chaque région du pays et à assurer une répartition plus équitable de l’inventaire de VZE entre les provinces.

FAITS MARQUANTS
  • En 2020, les transports représentaient 24 % des émissions de gaz à effet de serre du Canada – la deuxième plus grande source après le pétrole et le gaz, à 26 %. Les émissions des véhicules de passagers représentent près de la moitié des émissions du transport.
  • Une majorité (55 %) de concessionnaires n’ont pas un seul VZE en stock. En dehors de la Colombie-Britannique, du Québec et de l’Ontario, ce pourcentage passe à 82 % des concessionnaires.
  • Les temps d’attente sont également élevés, 64 % des concessionnaires canadiens interrogés faisant état de temps d’attente de 3 à 6 mois (ou plus) en décembre 2021. Les temps d’attente ont considérablement augmenté en 2022 puisqu’ils vont désormais de six mois à trois ans dans la majorité des cas.
  • La Colombie-Britannique et le Québec ont déjà mis en place des normes VZE, et leurs politiques fonctionnent: les deux abritaient 70 % de l’inventaire de VZE du Canada en février 2021, avec seulement 36 % de la population. Selon Statistique Canada, la Colombie-Britannique et le Québec ont également vu les voitures électriques représenter respectivement 15,5 % et 12,7 % des ventes de voitures neuves au premier trimestre de 2022, contre seulement 5,3 % en Ontario. Le Nouveau-Brunswick, qui offre pourtant un rabais plus élevé que la Colombie-Britannique, a vu ses ventes n’atteindre que 2,3 %.
  • Plusieurs des plus grands marchés automobiles du monde ont adopté ou adopteront bientôt une norme VZE. En plus de la Colombie-Britannique et du Québec, la Californie plus 15 autres États (représentant près de 40 % du marché automobile américain), la Chine et la Corée du Sud ont des normes VZE. Le Royaume-Uni est en train d’élaborer le sien également. Pendant ce temps, l’Union Européenne a des normes d’émissions d’échappement si strictes qu’elles obligent effectivement les constructeurs automobiles à vendre plus de VZE pour s’y conformer et a réglementé une interdiction de la vente de véhicules à moteur à combustion interne d’ici 2035.
  • Les États américains ayant une norme VZE ont plus du double de la part de marché des VZE par rapport aux États n’ayant pas mis en place cette politique.
  • En 2021, les ventes mondiales de voitures électriques représentaient 9 % du marché automobile total, selon l’Agence internationale de l’énergie. La part de marché des VZE de la Chine est passée à 16 % et celle de l’Europe à 17 %, certains pays européens dépassant largement ce pourcentage. Pendant ce temps, la part de marché des VZE au Canada était de 5,5 %.

SOURCES

Livre blanc | Comment le Canada peut concevoir une norme véhicules zéro émission réellement efficace

Rapport | Le vrai coût– en anglais

Blog | Cinq éléments indispensables pour une norme efficace sur les véhicules à émission zéroen anglais

StatCan | Immatriculations de véhicules automobiles neufs: Outil de visualisation des données trimestrielles

Op-ed | Que peut faire le gouvernement fédéral pour soutenir l’industrie émergente des véhicules électriques ? (Hill Times)en anglais

Sondage | Près de 80 % des Canadiens sont prêts à posséder un véhicule électriqueen anglais

Ontario | L’Ontario donne un coup de main à la production de véhicules électriques

CONTACT

Keri McNamara (en anglais)
Spécialiste des communications, Clean Energy Canada
778-951-8060

Anna Schuett
Gestionnaire, communications et événements, Mobilité Électrique Canada
514-787-2757

The post EV experts release new recommendations for tackling Canada’s EV supply crunch appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

Solar Jobs Up in 47 States, Increase 9% Nationwide in 2021

Solar Foundation - Tue, 07/26/2022 - 03:08

Washington, D.C. (July 26, 2022) — Solar energy jobs were up in 47 states and increased 9 percent nationwide from 2020 to 2021 to a total of 255,037 solar workers. These findings are in the annual National Solar Jobs Census released today by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), an independent national nonprofit organization.

This job growth took place in a year of record solar installations driven by increased demand for renewable energy among residential customers, municipalities, businesses, and electric utilities. Overall, the solar industry added 21,563 jobs in 2021, with more than two-thirds of these new jobs (14,350) at installation and project development firms.

“America’s solar industry came back strong from the pandemic to expand the clean energy workforce across all regions of the country,” said Larry Sherwood, President and CEO at IREC. “The future remains uncertain in light of the supply chain disruptions, trade issues, and stalled federal policy in the first part of 2022. There is potential for unprecedented job growth in the coming years if federal, state, and local leaders take action to expand clean energy use and address climate change.”

Over the past decade, U.S. solar employment has more than doubled from 105,145 jobs in 2011 to 255,037 jobs in 2021. The most significant growth has taken place in the installation and project development sector, where employment more than tripled since 2011 to reach 168,960 jobs in 2021.

At the state level, California continues to lead in the total number of solar jobs with 75,712 jobs as of 2021, followed by Florida (11,761 jobs), Massachusetts (10,548 jobs), New York (10,524 jobs), and Texas (10,346 jobs). These are followed by Arizona, Colorado, Nevada, and Ohio, each with 7,000 to 9,000 jobs.

California also led for the number of jobs added in 2021 (7,035 new jobs), followed by Massachusetts (+1,053 jobs), Nevada (+1,019 jobs), and Arizona (+932 jobs). Other strong growth states were Ohio, North Carolina, New Jersey, and Georgia, each with 800–900 new jobs. A complete table of solar jobs by state and job growth from 2020 is available at https://irecusa.org/programs/solar-jobs-census/.

“Solar energy is an economic growth engine, creating new jobs while it helps us confront the climate crisis,” said Dan Reicher, Senior Scholar, Stanford Woods Institute and former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Energy. “There is vast and untapped potential to expand solar installations and related jobs across the United States, in an environmentally sustainable manner, as we help businesses and families access this renewable energy source.”

The solar industry still has more work to do to meet its goals for diversity, equity, and inclusion and extend the benefits of the clean energy economy to underrepresented groups. The report found that women made up just under 30 percent of the solar workforce in 2021, while Black employees made up 8 percent of the workforce, Latino or Hispanic workers made up 20 percent, and Asian workers made up 9 percent. Fewer than one-third of solar firms reported strategies to increase female, ethnic or racial minority, or LGBTQ+ hires.

The solar industry can offer a path to advancement and a family-sustaining career, including for those without a two- or four-year college degree. Less than one-third of entry-level solar jobs (31 percent) require a bachelor’s degree, while 65 percent of firms provide on-the-job training. In a year with a tight labor market, 89 percent of firms reported difficulty finding qualified applicants, including 35 percent that said it was “very difficult.”

“These 2021 findings highlight that we can create family-sustaining jobs at the same time that we reduce carbon emissions,” said Tom Starrs, Vice President, Government and Public Affairs at EDP Renewables. “They also highlight the critical importance of supportive policies to unlock the full potential of the solar industry to drive employment, foster local energy resilience, and confront climate change.”

This report analyzes data from the U.S. Department of Energy’s U.S. Energy and Employment Report 2022 and a supplemental followup survey of solar establishments. Both surveys were administered by BW Research Partnership. The National Solar Jobs Census defines a solar employee as someone who spends 50 percent or more of their time on solar-related work.

The National Solar Jobs Census was first published in 2010 by The Solar Foundation, which merged with IREC in 2021. The full report and related data can be downloaded at https://irecusa.org/programs/solar-jobs-census/.

###

About IREC

The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC develops and advances the regulatory reforms, technical standards, and workforce solutions needed to enable the streamlined integration of clean, distributed energy resources. IREC has been trusted for its independent clean energy expertise for 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook.

MEDIA CONTACT: Avery Palmer, Communications Project Director, IREC, 202-302-2765, apalmer@irecusa.org.

The post Solar Jobs Up in 47 States, Increase 9% Nationwide in 2021 appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

New Research Sheds Light on When Key Smart Inverters Will Be Available

Solar Foundation - Wed, 07/20/2022 - 09:00

As more and more rooftop solar, home batteries, and other distributed energy resources (DERs) are added to the grid, the requirements to ensure the safety and reliability of the electric grid are changing. Smart inverters are powerful tools for this purpose. They can sense conditions on the electric grid around them and respond intelligently, adjusting the amount and characteristics of the power sent to the grid by the solar panels or other DER they are connected to. In this way, they can help maintain the stability of the grid. 

It’s for that reason that a number of states leading the way on the renewable energy transition have decided to require smart inverters for new DER projects that seek to connect to the grid. However, given the complexity of these devices and the high stakes (keeping the grid running reliably!), its essential that there be a set of standardized requirements for these “grid-support” smart inverter functions (IEEE Standard 1547™-2018) and a rigorous and standardized process for testing these products to ensure the requirements are met (UL 1741 and related supplemental documents). 

Developing both of those standards required a significant amount of work by engineers and DER stakeholders and was an intensive multi-year process. While that process is now complete, smart inverters that have passed the necessary tests and are formally certified to 1547-2018 are not yet widely available on the market. Additionally, there remains considerable uncertainty about when they will be available to customers—making it very challenging for states to determine when smart inverter requirements for DERs should officially go into effect. 

For that reason, IREC undertook independent original research to gather data that could help determine when compliant smart inverters will reach the market, surveying key players from inverter manufacturers to the testing labs that will certify their products. We now have the first-ever estimate of this timeline, though a number of uncertainties remain—from the capacities of testing labs to continuing supply chain issues. In this article, we explore the methodology of our research, underlying assumptions, and the resulting estimated timelines for when smart inverters with grid-support capabilities will be available on the market. 

Background

Fifteen years after the original IEEE 1547-2003 was published, the updated IEEE 1547-2018 established standards for greatly increased DER capabilities in terms of voltage and frequency ride-through, active and reactive power control, and monitoring and control. The accompanying test procedures of IEEE 1547.1, which specify how product compliance with the standard can be verified, were published in May 2020. 

Another necessary step to getting these products to market was to update the safety standard UL 1741; solar PV and energy storage inverters and some other products are listed to this standard, which requires grid-interactive equipment to pass the tests in IEEE 1547.1. As these greatly increased capabilities were desired in states planning for or already seeing high DER penetration, Underwriters Laboratories (UL) and the DER inverter industry planned to update the UL 1741 standard as soon as possible to expedite when compliant inverters could move to market. In August 2020, UL introduced “Supplement SB,” a three-page addition to the standard, which required testing of inverters to IEEE 1547.1-2020.

As Nationally Recognized Testing Laboratories (NRTLs) and manufacturers began preparing for certification testing, however, many questions arose about how to properly manage some aspects of the tests. It became clear that IEEE 1547.1-2020 had several areas that needed clarification. Otherwise, different products from different manufacturers, tested with different NRTLs, could present different responses to similar conditions. To achieve harmonization of responses between certified products, the UL 1741 Standards Technical Panel modified Supplement SB with the needed clarifications. 

The panel expended much effort in late 2020 and throughout 2021, creating twenty-eight pages worth of these clarifications and shepherding them through the UL balloting process. [1]In this process, the Standards Technical Panel (made up of a mix of various stakeholder segments) reviews proposals for updating the standard and votes whether or not to approve and/or modify them. … Continue reading jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_1').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_1', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], }); The updates were eventually published on September 28, 2021 in the form of a new Third Edition of UL 1741. This change in edition allows utilities or other stakeholders to easily validate that a certification was carried out with the additional guidance. 

Several states, such as Hawaii (HECO) and Maryland, had planned to implement IEEE 1547-2018 requirements for interconnection applications starting January 1, 2022, about eighteen months after the publication of IEEE 1547.1-2020. This timeline was in line with previous changes to UL 1741, which typically included an eighteen-month grace period after which manufacturers were required to utilize changes to the standard. 

Due to the more than year-long delay in finalizing the testing requirements, however, it became obvious that inverters would not be able to be certified to the standard by that time. The question of when products would actually be available remained.

Due to the breadth of new testing requirements, and the fact that most manufacturers would likely be submitting products to be certified or re-certified within a similar timeframe, neither manufacturers nor NRTLs were sure when products could get to market. Throw in the challenges of the global pandemic and logistics and parts-sourcing challenges, and it was tough for anyone to guess.  

Gathering Data to Estimate the Timeline for Grid-Support Inverter Availability

In the summer of 2021, IREC determined that data was needed from manufacturers and NRTLs to determine how large of a testing effort would be involved to get all inverters certified to UL 1741 Third Edition Supplement SB, and thus when compliant products could be expected. Via surveys, IREC collected data from inverter manufacturers and NRTLs. 

IREC surveyed 11 inverter manufacturers about their intentions for certifying inverter families of different sizes. When testing for certification, one representative model can represent a “family,” which can consist of multiple models with different power outputs. IREC obtained more limited but useful survey data from two other manufacturers, bringing the total to 95 known inverter families to be certified. Given that many inverter manufacturers did not respond to the survey (approximately 20 others), there remained a fairly large number of unknown inverters to be certified. 

The extensive listing of UL 1741 SA[2]The California Investor-Owned Utilities have required “smart inverters” per the testing requirements of UL 1741 SA since 2017 (see PG&E Advice Letter 4919-E Modifications to PG&E’s … Continue reading jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_2').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_2', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], });-certified inverters provided by the California Energy Commission (CEC)[3]https://www.energy.ca.gov/programs-and-topics/programs/solar-equipment-lists jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_3').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_3', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], }); was used to add more data to the survey. For these non-surveyed manufacturers, IREC had to make assumptions about the models from each inverter manufacturer to group them into a smaller number of inverter families. The grouping was based on power output and other descriptive details provided in the CEC list. IREC assumed that each active manufacturer with equipment on the list would be seeking UL 1741 SB certification for that inverter with the same NRTL as was used for UL 1741 SA certification. This resulted in 60 more inverter families that were divided up amongst the three testing pathways for the respective NRTLs, for a total of 155 inverter families to be tested.

A separate survey collected data from three major NRTLs about their capabilities to support certifications through three different pathways. Products can go through one of three “testing pathways,” with varying degrees of effort required of NRTL engineers: 

1) testing at the NRTL’s laboratory, 

2) witness testing, where a NRTL engineer witnesses tests performed at another facility (often the manufacturer’s own test lab), or 

3) supervised testing, where the manufacturer is approved by the NRTL to run the tests itself, with the NRTL engineer providing a supervisory role. 

In any of these test scenarios, the NRTL processes the results to ensure conformance to the standard and, once tests are complete, can generally issue a certificate of compliance within a week or two. Testing capabilities for one major NRTL and two minor NRTLs who did not supply survey answers were assumed based on responses by other NRTLs. 

Interpreting the Survey Results

Based on feedback from manufacturers and NRTLs through the survey and other forums, IREC determined that the likely duration of each test (time from beginning setup to completion of the certification tests) for a single inverter family could range from nine to twelve weeks. The wide range in  estimated duration was due to the understanding that this was a new testing regime, with more test runs than ever before required, and there would likely be a learning curve for both the manufacturer and NRTL test engineers. 

Knowing the total number of inverter families to be certified via each NRTL testing pathway, the number of tests that could run in parallel for each pathway, and the presumed duration of each test, IREC calculated a total time to complete each NRTL pathway. We assume all tests within a pathway are run back-to-back without lag between them. With a nine-week average test duration, about 85% of the total inverter families (131 out of 155) could be tested within about one year (54 weeks). With a twelve-week average test duration, about 85% of the total could be tested within about 16 or 17 months (72 weeks). One major NRTL reported very low parallel test capabilities, pushing completion of their tests out over two years. 

Cumulative certifications for each NRTL testing pathway over time. Vertical line represents one year. Cumulative certifications for each NRTL testing pathway over time. Vertical line represents one year.

As mentioned, a certificate can be issued by the NRTL within a couple weeks of test completion, and then production of those units can begin. Getting those certified units into the hands of developers who can install them in the field can take more months. Inverters may be produced overseas and are typically transported to the U.S. by cargo ship, and then distribution must occur within the country. In earlier times, this process could take up to three months but the uncertainties of the global pandemic, as well as current supply chain and logistics issues, could have further impact. 

Based on discussions with manufacturers, it is likely reasonable to add approximately sixteen weeks from certificate issuance to receipt of inverters by project developers or distributors, with the caveat that the global situation will determine the speed of delivery. This results in a range of 16 to 21 months (72 to 90 weeks) from the start of testing to delivery. If we count from November 1, 2021 (discussed in the next section), that translates to deliveries from most manufacturers arriving by March to August of 2023. 

Major Uncertainties

In addition to the uncertainty introduced by the assumptions of NRTL capabilities and certification needs of non-surveyed manufacturers (noted above), the data contains other sources of uncertainty. It must be noted that while UL 1741 SB Third Edition was published at the end of September 2021, testing didn’t likely commence immediately or uniformly as manufacturers and NRTLs ramped up to begin the first tests. Therefore, the exact starting date to measure from is a little unclear, but November 1, 2021 can be chosen if we assume that it took about a month to get started. A small number of manufacturers may have begun testing before the standard was published, either with a draft or the understanding that additional testing based on clarifications in the final publication might be necessary. This may have allowed some of the inverter families certified in the early part of 2022 to beat others to market. 

Additional uncertainty comes from the fact that testing is not likely to be as uniform as calculated for this analysis. Here, we assume all inverter families take the same amount of time to test, and that each test can immediately follow the previous one. Unexpected results can and do sometimes occur in the middle of certification testing, requiring manufacturer engineers to change firmware and retest to gain compliance. Also, the number of tests run in parallel may not always be exactly the same as the capabilities as stated by the NRTLs, since test engineers may be working on multiple tests at once and delays could impact their ability to keep all tests running perfectly in parallel. Delays could be caused by either testing issues or personnel/staffing issues, including COVID-19 absences.

Adoption Developments

Some jurisdictions set required dates for specification of UL 1741 SB-certified inverters into interconnection requirements before the extent of inverter certification delays was known. The timelines were typically predicated on the date of the interconnection application, such that the customer would need to have a certified inverter model ready to identify in their application. 

For instance, Maryland and Washington D.C. both initially specified January 1, 2022 as the implementation date for certification. Washington D.C.’s interconnection rule (Title 15 Chapter 40) requires this change “upon commercial availability,” and thus implementation has been delayed until sufficient commercial availability can be determined.[4]https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/DCMR/RuleList.aspx?ChapterNum=15-40 jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_4').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_4', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], }); Meanwhile, Maryland’s Public Service Commission waived its timeline requirements (in COMAR 20.50.09.06N) indefinitely, to determine a definite timeline at a later date.[5]Order No. 89933, Order on Recommendations of Interconnection Workgroup (September 9, 2021) … Continue reading jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_5').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_5', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], }); Minnesota was the first state to incorporate IEEE 1547-2018 into its interconnection requirements; instead of setting a certain date for compliance, the Public Utility Commission opted to wait to rule on implementation until certified inverters are commercially available.[6]MN Pub. Util. Comm., Dkts. E999/CI-16-521, E999/CI-01-1023, In the Matter of Updating the Generic Standards for the Interconnection and Operation of Distributed Generation Facilities Established … Continue reading jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_6').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_6', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], });

Hawaiian Electric (the electric utility that serves most of the main Hawaiian islands, besides Kauai) initially aimed for April 1, 2022, but now has set the target date as October 1, 2022.[7]https://dms.puc.hawaii.gov/dms/DocumentViewer?pid=A1001001A22D11A83617E03520 jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_7').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_7', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], }); This will likely be the earliest implementation in the U.S. Both Massachusetts and New York utilities were initially targeting mid-summer 2022, but have shifted to January 1, 2023 due to the certification delays.[8]https://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/ArticlesByTitle/DEF2BF0A236B946F85257F71006AC98E?OpenDocument, https://www.mass.gov/doc/inverter-source-requirements-document/download jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_8').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_8', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], }); California also originally intended to require compliance in 2022, but has shifted to April 1, 2023 (eighteen months from publication of UL 1741 SB).[9]Southern California Edison, Advice Letter 4824-E, Modifications to Electric Tariff Rule 21 to Incorporate IEEE 1547.1-2020 Test Procedures into Testing Regime for Phase 2 and 3 Requirements in … Continue reading jQuery('#footnote_plugin_tooltip_14672_1_9').tooltip({ tip: '#footnote_plugin_tooltip_text_14672_1_9', tipClass: 'footnote_tooltip', effect: 'fade', predelay: 0, fadeInSpeed: 200, delay: 400, fadeOutSpeed: 200, position: 'top center', relative: true, offset: [-7, 0], });

While several jurisdictions are selecting specific dates for implementation of the new certification requirements, the uncertainties described above could potentially push a reasonable effective date out even further than April 1, 2023. On the other hand, if things go better than predicted at the NRTLs and with the global situation, there’s a chance an earlier date could be accommodated.

Looking Forward

It should be noted that as of this writing in July 2022, we know of only three manufacturers that have concluded certification testing, accounting for five total inverter families of the 155 likely to be tested, or about 3%. This is considerably lower than the 12% predicted by survey results if we use the twelve-week average test duration. It may be that either the start date or test duration needs to be modified to align expectations. Given the small sample size thus far, it is likely that we will have a better idea of certification progress later this summer.

IREC will continue to monitor the industry certification situation and try to inform all stakeholders with available data. Moving forward, after July, the California Energy Commission’s Grid Support Solar and Battery Inverter lists should provide good data on the number of certified models once the lists are updated to reflect UL 1741 SB certifications.

References[+]

References ↑1 In this process, the Standards Technical Panel (made up of a mix of various stakeholder segments) reviews proposals for updating the standard and votes whether or not to approve and/or modify them. Voting/commenting and comment resolution may be repeated for multiple rounds to achieve consensus before finalization and publication. Each round of balloting can last several months. ↑2 The California Investor-Owned Utilities have required “smart inverters” per the testing requirements of UL 1741 SA since 2017 (see PG&E Advice Letter 4919-E Modifications to PG&E’s Electric Rule 21 Tariff Pursuant to D.14-12-035 to Reflect the Approval Date of Inverter Based Technologies Requirements, p.2-3 (September 13, 2016), https://www.pge.com/tariffs/tm2/pdf/ELEC_4914-E.pdf). These inverters have very similar capabilities compared to UL 1741 SB and the requirements of IEEE 1547-2018. ↑3 https://www.energy.ca.gov/programs-and-topics/programs/solar-equipment-lists ↑4 https://www.dcregs.dc.gov/Common/DCMR/RuleList.aspx?ChapterNum=15-40 ↑5 Order No. 89933, Order on Recommendations of Interconnection Workgroup (September 9, 2021) https://www.psc.state.md.us/pc-44-interconnection-order/order-no-89933-pc44-interconnections-waiver-of-regulations/ ↑6 MN Pub. Util. Comm., Dkts. E999/CI-16-521, E999/CI-01-1023, In the Matter of Updating the Generic Standards for the Interconnection and Operation of Distributed Generation Facilities Established Under Minn. Stat. §216B.1611, In the Matter of Establishing Generic Standards for Utility Tariffs for Interconnection and Operation of Distributed Generation Facilities under Minnesota Laws 2001, Chapter 212, Order Establishing Updated Technical Interconnection and Interoperability Requirements, p. 11 (Jan. 22, 2020), https://efiling.web.commerce.state.mn.us/edockets/searchDocuments.do?method=showPoup&documentId={80F9CE6F-0000-C13C-96FB-CB223509EEE9}&documentTitle=20201-159427-02 ↑7 https://dms.puc.hawaii.gov/dms/DocumentViewer?pid=A1001001A22D11A83617E03520 ↑8 https://www3.dps.ny.gov/W/PSCWeb.nsf/ArticlesByTitle/DEF2BF0A236B946F85257F71006AC98E?OpenDocument, https://www.mass.gov/doc/inverter-source-requirements-document/download ↑9 Southern California Edison, Advice Letter 4824-E, Modifications to Electric Tariff Rule 21 to Incorporate IEEE 1547.1-2020 Test Procedures into Testing Regime for Phase 2 and 3 Requirements in Compliance with Resolutions E-5000 and E-5036, p. 4 (July 1, 2022), https://edisonintl.sharepoint.com/teams/Public/TM2/Shared%20Documents/Forms/AllItems.aspx?ga=1&id=%2Fteams%2FPublic%2FTM2%2FShared%20Documents%2FPublic%2FRegulatory%2FFilings%2DAdvice%20Letters%2FPending%2FElectric%2FELECTRIC%5F4824%2DE%2Epdf&parent=%2Fteams%2FPublic%2FTM2%2FShared%20Documents%2FPublic%2FRegulatory%2FFilings%2DAdvice%20Letters%2FPending%2FElectric function footnote_expand_reference_container_14672_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_14672_1').show(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_14672_1').text('−'); } function footnote_collapse_reference_container_14672_1() { jQuery('#footnote_references_container_14672_1').hide(); jQuery('#footnote_reference_container_collapse_button_14672_1').text('+'); } function footnote_expand_collapse_reference_container_14672_1() { if (jQuery('#footnote_references_container_14672_1').is(':hidden')) { footnote_expand_reference_container_14672_1(); } else { footnote_collapse_reference_container_14672_1(); } } function footnote_moveToReference_14672_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_14672_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } } function footnote_moveToAnchor_14672_1(p_str_TargetID) { footnote_expand_reference_container_14672_1(); var l_obj_Target = jQuery('#' + p_str_TargetID); if (l_obj_Target.length) { jQuery( 'html, body' ).delay( 0 ); jQuery('html, body').animate({ scrollTop: l_obj_Target.offset().top - window.innerHeight * 0.2 }, 380); } }

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Response to Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA Ruling

Solar Foundation - Mon, 07/11/2022 - 12:10

Dear IREC friends and supporters, 

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in the case of West Virginia v. Environmental Protection Agency, I’m reaching out to share some thoughts on the implications of this development for the critical work of fighting climate change, and in particular, the work of the Interstate Renewable Energy Council. 

The Court’s decision to severely limit the EPA’s power to regulate power plant emissions at the federal level is a grave loss—even more so given the critical importance of the next few years in limiting carbon emissions while there is still time to curb the worst impacts of climate change. More troubling is the application of the “major questions doctrine,” which undermines the ability of federal agencies to interpret and implement the details laws from Congress, if those interpretations are deemed to have significant social or economic impacts. By creating great uncertainty regarding what authority federal agencies have, the decision undermines other efforts to promote clean energy and fight climate change. 

This is a deeply disheartening blow that threatens the well-being of all residents of our rapidly warming planet. In this context, the work IREC is doing to speed the transition to clean energy at the state and local levels is now more critical than ever. Moreover, our strategic pathways—regulatory engagement, workforce development, and strengthening local capacity—remain powerful avenues for change, unencumbered by today’s decision. 

IREC’s state regulatory program is advancing favorable regulations for clean energy at the state level that will be essential to enabling a rapid transition to clean energy. In 2021 alone, we contributed to improved rules in 11 states. These included improved interconnection policies that help clean energy projects connect to the grid more quickly and efficiently.

IREC’s local initiatives team is helping communities lead the way on the clean energy transition, reducing permitting barriers and providing technical assistance to support community-based initiatives that accelerate the use of clean energy. For example, the Sustainable Energy Action Committee has engaged over 1000 professionals to improve the codes and standards that affect clean energy installations. 

And our workforce program is helping to build the pathways into clean energy jobs that will enable the industries to grow at the pace they will need to in order to meet market demands and state clean energy goals. The National Clean Energy Workforce Alliance has engaged nearly 500 organizations to align on solutions to build the clean energy workforce of the future.

The road to a 100% clean energy future is a long and hard one, and this decision makes the path harder. Yet IREC’s resolve to build the foundation for a 100% clean energy future is stronger than ever. I hope you will join us in this work by engaging with IREC’s state and local programs. We have several exciting upcoming events, including:


In solidarity, 
Larry Sherwood 
IREC President & CEO 

The post Response to Supreme Court’s West Virginia v. EPA Ruling appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

New federal incentives for zero-emission commercial vehicles will put a much-needed dent in Canada’s high transportation emissions

Clean Energy Canada - Mon, 07/11/2022 - 12:04

OTTAWA — Joanna Kyriazis, clean transportation program manager at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the federal government’s announcement of the new Incentives for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles Program:

“We welcome the federal government’s new incentives for medium- and heavy-duty vehicles, such as delivery vans, garbage trucks, and long-haul trucks.

“The transportation sector is the second biggest source of emissions in Canada, and commercial vehicles make up more than a third of that. Introducing an incentive program is one of the most effective ways to get more battery electric, plug-in hybrid, and fuel cell electric commercial vehicles on Canada’s roads. The federal government’s similar rebate for passenger vehicles has persuaded many Canadians to make the switch to electric vehicles, and now businesses will find it easier than ever to electrify their fleets, as well.  

“The new incentives will cut emissions, save fleet owners money, and support key Canadian manufacturing and export opportunities. Canada is home to several leading zero-emission truck manufacturers, including Quebec-based Lion Electric, which already has an agreement in place to supply Amazon with thousands of medium-duty electric trucks.

“We are especially pleased that many of our recommendations were included in the policy’s design, which incorporates a number of best practices from other jurisdictions that have put similar incentive programs in place. In fact, Canada is following in the tire tracks of at least seven U.S. states with similar systems. 

“In terms of next steps, the new program must be part of a broader zero-emission medium- and heavy-duty policy package that addresses both demand and supply barriers. This package should include charging incentives to help fleet operators deploy charging infrastructure alongside a vehicle sales mandate to ensure enough vehicles are available to buy.

“In addition to smart policy design, the federal government should be commended for the speed at which the program was designed and rolled out. Climate change is not slowing down, and our policy response shouldn’t either.”

KEY FACTS
  • Canada’s transportation sector is the second-biggest emitter in Canada, making up 24% of the country’s total emission, with heavy-duty gas and diesel vehicles accounting for 37% of that.
  • Canada’s Emissions Reduction Plan commits to “launch[ing] an integrated strategy to reduce emissions from medium-and heavy-duty vehicles (MHDVs) with the aim of reaching 35% of total MHDV sales being ZEVs by 2030” and “develop[ing] a MHDV ZEV regulation to require 100% MHDV sales to be ZEVs by 2040 for a subset of vehicle types based on feasibility, with interim 2030 regulated sales requirements that would vary for different vehicle categories based on feasibility, and explore interim targets for the mid-2020s.”
  • The federal Budget 2022 set aside $547.5 million over four years (or until available funding is exhausted) for the Incentives for Medium- and Heavy-Duty Zero-Emission Vehicles (iMHZEV) Program
  • The program is effective as of July 11, 2022, but incentive requests for reimbursement are not expected to be available until Fall 2022.
  • The incentive levels offered are based on the class of the vehicle, with heavier vehicles receiving larger incentives. The incentives aim to cover approximately 50% of the price difference between an electric vehicle and a traditional vehicle.  Public transit and school transportation are excluded from this program given their coverage in other federal incentive programs.
  • According to the U.S. Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center, at least seven U.S. states have some form of MHDV incentive program, including California, Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia. California’s Hybrid and Zero-Emission Truck and Bus Voucher Incentive Project has helped to deploy more than 3,000 zero-emission trucks and buses since 2010, with 61% of all zero-emission trucks deployed in the U.S. having gone to California.
RESOURCES

Clean Energy Canada’s submission to Transport Canada | Incentives for Medium and Heavy Duty Zero Emissions Vehicles Program

The post New federal incentives for zero-emission commercial vehicles will put a much-needed dent in Canada’s high transportation emissions appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

New federal Clean Fuel Regulations represent a step forward for climate action

Clean Energy Canada - Thu, 06/30/2022 - 11:11

OTTAWA — Joanna Kyriazis, clean transportation program manager at Clean Energy Canada, made the following statement in response to the federal government’s publication of the final Clean Fuel Regulations:

“Clean Energy Canada welcomes the publication of the Clean Fuel Regulations, a cornerstone federal climate policy that’s been six years in the making.

“Together, the transportation and oil and gas sectors account for over half of Canada’s carbon emissions. The new regulations help cut pollution from these sectors while supporting industries—like clean hydrogen and biofuels—that will be increasingly in demand as the world transitions to net zero.

“The regulations will also support the build-out of EV charging infrastructure, which, combined with other policies and incentives, will help make EVs more accessible and convenient for Canadians hoping to avoid sky-high prices at the gas pump.

“While the final regulation makes some concessions, the policy still represents a win for Canada’s efforts to cut pollution. We’ll watch its real-world impacts closely, and Canada can course correct as needed.

“In the meantime, we hope the federal government rides this momentum to advance other key climate policies like the zero-emission vehicle mandate and clean electricity standard, ensuring these get out the door much quicker than six years. After all, there’s no time to waste.”

KEY FACTS
  • The transportation and oil and gas sectors each accounted for 159 and 179 megatonnes of emissions respectively in 2020—more than half of Canada’s total.
  • The federal government’s Emissions Reduction Plan requires that transportation emissions are reduced to 143 megatonnes and oil and gas emissions are reduced to 110 megatonnes by 2030.
  • According to Environment and Climate Change Canada, the Clean Fuels Regulations would help cut up to 26.6 megatonnes of greenhouse gas pollution in 2030.
  • The Clean Fuel Regulations set increasingly stringent requirements on fuel producers and importers to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels such as gasoline and diesel. 
  • The new regulation is designed to come into effect in 2023 at 25% stringency, gradually increasing to 100% by 2030. But even in eight years, when the regulation is in full force, the measure will add only between 6 to 13 cents per litre of gasoline.
  • The federal government’s forthcoming zero-emission vehicle supply mandate will ensure that at least 20% of new vehicle sales are electric by 2026, at least 60% are electric by 2030, and 100% are by 2035.
  • The federal government has also introduced a complementary program, the $1.5-billion Clean Fuels Fund, to support clean fuel production in Canada, including advanced biofuels and hydrogen projects.
  • B.C., California, and Oregon also have similar regulations in place.
  • A recent Clean Energy Canada analysis compared the total ownership costs of a number of popular electric car models with gas-powered equivalents. With just one exception, the electric version of every car analyzed was cheaper, usually significantly so. The analysis found that the electric Hyundai Kona, Canada’s second best-selling EV in 2021 is $17,800 cheaper to own than the gas-powered Kona when gas prices are $2 per litre. 

The post New federal Clean Fuel Regulations represent a step forward for climate action appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

Groundbreaking California Rule Transforms How Renewables Connect to the Grid

Solar Foundation - Thu, 06/23/2022 - 12:43

A new decision today from the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) marks a significant milestone by dramatically simplifying the interconnection process for distributed energy resources (DERs), like solar and batteries, and providing valuable transparency for project developers. 

This is one of the most significant changes to the interconnection process in decades and offers a model for other states, at a time when interconnection has increasingly become a bottleneck to renewable energy development around the country. 

For the first time ever, the review of DER projects seeking interconnection in California will be based on a model of the conditions on the grid, commonly known as a hosting capacity analysis (HCA), and referred to in California as the Integration Capacity Analysis (ICA). This will replace parts of the frequently imprecise “rules of thumb” used for the expedited screening process that can result in costly, time-consuming, and often unnecessary project reviews. California has also eliminated limits on the size of projects that are eligible for “fast track” review, increasing access to the expedited review process which will speed up interconnection for eligible projects. 

These developments have emerged as a result of years of engagement in California’s rulemaking process by the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC). In 2014, IREC first started working on the development of California’s ICA, which is a regularly updated model of the conditions at different points on the grid. A ruling in September 2020 established the intention to utilize ICA in the state’s interconnection process. However, it has taken an additional two years to finalize specifically how that will work. Now, within 45 days from today’s ruling, this new process will finally become available to all DER projects seeking to connect to the grid. 

“Today’s decision reflects the culmination of years of dogged engagement by IREC to enable the use of cutting-edge approaches that simplify the interconnection process so renewable energy can be deployed faster and more affordably,” said Larry Sherwood, IREC President and CEO. “IREC applauds California in becoming the first state to begin using hosting capacity data to streamline and simplify the interconnection process.”

The new process will replace the “15% of peak load” screen, which has historically been used to evaluate if a project requires more detailed review to determine whether any grid upgrades are needed before it is approved to interconnect. Under the newly adopted rules, projects that do not exceed 90% of available capacity as shown in the ICA (a conservative buffer requested by utilities) will be able to pass the new screen. Projects that do not pass this improved screen will be subject to supplemental reviews; however, the rule changes also include significant improvements to the supplemental review process that are expected to allow a greater amount of DERs to be integrated through the screening process.

Further innovations in California’s interconnection process are still pending, including a “limited generation profile” approach that would allow a DER (such as a solar-plus-storage system) to design a system using a generation profile to avoid system constraints that arise during different months of the year. This concept was approved in a 2020 decision by the CPUC but a subsequent ruling on how it will be implemented is still pending.

“Today’s decision by the CPUC takes the first step toward a vastly improved interconnection process that better reflects the realities of the grid and makes it faster and easier to install the levels of clean energy that will be needed to reach California’s decarbonization goals,” said Sky Stanfield, Partner at law firm Shute, Mihaly & Weinberger and attorney for IREC in this proceeding. “We look forward to the Commission completing this process with a future decision on the implementation of limited generation profiles.” 

The use of hosting capacity data also gives clean energy developers greater agency to avoid time-consuming and costly interconnection processes. Developers can explore the ICA map from the utility in their area (such as this one from Southern California Edison) to identify preferable locations for DER projects where there is sufficient additional capacity for the project without the need for a grid upgrade. The data shown on the map will be the same data used to evaluate the project, minimizing the amount of guesswork involved in the interconnection process. 

The post Groundbreaking California Rule Transforms How Renewables Connect to the Grid appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

We’re Hiring: SEAC Writer/Communications Contractor

Solar Foundation - Thu, 06/16/2022 - 08:33

SEAC Writer / Communications Contractor 
Schedule: Part-time contractor, 30-40 hours per month; flexible schedule
Position reports to: Communications Director
Location: Flexible (remote) 
Salary Range: $100-125/hour

About the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC):
IREC is a national nonprofit working toward a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC provides independent leadership and trusted clean energy expertise. Our mission is to build the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. 

In support of our mission, IREC:

  • Advances state regulatory reform to enable the streamlined, efficient, and cost-effective installation of distributed energy resources, such as solar and battery storage, and the decarbonization of the transportation and building sectors. 
  • Provides strategy and direction to foster a growing and equitable clean energy workforce, while developing high-quality clean energy workforce training and accrediting clean energy trainers and training institutions.
  • Supports local governments, communities, and individuals in taking actions that increase the deployment of clean energy and implementation of energy efficiency. 

IREC operates virtually with offices in Albany, New York and Washington, D.C. Our staff are distributed across 14 states. 

IREC is proud to be an equal opportunity employer committed to diversity and inclusion in the workplace and embracing a workplace with diverse voices and perspectives. We strongly encourage and seek applications from candidates with diverse backgrounds. Applicants shall not be discriminated against because of race, religion, sex, national origin, ethnicity, age, disability, political affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, color, marital status, medical conditions, or any other protected characteristic under applicable law.

About the Position:
The Sustainable Energy Action Committee (SEAC) provides an open forum to collaboratively identify and find solutions to issues that affect the installation and use of sustainable energy systems (solar PV, energy storage, electric vehicle charging infrastructure, etc.). In particular, much of SEAC’s work focuses on improving codes and standards, including the International Building Code, International Residential Code, International Fire Code, National Electrical Code, and UL standards. 

SEAC’s members include authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) from local building and fire departments, firefighters and emergency responders, contractors, manufacturers, suppliers, utilities, testing labs, and other clean energy stakeholders. IREC oversees SEAC’s activities under a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. 

IREC is seeking a communications contractor to help support efforts to increase awareness of of SEAC’s work and to author new resources (reports, information bulletins, etc.) that communicate SEAC’s recommendations on specific issues. 

Responsibilities:

  • In collaboration with SEAC Working Groups, lead the drafting and development of documents (such as information bulletins, guidelines, checklists, and reports) that reflect the recommendations of the Working Groups on specific issues. 
  • Manage SEAC’s social media accounts. 
    • Publish at least 3 Tweets, one Facebook post, and one LinkedIn post per week.
    • Create simple graphics/visuals to accompany the majority of social posts. 
    • Strategically follow new organizations to increase the number of relevant accounts that follow us. 
  • Manage email announcements to the SEAC membership list, with a goal of sending at least 3 emails to the list per month (two meeting reminder emails and one monthly newsletter).
  • Coordinate with the IREC team to update the SEAC mailing list with new subscribers from the SEAC website. 
  • Coordinate with grant partners to ensure they are helping to share SEAC news.
    • Send them monthly reminders of content to share by email, social media, or other channels.
    • Identify partners’ upcoming conferences and events and opportunities for sharing SEAC’s work at those events.
  • Identify external organizations with complementary goals and audiences, and conduct outreach to identify opportunities to reach new audiences with information about SEAC and encourage new members to join. 
  • Periodically write blog posts (target of two posts per quarter) that give stakeholders insight into the issues SEAC is working on and opportunities to get involved or to utilize related SEAC resources. 
  • Update the SEAC website with new publications and SEAC news/announcements. 
  • As time permits, coordinate with the IREC team to schedule and promote webinars that highlight SEAC resources. This would include scoping the topic, identifying speakers, supporting the development of slide decks, and coordinating the IREC team who will schedule the event and manage technical logistics. 
  • Attend SEAC Working Group meetings as needed to get up to speed on any documents they need support developing 

Desired Qualifications:

  • Outstanding written and verbal communications skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills and the ability to build professional relationships with a wide variety of individuals
  • Familiarity with the landscape of codes and standards that govern distributed energy resources in the U.S. 
  • Basic knowledge of email marketing and social media best practices (IREC can provide some training) 
  • Basic graphic design skills, including the ability to make simple graphics for social media (such as with Canva) or format published documents within a pre-designed template
  • Strong computer abilities with the transferable skills to quickly get up to speed on unfamiliar applications (e.g. email clients, CRM, etc.)
  • Passion and enthusiasm for renewable energy

Optional but Beneficial:

  • Familiarity with WordPress and other website platforms
  • Already active in SEAC and familiar with its activities and participants


To Apply: Send the following application materials by July 1, 2022 to jobs@irecusa.org with the subject line “SEAC Communications Contractor”

  • Resume
  • Cover letter

Top candidates will receive a phone screen and a related “take-home” task that will assess related skills. 

The post We’re Hiring: SEAC Writer/Communications Contractor appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

The fossil-fuel party is raging again, but Canada still needs a plan for the hangover to come

Clean Energy Canada - Tue, 06/14/2022 - 09:00

Canada’s oil and gas patch is partying like it’s 2008, though most Canadian drivers are not enjoying the festive mood. Commercial rents in downtown Calgary are on the rise, and long-thought dead fossil-fuel export projects have zombified.

It’s no secret that the oil and gas industry is cyclical: as prices drop, the music stops, the lights come on. But historically, prices go back up, and the cycle repeats.

This time will be different, however. There is not likely to be another rebound in the oil and gas sector after this one. Governments at all levels need to acknowledge this fact and plan for how Canada will be competitive in a fundamentally changed economy.

Previous high oil and gas price cycles have driven consumers to purchase more efficient cars and better insulate their homes, while the business community found ways to use less fossil fuel. But what past instances lacked was a truealternative to fossil fuels.

Indeed, the great irony now is that soaring fossil-fuel prices will also contribute to the industry’s accelerated undoing. There will be no greater incentive for families and companies to shift away from something than brutally high bills amid broader inflation and a potential recession.

March poll found that a majority of Canadians felt that high gas prices were here to stay – and could even go higher. We already know they were right about that last part.

The difference in 2022 is that this time, the incumbent has a fierce competitor.

Sales of gas-powered cars already peaked in 2017, and global automakers are racing to meet electric-vehicle (EV) demand. Meanwhile, new solar and wind power projects are now typically cheaper than the cheapest fossil fuel option. In 2021, new renewable energy projects with a combined capacity of about 230 Site C dams were built worldwide, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

For reasons that are both environmental and economic, global governments are placing their bets accordingly.

Germany’s new goal is to generate 100 per cent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035, while China is planning for 33 per cent renewables by 2025. India leads the world’s major economies in renewable-electricity growth, with new capacity additions on track to double by 2026. And the U.S. is now using its Defense Production Act to spur the manufacturing of heat pumps and other clean technologies to further reduce fossil-fuel consumption.

If other countries with climate plans follow them, then global oil demand could peak as early as 2025, according to the International Energy Agency. Today’s high prices, combined with the war in Ukraine, are only accelerating the drive toward cheaper energy sources.

Given that crude oil is Canada’s largest export, the end of the fossil-fuel era could leave us financially frayed if we don’t proactively build up new industries. Indeed, a recent study showed that Canadian investors are among the world’s most financially exposed should fossil fuel assets become stranded.

Avoiding the worst of the hangover will involve a two-step process.

The shift away from fossil fuels is accelerating, and it will be permanent, so it’s time for politicians, especially Western premiers, to name the opportunity and talk publicly about what this generational shift in our economy will look like over the next two decades.

Second, governments must come together now and invest in future-proofed industries where Canada holds a competitive edge. Unlocking innovation and growth would also help Canada meet its climate targets while creating hundreds of thousands of new jobs across the country and across industries.

Plenty of good work is already under way. The federal government and several provinces have clean hydrogen strategies to replace natural gas for domestic use and export, and Canada is starting to attract multi-billion-dollar battery and EV manufacturing investments. Canada is also a top-10 source of the hugely in-demand metals and minerals required to manufacture clean technologies.

Our competitors are reinventing the ways in which they fund projects, incentivize industries, streamline processes and co-operate to attract new investments. To give just two examples, the European Union has set out a one-year deadline for renewable energy permitting, while Britain has released an energy security strategy to achieve clean-energy independence.

If Canada is to be at its most competitive, all levels of government must be on the same page.

The party always ends, but this time the club has been sold. We’re going to need to build a new one.

This post was co-authored by Merran Smith and originally appeared in the Globe and Mail.

The post The fossil-fuel party is raging again, but Canada still needs a plan for the hangover to come appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

How Career Maps Can Support Energy Efficiency Job Training Outcomes

Solar Foundation - Mon, 06/13/2022 - 08:09
Insights from the Residential Construction Workforce Partnership in Rhode Island

Like many industries these days, the green buildings industry—which includes building operations & facility management, construction & retrofitting, and much more—has a significant need for qualified workers. Meanwhile, there are many people for whom an entry level job in this sector could provide a pathway to a meaningful career with family-sustaining wages. 

An innovative job training program developed and implemented through a partnership between the Rhode Island Builders Association (RIBA) and CLEAResult—the Residential Construction Workforce Partnership—is bridging the gap between workers and green building jobs. 

It’s also using IREC’s Green Buildings Career Map to connect the dots and help participants understand the links between entry-level energy efficiency roles and the many long-term career opportunities they can lead to.

We spoke with David MacLellan, Program Manager, Rhode Island Income Eligible Services, and Karen Verrengia, Account Manager, at CLEAResult to understand the impacts of the program, what makes it unique, and what other job training programs can learn from it. We also explored how they utilized the Green Buildings Career Map and how other training programs can leverage it for big impacts. 

Residential Construction Workforce Partnership (RCWP): An Innovative Green Building Training Opportunity

Seeing the need to expand the pool of trained workers in the building energy efficiency sector—and the value that such jobs could bring to underserved communities—CLEAResult and RIBA joined forces to implement a free training program that would prepare workers for these jobs. The 26-week program, which consists of evening trainings three nights a week, is valued at between $6,000 and $7,000 but accepted applicants pay nothing. Funding was provided by RIBA as well as the Rhode Island Department of Labor & Training (DLT). 

Another key element of the program is that successful graduates obtain important industry certifications through the program that make it easier for them to get hired immediately. These include: 

The program also prepares participants for Building Performance Institute (BPI) Certification, which CLEAResult also offers (separate from this program). 

MacLellan says utmost attention was paid to ensuring that graduates of the program would be able to find good jobs after completing their training. To maximize the employment prospects of participants, they spoke with potential employers about their needs. This included local Community Action Partnership (CAP) agencies who administer the national Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP), the country’s single largest residential whole-house energy efficiency program which weatherizes about 35,000 homes every year

One insight from these conversations was the fact that CAP agencies normally have to ensure that all new hires have certain certifications like OSHA and lead safety certifications, as well as background checks. These tasks often have to happen after a candidate is hired, leading to costs for the agency and delays in when new hires can start working in the field. By taking care of these certifications and other logistics, the RCWP program makes it an easy decision for CAP agencies and other employers in the building energy efficiency field to hire program graduates. 

“With all of that in mind, we began this program with the Rhode Island Builders Association,” says MacLellan. 

Connecting the Dots Between Entry-Level Jobs and Long-Term Careers 

Beyond these steps to ensure that the program leads directly to quality jobs for graduates, the team also wanted to ensure that participants understood the versatility of the skills they were developing and the many different job roles the training could eventually lead them into. That’s where IREC’s Green Buildings Career Map came in. 

MacLellan explained that he had initially attempted to make a flowchart that roughly explained the different career options in the field, when his colleague Karen Verrengia alerted him to IREC’s Green Buildings Career Map. They utilized the Map in some of the first sessions of the program to give participants context on the value of what they would learn. 

“By having this tool, we can look at all the many [job] possibilities with our trainees; we can point to it and say ‘This is where you can go next. This is how you get there’ and we can help people on that path.”

He emphasized that by having a resource that trainees can review on their own time and come back to again and again as they gain experience in the industry and a better sense of what they want to do in the future is very valuable. He also noted that it empowers trainees to take charge of their own career progression and understand what kinds of questions to ask. 

“This is what opens the doors for people; all of a sudden they start to see the possibilities. There’s so much that they can do and so many directions they can go in based on their own motivation, their temperament, what they like to do, what they do not like to do, whether they want to be their own boss, etc. By being able to see those kinds of things, those decisions that they get to make, they’re empowered—it’s their world.”

MacLellan notes that CLEAResult and RIBA want the program to lead to long-term relationships with the participants. As they identify roles they want to work towards, they can come back for advice, additional training in new areas, or to be introduced to employers or other workers in the space who can share perspectives. He also hopes that many of them will come back to share their experiences with future program participants. “[We hope] we’ll be able to bring people in to talk to the other folks and say, ‘Look, they went through this program and now look where they are.’”

Indications of Success 

In terms of where the participants are headed next, early hiring outcomes are already pointing to the success of the program. Forty percent of the participants already had job offers before the end of the program while an additional 35% are in the interview process with prospective employers. 

The program also prioritized connecting students from underserved communities with job opportunities and had a very diverse cohort of participants. Sixty-five percent of program participants were people of color. 

Recruitment is already starting for the next cohort, which will begin in Fall 2022. 27 people are already on the waiting list and as many as 500 applicants are expected for the next cohort. Click here to apply for the program.

Lessons for Other Energy Efficiency Training Programs

Residential Construction Workforce Partnership offers a number of lessons for other training providers in the energy efficiency sector. These include:

  • Use career maps to help trainees understand their long-term options. The Green Buildings Career Map can be a great starting point and a resource they can come back to over time. 
  • Build relationships with employers and tailor the training to address their needs and challenges. 
  • Focus on long-term relationships with trainees; as they progress along their career paths, they may seek out additional training or insights from your program and they may be able to provide valuable real-world perspectives for your future training participants.

These strategies can help connect people with good jobs in energy efficiency that they might never have heard of before or considered, while at the same time filling a critical need for employers and communities. 

The post How Career Maps Can Support Energy Efficiency Job Training Outcomes appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

China currently owns the battery supply chain and it’s time for Canada to redraw the map

Clean Energy Canada - Wed, 06/08/2022 - 09:00

Electric vehicles are big business. A decade ago, there were 120,000 EVs sold worldwide. Today, that many are sold in a single week. By 2030, the number is expected to be closer to a million a week.

Around the world, automakers are pouring millions of dollars into electrifying their vehicles. But with supply snarls pulling the handbrake on sales of all kinds of cars—gas and electric alike—one thing is clear: supply chains matter.

And because EVs use six times the amount of critical minerals of a gas car, the supply chains that have served the traditional auto sector for decades are being reforged. It’s a huge opportunity for Canada—if we play our cards right.

Currently, just a few countries are responsible for much of the production of EV battery minerals, and often these countries are ruled by authoritarian regimes. China and the Congo were responsible for 70 per cent and 60 per cent of the global production of cobalt and rare earth elements, respectively, in 2019, according to the International Energy Agency. And the geographical concentration is even higher for battery mineral processing, where China dominates.

Handily, Canada ranks fifth in the world for its battery supply chain potential, in large part thanks to its supply of metals and minerals. It is the only country in the Western Hemisphere with known reserves of all the minerals necessary to manufacture EV batteries, ranking sixth globally in lithium reserves, seventh in nickel, and eighth in cobalt.

The U.S. and the European Union have flagged their dependence on China for battery minerals and materials as a major risk to their auto industries. Both regions are working to restructure supply chains—and both have identified Canada as a secure and stable source of raw materials.

What’s more, Canada’s clean electricity grid gives it a competitive edge with automakers looking to source low-carbon materials and reduce the carbon footprint of the vehicles they produce. BMW has committed to cutting emissions across its operations, for instance, while Tesla has indicated a preference for lower-carbon input materials like nickel, recently signing a deal with Vale SA to supply nickel from its Canadian operations.

And with the exceptional rise in demand for batteries outstripping the existing supply of certain critical minerals, there is a mineral resource vacuum just waiting to be filled by Canada. Known reserves of the metals and minerals that go into EVs and batteries are more than sufficient to support a global transition to zero-emission vehicles, but new mines are not being built fast enough. The world wants what Canada has—it just needs to step up to the plate.

There are some signs of action. The federal government put critical minerals front and centre in its most recent budget, allocating $3.8-billion toward manufacturing, processing, and recycling projects while introducing a new tax credit for the exploration for battery minerals. Meanwhile, Ontario has produced a critical mineral strategy to “establish and support a battery chain ecosystem” for its auto industry using northern Ontario’s mineral wealth.

But despite some strong investments at either end of the supply chain, very few of Canada’s metals and minerals are actually making their way into batteries. And none of them are doing so within a Canadian supply chain. Unless this changes, Canada runs the risk of repeating history by remaining a “staples” economy, where its raw materials are exported and later reimported with the value added (and the associated jobs created) somewhere else.

If Canadian governments want to seize the battery mineral opportunity, they need to up their game. That means picking winners and going all in, whether it’s building our supply of lithium and graphite or maximizing Canada’s early-stage nickel mines.

That should be coupled with accelerated mining project permit timelines that still ensure Canada meets the highest environmental, social, and governance standards, including Indigenous consultation and partnership. New and existing mines must also be electrified so that Canadian mining products are among the cleanest in the world. Finally, we must build up our domestic processing and refining capabilities.

This is Canada’s race to lose, but winning will require taking the right steps today. It’s time we picked up the pace.

This post originally appeared in The Hill Times.

The post China currently owns the battery supply chain and it’s time for Canada to redraw the map appeared first on Clean Energy Canada.

New Paper Identifies Emerging Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Charger Interconnection

Solar Foundation - Wed, 06/08/2022 - 08:06

A new paper from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) offers recommended best practices to streamline the process of interconnecting electric vehicle (EV) charging stations to the grid. Paving the Way: Emerging Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Charger Interconnection identifies new policies and practices at the state, local, and utility levels that can help resolve challenges that charging station developers currently face. 

The paper’s recommendations are informed by a survey IREC conducted of third-party EV charging station (EVCS) developers on their experiences and challenges with the grid interconnection process. The developers surveyed work across multiple states and cover a broad share of the EV charger market. These recommendations come at a pivotal time as the Biden Administration plans to allocate $7.5 billion in funds from the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in November 2021, to states and communities for the deployment of public EV charging stations.

Improving the speed and efficiency with which EV charging stations can be connected to the grid is an important step toward electrifying transportation and thereby decarbonizing the U.S. economy. The transportation sector comprises nearly 30 percent of U.S. greenhouse gas emissions and has been the nation’s largest source of carbon emissions since 2017. While more states have begun to encourage the use of EVs, rapid EV adoption is dependent upon the availability of a broad network of charging infrastructure, which includes both private and public chargers. To support EV growth through 2030, it has been estimated that the number of non-home chargers will need to grow from approximately 216,000 chargers in 2020 to 2.4 million by 2030. 

To accommodate the required growth, utilities will need to have efficient processes in place to interconnect new chargers to the grid, especially in preparation for a surge of new service requests that could result from federal spending. Delays resulting from inefficient charger interconnection and other processes, such as permitting and obtaining easements, can add weeks or months to a project’s timeline. The resulting “soft costs” are hard to quantify but can significantly impact charger deployment. 

This paper offers practical insights for utilities, state legislatures and regulatory agencies, and authorities having jurisdiction (AHJs) to better enable the safe and efficient buildout of EV charging infrastructure. It is the third paper in IREC’s Paving the Way paper series, which explores pathways and considerations for transitioning to electrified transportation in a manner that is equitable, efficient, and beneficial to the grid. Download it for free at: https://irecusa.org/resources/paving-the-way-emerging-best-practices-for-electric-vehicle-charger-interconnection/

Download Free Copy

The post New Paper Identifies Emerging Best Practices for Electric Vehicle Charger Interconnection appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

Cinco municipios de Puerto Rico son reconocidos por logros en energía solar

Solar Foundation - Tue, 06/07/2022 - 12:41

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Cinco municipios rurales de la Cordillera Central de Puerto Rico han logrado el reconocimiento federal por alentar la adopción local de energía solar. Barranquitas, Ciales, Morovis, Orocovis y Villalba recibieron la designación de Bronce a través de SolSmart, un programa nacional que ayuda a los gobiernos locales a reducir las barreras al crecimiento de la energía solar.

SolSmart está dirigido por IREC y la Asociación Internacional de Administración de Ciudades/Condados (ICMA), y financiado por la Oficina de Tecnologías de Energía Solar del Departamento de Energía de Estados Unidos. El programa ofrece asistencia técnica gratuita para ayudar a las comunidades a satisfacer sus necesidades energéticas utilizando energía solar y tecnologías relacionadas, como el almacenamiento de baterías.

Los cinco municipios son los primeros en Puerto Rico en lograr la designación de SolSmart, uniéndose a más de 450 comunidades en 43 estados, el Distrito de Columbia y las Islas Vírgenes de Estados Unidos. Las comunidades celebraron este logro en un evento realizado hoy en Orocovis.

“Estoy orgulloso de que Orocovis y tantos municipios vecinos en la Cordillera Central de Puerto Rico estén apoyando activamente la expansión de la energía solar en nuestras comunidades. Este es un paso más para ayudar a nuestra Isla a lograr el uso de energía 100% limpia para el año 2050”, dijo el alcalde de Orocovis, Jesús Edgardo Colón Berlingeri, quien fue el anfitrión de la ceremonia de homenaje a los municipios.

“Estamos muy emocionados de reconocer a las primeras comunidades en Puerto Rico por sus logros en energía solar”, dijo Theresa Perry, directora de programas de IREC. “Estos gobiernos locales están sentando las bases para un futuro energético sostenible que ayudará a reducir las facturas de energía para los residentes y las empresas, al mismo tiempo que mejora la resiliencia de la comunidad”, manifestó.

El Instituto de Tecnología y Seguridad de la Construcción (IBTS), brindó un amplio apoyo de asistencia técnica para ayudar a estas comunidades a cumplir con los criterios para la designación de SolSmart. IBTS brindó orientación personalizada a los municipios; dirigió una sesión de capacitación sobre planificación, permisos e inspección para sistemas solares a gran escala; organizó un taller informativo para la comunidad empresarial y el público en general; y ayudó a las comunidades a promover el programa en las redes sociales.

“Como organización sin fines de lucro dedicada a fortalecer a nuestras comunidades, nos llena de aliento cuando los vemos dar pasos tan grandes hacia el desarrollo de su resiliencia”, dijo Agnes Crespo, directora de la Región de Puerto Rico de IBTS. “Estamos orgullosos de lo que han logrado estos municipios y esperamos que sirvan de inspiración a todas las comunidades de la isla para garantizar que la energía solar sea accesible para todos los residentes”, agregó.

Estos cinco pueblos son miembros del Consorcio Energético de la Montaña, que está en proceso de desarrollar un sistema de microrredes para crear una mayor resiliencia energética. Cada municipio también lanzó una página de Facebook para informar al público sobre las oportunidades locales de energía solar.

El programa SolSmart está abierto a todos los municipios de Puerto Rico. Las comunidades interesadas en unirse al programa y recibir asistencia técnica sin costo pueden comunicarse con SolSmart@IRECUSA.org.

The post Cinco municipios de Puerto Rico son reconocidos por logros en energía solar appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

IREC Recognizes 5 Puerto Rico Communities for Solar Energy Achievements

Solar Foundation - Tue, 06/07/2022 - 12:38

Leer en español

Five rural municipalities in Puerto Rico have been designated by the IREC-led SolSmart program for their efforts to encourage solar energy growth at the local level. These communities are the first in Puerto Rico to achieve SolSmart designation, joining over 450 municipalities, counties, and regional organizations across 43 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Led by IREC and the International City/County Management Association, SolSmart provides free technical assistance to help local governments reduce barriers to solar energy use. The five Puerto Rico communities—Barranquitas, Ciales, Morovis, Orocovis, and Villalba—celebrated their achievement at a May 10 event in Orocovis.

“I am proud that Orocovis and so many neighboring municipalities in Puerto Rico’s Central Mountain Range are actively supporting the expansion of solar energy in our communities. This is one step closer to helping our Island achieve 100% clean energy use by the year 2050,” said Orocovis Mayor Jesús Edgardo Colón Berlingeri.

“We are so thrilled to recognize the first communities in Puerto Rico for their solar energy accomplishments,” added Theresa Perry, Program Director at IREC. “These local governments are laying the groundwork for a sustainable energy future that will help reduce energy bills for residents and businesses, while also enhancing community resilience.”

The Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) also provided extensive technical assistance support to help these communities meet the criteria for SolSmart designation. IBTS provided one-on-one guidance to municipalities; led a training session on planning, permitting, and inspection for large-scale solar systems; hosted an informational workshop for the business community and the general public; and assisted the communities with promoting the program on social media.

“As a non-profit organization devoted to strengthening our communities, it fills us with encouragement when we see them make such great strides towards building their resilience,” said Lic. Agnes Crespo Quintana, director of the IBTS Puerto Rico Region. “We are proud of the accomplishments these municipalities have made,” she added, “and hope they serve as inspiration to all communities on the Island to make sure solar energy is accessible to all residents.”

All five communities are members of the Municipal Energy Consortium of the Mountain Region, which is in the process of developing a microgrid system to create greater energy resilience. Each municipality also launched a Facebook page to inform the public about local solar energy opportunities.

SolSmart is one part of IREC’s expansive work in Puerto Rico to help make communities more resilient through solar power and storage. IREC’s Puerto Rican Solar Business Accelerator program is involved in several innovative projects to spur the development of a robust Puerto Rico solar industry and workforce.

The SolSmart program is open to all municipalities in Puerto Rico and across the United States. Communities interested in joining the program and receiving no-cost technical assistance can contact SolSmart@IRECUSA.org.

The post IREC Recognizes 5 Puerto Rico Communities for Solar Energy Achievements appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

Rule Updates in Illinois Make It Easier to Connect More Renewables to the Grid

Solar Foundation - Tue, 06/07/2022 - 12:20

On Wednesday, May 25, the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) made several changes to the state’s rules governing how distributed energy resources (DERs), such as rooftop solar panels and energy storage systems, connect to the state’s electric distribution grid. The revisions to Illinois’ interconnection rules include a number of positive developments that will streamline the interconnection process and reduce the time and cost to connect clean energy to the grid. They will also make it easier to utilize energy storage and provide increased transparency about interconnection review results. 

The changes reflect current best practices established through a collaborative research and policy project by utilities and clean energy advocates that resulted in a toolkit of solutions for improving the interconnection of energy storage projects (“the BATRIES Toolkit”). As one of the first states to incorporate these energy storage interconnection best practices, Illinois continues its role as a leader in climate change solutions. These changes build upon the landmark Climate and Equitable Jobs Act (CEJA) Illinois passed last year, one of the nation’s most comprehensive state climate and energy laws.

“These interconnection governance changes are necessary for the future of our energy grid and set the stage for groundbreaking programs promised by CEJA,” said Will Kenworthy, Regulatory Director at Vote Solar. “The ICC’s changes enable the renewable energy projects from CEJA to easily integrate into the grid and provide clean, reliable energy for all.”

These improvements resulted from the engagement of several public interest groups including the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC), the Environmental Law and Policy Center (ELPC), Vote Solar, and NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council). “These cutting-edge updates to the interconnection process in Illinois will make it possible to add more renewable energy to the state’s grid and offer a model for other states that want to lead the way to a clean energy future,” said IREC Regulatory Vice President Radina Valova. 

“Illinois is taking another step towards its clean energy future by improving how solar and storage on homes and businesses connect to the grid,” said Toba Pearlman, Senior Attorney & Renewable Energy Advocate at NRDC. “These revisions save time and money for customers connecting to the grid while balancing grid safety.”

One of the key changes establishes protocols for utilizing some of the unique characteristics of energy storage that will make it possible for the state’s grid to accommodate higher levels of renewable energy. That’s because, when paired with energy storage, DER projects can limit the amount of energy they send onto the grid (“non-export” and “limited-export” projects). The amount of electricity a project will send to the grid is a key factor in whether it can interconnect without the need for lengthy study or costly equipment upgrades to ensure grid safety and reliability. Projects that export less or no electricity to the grid are less likely to cause issues. 

Because energy storage is a newer technology, most interconnection rules do not yet recognize the possibility of limiting export or have guidelines for handling such projects. The revised Illinois interconnection rules now recognize limited- and non-export projects and establish different review approaches that reflect a project’s limited export amount, where appropriate, when assessing potential grid impacts. 

There are several other noteworthy developments in the revised interconnection rules, including: 

  • Improvements to the way projects are “screened” for potential grid impacts, which will result in fewer projects being required to go through time-consuming and costly study processes before being approved to interconnect. 
  • Requirements for utilities to provide greater information transparency to interconnection applicants, including details on grid constraints that prevent their projects from proceeding as designed, and more detailed cost and timeline estimates. 
  • A new pathway for developers to modify their pending DER projects in response to information on grid constraints, allowing them to improve their likelihood of approval without having to withdraw and reapply, as has historically been the case.

All of these changes are expected to allow more projects to successfully interconnect and to increase the pace at which renewable energy can be added to Illinois’ distribution grid. 

“This will put more renewable power on the grid faster and cheaper, while still maintaining safety and reliability,” said Environmental Law & Policy Center Staff Attorney Erica S. McConnell. “The people of Illinois want clean power. We want it for our climate, for our public health, and as a way to take control of our energy bills. These rules will make that happen more quickly, efficiently and safely.”

While an excellent starting point, one area where the changes fell short of public interest groups’ recommendations is in regard to data reporting requirements for the state’s utilities. The Commission declined to require more detailed reporting requirements that would help the Commission and interested stakeholders ensure the interconnection process is functioning well and that utilities are delivering on their required obligations. Lack of data on utility performance metrics in the interconnection process is a common problem that prevents accountability and improvements. 

IREC, Vote Solar, ELPC, and NRDC applaud the Commission’s ruling and the resulting improvements in interconnection policy in Illinois that will enable faster growth of clean energy resources in the state. Several other additional changes were included that are not discussed in detail here; the partners are available for comment. 

About IREC: The Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) builds the foundation for rapid adoption of clean energy and energy efficiency to benefit people, the economy, and our planet. Its vision is a 100% clean energy future that is reliable, resilient, and equitable. IREC has been trusted for independent clean energy expertise for nearly 40 years, since its founding in 1982. For more information, visit www.irecusa.org or follow IREC on Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook

About ELPC: ELPC is the Midwest’s premier environmental legal advocacy organization. We use the power of the law and strategic advocacy campaigns to create climate change solutions, advance clean energy, protect public health, and preserve the Midwest’s wild and natural places. For more information, visit www.elpc.org

About NRDC: NRDC (Natural Resources Defense Council) is an international nonprofit environmental organization with more than 3 million members and online activists. Since 1970, our lawyers, scientists, and other environmental specialists have worked to protect the world’s natural resources, public health, and the environment. NRDC has offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Bozeman, MT, and Beijing. Visit us at www.nrdc.org and follow us on Twitter @NRDC.

About Vote Solar: Vote Solar works state by state to repower our communities with sunshine and build a thriving clean economy with affordable solar energy for all. We use a winning combination of deep policy expertise, coalition building, and public engagement to help build a strong, just, and inclusive 100% clean-powered future. Learn more at https://votesolar.org/ and follow us on Twitter @VoteSolar.

The post Rule Updates in Illinois Make It Easier to Connect More Renewables to the Grid appeared first on Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

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