New Study Shows Value of Solar for Massachusetts

Acadia Center today released a study that quantifies the grid and societal benefits of solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV) in Massachusetts. Establishing the value of distributed resources is increasingly important as states explore ways to meet energy needs and deploy clean energy resources. Acadia Center has also released a Value of Solar study for Connecticut, and Maine ‘s Public Utilities Commission recently completed a similar type of analysis.

Acadia Center assessed the value of six hypothetical solar PV system configurations to better understand the overall value that solar PV provides to the grid. By evaluating an array of configurations, this analysis determines that the value of solar to the grid—and ratepayers connected to the grid—ranges from 22-28 cents/kWh, with additional societal values of 6.7 cents/kWh.

“Solar generation is a valuable local energy resource that provides significant benefits to ratepayers,” said Jamie Howland, Director of Acadia Climate and Energy Analysis (CLEAN) Center. Solar PV provides unique value to the electric grid by producing clean energy and avoiding generation and related emissions from conventional power plants. The overall grid value of solar is the sum total of these different benefits.

The benefits vary based on the time and location of output from solar panels. Acadia Center examined these variations in the study, including the impacts of orientation (i.e. west- or south-facing arrays) on the value of solar PV. One key finding is that under traditional net metering, west-facing arrays—which maximize output during periods of peak demand—would receive approximately 20% less credit than a comparable south-facing system, despite the fact that they produce approximately the same overall value to the grid.

In addition to value to the grid, Acadia Center’s study finds that solar PV provides broader societal advantages, such as environmental benefits from avoided greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants. “Societal benefits should be used when assessing the overall costs and benefits of solar PV and determining additional incentives,” said Leslie Malone, Acadia Center Senior Analyst and an author of the report.

The report provides information that is relevant for the Net Metering and Solar Task Force in Massachusetts, which will conclude its work at the end of April. “Having a better understanding of the value of solar PV and its components will help the task force and policy makers recommend and advance policies that help to encourage deployment of this clean energy resource,” said Mark LeBel, Staff Attorney with Acadia Center and the organization’s Massachusetts lead on solar policy.

For more information see: www.acadiacenter.staging.wpengine.com/document/value-of-solar-massachusetts

 

Contact:
Leslie Malone, Senior Analyst, Acadia Center,
(401) 276-0600, lmalone@acadiacenter.org

Peter Shattuck, Dir. Clean Energy Initiative, Acadia Center
(617) 742-0054 x103, pshattuck@acadiacenter.org

Emily Avery-Miller, Dir. External Relations, Acadia Center
(617) 742-0054 x001, eavery-miller@acadiacenter.org

Op-Ed: We Need a Different Type of Power Grid

…In order to make this energy future possible, we need to change the policies and financial incentives that motivate utilities and drive their decision-making. Acadia Center’s UtilityVision is a framework for an updated approach to energy regulation with four overarching principles for needed reforms…

Carbon Control: Is Emissions Trading Working in the Northeast?

…“Even with the tightening of the RGGI cap, it remains difficult to attribute specific quantities of emissions reductions to any single political, market or economic factor,” said Jordan Stutt, a policy analyst at Boston’s Acadia Center, a nonprofit that tracks the RGGI program. “However, the tightening of the cap has led to higher RGGI allowance prices, creating a more significant incentive to generate electricity from cleaner sources and to invest more heavily in energy efficiency.”…

Letter to the Editor: More Power

Acadia Center, a nonprofit organization that researches and advocates innovative approaches to advance the clean energy future, has released “UtilityVision: Reforming the Energy System to Work for Consumers and the Environment.” The publication presents an ambitious but realistic energy future that puts the consumer firmly in the center.The report outlines the specific steps needed to create a new energy system that both meets our needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment.

Report: Efficiency efforts cut New England winter power prices 24%

Energy efficiency is saving New England consumers billions of dollars, according to a new report by Acadia Center. The group notes that efficiency measures put in place during the last 15 years have slashed peak demand and during the last winter cut overall demand by 14%.

What Is the Value of Solar Power in Massachusetts? A New Report

A new study released this week by Acadia Center quantifies the grid and societal benefits of solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV) in Massachusetts. Establishing the value of distributed resources like rooftop solar is increasingly important as states explore ways to meet energy needs and deploy clean energy resources.

Acadia Center assessed the value of six hypothetical solar PV system configurations to better understand the overall value that solar PV provides to the grid. The assessment determined that the value of solar to the grid—and ratepayers connected to the grid—ranges from 22-28 cents/kWh, with additional societal values of 6.7 cents/kWh. This value derives from solar PV’s unique ability to produce clean energy and, among other benefits, avoid generation and related emissions from conventional power plants.  The overall grid value of solar is the sum total of these different benefits.

Acadia Center also evaluated the impact of orientation (i.e. west- or south-facing arrays with different tilts from the horizontal) on the value of solar PV, which is why six different system configurations were examined.  One key finding is that under traditional net metering, west-facing arrays—which maximize output during periods of peak demand like late afternoon—would receive approximately 20% less credit than a comparable south-facing system, despite the fact that they produce approximately the same overall value to the grid. The study finds that solar PV provides broader societal advantages (such as environmental benefits from avoided greenhouse gas emissions and other pollutants) which should be considered when assessing costs and benefits and determining additional incentives for solar producers.

The implications and policy recommendations of the report include the following key points:

  • Solar generation is a valuable local energy resource that provides significant benefits to all ratepayers, with a per-kWh value in excess of retail rates. Further, in the aggregate, net metering is a fair policy.
  • Once sufficiently high levels of solar PV are installed, a “value of solar” tariff could correct discrepancies between the individual elements– for example, avoided energy or transmission and distribution costs – of the value of solar and of retail rates. In such a tariff, solar PV generation is credited at an administratively determined rate and the individual value components can be accounted for properly (e.g. distribution portion of benefits paid by distribution companies).
  • Current policies can discourage the installation of west-facing systems.  For customers who cannot install south-facing solar, new policies that recognize the value of west-facing solar (maximizing output during peak demand periods) could be beneficial for both ratepayers and society.
  • Societal benefits should be calculated when assessing the costs and benefits of solar PV and determining additional solar producer incentives.
  • Locational values (the added value from solar that reduces grid congestion and avoids expensive upgrades to the distribution system) have not been considered in this study, but are important to maximize the savings in distribution costs that solar can bring to ratepayers. Appropriate incentives can ensure that solar PV, energy efficiency, and other customer-side resources are targeted to defer or avoid the need for new infrastructure spending.

 

The Value of Solar report has been released in time to provide information for the work of the Net Metering and Solar Task Force in Massachusetts, which will conclude its work at the end of April.

For more information:
Value of Solar  for MA and CT

Maine ‘s Public Utilities Commission Value of Solar analysis

Additional rate design recommendations in Acadia Center’s UtilityVision

Energy Efficiency Cut New England Prices by 24% in Winter 2014: Report

Energy efficiency savings lowered New England’s wholesale electricity prices by 24% in the winter of 2014, according to a report released Thursday by the Acadia Center, an energy advocacy group. Efficiency programs suppressed electric demand by 13.7% from January through March 2014, lowering payments to generators by $1.49 billion, the report said.

Join us for Earth Day Webinar

What do you know about our energy system? Some don’t know much more beyond sending a check every month to keep their lights on. Others are working to engineer new technologies to generate energy or researching and advancing policies to promote a clean energy future.

There’s new info for all of these audiences at Acadia Center’s Earth Day Webinar, Utility Vision: Making the Energy System Work for Consumers and the Environment, which will discuss how the consumer can become an integral part of the energy system.

As it stands now the energy system is largely one-directional, with the power flowing to us from large fossil-fueled generators and our money flowing back. For decades that money has gone towards maintaining the infrastructure of those plants and the power lines that bring us that energy.

But, as consumers become more aware of how our energy use affects the environment, the supply of fossil fuels runs low, and worries about energy costs increase, consumers and leaders are increasingly looking to ways to re-envision the energy system. And now that cleaner technologies for demand-reducing efficiency and generating and distributing a renewable supply are becoming more accessible and affordable, a new energy system isn’t only necessary, it’s possible.

Acadia Center’s Utility Vision is a strategic plan to achieve a new system that meets our energy needs and supports a fair, healthy economy and environment. The webinar will outline the recommendations for policy changes that will create an energy system that will benefit and empower us all.

The webinar will take place at 1:00 pm on April 22nd , led by the director of Acadia Center’s Grid Modernization Initiative, Abigail Anthony. You can Register Here. Tuning in would be a great way to celebrate Earth Day!

Update

Thank you to everyone who attended the webinar! Abigail Anthony, Director of the Grid Modernization Initiative, took us through the development of Acadia Center’s vision for a clean energy future, from ClimateVision 2020 to EnergyVision to UtilityVision, which was published in February of this year. If you want to learn more about anything you heard or may have missed today there is more information on our website or you can email us, Happy Earth Day!

National Grid first in New England to pilot advanced solar technology

National Grid will begin construction in Massachusetts on the first solar generation site in New England to pilot advanced technology; meanwhile, Acadia Center has released a study that quantifies the grid and societal benefits of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Massachusetts.

New Report Shows Value of Solar in Massachusetts

A new report by Acadia Center on a study regarding the benefits of solar photovoltaic systems (solar PV) in Massachusetts , states that the solar is “increasingly important…to meet energy needs and deploy clean energy resources.”