When your mission is centered around working with electric utility regulators to implement rules, you want to be there when regulators from across the country get together. This happens three times a year under the umbrella of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), and at least one representative of IREC participates. With net metering gaining utility attention, we knew that the topic would be discussed, so I attended the most recent meeting along with IREC President/CEO Jane Weissman and Larry Chaset, another attorney who represents IREC.
Rumor has it that “green” jobs have faded into the sunset. After all, enrollment for some renewable energy training is down and new topics are nudging “green” off the hit parade list. But wait, not so fast. Don’t believe the unfounded rumor mill. What we need now is to put an end to the green-job-hype era and move into the age of green reason. IREC now declares February the turning point as we firmly set course for a balanced and responsive approach to matching quality training to the job market. The good news is that we’re on our way.
When you start a presentation or a report with terms that mean different things to different people, chances are you’re not going to be successful in getting your point across. While making sure we use clearly defined and understandable terms seems intuitive, it doesn’t always happen. The clean energy community has a ways to go to make sure we’re all talking the same language. But, there are good moves on the horizon.
The turn of the calendar year is always a good time to reflect on the past year’s accomplishments so we can gauge how far we’ve come (and where we’re headed). Despite a few setbacks in the regulatory sphere, it seems the general direction of policy across the country has been trending in a positive direction, helping the renewable energy community adapt to evolving markets and a fluctuating economy. Read Connecting to the Grid’s 10 Most Significant Policy Accomplishments of 2013 (in no particular order).
I often wonder if the many projections made for a new year are accurate when looked at 12 months later. As one year ends, I try to remember to check to see how good the predictions were, but I always forget to go back and compare projections to reality. Of course forecasting the future is never an exact science, but the IREC Team took time for a reasoned preview at what’s on our 2014 plate. We have our 2013 work as a pretty good base for our predictions for the year ahead. So here goes.
The margin for error is slim when an industry is relatively new. It’s susceptible to strict scrutiny and heightened consumer and stakeholder expectations. This insight prompted the fall launch of the Clean Energy Credentialing Coalition (CECC). Five organizations, committed to raising the bar for product, services and workmanship, have joined forces to get the word out about the value that credentialing brings to our broadening young industry.
They say history repeats itself. This rang true last month when the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) updated the federal interconnection standards. Essentially, the new rules provide a more nuanced approach to interconnection, enabling faster, more efficient review to keep up with a growing, evolving and ever-more complex market.
They both are good for you and worth the price if they are of high quality. But just because a chocolate bar is advertised to gourmet foodies as the finest, it may not be the best, lacking the right ingredients to be true chocolate. Same is the case for credentials. A certification can be packaged nicely, even advertised as top shelf, yet what’s behind it may not be enough to assure that it measures competency and skill.
Last week, we saw an important shift in interconnection policy as the federal Small Generator Interconnection Procedures (SGIP) were updated for the first time since their initial adoption in 2005. We have been working for nearly two years to build stakeholder consensus at FERC on the changes adopted last week, which follow the example set by leading states such as California, Hawaii and Massachusetts. It is a monumental accomplishment, symbolically and substantively.
Timing, as they say, is everything. In politics. In baseball. I’d also posit that talent and vision are close cousins. And in the case of the Solar Instructor Training Network, I’d add one more: favorable global economics. The speed and magnitude of change in the global solar market has been spectacular if not daunting. Who knew, four years ago, that the industry would see year-after-year of exponential growth, fueling the demand and need for a highly-trained solar workforce?