Up Front: The IREC Blog

Sizing Up Net Metering

In the U.S., net energy metering (NEM) has served as an important plank of a broader policy platform that states have used to facilitate the development of customer-sited renewables. NEM policies in line with best practices allow individuals, businesses, non-profits,

Bank On It

Storage is cool. It’s so ingrained in our daily lives that it’s invisible. From the pantry closet and fridge storing our food to fuel tanks in our homes and cars, storage gives us the advantage to have something when we need it. It’s there waiting to be used. So, doesn’t it make a lot of sense to store excess power from photovoltaics and other distributed generation resources to provide backup during outages? And, wouldn’t storage change the intermittent nature of PV on cloudy days and at night into a more dispatchable resource? Couldn’t it also provide other grid services to help maintain power quality and reliability?

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Pour the Coffee… We have work to do!

The most direct measure of whether a training or educational program has market value is whether its graduates have the knowledge and skills required in the job market. Yet, a recently released Gallup poll sponsored by the Lumina Foundation indicates that only 11 percent of business leaders strongly agree that graduates of higher education programs have the skills and competencies that their business needs. This is a disturbing number. Clearly there needs to be a serious improvement in the linkage between business leaders and educational providers if the skills gap is going to be closed.

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Meet Solar’s Imaginary Friend, Reactive Power

Utilities deliver both active (or real) power and reactive (or imaginary) power along their distribution lines. Real power does the actual work when you flip on a light switch. Certain energy loads, such as motors and refrigerators, include energy storage elements that periodically need to reverse the direction of energy flow. This electric power from stored electromagnetic energy, which returns to the source in each cycle, is known as reactive power.

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Hot topic. Cold travels.

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.

From Donuts to Doing: Forging Strong Ties With Industry

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.

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But what does it mean?

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.

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IREC’s Top 10 Solar Accomplishments of 2013

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).

Up Around The Bend*

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.

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Black eyes are contagious and avoidable

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.

 

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