In the summer, I tend to listen to music more often than during the rest of the year. During my formative years, I was a fan of the rock group Pink Floyd, and yes, I still enjoy their music today. One of their more famous songs, “Another Brick in the Wall,” was released in 1979, the same year I started teaching, so it has special meaning to me. I made a pact with myself that I would never be just another brick in the wall, and I’d like to think that over my 32-year teaching career, I’ve made a difference.
In a July 8 news release, the National Association of Counties (NACo) cited the workforce skills gap as THE top barrier to economic development in the U.S. With the national unemployment rate still hovering over 6 percent (and much higher in some areas), this is a sobering observation. NACo’s release focuses on collaboration as a key to this conundrum, and IREC couldn’t agree more.
Interconnection reform is the hottest new dish on the regulatory menu. Discussions are currently ongoing in Illinois and North Carolina, following the path-charting decisions in Hawaii, California, Massachusetts and Ohio over the past two years. It’s no surprise either; reforming interconnection procedures that are no longer suitable for today’s rapid solar adoption rates can be a win-win situation for both developers and utilities.
Last week, Massachusetts formally adopted improvements to its interconnection procedures that make it easier for small renewable energy systems to connect to the distribution grid, without compromising safety or power quality. MA joins a handful of other leading states, and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), adopting use of a 100 percent of minimum load penetration screen in its supplemental review process. Most simply, this is a recognition that smaller systems have less complex review needs.
It may not be news that U.S. solar energy markets continued to boom last year. In fact, solar installations accounted for 31 percent of all electric power installations in 2013. It is always interesting, however, to look at public data for insight into why and how – what the trends and challenges are – the drivers of the growing solar markets. After collecting and analyzing available data for the seventh year, as author of IREC’s recently published U.S. Solar Market Trends 2013, the answer is quite clearly a combination of factors.
Four-hundred-billion dollars (that’s $400 billion!) spent on energy in U.S. buildings per year. Two years of work. Fifty-four organizations. One-hundred-twenty-five recommendations. These numbers only tell part of the story.
We’ve heard a lot about smart grid over the past decade, but to achieve a truly intelligent grid we need to do much more than switch out analog meters for their digital counterparts. We must also implement comprehensive new regulatory structures to make use of the data and functionality provided by these equipment upgrades. In other words, we need to modernize the grid in addition to our modes of interacting with it.
Oh no, another roadmap! Sometimes dubbed business or strategic plans, they come with different personalities and effectiveness. Many end up sitting on the proverbial “shelf,” but I’m writing about one that won’t collect dust.
At IREC, we are unwavering in our commitment to ensuring the value of our credentialing marks and the rigor associated with our credentials. It’s our job to make sure you – the training community, students, funders and other stakeholders – can depend on it. We understand that the strength of that value comes from your confidence that an IREC credential distinguishes a training program or instructor that has met the highest industry-driven standards for quality and safety – a program that holds up to the ethical obligations established by the IREC Credentialing Program policies and procedures.
So we wanted to let you know that we are here to protect these hard-earned credentials, and we take this very seriously.
The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) believes that in some areas of the country, as little as 25 percent of homes may be suitable for a PV system, due to physical limitations of rooftops, poor building orientation, and/or inadequate solar resources. Other hurdles that stand between residents and solar can include building ownership, easements and building restrictions, upfront costs of system ownership, and difficulties in obtaining financing. Considering these limitations, how can residential solar maintain head-turning levels of growth, and how can more residential consumers join in?