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Large-Scale Solar Power Plants Now Cost Effective in Oregon | May 7, 2013

The Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association has just published a major new peer-reviewed study, Vision to Integrate Solar in Oregon (VISOR). Bonneville Environmental Foundation was the principal sponsor of this work by Chris Robertson & Associates.

Large scale PV power plants are now cost effective in both PacifiCorp and Portland General Electric service areas, using PURPA avoided cost rates as the revenue stream for the plants.

Oregon could produce 20% of its electricity from 65 square miles of land. If this was all agricultural land it would be 1/4 of 1% of Oregon’s farm land.  Agricultural production (e.g. grazing small animals, honey production) could be maintained on the land.

Building-level distributed generation is not yet cost-effective. This is due mainly to a market design that is small, fragmented and does not enable contractors to get to economies of scale.

Remaining market barriers will need to be addressed. These include finance, land use, improved interconnection processes, transmission and distribution upgrades, permit streamlining, and others.

A Feed-in-Tariff regime should be designed to accommodate both utility scale and building level PV DG so as to drive down costs in both market segments and achieve a “reasonable” long term average cost of solar energy resources for the grid.

Monetizing the carbon value from installing solar makes it even more cost-effective.

Pennsylvania: Solar power at Church Farm School | April 28, 2013

We think it noteworthy that at a time when our community’s leaders are championing the installation of solar power at an institution such as Church Farm School in Exton, many other organizations find that the cost of such an environmentally desirable is out of reach.

The school had help installing its solar array in the form of grants provided through the Pennsylvania Solar Energy Program. But that funding is limited and as such other major energy users – such as Chester County government – find it unworkable to think about solar power in new building and capital projects.

Steve Fromnick, the county’s able director of Facilities and Parks, said last week that his exploration into solar power for the county’s Justice center construction project did not prove economically feasible. Likewise, too, adding such a green source of power at the Chester County Library in Exton, where the county just recently finished installing a new roof. Had the money worked, we are certain the county would have committed itself to such an installation; green efforts are commonplace in the county.

Nevertheless, the efforts of Church Farm to install the panels and turn to this renewable source of energy are worthwhile. “This is not just a source of clean and green energy but a powerful symbol of the kind of partnerships that come together and make such good things possible,” said the Rev. Edmund K. Sherrill, head of the school.

Pennyslvania: Pa. universities use renewable energy to save utility costs, ‘set example’ on ‘green’ use | April 25, 2013

As Pennsylvania colleges venture deeper into alternative-energy sources, they’re giving crucial support to fledgling energy companies.

Eight Pennsylvania colleges and universities are cited as top alternative-energy buyers in the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2013 Green Power Challenge. Among them, Allegheny College and Carnegie Mellon, Duquesne, Mercyhurst and Chatham are amid Western Pennsylvania’s rich coal and gas deposits.

According to the EPA, their purchases offset carbon-dioxide emissions equivalent to those from 70,233 vehicles during a year.

Perhaps just as important, by making a stand for green energy, colleges affect the marketplace, said Blaine Collison, director of the EPA’s Green Power Program.

Colleges that signed long-term contracts to purchase renewable-energy credits about 12 years ago formed the foundation that allowed Community Energy Inc. of Radnor to build the Somerset Wind Farm and later the Bear Creek Wind Farm in North Central Pennsylvania.

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