Minnesota will be included in a study to help federal researchers test the potential of pollinator-friendly habitat and fruit and vegetable crops around solar arrays.
The city of Bloomfield, Iowa is at least 10 percent of the way toward its pledge to reach energy independence by 2030 with the recent completion of a 1.86-megawatt solar array.
Ohio’s net-metering rules appear destined for the state’s Supreme Court as utilities and their opponents dig in against each other over proposed changes.
An engineering team led by an Illinois company has built a solar system that produces electricity and enough heat to potentially power a commercial oven or steam turbine.
A Missouri state senator appointed last week to join the state’s Public Service Commission has aroused hopes among the state’s renewable-energy supporters. Ryan Silvey, a Republican from the Kansas City suburbs, was described by several people as being, at a minimum, open to more renewable energy in the state, which historically has done little to encourage the development of wind and solar energy. Missouri’s solar industry is enthusiastic enough about Silvey that at its annual meeting in November, it designated him its Legislator of the Year. “He’s been a phenomenal support for advancing solar energy in the state,” said Mary Shields, executive director of the Missouri Solar Energy Industries Association. “And he has an acute understanding of the importance of renewable energy and what it does for choice, and as far as providing some resiliency to the grid.”
Silvey said he is intrigued by advances in renewable technologies and the electrification of transportation, but said he is not “trying to eradicate fossil fuels.”
Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton is redoubling his administration’s efforts to cut state government’s carbon footprint. The Democratic governor signed an executive order late last year directing state agencies to reduce fleet fossil fuel consumption, building energy use per square foot, and total greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent in the next decade.
The number of customers selling electricity back to the grid in Michigan climbed again in 2016, according to an annual report released by the state last month. The state’s net-metering program, which lets ratepayers sell surplus power back to the grid at retail prices, added 427 customers and nearly 5 megawatts of capacity, most of it from solar. While the state’s total solar capacity doubled last year through utility-scale projects, net-metering momentum is at risk after 2018, as the state prepares to replace net metering with a tariff aimed at better reflecting the value of solar and other forms of distributed generation. The Michigan Public Service Commission spent much of 2017 designing a replacement for the state’s decade-old net metering program, a requirement under the state’s sweeping 2016 energy law. The net-metering debate has revolved around whether customers’ use of solar panels is being subsidized by other ratepayers, or if the systems provide a net benefit to the electric grid.
Out in the middle of Kansas, a rural electric cooperative and a couple of solar installers have found common cause in, of all things, a demand fee.
Missouri is the latest state where utility regulators are reevaluating outdated rules on customer-owned solar power and other distributed energy sources.
With the ongoing decline of solar energy costs and now a favorable ruling by Michigan regulators recognizing its ability to produce valuable energy during peak times, advocates say the sector is poised for growth here.