New York continues to escalate its solar program, with $94M of incentives announced for larger projects. Many of the projects are “Remote Net Metered”, which allows non-residential customers to have a solar system installed at a “Host” site, then use the solar energy to reduce their electricity bills at any – or all – of their locations. In early 2015, the MW block program is going to provide standard applications for similar sized projects (200KW to 2 MWs). It will be “first come, first served”, with incentives steadily declining as more projects are built. EarthKind is working with several customers to get “first in line” so that they can maximize the incentives and minimize their long-term power costs – most times with zero cash outlay.
The Westchester County Legislature is working to pass legislation that would eliminate the use of dirty, polluting #6 and #4 oil. As part of their deliberative process, the Environment and Energy Committee invited Ron to speak about solar hot water as a way for building owners to reduce their costs when they change from dirty oil to other sources. Ron discusses the zero cash outlay, guaranteed savings, and third party maintenance offerings that EarthKind is bringing to New York State in partnership with Skyline Innovations / Nextility.
The Energy Transformation (or, really, a Revolution) is underway. After 130 years, the electric utility industry is going through a disruption “…potentially as great as those that have remade the airlines, the music industry and the telephone business.” In New York, the State Public Service Commission’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” (REV) aims to open the electric market in new ways, to more competition.
New York State utilities had 100+ years of monopoly business – then were restructured in the 1990s with electric deregulation, shedding their generation and transmission business. Now, their business model is being forced to change by technology advances and public benefit policies. Solar prices have declined by 70% in the last 5 years; down more than 99% in the last 30. With new financing mechanisms, solar can now save almost any electricity customer money – and consistently continue to do so for 25+ years.
There is a need to balance the critical electric system survival and evolution, with new revenue models that maintain and enhance the platforms of the utilities (or “Distributed System Providers”, as they are starting to be renamed). How we maintain our electric grid infrastructure while creating opportunities for innovation in the new markets and new business models is the challenge of our times.
EarthKind is a key participant in the REV process, and is providing intelligence and intervention into the evolving market for a number of our clients.
Most people don’t realize that there is 3 times more solar hot water installed across the world than solar PV electric. In the US, the main solar heating use has been for pools. But now, those using hot water in commercial facilities – including multi-family buildings, hospitals, nursing homes, dorms, and laundries – are taking advantage of a 30% federal tax credit, additional tax benefits, and state incentives. Profit-making companies are gaining ROIs of 20% and more, while all commercial hot water users can now participate in solar hot water programs that save 30% or better a month on their hot water heating costs – with ZERO cash down. EarthKind pioneered a “Heat Purchase Agreement” in NYS with the Ronnybrook dairy farm, and we now bring partners who can provide the same opportunity for almost any commercial hot water customer throughout the US and Caribbean.
Ron Kamen is a New York Chapter Director of Environmental Entrepreneurs (E2) – a national, nonpartisan group of business leaders, investors and others who promote smart environmental policies that drive economic growth. E2 members are active in nearly every state in the country, have built or financed more than 1,700 companies that have created more than 570,000 jobs, and manage more than $100 billion in venture and private equity capital.
From the interview:
“This Labor Day, the high tech jobs of the future are here now. The U.S. saw a doubling of clean energy jobs in 2015 Q2, with the majority of the new 12,500 jobs coming from solar, wind, electric vehicles, and efficiency. We see again how state and federal policies are so important for creating market certainty. The job growth was reported across 29 states, Arizona, California, Michigan, as well as Utah, Massachusetts and New York and more. At the state level, Renewable and Efficiency standards are driving growth. At the federal level, we see how important the continuation of the production and investment tax credits are to creating market certainty. And the federal Clean Power Program is going to be critical for continued exponential growth in clean energy jobs.
Next Step Living in Massachusetts has created 600 jobs, growing annual sales from $1 million to over $50 million in 3 years with insulation, weather-stripping, and other low tech, entry level jobs. SolarCity is going to create 1,000 jobs in Buffalo, NY with a high-tech solar manufacturing facility. Every two years, this new manufacturing plant will produce solar power cells that have the same energy capacity as the Indian Point nuclear power station.”