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Energy Transition Lab

University of Minnesota Buys Community Solar Subscription

October 28, 2016Megan ButlerETL Blog, FeaturedComments Off on University of Minnesota Buys Community Solar Subscription

The University of Minnesota is tapping into a new source of power. With approval from the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents last week, the U’s Twin Cities campus will purchase two megawatts of community solar garden subscriptions from Minneapolis-based Geronimo Energy, LLC.

“This is an important step for the University and our sustainability efforts,” said Shane Stennes, Director of Sustainability. “We anticipate significant savings of nearly $800,000 over the 25 year contract while supporting the development of new renewable energy resources in the State of Minnesota.”

A community solar garden is a centralized, shared solar electricity facility connected to the energy grid that has multiple subscribers. Currently being built in Dakota County, the community solar garden will produce electricity and renewable energy certificates to be provided to Xcel Energy. The University pays Geronimo fees based on the amount of the subscription and the actual production from the solar garden. The University receives credits from Xcel on the University’s electric bill based upon the production of the solar garden and the University’s subscription share of the garden.

The University has been exploring renewable energy opportunities as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and consumption of fossil fuels. Most recently, this work has focused on accessing the emerging Minnesota solar energy market.

In 2015, the University hired Eutectics®, a local clean energy advisor, to assist the University in assessing risk and determining the financial feasibility of purchasing solar electricity through various mechanisms. At the same time, the University’s Energy Transition Lab and Institute on the Environment collaborated with three other Midwestern universities and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association on a U.S. Department of Energy–funded project called “The Solar Endowment: A PV Investment Roadmap for U.S. Universities and Foundations.” The project created teams of students that worked with University staff and faculty to evaluate solar potential, to develop financial models for solar, and to organize campus outreach.

The University is currently pursuing other renewable options in addition to the community solar subscription. Recently, the institution submitted a letter of support to the Public Utilities Commission for Xcel Energy’s Renewable*Connect pilot program. The proposed program will allow Xcel customers to designate that a portion of their electricity come from a blend of wind and solar resources. Later this month, the University is also releasing a request for proposals for on-campus solar installations at four of its campuses.

Photo Credit: Marufish (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Attend the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance Hot Topic: Rate Design and Energy Storage

October 25, 2016Megan ButlerEvents, MESAComments Off on Attend the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance Hot Topic: Rate Design and Energy Storage

MESA Logo

The Energy Transition Lab Invites You to Attend MESA’s Hot Topic: Rate Design and Energy Storage

You are invited to attend the Hot Topic discussion hosted by the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA) on rate design and Energy Storage. The discussion will feature a presentation by Chris Villarreal, Director of Policy for the Minnesota Public Utility Commission and Char of the NARUC (National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners) Staff Subcommittee on Rate Design. Chris will talk about the final version of the NARUC Manual on Distributed Energy Resources (DER) Rate Design and Compensation, rate design, and the role of DER going forward including the relevance of rate design to energy storage applications.

This event is part of a series of Hot Topics on Storage hosted by MESA, where energy enthusiasts can indulge their inner energy geek and engage in an in-depth, informal conversation with experts.

Time and Place: This event will be held from 2:30 to 3:30 on Wednesday, November 9 at the University of Minnesota Law School Room 40. The Law School, Mondale Hall, is at 229 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55455.

Getting here:  We are located near the West Bank light rail stop on the Green Line.  From the stop, go up the stairs/elevator to 19th Avenue, turn right, and walk to the nearest building on your right, which is Mondale Hall. The University of Minnesota Law School is located on several Metro Transit bus routes including routes 23 7 and 22 as well as the University of Minnesota’s Campus Connector. By car, parking in pay lots at Mondale Hall is available at a variety of locations on the U of M West Bank campus including: Surface Lot C86, north of Mondale Hall, the 19th Ave. Ramp and the 21st Ave. Ramp.  

MESA will provide beverages and light refreshments. This event is free and open to all interested, so feel free to invite friends or colleagues Read more →

Duluth’s Energy Future

August 12, 2016Megan ButlerETL Blog, Events, FeaturedComments Off on Duluth’s Energy Future

Duluth Energy Future Photo

Over the past year, the Energy Transition Lab has been involved in research regarding Duluth and Northeast Minnesota’s Energy Future. By integrating renewables such as bioenergy and solar along with Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems and energy efficiency into Northeast Minnesota’s existing energy system, the region will be able to increase local resiliency while also having positive impacts on the local economy and environment. In total, this research included bioenergy, solar, energy efficiency, district energy systems and CHP projects to show the pathways that could be involved in developing a truly integrated hybrid energy system.

In September, 2016 Ellen Anderson and Research Assistant Megan Butler traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to present the Energy Transition Lab's work on Duluth's Energy Future at the Energy Policy Institute's 6th Annual Energy Policy Research Conference.

In September, 2016 Ellen Anderson and Research Assistant Megan Butler traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to present the Energy Transition Lab’s work on Duluth’s Energy Future at the Energy Policy Institute’s 6th Annual Energy Policy Research Conference.

The full Duluth’s Energy Future Report is composed of chapters focusing upon three main priority areas which were identified after an extensive stakeholder engagement process in Northeast Minnesota:

  1. An Economic Modeling of Proposed Biomass and Solar Opportunities in Northeast Minnesota 
    Read More
    Working with the Labovitz School of Business and Economics Bureau of Business and Economic Research, the Energy Transition Lab utilized an IMPLAN analysis to model the economic impacts of clean energy projects in the region. This research shows that transitioning from fossil fuels to local and regionally-sourced bioenergy and other clean energy resources has the potential to create jobs and economic growth in the city of Duluth and the heavily forested northeast “Iron Range” region of Minnesota.
  2. Strategies for Transforming Building Stock to Zero Energy 
    Read More
    Partnering with the University of Minnesota’s Center for Sustainable Building Research, we developed a prototype for measuring the impact of energy efficiency measures on public buildings. Using this model we demonstrated how to transform an existing public building into a Net Zero Energy/Carbon building. This research allowed us to provide building owners with actionable, cost-effective strategies for reducing the energy footprint of existing building stock. Using this experience, we worked with local partners to develop recommendations for using energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies to transform the existing building stock in Duluth.
  3. Combined Heat and Power Barriers and Opportunities in Northeast Minnesota. 
    Read More
    CHP is far more efficient than conventional power production, which wastes up to 60% of the energy value of the fuel. If we can capture the heat or thermal energy released during electricity production, it can be a valuable energy resource instead of being released to the atmosphere as wasted heat. Through interviews with organizations that have recently converted to CHP in Minnesota as well as organizations in Northeast Minnesota currently considering CHP, the Energy Transition Lab evaluated and developed recommendations for the legal, regulatory, siting, and other platforms that will enable CHP’s development. 

Read the Full Report

Together, these three areas of research serve to provide a valuable resource for the City of Duluth and Northeast Minnesota to engage key stakeholders in a conversation about how they envision Northeast Minnesota’s energy future. This research will help the city of Duluth take some transformational steps towards a cleaner, more sustainable energy system. In this way Duluth, a blue-collar, industrial, coal-dependent, and extreme climate city in America’s heartland, can also serve as a model for energy transition in the United States by showing that it is possible to transition to cleaner energy systems and benefit the local economy.

Cover Photo Credit:  Jim Brekke

Community Storage Initiative 2016 Leadership Forum

July 7, 2016Megan ButlerEventsComments Off on Community Storage Initiative 2016 Leadership Forum
Photo Credit: Advanced Vehicle Technology

Photo Credit: Advanced Vehicle Technology

The Community Storage Initiative

2016 Leadership Forum

July 20-21, 2016

University of Minnesota Law School

In recent months, it has become increasingly apparent that overall interest in energy storage is rapidly accelerating.  From the introduction of the Tesla ‘Powerwall’ to a recent RMI Report entitled “The Economics of Demand Flexibility”, there is an emerging consensus that the country needs a wide variety of dynamic energy storage resources.  At the same time, the Community Solar business model has experienced growing acceptance by the electric utility industry as a valid renewable production strategy.  These realizations have led directly to the recent announcement that NRECA, NRDC, EEI, APPA and PLMA have launched a coordinated market development effort entitled ‘The Community Storage Initiative’.  Following the recent release of The Brattle Group research, “The Hidden Battery” (sponsored by NRECA, NRDC and PLMA),The Community Storage Initiative is an inclusive national market development collaborative that has garnered the support of the electric utility industry, the environmental community, the renewable energy industry and the public policy community. 

This Leadership Forum is designed to engage you as leaders in a productive dialogue on how we can best make use of the Initiative to further our mutual goals. Discussion will include:

  • Implementing cost-effective community storage technologies NOW – electric water heaters, electric vehicles, batteries, ice storage, space heat and other behind and in front of the meter storage technology!
  • What can The Community Storage Initiative do for you?
  • How can we engage consumers and create messaging around the concept of “community storage”?
  • What role can CSI play in advocacy, the ability to speak with one voice, and the ability to collect data on the industry?
  • How do we build a Community Storage network to share research and business models?
  • What are the next steps?  Where do we go from here?

Visit The Event Website To Register Today: https://utilityexchangeorg.wildapricot.org/event-2265461

Attend MESA’s First Hot Topic Brown Bag: Assessing the Capacity Value of Energy Storage

June 23, 2016Megan ButlerEvents, MESA, UncategorizedComments Off on Attend MESA’s First Hot Topic Brown Bag: Assessing the Capacity Value of Energy Storage

MESA Logo

The Energy Transition Lab Invites You to Attend MESA’s First Hot Topic Brown Bag: Assessing the Capacity Value of Energy Storage

Register Today

You are invited to attend the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance– MESA’s first Hot Topic Brown Bag Lunch discussion on assessing the capacity value of Energy Storage. The discussion will focus on how to best assess the value of energy storage as it relates to capacity resource adequacy in Minnesota, how capacity planning and adequacy is conducted at both the MISO level and the distribution utility level, and approaches that have been used for renewable resources (wind/solar) that may be applicable to energy storage. Discussion leaders will include Rao Konidena (MISO), John Reinhart (MISO), Alan Gleckner (Fresh Energy), John Frederick (Energy Storage Consultant), and a representative from Xcel Energy.

This event is intended to be first in a series of Hot Topics on Storage, where energy enthusiasts can indulge their inner energy geek and engage in an in-depth, informal conversation with experts.

Time and Place: This event will be held from 11:30 to 1:30 on Monday, July 11 at the University of Minnesota Law School Room 50. The Law School, Mondale Hall, is at 229 19th Avenue South, Minneapolis, 55455.

Getting here:  We are located near the West Bank light rail stop on the Green Line.  From the stop, go up the stairs/elevator to 19th Avenue, turn right, and walk to the nearest building on your right, which is Mondale Hall. The University of Minnesota Law School is located on several Metro Transit bus routes including routes 23 7 and 22 as well as the University of Minnesota’s Campus Connector. By car, parking in pay lots at Mondale Hall is available at a variety of locations on the U of M West Bank campus including: Surface Lot C86, north of Mondale Hall, the 19th Ave. Ramp and the 21st Ave. Ramp.  

This will be a brown bag lunch event. MESA will provide beverages and cookies but please bring your own lunch. Some suggestions for locations nearby to pickup a take out lunch include:

This event is free and open to all interested, so feel free to invite friends or colleagues

Register Today

Featured Image Photo Credit: Sandia Labs

 

Duluth’s Energy Future: Economic Modeling of Proposed Biomass and Solar Initiatives

May 27, 2016Megan ButlerETL BlogComments Off on Duluth’s Energy Future: Economic Modeling of Proposed Biomass and Solar Initiatives

In early 2015, several dozen community leaders from Duluth’s city government, local businesses, electric utility company, nonprofit organizations, and the University of Minnesota Duluth participated in a charrette to determine an Energy Future Vision for the city. The goal of the charrette was to capture “the ambitions and concerns” of the key stakeholders, with relevant economic, social, environmental, [and] sustainability aspects.” One of the group’s priority conclusions was the need to understand jobs and economic development impacts of different energy options. They asked the Energy Transition Lab to help Duluth analyze the economic and jobs implications of more locally produced energy from biomass and solar energy. The Energy Transition Lab partnered with UMD’s Bureau of Business and Economic Research (BBER) to model the potential economic impact of of five proposed projects on Northeast Minnesota. Each of the five projects was selected based on local feasibility and interest. Projects selected for modeling included the following:

  1. The Grand Marais Biomass District Heating System
  2. The Duluth Energy Systems Plant Retrofit and Biomass Conversion
  3. A Torrefaction Processing Plant
  4. Two Biorenewable Chemical Production Plants
  5. The Installation of Solar Power Production Arrays in the Region

These five projects, were they to occur, could represent a significant increase in the use and production of renewable energy in the Arrowhead region.  Four of the five projects included in the analysis involve the use of biomass as a fuel source or feedstock.  The total economic impacts from the construction of these four projects could support nearly 1,600 jobs in the eight-county region, an additional $83 million in labor income, and would contribute roughly $154 million in value-added spending to the region’s Gross Regional Product (GRP). The combined effects for a typical year of operations from the four projects would equate to more than 1,000 new jobs in the eight-county study area, an additional $54 million in wages, benefits, and proprietor income, and an $80 million contribution to the region’s GRP.

Read The Full Report
 

Photo Credit: Oregon Department of Forestry  (CC BY: 2.0)

Energy Storage in Minnesota and Beyond

May 27, 2016Megan ButlerEvents, FeaturedComments Off on Energy Storage in Minnesota and Beyond

On Thursday February 11th, the Minnesota Renewable Energy Society (MRES) hosted the Energy Transition Lab Executive Director Ellen Anderson and Research Assistant Megan Butler for a presentation on Energy Storage in Minnesota and Beyond. The full presentation can be seen below:

The presentation provides an overview of the current work being done on Energy Storage in the state as well as how energy storage can fit into Minnesota’s future energy system. The talk also provides a broad overview of current applications for energy storage technology as well as how policy, technology, regulatory and market drivers affect the future of energy storage in Minnesota and how people can get involved in the new Minnesota Energy Storage Collaborative.

Photo Credit: Sandia Labs (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

June 15 Power Pairings Event: Using solar and storage to enhance community preparedness

May 23, 2016Megan ButlerEvents, MESAComments Off on June 15 Power Pairings Event: Using solar and storage to enhance community preparedness

St.-Paul-skylineAlways Ready: Using solar and storage to enhance community preparedness.

Fresh Energy’s next Power Pairings Event will be held on Wednesday, June 15 from 7:00 to 8:30 AM.

When: Wednesday, June 15, 7:00-8:30 AM

Where: Town and Country Club, 300 N Mississippi River Blvd., St. Paul, MN 55104

Cost: $30 Fresh Energy members/Government employees/Students, $45 General admission

*Early Bird tickets available for $10 off through May 31. Registration will be open through Thursday, June 9.* 

Register Today

Click Here for more information 

Read more →

The Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA)

May 20, 2016Megan ButlerFeaturedComments Off on The Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA)

MESA Logo

About the Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA)

The Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA) was formed by interested volunteer stakeholders, based on the shared view that our state and region will be a strong market for energy storage.  We aspire to be a Midwest forum to share knowledge; connect industry, utilities, researchers, policymakers, regulators, experts, and clean energy advocates; and advance smart policies to support energy storage. MESA is convened by the University of Minnesota’s Energy Transition Lab with support from the McKnight Foundation.


Our Mission

To lead in accelerating the development of energy storage in Minnesota and the Midwest Region. Click Here to Read More About Our Vision and Principles.


What We Do


    Our Structure

    Steering Committee

    The Steering Committee represents a broad cross-section of energy stakeholders and experts.  Current members include:

    Ellen Anderson, Convenor                                Massoud Amin, U of MN

    Holly Lahd, Fresh Energy                                 Christine Andrews, Attorney

    Hari Osofsky, U of MN                                     Laureen Ross McKalib, Great River Energy

    Ralph Jacobson, IPS Solar                               Brent Bergland, Mortenson Construction

    Bria Shea, Xcel Energy                                     Lise Trudeau, MN Department of Commerce

    W. John Frederick, Energy Consultant                Matt Prorok, Great Plains Institute

    Phyllis Reha, Par Energy Solutions                    Beth Soholt, Wind on the Wires

    Jenny Edwards, Center for Energy and Environment (CEE)

    John Kearney, MN Solar Energy Industry Association (MNSEIA)

    Rao Konidena, Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO)


    Committees

    • Policy & Markets Barriers and Solutions Committee, focuses on overall energy storage legal, regulatory, policy, and market issues.
    • State Policy Sub-Committee focuses on the Public Utilities Commission and State Legislature.
    • Regional Markets Sub-Committee, focuses on MISO rules and wholesale market policies.
    • Committees in Formation:  Knowledge Sharing and Outreach Committee, Industry & Research Development Committee

    Funding

    Minnesota Energy Storage Alliance (MESA) funding is provided by the McKnight Foundation and the Energy Transition Lab.  The Energy Transition Lab (ETL) is funded by the University of Minnesota’s Institute on the Environment, the Office of the Vice President for Research, and the Law School, as well as by grants from the McKnight Foundation and the U.S. Department of Energy.  ETL is actively seeking additional funding to support MESA’s work.


    Click Here to contact MESA

    Watch Catching The Sun, A Documentary About the Race to Clean Energy, May 26th in Minneapolis

    May 20, 2016Megan ButlerETL Blog, FeaturedComments Off on Watch Catching The Sun, A Documentary About the Race to Clean Energy, May 26th in Minneapolis

    Catching the Sun
    Come see Catching the Sun, a documentary about the race to clean energy, in Minneapolis on Thursday  May 26. Catching the Sun tells the story of the global energy transition from the perspective of workers and entrepreneurs building solutions to income inequality and climate change with their own hands. The documentary is coming to Minneapolis as part of its National Screening Tour which aims to spark new conversations in over 30 cities across the United States! http://www.catchingthesun.tv/seethefilm/ 

    Time: Thursday, May 26 7:00PM – 8:28PM

    Location: St Anthony Main Theater. 115 SE Main St, Minneapolis, MN, US, 55414

    Get Your Tickets here: https://www.tugg.com/events/96340 Read more →

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