State Energy Policy for Storage Requires Interim Step to Achieve Long-Term Vision

-FEATURE-

Ken Driscoll
Ken Driscoll, Founder CEO Solect Energy

Last week Governor Baker submitted a significant bond bill to the legislature calling for a $1.4B authorization for climate adaptation, mitigation and infrastructure investment. While the dollar amounts grab the headlines, there is also an important and innovative piece of policy buried within the bill, establishing a “clean peak energy standard” (CPS).  A clean peak standard is an innovative market-based approach to address one of our biggest energy challenges: the expensive process of meeting peak energy demand. The concept is similar to the State’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS), an established and successful program that uses market pricing signals to create demand for renewable energy by requiring utilities to purchase a certain percentage of their load from clean power sources.

Reducing the peak load of the grid can have a big impact on energy prices. According to a 2016 Massachusetts DOER energy storage study, the top 1% of peak electricity demand hours account for 8% of electric energy costs, while the top 10% of hours account for 40% of overall electric energy costs.

The Governor’s idea is to meet that demand with clean energy resources. This has the obvious benefit of lowering the emission impacts from dirty “peaker plants” and reducing the need to “overbuild” our energy system; it could also be an efficient way to establish a long-term market for energy storage. Clean resources like Solar and Wind will likely need to be paired with energy storage so that they can be called upon during times of peak usage. The idea is that the CPS, which would be implemented in 2020, should provide a framework that will send the appropriate price signals to facilitate investment into energy storage.

To date, the State has focused their effort on building the energy storage market mostly by supporting demonstration programs. This is useful for proving out new technologies and exploring different applications, but it doesn’t establish the market pricing signals provided by the CPS. What’s missing is a strategy to move from the demonstration projects to the new CPS.

It is expected that the CPS will have an “out” similar to the RPS in that utilities will have the option to pay an “alternative compliance payment” (APC) if the cost of procuring clean peak energy is too high. Our concern is that when the CPS is initiated, the market will not be ready for it. To solve this problem the administration needs to think about a medium term solution that would be a bridge between demonstration projects and the end market of the CPS. One possible approach could be a rebate program for energy storage systems, which could fit the bill perfectly. Rebate programs have been successfully used to jump-start solar energy and electric vehicles, and would be a perfect solution to prime the market and drive down costs in anticipation of the CPS. Indeed, the Governor’s bill hints that this may be a solution by specifically authorizing the use of energy efficiency funds for energy storage.

Of course, the CPS is not the only tool available to the state for developing a long-term market.  They should continue to advance equally important and complementary policies such as establishing long-term storage goals, including storage in the Alternative Portfolio Standard, clarifying ISO rules about participation in capacity markets and increasing the RPS. Both the Administration and the legislature deserve credit for their foresight in addressing our longer-term energy challenges, but in this case we think a little more focus on the short-to-medium term would serve us well, and we encourage a sense of urgency.

Brockton Area Arc Installs 76.8 kW Solar PV System through Partnership with Solect Energy and PowerOptions

 

Roof-top Solar Array Projected to Cover 100% of Non-Profit’s Electricity Needs

April 6, 2018 – BROCKTON, MA – Brockton Area Arc, a non-profit servicing children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities, has partnered with Solect Energy, the state’s leading commercial-scale developer and installer of solar energy systems, and PowerOptions, the region’s largest energy buying consortium, to install a 76.8 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system on the roof of its facility. The array consists of 200 photovoltaic (PV) panels, which are projected to produce 86,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of energy annually. The Brockton Area Arc anticipates the array will generate nearly 100 percent of its annual electricity, for a projected yearly savings of more than $15,000.

The Brockton Area Arc serves children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  It offers Family Support, Recreation, Employment, Community Based Day Supports, and Day Habilitation. The yearly $15,000 in anticipated savings from the solar array will be redirected toward expanding programs and services for the Arc community.

The Brockton Area Arc was able to install the solar array with no up-front costs through PowerOptions & Solect’s Solar Program. Under the program, Solect Energy financed, installed, and will service the solar array on their roof, while The Arc receives the power generated at a fixed rate for a period of 20 years under a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) negotiated by PowerOptions.

“When Solect Energy reached out to us about pursuing a solar conversion, switching to renewable energy hadn’t been on our radar,” said John J. Lynch, Executive Director at Brockton Area Arc. “Solect made a compelling argument for the substantial benefits that we would accrue with a commitment to solar. With their proven expertise and excellent customer references, coupled with their relationship with PowerOptions we were confident we were moving forward with the right partner. We have been impressed with both organizations’ professionalism and their shared commitment to local philanthropy.”

“The Brockton Area Arc, although not initially seeking solar, quickly grasped the financial benefits that a solar array, especially one financed through a PPA, offered their organization,” said Chad Couture, Director of Business Development at Solect Energy. “The array will produce nearly 100 percent of their energy needs, which will mean a substantial reduction in their utility expenses. The savings of approximately $15,000 a year will translate into increased funding for the valuable programs they offer to the community.”

“At PowerOptions, our mission is to help nonprofits save time and money on energy, so more resources can be directed toward serving communities,” said PowerOptions President and CEO Cynthia Arcate. “In addition to cost predictability and savings, The Brockton Area Arc implemented their solar project without the need for any up-front costs or on-going maintenance responsibilities.”

 

About Brockton Area Arc

The Brockton Area Arc is a non-profit local chapter of The Arc, a national advocacy organization, and The Arc Massachusetts. Our mission is to work in partnership with, and for, the community to provide advocacy, information, and direct services for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD) and their families. Our services provide choice and empowerment while supporting individuals as they strive to realize their personal goals. We promote independence, respect, and dignity. We fulfill this mission by advocating on a local, state and national level for the rights and general welfare of children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities and their families.  

We rely on fundraising to serve people and provide services not funded by other sources. The Brockton Area Arc is committed to providing individualized quality services in fulfilling its mission.  The Brockton Area Arc provides services to the towns of Abington, Avon, Bridgewater, Brockton, E. Bridgewater, Easton, Holbrook, Rockland, Stoughton, W. Bridgewater, and Whitman.

 

About PowerOptions

PowerOptions is a nonprofit energy buying consortium that delivers cost savings and predictability to nonprofits and the public sector in New England. Celebrating its 20th anniversary this year, PowerOptions has delivered more than $2 billion in energy to its 500 members since 1998, through programs for electricity, natural gas and solar. With a 95 percent member retention rate, a proven supplier selection process and a dedication to personalized member support, PowerOptions provides services and solutions that educate and bring value to its membership. Any nonprofit or public institution in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut is eligible to participate in this collective purchasing effort. For more information, visit www.poweroptions.org or follow on Twitter at @PowerOptions.

 

Celebrating Harvard’s New, Ultra-efficient Building – HouseZero

We wanted to extend our congratulations to Harvard’s Center for Green Buildings and Cities (CGBC) – a part of the Harvard University Graduate School of Design (GSD).  On Wednesday, the CGBC marked the completion of the transformation of its headquarters into an ultra-efficient building, now dubbed HouseZero. The comprehensive retrofit of the 1940’s stick house was spearheaded by Ali Malkawi, professor of architectural technology at the GSD, and the founding director of the Harvard CGBC. The goal of the project was to demonstrate how companies and homeowners can respond to a worldwide problem – highly inefficient existing buildings. Previously, it was only thought possible to achieve ultra-high levels of energy efficiency in new construction. This multi-dimensional project will serve as a living prototype, demonstrating how existing building stock can take advantage of new energy efficient technologies and techniques.  

 

HouseZero’s retrofit design does not require a HVAC system, uses no day-time electric light, provides its own 100% ventilation, requires almost zero energy, and produces zero carbon emissions, including embodied energy of materials.  It also features an experimental lab that is hardwired to the building’s energy exchange system. The lab will monitor the structure and its systems, allowing for the testing and optimization of the new intelligent technologies, façades, and materials. The data will be made public with the intention of giving property owners better insight into how to transform their own properties, and hopefully inspiring the next generation of ultra-efficient buildings.

 

Solect is honored to be a technology partner to the HouseZero project, contributing our solar and storage solutions. We commend Ali Malkawi, his team at CGBC and the many partners who brought this project to fruition. We congratulate them on achieving a paradigm shift in energy efficiency in existing structures, and for showcasing the benefits available to both companies and homeowners.

 

To read more about HouseZero:

https://harvardmagazine.com/2017/08/harvard-s-housezero-emissions-green-building

Harvard CGBC:  http://harvardcgbc.org/

Beverly Athletic Club Partners with Solect Energy to Install 128 kW Rooftop Solar Array

 

Saves Nearly a Quarter Million Dollars over 10 Years

December 19, 2017BEVERLY, MA – Beverly Athletic Club (BAC), the premier health and athletic club on the North Shore, has partnered with Solect Energy, the state’s leading commercial-scale installer of solar energy systems, to install a 128 kilowatt (kW) solar energy system on the athletic center’s roof.  The solar array consists of 320 photovoltaic (PV) panels and is expected to produce 155,041 kilowatt hours (kwH) of energy annually. The power generated will cover 33 percent of the BAC’s energy needs, and is equivalent to the annual charging of 7,752 electric vehicles or 31,008,200 smart phones. It is projected that BAC will save approximately $233,000 over the course of 10 years.

Solect carefully examined BAC’s energy usage patterns and other factors in order to design the optimum solar energy system. Solect then worked to make sure that BAC would achieve maximum ROI through a myriad of solar incentives. BAC is projected to save an average of approximately $23,000 annually on its electricity bill.  Additionally, BAC is able to take advantage of state and federal tax and financial incentives, including SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Certificates), which are financial incentives based on the amount of solar energy the system generates. Electrical utility providers in Massachusetts purchase SRECs to help them meet their state-mandated goals of a percentage of power coming from renewable energy sources.

“Solect did a great job making a complicated proposition clear and straightforward, and they were very helpful in shepherding us through the process, but the best part of this solar project is yet to come,” said Ed Soul, Owner of Beverly Athletic Club. “We anticipate our electric bill dropping by a third. In addition, we are thrilled to be able to lower our carbon footprint, and continue our commitment of being a good steward of the environment.”

BAC has been committed to a variety of green initiatives.  The club recycles, works to reduce paper waste, and has shifted to all LED lighting to reduce power consumption. It also contributes to green initiatives such as Change is Simple, which educates youth on how to be more green and protect our planet.

“Beverly Athletic Club turned to solar to substantially reduce their operating costs, while also pursuing their goal of being an environmental leader in their community,” said Jeff McCallion, Business Development Manager. “The facility’s flat roof made it ideal for installing a large array that could generate a third of their electricity needs. Not only does BAC gain significant financial savings, but they also garner recognition and respect from their members and the community at large for their leadership in sustainable practices.”

BAC will use some of the savings from the solar system to continue making efficiency improvements.  Additionally, funds will be earmarked for the continual updating of club facilities and equipment.

 

About Solect Energy

Solect Energy is a full-service solar photovoltaic (PV) project developer and installer based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, delivering smart solar and energy management solutions to help businesses and organizations reduce energy costs. As an industry leader in commercial-scale solar energy, Solect takes a practical approach to the development, installation and ongoing support of each system. We partner closely with our customers, providing strong financial insight and solar technology expertise to optimize their investment while creating a positive impact on the environment. Solect currently has installed over 75 MW (megawatts) of commercial PV systems, with a primary focus on commercial, light industrial and institutional properties in New England. For more information, visit http://www.solect.com or follow us on Twitter at @SolectSolar.

sAbout BAC

Founded in 2001, Beverly Athletic Club (BAC) is a family-oriented club with facilities and classes for all ages offered within its expansive 40,000 square foot building.  It boasts state-of-the art fitness equipment, Les Mills Group Exercise programs, Private women only fitness area, personal and small group functional training, Pilates, an Aquatic Center with a 65-foot heated indoor/outdoor pool, indoor basketball court, Baby-sitting, a kids play zone, and Solei Salon and spa and Soul Physical Therapy

[NEREJ Feature] The End of Year is a Good Time to Take a Look at Your Energy Strategy

We all know the drill. As the year comes to a close, we begin thinking about new plans for the coming year. We have great visions for new priorities and projects and finally addressing those nagging issues that we didn’t get to this year. Then reality sets in; from end-of-year reporting to holiday parties, it seems none of us has a moment to breathe as the calendar turns over into a new year.

One area that usually falls victim to this cycle of good intentions is your energy strategy. Business and property owners along with facility and operations managers continually face challenges and opportunities to improve their approaches to energy management, but often lack the ability to look holistically at their options and prioritize their investments. End of year is a good time to take a look at your energy strategy, and in an effort to keep you on schedule, we have developed the following checklist to make it easier.

Lighting: Making the switch to LED efficient bulbs typically results in immediate, significant savings. It also creates an optimal visual environment for employees during work hours. There are also many different forms of lighting controls that you can implement to help curb costs,including occupancy sensors, which operate only when a room is occupied, and daylight harvesting, which utilizes natural sunlight in the building to automatically adjust lighting to optimum levels.

Automation/Controls: Heating, ventilation, air conditioning and other operating equipment have a major impact on energy use in commercial facilities. Energy Management Systems (EMS) are a seamless and cost-effective automation solution which allow equipment to run on different schedules and turn-off or power-down when they are not needed.

 

Operating Equipment: On a similar note, replacing old operating systems—like water heaters and furnaces with new energy-efficient models can greatly reduce energy use and, thus, costs.

 

 

Building Envelope: A big part of energy efficiency is making sure that the energy you’re expending to heat and cool a building is being contained within the building and not leaking out. Buildings that are properly insulated and contain efficient windows ensure that the energy circulating within the building is kept inside.

 

Optimizing your energy use requires taking a closer look at your building’s mechanical systems in order to identify any inefficiencies and waste. It requires monitoring and collecting data in order to analyze energy use and understand what is needed to maximize return on your energy systems. There are a number of tools and practices that can be used to help businesses improve their energy usage.

Energy Storage: Many utilities have been increasing demand charges for customers which can account for up to 70% of your energy bill. Demand charges are based on your monthly peak load, and energy storage can be used to smooth out those peaks and reduce your demand charges. Costs for energy storage systems have rapidly declined in recent years and offer compelling paybacks for anyone with high demand charges.

Smart controls: Smart controls are advanced technology systems that use a computerized network of electronic devices to control and monitor all energy systems in a building including mechanical, electrical, lighting and others. They analyze data taken from the energy systems and compare that data to the control system settings. If the data received is outside the acceptable range recognized by the control system, it will issue changes and manage the equipment to set it back to an acceptable range.

Monitoring energy use: Monitoring tools are similar to smart controls but they analyze energy performance more broadly and help you make smart decisions about how best to make adjustments. For example, the EPA’s Energy Star program has a tool called Portfolio Manager that can measure and track elements such as energy and water consumption and greenhouse gas emissions.

 

Solar: Solar PV (photovoltaic systems) are exceptionally impactful forms of on-site energy that directly convert sunlight into serviceable electricity. If your system produces more electricity than needed, the extra electricity typically gets delivered back to the utility grid, allocating a credit for the electricity your system contributes to the grid (net-metering). Making the commitment to on-site solar generation enables businesses to reap the benefits of state and federal solar incentives, enabling cost savings while meeting long-term sustainability goals.

Along with solar, additional renewable energy technologies such as wind turbines and Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems are effective solutions to substantially manage energy costs.

Hopefully this checklist will help you frame your options for your major energy initiatives for 2018. As you take stock of where you are and develop your priorities, there are many energy management companies that can help you assess your options, often for free. So don’t wait, start your check list, prioritize it, and reach out to a professional if you need help deciding the best options.

To read the article and more like it on the NEREJ website, click the link below.

 

 

Solect Energy Launches Energy Storage Division

Signs Agreement with NEC Energy Solutions

to Sell NEC’s DSS® Products

                                               

November 28, 2017 – Hopkinton, MA – Solect Energy, Massachusetts’ leading commercial-scale developer of solar energy systems with over 400 installed projects, announced today that it is launching an energy storage division. In launching the new division, Solect has signed an agreement with NEC Energy Solutions, a wholly-owned subsidiary of NEC Corporation, to sell NEC’s DSS® (Distributed Storage Solution) product line for commercial customers. NEC is one of the world’s leading energy storage solutions providers with more than 250MW (megawatts) of projects installed or currently under construction.

“We couldn’t be more excited about our collaboration with NEC and the opportunity to bring tremendous additional value to both our existing and new customers,” said Ken Driscoll, CEO of Solect Energy. “We are at the doorstep of the energy storage boom and Solect is extremely well positioned to bring these new solutions to our commercial customers, saving them money and building resiliency.”

Since Massachusetts has some of the highest demand charges in the US, accounting for up to 70% of a commercial customer’s electricity bill, both Solect and NEC anticipate that Massachusetts will be one of the next major markets to see commercial-scale energy storage rapidly grow the way it has in California. Demand charges are based on a customer’s monthly peak load and, according to Solect’s market analysis, up to 70,000 commercial customers in Massachusetts currently pay high enough rates to economically justify installing a storage system to even out their energy load profile and lower their demand charges. When paired with solar, the economics are even better due to tax advantages and other ways to monetize the benefits of both systems working together.

“As Massachusetts’ leading commercial-scale solar energy provider, we are delighted to be working with Solect as a Qualified DSS® Partner. There’s no doubt they are well positioned to become one of the leaders in the solar+storage market here in the Commonwealth,” said Steve Fludder, NEC Energy Solutions CEO. “Over the next few years, we expect energy storage to rapidly expand in Massachusetts as commercial customers look for additional ways to cut costs, reduce emissions and enhance resiliency. We look forward to working with the Solect team to capitalize on that growth.”

“Storage is like adding a turbo charger to your solar system,” said Driscoll. “Whether you are a manufacturing company, a medical imaging facility or even a municipality, if you have high demand charges and you want to reduce them, you should be thinking about energy storage and pairing it with an existing or new solar energy system.”

As a Qualified DSS® Partner for NEC, Solect will act as a reseller and independent contractor, installing, operating and maintaining DSS® energy storage units. The DSS® platform is scalable from 85kWh to 510kWh of energy storage capacity and offers from 100kW up to 710kW of power capability. As a standardized, UL safety-certified, AC-ready system including power conversion system, the DSS® product is preconfigured in outdoor-rated enclosures, compliant with all relevant regulatory and environmental requirements and is backed by up to a 10-year product warranty.

 

About Solect Energy

Solect Energy is a full-service solar photovoltaic (PV) project developer and installer based in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, delivering smart solar and energy management solutions to help businesses and organizations reduce energy costs. As an industry leader in commercial-scale solar energy, Solect takes a practical approach to the development, installation and on-going support of each system. We partner closely with our customers, providing strong financial insight and solar technology expertise to optimize their investment while creating a positive impact on the environment. Solect currently has installed over 65 MW (megawatts) of commercial PV systems, with a primary focus on commercial, light industrial and institutional properties in New England. For more information, visit http://www.solect.com or follow us on Twitter at @SolectSolar.

 

About NEC Energy Solutions

NEC Energy Solutions designs, manufactures, and integrates smart energy storage solutions for the electric grid, behind the meter, and critical power applications. Its scalable distributed energy storage and control systems provide greater grid stability and flexibility to the benefit of both providers and users of electricity. In telecom, datacenter, and other industrial applications, its high performance lithium-ion battery systems provide better value than traditional lead-acid batteries in tough, critical power applications. Learn more at www.neces.com.