On Thursday April 22, 2016, Ken Donohoo of ONCOR, Director (Power) System Planning, presented a joint AEP/ONCOR project in West/Far West Texas. This project has been submitted to ERCOT RPG for review.

The project addresses the significant load growth in the area, particularly oil and gas, and coincides with the need to support the large amount of solar generation development in the area.  It includes several 69 and 138 kV line upgrades, new 138 kV lines, other substation and transformer infrastructure, and most of all a 345 kV Backbone for the area.  The 345 kV lines will “Reach out to areas where there is extreme load and generation growth, but there is lack of adequate transmission grid infrastructure”.

The proposed project will “Provide reliable service to current and future load, relieve planning criteria violations including overloading and voltage collapse with loss of load, support continuing oi/natural gas load growth, provide export capability for new and existing generation, increase reliability & Operational Flexibility, provide injection sources [stations] to aid short circuit strength limitations and meet system protection requirements…”

View the PDF here

U.S. Senate Passes Energy Policy Modernization Act-Thoughts from SEIA


Today the Senate passed S. 2012, The Energy Policy Modernization Act, by a vote of 85 to 12. This legislation is the culmination of more than a year of bipartisan efforts by Energy and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lisa Murkowski [R-AK] and Ranking Member Maria Cantwell [D-WA]. It is also the first comprehensive energy policy bill to pass the Senate since 2007. You can trace the legislation’s history and see a full summary of the bill at the Committee’s website.

In spite of a challenging congressional environment for solar, this Senate bill contains several notable wins for the solar industry:

  • Inclusion of solar heating and cooling as technologies that can meet the federal government’s renewable portfolio standard
  • Language directing the DOE to identify what costs and benefits should be considered for the proper valuation of DG solar
  • Provisions to improve permitting of solar power plants sited on federal lands
  • Language directing DOE to study avian populations to establish baseline scientific information
  • Inclusion of the SAVE Act, which incorporates the savings from energy efficiency upgrades into residential mortgage underwriting

SEIA worked closely with the congressional sponsors of the first four amendments listed above to draft the legislative language, and urged Senators to approve all five amendments. SEIA also successfully blocked the adoption of any anti-solar changes to PURPA, state net metering programs, or the ability to build interstate transmission lines.

Procedurally, the next step is for the House and Senate to name Members of a conference committee, which is charged with reconciling the differences between the House-passed energy bill (H.R. 8) and the bill the Senate passed today. This process may take several weeks or longer. SEIA will continue to urge the conference committee to adopt pro-solar policies and reject provisions harmful to our industry.

If you have any questions, please contact me at (202) 556-2878 or


Christopher Mansour
Vice President, Federal Affairs

Major US Corporate Brands Purchased Nearly 1 Gigawatt of Texas Wind Power in 2015

Texas attracted 49 percent of the total U.S. market for non-utility wind power purchases in 2015, as Fortune 500 companies behind household brands, like Tide and Downy, high-tech companies, universities, and major Texas cities all invested in low-cost wind power, according to newly released data from the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). These purchases totaled 998 megawatts (MW), a little less than one-third of the total 3,615 MW of wind capacity installed in the state last year.

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US Wind Power Jobs Hit Record, Up 20 Percent in 2016


American wind power supported a record 88,000 jobs at the start of 2016—an increase of 20 percent in a year—according to the U.S. Wind Industry Annual Market Report, Year Ending 2015, released today by the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA). Strong job growth coincided with wind ranking number one as America’s leading source of new generating capacity last year, outpacing solar and natural gas.

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3 Different Approaches From Rural Electric Cooperatives To Reduce the Cost of Community-Scale Solar


2. Portfolio of Projects with Shared Solar Option: Pedernales Electric Cooperative

Serving nearly 280,000 accounts in Texas Hill Country, Pedernales Electric Cooperative (PEC) is one of the largest distribution electric cooperatives in the country. In November, PEC released a request for information for a portfolio of community-scale systems. After a competitive procurement process, Pedernales is moving forward with plans to purchase up to 15 MW from several distributed solar sites across its service territory.

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Austin’s Community Radio KOOP 91.7 FM Throws the Switch On Solar Power


KOOP Radio is throwing the electric switch over to solar power on March 10, 2016 at high noon in Austin, Texas.  After many volunteer hours and generous equipment contributions, the KOOP broadcasting studio will receive its first solar electrons!  We invite the community to attend the switch throwing ceremony at 3823 Airport Blvd. Several local and international companies collaborated to donate all the solar equipment and the labor required for the solar power system.  We send out a big thanks to: ImagineSolar, Freedom Solar Power, CED GreenTech, Tesla Electric, SolarWorld, and John Hoffner.

 “This truly has been a community effort involving KOOP volunteers, solar enthusiasts and solar equipment donors,” says KOOP Executive Director, Kim McCarson, “It takes a community to design, build and install a solar power system on a voluntary basis and our motto is Solar for People, Not for Profit. I want to extend a big thank you to the many KOOP volunteers that donated countless hours helping to install the new solar power system.” 

 The KOOP studio will be powered in part by the solar power system that is located on the roof of the building. According to John Hoffner, Producer of Shades of Green and the KOOP engineer for the solar project, “This solar power project would not have happened without the incredible support of the KOOP volunteers and the awesome donations from the solar power industry.  It shows that through collaboration and commitment – we can switch to clean solar power.  This is the first phase of KOOP’s 10-year commitment toward switching to renewable energy and reaching our goal to provide “carbon free airwaves” to our listeners.” The project demonstrates KOOP’s commitment to renewable energy and showcases the flexibility of solar power.

 The solar and local community came together to build the project and increase the use of renewable energy in the area. The project served as a learning tool about solar power for the many volunteers in the community who participated. Michael Kuhn, CEO of ImagineSolar said, “We are excited to be the lead contractor for KOOP and volunteering our talents toward overseeing this important solar power project. Our goals align with KOOP to educate and inspire the local and national community regarding the benefits of solar.”   KOOP and ImagineSolar challenge the radio broadcasting industry to consider renewable energy as its standard power source.

 KOOP is the only radio station in central Texas that airs a radio program dedicated solely to renewable energy and the environment.  Shades of Green, hosted by John Hoffner, is broadcast every Thursday from 1:00-2:00pm on KOOP, 91.7 FM. 

To tune in online:

Williamson County Adopts PACE Program


Today, Williamson County Texas became the 4th Texas County to adopt a PACE program. The commissioners unanimously adopted the resolution put forward by Commissioner Cynthia Long, continuing the unanimous trend to adopt the PACE in a Box model. State Rep. Tony Dale, who supported PACE legislation, also weighed in with a strong letter of support. The Texas PACE Authority will administer the program at no cost to the County. 

Williamson County is the 6th fastest growing county in the nation, and one of the healthiest counties in the Texas. Its county seat, the City of Georgetown, will be one of the largest municipally-owned utilities in the U.S. to supply its customers with 100 percent solar and wind energy, providing competitive electric rates and a hedge against price volatility. PACE, which was widely supported by Chambers of Commerce and Economic Development organizations, provides a new economic and environmental tool for the commercial, industrial, multi-family and nonprofit organizations in the fast-growing county.

For More Information on PACE:

ERCOT, more than prepared during ramp up of Wind and Solar


Earlier this month, I attended the 2016 Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) Market Summit. The summit brought together thought leaders and stakeholders to discuss the future of Texas’ electric grid. Many of the discussions at the conference centered around the expected boom in new solar and wind energy capacity in Texas, and how ERCOT is planning to cope with the evolution of its electric grid and market as more and more renewable energy is added. While Texas will add a lot of new wind and solar capacity over the coming years, the grid operator is more than prepared to manage the reliability of the electric grid into the future.

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Wind accounted for 19.9% of generation on ERCOT's grid in Feb.


Wind supplied 19.9% of the total electricity generated on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas' grid in February, according to grid operator. The report said that wind generated more electricity in the state than nuclear last month, following natural gas and coal. In February 2015, wind provided about 11.8% of ERCOT's total electricity.

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Uncertainty in the Supreme Court Could Impact the Clean Power Plan


On February 9, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court issued a stay of the Clean Power Plan rule requiring states to significantly limit carbon dioxide emissions from existing fossil fuel-fired power plants. The unexpected death of Justice Antonin Scalia four days later creates an uncertain future for the Court and may dramatically affect the future of the program.

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