Resilient Power On the Rise in Puerto Rico

Author: Marriele Robinson, Clean Energy Group | Project: Resilient Power Project

On September 20, 2017, Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico and destroyed an already weak electrical grid, leaving the island’s 3.5 million residents in the dark. Almost a year later, isolated parts of Puerto Rico are still without power and residents with restored electricity live in fear of the next widespread outage.

Through its Resilient Power Project (RPP), Clean Energy Group (CEG) is focused on supporting community-led efforts in Puerto Rico that improve the energy resiliency of critical facilities and disadvantaged populations. In order to best support these efforts, members of the RPP team traveled to Puerto Rico earlier this month to participate in a conference and meet with local solar+storage developers and nonprofit organizations.

The conference, After Hurricane Maria: Strategies to restore and strengthen Puerto Rico’s healthcare system, was hosted by the international health organization Direct Relief and included stakeholders from Puerto Rico’s healthcare industry as well as humanitarian organizations, grassroots community groups, solar contractors, and nonprofits. The two-day discussion prioritized community health through efficient treatment, innovative technologies, and effective policymaking. Unsurprisingly, the need for reliable power systems was referenced time and time again as invaluable to providing health care services.

Seth Mullendore, Vice President and Project Director at Clean Energy Group, spoke to this need, focusing on solar microgrids as a resilient power option for health care providers as an expert on the conference’s Technology, Innovation and the Future of Community Health panel. Seth emphasized the potential for widespread solar and battery storage adoption across the island.

Several efforts are already underway in Puerto Rico to accelerate this transition toward a more distributed, resilient energy system. An example of this is an initiative by Direct Relief, the Puerto Rico Primary Care Association, and other organizations to install resilient solar+storage systems at health care facilities in every municipality across Puerto Rico. CEG is helping to support this work by awarding technical assistance grants to support local solar installers developing these projects. To date, CEG has provided support to eight of these projects, with systems already completed and operational at five community health clinics.

While in Puerto Rico, RPP staff was able to visit two of the community health clinic installations completed by local solar+storage developer New Energy. After meeting with New Energy President and CEO, Alejandro Uriarte, CEG travelled to the clinics with Edwin Serrano, New Energy Logistics Supervisor. The first clinic, Clínica Iella, received a 19.5-kilowatt PV array and a 20 kilowatt Sunverge battery system. The second clinic, Clínica Profamilia, is also supported by 20 kilowatt-hour battery system and had a 25-kilowatt PV array installed. Both battery systems are designed to cover the critical load of the facility in the event of a power outage, which is primarily refrigeration for vital prescriptions and vaccinations.

The three remaining projects currently underway are for larger health facilities, each to be served by more than 200 kilowatts of solar. Once completed, each facility will have 60 percent of its total load supported by solar+storage.

In addition to visiting completed installations, CEG also had the opportunity to learn about new resilient power projects. La Maraña is a grassroots nonprofit working on a community participatory recovery model in Puerto Rico. The initiative, Imaginación Post-María, is being piloted in three separate communities and has the potential to expand. Projects being explored include converting an abandoned school into a community space and temporary housing facility.

El Departamento de la Comida. © Adnelly Marichal

CEG also met with the team from the grassroots community organization El Departamento de la Comida. In partnership with the nonprofit Americas for Conservation and the Arts, El Departamento leads Fondo Resiliencia, an initiative aimed at organizing small-to-medium size farmers in Puerto Rico around sustainable agriculture. Resilient solar+storage will keep harvested crops refrigerated and power well water pumps, allowing farms to stay operational and provide critical food and services to rural community members. After Hurricane Maria, many of these farms and communities suffered as crops withered and died due to lack of water.

On the ground, community groups and local businesses in Puerto Rico are leading the way in implementing sustainable solutions to immediate power needs and educating communities to become their own clean energy advocates in the process. They are preparing for the future with the knowledge that, as the initial waves of post-Maria donations and funding subside, communities will require more sustainable solutions to their long-term energy needs. Through direct support to nonprofit efforts and community-based organizations, CEG’s Resilient Power Project will continue to provide support and resources toward advancing the long-term goal of these organizations to build a more democratic and resilient energy system in Puerto Rico.

 

This blog post was also published in Renewable Energy World.

Clean Energy Group’s work in Puerto Rico is supported by The New York Community Trust.

Block Island Offshore Wind Farm Set the Stage for Further Clean Energy Development

Author: Warren Leon, Clean Energy Group | Project: Clean Energy States Alliance

Photo Credit: Deepwater Wind. Used with permission.In December 2016, Rhode Island became home to North America’s first offshore wind farm with the successful installation and operation of the 30 MW Block Island Wind Farm. This five-turbine project was developed by Deepwater Wind, headquartered in Providence, Rhode Island. It was advanced and developed with the support and active participation of three Governors’ administrations starting in 2007. The project has already received considerable attention, but because of its important role in jump-starting the offshore wind industry in the United States, it is useful to trace the project’s history and detail its impacts.

Becoming the First: From Concept to Reality

Rhode Island first began exploring offshore wind development in 2007. In subsequent years, a wide range of parties were involved with the process, including the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources (OER), other state agencies, federal agencies, fisheries trades, businesses, and the University of Rhode Island (URI).

The Rhode Island General Assembly passed legislation in 2009 and 2010 that enabled the Block Island Offshore Wind Farm to be built through a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with National Grid, the state’s investor-owned utility. The PPA guaranteed a buyer for the power from the wind farm and helped secure financing for the project. Before this state law, it was impossible for a PPA to be issued or awarded for offshore wind. Because of the law, Deepwater Wind, the wind farm’s developer, was able to enter into a long-term PPA with National Grid.

The Rhode Island Coastal Resource Management Council (CRMC) and URI developed an Ocean Special Area Management Plan (Ocean SAMP) that was adopted in 2010. The Ocean SAMP and associated research and stakeholder meetings occurred with state agencies (CRMC, Department of Environmental Management), URI, environmental nonprofits, and fisheries trade organizations between 2009 and 2011, and looked at the differing uses of the state waters. This provided a context for evaluating potential offshore wind projects and resulted in the selection of the Block Island wind farm location. It also identified suitable locations for future offshore wind projects in federal waters off of Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has recognized Rhode Island’s Ocean SAMP as a model that other states could emulate.

OER played a variety of important roles in advancing the project between 2007 and 2016. OER worked with the CRMC and URI to secure funds that enabled the Ocean SAMP research to be conducted. OER also worked in coordination with the state’s Department of Transportation and Department of Environmental Management as well as National Grid to determine the location for the submerged transmission cable coming to the mainland from the Block Island Wind Farm.

The Block Island offshore wind project began construction in the summer of 2015 with the installation of the jacket system foundations. The wind turbines (blades, nacelles, towers) were installed in the summer of 2016. The project became commercially operational in December 2016. The town of New Shoreham on Block Island officially turned off its diesel generators in May 2017, becoming the first and only town in North America to be 100 percent powered by offshore wind.

Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo remarked that: “Rhode Island is proud to be home to the nation’s first offshore wind farm – and I’m proud to be the only governor in America who can say we have steel in the water and blades spinning over the ocean.”

A Small Project with Large Benefits

Although the Block Island Offshore Wind Farm is small compared to future offshore wind projects that will be installed over the coming decade off the coasts of Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states, it has had big impacts. It is capable of powering about 17,000 homes, or about 1 percent of the state’s electricity. Moreover, the project connected Block Island to the mainland electric grid for the first time, allowing the town of New Shoreham to shut down the diesel-fired power plant that had previously provided electrical power, saving nearly one million gallons of fuel per year and eliminating the need to ship diesel fuel to Block Island. This increased reliability and will reduce electric rates for the town’s ratepayers by an estimated 40 percent. More than 300 local workers were involved with building the wind farm and Deepwater Wind used four Rhode Island ports – Block Island, Galilee, Quonset Point and ProvPort – to complete construction and staging.

The Block Island Offshore Wind Farm showed that it is possible to build an offshore wind project in the United States. The publicity it has received after it went online, its popularity with a wide range of stakeholders, and the opportunity it has given people to visit an operating offshore wind project have all helped create momentum behind further offshore wind development.

Other states are now following Rhode Island’s lead. To help those states, OER has shared information about its experiences with the Block Island project and has passed along lessons learned. The Block Island project also helped create an appetite in Rhode Island for a larger project. In May 2018, Rhode Island announced that it will procure 400 MW of offshore wind energy from Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind project. The state selected that project by participating in a clean energy procurement process conducted by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Rhode Island state agencies, including OER and the Division of Public Utilities and Carriers, independently evaluated the proposals that were made in response to the procurement.

The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources received a 2018 State Leadership in Clean Energy Award in recognition of the nine years they spent supporting the development of the Block Island Offshore Wind Farm. You can learn more about this project and other award recipients at https://cesa.org/projects/state-leadership-in-clean-energy/2018/.

 

The Clean Energy States Alliance (CESA) hosted a free webinar featuring the Block Island Offshore Wind Farm on Thursday, August 9. Slides and a recording are available here.

This blog was also published in Renewable Energy World.

 

Northeast Sets Course for Abundant, Affordable Offshore Wind

Author: Val Stori, Clean Energy Group | Project: Offshore Wind Accelerator Project

Block Island Offshore Wind Farm. Photo by Val Stori/ Clean Energy Group. On Wednesday, August 1st, three Massachusetts electric utilities filed long-term contracts with the Department of Public Utilities for the largest procurement of offshore wind in U.S. history. Vineyard Wind will deliver 800 MW of offshore wind capacity in two tranches of 400 MW with target completion dates of mid-January 2022 and 2023. Over the twenty-year contract, the project will deliver electricity at a levelized price of $65/MWh.¹ This pricing falls well below predictions that ranged from $160/MWh to $90/MWh.² The legislation authorizing the procurement of offshore wind capacity specifies that prices must fall with each successive solicitation.

These record low prices are nearly half the price of the most recent Maryland contracts, which came in at $132/MWh. The 30 MW Block Island project in Rhode Island signed a PPA with a price of $244/MWh.

Two other offshore wind contracts are expected to be filed this fall—Rhode Island and Connecticut both have procured offshore wind capacity from Deepwater Wind’s Revolution Wind project at 400 MW and 200 MW, respectively. The price details have not yet been released. Both Rhode Island and Connecticut coordinated their solicitations to seize the cost reduction opportunity of buying in bulk with other states.

New York is swiftly moving ahead to procure at least 800 MW of offshore wind capacity by the end of 2019. NYSERDA has released a Request for Information seeking feedback on the development of the Request for Proposals.

Hot on New York’s heels, New Jersey is moving quickly to procure the first 1,100 MW of its 3,500 offshore wind goal. Late last month, the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities proposed a rule for its OREC funding mechanism. Once the rule is made public, there will be a 60-day comment period.

And a few days ago, the Massachusetts Legislature passed An Act to Advance Clean Energy, which, among other things, establishes a path forward for soliciting an additional 1,600 MW of offshore wind by 2035.

 

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¹ Pricing includes energy and environmental attributes. There is an annual, 2.5% escalator over the life of the contract.

² The University of Delaware and the Brattle Group each estimated that the price of electricity from Massachusetts’ projects would range between $162-$100/MWh (U.Del) and $110-$90/MWh (Brattle) between 2020 and 2030.

 

 

This blog post was also published in Renewable Energy World.

NYSERDA Given Broad Discretion on Crafting Offshore Wind Solicitation—Comments on Developing the RFP Due August 10th

Author: Val Stori, Clean Energy Group | Projects: Offshore Wind Accelerator Project, Northeast Wind Resource Center

Foundation of a Dutch offshore wind turbine. Photo Credit: kruwt/ Bigstock.com

Moving forward on New York Governor Cuomo’s goal to procure 2.4 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) has launched a Request for Information (RFI) to solicit input to inform the development of a Request for Proposals (RFP) for procuring Offshore Wind Renewable Energy Credits, colloquially known as ORECs. The RFI was developed pursuant to the Public Service Commission’s Order Establishing Offshore Wind Standard and Framework for Phase I Procurement released on July 12th. The Order establishes the foundation for quickly procuring 800 MW of offshore wind energy as recommended in NYSERDA’s Offshore Wind Policy Options Paper. The Options Paper recommended two phases for procuring ORECs. The Phase I procurement of ORECs will be held by NYSERDA, the New York Power Authority (NYPA), and/or the Long Island Power Authority (LIPA) for 800 MW by 2019, with the first solicitation released no later than the end of 2018. This first phase procurement aims to jumpstart the development of the offshore wind industry and to capture the myriad environmental and economic benefits of offshore wind.

Last week, NYSERDA held a technical conference at the Department of Public Service to discuss the topics on which it is seeking feedback. NYSERDA also gave an overview of the PSC Order, reaffirming the state’s commitment to investing in the supply chain and encouraging competition to lower costs. NYSERDA, as the procurement agent, has flexibility crafting the solicitation and implementing the 800 MW goal. At its discretion are technical and implementation issues such as: solicitation schedule; procurement quantity; price; interconnection and deliverability; OREC options; project viability; marine, environmental, and fishing impacts; and eligibility. These subject areas were explained in detail and followed by topical questions on which NYSERDA is seeking specific feedback. These can be found at https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/All-Programs/Programs/Offshore-Wind/Offshore-Wind-in-New-York-State/Offshore-WInd-Request-for-Information.

NYSERDA may contract for more than 800 MW in Phase I, but it may also procure less than 800 MW if NYPA and LIPA procure their own offshore wind capacity. [1] NYSERDA may choose to award more than 800 MW in Phase I to capture the economic benefits resulting from larger scale projects or to attract lower bid prices resulting from the expiring federal Production Tax Credit. If NYSERDA chooses to procure more than 800 MW, it would need PSC approval to hold a second procurement in 2019.

For Phase I, NYSERDA will take a hybrid procurement approach—it will develop a solicitation requiring two separate bids from each bidder: one bid for a fixed OREC price and another bid with an adjustable OREC price that nets periodically against a reference price in the market index. [2] Pursuant to the PSC Order, NYSERDA will review each bid and score it by the following weighted criteria:

  • Bid price—70% weighting
  • Economic benefit—20% weighting [3]
  • Project viability-10% weighting

The winning bid will be chosen based on a combined overall ranking. [4] NYSERDA will determine whether to award the contract on the fixed or adjustable index OREC price, as well as on a contract length of 20-25 years. The adjustable index contract would include a provision with triggers for a reversion to a fixed OREC method and price. The PSC also expects NYSERDA to include local content provisions in its evaluation criteria, as well as compensation and mitigation measures for fisheries. A NYSERDA Commercial and Recreational Fishing Technical Working Group will work on the development of best management practices that could prevent or reduce potential impacts associated with offshore wind development; each bidder will be required to participate in the fishing working group and may include any best practices in its mitigation or compensation plan. [5]

In the Phase I procurement, a developer can propose any kind of agreement to build its offshore transmission infrastructure. However, a project’s transmission approach may be evaluated under the weighted “project viability” criteria. It is expected that developers will choose to build their own generator lead lines (“direct radial”) from the offshore project to the mainland, but they are free to present in their bids transmission arrangements with an independent developer. The PSC recognizes the potential economic benefits of a shared offshore transmission system and has directed the Department of Public Service and NYSERDA to convene a technical conference to explore options for offshore transmission in the Phase II solicitation.

The PSC recognizes the multiple benefits of developing offshore wind and the significant role offshore wind could play in meeting New York’s Clean Energy Standard (CES) targets. Therefore, to maximize offshore wind’s value potential, the Phase I solicitation is focused on quick and responsible development. For Phase II, lessons learned from Phase I and from procurements in other states (or from independent procurements by LIPA and NYPA) will be incorporated into the solicitation. Technical Working Group best practices and recommendations may also be incorporated into Phase II solicitation requirements. In addition, shared transmission configurations, options for transmission ownership and planning, and integrated offshore wind + storage proposals may be considered. Furthermore, NYSERDA may consider direct procurement mechanisms such as PPAs, when structuring the Phase II solicitation. Additional requirements to stimulate cost reductions and competition are expected in Phase II.

Feedback on the RFI is due by 5pm on August 10th. NYSERDA requests that respondents limit their comments to 30 pages and encourages respondents to focus on areas in which they have particular expertise or interest. All subject areas and all questions in the RFI do not need to be answered. The RFI can be found here: https://www.nyserda.ny.gov/-/media/Files/Programs/offshore-wind/2018-07-19-Offshore-Wind-PhaseI-RFI.pdf

 

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[1] NY load serving entities are required to procure ORECs proportional to their load by March 31, 2019. LIPA and NYPA procurements, however, do not need to be proportional to their load. They may conduct their own solicitations and their own OREC procurement methodologies.

[2] The reference price includes energy and capacity prices. (In this case, the energy price will be from NY-ISO Zones J & K.) The market index structure is based on the weighted average commodity market price from the previous month.

[3] NYSERDA has a Benefit Cost Analysis Framework set forth in the Reforming the Energy Vision and has flexibility applying or refining it in the RFP. As part of its RFI, NYSERDA is seeking feedback on what it can include in the RFP to promote economic development benefits.

[4] See the illustrative example in Appendix B of the PSC Order. http://documents.dps.ny.gov/public/MatterManagement/MatterFilingItem.aspx?FilingSeq=210670&MatterSeq=55709

[5] The compensation and mitigation plans will be considered and weighted under the “economic benefit” criteria.