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February 2019 CIP News

2/14/2019 3:06:48 PM


CIP News


CARD Grant Program Update

The purpose of the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) Grant Program is to identify new technologies, strategies, and program approaches that utilities can implement to help achieve the annual state energy conservation goal of 1.5% as established by the Next Generation Energy Act of 2007. 

The Electrified Frontier: Exploring Stakeholder Views on the Emerging Intersection of Electrification, Efficiency, and De-carbonization

In order to better understand how Minnesota’s stakeholders are viewing the potential of electrification, Michaels Energy received CARD funding to gather stakeholder perspectives on electrification and fuel switching. The resulting white paper delivers a Minnesota-centric primer on electrification and fuel switching to help inform stakeholders and frame up key conversations for future stakeholder and regulator discernment. This white paper compiles the feedback from in-depth conversations with 24 stakeholder organizations and electrification experts. In addition, the paper provides foundational content on Minnesota’s policy context, other states’ policy efforts, technologies, metrics, and a literature review of electrification research. Read more.

Electric Utility Infrastructure  

Webinar to cover results, recommendations from EUI efficiency studies

A webinar will be held on March 26 from 11 a.m. to noon to discuss final results and recommendations from the Electric Utility Infrastructure (EUI) Energy Efficiency Potential Study, as well as findings from the related stakeholder process exploring EUI opportunities and barriers. It will be an excellent opportunity to learn about supply-side efficiency projects that improve the overall generation, transmission, and distribution efficiency of the electric system. Learn more and register for the webinar.

The EUI Efficiency Potential Study was led by GDS Associates (GDS) in partnership with the Center for Energy and Environment (CEE), Cadmus, and Demand Side Analytics, and was funded by a grant from the Conservation Applied Research and Development (CARD) program. The study, one of the first of its kind, successfully estimated the statewide potential to increase efficiency by decreasing conversion losses, improving plant operations, and mitigating transmission and distribution losses throughout Minnesota’s electric grid.

In tandem with the EUI Potential Study, GDS and CEE led an extensive data-driven stakeholder engagement process, funded through a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) grant, to clarify EUI regulatory and policy barriers and how EUI efficiency can be better incorporated into utilities’ Conservation Improvement Program (CIP) efforts. Based on a synthesis of the stakeholder discussions, recommendations from this project are being compiled into an Action Plan as a roadmap for how to integrate efficiency into utility infrastructure planning processes.

EUI action plan graphic

Commerce issues new guidance for EUI efficiency projects 
The Minnesota Department of Commerce has issued new guidance regarding how electric utility infrastructure (EUI) projects can be claimed toward utilities’ CIP energy-savings performance. The newly released EUI Project Screening Tool (developed by GDS Associates) is the latest in a series of regulatory guidance provided by Commerce to provide utilities with more clarity regarding how EUI efficiency projects are evaluated under CIP; they can be accessed using the following links: 
  1. Electric Utility Infrastructure Efficiency Project Screening Tool (.xisx) This project screening tool can be used by utilities to evaluate EUI efficiency projects in terms of estimating potential energy savings and cost-effectiveness. 
  2. Determining Normal Maintenance Activities and CIP Review Process for Electric Utility Infrastructure Projects (.pdf)  This guidance describes how to determine “normal maintenance” activities, how to determine an EUI project’s  energy use baseline, and a step-by-step process to help standardize how EUI projects are reviewed and approved for CIP energy savings credit.
  3. Claiming Energy Savings through Electric Utility Infrastructure Improvements and the Carry Forward Provision (pdf). This guidance describes the utility requirements for claiming energy savings from EUI projects, and it outlines the use and parameters for carrying forward annual energy savings in excess of 1.5% to succeeding years.
Energy Leadership   

Commerce announces Sullivan, Blauvelt as new deputy and assistant commissioners for Energy Division
Minnesota Commerce Commissioner Steve Kelley announced on Feb. 1 new leadership for the department’s Division of Energy Resources, appointing Joe Sullivan as Deputy Commissioner and Katherine Blauvelt as Assistant Commissioner. Read more.
Grant ends 8-year term as Energy Division leader, leaves legacy of clean energy achievements
Bill Grant ended 8 years as deputy commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Commerce, Division of Energy Resources on Feb. 1, leaving a legacy of clean energy action and consumer protection. Grant, under Governor Mark Dayton’s administration, developed and managed programs and policies in five units: Energy Planning and Advocacy, Energy Facility Permitting, State Energy Office, Energy Assistance Program, and Telecommunications. Read more (pdf).
News & Notes

Xcel Energy launches 2019 Solar*Rewards Program, with new carve out to serve low-income customers
Xcel Energy opened its 2019 Solar*Rewards Program for residential and commercial customers on Jan. 28, 2019, with approximately $1 million of the $10 million program earmarked for its Income-Qualified Customers program. The low-income carve out is designed to offer solar options to Xcel’s income-qualified customers with limited resources and to those who serve low-income constituents. General residential qualifiers of Solar*Rewards will receive an annual production incentive of 7 cents per kWh for the first 10 years of the system; general commercial qualifiers will receive 6 cents per kWh for 10 years. Single-family qualifiers of the Solar*Rewards Income-Qualified Program will receive an upfront payment of $2 per watt and annual production incentives of 7 cents per kWh over the first 10 years. To qualify for the Income-Qualified Program incentive as a single family, applicants must be qualified as a Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) or Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP) participant.  Read more about Xcel’s and other utility incentive programs.
Minnesota solar jobs up 8% in 2018 despite nationwide decline of 3%
The number of solar jobs in Minnesota increased by 8% in 2018, while solar jobs nationwide declined by nearly 8,000, or 3.2%, compared to 2017, according to the National Solar Jobs Census 2018 released on Feb. 12. The Census, compiled by The Solar Foundation, reports that Minnesota added 346 solar workers in 2018, modest growth compared to last year, when jobs increased by nearly 50%, from 2,872 in 2016 to 4,256 in 2017. Over the past three years, solar-related jobs in Minnesota more than doubled, from 1,995 in 2015 to 4,602 in 2018. Solar jobs are among the fastest-growing job sector in the state, and “solar panel installer” was the fastest-growing job in Minnesota last year, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Read more.
Xcel, CenterPoint earn ACEEE Exemplary Energy Efficiency Program status
Xcel Energy and CenterPoint Energy recently earned recognition as Exemplary Energy Efficiency Programs from the American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE). The recognition identifies successful approaches that might help others improve their energy efficiency program designs and provides recognition to utilities and other administrators that are funding and delivering excellent programs. Xcel was recognized for its “One-Stop Efficiency Shop, Minnesota” program in the Small Commercial category and for its “Partners in Energy” Program in the Utility Partnerships category. Xcel and CenterPoint won for their collaborative “Home Energy Squad” program in the Residential Miscellaneous category, while CenterPoint was also honored for its “Foodservice, Minnesota” program in the Niche category. Read more (pdf).
Green Schools Expo to highlight Zero Energy Schools April 8-9 in Saint Paul
Minnesota schools looking to achieve Zero Energy in the coming years and various school stakeholders will have an opportunity to learn more from Zero Energy school case studies and lectures, thanks to the national Green Schools Conference & Expo (GBCE) that will be held April 8-9 at the Saint Paul RiverCentre in Saint Paul.
The conference will offer two Zero Energy School educational sessions to help a wide variety of school staff, including facility coordinators, administrators, superintendents, and others, learn more:
  • Opening the Door: Energy Efficiency is Key to Whole District Eco-Efficiency, April 8 from 2:45-3:45 p.m. The zero energy success of three school districts will be shared to help attendees understand the benefits of sustainability and net zero energy by employing best practices. Attendees will learn from partners of the DOE’s Zero Energy Schools Accelerator Program and the Better Buildings Challenge K-12 and will learn how to use the DOE’s energy benchmarking tools and resources as a basis for project decision in K-12 schools.
  • Net-Zero Energy Schools in the Real World—Bridging the Gap between Predictions and Performance, April 9, 4:30-5:30 p.m.  Through a pair of case studies with net zero energy goals, this session will identify and evaluate design strategies that can contribute to a successful low energy or net zero building. It will illustrate how energy models can be used to predict a building’s energy performance, and where energy model predictions may fall short.
For more on these two sessions and the overall conference, visit The Minnesota Department of Commerce’s Division of Energy Resources is a partner in the U.S. Department of Energy’s Zero Energy Schools Accelerator Program
 Xcel Energy plans to expand Renewable*Connect Program
Xcel Energy plans to more than triple the size of its “Renewable*Connect,” a program that allows its customers to have their energy consumption credited to renewable sources. The expansion of Renewable*Connect is aimed partly at corporations and governments that want specifically earmarked renewable power for their own green-energy programs, according to a Star Tribune report. Xcel would add more wind and solar capacity—possibly both a new wind and a new solar farm—to power the expansion of Renewable*Connect, according to a company filing in early January 2019 with the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC). Xcel launched Renewable Connect in 2017 as a pilot program; it currently serves more than 3,000 residential customers and 150 commercial and industrial clients. Read more.
Minnesota Army National Guard earns MEEA Inspiring Efficiency Award
The Minnesota Army National Guard has earned the Inspiring Efficiency Award from the Midwest Energy Efficiency Alliance (MEEA). The award recognizes groundbreaking advancements in energy efficiency in five categories. The Minnesota National Guard won in the Impact category for its creation of the Energy Efficiency Challenge (EEC), a peer-to-peer competition that serves to motivate and encourage facilities to achieve the greatest energy use intensity (EUI) reduction. Winners will be recognized during an awards ceremony at the Midwest Energy Solutions Conference in Chicago on Feb. 21. Read more.


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