From the President:
Steve Weise, President, TREIA Board of Directors We tend not to think of distributed renewable generation (DRG) in the same
manner that we think about larger incremental additions of renewable
energy capacity. But we need to.
What are the largest solar projects in Texas? Austin Energy’s new
Webberville PV plant is the largest to date, at 30 MW. CPS Energy’s 16
MW Blue Wing project is second. The third might be a surprise. How about
the collective distributed PV installations under Oncor’s Solar PV Pilot
Program, which will top the 10 MW mark this month?
We tend not to think of distributed renewable generation (DRG) in the
same manner that we think about larger incremental additions of
renewable energy capacity. But we need to start doing so. Texas is now
home to somewhere between 25-30 MW of distributed solar generation.
Include small wind and renewable conservation technologies like solar
water heating and geothermal heat pumps, and the effective capacity may
approach 50 MW. This generating capacity is out there on the wires,
silently doing its job with about the same reliability as larger capacity
projects, but without line losses and without consuming fossil fuels or
water. Unfortunately, its aggregated value is still largely unmeasured and
Of primary concern to utilities is the concept of cost-shifting, the idea that
customers with DRG, who purchase less energy from the utility overall and
are credited for energy returned to the grid, are being subsidized by other
customers without such generation. But a new study by the Solar ABCs
project puts some rigor to the analytic frameworks typically employed,
exposes some common errors in the analysis, and concludes that
commercial electricity customers with traditionally net metered solar
installations “typically provide a net benefit to nonparticipating customers.”
Oncor’s success with distributed solar can be attributed partly to the fact
that it caught on early to the idea that DRG in the commercial sector holds
great promise and needs focused attention as much as the residential
sector does. Austin Energy and CPS Energy seem to be making important
strides in this direction as well. That’s an opportunity TREIA can leverage
with all utilities here in Texas.