The Solar Value Project represents leading energy thinkers and do-ers, ready to make community-scale solar better through strategic design, storage and load flexibility. This website is your place to follow utility-driven and customer-engaged solar-plus innovations and to review your options, including access free resources and customized professional consulting support.
Many of our resources derive from a multi-year U.S. DOE-funded effort called the Community Solar Value Project. We worked on CSVP with public power and investor-owned utilities and world-class innovation partners. Our current project, co-funded by DOE's Solar Energy Innovation Network, is called Solar-Plus for Electric Co-ops (SPECs). Follow our Blog and developing new pages, as well as Archives and Solutions pages for information on every step in design, procurement and marketing of projects that work for local utilities and the communities they serve.
Site Sponsors Cliburn and Associates and Extensible Energy joined forces in 2015 to initiate the Community Solar Value Project, with partners from Olivine and Navigant Consulting (now Guidehouse). We were joined by SMUD and other utilities that wanted to "make community solar better." Our path led to ground-breaking work in solar-plus-storage and load flexibility (demand response). Today, Cliburn manages this site, with the addition of new work from the Solar Plus for Electric Co-ops project, the National Community Solar Partnership, and new investigations from Cliburn and Associates.
Announcing SPECs: Solar-Plus for Electric Co-ops, a new project led by Cliburn and Associates, to help optimize the procurement and operations of local solar-plus battery storage projects for electric cooperatives. The project was selected by the U.S. DOE for the second round of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN). Contact us for details.
Blog: Utilities, Don't Run From Right-Sized Solar
In light of wholesale PPAs in the U.S. averaging less than 3 cents per kWh, the utility solar market is booming with expansive solar possibilities. Today, there is even a strong case to be made for purposely over-building centralized solar resources and dispatching or curtailing them to ease the need for storage in a mostly-renewables world. Yet our work is still focused on local, community-scale solar—sometimes integrated with storage or load management.
Recently, someone asked me why I've been so dogged about solutions on the local grid. I recalled how a few years ago, while our team was breaking new ground for community solar, I called our locally focused work "a market-based laboratory." That is still true, and still rewarding, today. Work at the community scale provides specific solutions, replicable solutions and scaleable solutions—the benefits of which are just starting to unfold. Utility culture bends toward centralized systems, but the future so much more diverse and better than that. I'll tell you why... and how.
News and Resources
Cliburn Presents at National Community Solar Virtual Conference
In November 2020, Cliburn joined community solar innovators and advocates from around the country for a virtual conference of the National Community Solar Partnership. Sponsored by the U.S. DOE Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Program, NCSP welcomes participants to share best practices about policies, programs and projects nationwide. As a TA consultant to the NCSP, Cliburn has been assisting the Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources in work with stakeholders toward a low/moderate income carve-out for their existing community solar program. Cliburn's conference presentation spotlights program innovations and successful public engagement in this time of Covid.
Close-Up on the Integration Challenge
If you found the September conference scene overwhelming, the Peak Load Management Alliance offers an alternative, with a full-scale, yet human-scale on-line conference November 9-12, 2020 Gain real-world insight from practitioners and energy utilities active in the demand response, load management, and distributed energy resources marketplace. The Solar Value Project is a frequent contributor to PLMA conferences, including leadership on its Integration Interest Group. See the website or contact us for details.
2020 Trends for Utility Solar and Storage
The Electricity Markets and Policy Group at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs recently released updated information on solar and storage growth trends, including PPA pricing data that indicates a solar price drop of more than 70% in the last decade and relatively low storage-cost premiums across project sizes. LBNL presented findings during Smart Energy Week this fall. Although the conference is over, many presentations are downloadable for registrants. Another annually awaited source, from Lazard, provides ranges for solar and storage pricing, indicating that utility-scale renewables are now robustly cost-competitive. Lazard draws a price range for community solar on the low end of C&I projects, from $63 to $94/MWH.
AVAILABLE NOW: Your Complete Guide to High-Value Community Solar Program Planning and Implementation. Go to our Solutions Menu, to find six ways to think outside the box about community solar challenges, so you can speed your internal processes and add program value for your utility and your customers. These approaches and tools were developed over the course of the CSVP project, working with at more than a dozen utilities nationwide. For a quick peek, here's a blog that previews the Solutions site.
Second chance to give a listen. CSVP as concluded its webinar series. But you can revisit top webinars in our archive. If you like what you hear, please send us a note through our Contact page.