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 to free resources and customized 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 aimed 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 scalable solutions—the benefits of which are just starting to unfold. Utility culture bends toward centralized systems, but the future is so much more diverse and better than that. I'll tell you why... and how.
News and Resources
Cliburn Joins Kit Carson Electric and Innovators on Grid Modernization
In January, Jill Cliburn joined New Mexico's Kit Carson Electric Cooperative (KCEC) and its innovation partners, including Camus Energy and Micro-Grid Systems Lab to discuss challenges and solutions related to local grid modernization goals. KCEC is a co-op partner in our SPECs: Solar Plus for Electric Co-ops project. SPECs is developing steps for co-ops nationwide to procure solar plus battery storage that can optimize both local and upstream values. Camus has been developing mapping software and other tools that build local grid visibility and grid-management opportunities. The presentation in January was hosted for state regulators and agencies, other co-ops and stakeholder groups, but it offered widely applicable insights. We would like to hear what you think about Camus' vision for robust, modern local utilities, especially in rural states.
Community Solar Solutions for Consumer-Owned Utilities
Jill Cliburn dubbed it the Best Zoom Call of the Fall: a kick-off meeting November 18 for public power utilities to launch new efforts with the National Community Solar Partnership. Dozens of utility program managers shared insights regarding the kinds of support they would find useful to move community solar forward in different markets and while facing a range of technical, financial and pricing challenges. For the Solar Value Project, it was a time to listen and learn–but also call to offer Solutions from the work of those who came before. Click here for a new Blog that details some of the most relevant, still-useful resources from our work with public power utilities in 2015-18. We look forward to the NCSP and its new resources, especially to address opportunities that just emerged in the past two to three years. But if you are working on a community solar project or program right now, we're sure you will find our new Blog on Community Solar Resources useful right "out of the box."
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.
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.
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.