Palo Alto's Municipal Utility Takes Solar Energy Mainstream in Drive for 100-Percent Carbon-Free Power Supply by 2017
Las Vegas, Oct. 21, 2014 – The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA), an educational nonprofit organization focused on helping utilities integrate solar electric power into their energy portfolios, today named the City of Palo Alto Utilities as Public Power Utility of the Year. The award was announced during SEPA's Awards Luncheon at Solar Power International in Las Vegas.
"Palo Alto Utilities walks the talk of community focus through its customer-friendly menu of solar services and tariffs which collectively put solar energy at the heart of the utility's business practice," said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. "And it has demonstrated innovation and pragmatism in leveraging affordable solar to meet its goal of becoming a carbon-free utility."
Founded in 2005, SEPA's annual awards recognize organizations and individuals advancing utility innovation, industry collaboration and leadership in the solar energy sector. Last year, SEPA honored Orlando Utilities Commission as Public Power Utility of the Year.
The City of Palo Alto Utilities earned the 2014 award as a result of its leadership and innovation in demonstrating solar energy's viability as a mainstream power source. It has continuously increased the size of its solar electric portfolio, including a recent power purchase agreement with 8minutenergy that puts the city on track to run on 100-percent carbon-free power by 2017. The utility also offers customers a full set of solar services and incentives, including residential and commercial rebate programs, expedited permit processing, premium options allowing customers to further support green power purchases, workshops and one-on-one advice, and coordination with industry representatives. It has established a feed-in-tariff for third parties interested in investing in solar installations on local businesses and selling the energy back to the utility. Most recently, the city approved a plan aimed at providing 4 percent of its energy needs from local solar installations by 2023. The plan includes a community solar component that will encourage solar development on schools, office buildings and other community buildings.
At the Awards Luncheon, SEPA also announced awards for Georgia Power as Investor-Owned Utility of the Year, the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative as Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year, and Warren McKenna, general manager of the Farmers Electric Cooperative, as Utility CEO of the Year. SEPA added a new award category this year, naming Clean Power Research as its first Innovative Solar Partner of the Year.
About SEPA: SEPA is an educational nonprofit organization based in Washington, DC, dedicated to helping utilities integrate solar power into their energy portfolios. SEPA is a founder and on-going co-organizer of Solar Power International. It provides a range of reports, educational events, networking opportunities and advisory consulting services to its members.