Research firm collaboration with utilities helps to drive down soft costs of solar
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 Clean Power Research as Innovative Solar Partner of the Year. The award was announced during SEPA's Awards Luncheon at Solar Power International in Las Vegas.
Founded in 2005, SEPA's annual awards recognize organizations and individuals advancing utility innovation, industry collaboration and leadership in the solar energy sector. The Innovative Solar Partner Award is a new category SEPA added this year to showcase examples of creative collaboration between utilities and the solar industry.
Clean Power Research earned the first Innovative Solar Partner Award for its leadership and commitment to working with utilities to develop online services aimed at streamlining the interconnection process for photovoltaic (PV) solar projects and reducing the "soft costs" of solar permitting, installation and inspection. Most recently, it partnered with NV Energy to develop the next generation of its PowerClerk software, the newly launched PowerClerk Interconnect. The updated package will allow utilities to expedite approval of interconnection applications by taking current paper and mail-based processes online, from aggregating building permits and interconnection agreements to communicating with customers via automatically generated emails at various stages of the application process. It also allows utilities to capture system specifications for all solar systems, whether or not they are receiving state-level incentives. In addition to feedback and review from NV Energy, Clean Power has also worked with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and the Hawaiian Electric Company on the project.
"By reaching out to utilities as key partners in its work, Clean Power Research has demonstrated the importance of industry collaboration in helping to further drive down the total installed cost of solar," said Julia Hamm, president and CEO of SEPA. "Today only about 15 percent of utilities have optimized the processing of high numbers of interconnections in short periods of time, so there is opportunity to improve interconnection processes and reduce soft costs for both utilities and the solar industry."
At the Awards Luncheon, SEPA also announced awards for Georgia Power as Investor-Owned Utility of the Year, the City of Palo Alto Utilities as Public Power Utility of the Year, the Southern Maryland Electric Cooperative as Electric Cooperative of the year and Warren McKenna, general manager of the Farmers Electric Cooperative, as Utility CEO of the Year.
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.