Here’s what’s new at the Institute….
Senator Asks, “What the Heck is a REC?”
Last week, Senator Chris Bray, chair of the state’s Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, dropped into the Energy Clinic asking for help with a question our solar teams hear time and time again: “What the heck is a REC?” Of course the Senator himself knows, but as the Committee works to craft new legislation to update the state’s renewable energy policies, he recognized that many of our elected officials — and many, many Vermonters — don’t fully understand the “renewable energy certificate.” And that’s bad, as it’s a crucial concept to grasp as Vermont reaches for ambitious renewable energy goals.
Good thing we have our Community Solar team in the Energy Clinic. The team — staffed by student clinicians Heather Huebner, Gregg Freeman, and Aaron Kelly — have agreed to help the Senator by writing a paper to help explain RECs to both the voting public and legislators.
Heather, Gregg, and Aaron will head up to Montpelier on February 26th to present to the Natural Resources Committee.
SunShot Team Takes a Bow
The SunShot team has successfully put to bed a 3-year consulting project for Fraunhofer Center for Sustainable Energy Systems. Research Associates Kelsey Bain, Ashleigh Krick, Leif Rasmussen, and David Sloan — under the leadership of Global Energy Fellow Mark James — delivered analysis and legal support for Fraunhofer’s DOE-funded project to develop a solar PV panel that could be adhered to asphalt roofs. (See above photo.) Armed with the research delivered by the Energizers, Fraunhofer is moving steadily towards commercialization. Having delivered reams of practical research and support, the team members are excited at the prospects of seeing Fraunhofer’s product in a Home Depot or Lowe’s within a couple of years.
Publish Like You Give a Dam
The research group formerly known as the SunShot team — which has since lost a couple of members to SIPs and other assignments — is turning its attention from the sun to water. Mark, David, and Kelsey are working on a law review article for the Idaho Law Review’s 2016 Natural Resources Edition. The article, as Mark tells it, “is focused on developing legal instruments that provide economic support for the development of small hydropower projects at non-powered dams.” The team will be looking at the application of the Production Tax Credit to hydropower resources and exploring why it only pays half of the rate applied to wind and solar.
Director Shows the VLS Flag
This week, Institute Director Michael Dworkin has been at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine in Washington, DC, addressing the issues he had raised as part of the Planning Committee for the Academies’ Quarterly Energy Review.
At the start of the year, Michael went to New York to speak at a joint dinner of the half-dozen energy-law centers emerging at law schools around the country now. Soon after, he traveled to Washington, DC to present at the Food-Energy-Water Nexus Conference on the topic of connecting education to practice and the workforce.
GMC Students Ask, “How Can I Apply?”
On Monday, a class from Green Mountain College studying Renewable Energy and Ecological Design drove across the state to see the Energy Clinic in action. The 15 or so undergrads, all of whom are interested in pursuing a career in energy, the environment, and/or food systems, learned about the Clinic’s work and the various degrees and certificates offered through the Institute. They also took in a presentation by a VLS alum about developing solar projects throughout New England.
Until next time,