Brundage Management’s A-AAAKey Mini Storage Is San Antonio’s Largest Solar Owner


Contact: Mike Weinnig 
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San Antonio, TX, November 1, 2012

Brundage Management’s A-AAAKey Mini Storage Is

San Antonio’s Largest Solar Owner

A-AAAKey Mini Storage Installs 474 kW of Solar Energy

Brundage Management Company’s A-AAAKey Mini Storage has installed 474 kW of solar energy systems at 9 of their San Antonio area climate controlled storage facilities. The combined capacity of 474 kW makes Brundage Management the largest owner of “net metered” solar energy in San Antonio.

The initial 39.6 kW system was installed in the Spring of 2011 and evaluated on the system’s electricity production and financial savings during the Summer and Fall 2011. Based on system’s performance, the decision was made to expand at the initial location as well as install systems at 7 additional climate controlled locations across the San Antonio area. In June 2012, additional expansions were started at each of the existing locations as well as an initial system at a newly constructed storage facility to bring their total to 474kW.

According to Bert Denson, Brundage Management’s VP of Operations and Maintenance, “These solar energy systems will allow us to control our electricity costs for years to come while electricity rates rise over time.”

SoloGen Systems, a clean energy developer worked with Self Reliant Solar, a CPS Energy certified solar installer to provide Brundage Management with a turnkey solution that included the project designs, rebate applications/processing, installations, permitting, inspections and US Treasury Grant processing.

Brundage Management Company, Inc. (BMC) performs all management functions from its headquarters in San Antonio, TX. BMC provides management services for Sun Loan Company and A-AAA Key Mini Storage in thirteen states and Mexico.

SoloGen Systems, LLC is a San Antonio-based clean energy developer with solar energy, geothermal and water conservation business units. SoloGen specializes in solar energy systems for businesses in San Antonio and Austin.

Self Reliant Solar brings extensive expertise in solar panel power design and installation, plus unrivaled experience in electrical energy and alternative energy battery storage for homeowners, businesses and rural energy power users, such as concert producers and oil rigs. 

Some see energy in abandoned wells


Jeremy Hobson: In the energy business there are renewables like wind and solar. And there are non-renewables -- like oil. Once you use up the oil that's in the well. That's it. Well, actually, a few researchers and entrepreneurs in Texas say that's not it.

Andrew Oxford reports.

Read more: Some see energy in...

Investment needed in power-hungry Texas market: study

By Eileen O'Grady

HOUSTON | Fri Jun 1, 2012 7:35pm EDT

(Reuters) - The current design of the wholesale power market in Texas will not encourage needed investment in new power plants, the Brattle Group said in a report commissioned by the state electric grid operator.

Texas electric regulators and the grid agency that oversees the $34 billion deregulated wholesale market are working to encourage construction of new generation in the state, which has little ability to import power from its neighbors.

Unlike many areas of the United States, electric demand in Texas continues to grow because of the state's healthy economy.

"Electric reliability matters to all of us and we must remain focused on the central question of whether we are doing enough to guarantee an adequate power supply," said Craven Crowell, chairman of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.

ERCOT, which oversees the grid for most of the state, has warned that the prospect for rolling blackouts in future years will increase as the power supply is unable to keep pace with growing demand.

Low wholesale prices and tight financial markets have stalled development of new generation in Texas even as more stringent environmental rules threaten to shut older coal- and gas-fired plants over the next few years.

"The cold hard fact is that new power plants will not be built unless power prices support that build," said Bill Nordlund, managing director of Panda Power Funds. Panda has two natural gas-fired plants primed for construction in Texas.

Last summer's protracted heat wave, which triggered record electricity demand and six emergency declarations from ERCOT, intensified the need to address the state's shrinking power reserve margin, the cushion needed to avoid blackouts.

The report by the Brattle Group, a power industry consultant, did not recommend a specific course of action to modify ERCOT's "energy-only" market, which pays generators only when they produce power, but outlined five options along with advantages and disadvantages of each.

Brattle principal Sam Newell said the energy-only market has worked well to attract generation investment in Texas, but low wholesale prices now will not encourage as many new megawatts as regulators believe are necessary to meet a 13.75 percent reserve margin in the summer when electric use soars.

Newell said Texans should reexamine that reserve target given the fact that power line problems are the cause of many more outages than supply shortages.

"You can plan on a very high level of reserves and almost never, ever have to shed load, but that would be more expensive than maintaining a lower reserve margin," Newell said on a call with reporters. "There's got to be a balance somewhere. We think it's worth re-evaluating those standards."

If the commission decides the state requires a higher reserve margin than the energy-only margin will provide, Brattle offered several potential solutions.

Options included keeping the energy-only design, but adding a market-based reserve margin; higher prices to support a target reserve margin; or a back-stop procurement process to maintain minimum acceptable reliability.

Other options included a mandatory resource adequacy requirement for companies that supply power to customers, or having a resource-adequacy requirement with a centralized forward capacity market.

While the Texas Public Utility Commission has resisted calls to create a capacity market similar to those used in other U.S. power markets, the Brattle report addressed a number of criticisms that capacity markets simply boost overall costs that benefit existing generation owners without attracting new power plants.

The PUC and ERCOT have already implemented a number of market changes, including raising the price cap on wholesale power when supplies are scarce, to encourage construction of new power plants.

"The Brattle Group's report confirms that we are moving in the right direction," said Donna Nelson, PUC chairman.

Unlike what the commission has proposed, however, the Brattle Group advised ERCOT to gradually increase the wholesale price cap to $9,000 per megawatt-hour from $3,000 MWh, reaching $9,000 only in extreme scarcity when power to customers is being curtailed. These prices would be paid by the suppliers who serve homes and businesses.

"We like scarcity prices to progress over a range instead of jumping to the cap (because) with a smoother price curve, you have better market behavior and it will work better with demand response," Newell said.

The report warned that simply increasing price caps will not attract more generation.

"Many market participants that were supportive of the commission's actions so far were wary of the prospect of raising caps much higher," the report said.

The Sierra Club criticized the report for its limited look at energy efficiency and conservation options where customers are paid to reduce power use when supplies are strained.

"Instead of using our money to build more coal and gas plants, the PUC should implement their rules proposed to raise energy efficiency goals," said Cyrus Reed, conservation director of the Lone Star Chapter of the Sierra Club.

The Brattle report said expanded demand-response programs will be needed, but that over the long-term the state will have to see new power plants built.

Reed also called on the state to increase use of renewable power, such as solar. Texas is already the No. 1 state for wind generation.

The Brattle Group noted that growth of wind power in Texas has depressed wholesale prices to the point that generators cannot justify investment in new gas-fired power plants.

John Ragan, president of NRG Energy's (NRG.N) Gulf Coast region, complemented regulators and ERCOT for seeking "expert, external analysis of the different options Texas can implement to encourage greater resource adequacy while maintaining a strong commitment to competition and regulatory certainty."

"I am confident that we can address the issues that we face," Ragan said.

(Reporting by Eileen O'Grady in Houston; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn, Tim DobbynDavid Gregorio and Bob Burgdorfer)


Report: U.S. Solar Power Shines, Will Increase 75 Percent This Year

By Carl Franzen

A new report on the state of the solar industry in America indicates that despite a global oversupply and a potential trade war with China, the U.S. solar industry had its second-best quarter ever in terms of installations, during the first quarter of 2012.

The number of installations, 506 megawatts worth, enough to power just over 350,000 homes, was bested only by the fourth quarter of 2011, which saw a whopping 708 megawatts worth of solar installed.

On top of that, the report, drafted by clean-energy market analysis firm GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association and released Tuesday, a trade group, forecasts that total U.S. installed solar power will increase 75 percent his year alone, with 3.3 gigawatts-worth of solar power installed, compared to the 4.4 gigawatts that are currently installed in the country and were added over years of development.

“This will be by far the largest year we’ve ever had for solar in the U.S.,” saidShayle Kann, vice president of research at GTM, in a phone interview with TPM. “Relative to expectations, the first quarter was very strong. We saw both the commercial and residential markets grow.”

Indeed, commercial solar installations, those put in place on corporate properties, accounted for the overwhelming majority’s worth of solar power installed in the quarter — 288.8 megawatts, according to the GTM and SEIA U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

Furthermore, residential power installations (those installed on homes) accounted for 93.9 megawatts. The final category, utilities power installations, or solar put in place by power companies, accounted for 123.6 megawatts of installations, but that number was actually a steep decline from both the third and fourth quarters of 2011.

However, as the report points out, “direct comparisons between these two quarters [fourth and first] carry little meaning,” because “construction timelines for a relatively few large projects can cause large swings from quarter to quarter more than any underlying market dynamics.”

In essence: The natural construction cycle for solar projects and other power installations, governed by weather and the fiscal year, means that generally, utilities won’t be installing solar panels in larger numbers until later in the year, so long as they have those projects already lined up, “in the pipeline,” as it were.

“The pipeline is still huge,” Kann told TPM.

Intriguingly, when it came to the state-by-state breakdown for solar installations for the first quarter of 2012, New Jersey lead the nation in solar installations, with a whopping 173.8 megawatts of solar power generation capacity installed in the three month period. California, more commonly associated with solar, was second with 148.4 megawatts.

“New Jersey has been a leader in solar for years thanks to good state level policy,” Kann explained, “That’s the most important thing.”

Kann pointing to the state’s Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SREC) program, which allows solar installation owner to sell credits on a competitive state market, credits earned for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity every single project generates. He said that other states were wise to follow in New Jersey’s path.

At the same time, domestic solar manufacturing took a hit as prices for some solar panel arrays plummeted by 47 percent over the same quarter last year.

The manufacturing downturn was taken as proof positive by the Coalition For Solar Manufacturing, a trade grouped formed specifically to petition the U.S. government to slap tariffs on Chinese imports of cheap solar panels, which the group says were illegally subsidized and dumped. The Commerce Department did find some Chinese companies guilty of illegally subsidizing and dumping, and did end up imposing tariffs.

As Gordon Brisner, president of SolarWorld America, the lead company in CASM, said in a statement distributed to reporters this week: “The sharp drop in U.S. solar manufacturing, even as demand in the United States grows, is powerful evidence of injury caused by unfair Chinese trade practices.”

Kann said that just because there was a global oversupply of solar panels driving down the price didn’t mean that China was necessarily dumping, though.

“Manufacturers across the globe didn’t prepare well,” Kann told TPM. “They kept producing even when their inventory was really high, which lead to a drastic market correction,” i.e., the falling price of solar panel modules.

Still, Kann said that the overall picture of the U.S. solar industry remained bright.

“We’re expecting see growth in all three sectors: residential, commercial and utilities,” Kann added.