With the 2017 SEPA Power Player Awards, the nonprofit Smart Electric Power Alliance recognizes utilities, industry partners, individuals and others for their efforts to transform the electric system in the US. The awards, previously the Solar Power Players Awards, have expanded with two new awards, Change Agent of the Year and Visionary of the Year, reflecting the growth of SEPA’s mission. The awardees are selected by a panel of seven judges with diverse experience in the electric industry.
“Our 2017 SEPA Power Players all have fresh, exciting stories to tell about the potential for innovative projects and programs when utilities, partners and stakeholders work together on solutions needed to bring distributed energy technologies to consumers and the grid,” said Julia Hamm, SEPA’s CEO. “This year’s winners provide ample evidence of the transformation in institutional culture and operational style taking root across our industry, driving change to the energy system that ultimately benefits all.”
The awards focus on projects, initiatives and leadership that promote replicable models to advance knowledge of or access to distributed energy resources benefitting consumers and the grid. For instance, New Jersey’s PSE&G was named Investor-Owned Utility of the Year for its 158 megawatt Solar 4 All program. The universal solar initiative covers everything from residential rooftops and parking lots to solar farms and developments on landfills and brownfields.
"PSE&G's utility-owned, grid connected Solar 4 All program created a model that can be replicated across the country and will drive further transformation across the industry," Hamm said. "Moving towards a clean energy future involves rethinking how we interact with our environment and this program has done just that."
"By building solar projects that are connected directly to the grid, our Solar 4 All program is ensuring that all of our electric customers truly share both the costs and the benefits of solar power,” said Courtney McCormick, PSE&G vice president of renewables and energy solutions. “Further, by focusing much of our efforts on landfill and brownfield solar development we are aligning with New Jersey public policy, helping to save scarce open space in our state and giving new purpose to sites that would otherwise have limited opportunities for development."
Indeed, the company has plans to build three or four more landfill solar projects adding in a total of 33 more megawatts between now and 2020. Work on the first of those projects is slated for later this year.
The organization jointly recognized Kansas City Power & Light (KCP&L), Nest and CLEAResult as the Change Agents of the Year. The judges awarded the group for redesigning KCP&L’s thermostat program to focus on greater energy efficiency and demand management. SEPA reported that as of January 2017, the program had installed 8,059 thermostats—double its original goal. That is expected to result in a 10 megawatt load reduction and 3.7 gigawatt hours of energy savings in nine months.
SEPA recognized Gil Quiniones, CEO of New York Power Authority, as Power Player of the Year and Ouachita Electric Cooperative Corp. as the Electric Cooperative Utility of the Year. CPS Energy was named named Public Power Utility of the Year and Stem the Innovative Partner of the Year.
Sustainable CUNY was named the Visionary of the Year in the SEPA Power Players Awards. It won the distinction for forming the Smart Distributed Generation Hub. The hub developed the NYC Resilient Solar Roadmap, and was developed after Hurricane Sandy to provide strategies addressing barriers to install solar and storage in an urban environment.Tweet