CleanTech OC Presents “Understanding California’s New Self-Generation Incentive Program”

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Leading the charge to reduce peak both electricity demand and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) recently adopted changes to the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) to facilitate deployment of certain distributed generation technologies at discounted rates. On November 15th, CleanTech OC held its second Business Development Series workshop explaining the SGIP, clarifying implementation and application guidelines which will enable qualifying facilities to obtain financial incentives of up to 60% of overall project costs for their conversion to renewables.

The panel discussion started with historical information presented by PUC’s Neal Reardon about the origins of SGIP, from its legislative roots of reducing peak demand resulting from the energy crisis in 2001 to the 2009 GHG emission reduction requirements in SB 412. Reardon explained that the structure of the SGIP is to offset upfront capital investment while ensuring performance; utilizing their annual $75 million incentive budget, they pay 50% upon application approval and 50% based on performance. Billy Gamboa from the California Center for Sustainable Energy (CCSE) presented a synopsis of some key information from the SGIP Handbook, particularly the documentation, equipment and efficiency requirements.

The next three panelists presented specific project conversion options; each depicted cost-effective methods for qualifying conversions to achieve SGIP objectives, earn the incentives, and continue to generate clean energy in extremely cost effective ways:

  • Tracy Reid with FuelCell Energy - ultra-clean stationary fuel cell power plants utilizing an electrochemical device that combines hydrogen fuel and oxygen from the air to produce electricity, and useable heat and water. Sidestepping the conventional combustion reaction, fuel cells produce DC electricity with twice the efficiency of conventional fossil fuels plants even as they reduce emissions of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides (NOx), sulfur oxides (SOx), and particulate matter as well as dramatically lower emissions of carbon dioxide (CO2).
  • Mike Levin, from FlexEnergy - a revolutionary solution that combines a modified gas turbine with an adaptation of a proprietary thermal oxidizer to convert previously unusable, harmful waste gas into clean, green energy. The Flexidizer completely oxidizes air with dilute methane mixtures (1.5% methane), tolerating both moisture and siloxanes in the landfill gas. The Flex is the only complete clean energy solution that runs directly on low pressure, low flow, and low Btu fuel gas.
  • Matt Swindle from Nline Energy - in-conduit, hydroelectric renewable power generation. Their “Water to Energy Recovery System” (WATERS™) captures wasted energy at pressure reduction valve sites and converts it into renewable electricity. WATERS™ consists of a turbine-generator, energy storage devices, electronic controls, bypasses and fail-safes, environmental and security equipment, sensors, communications and data equipment, and an information collection, control and reporting system capable of operating either manually or autonomously.

Most commercial, industrial, local, state or federal facilities with a natural gas or methane source and a need for continuous heat and power, as well as certain wind and energy storage customers will qualify for the SGIP. This can include locations such as wastewater treatment plants, dairy farms, food and agricultural operations, and other locations that operate biomass digesters or have usable biogas.

For more information, visit the Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP) page on the California Public Utilities Commission (PUC) website, along with the relevant page on the CCSE site.

Our Guest Writer is Diane Bucka, Founder of Responsible Business Registry. Diane is a sustainability advocate, and communications consultant with more than 15 years of writing, editing and marketing experience. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook; view her profile on LinkedIn.

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