Solar-Plus for Electric Co-ops (SPECs) was launched in 2020 to help optimize the planning, procurement, and operations of battery storage and solar-plus-storage for electric cooperatives. SPECs was selected by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) for Round 2 of the Solar Energy Innovation Network (SEIN).
Cliburn and Associates leads the SPECs team, including North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (NCCETC), Cobb Electric Membership Corporation, Kit Carson Electric Cooperative, United Power, and other leaders from the co-op sector and the storage industry.
Utilities and other users that are planning or procuring a utility-side storage or solar-plus-storage project may find free resources from the SPECs toolkit and other content through the links provided below or from the SPECs Project home page.
This page offers an overview of the SPECs toolkit and other content developed for local distribution utilities that are planning or procuring a utility-side storage or solar-plus-storage project.
Fundamentals of Solar-Plus-Storage
Storage Industry Topology: A Quick Review of the Field and the Players
Introduction to Solar-Plus-Storage Strategies for Local Utilities
Fundamental Resources from the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA)
Procurement Guidance for Storage
Case Studies of Co-op Solar-Plus-Storage Procurement
Policy Barriers and Opportunities That Affect Project Planning and Procurement
Institutional and Policy Landscape for Solar-Plus-Storage Deployment by Electric Cooperatives (PDF)
Webinar: Policy Barriers and Opportunities for Energy Storage Deployment by Electric Cooperatives (Video)
David Sarkisian SPECs Policy Webinar Presentation (PPT)
Policies affecting solar-plus-storage are constantly changing, you can stay up to date using NCCETC’s free Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency® at dsireusa.org.
Library of Storage and Solar-Plus-Storage RFPs
Read first: Notes Describing RFPs in this Library (PDF)
EBCE, Peninsula Clean Energy, Silicon Valley Clean Energy, and Silicon Valley Power Joint RFP (California)
The SPECs Project team is developing customized training for those who are interested in storage and solar-plus-storage planning and procurement. If you are interested in further support and more specialized training and technical services, contact NCCETC’s Senior Policy Project Manager, David Sarkisian at firstname.lastname@example.org.
SPECs Early-Stage Decision (ESD) Model
The Early-Stage Decision (ESD) model is a software tool designed to screen potential solar-plus-storage projects, to fine-tune their design, and to facilitate their procurement by electric co-ops or other local utilities.
In short, the ESD model is a response to the SPECs team adage, “You can’t get what you need unless you know what to ask for.” With guidance from an introductory training video and a detailed user’s manual, this tool can prepare co-op staff and decision makers to get past crucial, early “go/no-go” decisions, to create better RFPs, and to engage with expert consultants and industry players in later stages of the procurement process.
The ESD model dovetails with the NREL industry standard tool for solar project modeling, the System Advisor Model (SAM). Users may download the ESD model, along with the script link to SAM and user’s manual, at no cost. Utilities and other users may learn about additional training opportunities and fee-for-service support from Cliburn and Associates and the NCCETC.
ESD Model User’s Manual
Insights on Solar-Plus-Storage Project Pricing
Downloading the Excel-based ESD Model and SAM Import Link
Users that have any experience with spreadsheet-based economic models will recognize the ESD model format, with similar general inputs and data tabs. The opportunities to choose a value stack scenario (use case) and to set or choose defaults for battery-related inputs are unique, and are at the heart of the model’s capabilities. The model also guides users through an optional gap analysis process, which incorporates strategic values. Further, it has a sensitivity analysis function. The user’s manual, linked above, provides detailed instructions on how to incorporate a basic NREL SAM analysis into the ESD model, tapping SAM’s ability to analyze solar technology options and to incorporate location-based and weather/resource data sets. SAM offers other useful features, too, including a well-supported way to assess battery storage for demand-cost reduction. The ESD model builds on SAM capabilities, rather than reinventing these analytic features.
Note that the ESD model is preloaded with data that represents a hypothetical electric co-op use case. This enhances the model’s value as a hands-on educational tool when reviewed with the ESD user’s manual. This use case and the electric co-op described by the preloaded data are fictitious and intended to be replaced by actual utility data and assumptions/decision-making about solar acquisitions.
Obtain the password by e-mailing the SPECs team here. This allows us to track its use. The model is presented as-is, with no warranty or promise of further updates, but we will update registered users as training opportunities or future support become available.
If you have questions or would like to learn more about the ESD model, please email Christina Kopitopoulou, NCCETC’s Senior Project Manager for the Clean Power & Industrial Efficiency program. She can be reached at email@example.com.