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Glossary

As a leader in transforming brownfields into solar fields, we understand that the journey from assessment to revenue generation through solar development is laden with specialized terminology and concepts. This glossary is here to demystify the language of solar energy transformation. Whether you are a landowner, a municipality representative, a site manager, or simply someone interested in the intersection of renewable energy and land repurposing, this resource is tailored for you. Our goal is to make the process of solar development as transparent and understandable as possible. 

Like the broader solar industry, this list will evolve and grow as new concepts become central to our work or are replaced by others. See something missing? We always appreciate feedback at marketing@acpowerllc.com

All Appropriate Inquiry

 

All Appropriate Inquiry, or AAI, is a thorough investigation into the environmental conditions of a property, typically conducted before a property transaction or as part of a site assessment. The purpose of AAI is to assess whether a property might be contaminated by hazardous substances. It's like a detective mission to uncover any potential environmental issues lurking beneath the surface. The idea is to make informed decisions about whether further investigation or remediation is needed. In the context of remediation work, AAI is often a prerequisite for certain liability protections under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA).

Alternating & Direct Current

Solar panels generate electricity in the form of direct current (DC). When sunlight strikes the photovoltaic cells within a solar panel, it creates an electric current, which is DC. This DC electricity needs to be converted to alternating current (AC) for most household and commercial uses because the electrical grid and most of our appliances and devices operate on AC power. Solar inverters are used to convert DC to AC. Solar inverters take the DC electricity generated by the solar panels and convert it into AC electricity, which is compatible with the electrical grid and can power your home or be fed back into the grid for credit or compensation.

American Society for Testing and Materials

 

American Society for Testing and Materials, or ASTM, develops and publishes standards that guide testing and procedures related to environmental site assessments and remediation. In the world of Brownfield remediation, ASTM standards provide a common language and set of guidelines for conducting assessments, sampling, and testing contaminated sites. These standards help ensure consistency and quality in the remediation process, making it easier for professionals in the field to communicate effectively and carry out their work with a shared set of best practices.

Area of Critical Environmental Concern

 

Area of Critical Environmental Concern, or ACEC, refers to a designated area of land that possesses significant environmental, cultural, or scenic values that need to be protected during the development of solar projects. ACECs are typically identified and managed by government agencies like the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in the United States.

Base load

Base load refers to the average amount of electric power that a utility must supply in any period. It represents the constant, essential level of electricity consumption that is present at all times, regardless of daily or seasonal fluctuations in demand. As the energy landscape evolves and incorporates more renewable energy sources with variable output, the concept of base load is sometimes discussed in the context of how these sources integrate with the grid. Energy storage and flexible demand management strategies are becoming increasingly important in maintaining grid stability while accommodating the variability of renewable energy sources.

 

Baseline Environmental Assessment

 

A Baseline Environmental Assessment, or BEA, serves as a crucial tool for establishing a establishing a reference point, and facilitating remediation, in environmental management, especially in the context of environmental impact assessments, land development, or regulatory compliance. Its primary purpose is to establish the existing environmental condition of a site or area before any significant changes or developments occur.

Battery Energy Storage System

 

Battery Energy Storage System, or BESS, refers to a system that stores electrical energy in batteries for later use. In the solar industry, BESS is often used in conjunction with solar power generation to store excess electricity produced during the day for use during nighttime or when the sun is not shining. It helps smooth out energy supply and demand and can increase the reliability of solar power systems.

Behind-the-Meter

 

Behind-the-Meter, or BTM, refers to solar energy systems that are installed on the customer's side of the electrical meter. These systems are typically designed to generate electricity for on-site consumption, such as in residential homes, commercial buildings, or industrial facilities. The electricity produced by behind-the-meter solar systems is primarily used to offset the energy needs of the facility where it's installed. Any excess electricity generated can sometimes be fed back into the grid through net metering arrangements, allowing the customer to receive credit or compensation for the surplus energy. Residential rooftop solar is an example of BTM solar.

 

Bill credit

 

A financial incentive received by solar energy system users, reflecting the value of electricity their system has generated and supplied back to the grid. AC Power's community solar projects enable subscribers to earn bill credits, reducing their monthly electricity costs.

 

Brightfield

A brightfield site is a former brownfield or contaminated land repurposed for solar energy production. The term reflects the positive transformation from polluted spaces to bright, renewable energy-generating properties. AC Power's projects turn brownfields into brightfields, showcasing the company's commitment to environmental stewardship and innovation in renewable energy.

 

​Brownfield

 

A term referring to previously developed land that may be contaminated by hazardous substances or pollutants, making it underused or idle. Brownfield sites include former industrial areas, gas stations, or landfills. AC Power specializes in repurposing brownfields for solar development, transforming these sites into productive, clean energy sources while mitigating environmental hazards.

Business Environmental Risks

 

Business Environmental Risks, or BERs, refer to the potential adverse impacts of environmental factors on a business operation. Being aware of and managing these environmental risks is crucial for businesses to ensure sustainability and comply with regulations.

Commercial Operation Date

 

A Commercial Operation Date, or COD, is the date when a solar power project is officially declared to be operational and capable of producing electricity. This date is significant for various purposes, including financial incentives, regulatory compliance, and revenue generation. There are many milestones along the development path, and this culminating one is a big one!

Community Choice Aggregation

 

Community Choice Aggregation, or CCA, involves the community-led procurement or generation of solar power as part of its aggregated electricity supply. A CCA program enables a community, typically a city or county, to collectively purchase or generate solar energy on behalf of its residents and businesses. Some CCAs might establish community solar projects where residents or businesses can subscribe to receive a portion of the energy generated by a local solar installation. Note that it is different from Community Solar.

 

Community Solar

A solar power plant whose electricity is shared by multiple households or businesses, typically those who do not have the ability or space to install solar panels on their property. AC Power specializes in community solar projects, allowing people from low and moderate income communities to access clean energy and receive savings on their electric bills without needing to install solar panels on their own property.

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act

 

Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, also known as CERCLA or Superfund, is a federal law that governs the cleanup of contaminated sites, including Brownfields.

Concentrating solar power

Concentrating solar power, or CSP, is a solar technology that use mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto receivers that convert solar energy to heat. This thermal energy is then used to produce electricity with a steam turbine or heat engine driving a generator.

Coordinated Electric System Interconnection Review

 

Commercial solar projects over 50 kW will normally require a Coordinated Electric System Interconnection Review, or CESIR, and they may also require minor grid infrastructure upgrades.

Demand

Demand response refers to the process of using voluntary load reductions during peak hours. Demand response helps to balance the electricity grid by managing energy consumption in order to align it with supply. Time-of-use pricing, for example, can encourage consumers to use electricity during off-peak hours when solar production is high. By integrating demand response into the management of solar energy, utilities can enhance grid reliability, reduce the need for additional energy storage capacity, and promote the efficient use of renewable resources.​​

Distributed Energy Resources

Distributed Energy Resources, or DER, encompass a variety of small-scale, decentralized energy technologies, including solar panels, wind turbines, energy storage systems, and other renewable energy sources. DER systems are typically located close to the point of energy consumption and can be integrated into the grid to improve energy efficiency and grid resilience.

Distributed generation

Distributed generation, or DG, is the generation of electricity from solar facilities that are located close to the point of consumption. Unlike centralized power generation from large power plants, distributed generation involves smaller-scale solar installation. Community solar can be considered a form of distributed generation.

Electric Distribution Companies

 

Electric Distribution Companies, or EDCs, are the companies responsible for the distribution of electricity to homes and businesses within a specific geographic area​.

Endangered Species Act

 

The Endangered Species Act, or ESA, is a landmark piece of environmental legislation in the United States designed to protect and conserve endangered and threatened species and their habitats. It was enacted in 1973 to prevent the extinction of species and recover populations that are at risk of disappearing. Solar developers must comply with ESA regulations and conduct thorough assessments to determine whether their projects might adversely affect listed species or critical habitats.

Energy Service Companies

 

Energy Service Companies, or ESCOs, are a product of the deregulation of the 1990s. Most ESCOs purchase electricity on the open market for their customers, and that electricity is delivered by a consumer’s utility over its transmission lines. They base their energy sourcing on a variety of factors, including customer preferences, cost and location. Many ESCOs procure electricity from clean energy generators, thereby giving consumers the opportunity to support renewable energy. This bolsters demand for renewable energy sources, but there is no guarantee that the electricity that consumers sign up for is supplied by generators that are local to them. Some ESCOs participate in regional energy markets where the energy may come from a mix of local and distant generation sources. ​

 

Energy Storage

The capture of energy produced at one time for use at a later time, often using batteries. Energy storage systems can store solar power generated during the day for use at night or during peak demand times.

Engineering, Procurement and Construction

 

Engineering, Procurement and Construction firms, or EPCs, are involved in the planning, design, procurement of materials and equipment, construction, and often the commissioning of solar installations.

Environmental Assessment

 

An Environmental Assessment, or EA, is a systematic process used to evaluate the potential environmental impacts of a proposed project, policy, plan, or program. It's a crucial step in environmental decision-making, particularly for projects that might have significant effects on the environment.

Environmental Impact Report

 

An Environmental Impact Report, or EIR, is a comprehensive document that evaluates the potential environmental effects of a proposed project, including solar energy projects. It is typically prepared by the project proponent or developer proposing a project that falls under the purview of environmental review processes. While the project proponent is primarily responsible for preparing the EIR, the lead agency oversees the process to ensure compliance with environmental laws and guidelines, and ultimately, the agency is responsible for approving or denying the project based on the findings in the EIR.

Environmental Protection Agency

The US Environmental Protection Agency, or EPA, is the federal agency responsible for regulating and overseeing the cleanup and redevelopment of Brownfields. The EPA plays a significant role in overseeing brownfield sites in the United States. Oversite involves a combination of financial assistance, technical expertise, policy development, and collaboration to support the assessment, cleanup, and revitalization of contaminated properties, and ultimately promoting environmental stewardship and economic revitalization of communities.

 

Feed-in Tariff

A policy mechanism designed to accelerate investment in renewable energy technologies by offering long-term contracts to renewable energy producers, typically based on the cost of generation of each technology. Feed-in tariffs ensure fixed, predictable payments for the electricity produced by solar arrays, encouraging the development of renewable projects, including those by AC Power.

Fixed Tilt Array

A solar panel installation designed with a static angle and orientation, as opposed to a tracking system that adjusts to follow the sun’s path. Fixed tilt arrays are simpler and less expensive to install, making them suitable for AC Power’s solar projects on brownfields and landfills where maximizing land use efficiency is crucial.

Fossil Fuel

Natural resources, such as coal, oil, and natural gas, that have formed over millions of years from the remains of dead plants and animals. Burning fossil fuels for energy releases greenhouse gases, contributing to climate change. AC Power's solar projects offer a clean, sustainable alternative to fossil fuel-based energy production.

front-of-meter

 

Front-of-meter refers to large-scale solar energy projects that are grid-connected and are located on the utility or grid side of the electrical meter. These projects are usually built to generate electricity for the broader grid or to serve a specific utility's energy needs. In-front-of-the-meter solar projects can include utility-scale solar farms, solar power plants, or solar installations dedicated to supporting grid stability and reliability. They are often integrated with other forms of energy generation and can supply electricity to multiple consumers, including residential and commercial customers, through the utility grid.

 

Gigawatt

A gigawatt (GW) is a unit of power equal to 1 billion Watts; 1 million kilowatts, or 1,000 megawatts. See Kilowatt for more information.​

 

 

Grid

When folks in the solar industry talk about the “grid,” they are referring to the electrical grid, an integrated system of electricity distribution, usually covering a large area.

Grid-connected system

A grid-connected system, also known as a grid-tied or grid-interconnected solar system, is a solar electric or photovoltaic system in which the PV array acts like a central generating plant, supplying power to the grid. This refers to arrays of all sizes, from residential arrays to larger utility-scale facilities. When, in the case of residential solar, a territory allows for net metering, the electricity meter spins backward when excess electricity is fed into the grid. During times when the solar system is not generating enough electricity, the meter spins forward as electricity is drawn from the grid.

Ground or Grounding

A safety measure in electrical systems, including solar installations, that minimizes the risk of electric shock by providing a path for electrical current to flow safely to the ground in case of a fault. Grounding is a critical component of AC Power's solar project designs, ensuring safety and compliance with electrical codes.

Ground Mount Systems

Solar panel installations that are mounted on the ground rather than on rooftops, suitable for brownfields and landfills where AC Power often develops its projects. Ground mount systems allow for optimal positioning and orientation of solar panels to maximize energy production.

 

Highest and Best Use

In the context of solar development on brownfields, "highest and best use" refers to the most feasible use of a contaminated or underutilized property, considering its environmental constraints and remediation potential. For brownfields, which may not be suitable for residential, commercial, or agricultural uses due to contamination, the development of solar energy projects often represents the highest and best use of the land. Solar development on these sites transforms them into productive assets that generate clean energy, mitigate environmental hazards, and provide economic benefits without the need for further remediation.

 

Independent system operator

An independent system operator, or ISO, refers to the entity responsible for maintaining system balance, reliability, and electricity market operation. ISOs are typically independent entities, separate from electricity generators and distributors, to avoid conflicts of interest. promoting fair competition in electricity markets. The specific structure and functions of ISOs may vary based on regional regulations and energy market designs. A Regional Transmission Organization (RTO) is an entity that oversees the operation, planning, and coordination of the high-voltage transmission grid in a specific geographic region. RTOs are similar to Independent System Operators (ISOs) and often serve both roles. The primary functions of an RTO include managing the transmission infrastructure, ensuring grid reliability, and facilitating competitive electricity markets within their respective regions.

 

Inflation Reduction Act

 

The Inflation Reduction Act, or IRA, signed into law in August 2022 by President Joe Biden. is the largest climate investment in American history. The legislation covers a swath of programs, such as electrification of housing and infrastructure, investment in rural economic development, lowering drug costs, and of most interest to us; expanded investment into clean energy. (Read more about the benefits of the IRA)

Institutional Controls

 

Institutional Controls, or ICs, refer to the legal or administrative restrictions and requirements put in place to manage the use of a remediated site. These controls are like the rules of the game, making sure that the site stays safe and doesn't revert to its polluted past. Common examples include land use restrictions that require certain types of construction or prohibit specific activities that could disturb any remaining contaminants.

Interconnection

The interconnection, or IX, of a solar facility to the local electricity grid is determined by the utility and is based on the hosting capacity of the local substation, location of the project, the status of the circuit, and much more.

Interim Remedial Measure

 

Interim Remedial Measure, or IRM, is a temporary fix or action taken to address immediate threats posed by hazardous substances. This could be anything from putting up barriers to prevent the spread of contaminants to implementing measures that reduce exposure risks. It’s like first aid for a contaminated site while the long-term remediation plan is being worked out. It's all about buying time and protecting the environment until the actual cleanup occurs.

 

Inverter

An essential component of a solar energy system that converts the direct current electricity generated by solar panels into alternating current electricity, which is the standard form of power used by homes, businesses, and the electrical grid. Inverters enable the seamless integration of solar energy into the existing power infrastructure. 

Investment Tax Credit

 

The Investment Tax Credit, or ITC, is the federal tax incentive that provides a tax credit to individuals or businesses for investing in solar energy systems. It was enacted in 2006 and according to many, it is one of the most important federal policy mechanisms to support the growth of solar energy in the United States. The ITC reduces the cost of installing solar panels and encourages the adoption of solar power by offering a percentage-based tax credit on eligible solar energy investments. The ITC is at the core of the financial project modeling of many solar facilities.

Investor-Owned Utilities

 

Investor-Owned Utilities, or IOUs, are private, for-profit companies that own and operate electric, natural gas, or water utilities. These companies provide essential services such as generating, transmitting, and distributing electricity or gas to residential, commercial, and industrial customers. They coexist alongside other types of utilities, such as publicly owned utilities (operated by municipalities or local governments) and cooperatives (owned by their customers or members). Unlike municipal or cooperative utilities, IOUs are structured to generate profits for their shareholders. They aim to provide returns on investment to shareholders while providing reliable utility services. The interests of IOUs are often at odds with advocates of solar-friendly policies.

 

Junction box

The junction box is a component in a solar panel where the electrical connections are made. It houses the wiring and electrical connections to ensure the safe and secure transfer of electricity generated by the solar cells.

Kilowatt and megawatt Alternating/Direct Current

​​

Kilowatt Direct Current (kWdc) / Megawatt Direct Current (MWdc) / Kilowatt Alternating Current (kWac) / Megawatt Alternating Current (MWac) are variations of unit of measurements used to quantify the amount of electricity output of a solar photovoltaic system. They typically refer to the potential capacity of a solar power installation, often measured in megawatts of direct current electrical output. Solar panels generate direct current electricity, which is then converted to alternating current by inverters before it can be used in most electrical systems. MWdc is an important metric in the solar industry when assessing the size and potential energy production of solar power facilities. It helps in understanding the system's overall capacity to generate electricity from sunlight. MWdc represents the DC capacity of the solar installation, while the AC capacity may be slightly lower due to inverter losses.

Kilowatt Hour/Megawatt Hour

 

Kilowatt-hour (kWh) and Megawatt-hour (MWh) are units of measurement used to quantify the amount of electricity generated by a solar photovoltaic system over a specific period of time. Let’s get mathematical…. A kilowatt is a unit of power, representing 1,000 watts. It measures the rate at which electrical energy is generated or consumed. In the context of solar energy production, the time frame is usually an hour. So, a kilowatt-hour is a measure of the total energy produced by a solar PV system with a certain capacity over a specific period of one hour. It is a practical way to quantify the actual energy output of a solar installation and is commonly used for billing, tracking energy production, and understanding the energy generation capacity of solar panels. For example, if a 2 MW solar PV system generates electricity for 5 hours, it would produce 2 MW x 5 hours = 10 MWh of electricity during that period. The total MWh generated over time is an important metric for evaluating the performance and economic benefits of a solar installation.

 

Levelized Cost of Electricity

A Levelized Cost of Electricity, or LCOE, is a measure used to assess the average cost of electricity generation over the lifetime of a energy power system, taking into account all costs, including initial investment, maintenance, and operating expenses.

Low-and-moderate income communities

Communities with household incomes that fall below regional or national averages, often targeted for specific benefits and programs to ensure equitable access to solar energy. AC Power's community solar projects prioritize inclusion of LMI communities, offering them the opportunity to benefit from clean, affordable energy.

Membership Interest Purchase Agreement

 

A Membership Interest Purchase Agreement, or MIPA, is a document that outlines the terms and conditions under which one party purchases the membership interests or ownership stakes in a solar project or LLC from another party. It typically includes details such as the purchase price, representations and warranties, and other legal and financial aspects of the transaction.

 

Meter

A device that measures the amount of electricity a home or business uses or generates. In the context of AC Power's solar projects, meters track the production of solar energy and its consumption, enabling accurate billing and the allocation of bill credits for community solar participants.

 

 

Metropolitan Statistical Area

 

A Metropolitan Statistical Area, or MSA, is a geographical region with a high population density and economic connection to a central city. For a solar developer doing a site analysis, MSAs can provide information about energy demand, economic activity, and population trend. These are all critical factors when determining the feasibility of siting a solar facility.

 

Mounting System

The framework that supports and secures solar panels in place, either on the ground, rooftops, or other structures. AC Power's solar projects use durable mounting systems designed to withstand environmental conditions, optimizing the orientation and elevation of solar panels for maximum efficiency.

National Environmental Policy Act

 

The National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, or NEPA, is a critical piece of US legislation that mandates federal agencies to assess the environmental impacts of their proposed actions and projects before making decisions, and to involve the public in the decision-making process. It ensures that solar energy projects developed on federal lands or involving federal actions are carried out with careful consideration of their environmental consequences, promoting responsible and sustainable energy development.

National Priorities List

 

The National Priorities List, or NPL, is a list of hazardous waste sites in the United States that have been identified as priorities for cleanup under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA), also known as the Superfund program. Brownfield sites that pose significant environmental risks can be placed on the NPL for Superfund cleanup. The Superfund program was established in 1980 to address abandoned or uncontrolled hazardous waste sites posing risks to human health and the environment.

Net Energy Metering

 

Net Energy Metering, or NEM, is a billing arrangement that allows owners of solar photovoltaic systems to receive credit for the excess electricity they generate and feed back into the grid. The excess electricity is measured by a bi-directional meter, and the solar system owner is credited for this surplus energy, which can offset their electricity bills. In states and territories that have passed net metering laws, customers receive a bill credit for that surplus energy. Conversely, when the home's electricity use exceeds the solar system's output, like at night when the panels are not generating power, customers draw electricity from the grid. This occurs without any interruption to their electricity service. Customers are only billed for their "net" energy use. The amount of the bill credit is determined by the rate at which the utility values the energy produced by the system.

Notice to Proceed

 

The Notice to Proceed, or NTP, refers to the formal written notification authorizing work to begin construction on a solar project. It is a crucial step in the project development process, indicating that all necessary approvals, contracts, and preparations are in place, and the project can move forward.

Operable Unit

 

Operable Unit, or OU, in the context of environmental cleanup, particularly under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act, focuses on a particular area or aspect of the site that needs attention. It could be a specific source of contamination or a defined geographic area. The idea is to strategize and implement cleanup actions efficiently, one unit at a time.

Operation and Maintenance

 

Operation and Maintenance, or O&M, refers to the ongoing activities and services necessary to ensure the proper functioning, performance, and longevity of solar PV (photovoltaic) systems. Effective O&M practices help ensure that a solar PV system continues to produce electricity efficiently throughout its operational life, which often exceeds expectations. Solar O&M activities are essential for maximizing energy production, minimizing downtime, and protecting the financial investment in a solar installation. Some key aspects of solar O&M include regular inspections, cleaning, inverter maintenance, performance monitoring, repairs and replacements, vegetation management, record keeping, warranty management, security and regulatory compliance. Sheep grazing around solar panels can provide O&M services by helping to reduce the need to mow!

Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreements

 

Payment In Lieu Of Taxes agreements, or PILOTs, are often made between solar project developers and local governments and stipulate that the developer will make payments to the local government instead of paying traditional property taxes. They provide economic incentives for solar projects and can be a way to attract renewable energy investment to a region. PILOT agreements provide stable tax obligations for businesses or developers and exempt the solar project from fluctuating property tax rates for the term of the agreement. This provides certainty and allows for better financial planning. 

Permission to Operate

 

Permission to Operate or Permission to Turn On, or PTO, refers to the authorization or approval granted by relevant authorities, such as the local utility company or regulatory agencies, for a solar PV system to begin operating and feeding electricity into the grid. When a solar PV system is installed, it needs to go through a series of inspections, testing, and regulatory processes to ensure it complies with safety standards and grid integration requirements. Once the system has been thoroughly checked and meets all the necessary criteria, the owner or installer can request a Permission to Operate. The PTO is a crucial step because it allows the solar system to start generating electricity. 

 

Photovoltaic

Photovoltaic is commonly referred to as PV, and means the direct conversion of light (photons) into electricity (voltage) using semiconductor materials. The most common and well-known application of photovoltaics is in solar cells, which are used to generate electricity from sunlight. In a solar cell, also known as a photovoltaic cell, semiconductor materials (such as silicon) absorb photons from sunlight, causing the release of electrons and the generation of an electric current.

 

Pollinator Habitats

Areas designed to support the health and activity of pollinators, such as bees, butterflies, and birds, which are vital for the pollination of many crops and native plants. AC Power incorporates pollinator-friendly vegetation in solar projects where possible, enhancing biodiversity and ecological benefits around our solar installations.

Post Closure Use Modification Request

 

A Post Closure Use Modification Request, or PCUMR, typically refers to a request for changes or modifications to a site that has already undergone closure or is no longer in active use. This request often occurs in the context of environmental remediation or regulatory compliance, especially with respect to sites that were previously used for industrial, commercial, or potentially contaminated purposes, after which time there might still be regulations, permits, or environmental considerations to be addressed. If a solar developer wants to build a solar facility on a site, they may need to submit a request outlining their proposed changes, the reasons for the modifications, and the potential impact on the environment or surrounding community.

Power Purchase Agreements

 

Power Purchase Agreements, or PPAs, are long-term agreements between solar developers and buyers (like utilities) to purchase the electricity generated by a solar facility at a predetermined price. These agreements are fundamental to the financial feasibility of solar projects. The price of solar power purchase agreements (PPAs) in North America fell for the first time in three years during 2023's second quarter. (Link to our LinkedIn Post on this subject.)

Power Supply Agreement

 

A Power Supply Agreement, or PSA, is a contractual agreement between a solar power project developer or operator and a customer, often a business or utility. It defines the terms and conditions under which the solar project will supply electricity to the customer, including pricing, delivery, and other relevant terms.

 

Previously Disturbed Property

Land that has been altered by prior human activities, such as construction, mining, or industrial use, often leaving it unsuitable for traditional development. AC Power focuses on these properties for solar development, leveraging their potential to host renewable energy projects and bring them back to productive use.

Project Development

 

At AC Power, a site moves into active project development, or PD, after it has gone through our proprietary site selection process and site control has been obtained from the landowner.

 

Racking

A specific component of the mounting system that holds solar panels in the correct orientation and angle. Racking is engineered to meet the specific requirements of each site, ensuring that AC Power's solar arrays capture as much sunlight as possible.

Remedial Action

 

A Remedial Action, or RA, refers to the steps and activities taken to address and correct environmental contamination or hazards on a brownfield site and is a crucial phase in the overall process of cleaning up and redeveloping brownfields to make them safe and suitable for future use. A RA’s goal is to mitigate or eliminate environmental risks, restore the site to a condition suitable for its intended use, and facilitate the safe redevelopment of the property.

Remedial Action Objective

 

A Remedial Action Objective, or RAO, and is a specific and measurable goal or target established in the context of environmental remediation. It can help provide a clear and structured approach to the remediation process and the main purpose of setting an RAO includes defining cleanup goals, and making the cleanup process measurable, compliant and transparent.

Remedial Design

 

A Remedial Design, or RD, is a critical phase of the overall remediation process. Remedial Design follows the investigative phases, such as the Remedial Investigation (RI) or the combined Remedial Investigation/Feasibility Study (RI/FS), which are conducted to assess the contamination and evaluate potential remediation options. The purpose of the Remedial Design phase is to develop a detailed and comprehensive plan for implementing the selected remediation solution at the contaminated site.

Renewable Energy Certificate

 

A Renewable Energy Certificate, or REC, is a tradable instrument representing the environmental attributes or benefits associated with generating one megawatt-hour (MWh) of renewable energy. RECs are separate from the physical electricity and are used to track and verify the production and consumption of renewable energy. They are often purchased by individuals, businesses, or utilities to support renewable energy initiatives and meet sustainability goals. SRECs refer to Solar Renewable Energy Certificates.

Renewable Portfolio Standards

 

Renewable Portfolio Standards, or RPS, play a significant role in advancing the transition toward cleaner and more sustainable energy sources. These state standards are regulations or policies that require a certain percentage or amount of energy sold to come from renewable energy sources. These standards serve as a way to promote the use and development of renewable energy by setting goals for what percentage of the state’s electricity must be generated from renewable sources such as solar, wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and biomass, and often provide specific timelines for achieving these targets. They can also drive innovation and investment in renewable technologies.

Resource Conservation and Recovery Act

 

The Resource Conservation and Recovery Act, or RCRA, is a federal law that regulates the management and disposal of hazardous waste and plays a role in Brownfield cleanups.

Right-of-Way

 

Right-of-Way, or ROW, refers to the legal authorization or permission granted to a person, entity, or project developer to use a specific area of land for the installation, construction, and operation of solar energy infrastructure such as solar panels or solar farms. Obtaining Right-of-Way is a fundamental step in the development process for solar projects, ensuring legal access to land and providing a framework for collaboration between developers and landowners or governing entities. It establishes the foundation for responsible and lawful utilization of land for solar energy generation.

Site Management Plan

 

In the context of cleaning up contaminated sites, a Site Management Plan, or SMP, is a detailed document that outlines the strategies and procedures for managing and maintaining a remediated area, including ongoing monitoring to address potential risks after the cleanup. It might include things like regular inspections, maintenance activities, and any necessary contingency plans. The SMP ensures that the site remains safe and environmentally sound in the long run.

 

 

Solar Array

A group of interconnected solar panels that convert sunlight into electricity. AC Power designs and installs solar arrays on underutilized lands, transforming them into productive sources of renewable energy.

Solar-plus-storage

A solar energy system that includes an energy storage component, allowing the stored solar power to be used when sunlight is not available. See energy storage for more information.​

 

Time-of-use rates

 

Time-of-use rates, or TOU rates, reflect the value of solar energy based on when it is generated, as electricity prices can vary throughout the day. TOU is a rate option available to utility customers. Each utility has a set of peak hours such as ‘8am to midnight’ or ‘9am to 9pm’; times when many customers are using a lot of energy. If a customer selects the TOU option, kWh charges for using electricity are lower than the standard rate during off-peak hours and higher during peak hours. Utility customers should evaluate whether selecting the TOU option is beneficial for them.

Transitional Renewable Energy Certificate

 

Transitional Renewable Energy Certificates, or TRECs, stem back to New Jersey’s 2018 Clean Energy Act, which directed the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJBPU) to replace the existing Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) Program with one that better supported the development of renewable energy. This so-called Solar Transition, established the “TREC Program,” to provide a bridge between the Legacy SREC Registration Program and the Successor Program. 

 

Utility

A company that provides essential services such as electricity, water, or natural gas to the public. In the context of AC Power’s work, utilities are key partners in connecting solar projects to the electrical grid, ensuring that the clean energy produced can be distributed to consumers.

Value of Distributed Energy Resources

 

In the spring of 2017, New York State's Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the Value of Distributed Energy Resources, or VDER, to replace net metering policies, as a new way to compensate for excess solar production. VDER is a framework used to evaluate and assign value to distributed solar energy resources and other distributed energy resources (DERs) like wind, energy storage, and combined heat and power systems. It is primarily used to determine compensation for the energy generated by these resources and how they interact with the electrical grid. With NY’s traditional net metering, you receive volumetric credits as you're exporting extra electricity to the grid. If you send 10 kilowatt-hours (kWh) to the grid, you will have a credit amount of 10 kWh to use in the future. With VDER, you receive a monetary credit to roll over into future billing cycles. This rate you receive, known as the Value Stack Tariff, is variable and largely depends on when the electricity is being sent and where it is going. Five main factors go into calculating the Value Stack Tariff for a solar panel system: Locational-based marginal pricing (LBMP); Capacity (ICAP); Environmental value (E); Demand reduction value (DRV) and Locational adders (LSRV).

Virtual Net Metering

 

Virtual Net Metering, or VNM, is a billing arrangement that allows the credits generated by a solar power system to be allocated to multiple meters or accounts within the same property or community. In order for this to be possible, the solar system is interconnected to the utility grid and the energy produced is transferred onto that grid so that it can be used at a location remote from the site at which it is generated. When a state has VNM policies in place, community solar is possible! It’s the ‘virtual’ part of Virtual Net Metering that allows for the transfer of the power generated by a solar system (in the form of bill credits) to community solar subscribers. A growing number are developing VNM rules that will pave a way forward for community solar options.

 

Watt

The basic unit of power in the International System of Units, measuring the rate of energy transfer. In solar energy, watts denote the capacity of solar panels or systems to produce energy. AC Power's projects are often described in terms of megawatts (MW), with each MW representing one million watts of potential energy production capacity.

Zenith angle

In the context of solar energy, and solar position and sun tracking, the zenith angle refers to the angle between the direction of the sun and the zenith, or the point directly overhead. Knowledge of the zenith angle is crucial for solar tracking systems, which adjust the orientation of solar panels to maximize exposure to sunlight. Solar panels generate the most electricity when the sun's rays strike them at a perpendicular angle (zenith angle close to 0 degrees).

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