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Renewable Energy Basics
Types of renewable energy

  • Biomass. Byproducts are converted into biogas through the natural process of anaerobic digestion. The gas is then burned to create electricity. Byproducts, like wood waste, may also be burned directly to generate steam to produce electricity. Biomass generation emissions are significantly lower than fossil fuel-generated forms of energy. Washington State production incentives are available for anaerobic digesters.
  • Geothermal. Geothermal technology produces electricity using the earth's heat. There are two types of geothermal, steam and binary. Steam uses very hot water resources while binary utilizes lower temperature resources with a heat exchanger. No Washington or Idaho State production incentives are currently available for geothermal generation.
  • Hydroelectric. Hydropower is clean, efficient, and reliable. Water is used to drive turbines and a generator to create electricity. Department of Ecology permitting is required for residential use. No Washington or Idaho State production incentives are currently available for hydro electric generation.
  • Solar. Energy from the sun is captured and converted to electricity with photovoltaic cells. You can also install solar hot water systems which use solar energy to heat water for your home or your business. Using the sun as an energy source does not produce carbon dioxide emissions. Solar generation remains the most common form of renewable energy at the customer level of renewable energy. Washington State production incentives are available for solar generation but not for solar hot water systems.
  • Wind. Wind power is the world's fastest growing renewable energy resource. Wind spins the turbine blades to generate emission-free electricity. Wind generators can vary from utility scale down to residential sized. Washington State production incentives are available for wind generation.
Terminology

  • AC-DC power: AC power is alternating current as supplied by the utility and used in your house. DC power is direct current like you would get from a battery. Photovoltaics produce DC power which needs to be sent through an inverter to convert it to AC power.

  • Distributed generation: Generation produced at a residential or commercial business location that is added to the utility grid.

  • Grid connected: An electrical connection to the utility company that enables power to flow to and from your house. It allows you to both produce your own power when possible and use the utility power as needed.

  • Hydro generation: A system that uses the flow of water to generate electricity.

  • Interconnection: The physical connection of electric power facilities allowing for the sale or exchange of electricity.

  • Inverter: A device that converts DC power to AC power. A UL-listed inverter is required for all solar and other specific grid connected generation installations.

  • kW/kWh: kW or kilowatt is a measure of electrical power. kWh or kilowatt-hour is a measure of energy (power over time). One kilowatt hour is one kilowatt of energy used over one hour. Your bill reflects energy used each month in kWh.

  • Lockable disconnect: A switching device used to separate a customer's generation from the utility's distribution system for safety purposes. This can be utilized for maintenance (customer and utility) and during outages to ensure the safety of line workers and the public.

  • Net meter: A device that measures the total energy interchange between Avista and a customer with generation resources. The meter sums the total energy delivered by Avista and subtracts the energy the customer has generated. The meter can spin either forward or backwards depending on the power used or produced.

  • Off grid: Not connected to the local utility.

  • One-line diagram: A basic drawing of an electric circuit showing component locations and connections. This diagram is needed for interconnection applications to verify compatibility and compliance with Avista's standards.

  • Production incentive: Money given by a state or federal entity to encourage renewable energy production.

  • Production meter: A separate meter required to show only how much energy a distributed generation resource has produced. The production meter provides a record of energy generated at the premise and is used to calculate applicable state incentives.

  • Renewable energy: Energy produced using a naturally occurring resource that is virtually inexhaustible such as wind, solar, or hydro.

  • Solar photovoltaic: A method of generating electrical power by converting solar radiation into DC electricity.

  • Solar water heater: A system in which the sun's energy is gathered by a solar collector and used to increase the temperature of a fluid such as water.

  • Wind turbines: A bladed device to capture energy from the wind and convert it to electric power.

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