Renewable Energy Update -- May 2014

Renewable Energy Focus

California’s net zero energy building to reshape U.S. construction industry

Alternative Energy News - Apr 15

California’s recent revisions to Title 24 put in place ambitious performance goals: all residential buildings must be Zero Net Energy (ZNE) by 2020, and all commercial buildings must follow suit by 2030. The code also applies to retrofit projects that pass certain thresholds. (A ZNE building produces as much energy on-site as it consumes on an annual basis.) These changes promise to reshape the construction industry in significant ways — and not just in California, by driving the adoption of building energy codes; speeding the development of building monitoring and management technologies; accelerating on-site energy storage; reducing the cost of high performance building; and creating competition for architects around performance.

U.S. Energy Department offering $4 billion for renewable energy loans

Reuters - Apr 16

The U.S. Energy Department on Wednesday unveiled a plan for up to $4 billion in loan aid for renewable energy companies to help rejuvenate a program that faced harsh political attacks over past failures of federally subsidized projects. The Obama administration's draft plan would provide loan guarantees for innovative projects that limit or avoid greenhouse gas emissions. It will specifically focus on advanced electric grid technology and storage, biofuels for conventional vehicles, energy from waste products, and energy efficiency.

Conservative heavyweights have solar industry in their sights

Los Angeles Times - Apr 19

Solar power, once almost universally regarded as a virtuous, if perhaps over-hyped, energy alternative, has now grown big enough to have enemies. The Koch brothers, anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, and some of the nation's largest power companies have backed efforts in recent months to roll back state policies that favor green energy. The conservative luminaries have pushed campaigns in Kansas, North Carolina, and Arizona, with the battle rapidly spreading to other states. At the nub of the dispute are two policies found in dozens of states. One requires utilities to get a certain share of power from renewable sources. The other, known as net metering, guarantees homeowners or businesses with solar panels on their roofs the right to sell any excess electricity back into the power grid at attractive rates. Net metering forms the linchpin of the solar-energy business model. Without it, firms say, solar power would be prohibitively expensive. The American Legislative Exchange Council, or ALEC, a membership group for conservative state lawmakers, recently drafted model legislation that targeted net metering. The group also helped launch efforts by conservative lawmakers in more than half a dozen states to repeal green energy mandates. The arguments over who benefits from net metering, meanwhile, are hotly disputed. Some studies, including one published recently by regulators in Vermont, conclude that solar customers bring enough benefits to a regional power supply to fully defray the cost of the incentive. Utilities deny that and are spending large sums to greatly scale back the policy.

State legislature hearing: why isn't California using more geothermal?

Renewable Energy World - Apr 11

Geothermal potential was the subject of a joint committee hearing in California on April 3 led by State Senator Ben Hueso, D-40th Senate District, and Assemblyman V. Manuel Pérez, D-46th Assembly District. As the hearing began, Senator Hueso, who is Chair of the Senate Select Committee on California’s Energy Independents, and Assemblyman Pérez, Chair of the Assembly Select Committee on the Renewable Energy Economy in rural California, each expressed their interest in understanding why the state is not using more of its untapped geothermal resources. Of particular interest for California lawmakers, industry, and consumers alike are the areas near the Salton Sea familiar to the geothermal industry for their immense potential for power development.

Sonoma Clean Power opposes 'opt-in' bill

The Press Democrat - Apr 16

Officials with Sonoma County's startup public power provider said that legislation recently introduced in Sacramento poses a major threat to the agency and others like it seeking to launch across the state. The bill would fundamentally change how community-based power providers enroll new customers. Critics of the bill say it could halt those power ventures from getting off ground, stalling local efforts to boost renewable energy use and cut greenhouse gases. Supporters, however, say the change would provide a truer consumer choice between the emergent government-backed electricity suppliers and the utilities that now serve most households and businesses in California. The change would not kill Sonoma Clean Power, but would make it significantly more difficult and costly to attract customers, agency officials said. The venture is launching electricity service to its first group of homes and businesses May 1.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

SunPower solar power systems planned for five Pajaro Valley Unified School District campuses

MarketWatch - Apr 22

Today at Hall District Elementary School in Watsonville, California, Pajaro Valley Unified School District (PVUSD) and SunPower Corp. celebrated the planned installation of 1.2-megawatts of high efficiency SunPower solar power systems at five district schools. PVUSD estimates that, based on its current utility rates, the solar power generated by the systems will curtail approximately $380,000 of annual electricity costs.

Ikea is betting big on wind energy in the U.S.

MarketWatch - Apr 15

The Swedish furniture and home-furnishings retailer Ikea said last week during a congressional task-force hearing on climate change that it’s making its first wind-energy investment in the U.S. through the purchase of a 98-megawatt wind farm in Hoopeston, Illinois, about 110 miles south of Chicago. The Illinois wind farm, slated to include 49 wind turbines and be wholly owned by Ikea, is expected to be fully operational by the first half of 2015. Ikea plans to delegate management to wind and solar developer Apex Clean Energy. The retailer, which earlier this year characterized itself as the No. 2 private commercial owner/user of solar power in the U.S. (Wal-Mart, meanwhile, is said to be the No. 1 solar-power buyer), has committed itself to becoming energy-neutral by 2020, and the Illinois wind farm is the biggest energy project it has announced so far.

Southern Power, Turner Renewable acquire second California solar plant

Energy Business Review - Apr 22

Southern Company subsidiary Southern Power, in partnership with Turner Renewable Energy, has acquired a 20-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in Kern County. The Adobe Solar Facility represents the partnership's sixth solar project and is anticipated to start commercial operation in May 2014. The partnership's first solar facility in California is the 139-megawatt Campo Verde solar facility, which started operations in October 2013.

Soitec dropped from 150-megawatt PV power plant project in California

PV Tech News - Apr 15

Tenaska Solar Ventures has opted to use only conventional PV modules at its planned 150-megawatt PV power plant in Imperial Valley, California canceling plans to use Soitec’s concentrated PV (CPV) technology for part of the original project. Soitec said that it was disappointed at the decision but it would not affect its manufacturing operations in California as it supports Soitec’s global CPV project business. The Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West project, owned by Tenaska subsidiary CSOLAR IV West, is expected to begin construction in 2014, with commercial operation expected in 2016, and it has a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric.



DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

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