Renewable Energy Focus

Insights into renewables and the grid from Congress

GreenTech Policy News - May 13

A House of Representatives subcommittee hearing produced insights into how safe renewables are for the U.S. electrical grid. The House Subcommittee on Energy and Power invited testimony on "Grid Reliability Challenges in a Shifting Energy Resource Landscape.” Both parties realize that the U.S. grid’s electricity generation sources are shifting. The parties also discussed how cheap natural gas comes with costs.

California PUC eyes auction for renewables allocations

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - May 13

The California Public Utilities Commission has ordered the state's three biggest investor-owned utilities to reserve one-third of their remaining unsubscribed renewable capacity allocations for an auction in June 2014, instead of auctioning them all in another auction scheduled to close next month. The utilities had been ordered by the PUC in December 2010 to procure 1,299 megawatts in all through a two-year, four-auction process. However, the PUC decided to hold a new auction to better align the procurement schedule with the utilities' needs under the state renewable portfolio standard.

Energy Dept. to update 2008 wind power road map

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - May 15

The Department of Energy is planning to re-examine the conclusions of its 2008 study on how to achieve a 20% wind power share of the U.S. energy mix by 2030. The updated report, a draft of which the department aims to complete within "one calendar year," will include a road map for addressing the issues hindering growth, said Jose Zayas, director of the department's wind and water power technologies office. The 2008 report looked at what was feasible with policy certainty and "provided a road map for what needed to be done," said American Wind Energy Association interim CEO Rob Gramlich, noting that the nation's total wind power capacity was just 10 gigawatts at the time.

Prince Harry 'worries about visual impact' of windfarms

The Huffington Post UK News - May 11

Prince Harry has voiced concerns about the visual impact of windfarms during his tour of America. Harry's comments will be seized upon by critics of wind farms who have labeled them a blot on the landscape. Prince Harry apparently shares his father and grandfather's concerns over windfarms The Prince's grandfather the Duke of Edinburgh reportedly raised other concerns about the renewable energy source in 2011, labeling them totally reliant on subsidies.

Companies won't face charges in condor deaths

LA Times - Science News - May 10

Federal wildlife officials took the unprecedented step Friday of telling private companies that they will not be prosecuted for inadvertently harassing or even killing endangered California condors. In a decision swiftly condemned by conservationists and wildlife advocates, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said operators of Terra-Gen Power's wind farm in the Tehachapi Mountains will not be prosecuted if their turbines accidentally kill a condor during the expected 30-year life span of the project.

Turbine blade plummets in Ocotillo

Imperial Valley Press Online - Local News - May 16

A massive blade from one of the 112 wind turbines recently installed in Ocotillo was found near a tower base Thursday, after plummeting onto the ground overnight, triggering safety concerns among officials and some residents. No injuries were reported in the malfunction that comes less than a month after Pattern Energy, the developer of Ocotillo Wind Express project, announced it completed construction activities. Since January and up until Thursday, Ocotillo Wind Express had been partly operating and sending wind energy to San Diego even while construction activities were ongoing. But the project is now shut down out of caution, said Matt Dallas, Pattern Energy spokesman, who via email noted turbines “will not return to operation until they have been evaluated and are deemed safe.”

Wind power's strong grid potential in the mid-Atlantic

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - May 16

Adding more wind power to the grid in the PJM region—Mid-Atlantic power pool consisting of 13 states and Washington, DC—can lower gas and coal consumption and reduce regional wholesale energy market prices, saving nearly $7 billion per year by the mid-2020s, according to a new study conducted by Synapse Energy Economics on behalf of Americans for a Clean Energy Grid (ACEG). The report found that doubling the wind generation already planned in the region would lower fuel costs and drive down prices by $1.74 per megawatt hour (MWh) in the largest wholesale competitive energy market in the world.

Acting DOE chief: U.S. not backing down on Indian solar practices

The Hill - E2-Wire - May 14

Acting Energy Department (DOE) Secretary Daniel Poneman said the Obama administration is not backing down from requests that India eschew solar policies that it says might violate international trade rules. At issue are Indian requirements that solar energy firms buy all inputs from domestic producers. The subcontinent says that will help grow its solar industry, but the U.S. contends local-content requirements are outlawed by the World Trade Organization (WTO).

Solar power costs closing in on wind

Financial Post - Business News - May 16

Solar panels were cheaper than wind turbines for the first time last year in certain markets, per unit of capacity, and they are rapidly closing a remaining gap in the full cost of power generation. Until now, wind power has been the leading low-carbon alternative to oil, coal, and gas, outside large niche markets such as Germany, which has seen a huge ramp-up in installed solar. But that could change, with deep implications for the health of both industries if one substitutes the other. As soon as this year, solar could for the first time surpass wind in annual global installed capacity, given an expected contraction in the wind market.

Midwestern leaders are embracing solar, growing the industry

Solar Energy - Clean Energy Authority - May 14

Solar isn’t just a growing industry in California anymore. While it seems like so many of the country’s headlines come from the coasts, especially when it comes to solar and other types of renewable energy, the Midwest isn’t going to be left behind for long. The Indianapolis International Airport announced at the end of April that it planned to double down and install a second 10-megawatt solar array. The Minnesota legislature just approved a renewable energy portfolio standard with a carve-out for solar. And the City of Columbus, Ohio is currently installing the largest rooftop solar array in the area.

L.A. utility to seek bids for 250 megawatts of solar power

Bloomberg - New Energy Finance - May 13

Los Angeles’s power utility, which serves about 1.5 million customers, will seek bids from developers for 250 megawatts of solar power to comply with a California requirement to get 25 percent of its energy from renewable sources by the end of 2016. The Los Angeles Department of Water & Power plans to issue a request for proposals in June, Anh Wood, who manages three of the utility’s solar development programs, said today by telephone. The four biggest planned installations, totaling 200 megawatts of capacity, will be built on parcels at the utility’s Beacon project in Kern County, California, purchased in December for $31.5 million.

Solar mandate embraced by second California city

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - May 10

Forget about your complicated tax credits, your net metering, and feed-in tariff schemes. Let’s go solar the straight-forward way: mandate it! Lancaster, California, in Los Angeles County did so earlier this year, and the move had the feel of a one-off, the unique inspiration of a Republican mayor with an admirable love for renewable energy and a hankering for attention. But now the town of Sebastopol, in the apple and grape-growing rolling hills of Western Sonoma County, is following suit with a much more aggressive ordinance, suggesting that solar-by-fiat might be more viable as policy than we thought.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

SolarCity and Goldman Sachs create largest U.S. rooftop solar lease financing platform

eSolar Energy News - May 16

SolarCity, a leading provider of clean energy, today announced a lease financing agreement with Goldman Sachs to fund more than $500 million in solar power projects; an estimated 110 megawatts in generation capacity for homeowners and businesses. The financing makes it possible for homeowners, businesses, government, and other non-profit organizations to install solar panels with no upfront cost and pay less for clean, solar electricity than they currently pay for utility bills.

Cape and Islands solar venture gets $120M boost

Cape Cod Times News - May 14

A Boston-based company has secured financing for $120 million in solar energy projects that it plans to build on Cape Cod and Martha's Vineyard. Broadway Electrical Co. Inc. announced Monday that its financial partner — Rockland Capital of Texas and New York — has closed on debt for 37 megawatts of solar energy, including 24 megawatts for the Cape and Vineyard Electric Cooperative.

Chicago firm installing Hawaii's largest solar rooftop system

Biz Journal - Energy & Environment News - May 14

Ala Moana Center, in Honolulu, will soon become home to Hawaii’s largest solar photovoltaic rooftop system with a $3 million, 1.17-megawatt project, according to permit data from the City and County of Honolulu. Maui’s RKR Enterprises Inc., which is doing business as Electric Solutions Co., is listed as a contractor for the General Growth Properties (NYSE: GGP) project. Chicago-based GGP owns and operates the state’s largest shopping mall.

Duke Energy venture completes first New England solar project

Biz Journal - Energy & Environment News - May 28

Duke Energy Renewables’ joint venture with Integrys Energy Services has completed construction of two megawatts worth of solar projects in the town of Sterling, Massachusetts. The two ground-mounted projects are using 9,968 solar panels manufactured by Canadian Solar Inc. The joint venture, called INDU Solar Holdings, started in 2010 with the construction of 1.5 megawatts worth of solar projects scattered among six Pennsylvania schools. The partnership, which focuses on small rooftop and ground-mounted projects, has also built solar projects in New Jersey, California, and Arizona.

Siemens to build wind farm for NNSA

Executive Biz Blog - May 15

Siemens Government Technologies has won a 20-year contract from the National Nuclear Security Administration to build a wind farm for supplying electricity to almost 3,500 households in Texas. According to the company, the plant will deliver $2.9 million in annual cost savings over the energy savings performance contract’s full life span.

Ridegefield energy consulting firm earns $150K federal grant

Vancouver Columbian Business News - May 10

Rappaport Energy Consulting of Ridgefield will receive a $149,900 grant from the U.S. Department of Energy to develop a geothermal-solar thermal pilot plant on the Oregon Institute of Technology campus in Klamath Falls, Oregon, Acting Secretary of Energy Daniel Poneman announced Thursday.