Renewable Energy Focus

Providing a level playing field for renewables

PV-Magazine - Apr 26

U.S. Senators have decided to level the playing field for renewable energy sources by providing investors in renewable energy projects access to private capital that has, for decades, only been available to fossil-fuel project investors. Numerous solar companies support this move. The Master Limited Partnerships (MLP) Parity Act now seeks to give renewable energy projects access to tax advantages traditionally enjoyed by fossil fuels according to U.S. senators Chris Coons, Jerry Moran, Debbie Stabenow, and Lisa Murkowski. The MLP Parity Act will expand the definition to include clean energy resources and infrastructure projects. The "depleteable sources" were originally not included with the intention to prevent companies of all kinds from reformulating themselves as MLPs to avoid corporate taxes, as Forbes states.

BLM issues regulation to facilitate solar right-of-way applications

PV-Magazine - May 7

The U.S. Bureau of Land management (BLM) has issued a regulation, which will provide solar and wind energy project developers with the possibility of right-of-way applications to temporarily give them the right to use public land. The aim is to prevent conflicts related with the appropriation of land for other purposes, like mining.

Verizon plans to put $100 million into solar power

PE Hub News - Apr 30

Verizon said that it plans to invest $100 million in solar power and fuel cells at 19 facilities in seven U.S. states to cut its carbon footprint and make its operations more resilient to storms and other disasters. The energy project should be complete by next year, with installations at corporate offices, call centers, data centers, and central offices of the telecommunications giant in Arizona, California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina. The fuel cells will be powered by natural gas, which emits less climate-warming carbon dioxide than diesel or petroleum when burned, said James Gowen, chief sustainability officer for Verizon.

U.S. House plans hearings on federal ethanol mandate this year

321 Energy - Industry News - Apr 26

A U.S. House committee plans hearings this summer on the federal government’s Renewable Fuels Standard, the 2007 law that mandates ethanol use. Lawmakers including Representative Fred Upton, the Michigan Republican who chairs the Energy and Commerce Committee, and Henry Waxman of California, the panel’s ranking Democrat, are issuing white papers reviewing the law to determine its effectiveness, Karen Lightfoot, a spokeswoman for Waxman, said in a telephone interview. Ethanol advocates and petroleum interests are debating whether the U.S. should keep the law and whether it has worked as intended. The RFS calls for the nation to use 13.8 billion gallons of ethanol this year and 14.4 billion in 2014.

Gorge wind-farm proposal headed for high court

Seattle Times Home - May 2

More than a year after its approval, a proposed wind farm in the Columbia River Gorge remains in legal limbo. Now the controversial plan is headed for a date with the Washington Supreme Court. The Whistling Ridge Energy Project received a green light last year from then-Governor Chris Gregoire. But the decision also scaled back the original proposal, reducing the number of wind turbines from 50 to 35 in order to protect views in the federally protected Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

Officials study valley fever outbreak at solar power projects

LA Times - Local News - Apr 30

The respiratory illness, caused by breathing fungal spores when desert soil is disturbed, has struck 28 workers at solar facilities being built in San Louis Obispo County. Epidemiologists are investigating an outbreak of valley fever that has sickened 28 workers at two large solar power construction sites in San Luis Obispo County.

North Carolina Senate panel revives plan to repeal renewables standard

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - May 2

A North Carolina Senate committee has revived an effort to repeal the state's renewable portfolio standard one week after a similar measure was voted down by a House committee. State Sen. Josh Stein warned that dismantling the standard would drive away investors. "Why we would try to destroy one of the few sectors that have actually grown over the last recession is beyond me," Stein said.

EPA recognizes major Massachusetts companies for environmentally friendly work

Biz Journal - Northeast News - Apr 26

Three large Massachusetts companies — Ahold USA of Quincy, Staples of Framingham, and State Street of Boston — ranked in the top 50 on the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's purchasers of Green Power list. Ahold USA, the parent of the Stop & Shop chain, currently uses over 149 million kilowatt hours per year of green power, through the purchase of renewable energy credits and use of on-site solar generation. Staples Inc., the office supply chain, hosts more than 30 on-site roof-top solar installations producing approximately 1.8 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity every year. State Street, a financial services company, is meeting approximately 97 percent of its electricity demand from renewable resources.

House kills geothermal bill favored by Hawaii Senate

Honolulu Civil Beat - Apr 26

In a case of Hawaii House-Senate brinksmanship that went right down to the wire Friday evening, a controversial bill easing geothermal permitting was killed. House Bill 252 was pushed by Sen. Malama Solomon, who argues that geothermal energy is the future of Hawaii in terms of bringing down energy costs. The problem was that the bill was a so-called Frankenstein measure, containing the language of two separate measures. The bill originally dealt only with the Native Hawaiian roll commission. Angry with the Senate's insertion of the geothermal language into HB 252, House conferees led by Rep. Chris Lee deferred the measure indefinitely, meaning the measure is almost certainly not coming back this session.

Colorado Legislature approves SB 252

AWEA Wind Energy News - May 3

The Colorado General Assembly has approved a bill to expand and improve the state's Renewable Energy Standard (RES) statute to drive clean energy investment, jobs, and project development in rural Colorado. The bill now goes to Governor John Hickenlooper's desk for consideration. SB 252, cosponsored by Senate President John Morse and House Speaker Mark Ferrandino, protects energy consumers while increasing the RES to 20% by 2020 for the state's largest cooperative electric associations. While the low cost and stable rates of Colorado renewable energy are expected to save consumers money over time, the consumer protection provision limits any near-term rate impacts to a maximum of 2% per year with no cap on rate decreases. The bill also would expand opportunities for distributed generation and eliminates unnecessary "extra-credit" preferences for new electricity generation built in Colorado.

Texas lawmakers advance refunds for solar energy

Yahoo! News - Energy - May 2

Utility companies would have to compensate customers who generate surplus power under a proposal advancing in the Texas Legislature. In a unanimous vote on Thursday, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee approved SB 1239. It still must pass the full Senate and the House. Excess power generated by businesses and homeowners who install rooftop solar panels flows back to the grid. Under current law, customers can negotiate with their power companies for compensation. The bill would require utilities to pay customers market rate prices for the surplus electricity. El Paso Democratic Sen. Jose Rodriguez said his proposal would help Texans invest in renewable energy at a time when supplies are expected to be constrained. Federal statistics show Texas ranks eleventh in solar power generation despite ample space and sunshine.

Alabama House bill would give county free rein on wind projects

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - Apr 26

A bill in the Alabama House of Representatives would grant the Baldwin County Commission the power to set rules on wind projects in the county. In February, the commission had imposed a six-month freeze on wind projects with capacities in excess of five kilowatts after learning about APEX Wind Energy's proposal to build a wind farm in the county. APEX understands what the county is trying to do with the legislation and supports it, said a development manager for the company.

Hawaiian Electric Co. reaches record 13.9% from renewable energy

Biz Journal - Agriculture News - Apr 29

Hawaiian Electric Co. and its subsidiaries said Monday that the companies have achieved a record 13.9 percent of energy needs from renewable generation in 2012, which is well on the way to passing the next clean energy goal of 15 percent in 2015. Hawaiian Electric Co., Maui Electric Co., and Hawaii Electric Light Co., said jointly that added rooftop and utility-scale solar photovoltaic facilities on all Islands, more wind energy on Oahu and Maui, and increased geothermal energy production on the Big Island, all contributed to this progress.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Broadwind Energy wins $34 million tower order

Electric Energy Online - Renewable Energy - Apr 29

Broadwind Energy, Inc. announced a $34 million order for towers from a U.S. wind turbine manufacturer. Broadwind will produce these towers in its Abilene, Texas facility with delivery scheduled to begin in fourth-quarter 2013 and extend into 2014.

Ormat secures a 20-year PPA for 16 MW Wild Rose project in Nevada

Think Geo Energy News - Apr 29

Ormat Technologies, Inc. announced that its Nevada wholly owned subsidiary entered into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) to deliver electricity from its Wild Rose geothermal power plant in Mineral County, Nevada. When Wild Rose comes online at the end of 2013, it will mark the first time renewable energy will be delivered from Nevada to California using NV Energy’s One Nevada Transmission Line. With an estimated average generation capacity of 16 MW (net), this project together with the other two projects currently under construction – one in the Imperial Valley, California and another in Kenya – are expected to bring the company’s total generating capacity to approximately 637 MW by the end of 2013.

MidAmerican Solar, SunPower begin constructing world's largest solar project

New Energy World Network - Apr 29

MidAmerican Solar and SunPower have begun construction on the 579MW Antelope Valley solar projects. Located in Kern and Los Angeles, California, the projects will make up the world’s largest solar power development under construction and provide enough energy to power approximately 400,000 average Californian homes.

GEA Geothermal Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis

Think Geo Energy News - Apr 26

Yesterday, the Geothermal Energy Association (GEA) released an Air Emissions Comparison and Externality Analysis. The report shows that geothermal energy provides significant benefits to public health and the environment as one of the least-polluting and most environmentally friendly forms of energy. The analysis found binary geothermal plants produce virtually no greenhouse gases (GHG) and dry steam and flash geothermal plants put out only trace amounts of emissions. It estimates the public benefits from clean energy produced in California and Nevada are worth more than $117 million annually.

The unique story of geothermal heating at the Peppermill Casino and Hotel

Think Geo Energy News - Apr 26

The Peppermill Casino & Hotel, the hotel having hosted the GRC Annual Meeting and GEA Trade Show for several years, is a role model for geothermal utilization. Located in Reno, Nevada, the hotel not only derives parts of its electricity from geothermal plants in the neighborhood of the city, but also generates its how heating from a geothermal well on the property. In 2009 it even briefly generated power from the geothermal well with a low-heat power generation unit by Pratt & Whitney.