Renewable Energy Update - April 2017 #4

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Union of Concerned Scientists tracks renewables by state

Power Markets Today - Apr 21 The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) released a report yesterday called "Clean Energy Momentum" that ranked state progress on growing renewable energy. The report ranked states on 12 metrics and put California in first place followed by Vermont and Massachusetts. The top 10 was rounded out by Rhode Island, Hawaii, Oregon, Maine, Washington, New York, and Iowa. California's top spot reflected it being in the top 10 of eight of the metrics, UCS said. It is in first place for EV adoption and in the top five on six other metrics: Residential solar capacity per household, energy savings, clean energy jobs, renewable electricity standard targets, ease of corporate renewable energy procurement, and carbon reduction targets, it added.

California drought increased electricity bills and air pollution

East Bay Times - Apr 26 California’s brutal five-year drought did more than lead to water shortages and dead lawns. It increased electricity bills statewide by $2.45 billion and boosted levels of smog and greenhouse gases, according to a new study released Wednesday. Why? A big drop-off in hydroelectric power. With little rain or snow between 2012 and 2016, cheap, clean power from dozens of large dams around California was scarce, and cities and utilities had to use more electricity from natural-gas-fired power plants, which is more expensive and results in greater air emissions. From 1983 to 2013, an average of 18 percent of California’s in-state electricity generation came from hydroelectric power. But during the drought, from 2012 to 2016, that fell nearly in half, to 10.5 percent. In the driest year, 2015, hydroelectric power made up just 7 percent of the electricity generated in California.

Taxes no longer certain – and that's affecting solar deals

Bloomberg - Apr 24 Even without any specific tax-reform proposals, President Donald Trump’s pledge to revamp U.S. policies is already affecting the solar industry, and not in a good way. “It’s causing disruptive effects on finance,” Abigail Ross Hopper, president and chief executive officer of the Solar Energy Industries Association, said. “Costs are going up.” After Trump’s victory in November, clean-energy proponents worried that the prospect of tax reform would slow wind and solar finance. Investors, they said, might opt to wait out the uncertainty. Instead, activity may be accelerating -- at least in solar, as developers and investors rush to get deals done before the corporate rate falls. Part of the reason for the rush: lower corporate tax rates may deplete the supply of tax equity, a frequent source of financing for wind and solar farms. In such deals, clean-energy developers sell a portion of their projects’ tax credits to companies -- often banks and insurance companies -- that can apply the federal credits to their own tax bills. If tax rates fall, investors may find the credits less valuable.

California energy-storage bill passes committee

PV Magazine - Apr 26 California has shown the country how to adopt solar properly. Now, if a new bill currently before the legislature passes, it could pioneer the development of effective energy-storage programs, too. Senate Bill (SB) 700, which was approved by the state’s Senate Energy, Utilities, and Communications Committee last week, would require the California Public Utilities Commission to establish an Energy Storage Initiative to pair with its support of distributed solar generation – effectively creating an incentive program to encourage solar customers to add storage to their systems. The bill now goes to the Senate for passage.

SCE named top solar utility in the U.S. for second year in a row

SolarServer - Apr 27 Southern California Edison (SCE) delivered more solar power to its customers in 2016 than any other utility in the U.S., according to rankings compiled by the Smart Electric Power Alliance (SEPA). SCE connected 1,648 megawatts of solar power generation capacity to the grid last year through new and expanded residential and commercial solar installations as well as through utility power-purchase agreements.

Nevada Senate clears trio of energy bills on storage, efficiency, and utility planning

Utility Dive - Apr 26 Nevada state senators have passed three clean energy bills aiming to support advanced technologies, including Senate Bill 150 which would require meeting 1.5% of sales with energy efficiency from 2021-2025. Senate Bill 204 would direct state regulators to consider requiring utilities to purchase energy storage by Oct. 1, 2018. Senate Bill 65, drafted by the governor's energy office, would revise how utilities prioritize dispatching resources, directing utilities to consider economic and environmental benefits in their Integrated Resource Plans. National clean energy trade group Advanced Energy Economy and state partner Clean Energy Project hailed the trio of unanimous votes, saying if passed into law the measures would help the state attract innovative companies and create more clean energy jobs. 

Tesla plans to nearly double its car-charging network

Los Angeles Times - Apr 24 Tesla will nearly double its Supercharger electric car charging network this year to 10,000 public charging units globally, up from 5,400, the company said Monday. The company plans to begin producing the mass-market Model 3 later this year, and to expand its current annual vehicle production from 80,000 last year to 500,000 by the end of 2018. Current charging locations will be expanded and new locations will be added. California will get 1,000 of the new charging units. California requires that electric vehicles comprise at least 15% of each automaker’s in-state sales by 2025.

Apple backing two huge Oregon renewable-energy projects

Silicon Valley Business Journal - Apr 24 Apple has revealed that it is the company behind two big renewable-energy projects in Oregon — and one of them is the consumer-tech giant's largest ever. In its annual environmental progress report, released to coincide with Earth Day, Apple said, “To support our Prineville data center, we recently signed a 200-megawatt power purchase agreement for a new Oregon wind farm, the Montague Wind Power Project, set to come online by the end of 2018.” Apple noted that this would be “our largest project to date, producing over 560 million kilowatt-hours of clean, renewable energy a year.” The company also said it had “executed a power purchase agreement for the 56-megawatt Solar Star Oregon II PV array located just a few miles from our data center.” Solar Star Oregon II LLC is a subsidiary of SunPower, which is building the Gala Solar project. 

PG&E seeks project developers for renewable energy program

Solar Industry Magazine - Apr 26 Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) has issued a call for proposals for renewable energy developers to build new projects for a clean energy program available to PG&E customers. PG&E says its Regional Renewable Choice program will expand renewable energy access by enabling customers to work directly with developers of new renewable projects. Through the program, customers will have the option to work with developers and subscribe to the output from a new renewable project equaling between 25% and 100% of their electricity use. PG&E is seeking proposals from local renewable energy developers to build small and midsize renewable projects ranging from 0.5 megawatts to 20 megawatts for the program. The energy for these new projects can be from renewable resources including, but not limited to, solar, wind, or biomass. This request for offers calls for a development target of 150 megawatts of renewable resources.

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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