Renewable Energy Update - August 22, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Department of Energy commits to unleashing delayed efficiency standards

GreenTech Efficiency News - Aug 12

A coalition of ten states and the City of New York just announced that the Department of Energy has committed to push forward four delayed energy efficiency standards that could save utility customers more than $3.8 billion annually once in full effect -- and save enough electricity to power almost 4 million homes. Clearing the roadblocks for these long-overdue energy savings standards will help the environment, the economy, and our wallets -- all the while supporting President Obama’s climate plan to reduce carbon dioxide pollution. DOE sent a letter to the State of New York and others yesterday committing to issue Notices of Proposed Rulemaking this month for energy conservation standards for metal halide lamps, commercial refrigeration equipment, walk-in coolers and freezers, and electric motors in November. The standards, which are currently seven to eighteen months overdue, in violation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, would become final next year.

Department of Energy commits to unleashing delayed efficiency standards

GreenTech Efficiency News - Aug 12

A coalition of ten states and the City of New York just announced that the Department of Energy has committed to push forward four delayed energy efficiency standards that could save utility customers more than $3.8 billion annually once in full effect -- and save enough electricity to power almost 4 million homes. Clearing the roadblocks for these long-overdue energy savings standards will help the environment, the economy, and our wallets -- all the while supporting President Obama’s climate plan to reduce carbon dioxide pollution. DOE sent a letter to the State of New York and others yesterday committing to issue Notices of Proposed Rulemaking this month for energy conservation standards for metal halide lamps, commercial refrigeration equipment, walk-in coolers and freezers, and electric motors in November. The standards, which are currently seven to eighteen months overdue, in violation of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act, would become final next year.

New solar/geothermal zone approved for California - Aug 15

A new Solar Energy Zone in California will open public lands to utility-scale solar and geothermal development. The Department of Interior (DOI) has approved the West Chocolate Mountains Renewable Energy Evaluation Area on public lands in California's Imperial Valley. The landscape- scale assessment shows this area to be best suited for solar and geothermal power. Large-scale wind was rejected because of potential conflict with military training operations, BLM told the New York Times. DOI's Bureau of Land Management estimates the 64,000-acre area has the potential for 3.33 gigawatts of solar energy and 150 megawatts of geothermal power.

Solar, geothermal projects touted at Vegas summit

Boston Globe Top Business News - Aug 13

Solar projects in the desert, geothermal power in the mountains, and wind energy off the East Coast were cited as examples of progress from top U.S. officials and industry leaders during a green energy conference on Tuesday in Las Vegas. But nuclear power nearly stole the show after a federal court in Washington, D.C., ruled that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission violated federal law by failing to approve or reject a decision on whether to issue a license for the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository some 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas. The decision generated sharp responses from several officials attending the conference, including Sen. Harry Reid and Gov. Brian Sandoval. They both oppose the project.

FERC's energy storage ruling could jump-start big batteries

GreenTech Efficiency News - Aug 12

If the price of grid-scale energy storage fell to zero dollars per megawatt-hour, regulators, and utilities would still be puzzled in how to deploy the boon of energy storage. That's because storage doesn't fit neatly into the electrical utility's regulatory universe of generation, distribution, and load -- or into the utility rate recovery structure. But that regulatory uncertainty is starting to clear. It started with FERC Order 755, enacted in 2011, a ruling from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) that increased the pay for “fast” responding sources like batteries or flywheels that are bidding into frequency regulation service markets. Flywheel energy storage operator, Beacon, sells into this market. That opportunity for storage got bigger recently with the issuance of Order 784. It pits fast batteries, flow batteries, and flywheels against slower gas- or coal-fired plants in the ancillary services market. "FERC Order 784 is a huge step forward for energy storage, as it will help to open ancillary services markets for storage project developers. Also, it expands FERC Order 755 pay-for-performance requirements to ensure that speed and accuracy, two attributes where storage excels, is considered when utilities purchase regulation service for transmission. Finally, the new accounting and reporting rules introduced in this order will help utilities achieve rate recovery for energy storage equipment," said Janice Lin, Managing Partner, Strategen Consulting and Co-Founder and Executive Director of the California Energy Storage Alliance.

In Michigan, renewables costing utilities less than expected

GreenTech Media Headlines - Aug 9

Consumers Energy encountered two surprises this year after it fast-tracked a Michigan wind farm project to take advantage of expiring federal tax credits. First, the project will cost less than the utility thought it would to build, and second, technology advances mean each turbine will produce more power than previously projected. Citing those improved economics, Consumers Energy proposed last week to eliminate a surcharge on customers’ bills that was designed to cover the cost of complying with Michigan’s renewable electricity standard. The utility is downplaying the significance, but environmental groups are claiming a win, saying the proposal vindicates their position that utilities have exaggerated the cost of renewable energy.

Solar power sheds a little light on powerless communities Technology & Science News - Aug 11

On the Navajo nation, where 18,000 people live without electricity, low-cost solar power is replacing kerosene and gasoline generators. Eagle Energy, the non-profit bringing solar power to the reservation, is working to build a market for the green technology. On the reservation, access to power is limited by geography and a history of border disputes between the Navajo and Hopi tribes. Eagle Energy, a Denver-based non-profit, donates and installs small solar panels on off-grid houses. While these set-ups can't power heating or cooling, or even a small refrigerator, they do charge cellphones and laptops. A mix of market forces are driving down prices for solar panels. Though prices have recently leveled off, they are at a historically low point, according to Shyam Mehta, an analyst at GTM Research. A combination of large subsidies in Europe and a boom in production in China have increased both supply and demand globally.

10 years after blackout, U.S. grid faces new threats

Boston Globe Latest News - Aug 10

The U.S. electrical grid is better managed and more flexible a decade after its largest blackout but remains vulnerable to increasingly extreme weather, cybersecurity threats, and stress caused by shifts in where and how power is produced. Electricity customers have been giving the grid a bit of breathing room. Power demand has remained flat or even fallen in recent years as lighting, devices, appliances, homes and businesses have gotten more efficient and economic growth has been sluggish. All that reduces stress on the grid. At the same time, aging coal and nuclear plants are shutting down in the face of higher maintenance costs, pollution restrictions, and competition from cheap natural gas. Renewable generation such as wind turbines and solar panels is being installed, adding power that’s difficult to plan for and manage. Temperatures and storms are getting more extreme, according to federal data, and that increases stress on the grid by creating spikes in demand or knocking out lines or power plants. Some regulators and policymakers are increasingly worried about cyberattacks that could target systems that manage power plants or grids.

Oregon man files $5 million suit over wind farm noise

Oregon Live - News Impact - Aug 11

A year ago, Dan Williams moved from his home near Ione's Willow Creek wind farm to Walterville, Oregon. He said he couldn't take the noise of whipping turbine blades any longer. Williams filed a lawsuit Friday against Invenergy, the Illinois-based company behind the wind farm, for non-economic losses up to $5 million, as well as economic losses -- mostly related to property value depreciation -- for $170,000. Since Invenergy began construction on the 50 wind turbines at Willow Creek in 2008, it has fought in the courts over noise compliance.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Borrego Solar sells more than five megawatts of Massachusetts solar energy projects to Greenwood Energy

eSolar Energy News - Aug 13

Borrego Solar Systems, Inc., a designer, installer, and financier of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems, has entered into an agreement to sell 5.5 megawatts of solar energy projects to Greenwood Energy. The projects will be designed and built by Borrego Solar in the cities of Gardner and Walpole, Massachusetts, and are just entering the construction phase. The power purchase agreement contracts will be owned and serviced by Greenwood Energy.

SolarCity aims for 1 million customers with $120 million acquisition of Paramount Solar

Green Tech Solar News - Aug 13

Lyndon Rive, the CEO of SolarCity has a goal of 1 million solar rooftop customers within five years -- helped in part by today's announcement of buying a direct marketing partner, Paramount Solar, for $120 million. SolarCity will acquire Paramount Solar for $116 million in stock, and the rest in cash. Paramount Equity CEO Hayes Barnard will join SolarCity as chief revenue officer in charge of the firm’s sales and marketing groups. The goal is to be at 1,000,000 solar rooftop customers by July 4, 2018. Rive said that meant incorporating Paramount's "remote and virtual selling" into the SolarCity juggernaut in order to grow from today's 68,000 customers to 1,000,000 rooftops.

MidAmerican to invest $1.9 billion in Iowa wind energy projects

EBR - Wind News - Aug 13

Iowa-based energy company MidAmerican Energy Company is gearing up to invest around $1.9 billion to develop 1050 megawatts of wind energy projects in Iowa by the end of 2015. The company has recently secured Iowa Utilities Board approval for the development of the proposed projects across Grundy, Madison, Marshall, O'Brien, and Webster counties. MidAmerican Energy president and CEO Bill Fehrman said providing clean, reliable and low-cost electricity through a diversified renewable portfolio is the best way to cater to customers' energy demands.

Starwood Energy acquires Stephens Ranch Wind Project in Texas

PR Newswire News Releases - Aug 12

An investment affiliate of Starwood Energy Group Global, LLC and Mesa Power Group acquired the 377-megawatt Stephens Ranch Wind Project, located in Borden and Lynn Counties, Texas covering more than 47,000 acres. The first phase of the project, sized at 200 megawatts, is expected to begin construction in September 2013 and to achieve commercial operations by August 2014. Starwood Energy's investment affiliate acquired the project from its joint developers, Wind Tex Energy and Mesa Power.

General Electric teams with Sandia on wind turbine noise, performance - Aug 15

General Electric is teaming up with the Department of Energy's Sandia National Lab to design wind turbine blades that are quieter and produce more energy. If rotors could be just one decibel quieter that would increase the energy a turbine can produce by 2% a year, predicts GE Global Research, the company's technical development arm. That 2% adds up to 5 gigawatts of wind power, with a total of 240 gigawatts of wind expected globally over the next five years. That small increase would be enough to supply every household in New York City, Boston, and Los Angeles, combined.

First Solar set for 1-gigawatt of installations in 2013

PV-Magazine - Aug 12

In a further indication that its transition from module manufacturer to project developer -- using its own modules -- has been a success, First Solar is continuing to expand its project pipeline in the U.S. and beyond. According to IHS Solar figures, First Solar has approximately doubled its annual installed capacity figures for 2013, from 516 megawatts in 2012. First Solar has also been moving into emerging solar markets and IHS Solar notes its acquisition in January of Solar Chile, which delivered it a 1.5-gigawatt pipeline in the South American country.

AMEC secures EPC contract for solar project from Sempra U.S. Gas & Power

Energy Business Review - News - Aug 12

AMEC, a UK-based engineering company, has secured an engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contract from Sempra U.S. Gas & Power for Copper Mountain Solar 3 project situated near Las Vegas, Nevada. Under the EPC contract for Sempra's third phase of Copper Mountain Solar complex, AMEC will design and construct the 250-megawatt solar project on around 1,400 acres of land, exploiting the intense desert sun in Boulder City.

Wind energy company Pattern seeking IPO

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

Wind energy is historically a boom or bust business in the U.S., rising and falling with the existence or expiration of the production tax credit. That’s what makes the fate of Pattern Energy’s intended initial public offering, filed this week, interesting. Now, Pattern isn’t just dependent on the U.S. market – it owns interests in four wind farms in the United States and one in Canada, has a partial interest in another in the U.S., and has two under construction – in Ontario and Chile. Those wind farms add up to 1,041 megawatts of rated capacity. The projects generally have long-term power purchase agreements, giving Pattern a very good expectation of continued, predictable cash flow. But IPO filings are required by law to include all the dire circumstances that might unfold, and with wind energy, there sure are a lot of them. Under current law in the U.S., the production tax credit for wind pays off for a ten-year span for wind farms already operating or under construction before the end of this year. Loss of incentives, which could hurt Pattern’s ability to grow, isn’t the only potential problem that Pattern warns of in the prospectus. Things like failing to accurately forecast a wind resource could also hurt the company.

Public Service Board approves wind measuring towers for Seneca Mountain Wind

VT Digger News - Aug 13

The Public Service Board last week gave the Seneca Mountain Wind project the go-ahead to build four temporary meteorological (MET) towers in the Northeast Kingdom, Vermont, despite local opposition. The quasi-judicial board permitted two MET towers in Brighton, one in Ferdinand, and one in Newark. The board’s approval of the measurement towers flies in the face of Newark’s town plan, which was altered to oppose wind projects after Seneca Mountain was proposed.

BLM and Inyo National Forest release decisions for the CD-IV Geothermal Development Project - Aug 14

The Bureau of Land Management's Bishop Field Office and the U.S. Forest Service, Inyo National Forest, today signed the Records of Decision approving a new 40-megawatt geothermal project near Mammoth Lakes in Mono County. Ormat Nevada Inc. will develop the project on public and private land, and the project will generate more than 180 construction jobs. When completed, the project would produce enough energy to power 36,000 homes.

First utility-scale PV project on Native American reservation set to start

PV Tech News - Aug 14

Construction will begin in a "matter of weeks" on the first utility-scale solar plant to be built on a Native American reserve according to an announcement made at the National Clean Energy Summit in Las Vegas. The Moapa Band of Paiutes has agreed to a lease agreement for 2,000 acres of its 71,954 acres in southern Nevada. K Road Power, a New York based solar developer, has entered into an agreement to lease land for up to 50 years on the Moapa River Indian Reservation to construct and operate a 250-megawatt PV solar plant. The electricity will be sold to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power.


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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