Renewable Energy Update - August 8, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Clean energy IPO boom as investors seek predictable dividends

Sustainable Business - Aug 6

The pace of IPOs for wind and solar developers is accelerating at the fastest clip in two years, benefiting from investors' interest in the predictable dividends they can pay. In the second quarter alone, clean energy companies raised $3.8 billion through public markets. Especially successful are what investors are calling “yieldcos,” companies holding investments in operating power plants that have signed long-term contracts to sell electricity and that can ensure a predictable, steady stream of revenue and dividends.

Solar benefits, solar costs

Solar Curator - Jul 30

As gigawatts of solar power come online in the U.S., it becomes increasingly important to address a central question: what are the costs and benefits of this ever-growing level of distributed solar energy connected to the grid? Several new studies have been released that explore these issues. A new report from the Rocky Mountain Institute, “A Review of Solar Benefit and Cost Studies,” lays the foundation for understanding by delving into 15 existing assessments of the situation. Additionally, for a solid overview of market trends in the U.S. solar installation market last year, one need go no further than the just-released annual report from the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC).

Production Tax Credit cited as key factor in growth of U.S. wind power

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - Jul 29

Although wind power does not get as much attention in California as solar power, it is considered the "workhorse" of the renewable-energy industry, observers say. Peter Kelley, vice president of public affairs at the American Wind Energy Association, said that the U.S. has 60,000 megawatts of wind-power capacity, compared to 10,000 megawatts of solar power. A big part of wind power's growth owes to the wind energy Production Tax Credit and state goals such as California's renewable portfolio standard, executives said.

U.S. tracks Atlantic Ocean birds

Renews - Renewable Energy News - Jul 30

The U.S. plans to track bird patterns along the east coast from Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound south throughout the mid-Atlantic region to help improve siting decisions for wind turbines. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management recently awarded a $292,000 study to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to research the movements of priority bird species over the next 12 to 18 months using VHF backpack transmitters.

Big wind gets big hug in New Mexico

EarthTechling - Green Tech, Green Products & Energy News - Jul 26

The Mountain View Telegraph reported this week that commissioners in Torrance County, where hundreds of turbines generating as much as 1 gigawatt of power might be sited, have backed a $450 million industrial bond issue intended to help Iberdrola Renewables build the wind farm. In an era when we often hear shouts of “Not in my backyard!” when the wind industry rolls into town, the reception given to Iberdrola in Torrance County, an hour or so southeast of Albuquerque, was pretty remarkable. The commissioners passed a resolution endorsing the bond issue, and did so with apparent enthusiasm.

Offshore wind gains in Virginia, stumbles in New Jersey

GreenTech Media Headlines - Jul 30

The past few days brought potentially good news for offshore wind power’s progress in the U.S. in one location, and what looks like bad news in another location. The encouraging development was the announcement of a September 4 lease auction for a parcel of around 112,800 acres offshore Virginia that could one day be home to 2,000 megawatts of wind power. This is the second competitive lease announced by the Obama administration – the first, for two parcels off Rhode Island and Massachusetts, is scheduled to happen next week – and while there’s no guarantee that offshore wind power will soon arrive, the moves are a step in that direction. Less heartening for offshore wind fans was the news that New Jersey’s Board of Public Utilities had rejected an agreement between the developer and the state’s ratepayer watchdog that would set the price of $187 for renewable energy credits from the proposed five-turbine, 25-megawatt Fishermen’s Energy project 2.8 miles offshore from Atlantic City.

Deepwater secures two federal offshore wind locations

EBR - Wind News - Jul 31

Deepwater Wind, a U.S.-based offshore wind project developer, has secured two offshore wind energy projects in the federal waters off the coasts of Rhode Island and Massachusetts through a lease auction. The company has won the auctions for the two locations totaling 164,000 acres during the bidding process conducted by U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Minnesota Power to expand Bison wind energy project by 200 megawatts

Electric Light & Power PowerGrid International - Aug 1

Minnesota Power, a division of ALLETE, plans to begin construction this year on a 200-megawatt expansion of its Bison wind project that will deliver more economical, carbon-free energy to customers while meeting Minnesota’s renewable energy standard of 25 percent renewable energy by 2025. The project will be the single largest wind addition to the company’s fleet. Estimated to cost about $345 million, Bison 4 will be constructed in Oliver County, North Dakota, north and west of the project’s first three phases currently in operation.

Nebraska utility draws ire of farm group for importing wind power

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - Jul 31

The Nebraska Farmers Union criticized public utility Lincoln Electric System's decision to buy 100 megawatts of electricity generated by wind farms in Oklahoma. Lincoln Electric System said that importing wind power makes economic sense for its customers, but the farmers group countered that the utility also has a duty to promote economic development in the state.

Xcel faces backlash over Colorado solar net metering plan

PV Tech News - Jul 31

Solar industry and environmental groups in Colorado have united to oppose proposals by utility company Xcel Energy they say could restrict the growth of rooftop PV in the state. They claim Xcel’s renewable energy plan for 2014 filed last week with the Colorado Public Utilities’ Commission (PUC) could pave the way for a scaling back of solar net metering, the mechanism by which rooftop solar owners are paid for the electricity they produce. Although Xcel’s plan set a target of 24 megawatts of small-scale solar and 6.5 megawatts of community solar for 2014, it also raised questions over the value of solar net metering and the costs the policy transfers to non-solar customers. The utility said the value of solar net metering was “not clearly identified” and requested the PUC spell out full costs and benefits of the program.

Texas energy technology company advances with DOE research award

North American Clean Energy - Jul 30

GeoTek Energy, LLC, a geothermal power and downhole pump technology company, has received approval by the Department of Energy for reimbursement of up to $1.08 million for the fabrication and initial testing of its Gravity Head Energy System. GeoTek’s patent pending Gravity Head Energy System improves current geothermal power systems by reducing the use of production and cycle pumps that require frequent service and consume up to 35% of the produced electricity.

Cool Energy wins DOE grant

Electric Power and Light News - Jul 29

Cool Energy, Inc., a clean energy power generation company with headquarters in Boulder, Colorado, won a $1 million Phase II Small Business Innovation Research grant from the U.S. Department of Energy. The power generation technology this grant supports could replace up to 300 fossil fuel power plants, according to the company. The grant will support a program to demonstrate electricity generation from untapped heat from distributed geothermal sources.

Hydropower project eyed near Prineville, Idaho

Eugene Register Guard Business - Aug 2

An Idaho company has gotten approval to explore building a dam and reservoir near Prineville to store water for generating electricity. The developers envision the project, called “pumped hydro storage” as a complement to balance intermittent supplies from such sources as wind turbines. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission granted a preliminary permit July 19 to Prineville Energy Storage LLC, an affiliate of Boise-based Gridflex Energy. It allows a feasibility study for a 40-foot dam and reservoir.

Proposed Colorado oil and gas wells to get pollution review

Sustainable Business - Aug 6

The Bureau of Land Management will reexamine the smog and toxic air pollution potential of 34 oil and gas projects involving more than 1,300 proposed wells on Colorado’s Western Slope before it issues more federal drilling permits for the region, as part of a settlement with four conservation groups. The agency also agreed to establish and maintain a publicly available tracking system for federal drilling permits on its website.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

BP calls off sale of U.S. wind business

Renewable Energy World - Jul 29

Four months after announcing it would put its U.S. wind business on the auction block, BP reportedly is calling off the prospective sale, saying that it has determined that the timing isn't right -- though the fate of that business remains undetermined. After receiving an undisclosed number of bids, "the company has determined that now is not the right time to sell the business," said Matt Hartwig, a spokesperson for BP America and its Alternative Energy business. He wouldn't address details of the sale process, its participants, or the bids that BP received, which he characterized as "commercially sensitive." BP's wind businesses here in the U.S. encompasses 2.6 gigawatts of generating capacity spread across 16 farms in operation across nine states, with another 2 gigawatts of projects in development "nearly shovel-ready," according to the company.

EON sells stake in Texas wind farm to JPMorgan

Bloomberg - New Energy Finance - Jul 29

EON SE, Germany’s largest utility, sold a stake in its Anacacho wind farm in Texas to JPMorgan Chase & Co. for $76.6 million and a commitment for future funding. The bank bought a “partial interest” and will make further capital contributions, EON Climate & Renewables North America, a subsidiary of the Dusseldorf-based company, said in a statement today. Matt Tulis, an EON spokesman, declined to say how large a stake was sold. The 99-megawatt project, located in Kinney County, Texas, consists of 55 Vestas Wind Systems A/S 1.8-megawatt turbines and started operating in December.

NRG Yield IPO 'could transform access to capital'

PV Tech News - Jul 26

NRG Yield closed last week on its initial public offering of 19,575,000 shares of its Class A common stock to the public at $22 per share, raising $430 million. NRG Energy is the largest Independent Power Producer in the United States with 46,565 megawatts in generation assets and 2,000 megawatts of utility scale solar under development. NRG Yield will own, operate, and acquire more renewable and conventional electricity generation assets by raising capital through the public ownership of equity. The portfolio at IPO included three natural gas and dual-fired power plants, seven utility-scale solar plants, and two distributed solar assets with a combined capacity of 1,324 megawatts.

JPMorgan Chase weighs sale of physical commodities units amid controversy

The Huffington Post - Latest News - Jul 26

JPMorgan Chase, the largest U.S. bank, said Friday it may sell its prized physical commodities business, just three years after it aggressively expanded into the sector, as authorities probe whether big banks are using their holdings of raw materials to manipulate commodities markets. JPMorgan said it may sell or spin off assets ranging from raw materials such as oil and copper to warehouses that store aluminum and other metals, energy tolling agreements, interests in power plants and wind farms, trading operations, and assets used to transport the commodities. The bank said it will continue to provide financial products tied to commodities, such as derivatives, and will continue to house and trade precious metals such as gold.


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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