Renewable Energy Update -- December 3, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Renewable energy to the rescue for California's Salton Sea - Nov 27

Geothermal energy is coming to the rescue of California's Salton Sea while also giving a huge boost to the industry with one of its biggest projects. It starts with a 1.7-gigawatt geothermal project that will power over a million homes. Besides producing clean energy at this geothermal "hot spot," the money generated will finally provide much of the funding needed to restore critical habitat at the Salton Sea. Under the plan, the Salton Sea would be designated a Renewable Energy Zone where solar and wind projects would be sited along with emerging resources such as algae and solar gradient ponds. The Salton Sea Restoration and Renewable Energy Initiative believes geothermal development alone could be worth at least $3 billion over 30 years - about a third of what's needed for restoration.

NRG Energy behind on installing California EV charging stations promised in legal settlement

Washington Post - Nov 21

A New Jersey energy company required by an unusual legal settlement to build an extensive network of electric car chargers throughout California has delivered just 10 percent of what it promised in the first year. Just 110 of the 1,040 stations that NRG Energy committed to installing by early December are ready. The subsidiary responsible for building the stations over four years, NRG eVgo, blames a series of unanticipated problems, including a reluctance among owners of malls, offices, and apartment buildings to provide space for the chargers — even when the company subsidizes their cost.

House slashes funding for permitting solar and wind projects on federal lands

Smart Brief - Nov 20

The House of Representatives approved an amendment to the Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act decreasing funds permitting solar and wind energy projects at the Department of the Interior and Bureau of Land Management from $10 million to $5 million.

Wind company criminally convicted for bird deaths - Nov 25

The Department of Justice announced a $1 million settlement with Duke Energy over the deaths of endangered birds in the first criminal enforcement under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act for a wind farm. Duke Energy Renewables pleaded guilty in the U.S. District Court in Wyoming to violating the federal Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

As Pentagon invests in green fuel, critics focus on the cost

Los Angeles Times - Nov 18

The U.S. Navy recently sailed a fleet near Hawaii that was powered in part by algae and used cooking grease to the delight of both environmentalists and biotech startup companies. The Obama administration has made the military, the largest consumer of energy in the country, a financial lifeline for cash-strapped alternative fuel innovators. But the pilot voyage of the Navy's "great green fleet" came with a troubling aspect: price. The fleet's green fuel costs $26 a gallon, several times more than conventional diesel and jet fuel.

One year later, carbon auctions thriving in California

Environmental Defense Fund - Nov 18

The Golden State’s carbon market received another dose of confidence last week when state courts upheld California's ability to auction carbon allowances and hold polluters accountable for their harmful emissions. The ruling came just in time for the state’s fifth carbon auction. From the 2013 California Carbon Summit to a recent Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory Report, discussions are now turning to the future of the carbon market post-2020 and potential linkages with other emissions trading programs.

California cap-and-trade scheme likely to run larger surplus than expected

Bloomberg - Nov 19

Raw data released by the California Air Resources Board show that total CO2 emissions for the entities covered by the Cap-and-Trade Program rose by 2 percent between 2011 and 2012. Analysts at Bloomberg New Energy Finance estimate that CO2 emissions actually remained flat over the two years, taking into account double-counting in the raw data. This conclusion means that the California program is likely to run a greater surplus over the early years than many expected.

Lower biofuel mandate could aid state dairy farmers

Orange County Register - Nov 18

California dairy farmers who have been squeezed by rising feed costs will get some relief if the Environmental Protection Agency’s proposal to ease up on ethanol in fuel mixes is approved early next year. The proposed rules, introduced Friday, would require oil refiners to blend 15.21 billion gallons of renewable fuel with gasoline and diesel next year, down about 8 percent from this year’s blend. California Assemblywoman Kristin Olsen, R-Modesto, told the Register that the EPA’s decision is a “step in the right direction” for struggling dairy farms. She believes the EPA could do more, like replace ethanol with other types of biofuels that are still in the research and development process.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Bank of America issues $500 million “green bond”

Bank of America Environment - Nov 21

Bank of America Corporation announced has issued a “green bond” consisting of a three-year, fixed-rate bond that is $500 million in aggregate principal amount. The funds will be used specifically to finance green investments such as renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in furtherance of Bank of America’s 10-year, $50 billion environmental business initiative to help address climate change, reduce demands on natural resources, and advance lower-carbon economic solutions.

Solar Carports USA wants to aesthetically please

My Desert Business News - Nov 16

The word “elegant” does not normally leap to mind when describing carports. However, Solar Carports USA, a new Palm Desert-based company is hoping to transform many of the region’s large parking lots into well-designed community solar plants. The company’s pilot project, the solar carports at the H.N. and Frances C. Berger Foundation Charitable Center in Palm Desert, is unobtrusively designed with clean lines and a low profile that leaves the surrounding mountain vistas untouched. The carports also contain 500 kilowatts of neatly hidden solar panels silently pumping out about two-thirds of the power used by the mostly nonprofit tenants at the campus.

FERC, California sign MoU to coordinate on hydropower proposals

Energy Business Review - Nov 20

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) and the California State Water Resources Control Board have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to coordinate the review of pre-application activities for hydropower proposals in the state. The MoU will facilitate a more efficient and coordinated process for license applications and water quality certifications that include consultation, environmental scoping, study planning, and commenting on an applicant's preliminary licensing proposal.


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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