CEC approves Sacramento utility’s contentious community solar plan
Greentech Media – February 21
The California Energy Commission (CEC) has unanimously approved a controversial shared solar program proposed by the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). The municipal utility will use the program, called Neighborhood SolarShares, to help meet new state building standards that require solar installations on all new residential roofs. The state’s new building code, which went into effect in January, allows community solar to act as an alternative to installing solar panels on the roof of each new home. Solar advocates picked apart SMUD’s original proposal, arguing it didn’t align with the core tenets of community solar, and the CEC eventually tabled it. SMUD then submitted a revised proposal in January, which regulators approved in a February 20 meeting.
Partnership could lead to solar and renewable energy projects on Navajo Nation
Farmington Daily Times - February 20
The Los Angeles City Council has approved a feasibility study to examine a partnership with the Navajo Nation for solar and renewable energy projects. The motion instructs the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) to examine the proposal and report results to the City Council in 30 days. The tribe’s relationship with Los Angeles goes back to when the LADWP was an owner of the Navajo Generating Station, a coal-fired power plant located on tribal land in northeast Arizona. In April 2019, the city adopted an updated energy and climate policy that has the aim of being 100 percent carbon free by 2050.
Family farms try to raise a new cash cow: solar power
Wired – February 22
The Kominek family has planted hay and alfalfa crops in northern Colorado for half a century, but as yields declined over recent years, the farm began losing money. In late 2017, Byron Kominek went looking for more profitable alternatives, including installing solar panels and selling electricity to the utility. But Boulder County’s land use codes made it difficult to use their 24 acres for anything but farming. So the Komineks found a compromise: a solar array with plants growing beneath, between, and around rows of photovoltaic panels. Construction is slated to begin this spring on a 1.2-megawatt solar array on the Kominek farm. If successful, the project could serve as a model for other farmers, by transforming underperforming fields into potentially money-making hubs of clean energy and fresh food. Xcel Energy, the state’s biggest utility, has agreed to pay for each kilowatt-hour delivered from the Kominek farm's solar array to the grid.
Moss Landing battery storage project approved
Monterey Herald – February 26
A second battery energy storage project has been approved in Moss Landing, positioning the longtime site of a huge power plant as a global leader in the shift to renewable energy. Last Wednesday, the Monterey County Planning Commission approved the PG&E-backed Elkhorn Battery Storage Facility as the second element of what would be one of the largest energy storage projects in the world. Located on a 4.5-acre portion of the PG&E substation off Dolan Road and Highway 1, the project will include the installation of 268 Tesla-manufactured Megapack lithium-ion battery units with the capacity to store up to 730-megawatt hours of renewable energy sources during off-peak hours. The project is the second such initiative at the site after Vistra Energy won planning commission approval in May last year for an even larger, 1,200-megawatt-hour battery energy storage project on the adjacent Dynegy power plant grounds. That project is already under construction, according to county staff.
State Fund partners with ENGIE and JLL to develop sustainability plan
Solar Industry Magazine - February 21
State Compensation Insurance Fund (State Fund), a provider of workers’ compensation insurance, and ENGIE North America Inc. have entered an agreement to build solar photovoltaic panels, energy storage systems, and electric vehicle charging stations across State Fund locations throughout California. ENGIE will install up to 11 megawatts of solar panels across six State Fund facilities spanning from Riverside to Redding that will generate approximately 18,000,000 kilowatt-hours of clean energy annually. ENGIE and JLL designed the program to help State Fund embark on the next phase of its broader sustainability strategy. The initial phases of this program have already begun at some sites, and the entire project is scheduled for completion by the end of 2020.
Valley Clean Energy makes major solar power purchase
Daily Democrat – February 20
The Valley Clean Energy Alliance (VCE) has purchased 50 megawatts of renewable power from a new solar park in Kings County. The deal will replace current short-term power contracts allowing VCE to deliver higher levels of renewable energy at competitive prices. VCE’s 15-year contract with Aquamarine Westside, CIM Group’s solar project, will begin when the project enters commercial operation, anticipated in 2021. The Aquamarine project is located in Westlands Solar Park, a 21,000-acre, master-planned clean energy park with more than 2 gigawatts of solar production potential.
D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments purchases 160-MW Rancho Seco Solar II
Renewable Energy World – February 24
D. E. Shaw Renewable Investments has acquired the 160-megawatt Rancho Seco Solar II project, located in Sacramento County, from Lendlease. The project has a 30-year power purchase agreement in place with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and is being built on the site of a decommissioned nuclear power plant. Construction began last year.