Renewable Energy Update -- June 13, 2013

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

DOE issues geothermal project development roadmap

Electric Power and Light News - Jun 6

The U.S. Energy Department (DOE) issued a geothermal energy regulatory roadmap to help developers meet regulatory requirements in order to deploy geothermal projects. DOE asked the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) to get together federal, state, and local permitting officials and industry representatives to identify potential opportunities to streamline U.S. geothermal development. The DOE is working in partnership with the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and the U.S. Forest Service. The roadmap includes flowcharts that address all federal and state regulatory requirements from land use and leasing plans, to drilling exploratory wells to developing the plant. Federal and state regulatory process flowcharts have been completed for eight geothermal-rich states: Alaska, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, and Utah. Colorado and Texas are the next states slated for review.

Geothermal energy benefits valued at $278 million annually

Environmental Leader - Jun 5

Geothermal energy produces little to no greenhouse gas emissions, which provides annual health and environmental benefits to the U.S. valued at $278 million, according to an analysis from the Geothermal Energy Association. About $117 million of those external benefits produced by avoiding fossil fuel emissions occur in California and Nevada, where the majority of geothermal energy plants exist.

Tidal energy could be next big wave

Forbes - Business - Jun 6

The U.S. Department of Energy has just unveiled a floating offshore wind platform that it thinks could make a big splash. But it has already been working hard to commercialize “tidal energy" that uses underwater turbines to create electricity, which must then be wired into the grid. Wave and tidal facilities are being tested. One such “wave” project has begun off the shores of Oregon, where underwater turbines using 10 buoys will generate 1.5 megawatts of power. Impediments to further growth are wide ranging and cover such issues as the preservation of aquatic resources, water quality, and the maintenance of marine life. In the end, regulators — who are trying to diversify the nation’s energy mix with green fuels — have concluded that energy from the ocean is a valued part of the plan and that it is more predictable than wind or solar.

U.S. to sell offshore leases for Northeast wind farms

Reuters Environment News - Jun 4

The Department of Interior said Tuesday that its Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will hold the first ever competitive lease sale for renewable energy in federal waters south of Rhode Island and Massachusetts on July 31. The Interior Department said in a release that BOEM would auction commercial wind energy leases to 164,750 acres located about 9.2 nautical miles south of Rhode Island.

First U.S. floating wind turbine designed and launched in Maine

Maine Insights News - Jun 2

Hundreds of people gathered on the banks of the Penobscot River at Cianbro in Brewer, Maine, to witness the launching of VolturnUS, the first floating offshore wind turbine in U.S. history. The crowd applauded and cheered after a crane slowly lowered the 90,000-pound turbine into the river. “There are many firsts here today,” said Habib Dagher, Director of the University of Maine’s Advanced Structures and Composites Center. “Not only is VolturnUS the first floating wind turbine in the US, it’s the first turbine tower to be completely made of composites, and the first concrete/ composite floating base in the world.”

U.S. approves 520 megawatts of solar, geothermal energy projects

Bloomberg - New Energy Finance - Jun 3

The U.S. approved three renewable energy projects to be built on federal land in Arizona and Nevada. The two solar farms and one geothermal project will total 520 megawatts of capacity, enough to power more than 200,000 homes, the U.S. Interior Department today in a statement on its website. Costs weren’t disclosed and the expected power customers weren’t named. The U.S. doubled its use of renewable energy during the past four years. The three projects approved today are part of the Obama administration’s strategy of promoting wider use of solar, wind, and geothermal energy on federal lands.

Colorado doubles down on renewable energy standards

Electric Power and Light News - Jun 6

The signature of Colorado Gov. John Hickelooper on June 5 deepened that state's involvement in renewable energy as a piece of legislation requiring rural electric cooperatives operating within the state to invest more in clean energy became law. The new renewable portfolio standard (also known as a renewable electricity standard) requires electricity providers that service at least 100,000 meters to derive at least 20 percent of their electric power from renewable sources by 2020. This doubles the RPS that the state enacted in 2007 under Gov. Bill Ritter, a Democrat.

Massachusetts communities go green with solar

Green Tech World News - Jun 3

There's no doubt that increasing solar power usage in a community can have a positive impact on it in many ways; the installation of the solar cells provides jobs while the cells themselves provide clean energy, helping to preserve the community's environment and lower energy costs. The Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources and the Massachusetts Clean Energy Center have decided to work together to bring solar energy to communities in the state through a program called Solarize Mass. Solarize Mass works by reducing the price of solar initiatives in a community. The more people that sign up to have solar cells installed, the more the price drops for everyone else in the neighborhood.

Shared solar bills pass California Senate, Assembly

Clean Techies Blog - Jun 1

California legislators voted this week to advance two different bills that open up access to solar to the more than 75 percent of energy customers who can’t put it on their own roof. Senate Bill 43, authored by longtime solar champion Senator Lois Wolk, creates a 500-megawatt pilot program that would enable customers of Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E), Southern California Edison (SCE), and SDG&E (San Diego Gas & Electric) to sign up to participate in shared renewable energy facilities, and receive a credit on their utility bill for the energy produced by their share of the project. SB 43 was approved by the California Senate Thursday on a 27-9 vote. Assembly Bill 1014, authored by Assemblyman Das Williams, builds off a settlement agreement currently before the CPUC to create a “Green Option” tariff program, which was negotiated this spring between investor-owned utility PG&E, ratepayer advocates, environmental advocates, and unions. AB 1014 expands this program to the state’s two other major utilities: SCE and SDG&E.

Pike Research Blog

Pike Research Blog - Jun 2

Upfront capital expense is often cited as the most important barrier to adoption of energy storage – particularly for business and residential customers. Technology vendors tend to clamor for adoption subsidies and bemoan the dearth of incentives on offer for energy storage. One market with strong subsidies for energy storage is California. The state encourages the adoption of wind up to 3 megawatts, together with energy storage systems (ESSs) up to 3 megawatts, through the state’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). According to the SGIP, “advanced energy storage” systems “convert electricity into another form of stored energy and then convert [it] back to electricity at another time.” ESSs became eligible for SGIP incentives in 2009.

Verizon installing fuel cells to California properties

Electric Power and Light News - Jun 4

Verizon agreed June 4 to install fuel cell systems at three of its California locations: two call centers in Los Angeles and San Francisco and a data center in San Jose. Bloom Energy's solid oxide fuel cells are expected to generate more than 16 million kilowatt hours of clean electricity for Verizon in California each year. The installation is part of Verizon's plan, announced in April, to invest $100 million in a solar and fuel-cell energy project that will help power 19 of the company's facilities in California and six other states across the country: Arizona, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and North Carolina. When completed next year, the project will enable Verizon to generate more than 90 million kilowatt hours of its own green energy annually. The project will also eliminate more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, which is equivalent to the carbon dioxide emissions from more than 1.6 million gallons of gasoline consumed.

A123 installs 1-megawatt battery system on Hawaii electric grid

Bloomberg - New Energy Finance - Jun 3

A123 Energy Solutions, a unit of China’s Wanxiang Group Corp. that produces energy-storage devices, installed a 1-megawatt battery system that will stabilize the power grid on the Hawaiian island of Maui. The batteries installed at a Maui Electric Co. substation can store electricity for one hour, A123 said today in a statement. The system regulates voltage on the grid, shifts peak loads, and retains excess power generated by wind turbines.

Portland General Electric opens educational smart grid center

Electric Power and Light News - May 31

Portland General Electric (PGE) opened its new Salem Smart Power Center, an 8,000-square-foot facility in Salem, Oregon. This working smart grid demonstration project contains a utility-scale energy storage system and is designed to help PGE test how to store and better integrate variable renewable energy sources like solar and wind into the electrical grid. The technologies work together to create an uninterruptable microgrid that serves about 500 business and residential customers in southeast Salem.

New Jersey regulators approve PSE&G's solar energy installation program

Electric Power and Light News - May 31

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a plan to let Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G) to move forward with its Solar 4 All solar power loan project that will allow the utility to invest some $440 million building solar energy projects on former landfills and other brownfield locations. Program costs will be passed on to PSE&G ratepayers, according to the New Jersey Star Ledger. PSE&G's Solar 4 All program would build about 42 megawatts of solar energy arrays on landfills and brownfield properties involved in the program. Another 3 megawatts would be built in smaller projects, according to the report. A separate loan program would support the construction of about 97.5 megawatts worth of solar energy.

50-megawatt PPA approved for largest solar plant in New Mexico

Solar Power World - Jun 6

First Solar and New Mexico State Land Commissioner Ray Powell have announced that First Solar has been granted a power purchase agreement (PPA) from the New Mexico Public Regulatory Commission, clearing the way for First Solar to begin construction on the state’s largest solar power plant to be located on State Trust Land in Luna County. The PPA will provide El Paso Electric Power with 50 megawatts of solar energy for 25 years.

First farm in Vermont to make cow power now hosting 100-kilowatt wind turbine

VT Digger News - May 31

The first farm in Vermont to put power from cow manure on the electric grid is now capturing energy from the wind. Green Mountain Power has installed a Vermont-built Northern Power 100-kilowatt wind turbine at Blue Spruce Farm in Bridport, Vermont. “The Audet family led the way with Cow Power, so it was logical for us to approach them when we were looking for a partner to host a community-scale wind turbine” said Mary Powell, President and CEO of Green Mountain Power.

First-of-its-kind woody biomass project takes root

USA Ag Net - Jun 4

The first of six 10-acre plots of hybrid poplar have been planted at Michigan State University as part of a new, long-term plan to use woody biomass for energy on campus. Eventually the trees will be harvested, chipped, and burned as a coal alternative at the T.B. Simon Power Plant, the single largest on-campus consumer of fossil fuels. It is an initiative between MSU AgBioResearch, MSU Extension, and the departments of Forestry and Biosystems and Agricultural Engineering to help the university move toward 100 percent renewable energy.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Principle Power eyes shares sale to fund offshore wind venture

Smart Brief - Wind Energy - Jun 6

Seattle-based Principle Power, which is backed by Spain's Repsol, is planning to sell shares to finance further development of its floating wind turbine platform technology. A prototype of the WindFloat platform installed by the company in Portugal last year as part of a venture with Repsol and Energias de Portugal has generated about 5,000 megawatt-hours of electricity so far. The company is also in talks with investors to raise funds for pilot ventures in the U.S. and the U.K., said CEO Alla Weinstein.

Portland General Electric to buy Washington wind energy project

Bloomberg - New Energy Finance - Jun 3

Portland General Electric Co. (PGE), a utility that serves about 800,000 customers in northwest Oregon, agreed to buy a wind farm under development in Washington State that’s expected to cost as much as $535 million. The utility will buy the second phase of Puget Sound Energy Inc.’s Lower Snake River wind farm near Dayton, Washington, and expects to complete the deal in August, PGE said today in a statement. The wind farm’s electricity will help PGE comply with a state law that requires utilities to provide 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources beginning in 2015, according to the statement.


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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