Renewable Energy Update -- June 2014 #2

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Warren Buffett plans to double Berkshire Hathaway’s investment in renewable energy

PV Tech - Jun 24

Berkshire Hathaway, Inc. CEO Warren Buffett certainly made his presence felt at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Las Vegas on Monday. Buffett announced that he plans to double the $15 billion that Berkshire Hathaway has invested into both the PV and wind energy markets in the U.S. Buffett entered into the power industry in 2000 after purchasing an energy holding company based out of Iowa and expanding it into Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which operates electric grids, runs utilities and invests in wind and solar projects.

New report finds that thermal energy storage could add value to solar energy

Clean Technica - Jun 10

A new report from NREL, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, could help spur the development of more utility scale concentrating solar power plants with thermal energy storage features while boosting the market for solar cells, too. The report indicates that CSP energy storage projects could add value to utility scale solar energy in California, and they would enable more solar cell development by creating additional grid flexibility.

SF board to consider deal on clean energy plan - Jun 12

Six weeks after Mayor Ed Lee proposed raiding a $19.5 million Public Utilities Commission fund set aside to help pay for a clean energy program supported by the Board of Supervisors - and three weeks after a board committee rejected the entire PUC budget because of Lee's stated intention - Supervisor John Avalos brokered a compromise deal that will preserve around $7 million for CleanPowerSF. Under the deal, which was approved unanimously by the board's budget committee Wednesday, most of the $19.5 million in the fund will remain earmarked over the next two years for GoSolarSF, a separate program pushed by Lee that provides incentives for property owners to install solar panels. But Avalos secured up to $7 million for the renewable energy program, including $4 million for its potential implementation.

Alameda County: Startup energy agency could power East Bay cities

Contra Costa Times - Jun 6

Alameda County is pursuing a plan to become its own energy purveyor for county residents. A new public agency would set its own customer billing rates, buy and sell its own electricity, and procure its own clean power from rooftop solar panels and wind turbines along the Altamont Pass. The startup agency envisioned by environmentalists would not be the first in California, but it could be the biggest in scope and population served. That is, if state lawmakers don't pass a bill this summer imperiling the Bay Area's "community choice" energy movement before it can turn on the switch.

Sonoma Clean Power to offer geothermal energy to consumers

North Bay Business Journal - Jun 2

Sonoma County is home to the world’s largest electricity-generating geothermal power resource. A very rare convergence of factors creates The Geysers: enough porous rock at a hot enough temperature that is close enough to the surface with a plentiful water supply to create steam. While in the past very little of the electricity that Sonoma County customers purchased was from The Geysers, Sonoma Clean Power customers can now select EverGreen, electricity that is 100 percent local geothermal power, sourced by The Geysers.

Notable Renewable Energy Projects and Deals

Tenaska secures financing for 150-megawatt California PV plant

PV Tech - Jun 16

Independent power producer, Tenaska, has reached financial close on its 150-megawatt Imperial Solar Energy Center West project in California. The company has secured $450 million in commercial financing for the project, the second utility-scale PV power plant it is developing in the region. An affiliate of Tenaska developed Tenaska Imperial West and, before that, Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center South, a 130-megawatt, utility-scale solar plant also near El Centro in Southern California’s Imperial Valley.

Los Angeles approves 300 megawatts of solar projects

PV Tech - Jun 6

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) has approved 300 megawatts of solar development agreements. The agreements include the 250-megawatt Beacon project to be built in Kern County and 50 megawatts of inner city solar projects, which will receive payments under LADWP's feed-in tariff program. The agreements were signed last week. The projects still require approval by the City Council, but could power up to 150,000 homes while having solar generate energy were it will be used will save transmission costs and increasing grid stability.

Solar still cooking in the Central Valley

Visalia Times-Delta - Jun 9

Looking to meet state renewable energy requirements as well federal tax credit deadlines, a number of 20-megawatt utility-size solar projects in the Central Valley are being built this summer, and some very large ones should be underway by the end of the year. A 30 percent federal tax credit will expire in 2016 lighting a fire under developers aiming to finish their multi-million dollar projects in time to collect. Case in point is Fresno-based Granville Homes, owned by the Assemi family. Jeff Roberts, the company's vice president says they have been working five long years to be able to build a large 700-megawatt project in southwest Kern County but are now near the finish line, he expects.

NRG Yield to buy California’s Alta Wind Energy Center for $870 million

Reuters - Jun 4

NRG Yield Inc. will buy the largest wind farm in North America for $870 million, helping parent NRG Energy Inc. bulk up its clean energy portfolio and comply with strict air emission rules. The purchase of California's Alta Wind Energy Center will add 947 megawatts of capacity — enough to power nearly 400,000 homes — to the companies' wind portfolio. Alta Wind, located in the Tehachapi Pass in California's Kern County, contracts long-term power purchase agreements with Edison International.

Greenleaf Power secures $100 million to buy more biomass plants

Sacramento Business Journal - Jun 10

Sacramento-based Greenleaf Power LLC announced it closed a $100 million financing, which it will use to acquire more power plants. Greenleaf owns and operates five biomass power plants with total generation of 145 megawatts. The plants run on wood byproducts, material diverted from urban landfills or agricultural trimmings. All of the electricity generated by the company’s California plants count for California renewable energy mandates.


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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