Renewable Energy Update - June 2016

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

Ninth Circuit upholds wind farm approval

Courthouse News Service - Jun 7 Federal regulators adequately addressed whether a proposed wind turbine project near San Diego would adversely impact migratory birds and global warming, the Ninth Circuit ruled Tuesday. The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) granted Tule Wind, LLC a right-of-way on federal lands in southeast San Diego County to construct and operate a wind energy project. The BLM eliminated 33 of the proposed turbines from the project and required the repositioning of several others to help reduce the risk of bird collisions with turbine blades. Local environmental groups unsuccessfully argued in federal court that the BLM did not take a "hard look" at the environmental impact of the project and violated the Migratory Bird Treaty Act.

U.S. solar market to nearly double in 2016, led by utilities

Reuters - Jun 9 The U.S. solar energy market will nearly double new installations this year to 14.5 gigawatts, led by utility projects. Solar installations rose 24 percent in the first quarter, accounting for 64 percent of all new U.S. electric generating capacity during the period. Utility-scale projects were rushed through last year on the expectation that a key federal tax credit would expire at the end of 2016. That credit, however, was extended by five years at the end of last year. The extension will spur more than 20 gigawatts of additional solar capacity by 2021, GTM said, though the utility-scale market is expected to contract next year and in 2018. California was the top solar market in the quarter, followed by North Carolina, Massachusetts, Nevada, and New York.

North American solar investors concerned about H2 oversupply

PV Magazine - Jun 9 After an extremely impressive start to 2016, when solar dominated new power generation in the U.S., North American investors have been expressing some concerns with what is to come in the second half of 2016 and beyond. Analysts at Deutsche Bank have addressed the major concerns and have given some forecasting about what may be to come. The report begins by suggesting that the solar sector has not fully recovered from the SunEdison bankruptcy earlier in the year, which shook the industry to its core. However, SunEdison aside, the biggest concern for solar investors right now is the risk of an upcoming oversupply in the industry.

Report pushes 'solar-plus-storage’ for affordable housing sites

PV Magazine - Jun 1 A recently passed law calls for spending as much as $1 billion to put rooftop solar systems on affordable housing sites across the state but a number of clean-energy groups say the program won’t be complete unless battery storage technology is included. Passed late in the 2015 legislative session, Assembly Bill 693 is aimed at allowing low-income renters of multifamily housing projects to benefit from on-site solar installations. The bill is expected to go into effect by early next year, with funding spread out over 10 years. Four clean-energy groups promoting solar have recently released a report called "Closing the California Clean Energy Divide," which they say makes the case that battery storage technologies should be folded into AB 693’s money mix.

U.S. energy bill prospects dim in dispute over drilling and drought

ABC News - Jun 6 A bipartisan bill approved by the Senate in April would boost oil and natural gas production while encouraging renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power, and increased energy efficiency. However the bill's prospects dimmed after the House approved a series of election-year amendments last month that promote Republican priorities, such as increased drilling for oil and gas and overriding protections for the gray wolf and other species under the Endangered Species Act. The House bill also would shift more water to California farmers and cut the flow for threatened fish. The House proposal includes at least seven measures that the White House strongly opposes or has threatened to veto.

FERC approves CAISO tariff changes for DER aggregation

Solar Industry Magazine - Jun 8 The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) recently approved a new proposal by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) aimed at driving distributed energy resources (DERs) into the electric grid. The plan will allow individual energy resources too small to participate in the wholesale market to be grouped together to meet the minimum 0.5-megawatt threshold. According to CAISO, DERs are significant because they represent the ability for consumers to not only draw energy from the grid, but also inject electricity back on the system.

ReneSola to construct 107 megawatts worth of U.S. PV projects

PV-Tech - Jun 8 Energy-efficient product provider ReneSola announced that it intends to develop 107 megawatts worth of PV projects in California, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and North Carolina. The construction of 37 megawatts worth of solar projects in North Carolina and Massachusetts is expected to begin in the second half of 2016, while the development of the remaining 70 megawatts of installations in Minnesota and California is planned for 2017.

BMW wins LAPD electric car contract, beating Tesla

Los Angeles Times - Jun 8 German automaker BMW has beaten California-based Tesla Motors Inc. by winning a contract to supply the Los Angeles Police Department with 100 electric cars. BMW is leasing 100 of its i3 all-electric plug-in vehicles, which the LAPD plans to use for community outreach and other police business, but not patrols or car chases. That will bring to almost 200 the number of electric vehicles the city is using in its various departments.

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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