Federal lands woefully underutilized for utility-scale solar, according to new study
Solar Industry Magazine – June 22
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM), which manages lands across Arizona, New Mexico, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah, has acreage set aside for utility-scale solar development on only 0.03 percent of the roughly 100 million acres it manages across the sun-rich Southwest, according to a recent report published by the Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis. The report urges “stronger direction from above” over state- and field-level BLM offices that may otherwise be resistant to approving permits for utility-scale solar installations on public lands. Of the 119 million acres the BLM manages across the six southwestern states, 100 million acres, or nearly 84 percent, are completely off limits for utility-scale solar development. Roughly 286,000 acres, or less than 0.25 percent of the total, are approved for utility-scale development. About 19.4 million acres, or 16 percent of these lands, are open to variances that could allow utility-scale solar development.
Solar supports included within House Democrats’ $1.5T infrastructure bill
PV-Tech – June 23
Measures designed to support solar and other renewables have been proposed within the $1.5 trillion infrastructure investment Moving Forward Act bill, introduced by House Democrats. Prospective measures to support renewables include: a modernization of energy infrastructure, involving an investment of more than $70 billion to help modify grids to accommodate more renewable energy sources, a commitment to “reinvigorate” the country’s commitment to clean energy by building on existing tax incentives, and promoting green energy and energy efficiency projects that adopt high-road labor practices.
Clean energy groups to propose FERC rules for national transmission system saving $47B a year
Utility Dive – June 18
The American Council on Renewable Energy and Americans for a Clean Energy Grid on Wednesday launched a new campaign to build support for a stronger U.S. transmission system, including upgrades to interregional lines and the development of a nationwide, high-voltage direct current network. The campaign, called the Macro Grid Initiative, argues that consumers would save up to $47 billion annually with a national electrical power system versus the existing, regionally divided system. The groups say they will propose a new planning rule to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission that will encourage proactive transmission development that allocates costs efficiently and grows consumer access to renewable resources.
How a historic drought led to higher power costs and emissions
Phys.org – June 19
In a recent study, a team led by a researcher from North Carolina State University analyzed the downstream effects of a drought in California that took place in 2012-2016, and was considered one of the worst in the state's history. They found that the drought led to significant increases in power costs for three major investor-owned utilities in the state, but other weather-related events were also likely the main culprit behind those increases. They also found that increased harmful emissions of greenhouse gases could be linked to hydropower losses during drought in the future, even as more sources of renewable energy are added to the grid.
Wells Fargo signs renewable energy deal with Shell
Environment and Energy Leader – June 24
Wells Fargo today announced structured renewable energy agreements with Shell Energy North America and its wholly owned subsidiary MP2 Energy to secure approximately 150,000 megawatt-hours of renewable energy annually. This energy addresses 100 percent of the energy consumption of approximately 1,200 Wells Fargo properties in California and the mid-Atlantic states, and meets 100 percent of the company’s eligible load in California, Delaware, Maryland, New Jersey, Illinois, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and the District of Columbia. Wells Fargo’s commitment supports the development of new utility-scale solar installations in Riverside County and three counties in Virginia, which will increase renewable energy flowing into the California ISO and PJM Interconnections.
NTEC proposes solar array at Navajo Mine
Navajo Times – June 17
Navajo Transitional Energy Company (NTEC) is finally making the transition. The company, which recently came under fire after purchasing three coal mines in Montana and Wyoming, has partnered with Photosol US to submit a proposal to site 200 megawatts of solar power on reclaimed land at its Navajo Mine in New Mexico. The proposal is a response to Salt River Project’s request for proposals to develop 400 megawatts of solar power, including 200 megawatts from the Navajo Nation.
Dow Chemical signs 150-MW PPA on First Solar PV project
Solar Power World – June 18
First Solar signed a 15-year power purchase agreement with chemical company Dow for its Gulf Coast operations in Texas, the largest petrochemical site in the western hemisphere. Under the agreement, First Solar will supply Dow with renewable energy from 75 percent of its 200-megawatt Horizon Solar project in Frio County, Texas. The project will use First Solar’s Series 6 PV modules, designed and developed at the company’s research and development centers in California and Ohio.