Renewable Energy Update - October 2017

by Allen Matkins

Renewable Energy Focus

California greenhouse gas emissions fall as renewables boom

PV Magazine - Oct 4 California is leading the energy transition in the United States, including achieving the highest portion of solar on its grid of any state. The latest data from the state’s grid operator shows that this trend is accompanied by an ongoing decline in natural gas usage, as well as a lower level of electricity imports – despite an increasingly sophisticated network of electricity trading with other grids. A September 30 report by the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) shows that greenhouse gas emissions – both from in-state generation and imports – fell to 33.64 million tons of CO2 in the first eight months of 2017. This represents at least the third straight year of decline, and is 26 percent lower than in the first eight months of 2014. Much of this is due to the increase in hydroelectric generation, a result of record rainfall in California over the last two years. This report also shows non-hydro renewable energy climbing to 24.8 percent of demand, which represents the third straight year of increase.

Gas and renewable groups oppose DOE's call to support nuclear and coal

Reuters - Oct 2 The main U.S. oil and gas lobbying group joined forces with 10 other energy industry groups last Monday to oppose a call by the U.S. energy secretary for federal regulators to offer incentives for struggling nuclear and coal power plants. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Friday called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to issue a rule within 60 days to give many coal and nuclear plants incentives for providing reliable electricity to the nation’s grid. The Trump administration has pushed a policy of “energy dominance” for energy companies to produce as much fossil fuel as possible to supply domestic markets and allies abroad. But the opposition to Perry’s call by the 11 groups that include lobbyists for the natural gas, solar, and wind power sectors is an indication the Trump policy could put industries in direct competition with one another.

California’s shared renewables at a crossroads

Renewable Energy World - Oct 2 California, once considered a leader in community solar, has struggled to implement Senate Bill 43 (SB-43), which mandated the creation of the Green Tariff Shared Renewables (GTSR) Program. As envisioned by SB-43, the GTSR Program includes a Green Tariff (GT) component and an Enhanced Community Renewables (ECR) component. It provides an opportunity for the three California investor-owned utilities combined to procure up to 600 megawatts of new renewable energy. While the GT portion of this bill has attracted some customer interest despite a price premium ($0.015-$0.033/kWh), no new community solar projects have been built or approved under the ECR program. Developers say that the ECR program is unsuccessful due to its complex and uncertain bill credits, lack of sufficient financial return for solar developers, and burdensome program administrative requirements.

California regulators edge away from gas peaker plants

Utility Dive - Oct 3 The California Public Utilities Commission has rejected a proposed refurbishment to the Ellwood gas-fired peaker plant in the Moorpark region of Southern California. The unanimous decision follows a proposed decision from a California administrative law judge in April that urged the CPUC to reject upgrades to the NRG-owned plant and the installation of a small battery. Any electricity needs in the region can be met "in a manner more consistent with the [CPUC's] goals of reduced reliance on fossil fuel," ALJ Regina DeAngelis wrote. The decision came as the California ISO filed comments at the CPUC urging it to reconsider approval of the 262-megawatt Puente Power Project, saying that renewable resources and reactive power can serve local electricity needs instead of the refurbished plant. Last Friday, a California Energy Commission committee assigned to evaluate the Puente plant recommended against approving the facility.

Riverside County solar project scores $131-million deal with Central Valley farm district

Desert Sun - Sep 29 Modesto Irrigation District, which provides energy and water to farms and cities in California's San Joaquin Valley, has approved a $131-million contract to buy more than 2.5 million megawatt-hours of electricity over 20 years from a solar farm in eastern Riverside County. That's enough electricity to supply roughly 18,000 average homes, or nearly one-fifth of Modesto's residential customers. The $131-million deal brings NextEra Energy Resources one step closer to finishing its Blythe solar project, which at 235 megawatts is already one of the country's largest solar farms. The Florida-based developer says the solar project, outside the city of Blythe, will ultimately cover 4,000 acres of California desert with 485 megawatts of solar panels.

Solar panels will soon pop up near Cal Poly

San Luis Obispo Tribune - Oct 3 Work started late last month on Cal Poly’s planned 4.5-megawatt solar farm on grazing land adjacent to Highway 1 on the western edge of campus. The project is expected to be completed in late December. When complete, the plant is expected to generate more than 11 million kilowatt-hours per year, which is about a quarter of Cal Poly’s energy needs, according to a school news release.


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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