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Renewable Energy Update
January 27, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

Treasury nominee backs existing phaseout of the wind energy tax credit

Greentech Media - Jan 24 Amid the flurry of news leading up to the inauguration of President Trump, Treasury Secretary nominee Steven Mnuchin said last week that he supports the existing phaseout of the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind energy. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) questioned Mnuchin on his support for leaving the tax incentive as structured, while working on a broader tax reform proposal. Mnuchin did not specifically address the Investment Tax Credit (ITC) for solar, but his position on the PTC is likely a positive for the solar industry. Both tax credits were passed as part of a large spending package at the end of 2015. The ITC is currently scheduled to ramp down incrementally through 2021, and remain at 10 percent permanently beginning in 2022.

Appeals court to decide future of California carbon auctions

ABC News - Jan 24 Businesses looking to invalidate California's fee for carbon pollution took their arguments to a state appeals court Tuesday in a case that could determine the future of one of California's signature efforts to combat climate change. With a central piece of Governor Jerry Brown's legacy on the line, lawyers for the state and for environmental advocacy groups defended a program that has been closely watched around the world as a potential model for controlling carbon emissions. Uncertainty surrounding the case has already been a major factor in upending the market for pollution permits, which consistently raised hundreds of millions of dollars a year until demand plummeted in 2016.

Trump infrastructure priority plan includes transmission, wind, and energy storage

Utility Dive - Jan 25 A 50-item list of infrastructure priorities compiled by the Trump administration and released by McClatchy and the Kansas City Star includes provisions for transmission expansion, wind and energy storage, among other power sector projects. It is not clear if the $137 billion wish list is a draft or final version, the outlets reported, but it is similar to an earlier list the transition team provided to the National Governor's Association for review. Senate Democrats also released an infrastructure plan, calling for $100 billion for power grid upgrades and incentives for renewable energy.

As competition grows, solar installers turn to batteries and loans

Greentech Media - Jan 25 Amid growing competition, companies that install solar panels are increasingly looking to sell batteries and offer their customers the option to own their own solar system. Those are some of the chief takeaways from a new survey, released Wednesday, of hundreds of solar installers conducted by solar data company EnergySage. At the same time, the report suggests that solar installers gained confidence in the solar market in 2016, compared to 2015, despite worries over changing policies under President Donald Trump and difficult public markets. Out of a survey of 360 solar installers, conducted within the 12 months of 2016, energy storage emerged as the most popular new item that companies plan to start offering in 2017. About 60 percent of solar installers already offered energy storage in 2016, and another 16 percent plan to offer energy storage this year. 

Australian firm plans nation's largest geothermal plant in Imperial Valley

Los Angeles Times - Jan 14 In California’s southeastern desert, where an abundance of clean energy boils just beneath the surface, two start-up firms aim to build the nation’s largest geothermal power plant and mining operation. Controlled Thermal Resources (CTR) and Alger Alternative Energy plan to tap the Imperial Valley’s geothermal resources to bring a power plant online as early as 2020 that would be able to generate nearly six times the electricity as similar facilities in the area. In addition, the mining operation would begin extracting lithium carbonate — used for battery production — as well as manganese, zinc, and other minerals in 2019. The Imperial Irrigation District awarded CTR an agreement for up to 50 years to lease 1,880 acres for the power plant and mining operations, if milestones are reached.

Apple to harvest Nevada sun

reNews - Jan 26 Apple and NV Energy have agreed to build a 200-megawatt solar plant in Nevada by early 2019. The project will supply electricity to Apple’s Reno data center. NV Energy plans to file an application with the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada in the coming weeks in order to enter into a power purchase agreement for the solar power plant.

Recurrent Energy signs PPA deal with SMUD for 60MW California project

PV-Tech - Jan 25 Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent Energy has signed off on a 20-year power purchase agreement for 60 megawatts of solar power with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). As part of the deal, SMUD will receive electricity from the 60-megawatt Tranquillity 8 Verde solar photovoltaic project, located in Fresno County. Construction on the plant is expected to begin in mid 2017.

Brookfield in exclusive talks to buy SunEdison’s TerraForms

Bloomberg - Jan 23 Brookfield Asset Management Inc., Canada’s largest alternative asset manager, has entered into exclusive talks to buy bankrupt SunEdison Inc.’s two yieldcos, valuing the power companies at as much as $2.46 billion. Toronto-based Brookfield offered $12 a share for TerraForm Power Inc., conditional on acquiring more than half of sister company TerraForm Global Inc., according to a regulatory filing Monday. SunEdison formed the two yieldcos as part of an expansion effort that made it the biggest clean energy company in the world, with assets spread across six continents. The two-year buying binge left it overextended and in April it filed the biggest U.S. bankruptcy of 2016.

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