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Renewable Energy Update
August 7, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

CAISO approves changes to enhance demand response in wholesale markets

Utility Dive - Jul 28 The California ISO (CAISO) has approved a measure aiming to enhance the ability of demand response to participate in the wholesale power markets as part of the state's efforts to allow greater market participation for a wider range of resources. The CAISO board also agreed to extend temporary measures put into place to manage the impacts of the Aliso Canyon natural gas storage facility restrictions. The state's largest utilities also asked regulators for authorization to sign contracts for more than 200 megawatts of demand response resources bid in California's third Demand Response Auction Mechanism.


The fight against climate change added 41,000 jobs to the Inland Empire economy

Press-Enterprise - Aug 3 More than $9 billion and 41,000 jobs have been added to the Inland Empire economy as a result of California’s climate change initiatives, a new study found. The indirect effect of that spending supported more than 73,000 jobs and $14.2 billion in economic activity in the Inland Empire from 2010 to 2016, according to the study commissioned by Next 10. A local economist, however, takes issue with some of the study’s findings. John Husing, chief economist with the Inland Empire Economic Partnership, said the study doesn’t adequately address the impact of higher costs caused by climate change programs on low-income residents. A nonpartisan, nonprofit think tank based in San Francisco, Next 10 focuses on economic, environmental, and quality of life issues.

Metro agrees to buy 95 electric buses, in the first step toward an emissions-free fleet

Los Angeles Times - Jul 27 In the first step toward a new goal of eliminating tailpipe emissions by 2030, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority has agreed to spend more than $138 million to buy 95 electric buses that will run on two Los Angeles County busways. The purchases from New Flyer of America Inc. and BYD are among the largest of any U.S. transit agency, and will establish Metro as a proving ground for a new technology that is still relatively untested. When the electric buses begin running, they will represent less than 5 percent of Metro’s fleet, but will at least double the number of electric buses in use in California.

DOE seeks to unlock new tech-to-market investment pathways with $7.8M grant round

Greentech Media - Aug 1 The Department of Energy (DOE) doesn’t just fund individual green technologies seeking to leap the gap from lab to market. It also funds work on how to narrow that gap, by creating new structures to bring in new investors, like charities, pension funds, mid-cap companies, commercial lenders, or testing and certification labs with connections to the green energy market. That's the kind of work that will be conducted under a year-long grant program announced Tuesday by the DOE’s Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) office. Dubbed its “Innovative Pathways” projects, the 11 separate efforts, including several in California, will receive a collective $7.8 million to develop their concepts, and a year or so to prove whether or not they work. 

Utility helps wean Vermonters from the electric grid

New York Times - Jul 29 In a new low-income development that replaced a trailer park in Vermont, rooftop solar panels sparkle in the sun while backup batteries quietly hum away in utility closets. Throughout the state, customers are signing up for a new program that will allow them to power their homes while entirely disconnected from the grid. The projects are part of a bold experiment aimed at turning homes, neighborhoods, and towns into virtual power plants, able to reduce the amount of energy they draw from the central electric system. But behind them are not green energy advocates or proponents of living off the land. Instead, it’s the local electric company, Green Mountain Power. The initiatives are driven by financial advantages as well as environmental ones. As a practical matter, the less electricity the utility pulls from the regional transmission system, especially at times of peak demand, the less it has to pay in fees, producing savings it can pass on to customers. 

Utility Con Edison wins approval for low-income solar program

Solar Industry Magazine - Aug 3 The New York State Public Service Commission has approved utility Con Edison’s proposed pilot program to build solar arrays on company-owned rooftops and properties to make renewable energy available to low-income customers. Con Edison says it expects to begin installing the first solar panels in 2018 on properties in Brooklyn, Queens, and Westchester County. Although the pilot project will initially produce 3 megawatts of power, Con Edison also proposed in its 2016 filing an expansion to 11 megawatts that could serve a total of 6,000 low-income customers if the pilot is deemed successful. 

Alphabet wants to fix renewable energy’s storage problem — with salt

Bloomberg - Jul 31 Alphabet Inc.'s secretive X research lab, which hatched Google's driverless car almost a decade ago, is developing a system for storing renewable energy that would otherwise be wasted. This one, code named Malta, involves vats of salt and antifreeze. It can be located almost anywhere, and it has the potential to last longer than lithium-ion batteries and compete on price with new hydroelectric plants and other existing clean energy storage methods, according to X executives and researchers. X is stepping into a market that could see about $40 billion in investment by 2024, according Bloomberg New Energy Finance. Roughly 790 megawatts of energy were stored last year, and overall capacity is expected to hit 45 gigawatts in seven years, BNEF estimates. 

sPower sold to AES and AIMCo for $1.6 billion

PV-Tech - Aug 1 The $1.6 billion sale of major utility-scale solar developer and operator FTP Power LLC (sPower) to AES Corporation and Canada-based investment manager Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo) has been completed. Private investment firm Fir Tree Partners agreed to sell sPower to the AES and AIMCo joint venture back in February of this year. sPower, headquartered in Salt Lake City, has 1.3 gigawatts of operational projects and a development portfolio of more than 10 gigawatts, with 75 utility-scale solar plants, primarily located in California and North Carolina, and distributed wind projects across 11 states.

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