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Renewable Energy Update
September 14, 2017
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Renewable Energy Focus

U.S. solar installations rise despite drop in residential market

Reuter - Sep 11 U.S. solar installations rose 8 percent in the second quarter as robust utility demand offset a sharp pullback in residential rooftop systems, according to a new GTM Research and Solar Energy Industries Association report. The industry installed 2.39 gigawatts of photovoltaic solar, up from 2.2 gigawatts a year ago. Utility projects accounted for 58 percent of the total. The quarter’s growth is expected to be short lived, as the market is forecast to decline 17 percent for the year, reflecting weaker residential demand and lower utility procurement compared with 2016, when a federal tax credit had been slated to expire. The non-residential market soared 31 percent to 437 megawatts, boosted by development of community solar projects in Minnesota and Massachusetts and corporate and industrial demand in California. 


California lawmaker backs off regional energy grid plan

Sacramento Bee - Sep 13 A contentious proposal to merge California's energy grid with others in the West won't advance this year, after the lawmaker sponsoring it said Wednesday it requires more discussion. The year's legislative session is quickly winding to a close, with lawmakers heading home after Friday's votes. Democratic Assemblyman Chris Holden announced he would halt his two bills to let the California Independent System Operator eventually merge with grid managers in other Western states. Cal-ISO and other backers said a regionalization plan would make it more convenient and cheap to integrate renewable energy sources like wind and solar. 

Energy Department expands goals for solar power initiative

The Hill - Sep 12 A Department of Energy effort to lower the cost of solar power has hit a key goal thee years early, officials said Tuesday. The agency is also set to expand the goals of its SunShot Initiative and pump new funding into reducing costs and expanding energy storage, the department announced. The price of electricity generated by utility-scale solar photovoltaic systems fell to $0.06 per kilowatt hour this year, achieving a 2020 goal of the SunShot program three years early. Prices for residential and commercial systems are 86 percent and 89 percent toward achieving their price goals, the Energy Department reported. Given the reduction in prices, the agency said it will continue its work to cut costs further and fund projects that “will focus on a broader scope of Administration priorities,” including electric grid reliability and energy storage.

Some of California's major utilities are trying to block the growth of government-owned electricity programs

Los Angeles Times - Sep 8 Some of California’s big shareholder-owned utilities are working to thwart the expansion of government-owned electricity programs, including Los Angeles County’s proposed end run on traditional power providers. San Diego Gas & Electric Co. and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. are seeking amendments to state legislation or even a separate bill before the session ends Sept. 15 that will impose a moratorium on the so-called community choice aggregation programs operated by local governments as alternatives to existing power companies. Southern California Edison so far has taken a wait-and-see stance. The legislative effort has been dubbed the Freeze Bill for proposing to put the choice program expansion on hold, at least until the state develops what the utilities believe are appropriate fees to be paid by customers who leave for government-run providers. 

Oxnard power plant hearing to focus on renewable alternatives

Ventura County Star - Sep 12 Representatives from the California Energy Commission will lead a hearing on Thursday regarding the proposed Puente power project in Oxnard. If the committee of two energy commissioners does not request more research on the proposal by NRG Energy Inc., a final decision could come at the beginning of next year. By 2020, two of the three power plants at the Mandalay Generating Station must go off line because of a change in state law that prevents the use of ocean water to cool down operations. NRG owns the Mandalay and Ormond Beach power plants and both intend to wind down by 2020. To meet the power demand, NRG is proposing to build a new, more efficient plant to meet the needs of a region that stretches from Santa Barbara to Ventura counties and a small portion of Los Angeles County. Thursday’s meeting will be narrowly focused on a study released last month on whether alternatives to fossil fuels — such as battery storage, solar, and conservation — could theoretically meet the need after the old power plants go off line. 

8minutenergy begins construction on California solar facility

Power Engineering - Sep 11 8minutenergy has completed debt and tax equity financing for the Redwood 4 Solar Farm, and it has begun construction of the 26-megawatt project in Kern County. Redwood 4 is the fourth solar project, all developed by 8minutenergy, in the 100-megawatt Redwood solar cluster near Bakersfield. The previous three came online in 2015, and are now owned by sPower.

Tenaska closes refinancing deal on project in California

PV-Tech - Sep 8 Nebraska-based renewable energy company Tenaska announced Tuesday that it has closed a refinancing deal on its 150-megawatt Tenaska Imperial Solar Energy Center West PV project through an issuance of $400 million of senior secured, long-term notes. The 150-megawatt PV project began full commercial operation in April 2016 as part of a 25-year power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas and Electric. The installation, located near Seeley in California's Imperial Valley, can generate enough power for approximately 55,000 homes.

San Mateo power provider inks solar PPA

Solar Industry Magazine - Sep 12 Recurrent Energy, a subsidiary of Canadian Solar Inc., has inked a 100-megawatt solar power purchase agreement with Peninsula Clean Energy (PCE), the electricity provider of San Mateo County. Electricity will be delivered to PCE from Recurrent Energy’s Mustang Two solar photovoltaic project in Kings County, located in central California. The project is expected to reach commercial operations in 2019. 

Solar Frontier sells 28 MW to Capital Dynamics

PV Magazine - Sep 13 The U.S. subsidiary of Japanese thin-film PV manufacturer Solar Frontier has sold off 28 megawatts of solar capacity to a unit of Swiss asset manager and renewables investor Capital Dynamics. Solar Frontier Americas Development — the San Francisco-based downstream unit of the Tokyo-based CIS module supplier — did not disclose the terms of the deal. It has already locked in PPAs for the two projects with Pacific Gas & Electric, according to an online statement. Capital Dynamics Clean Energy Infrastructure aims to start construction in the fourth quarter. The two projects will be built in Fresno County.

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