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Renewable Energy Update
January 19, 2018
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2018 could see wave of West Coast climate pollution pricing

Reuters - Jan 17 If elected officials get their way, the entire West Coast of North America could be putting a price on pollution by the end of this year. As state legislature sessions opened this month, Washington state Governor Jay Inslee called for a carbon tax, and Oregon legislators proposed a “cap and invest” system. Both policies are designed to make industrial emitters of carbon dioxide pay some of the costs of damage caused by growing levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere, and to create incentives for them to reduce emissions. If the Washington and Oregon legislatures pass such measures, they would join California’s cap-and-trade system to the south and British Columbia’s carbon tax to the north.


Nearly half of utility-scale capacity installed in 2017 came from renewables

Energy Collective - Jan 16 Once final data are in, the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) expects about 25 gigawatts of new utility-scale electric generating capacity to have been added to the power grid during 2017, nearly half of which use renewable technologies, especially wind and solar. Another 3.5 gigawatts of small-scale solar net capacity additions are estimated to have come online in 2017. Of the renewable capacity additions in 2017, more than half came online during the fourth quarter. Most renewable generation in 2017 came from the Western census division, which accounted for the majority of the hydroelectric (67 percent) and solar (69 percent) generation.

PG&E launches country’s largest utility-sponsored EV charging program

Greentech Media - Jan 17 After years of bargaining, Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) officially launched its EV Charge Network pilot program this week. It’s the largest utility-sponsored EV charging program in the country. The results could offer lessons on the best path forward for other states that hope to implement EV adoption at the scale of the country’s largest market. California has 6.65 electric cars per 1,000 people, but infrastructure remains a persistent barrier to large-scale EV uptake in the state and around the U.S. Many argue that utilities hold the key. PG&E’s program includes 7,500 Level 2 chargers and a budget of $130 million. 

CPUC's latest order backing batteries spells more trouble for fossil-fuel power plants

Los Angeles Times - Jan 15 California, the state that helped birth the global boom in battery-toting electric vehicles, is trying to spark a similar transformation for utilities. And that spells trouble for power plants all across the U.S. that run on natural gas. The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approved an order last Thursday that will require PG&E, the state’s biggest utility, to change the way it supplies power when demand peaks. Instead of relying on electricity from three gas-fired plants run by Calpine Corp., PG&E will have to use batteries or other non-fossil-fuel resources to keep the lights on in the most-populated U.S. state.

Shell to acquire interest in U.S. solar developer Silicon Ranch

Solar Industry Magazine - Jan 15 Oil and gas giant Shell has signed an agreement to acquire a 43.83 percent interest in Silicon Ranch Corp., a Nashville-based developer, owner, and operator of U.S. solar energy plants. The deal will make Shell the solar company’s largest shareholder, and a separate agreement with Silicon Ranch will give Shell the possibility to increase its ownership after 2021. Subject to regulatory approvals, the transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of this year. Silicon Ranch has doubled its operating portfolio for three consecutive years, with approximately 880 megawatts of PV systems that are contracted, under construction, or operating in 14 states from New York to California, and close to 1 gigawatt more in its development pipeline.

Tuscon targets 150 MW

reNews - Jan 16 Arizona electricity company Tucson Electric Power (TEP) will issue a request for proposals for wind farms providing capacity between 100 megawatts and 150 megawatts. The company expects to contract with the successful bidder in 2018 and start receiving power in 2021.

Avangrid brings 500 MW of U.S. wind online

North American Windpower - Jan 15 In recent weeks, Avangrid Renewables began commercial operations at three new U.S. wind farms. More than 500 megawatts of new wind farms in California, New Mexico, and Colorado, all under long-term energy contracts, have joined the company’s U.S. fleet, which now includes 3,300 wind turbines across 22 states. The 13-megawatt Tule Wind Farm in California, the 298-megawatt El Cabo Wind Farm in New Mexico, and the 75-megawatt Twin Buttes II Wind Farm in Colorado all represent substantial investments in rural American communities.

More schools get solar power through $6 million Anaheim utility program

The Orange County Register - Jan 16 Nine Anaheim schools will get shade, cash, and a hands-on science lesson, while the city’s utility moves closer to its goal of getting half its power from renewable energy, thanks to a new partnership. In mid-2018, the Solar for Schools pilot program will build shade structures over schools’ parking spaces and picnic tables and cover them with solar panels that generate energy for the utility. The schools will receive a lease fee for use of their campuses.

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