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Renewable Energy Update
February 17, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

California demand for wind power energizes transmission firms

Reuters - Feb 15 A firm controlled by Philip Anschutz, the billionaire entertainment and pro sports magnate, will soon build the largest wind farm in the U.S. to serve utilities in California, where officials have set ambitious green power goals. The $5 billion project, however, will be constructed 700 miles away in Wyoming, a state better known for coal mines and oil fields. The vast distance between the two states provides a different Anschutz-owned firm with another big opportunity: a $3 billion project building transmission lines to deliver the power - one of a dozen similar power-line projects by other companies across the West. In all, about 5,700 miles of transmission lines are in development with the goal of delivering renewable energy to California from other states, according to the Western Interstate Energy Board.

Solar topped new energy production in 2016

San Jose Mercury News - Feb 15 New solar installations in the U.S. almost doubled last year, becoming the top new energy source in the country for the first time. The U.S. added about 14,600 megawatts of capacity in new solar energy installations in 2016, about twice as much as the previous year, according to GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association. Solar accounted for 39 percent of new power coming on to the grid, more than natural gas, wind, or coal. California again led the way, contributing more than one-third of the total new production. The strongest growth came in large-scale production — solar farms typically capable of generating more than 1 megawatt. A megawatt of solar power can provide energy for about 160 homes, according to SEIA. The utility-scale installations made up about 70 percent of the added capacity.

With net metering secure, California solar now faces uncertainty from time-of-use changes

Greentech Media - Feb 16 Last year, California’s solar industry celebrated its win on preserving net metering. This year, it gets hit by the other side of the equation: time-of-use rates. Over the coming months, California’s big three utilities will be filing general rate cases that shift the hourly schedule of on-peak and off-peak hours -- and the widely varying retail prices per kilowatt-hour that go with them -- into much later in the day. The resulting drop in the value of net-metered, on-site solar for future solar projects will be considerable, according to solar industry analyses. It could amount to 15 percent to 20 percent for San Diego residential systems, or 20 percent to 40 percent for schools or public agencies looking to go solar in Pacific Gas & Electric territory.

Nevada bill would raise RPS to 80% by 2040

PV Magazine - Feb 15 Assemblyman Chris Brooks, long a solar champion, used his first day in the chair to propose AB 206, a bill that would increase Nevada’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) from its current 2017 level of 20 percent to 80 percent by 2040. The increases would come in two-year intervals starting in 2018-2019, when the RPS would jump 4 percent from the current goal of 22 percent to 26 percent. It would then rise 4 percent in each subsequent year until 2030, when utilities would be required to produce 50 percent of their electricity from renewable energy. AB 206, which has five co-sponsors in addition to Brooks, also requires the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to set new RPS standards for utilities in the state immediately to move them toward the higher goal.

San Diego County rejects proposal to study alternative electricity program

San Diego Union-Tribune - Feb 15 The county Board of Supervisors on Wednesday blocked efforts to explore a public energy program that would provide residents and businesses an alternative to San Diego Gas & Electric. The board voted 3-1 against launching a feasibility study of a government-run electricity program that in parts of California has routinely delivered more power from renewable-energy sources for roughly the same price or lower than what investor-owned utilities charge. The arrangements, known as community choice aggregation, or CCA, is being adopted by an increasing number of cities and counties statewide. In California, most of the local governments that embrace a CCA aim to aggressively ramp up use of renewable energy as a way to counter climate change by reducing emissions of greenhouse gases.

Chinese solar company opening Sacramento module factory

Sacramento Business Journal - Feb 9 A solar module factory expected to bring more than 200 jobs to Sacramento is slated to begin production in mid-September at McClellan Business Park. It will be the first U.S. factory for Nanjing, China-based solar cell and module manufacturer China Sunergy Co, which on Thursday announced its subsidiary Sunergy America has agreed to lease a 140,000-square-foot manufacturing building — previously a plant where J.C. Penney made window coverings. The company will bring around 20 management staff from overseas and will hire other employees locally.

SunLink and CalCom partner on small-scale solar farms in California

PV-Tech - Feb 16 San Francisco’s SunLink and Central Valley’s CalCom Solar have teamed up for the completion of three small-scale solar farms in Shafter and Wasco, California. The projects are the first installation in a greater Central Valley portfolio, the companies have said. The total capacity of the wider portfolio is not known, but one of the projects completed by the partners was the 669kW ground-mount fixed-tilt GeoPro solar farm.

NV Energy flips the switch on 50-megawatt solar plant

Las Vegas Sun - Feb 14 The Las Vegas Valley has a new source of solar-powered energy to serve the area. The 50-megawatt Boulder Solar II plant, southeast of Las Vegas, reached its commercial operation status, NV Energy announced Monday. Boulder Solar II is the 14th solar energy resource to serve the state and is one of 43 renewable energy projects in Nevada.

Disclosure: Allen Matkins represented SunPower in the development of the Boulder Solar II plant discussed in this article.

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