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Renewable Energy Update
December 8, 2017


PG&E goes for 165MW of energy storage towards 2024 mandate

Energy Storage News - Dec 6 Investor-owned utility Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has furthered its commitment towards the state’s mandated target for energy storage deployment by utilities, putting 165 megawatts of contracts forward to regulator California Public Utilities Commission for approval. Along with Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, PG&E has been instructed to put 1.325 gigawatts of energy storage online by 2024. PG&E’s share of that target is 508 megawatts. In May, state policymakers instructed each to add 166.66 megawatts – adding up to 500 megawatts between the three – of additional energy storage capacity to that target. The latest 165 megawatts of potential contracts are all lithium battery-based, split across six projects. Four come via special vehicles created by major international utilities, Enel Green Power and EDF Renewable Energy, along with Tesla and developer LS Power.

SEIA pushes America First plan to sway Trump against potential tariffs in solar trade case

Utility Dive - Dec 5 One day before the final hearing at the U.S. Office of the Trade Representative, the Solar Energy Industries Association unveiled a new strategy aimed at appealing to President Donald Trump's protectionist tendencies in order to forestall any potential tariffs in a high-profile trade case.Titled "America First Plan for Solar Energy," SEIA lays out six steps for Trump to take to "maintain the solar industry's booming growth." The first step? Reject all tariff proposals. SEIA's move underscores the intense lobbying from both sides of the solar trade case. 

Google just bought enough renewables to power its operations for the year

Vox - Dec 6 Recently, Google announced that it has purchased a whopping 3 gigawatts of renewable energy capacity — equal to what all of its offices and data centers around the world use on an annual basis. The tech giant was able to hit this target of matching 100 percent of its energy use after closing new deals to buy wind and solar power generated in South Dakota, Oklahoma, and Iowa, adding to several purchases it has made since 2012. This does not mean Google is “powered” by renewables. Instead, the company hit this mark largely by buying renewable energy certificates (RECs), which ensure a certain quantity of wind and solar electricity is allocated to a given use. In other words, Google bought renewable power in quantities that match its consumption, even though that renewable electricity isn’t necessarily powering its operations directly.

Supreme Court to hear arguments in solar power dispute

The Hill - Dec 1 The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a legal fight between an Arizona utility and a rooftop solar company. Justices will examine whether state-regulated agencies can be subject to antitrust lawsuits like the one brought by SolarCity against the Salt River Project. The utility has argued that it’s not subject to antitrust lawsuits because it’s a state-regulated agency. But the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in June rejected that argument and ruled SolarCity’s suit against the entity can move forward.

Critics demand clean energy guarantees for Diablo Canyon closure

Greentech Media - Nov 30 Diablo Canyon, California’s last operating nuclear power plant, will close by 2025. On Tuesday, the California Public Utilities Commission heard a final set of oral arguments over the proposed decision that will guide Diablo Canyon’s nearly decade-long path to closure, and lay the groundwork for PG&E to procure the energy, capacity, and reliability resources to take its place. The initial plan, announced last summer, was a joint settlement agreement between the utility and multiple parties with a stake in its outcome, and included a first-of-a-kind commitment to replace the plant’s 2.3-gigawatt capacity with zero-carbon emissions resources. But earlier this month, a CPUC administrative law judge issued a proposed decision that made some troubling changes to this framework, said Ralph Cavanagh, energy program co-director for the Natural Resources Defense Council, one of the key parties to the settlement. Tuesday offered NRDC and other groups opposed to the proposal a final chance to air their grievances before the commission makes its final decision.

Duke Energy takes full ownership of REC Solar

Solar Industry Magazine - Dec 6 Duke Energy, one of the largest energy companies in the country, has acquired full ownership of California-based REC Solar, a provider of renewable energy solutions for commercial customers throughout the U.S. Duke Energy first acquired a majority interest in REC Solar in February 2015. REC Solar will continue to be a part of Duke Energy Renewables, Duke Energy’s commercial renewables organization.

One of the country’s biggest oil fields just turned to an unexpected power source: solar

Washington Post - Nov 29 The Belridge oil field near Bakersfield, California, is one of the largest in the country. It has been producing oil for more than a century and last year produced about 76,000 barrels a day, according to Aera Energy, its operator. But the oil field is about to become even more remarkable. Its future production operations will be partly powered by a massive solar energy project that will make the oil extraction process more environmentally friendly, according to Aera and GlassPoint Solar, the firm that will create the solar project. Aera has traditionally used natural gas to heat up water to create steam. But Aera and GlassPoint will now use a large, 850-megawatt solar thermal array to evaporate the water that’s pumped into the ground to liberate more oil. The companies say this will offset 4.87 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year and avoid the emission of 376,000 tons of carbon.

Disclosure: Allen Matkins is representing GlassPoint in its permitting for the Belridge Solar Project.

Proposal to go solar at old Oakland power plant

San Francisco Chronicle - Dec 5 An aging power plant running on jet fuel near Oakland’s Jack London Square could be replaced by batteries and solar panels, under a proposal by Pacific Gas and Electric Co. The plant, whose equipment is roughly 40 years old, runs just a handful of days each year, at times when electricity demand is particularly high. But it can’t simply be shut down without jeopardizing the reliability of electricity service in downtown Oakland. So PG&E, working with city leaders and several environmental groups, devised an alternative, called the Oakland Clean Energy Initiative. If the proposal wins the approval of California’s electricity grid managers, PG&E will seek proposals from developers to install solar arrays and battery storage facilities in Oakland to replace the plant’s output.

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Renée Louise Robin Renée Louise Robin
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Environmental & Natural Resources | Land Use & Development
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Barry H. Epstein Barry H. Epstein
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Devine William R William R. Devine
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