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Renewable Energy Update
December 21, 2017


UC researchers identify nontraditional sites for future solar farms

UC Riverside - Dec 19 There’s a tradeoff when sprawling solar farms pop up on agricultural land: farmland disappears, perhaps forever, in return for growth in the promising renewable energy sector. But what if large solar installations could be built away from agricultural land, eliminating the competition between two important industries? In a study published this week in Environmental Science and Technology, researchers at the University of California, Riverside and the University of California, Davis, have identified the equivalent of 183,000 football fields of nonagricultural land in California’s Central Valley that could be used for future solar farms. The researchers evaluated four unconventional areas: (1) developed areas within agricultural landscapes, such as rooftops, transportation corridors, and parking lots; (2) land that is too salty for crops to grow, either because of naturally occurring salts or buildup from human activities; (3) reclaimed areas that were previously contaminated with hazardous chemicals; and (4) reservoirs and irrigation channels that can accommodate floating solar panels.

Energy storage advocates ask Congress for ITC clarification

PV Magazine - Dec 19 In an overwhelming show of solidarity, 37 energy storage companies and associations have written a letter to Congressional leaders asking them for clarification on whether their products qualify for the investment tax credit (ITC) and urged them to support their inclusion in upcoming tax legislation. The group is asking Congress to codify the Internal Revenue Service’s previous Private Letter Rulings and guidance on the issue. “There is bipartisan, bicameral support for the Energy Storage Tax Incentive and Deployment Act (S. 1868 and H.R. 4649), and we urge you to clarify this common-sense provision in forthcoming energy-related tax legislation,” the group wrote. If those arguments sound familiar, it’s because they echo the arguments made by the solar industry in 2008 when it lobbied for the original ITC for the industry, and reiterated most recently in 2015, when the ITC was extended. Recently, the solar ITC came under attack in the Senate’s version of the tax reform bill, but intense lobbying by the solar industry helped mitigate the damage, though it did not emerge unscathed.

California regulators propose replacing PG&E natural gas plants with energy storage

Los Angeles Times - Dec 13 State regulators want Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to replace three natural gas plants with energy storage, a move that represents another significant step toward a clean energy future. The California Public Utilities Commission will vote January 11 on the proposal that would require PG&E to seek clean alternatives to replace the three fossil-fuel plants. Houston-based Calpine, which owns the plants, and the California Independent System Operator, which runs the state’s electric grid, argue that the gas-fueled plants are needed to ensure reliability in the local areas they serve. The three Northern California plants — in Feather River, Yuba, and Metcalf — don’t have long-term contracts with utilities, but have been identified by Cal-ISO as facilities that should remain in operation to support the electric grid when needed. 

Electrify America taps Greenlots to support $2B community-based EV charging initiative

Utility Dive - Dec 19 Electric vehicle charging company Greenlots has been selected by Electrify America to support a $2 billion investment in charging infrastructure across the United States. Under the agreement, Greenlots will provide "end-to-end deployment" of EV charging infrastructure for up to 900 stations in large cities, including Boston, Seattle, New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Sacramento, San Diego, and more. The program will focus on workplaces, apartment buildings, and condos, and Greenlots will work with businesses and facility owners to simplify the process and provide turnkey charging stations.

Ventura County, Ojai, and Thousand Oaks join Los Angeles County's clean energy venture

Ventura County Star - Dec 18 Elected officials overseeing Ojai, Thousand Oaks, and unincorporated areas of Ventura County voted last week to join a clean energy venture that provides an alternative to Southern California Edison. The city councils of Ojai and Thousand Oaks, as well as the Ventura County Board of Supervisors, beating the December 27 deadline set by Los Angeles County, voted last week to join Los Angeles Community Choice Energy, a public authority that will buy and sell electricity. Customers will still get their bills from Edison and could opt out of the community choice program, but otherwise will be enrolled. Dozens of cities in northern California participate in community choice programs, but this one is projected to be the largest in the state by far, officials said.

Capistrano Unified School District embraces students’ proposal: High schools are going solar

The Orange County Register - Dec 19 Sparked by a student initiative, the Capistrano Unified School District has agreed to convert six high schools and the district’s education center to solar power. A coalition of high school students broke into applause at a December 6 school board meeting when trustees voted unanimously to award an $18 million contract to REC Solar Commercial Corporation to do the work. The project, funded with help from a subsidized Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program, figures to save the school district some $849,000 in energy costs annually over the 26-year bond repayment period – or more than $21 million after anticipated expenses, trustees were told. 

Capital Dynamics completes first phase of California Flats project

reNews - Dec 19 Capital Dynamics Clean Energy Infrastructure Team has completed the first phase of commercial operations for its 173-megawatt California Flats solar project in Monterey County. The second phase is currently under construction and is expected to be commissioned by the end of 2018. The full project will produce a combined capacity of 387 megawatts. Capital Dynamics acquired the project from First Solar in August 2017.

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