NewEnergyNews More: March 2015

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  • Tuesday, March 31, 2015


    Texas city opts for 100% renewable energy – to save cash, not the planet; Georgetown, Texas decision not about going green: ‘I’m probably the furthest thing from an Al Gore clone you could find,’ says city official

    Tom Dart, 29 March 2015 (The Guardian)

    “…Georgetown, a community of about 50,000 people some 25 miles north of Austin…[will] become the first city in the Lone Star State to be powered by 100% renewable energy…[I]n Georgetown, the city utility company has a monopoly…When its staff examined their options last year, they discovered something that seemed remarkable, especially in Texas: renewable energy was cheaper than non-renewable. And so last month city officials finalised a deal with SunEdison, a giant multinational solar energy company. It means that by January 2017, all electricity within the city’s service area will come from wind and solar power…In 2014, the city signed a 20-year agreement with EDF for wind power from a forthcoming project near Amarillo. Taking the renewable elements up to 100%, SunEdison will build plants in west Texas that will provide Georgetown with 150 megawatts of solar power in a deal running from 2016 or 2017 to 2041. With consistent and reliable production the goal, the combination takes into account that wind farms generate most of their energy in the evenings, after the sun has set…[T]hey are getting the security of a fixed rate plan that will be similar to the current cost of about 9.6 cents per kilowatt-hour and will protect them against the impact of fluctuations in the price of fossil fuels…” click here for more


    The Innovation That Lets Low-Income People Profit From the Solar Energy Boom A Colorado community solar farm is likely the first of many that lets people buy cheaper, greener electricity.

    Kristine Wong, March 30, 2015 (TakePart)

    “Thanks to net metering—a practice that lets homeowners sell excess electricity generated by solar panels to utilities—Americans in more than 45 states enjoy cheaper and carbon-free power…Yet one group has missed out on the solar bonanza: Low-income families, who are more likely to rent or live in multifamily housing where net metering isn’t available…[But] the United States’ first utility-built community solar farm [from Colorado’s Grand Valley Power] hopes to plug the roofless [in Grand Junction, a mainly rural, low-income area,] into the green-energy boom… Residents will be able to…[save] an estimated $50 to $75 on their monthly utility bill..The solar farm is likely to be the first of many if state legislation encouraging their construction is approved…

    "…[Six to 10 families, still being selected, based on demonstrated need] must pay a $30 monthly fee to access the grid. They also must pay two cents per kilowatt-hour for the amount of electricity consumed, which is a steal compared to the 11 cents per kilowatt-hour Grand Valley Power normally charges…Each family will sign a four-year contract, which is renewable if they continue to qualify for the program…To keep costs down, GRID Alternatives negotiated agreements with SunEdison, Enphase Energy, and IronRidge to supply solar panels and other components at a discount. And local organizations Atlasta Solar and Alpine Bank made donations to the project…Legislation now before the Colorado legislature could encourage the spread of community solar farms by letting utilities count them toward a mandate that they obtain 30 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020…” click here for more


    Community Resilience Microgrids; Utility and Third-Party Public Purpose Microgrids: Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research) “…[T]his report seeks to provide market estimates centered on recent programs and projects specifically linked to resilience in communities in light of recent natural disasters and technology mishaps. Some microgrids may serve multiple purposes, ranging from increasing reliability to renewables integration as well as economic optimization. That is the beauty of this flexible distributed energy resources (DER) networking platform…Despite the obstacles, the [Community Resilience Microgrids (CRM)] market still represents opportunity. While implementation revenue is expected to start out at $162.9 million in 2015, the market is projected to reach $1.4 billion by 2024 under a base scenario. Though the United States leads in terms of policy and technology innovation, the Asia Pacific region is expected to capture the largest market share due to government programs in place in Japan and China. By 2024, this region is projected to represent roughly half of the total CRM market…” click here for more

    Monday, March 30, 2015


    Lefty Lawmaker Warns: Climate Change Makes Women Prostitutes; Without food, they'll do anything to survive, Dem says

    Cheryl Chumley, March 27, 2015 (WND)

    “Rep. Barbara Lee, D-Calif., one of the most liberal members of Congress, issued a dire warning this week about the consequences of failing to properly address climate change: It’ll make women prostitutes, she said…[T]o counter this scenario, she pressed House colleagues to vote for her resolution, recognizing the threat and emphasizing the need to take immediate steps to fight global warming…[W]omen with limited socioeconomic resources may be vulnerable to situations such as sex work, transactional sex, and early marriage that put them at risk for HIV, STIs, unplanned pregnancy and poor reproductive health…[What are needed are] more gender-specific climate change policies and regulations…In mid-2013, [Lee] introduced House Concurrent Resolution 36, saying the exact same…[but] was roundly mocked in the media…[She expressed frustration at] the failure of media to see the clear danger she was outlining…” click here for more


    Florida Supreme Court To Review Solar Energy Ballot Initiative

    Kyle Swenson, March 30, 2015 (Broward Palm Beach New Times)

    “…Backers of [the statewide push to get a solar power proposal on the 2016 ballot have] secured enough initial signatures to send the proposal to the Florida Supreme Court. It's an important first step for backers of the proposal, which seeks to cut-out Florida's powerful utility companies from the solar equation. Considering the opposition the utilities have mounted against efforts to set up a progressive policy for sun power in the Sunshine State, many solar industry folks feel the ballot is the state's best shot…If the highest court OKs the language, the ballot's backers will need to hit the road and gather an additional 600,000 signatures before February 2016…Under this proposal, a homeowner who can't front the cost for their own solar instillation could have a company set one up on their property, then buy the electricity their home unit is producing from the company until the instillation is paid off…[This] basically removes the utilities from the process…” click here for more


    Petition Effort Underway to Replace Private Electric Companies with State Utility; Backers of an initiative to create public utility have been given permission to start the signature gathering process.

    Paige Austin, March 17, 2015 Pacific Palisades Patch

    The California Electrical Utility District Act, which will become a state-wide ballot measure for the 2016 election if adequate validated signatures are collected by September 10, would create a statewide publicly owned utility. The Electric Utility District, to be governed and operated by an elected Board made up of Directors from its 11 wards, would replace Southern California Edison, Pacific Gas and Electric, San Diego Gas and Electric, and the state’s other investor owned utilities. Municipal utilities like the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District could participate or work with statewide utility. Former SMUD Rate Advisory Board Member Ben Davis, who leads the effort, said the new entity would lower costs to electricity consumers and create other economic benefits by removing regulatory complexities and shareholder profit considerations. It will create a substantial change in state and local finances, according to the Legislative Analyst’s Office estimate. Davis said public utilities have 15% lower rates on average nationally than privately owned utilities. SMUD’s rates, he added, average 25% lower than California’s IOU rates. click here for more

    Wednesday, March 25, 2015


    California first state to generate more than 5% of electricity from utility-scale solar

    Allen McFarland, March 24, 2015 Energy Information Administration

    California is the first state to get over 5% of its annual utility-scale electricity generation from utility-scale solar power, according to EIA's Electric Power Monthly. Its 1 MW or bigger solar plants generated a record 9.9 million MWh of electricity in 2014, up 6.1 million MWh over 2013. Thanks to nearly 1,900 MW of new utility-scale solar capacity, California's 2014 utility-scale solar output was three times more second place Arizona and more than all other states combined. The state's total installed utility-scale solar capacity was 5,400 MW at the end of 2014. California solar rebates and net-metering policies have grown over 2,300 MW of additional rooftop and distributed solar by the end of 2014, according to the California Public Utilities Commission. Because California's solar production largely coincides with high demand periods, it was able to replace 83% of the 46% drop in hydroelectric generation lost to the drought. click here for more


    Virginia gets country's first wind energy research lease in federal waters

    Tamara Dietrich, March 25, 2015 Daily Press

    “Virginia is the first state in the country to secure a wind energy research lease to build and operate turbines in federal waters, Gov. Terry McAuliffe announced…The agreement with the federal Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) will enable Dominion Virginia Power to move forward with its plans to erect a pair of 6-megawatt test turbines on the Outer Continental Shelf, about 24 nautical miles east of the Virginia Beach shoreline…The turbines are intended as a demonstration project that, if successful, could mean Dominion will develop an adjacent 113,000-acre Wind Energy Area to generate enough electricity to power 700,000 homes…Environmentalists have long approved of McAuliffe's support for wind energy and, following the announcement, said they were ‘thrilled’ with the progress…The two test turbines could be in place by 2017, generating enough electricity to power about 3,000 homes. Dominion says if it determines it's cost-effective to do so, it will then develop the Wind Energy Area…” click here for more


    Solar Ballot Initiative Is a Step Closer to Supreme Court Review; Demonstrates Strong Statewide Support Garnering Necessary Signatures in Just Two Months

    March 24, 2015 (Floridians for Solar Choice)

    “Just over two months after launching a constitutional amendment ballot initiative to place solar choice on the 2016 ballot…72,000 petition signatures have been verified by Florida’s Division of Elections. This number will continue to increase and the verification clears the way for a legal review of Floridians for Solar Choice’s petition language by the Florida Supreme Court…Once the ballot’s wording gains Supreme Court approval, the campaign will need to collect and have the Division of Elections verify an additional [683,149] signatures…by February 1, 2016 in order to place the proposed constitutional amendment on the November 2016 ballot…The ballot proposal - designed to expand solar choice by removing barriers that limit solar ownership models - is gaining wide support through a diverse coalition of more than two dozen businesses, conservative groups, faith communities, clean energy and environmental organizations. Florida remains one of only five states where current law expressly denies citizens and businesses the freedom to buy solar power electricity directly from someone other than a monopoly electric utility or government-owned electric utility… Registered voters in Florida are urged to sign the petition here.” click here for more

    Tuesday, March 24, 2015


    With increased demand for solar power, green job opportunities return

    Fabian Graber, March 23, 2015 (Richmond Confidential)

    “…[The] first solar electric system in the [historic Atchison Village in Richmond, CA, is being installed. It] will produce clean energy and reduce energy bills for the house owners…by $9,300 over the system’s lifetime, and prevent 30 tons of greenhouse gas emissions…But homeowners are not the only ones who benefit from solar installations on their roofs. The growing demand for solar energy in California is creating new jobs at a fast rate…According to [The Solar Foundation’s] California Solar Job Census of 2014, the state]…added an estimated 54 percent more capacity compared to 2013. Statewide employment in the solar industry grew by 15.8 percent in 2014, which represents almost 7,500 new jobs…[J] ob growth rate in the business is more than ten times higher than the overall job growth rate in California of 1.5 percent…For this year, the Solar Foundation expects an even higher number, some 9,400 solar workers—a term that includes a wide range of sectors, from installation, manufacturing, project development to sales and distribution—to be added to the job market…” click here for more


    Wind is driving energy development in Montana

    Jeff L. Fox, March 23, 2015 (Missoulian)

    “Wind energy contributed significantly more new electricity to power the nation than any other resource last year, according to recently released data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA)…[T]he trend will continue in 2015…[with] 9.8 gigawatts of wind energy to be developed nationwide…[In Montana, wind] has been leading new electric energy development for the past 10 years…[Since] passage of the 15% renewables by 2015 mandate in 2005, 60%] of the new energy capacity constructed in Montana for in-state use and for export has been wind energy. The 665 megawatts of wind energy development has meant 1.4 billion in economic investment, more than $2 million in annual lease payment to landowners, hundreds of construction and permanent jobs, and tens of millions in property taxes to state and local governments…[and it has not negatively impacted] in-state consumer electric rates, as [an exhaustive 2014 study of the state’s RPS by the] bipartisan interim legislative committee found…[Montana] wind development is not slowing…” click here for more


    Prepaid Metering; Meters, Software, and Services: Opportunities, Challenges, and Global Market Analysis and Forecasts

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “The market for prepaid electric metering is steadily gaining ground due to smart metering technology, as well as growing acceptance of the idea of prepaying for services. Smart meters and the accompanying advanced infrastructure can enable utilities to offer prepay as an option. However, some regulators have not allowed this payment method because they see risks to vulnerable customers, such as the elderly or those on low incomes. Other customers prefer prepaying for electricity since it helps them better manage their budgets and, in some cases, reduce their energy consumption…In a few markets, like Great Britain, South Africa, and some countries in Asia Pacific, the existing prepaid meters and payment systems have been accepted and adoption is expected to grow…According to Navigant Research, the global installed base of prepaid metering customers is expected to grow from 31.7 million in 2014 to 85.2 million in 2024…” click here for more

    Monday, March 23, 2015


    Florida's State Employees are Preparing for Climate Change, Even as Their Governor Bans the Phrase

    Tristram Kortem, March 22, 2015 (New Republic)

    “…[Government employees are] in it for the long haul…So I wasn't expecting any heroes to rock the boat from inside the vast bureaucracy that is Florida's government when I began to investigate the silent treatment given the terms ‘climate change’ and ‘global warming’ within state agencies…[But the] employees I've found during my reporting are nonetheless the ones doing the long thinking, working to address the effects of climate change, even as they have to hunker to avoid political interference. They know they'll be here when Rick Scott is gone. So will the problems they're working on…The extent of what all of this means, we don't yet know. While some inside the [Department of Emvironmental Protection (DEP)] have expressed relief that the word is out (pun intended) and sure as hell ain't going back in, they also expressed fear that their projects are now in peril…and that funding for climate change work will be cut…This is the ridiculous balance state employees are being asked to perform…It's Kafka as interpreted by Orwell and performed by Tallahassee's finest…” click here for more


    Solar-Energy Company Sunrun Preparing for Potential IPO; Sources say timing and final price not yet finalized

    Telis Demos and Yuliya Chernova, March 18, 2015 (Wall Street Journal)

    “Solar-energy company Sunrun Inc. is powering up for a potential initial public offering later this year…[Sunrun] is set to work with banks including Credit Suisse Group AG and Goldman Sachs Group Inc. on an IPO, though the deal’s timing and final price aren’t yet finalized…Sunrun, founded in 2007, has already privately raised about $300 million in equity [for residential solar] from investors such as Accel Partners, Foundation Capital, Madrone Capital Partners and Sequoia Capital, according to the company. It was valued at $1.3 billion as of March 2014…In January, Sunrun said it raised $195 million in credit facilities from Investec PLC. Credit Suisse also had previously backed the company with $200 million in project financing in 2012…A handful of solar power companies have made a comeback in the public-offering market in recent years after a period of dormancy. Residential solar installers Vivint Solar Inc.,backed by Blackstone Group LP, and SolarCity Corp., backed by inventor Elon Musk, have also gone public…Like Sunrun, these firms own the solar installations and charge homeowners to use the electricity generated. SolarCity shares have soared more than sixfold since its 2012 IPO, though Vivint shares are down 30% from its 2014 IPO. Vivint has a market capitalization $1.3 billion, while SolarCity is valued at $4.8 billion…The firms have tapped into a growing residential solar-power market. The megawatts of residential solar installed grew 51% in 2014 and is expected to grow 50% this year, research firm GTM Research said..” click here for more


    The Promise of Wind Energy

    Dan Utech, March 12, 2015 (White House Blog)

    “No challenge poses a greater threat to future generations than climate change. In June 2013, President Obama put forward a comprehensive Climate Action Plan…[P]erhaps nowhere has progress been as dramatic as in renewable energy…[W]e harness three times as much electricity from the wind and 10 times as much from the sun as we did since President Obama took office. Wind energy is emerging as a powerhouse…A third of all new generating capacity has come from wind over the past five years, and the United States ranks first in the world in wind power generation…[The DOE’s] Wind Vision: A New Era for Wind Power in the United States…[shows the] nation can deploy wind power to economically provide 35% of our nation’s electricity and supply renewable power in all 50 states by 2050…[That could avoid] more than 12.3 billion tons of carbon pollution cumulatively by 2050, equivalent to avoiding one-third of global annual carbon emissions…[and] support more than 600,000 jobs by 2050, including engineers, construction workers, truck drivers, factory workers, utility operators, maintenance technicians, electricians, and other supporting services…[and] could save approximately 260 billion gallons of water…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 18, 2015


    Keep Your Subsidies: Wind Energy Will Still Be Cheapest

    Kevin Mathews, March 16, 2015 (Care2)

    “One of the main arguments against expanding wind energy in the United States is that it will cost too much. As an emerging industry with new technology, wind energy has relied on government tax subsidies to get off the ground. Take away those incentives, shout opponents, and the wind industry is too expensive compared to gas power…[But within] ten years, [unsubsidized] wind energy is going to be cheaper than energy created from natural gas…[and, with] technological advancements in the field, wind energy will only continue to get cheaper over time [according to the just-released DOE Wind Vision]…[W]hen we factor in all of the hidden costs, such as carbon emissions for various energy sources, wind energy easily has the cheapest real price tag….[but energy corporations now] lobbying to keep gas drilling popular since they stand to profit from this activity…[will be] more likely to change ships once it’s clear what kind of money can be made with renewable energy like wind…[Wind presently accounts for just under five percent of the United States’s power…[but is expected to supply35 percent of our country’s energy needs by 2050…” click here for more


    Utilities fight rise in home solar power; Industry seeking hefty surcharges for consumers

    Joby Warrick, March 15, 2015 (Washington Post via Boston Globe)

    “…[The utility] industry and its fossil-fuel supporters are waging a determined campaign to stop a home-solar insurgency that is rattling the boardrooms of the country’s government-regulated electric monopolies…The campaign’s first phase — an industry push for state laws raising prices for solar customers — failed spectacularly in legislatures around the country, due in part to surprisingly strong support for solar energy from conservatives and evangelicals…More recently, the battle has shifted to public utility commissions, where industry backers have mounted a more successful push for fee hikes that could put solar panels out of reach for many potential customers…Industry officials say they support their customers’ right to generate electricity on their own property, but they say rooftop solar’s new popularity is creating a cost imbalance…Whether home-solar systems add significant costs to electric grids is the subject of intense debate. A [disputed Louisiana study written by fossil fuel lobbyists] last month concluded that solar roofs had resulted in cost shifts of more than $2 million that must be borne by Louisiana customers who lack solar panels…Other studies commissioned by state regulators in Nevada and Mississippi found that costs can be outweighed by benefits…” click here for more


    Electric Motorcycles and Scooters; Market Drivers and Barriers, Technology Issues, Key Industry Players, and Global Demand Forecasts

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “The electric power two-wheel (e-PTW) vehicle industry is expected to achieve stable and continuous growth during the coming years…[It is] led by China, where most of the world’s e-motorcycles and e-scooters are sold…[but] restrictive congestion/emissions policies and lower-than-expected GDP growth are reducing demand…[so] manufacturers are moving to…neighboring emerging economies. New products and key industry players continue to enter the market in various regions of the world and cities are becoming increasingly congested with traffic, leading to new e-PTW sales. Yet, e-PTWs face challenges as well, including high purchase prices, limited vehicle availability, and low gasoline prices. According to Navigant Research, global annual sales of e-motorcycles are expected to grow from 1.2 million vehicles in 2015 to 1.5 million in 2024, while sales of e-scooters are expected to grow from 4.1 million to over 4.4 million…” click here for more

    Tuesday, March 17, 2015


    Where will Ireland get its energy in 35 years’ time? The mix in 2050 will include gas-powered turbines and offshore wind-and-wave farms

    Dick Ahlstrom, February 24, 2015 (The Irish Times)

    “…[Ireland’s energy mix in 2050 will we deal] with the three issues that dominate energy supply today: cost; security of supply; and environmental impact...In some ways it will look very much the same, but in others it will be very different…We will have retired the Moneypoint coal-fired power station…but will likely have transferred our preferred fossil fuel to gas…[M]any of the technology and engineering challenges of wave, tidal and offshore wind are likely to have been overcome, and we will have offshore ‘farms’ where energy is harvested…We will certainly not be involved in nuclear power directly, although by 2050 we will likely have multiple undersea electricity interconnectors…[that] will deliver power arising from [British and French] nuclear facilities…We will also see major changes in the home consumption of energy, with consumers becoming electricity traders and selling it into the national grid. We will have access to new technology that will lower the cost of heating and transport…One issue that is clear is the requirement for Ireland to move its energy system towards a reduced environmental impact…At the moment we are highly dependent on importation of our energy needs via fossil fuels…” click here for more


    Critics of Irish wind energy have got their sums wrong; ‘Why exactly have electricity prices increased? The reason is not wind but rather the cost of importing gas’

    Joseph Curtin, March 16, 2015 (The Irish Times)

    “…[Ireland’s] share of electricity generated from wind has increased dramatically, reaching 19 per cent of the total in 2014. Electricity prices for householders and business have also risen significantly…but correlation does not imply causation…A recent National Competitiveness Council (NCC) report found that Irish electricity prices are among the highest in the EU. Some of the differential can be explained by Ireland’s above average standard of living…Another factor is Ireland’s lower population density…[A greater worry] is that prices have increased more rapidly compared to our EU partners…The reason is not wind but rather the cost of importing gas. Between the summers of 2009 and 2013 wholesale gas prices almost doubled across the EU…In 2014 this trend was reversed [by 14 per cent]… In 2015 electricity prices will decline further, driven again by lower forward gas prices. The correlation is as clear as day…The problem is that more than half of Ireland’s electricity is generated from gas – the fourth highest share in the EU – leaving us more exposed than other countries to gas price increases…” click here for more


    First community-owned solar energy project launches in Northern Ireland

    Gary Grattan, 4 March 2015 (Belfast Telegraph)

    “Northern Ireland's first community-owned solar energy enterprise has been launched…NICE (Northern Ireland Community Energy) hopes to raise £150,000 to start installing PV solar panels on buildings owned by community groups and charities…The new enterprise is the brainchild of a group of volunteers with a track record in renewable energy and co-operative models…[It] is offering free installation of solar panels to a number of organisations…The groups will benefit from electricity at a greatly discounted price for 20 years – while also supporting a more environmentally sustainable method of producing energy…Any surplus energy will be sold to the electricity grid - and NICE plans to deliver a return of approximately 4% to investors, as well as investing in a community fund providing for energy saving improvements to tackle fuel poverty here…” click here for more

    Monday, March 16, 2015


    New models yield clearer picture of emissions' true costs

    March 4, 2015 (PhysOrg)

    “When its environmental and human health toll is factored in, a gallon of gasoline costs us about $3.80 more than the pump price, a new Duke University study finds…The social cost of a gallon of diesel is about $4.80 more than the pump price; the price of natural gas more than doubles; and coal-fired electricity more than quadruples. Solar and wind power, on the other hand, become cheaper than they initially seem…[The social cost of atmospheric release ] provides policymakers with a more accurate framework for estimating the costs of a broad range of health, climate and environmental damages linked to emissions from fossil fuels, industry, biomass burning and agriculture…Current markets don't place a price on most atmospheric emissions, so polluters typically pay none of these costs…Instead, society picks up the tab through increased risks of premature death or illness caused by air pollution, higher healthcare costs, lower crop yields, missed work and school days, increased insurance damages from floods and other extreme weather events linked to climate change, and other social costs…” click here for more


    Wind Energy Dwarfs Nuclear: Wind Farms In China Have An Exponentially Higher Energy Output Than America’s Nuclear Power Plants

    March 15, 2015 (Inquistr)

    “…While China is currently building more nuclear reactors…it is dedicated at exploring the potential of wind power to its fullest and expanding its capacity to harvest it at an even speedier rate than nuclear…[Last year,] the total amount of energy harvested from China’s wind farms went up an impressive 16 percent…Compared directly to China’s own nuclear power output, the 115 gigawatts of wind power produced by China in 2014 vastly outweighs the 20,000 megawatts [from its nuclear sector and]wind power generation is far more than the total output of power from all of the nuclear plants in the U.S…China is currently struggling to produce enough water for its nuclear plants. Moreover, after the 2011 Fukushima disaster in Japan, China’s not putting any of these potential disasters, on earthquake-prone land…[It plans to] have enough wind-power machines to produce 200 gigawatts that would be fed directly to the national grid within the next five years…[and] is building the world’s largest ultra-high-voltage transmission system, which is connecting remote, wind-rich northern and western provinces to the more populous central and eastern ones…[T]he earth has enough wind to meet the entire world’s energy needs seven times over if harvested correctly…” click here for more


    Solar panels spur fights between homeowners, property associations

    Jacob Barker, March 15, 2015 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    “…[At least 12 homeowners association disputes playing out in regional court cases] pitting homeowners against their property associations, exposing nasty rifts among neighbors over a technology expected to become more common…In Missouri, bills have been filed for the last several years to give homeowners the right to install solar panels. Several states have already enacted similar laws. In Illinois, state law has required homeowners associations to approve solar panel installations since 2011…[The legal question is whether solar as a property right] trumps property covenants that require architectural review but don’t specifically have provisions regarding solar installations…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 11, 2015


    The US Installed 6.2GW of Solar in 2014, Up 30% Over 2013; GTM Research and SEIA announce the latest findings from the U.S. Solar Market Insight report.

    Mike Munsell, March 10, 2015 (Greentech Media)

    New photovoltaic (PV) solar installations in the U.S. reached a single-year record 6,201 MWs in 2014, 30% higher than 2013. The U.S. also built 767 MW of concentrating solar power (CSP) last year, according to the GTM Research-Solar Energy Industries Association U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review. Solar was 32% of U.S new generating capacity in 2014, more than every other generation source except natural gas…3.9 GW of utility-scale PV projects went on-line last year…Residential PV grew to 1.2 GW of new capacity in 2014…It is solar’s fastest-growing market sector and had 50% year-on-year growth for the third straight year…Solar is expected to boom through the end of 2016, when the 30% federal investment tax credit is scheduled to sunset. PV installations are forecast to grow 59% over last year in 2015 to 8.1 GW…More than a third of all U.S. PV operating capacity went online last year. It represented $17.8 billion in investment, with $13.4 billion in PV and $4.4 billion in CSP…” click here for more


    The U.S. can stay number one in wind energy

    James Walker, March 10, (Fort Worth Star Telegram)

    “America leads the world in wind power — and it’s effectively doing so with one arm behind its back…The federal Production Tax Credit, first signed into law by President George H. W. Bush, has spurred the growth of wind power — and generated billions of dollars in investment and thousands of jobs in the process…Unfortunately, the credit expired at the end of 2014…Congress must act quickly to extend it… Inventors in New Hampshire launched the world’s first wind farm 35 years ago…Today, U.S. wind turbines are so productive that our nation regularly finishes ahead of other countries that have also installed large numbers of turbines, including China, Spain and Germany…The credit has fueled sustained technological progress — including taller towers, longer blades, better gearboxes, computer controls and new power lines…Project developers now know how to locate turbines so that they capture the most wind with the least impact on local wildlife…The wind sector has supported an average of over 73,000 well-paying jobs and drawn over $17 billion a year in private investment over the last five years…[The] Department of Energy is working on a major “Wind Vision” study…that shows how to double wind energy production…[to] 10 percent of the U.S. electricity supply in 2020. By 2030, that figure could reach 20 percent — and by 2050, wind could be America’s biggest source of electricity…” click here for more


    Energy Storage Tracker 1Q15; Global Energy Storage Installations: Market Share Data, Industry Trends, Market Analysis, and Project Tracking by World Region, Technology, Application, and Market Segment

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “2014 was a major year for the global energy storage industry, with some of the largest single contracts in history awarded to leading storage companies. Driven primarily by regulatory mandates in the United States, Europe, and Asia Pacific…[b]attery and other system component costs have been falling rapidly, allowing energy storage to become an economical alternative to traditional power generation for certain applications…Lithium ion (Li-ion)-based energy storage systems continue to gain popularity…Large-scale manufacturing facilities and a healthy competitive environment are driving down the cost of Li-ion cells for stationary energy storage applications. Navigant Research estimates 696.7 MW of energy storage projects have been announced in the 2014–2015 period (excluding pumped storage). North America represents the majority of new project announcements with 436.4 MW; California accounts for nearly half of this announced capacity. Asia Pacific and Western Europe are the next leading regions, with 165.1 MW and 95.2 MW of new projects announced, respectively…” click here for more

    Tuesday, March 10, 2015


    New Concept in Solar Energy Poised to Catch on Across US

    Steve Karnowski, March 7, 2015 (AP via ABC News)

    “…[Community solar gardens] — also known as community or shared solar — [started in Colorado and have] spread to Minnesota, California, Massachusetts and several other states…[A central solar array feeds] electricity to the local power grid. Customers subscribe to that power and get credit on their utility bills, with contracts that typically lock in for 25 years and shelter against rate increases. Some developers say customer bills will drop below regular retail rates within a few years; others say the savings begin immediately…Rooftop solar panels are becoming more popular among homeowners as the cost comes down, but that market is limited to only about one-fourth of U.S. residences, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory…Community solar opens the door to many more, including renters, customers with shaded roofs and those who can't afford solar panels…” click here for more


    McCrory requests wind farm buffer off coast

    John Murawski, March 9, 2015 (The Charlotte News and Observer via The State)

    “A recommendation from Gov. Pat McCrory's administration to keep offshore wind farms at least 24 nautical miles away from the coast would strike a death knell for wind energy here, wind advocates say…The buffer requested by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources is among 195 public comments…[to] the U.S. Department of Interior…If DENR's proposal were adopted, the wind farm development area would shrink by about half from the currently proposed 480 square miles. The oceanic area has been steadily shrinking with each stage of the review process as the military, shipping industry, fishing interests and tourism concerns chip away at the proposed zone…[The 24 nautical mile exclusion zone pushes development] to distances and depths that unnecessarily raise cost burdens…The DENR letter surprised wind advocates because Republican Gov. Pat McCrory has long supported offshore wind farms along side of offshore drilling…DENR still ‘fully supports offshore energy development’....[but] development will have to protect coast and ocean, and address military and navigational concerns…” click here for more


    Vehicle Grid Integration; VGI Applications for Demand Response, Frequency Regulation, Microgrids, Virtual Power Plants, and Renewable Energy Integration

    1Q 2015 (Navigant Research)

    “…Today’s [Plug-in electric vehicles (PEVs)] represent a significant increase in electricity demand that, if unmanaged, could cause problems with distribution-level transformers and could drastically increase demand during peak hours when PEV owners return from work and plug in their vehicles. The effect would force utilities to make upgrades to distribution networks that would likely be passed on in the form of higher rates to consumers…[But they] also represent an increase in load that could be used to capture renewable electricity generation and help balance generation with demand, theoretically making electricity marginally cheaper and cleaner. Vehicle grid integration (VGI) technologies, which have been in development since before the Volt and LEAF were first sold…[W] ith global sales surpassing 320,000 in 2014, pilots testing VGI technologies are emerging with greater frequency. According to Navigant Research, PEVs participating in VGI services are expected to provide nearly 4.2 GW of power to grids globally by 2024 under an aggressive scenario…” click here for more

    Monday, March 9, 2015


    Ameren, others prepare grid for wind energy

    Jacob Barker, March 8, 2015 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    “…[U]tilities and independent transmission developers are investing…billions of dollars in the nation’s grid…Regulators and experts say the higher returns are necessary to prepare the grid for a coming build-out of wind power in the sparsely populated Great Plains that is wired to urban areas…[W]ind energy, as well as solar energy from the desert Southwest, will become even more important if President Barack Obama’s plan to cut carbon emissions becomes a reality. Experts say a more resilient grid will be needed to both transport renewable energy and accommodate changes brought on by the closing of coal-fired power plants…The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which regulates electricity transmission…[is holding talks on reliability risks to the grid due to changes…[After it] offered higher profit rates to utilities to spur them to invest transmission investment increased fivefold from 1997 through 2012, to a total of $14.1 billion…The bigger issue for getting the grid ready for the future of energy production may be the same problem that has always dogged it: It takes a long time, and residents don’t like the high-voltage power lines running through their backyards and farm fields…” click here for more


    Largest U.S. Grid Operator Finds Wind Energy Saves Consumers Money Under Epa's Clean Power Plan

    Michael Goggin, 5 March 2015 (American Wind Energy Assoication)

    “Using wind energy will reduce the cost of complying with EPA’s Clean Power Plan by billions of dollars, particularly if natural gas prices increase, according to detailed new analysis…by PJM, the grid operator for 60 million people in 13 Mid-Atlantic and Great Lakes states…PJM compared scenarios in which PJM states fully met their Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) requirements versus a lower scenario in which only currently planned renewable plants were built, reducing the amount of available renewable energy by around 20 million MWh per year…With more renewable energy available, the cost of operating the power system under EPA’s Clean Power Plan decreased by around $200 million in 2020, $800 million in 2025, and $1.2 billion in 2029, while wholesale electricity costs for consumers decreased by $2.4 billion in 2025 and $4.1 billion in 2029…PJM also found that the benefits of renewable energy were even more pronounced in a scenario with higher natural gas prices…PJM found a combination of greater use of renewable energy, energy efficiency, and new gas generation provided gross production cost savings of $1.6-2.3 billion per year under its base gas price assumption, while those savings grew to $2.3-3.8 billion per year if natural gas prices were 50 percent higher…” click here for more


    Ravaged by climate change, Florida reportedly bans term ‘climate change’

    Terrence McCoy, March 9, 2015 (Washington Post)

    “It is one of the profound ironies of climate change that a state besieged by its effects — where coastal islands face existential threats and daily floods render major thoroughfares difficult to navigate — is also populated by powerful politicians who express deep suspicion of the relevant science…[Florida Senator Marco Rubio (R) said he doesn’t believe human activity is causing it. Former Governor/Republican Presidential Contender Jeb Bush called himself a skeptic. And Republican Governor Rick Scott’s]… aversion to discussions of man-made climate change has been brought to bear on [the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which is] charged with protecting a state that already exhibits many of the changes scientists predict will overtake other coastal regions…[Its officials] have been restricted from using the terms ‘climate change’ or ‘global warming’ in official correspondence…[It is a policy activists called ‘criminal’ because] Florida is a peninsula with 1,200 miles of coastline…[It is the climate change] canary in the coalmine…” click here for more

    Wednesday, March 4, 2015


    Wind Turbines Have Positive Effect on Crops

    March 3, 2015 (WHO-TV)

    “Nearly $10 billion has been invested into Iowa wind energy facilities and farms…[and that will double by 2020 because 75% of the state is good for development and] turbines could also be good for Iowa farmers…[T]urbines stir the air, so the crop, the corn canopy itself is drawing down the carbon dioxide level in that part of the atmosphere…[T] he extra turbulence brings down this higher CO2 air from above, promoting more photosynthesis within the crop…[Turbines also] increase nighttime temperatures, decrease daytime temperatures, and enhance evaporation…[A] negative includes increased respiration, but…the positive effects outweigh negatives…The turbines [also] provide the same lease amount every year…[and] some stable income…” click here for more


    Solar Energy Helping With High Electric Bills?

    Lindsay Ladeluca, March 2, 2015 (WGGB - ABC40)

    “Solar Energy is becoming more of a conversation now that electric bills for many are through the roof…[Thousands are] saving some big bucks and even when the sun goes down you still save by racking up credits with your electric company…[Solar output] powers your house…[The extra goes] to your neighbors and then your meter runs backwards and that’s [grid energy you can use essentially without cost] later in the evening…[The right kind of roof facing in the right direction is necessary.] Ideally your roof faces south with good exposure to the sun. But if your roof isn’t prime for panels, [Massachusetts allows utility customers to] buy a portion of a centrally based community solar project to still gain credits…Phil Dowling, President of Northampton Paint, said his company’s $500 electric bill was reduced] by at least 80%...[For the average residential electricity customer who pays $100 to $200 per month, the] your pay back with be 5-7 years…Massachusetts and the Federal Government have solar loan programs as well…” click here for more


    Li-ion Dominates the Booming Grid Storage Market with 90% of 2014 Proposals; Molten salt batteries still account for a majority of existing grid storage installations, but Li-ion is rapidly taking over as the market matures…

    March 4, 2015 (Lux Research)

    “…Li-ion accounted for 419 MW and 1,555 MWh of proposed storage systems in 2014. But molten salt batteries – consisting almost entirely of sodium-sulfur (NaS) – account for 23% of all deployed MW and 64% of deployed MWh respectively. Globally, as of January 2015, 1,100 MW and 2,523 MWh of grid storage have been deployed across 605 projects…Japan maintained its lead in installed energy storage capacity with 1,174 MWh. But the United States held global leadership in power and number of projects with 418 MW across 250 projects...Within the Li-ion battery chemistries, lithium iron phosphate (LFP) is the largest cathode deployed by MW [39%] and MWh [38.1%]…followed by nickel-manganese-cobalt (NMC), which is rapidly becoming the cathode of choice…Demand management [(376 MW and 1,335 MWh across 236 projects)] and renewable connected systems [(513 MW and 890 MWh across 261 projects)] are driving the primary grid storage applications…driven in the U.S. by time-of-use rates and tiered pricing…” click here for more

    Tuesday, March 3, 2015


    Deepwater Wind completes financing for Block Island wind farm

    Alex Kuffner, March 2, 2015 (Providence Journal)

    Deepwater Wind has tied up more than $290 million in financing for what looks to be the first U.S. offshore wind farm. The five-turbine 30 MW demonstration project will be built in waters off Rhode Island’s Block Island. Societe Generale of Paris, France, and KeyBank National Association, of Cleveland, Ohio, will provide the funds…[A]ll permits have been secured. Construction is expected to begin in weeks. This news offsets disappointment from the cancellation by Massachusetts utilities of power purchase agreements for the 468 MW Cape Wind project, which had been the U.S. offshore wind industry’s flagship installation. The difference may be that while Cape Wind had to fight 12 years for the right to build in federal waters, the Block Island site was readily approved by the state. Deepwater is funded with $70 million from international investment firm D.E. Shaw and renewables developer SunEdison in addition to the financing from Societe Generale and KeyBank. click here for more


    Study finds net metering to be a net benefit in Missouri

    Karen Uhlenhuth, February 27, 2015 (Midwest Energy News)

    A cost-benefit study of net energy metering (NEM) in Missouri used values for two costs and two benefits and concluded its “net effect” is positive. The typical solar owner pays only 20% less in fixed grid costs and costs the utility an estimated $187 per interconnection. Solar owners benefit the system through reduced emissions and energy costs. After accounting for a range of utility costs, including administration and the shift of some infrastructure expenses, the Missouri Energy Initiative study of NEM from 2008 to 2013 reached a similar conclusion as studies for Vermont, New York, Texas and Nevada. About 6,000 Missourians use NEM. Most are customers of investor owned utilities Ameren Missouri and Kansas City Power & Light, the state’s dominant electricity providers, which have been in conflict with solar advocates since 2013 over solar rebates. The study did not quantify the net effect of NEM but used previous studies’ data. A 2013 study in Vermont concluded an average rooftop photovoltaic (PV) system provides a $0.043 per KWH cent net benefit. A New York state study found the benefit was between $0.15 and $0.40 per KWH. A 2014 study done for the Nevada Public Utilities Commission concluded that NEM benefits are “likely positive” but “very small.” click here for more


    Scott Walker wants to end funding for renewable energy program

    Thomas Content and Lee Berquist, February 28, 2015 (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel)

    Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s proposed budget cuts $8.1 million in funding over two years for University of Wisconsin faculty at the Great Lakes Bioenergy Research Center. The center develops technologies to convert Wisconsin’s plentiful wood chips, corn stalks, and native grasses to biogas and biofuels. The research facility was built in 2009 with a five year, $125 million U.S. Department of Energy grant, which was renewed in 2013. State funds of $104 million and gifts and grants of $50 million contributed. The Walker cut represents matching funds necessary to keep the federal funding. The Governor’s office said the cut, separate from Walker’s proposal to cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin system over the next two years, is part of his plan to provide UW with block grants and push funding decisions onto university administrators. The failure to provide matching funds to keep the center’s federal funding is expected to compromise the $25 million in federal funding for broader UW energy-development research such as the Wisconsin Energy Institute, which gets 90% of its funding from the bioenergy program. click here for more

    Monday, March 2, 2015


    Energy Study Finds that EPA’s Clean Power Plan Will Not Jeopardize the Reliability of U.S. Power System

    February 19, 2015 (Business Wire)

    “The design and implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan, which is intended to reduce the U.S. electric system’s CO2 emissions by 30 percent from 2005 levels by 2030, will not jeopardize or compromise the reliability of the U.S. power system, according to [ Electric System Reliability and EPA’s Clean Power Plan: Tools and Practices] by Analysis Group energy experts…[that demonstrates there are a wide variety of existing and modified tools to develop, formalize, and implement State Plans and assuring electric system reliability while taking the actions required under law to reduce CO2 emissions from existing power plants] are compatible…[A] recent survey of more than 400 utility executives nationwide found that more than 60 percent felt optimistic about the Clean Power Plan and felt that EPA should either hold to its current emissions reduction targets or make them more aggressive…” click here for more


    3 Reasons Why Solar Energy Is One of America’s Hottest Industries

    Rakesh Sharma, march 2, 2015 (Business Cheat Sheet)

    “…After years of being eclipsed by other renewable energy sources, solar has become hot…Here are three reasons:…1. Solar offers better returns…A new study by NC clean energy technology center found that installation in solar panel systems beats investment in a stock market investment fund…2. The cost of solar energy has declined…[A] report by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, found that the median cost of residential solar has gone down from approximately $12/watt in 1998 to about $4.70/watt in 2013…[and] solar prices are expected to further decline to between $3.70/watt and $4.24/watt before incentives…3. Solar is good for the economy…[The] Solar Foundation [found] the solar industry added workers almost 20 times faster than the overall U.S. economy…The economics of the solar industry has also changed from one that was small-scale toward corporate industrial behemoths…[Solar City] is valued at $5 billion in the stock market….” click here for more


    Offshore wind energy effort advances

    Bruce Smith, March 2, 2015 (AP via Rocky Mountain Telegram)

    “The first leases allowing wind turbines offshore of the Carolinas are expected to be let next year although some people worry the massive turbines could harm the tourism coastal communities depend on…[The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management] issued a report that there appears to be no significant environmental impact [from]] offshore wind development…[L]eases could be awarded as early as next year, [but] it probably will be well into the next decade before any turbines are built. Once leases are awarded, there would be additional environmental studies of the specific areas and additional reviews of specific turbine construction plans…Construction of the first [U.S. offshore wind turbines] is expected off New England in the next year or two…There is already a wind energy industry on the Carolinas coast. Fifteen months ago, Clemson University opened a new $110 million energy research center in North Charleston, S.C., that includes the world’s largest wind turbine test rig.” click here for more