November 25, 2015

Gov Peter Shumlin Says Solar Development Should be Done on a Vermont Scale

Vermont must build future renewable power sources on a scale that fits with the character of Vermont towns, Governor Peter Shumlin said last week. Developers shouldn’t burden small towns with large energy projects, he said. Instead, smaller-scale production sources will ensure Vermonters profit most from the state’s renewable energy push, he said. Shumlin delivered his comments the day after Green Mountain Power released a map showing certain regions of the state produce renewable energy at a rate disproportionate to what they consume.

November 24, 2015

Nigeria's New Cabinet and the Energy Sector

Nigeria’s new cabinet make-up provides some interesting pointers for future energy policy. This means that it will look to balance new foreign investment with the imperative to retain local value, improve power supplies and strengthen the framework to manage energy resources more efficiently and transparently.

Nigeria’s President Muhammadu Buhari is Minister for Petroleum under his new government while current Head of state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC), Ibe Kachikwu, becomes the Junior Minister for Petroleum. There are differences in opinion as to whether this is an optimum structure, but there’s a clear emphasis on transparency and accountability, given Buhari’s strong oversight. Until the institutional weaknesses within the oil ministry, the sector licensing regime and the functions and operations of NNPC are plugged; reporting lines will now firmly be within executive control. However, there is every likelihood that this tight structure will be loosened later in Buhari’s term, when he can choose to fully relinquish that portfolio.

November 23, 2015

U.K. Government Expected to Shift Policy on Support for Renewable Energy

Speech by Amber Rudd will set out new energy policy with central role for nuclear and natural gas

The U.K. government will make keeping the lights on the top priority with natural gas and nuclear power playing a central role in that goal, Energy and Climate Change Secretary Amber Rudd is expected to say in a major speech later Wednesday setting out a new energy policy for the country.

November 22, 2015

Christie Conditionally Vetoes Bill on Renewable Energy, Resiliency in NJ

Legislation would have made it easier, more affordable for building owners to install solar panels, increase energy efficiency of their property

In a move that disappointed advocates, Gov. Chris Christie is recommending a program to help finance clean-energy projects and resiliency improvements be scaled back dramatically before it becomes law.
The legislation, similar to programs now in place in 31 states and the District of Columbia, would allow property owners to obtain private finance through special assessments on their property without any upfront costs to pay for the projects.

November 1, 2015

Billionaire Tom Steyer Calls on Candidates to Push for a 50% Renewables Policy

“We’re going to ask everyone, because we feel it’s time to be specific. Good intentions are not going to get it done.”

Tom Steyer’s super PAC NextGen Climate launched an aggressive campaign this spring against Republican presidential candidates who deny the existence of man-made climate change.

Steyer spent more than $70 million to defeat Republican candidates in last year’s midterm elections, and has pledged to spend “what it takes” to elect candidates that will act on climate issues in 2016.

October 28, 2015

Time to Make the UK a ‘Solar Superpower’

The recent visit by Chinese President Xi Jinping has served as a timely reminder of Britain’s strong position as a destination for foreign trade and investment, with over £30 billion of deals agreed in the space of just a week.

Investors around the globe have long viewed the UK as a safe, stable home in which to grow their business.  The solar industry attracted some £4.5 billion worth of inward investment in 2014.  Solar accounted for half of new investment in UK renewables last year.

October 27, 2015

Israel Approves New Solar Energy Quota

Israel's Public Utility Authority approved another 114 megawatt (MW) quota for new midsize and large photovoltaic fields, making it the largest solar energy quota authorized since 2011. The quota, approved Oct. 19, will be available to all commercial solar power producers as of Jan. 1, 2016, and is expected to prompt the construction of “hundreds of new commercial facilities,” the PUA said. For the first time, the new quota will be allocated through a variable, 20-year buy-back scheme at tariffs ranging from 0.27 (7 cents) to 0.31 shekels (8 cents) per kilowatt-hour. 

Legislative Developments on Federal Renewable Energy Tax Credits

Now that a government shutdown was temporarily averted, both chambers face significant legislative challenges. Among the legislative challenges are several bills that need action before pending expiration dates. One bill that must be addressed is a tax extenders bill, which may impact the renewable energy industry.

October 26, 2015

Community Solar Comes of Age on the West Coast of the US

A neighbourhood solar experiment in Washington gains traction in other states.

Nancy Lillquist was never optimistic that solar panels would work on her roof in Ellensburg, Wash., a college town on the Cascade Mountains' dry eastern slope. The neighbourhood's big conifers blocked the sun. As a city council member, she noted the irony: Even as she and her fellow council members advocated for solar, they were also encouraging planting more trees for shade.

October 25, 2015

California Confronts Climate Change: What It Means To Boost Its Renewable Portfolio Standard To 50%

On Oct. 7, Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr., D-Calif., signed S.B.350, the Clean Energy and Pollution Reduction Act of 2015, into law. This landmark bill makes a number of significant changes to California's energy policy, including raising California’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS) to 50% by 2030.

In addition to raising the RPS threshold for both public utilities and investor-owned utilities alike, the Clean Energy Act lays some of the groundwork for how California will achieve the legislature's ambitious renewable energy goals by requiring that utilities procure renewable energy pursuant to long-term power purchase contracts, mandating improvements in energy efficiency, and pursuing the development of a regional independent system operator (ISO).

October 13, 2015

More Clarity Needed on Alternative Energy Development in Thailand

Alternative energy development in Thailand is going to be in jeopardy if the government does not have clarity on what to promote, and how to do so.

About 50 biomass power plants are the hardest hit because they are in areas where there are no transmission lines could betray the government's lack of consistency and clarity in its policy. The investors said the state authority had stopped buying electricity from biomass power plants for two years.

October 12, 2015

UK: The Observer View on the Tory Renewable Energy Policy

The Conservative party has spent much time mocking Labour for being out of touch on business issues, particularly Jeremy Corbyn’s support for rail and possibly energy nationalisation.

But George Osborne seems much more at home tickling the tummies of huge, state-owned companies in China and France, especially with regard to nuclear power, than tending his domestic, private-sector firms. While the chancellor was out wooing on a recent trip to Beijing, he seemed blissfully unaware that subsidy cuts to the UK’s growing army of small and medium-size “green” companies have been causing havoc.

October 11, 2015

Bill Would Create Clean Energy Tax-Advantaged Bonds

An energy bill offered by Senate Democrats would create Clean Energy Bonds that could be used as either tax-credit or direct-pay bonds with an initial 28% subsidy rate and that would not be subject to volume cap.

The bill, S. 2089 or the "American Energy Innovation Act," was introduced late last month by Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., the ranking minority member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. It is co-sponsored by 30 Senate Democrats, including Senate Finance Committee ranking minority member Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev.

October 9, 2015

Gov. Brown Signs California Climate Change Bill to Spur Renewable Energy, Efficiency Standards

California launched an ambitious effort Wednesday to expand renewable energy and increase energy efficiency, advancing Gov. Jerry Brown's plans for battling climate change.

Brown signed the new goals into law at Griffith Observatory, where the panoramic view of smog across the Los Angeles Basin provided a reminder of the work to be done.

Although the state's air quality has improved over the years, Brown said, more must be done to improve Californians' health, and the state must continue setting the standard for halting global warming.

October 8, 2015

Kauffman: Cuomo's Energy Overhaul 'Rev'ing Up in NY

Renewing Energy Vision, the Cuomo administration’s ambitious effort to transform the electricity distribution and generation system in New York, has been taking important steps forward, the state’s top energy official said.

“This is not just about talk,” Richard Kauffman, the state’s chairman of energy and finance, said at City & State’s On Energy conference. “We can point to a record of stuff that we have been doing to bring this vision about.”

September 30, 2015

British Policy Changes Cause Trillion Fund to Stop Lending for Renewable Projects

The British crowdfunding body Trillion Fund stops offering lending for renewable energy projects. 

Additionally, CEO Julia Groves steps down from her position.

The main reason why Trillion stops offering renewable energy projects is the current withdrawal of support for renewables by the UK government. The recent changes in renewable energy policy in the UK have negatively affected investor confidence and made a lot of PV and wind power developers unsure whether they would be able to stay in business.

September 27, 2015

What Will A New Prime Minister Mean For Australia’s Renewable Energy Industry?

Australia’s Liberal Party has elected a new leader, Malcolm Turnbull, which will soon mean a new Prime Minister for Australia — a move which has every chance to have a positive impact on the country’s renewable energy industry which has suffered heavily under the now-previous Prime Minister, Tony Abbott.

Australian Politics 101

The fact that the leader of a country can be swapped out for a newer or better model by a country’s politicians was a new way to look at things for many people a few years ago. However, in 2010, the world saw the Australian Labor Party — the political party in charge at the time — express no-confidence in the leader of the party, and therefore the leader of the country, Kevin Rudd. This gave rise to Australia’s first female Prime Minister, Julia Gillard, who suffered a similar “leadership spill” in June of 2013, which saw the return of Kevin Rudd to the leader of the Labor Party, and the country. (Though this was a short-lived position, as he subsequently lost the next national election only three months later.)

September 25, 2015

UK Government Renewable Energy Policy Leaves “Investors And Consumers Baffled,” EY States

The most recent Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index put out by EY highlights the dangers of the UK Government’s current renewable energy policy.

EY published its quarterly Renewable Energy Country Attractiveness Index (RECAI) this week, which saw a major reshuffling of its top 10 most attractive countries in terms of their renewable energy potential and growth. One of the biggest losers in the RECAI was the United Kingdom, which dropped out of the top 10 for the first time since the RECAI was first established in 2003. Specifically, according to EY, “A wave of policy announcements reducing or removing various forms of support for renewable energy projects has left investors and consumers baffled.”

September 24, 2015

Landmark California Climate Law Directs Electric Utilities to Displace Oil Companies

Within 15 years, California will generate at least half of its electricity from renewable resources and double savings from energy efficiency gains, two milestones included in Senate Bill (SB) 350. News coverage of this bill prior to its passage overlooked these monumental targets and focused on the oil companies' unsightly lobbying to remove a petroleum reduction goal from the bill. Meanwhile, few have noticed the provisions of Senator de León's legislation that make replacing oil as the dominant transportation fuel a core mission of the electric industry -- allowing Californians to "fill up" at home on cleaner electricity that's the cost equivalent of dollar-a-gallon gas.

September 22, 2015

Over 2,000 Organizations Call On US Government To Extend Tax Provisions, Including PTC

More than 2,000 organizations signed a letter last week calling on the US Government to extend a variety of expired and expiring tax provisions, including the vaunted PTC.

The Production Tax Credit has been integral to the growth of the US wind industry, and as the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) notes, “is a big reason” why the US wind industry is the “most productive in the world with enough wind energy produced annually for 18 million American homes.” In its annual US Wind Industry Annual Market Report for 2014,the AWEA reported on the value of the PTC, where in states like Iowa it helped wind energy attract $10 billion in cumulative investment to support 6,000 jobs.

September 21, 2015

California Climate Law an $8.6 Billion Coup for Solar Utilities

Solar and wind-power entrepreneurs will get a bigger share of California’s energy market. Construction contractors will get more work tightening the energy efficiency of buildings. And environmentalists will tiptoe closer to their goal of weaning the most-populous U.S. state from fossil fuels.

California lawmakers on Friday passed a watered-down version of what state Senate PresidentKevin de Leon had billed as part of the “most far-reaching effort to fight climate change in the history of our nation.” 

September 20, 2015

Why Climate Law Advocates are Watching These Black and Latino Lawmakers from Southern California

The "wanted" poster with pictures of five state lawmakers appeared in the pages of a Spanish-language newspaper in Southern California last week.

"Would these politicians be willing to confront the petroleum industry and fight for Latino families?" the ad said in support of tougher environmental rules. "Help us make sure these elected politicians stay responsible to the community."

Advocates Back Bill to Prevent Limits on Reimbursements for Alternative Energy in Pennsylvania

Advocates of turning cow manure and other waste into energy are backing a bill introduced in the Pennsylvania House that would forbid putting caps on how much electricity those systems can sell to the grid.

The bill is aimed at a proposal still being developed by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission meant to limit reimbursements to customers who generate power from alternative sources — a dairy farmer with a methane digester, for example, or a homeowner with solar panels on the roof.

September 18, 2015

Croatia’s New Renewables Bill a Game-Changer – Investor

The new bill on renewable energy sources (RES) adopted by the government in Zagreb will lead to important regulatory changes, resulting in a comprehensive reshuffle of rules in this field, the country manager for Croatia of Austrian privately-held power producer RP Global said.

The bill on renewable energy sources and high-efficient cogeneration was adopted by the government in Zagreb last week in a bid to unify and harmonize regulations in the RES sector in order to boost the production and use of renewable energy in the country as well as to fully align domestic rules to EU law, among other goals.

September 17, 2015

North Carolina Renewable Energy Tax Credits Remain Controversial

For 38 years, taxpayers in North Carolina have been footing the bill for the solar energy industry that has yet to prove it can survive without government handouts.  Advocates for solar and other renewable energy sources continue to beg the legislature to prop up this industry, and lawmakers continue to comply.

On Thursday, Sept. 10, Rep. Pricey Harrison (D-Greensboro), along with representatives from a group called Environment North Carolina, held a press conference to announce that the state is ranked fourth nationally for total solar electric capacity, and to extol the virtues of solar energy.