November 21, 2017

Update: Senate's Version of the "Tax Cuts and Jobs Act" is Good News for Energy Renewables

Late on November 16, 2017, Senate Finance Committee (“SFC”) Chair Orrin Hatch released amendments to the Senate Republicans’ tax reform proposal. Similar to the original version and the first amendment (released late on November 14, 2017), the amended proposal does not include provisions concerning the PTC or the ITC. In addition, the Enhanced Oil Recovery Credit, the Credit for Producing Oil and Gas from Marginal Wells, and the New Markets Tax Credit would all remain intact. Also similar to the prior version, the SFC proposal does not address expired energy credits for qualified fuel cell and small wind energy property, qualified microturbine property, or production from advanced nuclear power facilities. Recently, however, Senator Chuck Grassley announced publicly that Senate Republicans would address certain of those expired energy credits in a separate “extenders bill” apart from the “Tax Cuts and Jobs Act” at the end of the year.

November 20, 2017

California May Reach 50% Renewable Power Goal by 2020 — 10 Years Early

Two years ago, Gov. Jerry Brown signed an ambitious law ordering California utility companies to get 50 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2030.

It looks like they may hit that goal a decade ahead of schedule.

An annual report issued Monday by California regulators found that the state’s three big, investor-owned utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. — are collectively on track to reach the 50 percent milestone by 2020, although individual companies could exceed the mark or fall just short of it.

November 19, 2017

Gov. Wolf Uses Elizabethtown College's Solar Field to Tout New Law to Boost In-State Solar

With Elizabethtown College’s large solar array as a backdrop, Gov. Tom Wolf on Monday called new state legislation designed to boost renewable solar energy a “game-changer.”

Last week, Wolf signed into law changes to the state’s Alternative Energy Portfolio Standards, which since 2005 have required an increasing percentage of electricity used in Pennsylvania to be produced from alternative energy sources such as solar, wind, hydro, biofuels and methane captured from landfills.

November 16, 2017

35 GW of Storage Can Save US $4 Billion by 2025

If the U.S. can deploy 35 GW of new energy storage by 2025, the Energy Storage Association (ESA) estimates that the return in operational savings from those deployments could surpass $4 billion.

According to its new report, 35X25: A Vision for Energy Storage, ESA sees a clear pathway to achieving that 35 GW goal, but ESA noted that it would require “fundamental changes in how the grid is planned and engineered, including a reform of U.S. energy markets and regulations.”

November 15, 2017

New Democratic Governor in New Jersey Could Ignite State’s Offshore Wind Sector

Control of the governor’s seat in New Jersey is moving to a Democrat — a shift that could be a big win for wind power in the state’s waters.

Phil Murphy won the New Jersey gubernatorial election yesterday over Republican Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.

Despite having legislation in place since 2010 calling for mechanisms to support offshore wind development, including authorization of offshore wind energy credits, New Jersey never achieved any progress on that front.

November 14, 2017

Decentralization Is the Cheapest Way to Expand Energy Access in India, Says IEA

India has led the way in expanding energy access to citizens. An emphasis on distributed renewables will strengthen those efforts, according to international energy experts.

India stands out as “one of the largest electrification success stories in history,” accounting for two or every five people newly electrified since 2000, according to a new report by the International Energy Agency.

However, the report painted a future quite different from the centralized grid focus of the current Indian government, saying that decentralized systems, led by solar PV in off-grid and mini-grid systems, “will be the least-cost solution for three-quarters of the additional connections needed” to achieve full energy access before 2030.

November 13, 2017

Senate Tax Bill Brings Good News for Renewables

 Unlike the House bill, the Senate’s proposal keeps renewable tax credits in place.

After the the House’s version of a tax overhaul bill slashed clean energy credits, the industry expressed widespread anxiety. But the Senate’s draft mostly spares incentives for clean energy projects. 

The House bill proposed slashing the Production Tax Credit (PTC) for wind by over a third. It also eliminates a $7,500 credit for electric-vehicle purchases. The solar industry would see an end to the Investment Tax Credit after 2027 for commercial and utility-scale solar projects, and an end to the 10 percent credit for residential projects (which is already set to expire in 2021). Under current law, commercial projects would still benefit from a 10 percent tax credit after 2021.

November 12, 2017

Kate Brown Adopts Broad Green Building Mandates and Electric Vehicle Goals

Oregon Gov. Kate Brown signed executive orders on Monday to impose sweeping green energy mandates on new construction and help triple the number of electric vehicles in the state by 2020.

The governor signed the orders at a ceremony in Portland, before she travels to Germany later this week to attend the United Nations climate talks.

The goal of Brown's two executive orders is to "drive the state's efforts forward in reducing greenhouse gas emissions," she told reporters after the event. "Buildings, both residential and commercial, consume about 30 percent of Oregon's energy use."

November 6, 2017

Southern California Edison Introduces Clean Energy Proposal to Meet State’s Climate, Air Quality Goals

 Southern California Edison today proposed an integrated strategic framework for the state of California to meet its ambitious climate and air quality goals. SCE describes its Clean Power and Electrification Pathway in a white paper released today.

The approach builds upon existing state programs by identifying cost-effective actions to increase clean energy in the electric system and to leverage that clean electricity in the transportation and building sectors to achieve needed emissions reductions. California environmental goals include reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by 40 percent from 1990 levels by 2030 and by 80 percent by 2050, as well as reducing nitrogen oxides (NOx) and other health-harming pollutants in areas of the state with the highest levels of air pollution by 2032.

November 5, 2017

Republican Tax Bill Hits Wind Power, Solar Largely Unscathed

A Republican tax bill unveiled on Thursday included cuts to renewable energy tax credits considered critical to enabling wind projects to compete with fossil fuel plants, but tax breaks for solar power were left largely intact.

The credits, which receive broad bipartisan support, were extended by Congress less than two years ago.

The wind industry decried the proposal, saying it put $50 billion in planned investment at risk, while the solar sector expressed relief the bill mostly preserved the timeline laid out in 2015 for its primary tax credit.

October 31, 2017

Jordan's Water Ministry to Cut Energy Use by Half by 2019

The Ministry of Water and Irrigation is scheduled to reduce its energy use, which constitutes 14 per cent of the country’s total energy consumption, by half in early 2019, according to officials.

The goal of cutting down 50 million kilowatt hours per year is expected to be attained within 15 months, according to ministry’s officials, who noted that it will be achieved after a multi-million-dollar project to rehabilitate the country’s main pumping stations and a number of well fields is completed.

October 30, 2017

Cost of Energy: What Might the Helm Review Mean for UK Clean Growth?

The 242-page independent review headed by Professor Dieter Helm pulls few punches on the UK's existing energy policy landscape - but will the government listen?

Arguments have raged for years now about rising energy bills for households and businesses, leading first 'Red' Ed Miliband and then 'Strong and Stable' Theresa May to push for a price cap on consumer bills.

October 29, 2017

India: Changes to Electricity Act Propose Penalty Norms for PPAs, RPOs

The power ministry will include penalty provisions in the electricity amendment bill for stricter enforcement of power purchase agreements (PPA) and renewable purchase obligation (RPO), Union minister R K Singh said on Thursday.

The minister also said that he has a roadmap for reforms in the power sector and he will try to move the amendment bill in the upcoming winter session of Parliament.

"We will deal with the issues of PPA (power purchase agreement) and RPO (renewable purchase obligation) among others in the Electricity Amendment Bill," Singh told reporters on the sidelines of an investors' forum organised by Assocham.

October 27, 2017

Project Would Double Delaware's Solar Energy Capacity

A Connecticut commodities company is formalizing plans to build a solar-panel array large enough to double the state's capacity to generate power from the sun.

Freepoint Commodities, headquartered in Stamford, Connecticut, has a contract to lease or purchase more than 400 acres that are mostly farmland in southern New Castle County. It wants to turn that land into the state's largest array of solar panels.

Peter Ford, managing director for Freepoint, declined to identify the exact parcels under contract. 

October 26, 2017

Michigan Bill Looks to Clarify Tax Exemptions for Distributed Generation Projects

A bipartisan group of Michigan lawmakers introduced a bill last week that aims to clear up confusion over tax collections for small-scale distributed generation projects.

HB 5143 would reinstate a tax exemption for “alternative energy personal property” that was in place for 10 years under the Michigan Next Energy Authority Act of 2002. That law — signed by former Republican Gov. John Engler — granted the exemption to 13 different kinds of small-scale renewable energy systems meant to offset any portion of a property’s energy use.

October 25, 2017

Victoria Renewable Energy Target Written Into Law, Without Support of LNP

Victoria has become the first state in Australia to have its renewable energy target written into law, after the Labor Andrews government’s Renewable Energy (Jobs & Investment) Bill was passed by Parliament on Friday.

State energy minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Friday the governments’ VRET of 25 per cent renewable energy by 2020, and 40 per cent by 2025, had passed the Legislative Council with 20 votes to 18, and despite not winning a single vote from the opposition Coalition party.

Historic day! Victoria commits to a Renewable Energy Target of 40% by 2025 - unlike Malcolm Turnbull, the Andrews Labor Government gets it done 

October 22, 2017

War Over Ohio Clean Energy Standards Heats Up — Again

The Ohio General Assembly is tussling yet again over the Buckeye State's clean energy standards.

Industrial groups, fossil fuel interests and conservative groups are leading a push for the Legislature to relax Ohio's renewable and energy efficiency standards. They maintain the current requirements are costly, market-distorting mandates. But renewable companies, environmentalists and a collection of big-name corporations — including Whirlpool Corp. and Dow Chemical Co. — are defending the standards as cost-cutting, pollution-slashing, job-creating incentives.

October 20, 2017

Who Will Fight the Repeal of the Clean Power Plan?

EPA Administrator Pruitt said he will roll back Clean Power Plan and do away with federal wind and solar tax credits.

As word spread that U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Scott Pruitt will officially begin the process of repealing the Clean Power Plan, others vowed to fight back.

The New York Times reported that Scott Pruitt told attendees at an event in Kentucky that he will sign a proposed rule to “roll back the Clean Power Plan.”

October 19, 2017

Time-of-Use Rates Will Turn the Tables for Energy Storage

It is not always good to be first. Last June, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E) was the first utility in California to hit its net-metering cap and move to Net Energy Metering 2.0 (NEM 2.0). Now, SDG&E will again be the first utility to start the shift to time-of-use (TOU) period, effective on Dec. 1, 2017.

Under California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) approval on August 24, SDG&E will shift its summer peak time to 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. from the current 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

The new TOU periods are supposed to help align rates more closely with the cost of service as well as help mitigate the infamous Duck Curve. According to the CPUC, the implementation of TOU rates should provide customers with the incentives to shift some of their peak usage to off-peak times of day when it will be cheaper to do so. This should result in a more efficient grid and lower bills in the long run.

October 18, 2017

Australian Renewables Sector Decries Dropping of Clean Energy Target

Australia’s government has dropped plans for introducing a Clean Energy Target (CET) post-2020, opting instead for a technology-neutral plan that it claimed would prioritise reliability and bringing prices down.

The new policy, known as the National Energy Guarantee, hands power to the nation’s utilities allowing them to choose the energy mix that suits them, with no real driver or target for clean energy, and no clear subsidy or direction once the Renewable Energy Target (RET) comes to a close in 2020.

The Department for Energy and Environment stated: “The government is acting on the Chief Scientist’s recommendation that new measures are needed to improve reliability and investment certainty in the electricity sector. To do this, we will take the advice of the independent Energy Security Board and implement a new National Energy Guarantee.”

October 16, 2017

Can the Clean Energy Industry Protect Puerto Rico From Maria-Scale Damage?

For renewables advocates, Puerto Rico may act as a study on how to build a clean grid from the ground up.

After Hurricane Maria hit Puerto Rico, taking down all electricity and most communications with it, Cecilio Aponte was able to get in contact with his family there relatively quickly. Through a brief phone call and a few texts, his mom nailed down uncles, aunts and cousins in Aguadilla and Moca on the western edge of the island. 

October 15, 2017

Wanted in California: A Healthy Market for Microgrids

California pioneered state policies for deploying solar and energy storage. Now it’s turning its attention to microgrids.

The state’s energy agencies released a draft microgrid roadmap September 29, drawing from a more than year-long process spanning five workshops with stakeholder input from industry, utilities and academia. The goal: to identify challenges and opportunities presented by microgrids. 

September 27, 2017

Australia Needs 75% Renewables by 2030 to Meet Paris Targets, Cut Costs

Less than one year after the Australian government agreed to ratify the Paris Agreement on climate change, a new report has warned that Australia risks falling short of its own national emissions targets  without significantly ramping up the electricity sector’s shift to renewable energy.

The report, the first major publication from The Australia Institute’s new Climate & Energy Program, finds that to meet Australia’s unambitious 26-28 per cent by 2030 Paris commitment – and to do so for the least cost to the economy and other key sectors like manufacturing – electricity sector emissions would need to be cut by between 40-55 per cent below 2005 levels by 2030.

The good news, is that this “least cost” emissions reduction approach is eminently doable. The bad news – at least for the Turnbull government and its right-wing anti-renewables rump – is that it will mean building a great deal more renewable energy generation between now and then, and framing policy to support that build-out.

According to the TAI – which uses the summarised results of a number of separate government commissioned analyses to support its findings – using an abatement cost approach to electricity sector targets, and a policy like the Clean Energy Target recommended by the Finkel Review, would lead to as much as 75 per cent renewables by 2030.

“This analysis of the economic modelling demonstrates meeting (40-55% emissions reduction) targets for the electricity sector with a policy like the clean energy target is likely to require 66-75 per cent of electricity to be supplied by renewables,” said Ben Oquist, TAI’s executive director, in comments on Monday.

“If Australia adopts a weak clean energy target which does not provide a strong signal for renewables, we risk turning Australia’s moderate Paris targets into an extremely expensive task.”

Indeed, the findings echo modelling done by the Finkel Review which showed that – if a CET was to match the Paris climate goals, rather than Australia’s downpayment, then a renewable energy share of around 70 per cent by 2030 would be required.

The report’s findings come at a critical time for the Turnbull government, which appears to be stuck in a dangerous no-man’s land on both climate and renewable energy policy, while under attack from within.

Leading that internal attack is former PM Tony Abbott, who last week declared he would cross the floor and vote against anything remotely resembling a climate change policy, or the smallest subsidy for renewable energy.

As Giles Parkinson put it in this piece last week, Abbott’s declaration of war on everything not only wedges Malcolm Turnbull in a highly uncomfortable policy position, but returns Australian industry and the energy sector to the miserable realisation that nothing much has changed, in terms of investment certainty.

And it reminds us of the uncomfortable reality – highlighted in the report – that the very climate targets we risk failing to meet were set by the same man who now seeks to undermine them: Tony Abbott.

“If Australia is to achieve the Abbott government’s climate targets new energy policies will be required,” report author and TAI director of research Rod Campbell writes.

“Both issues are of high current policy interest. The Australian government is currently considering whether to implement the proposed CET and what targets it might set for the electricity sector as part of its 2017 Climate Policy Review.

“The Opposition has signalled ‘in principle’ support for a CET and has committed to a 50 per cent renewable energy target by 2030, which has been ridiculed by the government and conservative commenters.”

For those who remain confused, Campbell carefully explains why a mechanism like the Clean Energy Target remains so important for Australia, even as large-scale solar and wind farm development are starting to take off. And why any form of policy uncertainty remains so damaging – in particular for electricity prices.

“Electricity generation assets have long economic lives. This means investors need to consider both existing and future carbon-energy policy settings. The apparent incongruity between Australia’s 2030 mitigation targets and the long-term commitments embodied in the Paris Agreement create uncertainty,” the report says.

“Investors do not know whether the unambitious approach embodied in the 2030 targets will persist, or whether policy settings will be modified to give effect to the Paris Agreement’s commitments.

“As the hypothetical scenarios in Figure 9 illustrate, the post-2030 policy settings could remain unambitious, which might translate into a gradual decline in electricity sector emissions under the CET through to 2050 and beyond.

“Alternatively, there may be a rapid increase in the level of ambition, requiring a sharp drop in electricity sector emissions in the 2030s and zero emissions by 2050.

“The uncertainty about post-2030 policy settings could deter investment and increase the cost of capital, with flow on effects for the price of electricity in the market.”

Figure 10 shows how a long-term investment signal approach avoids this uncertainty by setting emissions targets in line with the long-term objective of decarbonisation at or before 2050.

“Rather than facing the prospect of abrupt future changes in emissions, investors face a long-term emission path that provides them with certainty about policy settings over coming decades.”

The report also reminds readers that under almost any scenario modelled on “reasonable” carbon abatement targets, the vast bulk of Australia’s electricity generation mix is renewable from the mid-2020s on, while coal-fired generation is phased out in the early 2030s. Indeed, coal fares the best under the CET.

“The overall message from the Jacobs modelling for the CCA is clear – a CET-like policy is likely to bring in the largest share of renewables. This would come particularly at the expense of gas, with coal-fired generation also lasting longest under a CET,” the report says.

“The government has been consistent in its commitments to Australia’s international emissions targets,” said TAI’s Oquist. “It remains to be seen if we choose to meet those Paris commitments the easy way, or the hard way.

“Unless energy and climate policy are integrated we will have neither reliability nor affordability, let alone the ability to meet our international commitments,” Oquist said.


September 20, 2017

Turkey Adds 553 MW of Solar in H1 2017

The country’s cumulative installed PV capacity has now surpassed 1.5 GW, while another 500 MW is expected to be installed by the end of 2017.

Turkey had reached 1,503 MW of installed PV capacity as of the end of June 2017, according to statistics released by the Turkish solar association Günder, which are based on the country’s Energy Market Regulatory Board’s monthly Electrical Statistics Report.

September 19, 2017

Illinois Utilities Begin to Design Community Solar Programs Under New Energy Law

Illinois utilities and regulators are putting into motion plans for community solar programs under the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act that passed last year.

In filings with the Illinois Commerce Commission (ICC) last month, ComEd outlined proposed terms and conditions for “Community Supply,” also referred to as community solar. Ameren Illinois has also recently filed paperwork with the ICC outlining changes to net metering policies as the state moves to implement community solar.