July 26, 2017

Greece’s PPC Utility Targets 550 MW of New Solar

Greece’s incumbent utility, the Public Power Corporation (PPC) has announced a target for new solar PV projects. The move, while justified, may come too late to save the PPC, which is trying to reduce its reliance on lignite and avoid bankruptcy.

Things do change after all. In the case of Greece’s PPC utility, which owns 13 GW of electricity generation facilities (about 64% of Greece’s installed capacity), the majority of which are coal plants, the recent change in investment strategy has arrived rather late, and is widely viewed as the result of tectonic policy changes that are currently taking place within Greece’s electricity sector.

July 25, 2017

Brookline Launches Renewable Energy Program With Opt-Out System

Rolling out this month is an optional electricity program for residents and business owners that promotes renewable energy use.

Brookline Green Electricity is a community aggregation program designed to give residents and business owners the opportunity to sign up for one of three plans, which offer different levels of renewable energy at fixed rates for 30 months.

The program takes advantage of a state goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent by 2050, according to Maria Morelli, a senior planner at Brookline’s Department of Planning and Community Development.

July 24, 2017

New Homes Will Now Require Solar Panels in South Miami, a First in Florida

Anyone building a new house in South Miami — or in some cases renovating existing ones — will have to install solar panels after the city commission approved a groundbreaking law Tuesday night.

The measure, the first of its kind in Florida, will go into effect in two months on Sept 18.

The ordinance passed 4-1 Tuesday night, with commissioner Josh Liebman dissenting.

July 23, 2017

Assembly OK’s Ruggiero Bill for Remote Net Metering at Schools and Churches in Rhode Island

The state legislature has approved a bill that could significantly increase renewable energy by expanding net metering to schools, hospitals and nonprofit organizations, including churches.
Rep. Deb Ruggiero, who represents Jamestown and Middletown, co-sponsored the bill in the House.

Net metering allows the owners of green energy to receive credit for the power they feed into the electric grid. Remote net metering is an arrangement that allows kilowatt-hours generated from one site to be credited toward energy consumption at a different site.

July 21, 2017

Clean Energy Bill Now Law in NH Without Sununu's Signature

Gov. John Sununu demonstrated his continued reservations about a so-called clean energy bill by allowing SB 129 to become law without his signature.

The bill provides guarantees that 15 percent of the state’s renewable energy fund goes toward the financing of community solar projects as well as increasing the value of renewable energy credits for biomass plants.

July 20, 2017

California Assembly Yanks Major Storage Bill, Pushing It to 2018

SB 700 would have funded storage incentives over 10 years. It disappeared from the Assembly’s schedule without a vote.

A long-term energy storage rebate that cleared the California Senate came to a sudden halt in the Assembly this week.

SB 700 would create a 10-year rebate program that steps down in phases as storage penetration increases, modeled after the successful California Solar Initiative. It was slated for a hearing Wednesday in the Assembly's Utilities and Energy Committee, but the committee chair took it off the agenda despite objections from the bill's author.

July 19, 2017

Updated: 17 States Now Charge Fees for Electric Vehicles

The gas tax is catching up to electric vehicles in a growing number of states. 

Several states have passed or enacted new fees this year, bringing the total to 17. Recent additions include West Virginia, Michigan, Minnesota, Indiana, Oklaho-ma, Tennessee and California, which is home to leading EV maker Tesla and a suite of policies designed to incentivize electric-car adoption. South Carolina enacted a biennial fee for electric cars.

The New Normal for Rooftop Solar in Hawaii?

As the state’s solar market contracts painfully, business leaders are wondering how they’ll survive.

For anyone in sales, there are two existential questions that need to be posed and answered: What's the market for what you're peddling, and how much market share can you expect to capture?

As the once-thriving rooftop solar industry in Hawaii painfully contracts, businesses like mine and others are being forced to seriously ponder those two questions. 

July 18, 2017

New Solar Laws Expected to Boost Florida Commercial Installations

Mike Mahmoudi, owner of the 32-room New Sun Gate Motel on South Federal Highway in Lake Worth, is pleased that he invested $115,000 in a 40.2 kilowatt rooftop solar system that generates power whenever the sun is shining.

“My electric bill was expensive. It’s saving me some money, and I helped create jobs. I feel good. My property value will go up, and I get a federal income tax break,” Mahmoudi said.

July 17, 2017

Nevada Governor Signs Law to Revive Rooftop Solar Industry

Public pressure prompts reversal of unfriendly solar policies.

A year and a half after Nevada virtually shut down its thriving rooftop solar industry, Gov. Brian Sandoval signed a bill last week designed to bring it back. It was among eight clean and high-tech energy bills recently considered by the state legislature. Sandoval also signed laws crafted to install charging stations for electric vehicles and incentivize energy efficiency. 

But Sandoval also vetoed a widely supported bill that would have increased the state’s requirement for renewable energy in its electricity supply from 25 percent by 2025 to 40 percent by 2030. And he rejected a bill designed to establish community solar projects, where renters and low-income Nevadans could participate in generating solar power. 

July 16, 2017

Controversial Clean Energy Bill in NH Becomes Law Without Governor’s Signature

Measure seeks to boost wood, solar industries.

Senate Bill 129, a measure that gives a boost to the state’s wood and solar energy industries but could also raise electric bills, became law July 11 without Gov. Chris Sununu’s signature.

The bill – dubbed the Clean Energy Jobs Act of 2017 – was the only significant energy bill passed in the recently concluded legislative session. It was controversial to the very end, pitting the Business and Industry Association of New Hampshire against other business groups, such as the NH Clean Tech Council and the NH Timberland Owners Association.

July 14, 2017

Reviewing the NH Legislature’s Energy Accomplishments

While there were plenty of bills up for a vote, very few were enacted

With the conclusion of the Legislature’s 2017 session, it is time to take stock of what the General Court did, and didn’t do, from an energy perspective.

While there were a number of bills proposed that would have made some significant changes to our laws governing a variety of energy issues, many of them were either retained for study over the summer and fall, after which they will be taken up during the 2018 session, or they were killed. 

July 12, 2017

France is Taking Another Step in its Transition Toward Renewable Energy

Country to ban new oil and gas exploration projects

France is set to take a major step forward in its transition away from fossil-fuels in favor of renewable energy. The country is planning to no longer grant licenses for new oil and gas exploration projects. This is part of France’s “ecological transition,” which will see the country move away from old forms of power that produce harmful emissions. By halting new oil and gas exploration projects, France may be able to significantly slow the development of new fossil-fuel systems as it works to embrace renewable energy more aggressively.

July 11, 2017

Planned RET Amendments in Poland

On 28 June 2017, an official bill amending the Renewable Energy Sources Act and certain other acts (including the Act on Wind Farm Investments), was published on the website of the Government Centre for Legislation. One of the material amendments provided by the draft regards the rules of real property taxation of wind power plants.

Under the bill, the definition of a construction structure will return to the shape that was in force until 15 July 2016, which means that it will be clearly stated that only the building part of a wind power plant is a construction structure. Secondly, the appendix to the Building Law Act will clearly state that only the building part of a wind power plant is a building object (a construction structure is one of the building objects). Last, but not least, the Act on Wind Farm Investments will clearly indicate that a wind power plant consists of a building (a mast and foundation) and a technical part. Taking into account the planned amendments, according the justification of the bill, only the building part of a wind power plant will be subject to real property taxation.

July 10, 2017

Senate adopts, House rejects N.C. Solar Reform Bill With Moratorium on Wind Power Projects

A radically altered — and largely anti-renewable energy — version of a bill to reform the state’s solar regulations passed the N.C. Senate Wednesday night. But the House refused to go along, and the bill is headed to a conference committee to work out the differences.

One of the biggest differences in the bill is a four-year moratorium on new permits for wind power projects in the state, introduced by a small group of senators during deliberations in the Senate Finance Committee. But the bill also introduced other provisions weakening the market reforms proposed for renewable energy regulation and cutting back on a commitment for new solar construction.

July 9, 2017

As Arkansas Leads on Efficiency, Two States Poised to Follow

Two states in the Southeast U.S. are moving to step up their energy efficiency mandates by taking lessons from programs in Arkansas.

Widely believed to be the first initiative in the Southeast to decouple utility revenues from power sales, Arkansas’ success to date is serving as proof that such regulations can benefit ratepayers and utilities while creating new energy efficiency jobs.

Mississippi and Louisiana are the latest states to seriously consider such incentives aimed at utility programs that can save electricity and natural gas ratepayers’ money. The catch: much as they do with plans to generate more power with new generating plants, these states are assessing how best to allow utilities to profit by cutting customers’ energy usage.

July 7, 2017

Why Biomass Remains a Challenge, Even in Timber-rich Georgia

A new biomass plant under construction in Georgia highlights the challenging economics of the technology, even in a state so rich in forestry waste it exports it to other countries.

The 50-MW Albany Green plant — the largest renewable energy project in the state so far — is a unique collaboration among Georgia Power, private companies (including Procter & Gamble) and a nearby Marine base. While the cost for biomass generated electricity is too high to compete with wind and solar, the project also produces steam for industrial use, which improves its economics.

July 6, 2017

What Scotland’s Renewables Record Means for the Grid

It’s time to start thinking seriously about how to deal with lots of intermittent generation.

Record-breaking renewable generation in Scotland was cheered by environmentalists last month. But grid planners remain cautious. 

Wind generation accounted for 46 percent of Scotland’s entire electricity needs in May.

“Market design and the existing network are not geared to the level of flexibility and adaptation that is required" in the country, said Aris Karcanias, co-lead of the clean energy practice at FTI Consulting.

July 5, 2017

PJM’s Market Changes: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly for Green Energy and Demand Response

The Mid-Atlantic grid operator just won a court case to keep capacity performance rules that hurt clean energy. Will carbon pricing and market reforms help make up for it?

PJM, the grid operator responsible for delivering electricity to about 65 million customers from the mid-Atlantic coast to the Great Lakes, is working on ways to price carbon into its energy markets, and incorporate subsidized wind and solar power into its mix. It’s also projecting a future grid that’s stable despite a rise in wind, solar and demand-side energy flexibility -- contrary to concerns expressed by Energy Secretary Rick Perry.

But for green energy advocates, none of that makes up for the negative effects of PJM’s Capacity Performance rules -- and as of this week, those rules are sticking around for awhile. 

On Tuesday, a three-judge panel of the D.C. Court of Appeals rejected challenges to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of new electricity market rules for PJM’s 13-state region. Known as capacity performance, these rules introduced year-round requirements, broken into winter and summer seasonal markets, to replace the summer-peaking-only market that’s been in place for decades. 

PJM’s new year-round requirement was partly a response to the 2014 polar vortex, when record-cold temperatures simultaneously spiked demand for heating energy and froze up about 22 percent of the generators available, leading to emergency conditions. They’re also an attempt to deliver more efficient allocation of resources, potentially adding up to billions of dollars, according to PJM’s analysis. 

But environmental and clean energy groups have argued from the start that PJM’s new market structure will make it harder for demand response, wind and solar resources to recognize their value against always-on resources like natural-gas-fired power plants. 

That’s mainly because capacity performance doesn’t actually split the market into winter and summer blocks, in a way that would allow programs and technologies that do best in hot weather, such as air conditioning cycling or rooftop solar PV, to bid separately from winter resources, when cold temperatures and heating needs drive peak loads. 

Instead, it requires participants to virtually aggregate summer resources with corresponding amounts of winter-focused resources, through a complicated process that we’ve covered in some detail at GTM Squared. The problem is, there aren’t enough remote-control water heaters, thermal energy storage systems, or other forms of winter-focused capacity to match up with the well-established summer-peaking capacity resources. 

The results from PJM’s Base Residual Auction last month appear to have borne out the green energy and demand response industries’ concerns. Capacity for the 2020-2021 period cleared a price of $76.53 per megawatt-day, well below the prices of $80 to $100 from last year’s auction. This fact could be taken as a sign that PJM’s new rules are working, by delivering cheaper capacity for its utilities and consumers. 

But the auction also revealed a big drop in demand response, down 24 percent compared to last year, and in solar, down more than 60 percent from the year before, Jennifer Chen, attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), noted in a Tuesday blog post. “As predicted, many summer resources seeking complementary winter resources did not find any to pair with,” she wrote. 

PJM did loosen its rules on aggregation for the auction, which helped somewhat. Still, the number of seasonal resources that could combine into annual capacity added up to less than 400 megawatts, or two-tenths of a percent of total procurement, Chen wrote. 

PJM’s final implementation of its capacity performance rules has upset more than environmentalists. The groups challenging FERC’s decision in court include NRDC, the Sierra Club, the Union of Concerned Scientists, and the Advanced Energy Management Alliance representing the demand response industry. But it also includes separate complaints from the American Public Power Association and National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, both representing utilities, which argue that the year-round requirements will increase capacity costs, with unclear future benefits. 

Even so, the three judges ruled unanimously to uphold FERC’s decision to allow PJM to move ahead with the particulars of its implementation of capacity performance, including the year-round requirement. Chen wrote that NRDC was “reviewing the decision and our options for undoing these costly market rules,” including new complaints filed with FERC, seeking a re-examination of the seasonal capacity issue -- an issue that’s unlikely to rise to attention anytime soon, given FERC’s current lack of a quorum. 

Measured against these kinds of figures, PJM’s recent work on integrating state carbon policies into its markets may not offer much of an upside to clean energy advocates. Last week, PJM published three white papers laying out its approach to the process, part of a broader effort being driven by FERC to examine the way state renewable and carbon policies affect the operation of interstate energy markets, as we've covered at GTM Squared. 

The first white paper looks at how PJM could establish a regional or sub-regional carbon price to reflect state renewable and climate change mitigation policies in wholesale market prices. The second looks at a new approach to how subsidized resources like wind and solar power are treated as capacity, by expanding the minimum offer price rule, or MOPR, to these resources. 

Finally, the third white paper “does not respond per se to state subsidy programs,” but instead “examines whether the aforementioned profound changes to the industry require re-examination of PJM rules that define when and under what circumstances a generator is eligible to set marginal prices.” There’s a lot more to unpack on the concept in the white paper, but its underlying goal is to deal with “an unintended bias in the energy markets favoring lower-capital-cost resources." That means things that are cheaper than big power plants, but that may fail to “signal the true, full cost incurred to meet the marginal increment of load.” 

July 4, 2017

The Long-Awaited Massachusetts Energy Storage Target Has Arrived

Basketball fans have March Madness, political junkies get a big election every four years, and the Oscars roll around every February. For energy storage buffs, moments of collective anticipation are harder to come by.

Friday is as good as it gets, thanks to the long-awaited release of Massachusetts' energy storage procurement target. Following a law passed last summer, the Department of Energy Resources took until the close of 2016 to decide a target was a good idea, and then had until July to name a number.

And the number is: 200 megawatt-hours by 2020.

July 3, 2017

California’s Cap-and-Trade Program Just Won a Major Legal Challenge

But now legislators have to figure out what’s next after 2020.

California’s four-year-old cap-and-trade program, which sets a cap on greenhouse gas emissions and incentivizes the state’s biggest polluters to lower emissions, has won a substantial legal battle.

On Wednesday afternoon, the state’s Supreme Court rejected an appeal of a lower court’s ruling over a legal challenge from a group of businesses initiated four years ago. Back then the Chamber of Commerce sued, alleging that the state is imposing an illegal tax on businesses through the cap-and-trade program.

July 2, 2017

Paraguay to Issue Renewable Energy Law by the End of 2017

Although mired in significant delays compared to other Latin American countries, Paraguay is now preparing to issue its first legislation to support solar and wind power.

Paraguay will issue its first renewable energy law in the upcoming months, most likely before the end of 2017. This was stated by Lourdes Aquino Perinetto from local law firm GHP Guanes, Heisecke & Piera in an interview with pv magazine.

According to Perinetto, the new law has already been approved by the upper chamber and is now being reviewed by the Senate. The main reason for the country’s delay in developing solar and wind power, she explained, is the monopoly of the local utility ANDE in the energy market. The new law, however, will compel the ANDE to buy at least 5% of its power from renewable energy other than hydropower, which currently has the largest share in Paraguay’s energy mix.

The Latest Trends in Corporate Renewable Energy Procurement

Rocky Mountain Institute’s Hervé Touati explains the “winner’s curse” and why the corporate renewables market is about to really boom.

We're entering a new era in corporate renewable energy purchasing. 

The space has grown exponentially and diversified significantly since Google and Apple made their first renewable energy procurements in 2012. Where and how corporations are purchasing renewables is also evolving, according to Hervé Touati, managing director of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

June 28, 2017

New York Moves to Establish Energy Storage Procurement Target for 2030

The New York State Legislature has sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo companion bills that would lead to the development of an energy storage procurement target for the state.

The bills would direct the New York Public Service Commission (PSC) to set proceedings to establish an energy storage deployment program, and, by Jan. 1, 2018, establish a target for the installation of qualified energy storage systems to be achieved by 2030, according to the companion bills. The PSC also would establish programs to help the state achieve that target.

June 27, 2017

Solar Now Third Largest Renewable Source of Electricity in US

In April, solar reached a new milestone, providing more than 2.3 percent of U.S. electrical supply, according to the latest issue of the U.S. Energy Information's (EIA) Electric Power Monthly, with data through April 30, 2017. Consequently, solar has now moved into third place among renewable sources — behind hydropower and wind but ahead of biomass and geothermal.

In April, utility-scale plus small-scale solar provided 20,928 thousand megawatt-hours (TMWh) compared to 20,509 TMWh from biomass and 5,945 TMWh from geothermal.
Renewables Provide More Electricity Than Nuclear