February 15, 2018
The leading lobby for the electric utility industry and the Natural Resources Defense Council issued a joint statement in support of "accelerating" the clean energy transition. They offered 21 recommendations, including energy efficiency, reducing carbon emissions and empowering states and customers.
While U.S. clean energy installations lagged last year, electricity generation from renewables reached its highest level yet: 18 percent of the overall mix. That's up from 9 percent in 2008. Natural gas was at 32 percent and coal at 30 percent, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.
Tesla is still facing opposition from car dealership lobbies to prevent it from directly selling its vehicles in eight states: New York (where Tesla is limited to five dealerships), Wisconsin, Utah, Michigan, Connecticut, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.
California's Public Utilities Commission ruled that future Community Choice Aggregators—cities or counties that take over aspects of their electricity procurement, distribution and sales from investor-owned utilities—must help secure enough energy to meet the grid's needs and manage resources.
In Oklahoma, a war over wind power threatens to undermine financial support for the wind industry. But this week, the wind industry gained a victory when a plan backed by oil and gas interests to impose new taxes on wind energy production failed in the Oklahoma House.
February 14, 2018
The California Public Utilities Commission is now the first state regulator to allow revenue stacking rules for energy storage projects, which gives projects more than one revenue stream because they have flexibility to provide multiple uses or applications. The rules could lay a groundwork for energy storage projects to make money for utilities and developers.
Arizona Public Service was looking for a solution to deliver power during peak evening hours in the summer. First Solar's bid with solar plus storage beat out conventional renewables, standalone batteries and natural-gas peaking plants.
The Overseas Private Investment Corporation, the U.S. government's international finance arm, loaned more than $630 million to foreign energy projects in 2017, 90 percent of that to solar, wind or other low-carbon ventures, records show. In 2016, 61 percent went to clean energy.
A renewable energy coalition will pursue a November ballot measure that would require Michigan energy companies to get at least 30 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2030. The state's two biggest utilities are pushing back, claiming the mandate could lead to higher costs to ratepayers.
This year, more of Iceland's energy is expected to go into mining bitcoin and other virtual currencies than to power the country's homes. Iceland's climate allows natural cooling for computer servers and it has an abundance of renewable energy from geothermal and hydroelectric power plants.
February 13, 2018
The Trump administration's proposed 2019 budget would cut clean energy programs like the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy and the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. More funding in the Department of Energy's budget would go to fossil energy research and development.
An Oklahoma judge has set back plans for the largest U.S. wind power project by ruling that American Electric Power failed to prove that customers should pay for the $4.5 billion project through their power rates.
The combination of renewable energy and battery storage is starting to compete with peaker power plants that are typically used when electricity demand rises and regular supplies are insufficient. "I could see in 10 to 15 years where you have 30 percent of what is traditionally a peaker market served by storage," said Xcel CEO Ben Fowke.
Under a new energy bill drafted by Massachusetts' Senate Committee on Global Warming and Climate Change, ratepayers would be protected from having to pay for new natural gas pipeline infrastructure and utilities would be required to accelerate their transition to renewable energy.
February 12, 2018
By cutting costs and laying pipes for entire communities, geothermal startup Dandelion is trying to make low-emissions heating and cooling more affordable—and the extension of federal tax credits for geothermal heat pump installations could make it more competitive.
Three Canadian solar panel manufacturers are suing the U.S. government over President Trump's 30 percent tariff on solar cell imports. They say imposing the tariffs goes against NAFTA rules and will cause severe and irreversible damage to the companies.
Tesla says it plans to at least triple the amount of energy storage capacity it deploys in 2018 compared to 2017 by ramping up production of its Powerpack and Powerwall batteries.
Parts of Puerto Rico, including areas of San Juan, suffered a blackout after an explosion set off a fire at a main power substation, according to the Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority. More than 400,000 people are still without electricity after Hurricane Maria.
Australia had a record-breaking month of rooftop installations in January, mostly driven by low costs and a boost in commercial uptake. Industry analysts say the rooftop solar boom and large-scale solar projects could nearly double its solar power capacity in a year.
February 8, 2018
The offshore wind industry is booming, according to a new report by Navigant Research: a total of 3.3 gigawatts of new offshore wind energy capacity was installed worldwide in 2017, bringing the total capacity to almost 17 gigawatts, with more planned. Europe accounts for the majority of the growth.
Energy giant NRG Energy says it is selling its renewable energy business and South Central generation assets, with most of its stake going to Global Infrastructure Partners. NRG currently manages 2.4 gigawatts of renewable power generation in 17 states and has a pipeline of more than 6 gigawatts of renewable energy opportunities.
The Mississippi Public Service Commission unanimously approved a settlement between Mississippi Power and its stakeholders to recover costs of the failed Kemper coal gasification plant, which will now run as a natural gas plant. The agreement ensures ratepayers will not be liable for the costs, and will see a decline of $3 per month on their bill.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk says the company plans to manufacture 100,000 electric semi-trucks per year, making it one of the largest truck manufacturers in the world. Tesla has more than 500 reservations for pre-orders of the trucks. Read more from ICN about the growth of electric truck fleets.
February 7, 2018
After the 2016 solar boom, the industry lost 9,800 jobs between 2016 and 2017—the first drop ever recorded in the National Solar Jobs Census since it started collecting data in 2010. The Trump administration's talk of solar tariffs and policy changes contributed to the drop, the report said.
BP is looking to acquire more green energy firms and has pledged to set carbon targets, though it sees hydrocarbons remaining the core of its business. "As fast as renewables and clean energy can grow, faster than any fuel in history, the world is going to require oil and gas for some decades to come," CEO Bob Dudley said.
A bipartisan Florida Senate panel unanimously approved a fracking ban in the state, which gets most of its drinking water from underground aquifers. But the bill faces much more opposition in the House.
The UK accounted for more than half of new offshore wind power capacity built in Europe in 2017, according to industry group WindEurope. Wind farms continue to get bigger, and 2018 is expected to break even more records.
February 6, 2018
Houston-based lobbying group Consumer Energy Alliance, which reportedly has ties to Canadian tar sands industry interests, is behind a campaign in Kentucky to pass a bill that would slash credits utilities pay solar panel owners for any extra electricity they produce.
A Republican Nebraska senator has proposed a bill that would undo provisions that streamline wind power development and end the designation of wind power as a renewable energy. The proposed legislation would strike the word "wind" from a list of renewable energy generation facilities.
As Puerto Rico Electric Power Authority takes steps towards privatization, the governor's office and other officials have found themselves at odds over how to manage it. A resource plan is due in July; the governor has called for at least a third of electricity generation to come from renewables. Meanwhile, more than 400,000 customers are still without power, more than four months after the hurricane.