April 3, 2018
To generate more local electricity, Georgetown, Texas—which already uses 100 percent renewable energy—wants to pay property owners to let the city-owned utility install solar panels on their roofs and feed the energy back into the power grid. Homeowners would get lease payments or royalties.
A bill working its way through the Minnesota legislature would grant Xcel Energy approval for nuclear facility cost recovery before the money is spent, rather than after. The proposal echoes wider debates about who should pay for nuclear power plants in the U.S. Read more from ICN about FirstEnergy's call for emergency subsidies for nuclear and coal plants.
Portugal's renewable energy production outpaced monthly electricity consumption for the first time last month. With wet, windy weather, energy from hydroelectric dams and wind turbines was exceptionally high.
April 2, 2018
Chinese solar company JinkoSolar plans to invest $50 million in a Jacksonville, Florida, factory to supply NextEra Energy with up to 2.75 gigawatts of solar modules over four years. It's the first move by a Chinese company to invest in U.S. manufacturing following Trump's solar tariffs.
Stymied by Missouri regulators, Clean Line Energy Partners, which wants to build the Grain Belt Express—a high-voltage power line that will carry wind energy across the Midwest—has turned to former Gov. Jay Nixon to revive the $2.3 billion project.
The Maine Public Utilities Commission may soon vote on whether to alter power-rate terms on a proposed floating wind farm that would raise electric bills by less than $1 a month. The two-turbine project is in its final stages of financing and permits.
South Carolina lawmakers want to reduce SCE&G customer bills by cutting the amount they pay for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear development. If they do it, Dominion Energy is threatening to drop its bid to acquire SCANA, the utility's parent company, which could also have resulted in rate cuts.
A new national map of solar jobs breaks down data to county and congressional district-levels and shows the largest concentration of jobs is in San Francisco, which has more than 10,000 solar employees.
March 30, 2018
FirstEnergy is asking Energy Secretary Rick Perry for an emergency subsidy for its coal and nuclear plants after announcing it will shutter three nuclear facilities in Ohio and Pennsylvania. Echoing Perry's coal bailout plan, the utility claimed closing plants will impact regional grid reliability.
The Virginia Supreme Court rejected an appeal by Dominion Energy and upheld a decision by state regulators that large electricity users who want to use all renewable energy can shop for it without worrying they'll need to give five years' notice if they want to return to utility service. The decision could open the door for more renewable energy competition in the state.
Duke Energy says one of its power plants in North Carolina is now burning natural gas created from hog manure. Methane is captured from hog waste at five farms in the state, which is then converted into gas.
To support its big push for renewable energy—and especially solar—India must strengthen grid infrastructure, the head of the International Renewable Energy Agency said. He urged the country to adopt a long-term policy framework and mechanisms to attract investors in projects.
March 29, 2018
In Arizona, climate advocates are working on a ballot measure that calls for 50 percent renewables by 2030. GOP lawmakers just approved a nearly identical one, but with a catch that would make it easy for state officials to abandon the target altogether.
The League of Conservation Voters has launched a $2 million campaign to get candidates for state and local offices around the U.S. to embrace clean energy because of the lack of federal leadership on the issue. "Change is happening at the state level," said LCV's Bill Holland.
FirstEnergy plans to close three of its nuclear power plants—one in Pennsylvania and two in Ohio—within the next three years. The company cited weak power prices, insufficient results from capacity auctions, and not enough forecasted demand.
Natural gas is America's number one power source, but some utility companies—especially in the Western U.S.—are scrapping plans for natural gas plants or shuttering plants in favor of cheaper wind or solar, a trend analysts say is likely to continue as renewable energy costs fall.
Australian energy company Simple Energy plans to build the country's second virtual power plant, which will install Tesla Powerwall 2 home batteries for up to 1,200 households representing 6 megawatts of energy storage. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency is providing $7.7 million for the project, expected to be in operation by 2019.
March 28, 2018
As wind energy companies "repower" existing wind farms with new electronics, longer blades and more efficient turbines, it's helping the industry thrive, creating more jobs and generating more renewable energy.
SoftBank Group plans to build a $200 billion solar project in Saudi Arabia that would be the world's largest solar park: 100 times larger than the next largest proposed development and a third more than what the entire photovoltaic industry supplied globally last year.
Washington state's new transportation budget includes $600,000 to explore converting three of its largest ferries on Puget Sound from diesel to hybrid electric.
California regulators have approved Pacific Gas and Electric's plan to use local clean energy resources in Oakland as a backup so an old jet fuel generator that runs during peak demand can be retired. PG&E says it will open a request for offers this spring for 20-45 megawatts of renewable energy projects.
March 27, 2018
Barely half of U.S. coal plants earned enough money last year to cover their expenses, and the vast majority of those that didn't operate in regions where regulators set rates, a new study found. Instead of allowing market forces to determine their fate, regulators and utilities often keep the struggling plants open.
In another effort to compete with a clean energy mandate proposed as a ballot measure this fall, Arizona Republican lawmakers are proposing their own measure that would require 50 percent of the state's electricity to come from renewable sources by 2030—but allow utility regulators to sidestep the standards if doing so could raise customer bills or cause reliability concerns.
Maryland wants to see 300,000 electric vehicles on the road by 2025, so utilities are proposing to spend $104 million to support a statewide network of 24,000 residential, workplace and public charging stations. If completed, it would be the nation's largest network behind California.
Illinois recently announced that the utility ComEd will build a microgrid and recoup the $25 million cost from a broad group of ratepayers. Now other states, including Pennsylvania, are looking to the pilot project to help inform new business models to help pay for microgrid technology.
March 26, 2018
The Chumash people of Southern California asked the California Energy Commission to prevent construction of a gas peaker plant at a site considered sacred by the Chumash. If regulators agree to suspend the project, it will add to the recent trend of California rejecting gas infrastructure.
The Energy Department has withdrawn from a 2016 agreement to partner with Clean Line Energy Partners on a transmission line that would have delivered wind energy from Oklahoma eastward. "The project is not dead, but is on a much slower track," a Clean Line spokeswoman said.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey signed a bill that minimizes fines for utility companies that don't meet potential clean energy mandates that could be added to the state Constitution. Environmentalists are trying to get a ballot measure that would require utilities to get half their power from renewables by 2030.
Federal regulators pushed back on Energy Secretary Rick Perry's attempt to bail out coal last year. But there are still powerful forces pushing to keep old fossil fuel power plants open as long as possible, and it could mean higher costs, more pollution, and uneconomic power plants delaying the market entry of cleaner alternatives.
Alberta—known for its production of tar sands oil—is closing several coal-fired power plants and has increased its tax on carbon emissions by 50 percent to help Canada reach its Paris climate agreement goals. At the same time, however, the province is increasing its high-emissions tar sands output.