Archive for January 2013

Salazar resigns! What’s next for energy?

January 23, 2013 | By
By now, news of the impending departure of Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar has caused a ripple throughout the industry.

Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar

Old news, right? Perhaps, but questions remain. Foremost, what will become of all the energy issues for which he has championed — renewable energy, oil and gas drilling, America’s energy independence?

Energy wins

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Salazar’s list of energy wins is long. He launched what has been called a “renewable energy revolution”. He prioritized offshore renewable energy development, issuing the first-ever offshore wind leases in federal waters. He advocated for a new model of conservation, which furthered the nation’s goal of energy independence. He authorized 34 solar, wind and geothermal projects on public lands for a total 10,400 MW — enough to power more than 3 million homes and oversaw solar energy development in the West. His aggressive push for the most rigorous oil and gas safety and reforms in U.S. history ultimately led to more drilling in the Gulf, paving the way to energy independence. President Obama gives Salazar much of the credit for his role in successful efforts to expand responsible development of domestic energy resources.

Even before becoming Secretary,  as a member of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Salazar helped lead the passage of the 2005 and 2007 Energy Policy Acts — one of the most significant and comprehensive energy bills in decades.  The 2007 Farm Bill which Salazar also helped lead included key energy provisions.

Enough said.

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Salazar’s list of energy wins is long. He launched what has been called a “renewable energy revolution”.
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Salazar’s successor

Obviously, no one knows for sure what will happen, but there are theories.

“In the short-term, the impact will be minimal, but only due to the uncertainty around who the administration will pick to fill his role,” said Jason Rodriguez, CEO and director of research at Zpryme.  “However, we expect his successor to be another champion of renewable energy and the advancement of the nation’s electric grid.”

Despite his positivity, Rodriguez does admit that Salazar’s successor may have an uphill battle when it comes to advancing renewable energy projects.

“His successor will not have the same momentum or mandate to push along renewable energy projects,” said Rodriguez. “Salazar had the stimulus funds on his side. So the next Secretary of Interior will have to tread carefully and strategically with the projects and proposals they wish to get behind.”

“I have had the privilege of reforming the Department of the Interior to help lead the United States in securing a new energy frontier…,” Salazar said in a statement. “I look forward to helping my successor in a seamless transition in the months ahead,” he added.

Who Salazar’s successor will be has been the subject of much speculation. The contenders range from outgoing Washington Governor Christine Gregoire and former New Mexico Senator Jeff Bingaman Montana Governor Brian Schweitzer to Wyoming Governor Dave Freudenthal, Bill Ritter, former Governor of Colorado, and Director of the federal government’s Office of Personnel Management John Berry.

“All of the potential candidates will be a great champion of renewable energy and the smart grid, but Governor Gregoire or former Governor Ritter are probably the strongest candidates when it comes to being able to execute multiple large-scale projects at a very high level,” said Rodriguez. “Their experience in running a state government will serve them well as Secretary of the Interior.”

Another milestone

Despite Salazar’s rapidly approaching retirement, the hard work hasn’t stopped.

Under Salazar’s direction, the Interior recently designated 192,100 acres of public land across Arizona as potentially suitable for utility-scale solar and wind energy development.

“This project is a key milestone in our work to spur smart development of solar and wind energy on public lands across the West,” Secretary Salazar said in a statement. “Arizona has huge potential when it comes to building a clean energy economy… we continue to work closely with states, local communities, tribes, industry, conservation and other groups to reduce potential resource conflicts and expedite appropriate projects that will generate jobs and investment in rural communities.”

Salazar resigns amidst rumors that Energy Secretary Stephen Chu also plans to leave, and follows the departure of the Environmental Protection Agency’s top administrator Lisa Jackson.

Read more: Salazar resigns! What’s next for energy? – FierceEnergy http://www.fierceenergy.com/story/salazar-resigns-whats-next-energy/2013-01-23#ixzz2IunvIYAI
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Tell President Obama that solar is ready!

By Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO

Yesterday, in his inaugural address, President Obama vowed to fight climate change and called for strengthening the clean energy economy.

“We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.

Some may still deny the overwhelming judgment of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms. The path towards sustainable energy sources will be long and sometimes difficult. But America cannot resist this transition; we must lead it.

–President Barack Obama, January 21, 2013

Today, the solar industry employs more than 100,000 Americans at 5,600 companies, mostly small businesses, across all 50 states – this is more than double the number working in solar in 2009.  By nearly all measures, the solar energy industry has been one of the fastest growing industries over the last 5 years and we expect a record 2012 for installed solar capacity, despite a slow economic recovery.

We need all the people who support the industry to join us. Please take a moment and forward this email to 5 of your friends. They can join here.

The President can help lead the way to making a stronger solar industry. The new 113th U.S. Congress must also work together to make this become a reality. We need to maintain the ITC so that solar can compete on a level playing field with other energy sources. We need to streamline the permitting process and cut red tape for small businesses and homeowners. We need to defend net metering policies across the nation.

We need to tell policymakers that the solar industry is ready to lead. Heck, we’ve been ready.

We have a commitment to the generation that will build our future. Let’s make sure it’s one with a stable climate and clean, reliable energy sources.

Join us as we work to make sure this administration knows that the next four years is crucial to success of the solar industry. We need the President’s leadership to make that happen. We need Congress to work together to pass sensible policy. Most of all, we need your help us take a stand.

Tell your friends to join our advocacy list and get involved.

Sincerely,

Rhone

Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO

Study: Solar ‘Net Metering’ To Provide Over $92 Million in Benefits to California Ratepayers, Electrical Grid

SAN FRANCISCO, Jan 15, 2013 – A study released today by the Vote Solar Initiative finds that net-metered rooftop solar will provide more than $92 million in annual benefits to  ratepayers of California’s three investor-owned utilities.  Net metering is a program that provides rooftop solar customers with utility bill credits for the surplus clean energy that their solar systems feed onto the electric grid. Net metering has been a key driver of the rapid expansion of solar across California’s rooftops, with two-thirds of home solar installations now occurring in low and median income neighborhoods, according to a July 2012 California Solar Initiative report.

The study comes as the state’s investor-owned utilities– Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric– increasingly criticize net metering, which reduces their ability to justify the capital investment infrastructure projects that earn them a guaranteed profit.

The study was commissioned by the Vote Solar Initiative and was authored by consultant and former California Public Utilities Commission advisor Tom Beach of Crossborder Energy. Using a CPUC-approved economic model and data from solar customers, the study assesses the overall impacts of net metering to ratepayers in territories covered by Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison, and San Diego Gas & Electric.

It finds that the financial benefits of net metered power outweigh the costs, with a total net benefit value of more than $92 million annually by the time the state’s net metering program is fully subscribed. Benefits include: savings on expensive and polluting conventional power; reduced investments in transmission and distribution infrastructure; reduced electricity lost during transportation over power lines, as net metered solar’s surplus energy is sent to the grid locally; and savings on the cost of meeting carbon reduction and renewable energy requirements.

“When someone decides to put solar panels on their roof, they not only generate clean power, but also reduce strain on the electric grid while offering financial benefits to all ratepayers,” said Adam Browning, Executive Director of The Vote Solar Initiative. “We’ve got a long way to go in revamping an antiquated energy grid and growing California’s clean economy, and net metering is critical to those efforts.”

In addition to the bill-saving ratepayer benefits outlined in the study, solar provides environmental, public health and economic benefits. Thanks to policies like net metering, California is home to a fast-maturing solar industry, which now employs over 43,000 Californians and has attracted over $10 billion in private investment.

“It’s crystal clear that the way we produce and consume electricity needs to evolve,” said Daniel Kammen, University of California Berkeley Distinguished Professor in the Energy and Resources Group (ERG), and Professor of Public Policy in the Goldman School of Public Policy. “The good news is that net metering is doing what it was designed to do—accelerating solar adoption while reducing our dependence on dangerous fossil fuels and kick-starting one of the most promising job-creating industries of the 21st Century.  Solar produces energy at the times of highest cost to the utilities, so with the right market incentives, it is a simple ‘win-win-win’ for ratepayers, utilities, and the environment.”

Solar adoption has helped school districts and other public agencies survive steep budget cuts, with savings from solar installations freeing up funds to retain teachers, educational programs, and important government services. Over the next 30 years, schools and public agencies will save more than $2.5 billion on energy bills via net-metered solar systems.

“Bill savings from solar projects coupled with efficiency are important at a time when schools have been forced to cut budgets and grow classroom sizes.  Net metering helps taxpayer-funded institutions operate more efficiently by allowing schools to use these utility savings for other purposes such as books, supplies and teachers,” said Anna Ferrera, Executive Director of the School Energy Coalition.  “Not to mention the added benefit of having our students witness the clean and natural resources that can power their classrooms and computers.”

A link to the full Crossborder Energy study and a Vote Solar summary fact sheet with infographics is available here

LA’s Solar Feed-in Tariff Making A Big Leap

by

Los Angeles has long been something of a solar underperformer, given its size and sunny clime. The group Environment California reported that as of late 2011, despite being nearly three times larger than San Diego, LA had less installed solar capacity (37 megawatts to 36 MW) and fewer installations (4,507 to 4,018) than its neighbor to the south. And a 2011 UCLA study found that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power was generating less than one-sixth as much solar power per customer as state leader Southern California Edison.

But the city has been taking action to step up its solar game, revamping a broken rebate program and sticking its toe into the feed-in tariff waters with a 10 MW solar pilot program. Now the LADWP is dramatically expanding that feed-in tariff, approving a 100-megawatt program that’s being called be “the largest urban rooftop solar program of its kind in the nation.”

los angeles rooftop solar

image via Shutterstock

A feed-in tariff has been the major tool for Germany in becoming the world’s solar leader. A FIT works by guaranteeing solar power producers a profitable price for the electricity their systems produce. In LA, the Department of Water and Power will offer 17-cent-per-kilowatt-hour contracts for projects at least 30-kilowatts in size (the equivalent of about six typical home rootftop systems), up to a total of 20 megawatts of new installed power every six month.

The program could become even larger in the near future; DWP said in in March it will entertain a lant to add another 50 megawatts to the FIT.

In addition to clean-sourced electricity, advocates say the FIT will be a jobs creator for LA.

“The full 150-megawatt program will be a major economic driver for Los Angeles, creating 4,500 jobs and generating a half-billion dollars in economic activity at full scale, while also eliminating 2.25 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions by 2016,” the DWP said.

Still, as admirable as these moves by LA are, the city has a long way to go in making solar a significant part of its power equation. As Southern California clean-energy blogger Chris Clarke noted, “LADWP can deliver around 7,200 megawatts of power to its customers, meaning that a 100-megawatt FiT, when fully subscribed, will account for less than 1.4 percent of the utility’s generating capacity.”

Solar emerging as competitor for utility-scale electric generation

January 13, 2013 | By

The adoption of U.S. utility-scale photovoltaic (PV) and concentrating solar power (CSP) plants is expected to accelerate during the next decade, according to research from Frost & Sullivan. This will move the technology forward as a contender in a pool of conventional forms of electricity generation.

Renewable portfolio standards, federal incentives such as investment tax credits and loan programs are driving large-scale commercialization of solar energy. As solar energy competes with conventional forms of electricity generation, the potential market for utility-scale solar power plants in the country is on the rise.

Cumulative PV solar installations in the U.S. reached 1,855 MW with the utility-scale segment accounting for 32.2 percent.

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“Though no new CSP plants were installed in the United States during 2011, projects totaling more than 1.4 gigawatts were under construction,” said Frost & Sullivan Senior Industry Analyst Georgina Benedetti, which should speed up overall market growth.

However, before banks and investors fund these projects, they need some level of assurance that a power plant will operate long enough to see a return on their investment.

“Therefore, well-established project developers using proven technologies will have an advantage in obtaining financing,” said Benedetti.

For more:
– see this article

Related Articles:
Solar robust even in economic downturn
Muni’s feed-in tariff will boost CA solar energy
California gaining PV market share

Read more: Solar emerging as competitor for utility-scale electric generation – FierceEnergy http://www.fierceenergy.com/story/solar-emerging-competitor-utility-scale-electric-generation/2013-01-13#ixzz2HyIlLSrB
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Ontario nearly coal-free

In 2003, Ontario’s government made a decision to stop burning coal. Since that time, Ontario has cut its use of coal by nearly 90 percent, and more than 80 percent of its power generation comes from water, nuclear, and renewables.

Lambton generating station

The last of Ontario’s coal plant operations will cease by the end of 2013 — a year earlier than originally planned. In 2014, Ontario’s use of coal is expected to be less than 1 percent of total electricity generation — down from 25 percent in 2003.

Ontario’s two largest coal-fired electricity plants, Nanticoke and Lambton, will close early as a result of the province’s improved electricity grid, increased efficiency, strong conservation efforts, and diversified supply of clean energy — effectively shutting down 17 of the Province’s 19 coal plants.

Survey: Take the Smart Grid Index Survey

Zpryme’s Smart Grid Insights and FierceSmartGrid are conducting a survey to assess the current sentiment and outlook for the Smart Grid industry on a monthly basis. We would like to invite utility, energy, and Smart Grid executives to participate in this month’s survey. Click here to take the survey.

Ontario currently uses less coal-fired generation in its energy mix than any G8 nation and has been none the worse for wear. Clean energy and a modern electricity system have created tens of thousands of jobs and attracted investors and a high-quality workforce.  In 2012, the renewable energy sector saw $12 billion in capital investment.

In fact, in 2011, Ontario was the world’s leading region for renewable energy projects, according to the Financial Times’ fDi Intelligence think-tank.

By the end of 2014, Ontario will be one of the few places in the world to eliminate coal as a source of electricity production.

For more:
– see this article

Related Articles:
Goodbye to coal?
FirstEnergy ready for more coal retirements
Exelon sells off Maryland Clean Coal
Future of coal unclear

Read more: Ontario nearly coal-free – FierceEnergy http://www.fierceenergy.com/story/ontario-nearly-coal-free/2013-01-13#ixzz2HyI4s7Tz
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