What will happen if the federal investment tax credit (ITC) so many solar developers depend on isn’t extended?
“If the investment tax credit is not extended, we see it as a disruption, not a death for the industry,” said Maddy Yozwiak, U.S. Power and RECs analyst and co-author of the recently-released report, “How extending the investment tax credit would affect US solar build,” from Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF).
“It will be a disruption that will take years to recover from, but the recovery is there. Long-term costs continue to improve,” Yozwiak added. “That doesn’t go away, even without the ITC.”
For now, the ITC is a 30% tax credit, but that is slated to change at the end of 2016, when it would drop to 10% for business investments in solar, and nothing for residential solar projects.
With that policy change, BNEF calculated that the US can expect about 73 GW of solar PV to come online by year-end 2022. Build rates will fall from “an average of 8 GW per year from 2014-16 to 6 GW per year from 2017-22.”
The solar industry is lobbying hard for a five-year extension of the 30% business and personal ITC. If congress puts it in place by mid-2016, that would boost average build rates to about 10 GW per year from 2017-2022, the analysis concluded, amounting to an installed capacity of over 95 GW.
Given the success of the ITC and the value of solar, Yozwiak said, the real question “is whether it is worth causing the change after 2016, and havingdisruption at the scale we forecast it.”
Standard Solar CEO Tony Clifford agreed.
“There are going to be changes in 2017, likely very dramatic changes,” Clifford said. “But we shouldn’t spend time arguing about how big this cliff will be. We should be working to make sure we don’t go over it.”
PG&E argues that Community Choice customers need to pay their “fair share”
San Rafael, CA – PG&E recently proposed that Marin Clean Energy (MCE) and Sonoma Clean Power customers should pay even more “exit” fees than they already do to the Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&E) every month. The proposed increase ranges from 44% to 127% depending upon customer class, and forces residential customers, including low-income, to pay the highest rates associated with these fees.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) currently authorizes PG&E to impose exit fees on customers who choose to buy their electric generation from local providers like MCE or Sonoma Clean Power. Although these fees are always included in cost comparisons, they reduce the savings that MCE and Sonoma Clean Power customers receive and increase the cost of choosing a local provider.
PG&E’s exit fee, called the Power Charge Indifference Adjustment (PCIA), is billed monthly, based on usage, and charged to customers who choose to buy energy from another provider. When a customer makes this choice, PG&E sells the excess electricity that they bought for that customer. Depending on the market conditions, PG&E may earn or lose money when they sell the power. PG&E has accumulated more than $1 billion from earning money on the market when selling this excess power. However, if PG&E doesn’t earn money through the sale of the excess power, the PCIA fee is applied. This covers any losses incurred by PG&E, forcing the customer to bear this burden and pay for energy that they will never use.
Along with their request to increase the exit fees, PG&E also requested to close the account with over $1 billion. When asked how the money would be used, PG&E indicated that it “simply goes away.”
“What PG&E is proposing is outrageous. They’ve collected $1 billion from selling excess power on the market but when they aren’t able to make a profit, they collect from our customers to avoid pulling funds from their billion dollar stockpile,” said Dawn Weisz, CEO of Marin Clean Energy. “Those profits should be applied against any losses, so that the homes, schools, non-profits and businesses in our communities are not burdened further.”
This year, MCE estimates that its customers will be forced to pay PG&E $19.3 million in PCIA fees. Should the CPUC approve PG&E’s proposed increase, MCE customers are projected to pay $30.6 million to PG&E, in 2016 alone, and residential customers, including low or fixed-income customers, will be forced to pay more than half of it ($16.3 million). PG&E is the only California utility to impose these fees on low-income customers.
MCE is protesting the proposed surge in the PCIA fee and calling attention to PG&E’s attempt to close the $1 billion account of ratepayer funds. The CPUC is scheduled to make its determination on the PCIA increase in December 2015.
MCE Director of Public Affairs
By Paul Gipe
May 9, 2015, by Paul GipeMay 30th Danish wind pioneers are gathering at the Tvind school in northwest Jutland to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the start of construction for the world’s oldest operating wind turbine–Tvindkraft.[more]
May 17, 2015, by Karl-Friedrich LenzIt would work exactly like the successful solar tariff, with one small change. There would be a cap on the fossil fuel electricity bought under the system. That cap would be calculated from the already existing goals for renewable. Look at the renewable goal, subtract that from 100 percent, and you get the cap for fossil fuel under the feed-in tariff.
May 15, 2015, by Dave TokeUsing the Government’s own contract prices for nuclear power and wind power we can demonstrate how nuclear power is more expensive than both onshore wind AND offshore wind.
May 8, 2015, by Alan SimpsonFormer parliamentarian Alan Simpson bemoans the paucity of serious debates of public paucity in the recent British election concluded today. Beginning in Churchillian tones, he laments “What infuriated me most about this general election was that never has so much been missed by so many.”[more]
April 30, 2015, by Craig MorrisSo the auction has just resulted in a large group of losers, a higher price than with feed-in tariffs, and a two-year postponement of the roughly 150 megawatts just awarded.
April 29, 2015, by Craig MorrisIn a nutshell, the UK overpays wind power in particular because big utilities with big expectations for returns run the show, whereas new players and communities have largely driven the German wind sector up to now – and they were more interested in getting the transition moving than in increasing their personal profits.
April 29, 2015, by Sheila PrattWhile political parties differ widely on their approach, most call for phasing out coal-fired electricity
May 18, 2015, by Voice of America”There’s nothing that can make up for a feed-in tariff that’s in the single digits,” said Daniel Potash, chief of party at the Private Financing Advisory Network for Asia program, under the U.S. Agency for International Development.
May 16, 2015, by Chetan ChauhanGermany was one of the first countries to allow grid-connected solar rooftops by the way of feed in tariff, which meant that people got more money for the green power they generated than the power they consumed.
May 12, 2015,Under the current setup, companies with end consumers make a monthly contribution towards the feed-in tariff which is set in US dollars and paid in Turkish lira at the exchange rate on the day of settlement.
May 11, 2015, by Craig MorrisHere, we see that the price of a completely installed solar array has been and continues to be considerably cheaper in Germany than in the US. The gap seems to have been around two dollars all along. Now that the price in Germany has fallen to two dollars, solar is now twice as expensive in the US as it is in Germany.
May 11, 2015,They spoke at a seminar styled ‘Feed-in Tariff (FIT) regulations: promotion and development of renewable energy in Bangladesh’, co-organised by the Dhaka University’s Institute of Energy, The Asia Foundation and Australian Aid.
May 7, 2015,The ‘Removal of Barriers to Energy Efficiency and Conservation in Buildings in Mauritius’ project is a United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)-implemented, Global Environment Facility (GEF)-financed project . . . Feed-in-Tariff for small scale producers of electricity and the setting up of the EEMO.
May 7, 2015, by Verity RatcliffeCairo has therefore decided to introduce feed-in tariffs for renewable energy projects. Under the new system, private companies will receive a fixed tariff for the power they produce from renewable resources.
May 4, 2015, by Piotr MrowiecWhile the EU countries are witnessing a retreat from feed-in tariffs, Poland is for the first time in history introducing feed-in tariffs to support its renewable energy sector.
April 30, 2015, by Karl-Friedrich LenzSo I noted with interest the failure of the first test case for the auction model. The auction price turned out to be above what the current feed-in tariff is, as this article at PV Magazine explains. Those first 154.97 MW will be built at €0.917per kWh, which is higher than the current €0.0902 of the feed-in tariff.
April 29, 2015, by Alena Mae S. FloresThe Energy Regulatory Commission approved a solar feed-in tariff of P8.69 per kilowatt for an additional capacity of 450 megawatts
May 13, 2015, by Paul GipeAs part of our continuing exploration of the Nissan Leaf’s range, we took a one-day get-a-way and drove up to scenic Kernville deep in the heart of the southern Sierra Nevada.[more]
May 12, 2015, by Paul GipeWe had about a dozen cars, so there’s a dozen drivers there. Leafs, MiEV, two BMWi3s, a Ford, Rav 4, and a Tesla. There was quite a line up of vehicles–the Tesla attracting the most attention naturally.[more]
May 7, 2015,The California Energy Commission has updated the locations of DC Fast Chargers in the Southern San Joaquin Valley. [more]
May 2, 2015, by Kevin MershonHow the traction battery of a plug-in hybrid may have saved a life.[more]
May 18, 2015, by Craig MorrisThis month, construction of the Beinn Ghrideag wind farm was completed. In the next few months, three 3 MW Enercon wind turbines are expected to start power production. A comparison with a recent German committee project is illustrative.
May 11, 2015, by Craig MorrisA few weeks ago, 360 German citizens completed and 82.3 MW wind farm consisting of 24 wind turbines. The project even included a transformer station, which the community project financed completely on its own.
March 18, 2015,In Germany, citizen cooperatives have long been investing in the production of renewable energies and some are now looking at how to buy back the energy grid from the energy companies. They failed to do so in Berlin, but have succeeded in Hamburg, creating a new business model that many other countries would like to emulate.
By Janis Mara, Marin IJ
Roy Phillips, president of REP Energy, leads a tour of an abandoned quarry on June 9 in Novato. His company, REP Energy, wants to build a solar energy facility at the site near the McIsaac Dairy west of Novato. The quarry, no longer in use, was mined for the mineral serpentine, a source of asbestos. (Frankie Frost — Marin Independent Journal)
A proposed solar facility just outside Novato that could generate enough electricity to power more than 500 Marin homes is up for approval at the Marin Planning Commission meeting Monday.
Located on the isolated grounds of a former rock quarry, the solar farm would have 4,272 solar panels up to 6 and a half feet high on 11.5 acres of the 952-acre quarry. The $6 million project would generate 1.98 megawatts of electricity, delivered to Marin Clean Energy via nearby power lines.
The quarry was once mined for serpentine rock, which contains asbestos. Quarry operations shut down in 1990.
Installations like the solar project “are a good way to use formerly disturbed locations” like the quarry, said Andrew Campbell, the executive director of the Energy Institute at Haas, a research and teaching facility at the University of California at Berkeley.
Campbell said the proposed location also was beneficial because it is close to the people who would use the energy.
“Having the generation close to an area where consumers are also has benefits, since some power is lost when it is transmitted over long distances,” the executive director said.
The site is west of the city of Novato, east of Stafford Lake and about a mile north of Novato Boulevard. It is not visible from the road. County staff has recommended that the permit be granted, with some qualifications.
Crawford Cooley and Beverly Potter, who own the former quarry, would lease the land to San Rafael-based Danlin Solar, along with San Rafael-based REP Energy. Those two companies would own and build the solar installation.
“That’s a pretty typical arrangement,” Campbell said.
“Solar is a green energy source, no doubt about it. There is no pollution or greenhouse gas emitted at the place where you are generating the power,” the executive director said.
“This would be quite a win if it happened. The people who are very concerned about seeing beautiful agricultural land taken up with solar panels have a valid point. You’d hate to lose a lot of natural Marin. That makes this an ideal project because it’s sitting in an abandoned quarry essentially on bare rock,” said Bob Spofford, vice president of Sustainable San Rafael.
“Solar is in some ways the most ideal of all alternative energy because it doesn’t make noise, it doesn’t pollute, it produces power close to the time when it’s most needed, and it does not harm wildlife,” said Spofford.
Addressing Spofford’s last point, “Photovoltaic panels definitely do not kill birds,” said Michael D. McGehee, a Stanford University associate professor and a senior fellow at the university’s Precourt Institute for Energy. McGehee teaches classes on solar cells. Wind turbines such as the ones at Altamont do pose a danger to avian life, perhaps causing some to confuse the effects of this alternative energy source with those of solar, McGehee said.
No letters of opposition to the project had been received by the staff by Friday.
The state Office of Mines Reclamation and the Department of Public works oversaw the reclamation of the land since the 1990s, according to the county staff report. The project is exempt from the California Environmental Quality Act because it will not cause environmental impacts, the staff report said.
“My job is to work with clients to help them avoid environmental impacts,” said Dana Riggs, a project biologist with San Rafael-based WRA Environmental Consultants. “We planned it (the project) in a manner to avoid impacts on sensitive resources including species and habitat,” Riggs said.
If the permit is granted, construction could begin as early as mid-August and wrap up by November, according to Frank Gobar of Danlin Solar.
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.
Rhone Resch, SEIA President and CEO
In a surprise move, the Spanish Council of ministers has implemented a temporary suspension of the renewable energy feed-in-tariffs (FIT) for new installations in Spain.
As a reaction to the financial crisis in the Mediterranean country, the new Spanish government, under Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy, has approved a new law, by which the current system of remuneration for renewable energies will be discontinued.
As the Council of Ministers announced on Friday, the government won’t give any economic incentive to fund new renewable installations, and the relevant administrative and funding systems will be suspended.
While it was said that the suspension will be temporary, the government did not disclose any timeframe for when the FITs may be resumed.
In a statement released, it argued that “to maintain the current system of remuneration is incompatible to the current economic crisis.” It did stress, however, that the new measures will not be retroactive. They won’t effect “either the installations in operation, or those that are already registered.”
To begin the program, the Commission authorized the utilities to procure 1,000 megawatts through RAM. Going forward, the capacity authorization will reflect each utility’s need for system-side DG under 20 MW.
Washington, DC, USA — In an unprecedented move U.S. President Barack Obama put clean energy front and center on the agenda of the American government — calling for an 80% clean energy target by 2035.
In his yearly State of the Union address to the nation’s lawmakers, Obama said that it is time for America to invest in the energy of the future and stop supporting the energy of the past. He called on Congress to remove all subsidies for fossil fuels and to reinvest the money saved into clean energy initiatives.
The President said that he hopes America can obtain 80% of its energy from clean sources by 2035, the most aggressive target ever set forth by a president. While renewable energy supporters were thrilled with the bold target, they were reminded during the speech that Obama’s idea of clean energy is broad: His target includes nuclear energy, clean coal and natural gas, in addition to traditional renewables like wind, solar, biomass, geothermal and hydro.
“Some folks want wind and solar. Others want nuclear, clean coal, and natural gas,” he said. “To meet this goal, we will need them all – and I urge Democrats and Republicans to work together to make it happen.”