PG&E convicted of obstructing blast probe, breaking safety laws
By Bob Egelko
A subsidiary named Apple Energy LLC has applied to the U.S. Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to sell power from the site’s solar panels and hydrogen fuel cells, as well as from solar farms, hydroelectric plants and biogas facilities in Oregon, North Carolina, California, Nevada and Arizona, according to a June 6 application submitted by Apple to the agency. The filing was reported earlier by 9to5Mac.com.
[Alex Webb / BLOOMBERG]
The company has announced plans for 521 megawatts of solar projects globally. It’s using that clean energy to power all of its data centers, as well as most of its Apple Stores and corporate offices. In addition, it has other investments in hydroelectric, biogas, and geothermal power, and looks to purchase green energy off the grid when it can’t generate its own power. In all, Apple says it generates enough electricity to cover 93 percent of its energy usage worldwide.
[Jordan Golson / THE VERGE]
Though Apple is not planning to move into Apple Campus 2 until next year, it can start selling the energy starting this August. Last year, Apple invested $850 million in a 1,300-acre solar farm in Monterey County to provide energy for its offices, retail stores, and a data center in the state.
[MB / FAST COMPANY]
As The Verge notes, the company’s newest environmental responsibility report says it only generates enough energy to provide 93 percent of the electricity it needs worldwide. However, Apple might have plans to expand its farms even further to prepare for new projects, such as charging stations for the long-rumored Apple car.
By Timothy Cama – 12/05/15 09:34 AM EST
Congress could be close to phasing out the tax credits that have, for years, supported the booming wind and solar energy industries.
Tax writing committees in the House and Senate are working to introduce and pass a package of tax breaks before the end of the year to extend or renew a number of incentives like those for low-income housing, scientific research and small businesses.
While the wind and solar industry and their allies among environmentalists and Democrats want to protect the tax incentives for the long term, many conservatives want to phase them out.
As the committees negotiate the tax packages, lawmakers and observers say the most likely outcome is that both credits will be phased out over a five-year period.
The wind incentive is a production tax credit, meaning it gives utilities money back for each unit of electricity produced. The solar industry has an investment tax credit, based on the money spent to install the solar panels.
A phase-out would provide a certain amount of stability for the industries. But environmentalists lament the end of the incentives shortly after President Obama unveiled a sweeping climate change regulation for the power sector that’s expected to increase demand for renewable power like never before.
Obama frequently cheers the growth of renewable energy like wind and solar, and the low costs of the power — due in part to federal help — helps make the case for his climate regulations.
“These tax incentives are crucial for these clean energy technologies like wind and solar to continue to compete,” said Melinda Pierce, legislative director at the Sierra Club.
“The mature industries like oil and gas continue to enjoy subsidies, and as wind and solar continue to grow, they absolutely need the certainty of these types of tax incentives to ensure that they can fill that market space that’s being created as we move away from coal,” she said.
The wind credit expired at the end of 2013. Congress renewed it in late 2014, but only for that year, and it has not been in place for 2015.
The solar incentive is due to expire at the end of 2016. But the industry is hoping that Congress will extend the credit now as it takes up a larger tax package.
The Solar Energy Industries Association said it does not need the tax credit permanently, but it would prefer a five-year extension without the phase-out.
Rhone Resch, the group’s president, said the solar industry thought it wouldn’t need the credit past 2016, but economic factors like the Great Recession changed the calculus.
“Our costs are down by 80 percent, we’re scaling up, we’re becoming more cost-competitive. But we do need a little bit longer,” he said. “We do, in the long run, have the intention to not be part of the tax code.”
The American Wind Energy Alliance is advocating for a “long-term” renewal of its credit, but the group does not get more specific than that.
The Senate Finance Committee passed a bill extending both the wind and solar credits. The House Ways and Means Committee’s September bill included neither.
Curt Beaulieu, a tax attorney at Bracewell & Giuliani, said the House Ways and Means Committee recently showed its members a draft negotiation bill that included the five-year phase-outs, but then ran into objections that the entire package was too expensive, and considered changing those credits.
“As recently as Friday morning, it looks like there has been life reborn in negotiating the package,” Beaulieu said. “My guess is that it would be similar to what the negotiated package was, but they would cut back on some of the costs by taking away some of the permanent provisions.”
Some lawmakers are discussing the possibility of inserting a provision into the tax bill to lift the ban on exporting crude oil, reasoning that Democrats could get a better deal on the renewable energy incentives in return. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Texas), the top tax writers in each chamber, said oil exports are among the possibilities for the deal.
Conservatives object to the credits, saying they’re expensive and federal government ought not pick winners and losers in energy.
Rep. Kenny Marchant (R-Texas), one of Congress’ most vocal opponents of the wind credit, said he’d prefer that it not be renewed at all, but he’ll take a phase-out as a win.
“It needs to be phased out, and I’d prefer a quicker phase-out. But I’ll take anything that looks like a victory.”
Nick Loris, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said the wind and solar industries should be allowed to compete on their own without the federal government’s help.
“We want to get rid of targeted tax credits and subsidies for all sources of energy and technologies, and these are two that are generous handouts to an industry that claims that they don’t need support, and that they’re robust and economically healthy,” Loris said. “If that’s the case, they should survive and be competitive without these tax credits.”
But Rep. Earl Blumenauer (D-Ore.) warned that ending the incentives could threaten the success of renewable power, which is important in the fight against climate change.
“There are other things we have to be doing in this space,” Blumenauer said of the climate fight. “But for now, we’re fighting to get as much as we can to not upset what’s happening with renewables. They need stability and continued progress.”
By Bradford Richardson – 12/05/15 09:54 AM EST
Christina Figueres, executive secretary of the UNFCCC, tweeted that the draft is “One more step in writing of history.”
California continues to be the leading solar market in the United States. A plethora of sunny days combined with supportive solar policies have created an ideal solar market. As older fossil-fired and nuclear generation plants (such as SONGS) come offline, statewide carbon reduction efforts escalate, and load growth increases (due, in part, to the anticipated increased deployment of electric vehicles), additional renewable energy procurement will be required within California. These factors, as well as changing consumer behaviors related to electricity production and delivery, offer substantial opportunities to continue to grow the solar energy market in California.
View more solar industry data.
Solar Property Tax Exclusion Extended
In July, Governor Brown signed SB 871 which extends the existing solar property tax exclusion until January 1, 2025. The continuation of this policy will allow homeowners and businesses to install solar energy without a reassessment of their property taxes. In addition, extension of the exclusion will enable California utilities to achieve their renewable energy targets at a lower cost to ratepayers.
See our solar installations maps.
There are currently more than 2,262 solar companies at work throughout the value chain in California. These companies provide a wide variety of solar products and services ranging from solar system installations to the manufacturing of components used in photovoltaic panels. These companies can be broken down across the following categories: 413 manufacturers, 86 manufacturing facilities, 1027 contractor/installers, 146 project developers, 159 distributors and 524 engaged in other solar activities including financing, engineering and legal support.
Agriculture Solar™ energy agricultural dairy farm projects handle operations for thousands of head cow dairies, and without sacrificing acres of farmland.The sun heats the hot water heating system and creates solar energy power on dairies. Clients from around the world are able to see new photovoltaic solar panels and solar thermal tubes that make their dairy project a “solar-powered milk farm.”
“It was really a no-brainer thing,” said Agriculture Solar™ dairy project customers, operators, and owners of family operations. “If we choose to buy the system outright, it will be all done paying for itself in just a few years. Or, we have the choice to purchase the electricity with no money down and low maintenance, in the Agriculture Solar 0% Down Lease.”
Many dairy operators are content to rely on the utility grid for their power, are used to running water wells, milking machines and other equipment for daily dairy farm management. However, Agriculture Solar dairy customers want to take the idea of self-sufficiency to a different level with their Agriculture Solar™ energy power, hot water system, combined with LED light systems and heat-recovery off of refrigeration system.
For customers who need the bottom line to pencil out. It does. Agriculture Solar allows you to lock in savings and incentives in 7-10 year lease agreement, when they were especially favorable for dairy farming milk production. Agriculture Solar™ financing is enthusiastic about providing their financing to large projects that generate the majority of a dairy’s annual electricity, hot water, and gas cost needs.
The whole Agriculture Solar™ System is designed to come close to, but not exceed, your annual electricity power demand. Under most existing laws, you can’t sell surplus power to your utility company. Agriculture Solar’s team of engineering do a completesite analysis and feasibility study for each dairy project to find the best renewable energy package for you.
Agriculture Solar customers verify that the agricultural solar energy dairy project cost nothing out of pocket to build the system. Dairies really likes about it when the solar dairy system generates power during the hottest part of the day, when they would otherwise be paying the highest electricity and gas rates.
“The main thing I look forward to each month is cutting my power bill,” an Agriculture Solar Energy customer said. “We can predict our electricity and gas costs for the next couple of decades, so as the utility company raises the rates, we save more and more. Everybody says, they want to go green. For me, It has to pencil out. It does.”
Agriculture Solar™ Energy Dairy Projects envision even more self-sufficiency in future dairy industry daily operations. For example, dairy owners and operators look at their manure and could see the potential for capturing methane and using it to run their diesel-powered vehicles, and also put it in an Agriculture Solar™ Biomass Digester. And large scale solarenergy power storage is also an option that can create a dozen more revenue streams for the dairies’ owner and operators.
“Dairies by nature are do-it-yourselfers. We like doing our own thing,” Agriculture Solar Energy dairy customers share.
Over the years, a noticeable industry trend in overabundance of interested capital has been chasing a shortage of bankable opportunities in the fragmented commercial and small utility-scale sector. While there are still a number of investors out there chasing the same projects, the pendulum is finally starting to swing; project supply is on the uptick.
A number of factors are leading to this shift: a maturing market with more origination channels, a greater number of state markets with acceptable project economics and volume, investors accepting lower returns, and more repeat deals among parties allow projects to be closed and deployed faster than ever. On top of it all is the race to December 31, 2016 and the effect that’s having on project supply.
Despite this uptick in project pipeline, not all deals will complete the race.
One key to ensuring that pipeline makes it to the finish line will be the amount of tax efficient capital ready and willing to get teams moving quickly to deploy capital and close deals. Developers, beware of the bottleneck with equipment suppliers, but also your financing partner’s ability to diligence projects and close in a timely manner.
To ensure that your project is prioritized over others in a financier’s queue, keep in mind that investors will prefer projects that are further along in the development cycle where the host has already agreed to lock into a financeable PPA, or the PPA is largely negotiated, if not already executed. Investors will also prioritize larger projects, or projects with other pipeline behind them. Some projects may also take precedence over others when there is a strategic reason to favor the host (e.g. a high profile brand), or if they have stronger return profiles.
When racing to the end of 2016, do not think of December 31 as your deadline. Give yourself an August 2016 cutoff date to get everything closed, and plan for blips that may lead to delays in either closing or construction. As always, the winners in solar project development are those who plan ahead, and plan for bumps along the way.
Sol Systems is a solar energy finance and investment firm. The company has facilitated financing for 333MW solar projects on behalf of Fortune 100 corporations, insurance companies, utilities, banks, family offices, and individuals. Sol Systems provides secure, sustainable investment opportunities to investor clients, and sophisticated project financing solutions to developers.
The company’s tailored financial services range from tax structured investments and project acquisition, to debt financing and SREC portfolio management. Inc. Magazine named Sol Systems on its annual Inc. 500 list of the nation’s fastest-growing private companies for a second consecutive year, ranking it No. 6 in the nation’s top solar companies in 2014.
Published here by the PVBUZZ team from the original article written and edited for publication on SolSystems by Sara Rafalson.
SeeNews Renewables — SunEdison Inc (NYSE:SUNE) is not going to complete its previously announced takeover of Latin American Power (LAP), The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported, citing officials from both parties.
SunEdison had failed to make a USD-400-million (EUR 355.9m) upfront cash payment as part of the acquisition, which is reportedly valued at USD 700 million in total. This has led to LAP walking away from the deal.
A SunEdison representative confirmed the outcome to WSJ, but blamed the failure to close the transaction on LAP owners, who, according to the spokesperson, did not meet certain conditions.
SunEdison agreed to buy LAP in May for an undisclosed sum. The business then held hydro and wind power projects in Peru and Chile. LAP is owned by Brazilian investment bank BTG Pactual SA and Patria Investimentos.
The failure to wrap up the takeover comes after a series of not-so-happy developments for SunEdison. The company announced on Monday it plans to reduce its global workforce by roughly 15% in a bid to optimise business operations.
Since July, SunEdison has lost over two-thirds of its market cap.
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SeeNews Renewables provides business news and intelligence for the renewable energy industry worldwide
Cochin International Airport in the southern Indian state of Kerala becamethe world’s first entirely solar-powered airport on Tuesday, unveiling a new system that will make the airport “absolutely power neutral,” according to a statement released by the parent company.
The airport’s solar power plant, which is comprised of more than 46,000 solar panels arrayed across 45 acres of land, will produce 48,000 units of energy per day, the Economic Times reports.