Tag Archives: Federal Energy Regulatory Commission

Solar Industry Outlines a Policy Agenda for the Biden Administration, 117th Congress

SEIA News Release, November 12, 2020

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) is releasing a suite of policies and executive actions that it is asking President-elect Biden and the newly elected Congress to act on during their first 100 days in office.

“Our 100-day agenda aligns with President-elect Biden’s vision to build back better, and represents a critical opportunity to meet the moment of the climate era with equity and justice at the forefront,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “Even as we face a likely divided government, every facet of this agenda has had bipartisan support. Now is the time to take action to generate economic opportunities for Americans in a way that promotes competition and addresses the climate crisis.” Read more here.

GREEN BIZ 350 PODCAST

Episode 245: How President-elect Joe Biden could help U.S. farmers, by Heather Clancy, Joel Makower & Jim Giles

TRANSMISSION

Transmission troubles? A solution could be lying along rail lines and next generation highways, Utility Dive. Recent studies, including the landmark and reportedly suppressed Department of Energy Seam study, show expanded transmission is critical. But two key barriers — where to put the new lines and how to pay for them — still slow development, according to a June 2020 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission report to Congress. Allocation of the new lines’ costs remains unresolved, but new approaches to siting are attracting attention.

TRI-STATE

Tri-State ups the amount of greenhouse gases it will cut in Colorado by adding wind and solar generation, The Colorado Sun. Colorado’s second biggest electricity provider – Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association – upped its goal for reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to an 80% cut by 2030 – putting itself in line with other utilities in the state. Tri-State is joining with North Dakota-based Basin Electric Power Cooperative, the Deseret Power Cooperative in Utah, the Municipal Energy Agency of Nebraska and the federal Western Area Power Administration to explore joining the Southwest Power Pool (SPP).

Tri-State is a nonprofit cooperative of 45 members, including 42 electric distribution cooperatives and public power districts in four states: Nebraska, Colorado, New Mexico and Wyoming. Together, they provide power to more than a million electricity consumers.

CROWDFUNDED TRIBAL SOLAR 

Crowdfunded solar puts Red Lake Nation on a path to energy sovereignty, by Frank Jossi, Energy News Network

“We have to prove that we can do this and we have to do this not only for ourselves but for other tribal nations,” said Red Lake member Bob Blake, the founder and owner of Solar Bear installation company. The workforce training center solar array is the second of 12 solar projects planned for the reservation. The first sits not far away atop the Red Lake Government Center, a building distinguished by incorporating a two-story face of an eagle with wings spread across the facade. The projects are the first two solar installations in Minnesota to be financed through crowdfunding, in which dozens of small investors lend to businesses to support entrepreneurs and their products. The tribe has a separate initiative to construct a utility-scale 13-megawatt solar farm in partnership with Allete, one of the region’s primary electricity providers.

GEOTHERMAL

The Earth itself could provide carbon-free heat for buildings, by David Roberts, Vox
What exactly are the technologies that can provide heat from the Earth? There are two basic categories. Let’s start by looking at the smaller side.

NEBRASKA’S FIRST ALL-GEOTHERMAL NEIGHBORHOOD

The Bridges is a unique neighborhood being developed in Lincoln, Nebraska of lakefront lots and traditional lots. Geothermal energy is featured throughout the entire development, which is landscaped with miles of trails and covered bridges. Download a brochure.

GAS BANS GROWING IN CALIFORNIA

San Francisco’s gas ban on new buildings could prompt statewide action, Utility Dive
The vote adds San Francisco to the growing list of nearly 40 California cities to pass such ordinances since Berkeley’s historic ban in July 2019.

FINANCIAL RISKS OF CLIMATE CHANGE

In first for Fed, U.S. central bank says climate poses stability risks, Reuters
The U.S. Federal Reserve for the first time called out climate change among risks enumerated in its biannual financial stability report, and warned about the potential for abrupt changes in asset values in response to a warming planet. “Acute hazards, such as storms, floods, or wildfires, may cause investors to update their perceptions of the value of real or financial assets suddenly,” Fed Governor Lael Brainard said in comments attached to the report, released Monday.

EV CHARGING STATIONS 

NREL report says EV charging stations continued strong growth in early 2020, American Public Power Association

The report’s statistics tap data from the Alternative Fueling Station Locator, which NREL said is the most widely used tool on the Department of Energy’s Alternative Fuels Data Center. The report is available here.

EV REBATES 

Solar firm buying land rights near coal plants with eye toward transmission

Written by Karen Uhlenhuth, Energy News Network

A utility-scale solar developer is acquiring land rights near U.S. coal-fired power plants, hoping the facilities will close sooner than expected and open up lucrative transmission connections. Photosol US, a subsidiary of a French company, has purchased options near plants in Nebraska and Kansas, as well as the San Juan Generating Station in northern New Mexico. While the San Juan plant has approval from state regulators to shut down in 2022, the Nebraska and Kansas plants, completed in the early 1980s, do not have retirement dates. The Nebraska Public Power District, which owns the Gerald Gentleman Station, has begun evaluating the plant’s future. Read more here.

Wikipedia Photo: The Gerald Gentleman Station, located just south of Sutherland, is Nebraska’s largest electricity generating plant. The station consists of two coal-fired generating units which were launched into service in 1979 and 1982 and which together have the generation capacity of 1,365 megawatts of power.

NPPD’s R-Project: Reducing transmission congestion and providing opportunities for additional renewable energy 

Project Overview
NPPD’s R-Project is a 345,000-volt transmission line from NPPD’s Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland to NPPD’s existing substation east of Thedford. The new line will then proceed east and connect to a second substation to be sited in Holt County.

NPPD’s electric grid is an essential link to ensuring service for our customers. The R-Project will increase the reliability of the transmission system, relieve congestion on the existing system, and provide additional opportunities for development of renewable projects if desired at the local level.

Southwest Power Pool’s Role
NPPD is a member of the Southwest Power Pool, a regional transmission organization. The SPP conducted a study, also known as the Integrated Transmission Plan, to assess the needs of the entire transmission network with the SPP region over the next 10 years. The R-Project is one of numerous projects to come out of that study.

Additional Recommended Reading

Department of Energy awards funding for Phase II of carbon capture study for Gentleman Station, NPPD News Release

Plot Brewing To Blanket US In Solar Panels + Pollinator-Friendly Plants

By Tina Casey, CleanTechnica

It started as a trickle and now the floodgates are open. Solar arrays that once sat on barren ground are now festooned with plants that attract bees, birds, and butterflies. Even the US Energy Department is getting into the act. With that in mind, let’s take a look at four newly minted solar power plants that have built-in benefits for pollinators, too. Read more here.

Previously Posted

Power, plants: Seed mixes and ag innovation for PV solar, Solar Builder article by Rob DavisDirector of the Center for Pollinators in Energy at Fresh Energy

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) forecasts farmers and other landowners will lease 2-3 million acres of land for ground-mounted solar arrays by 2030, a 10-fold increase from 2020. This rapid bloom in leasing land to produce solar energy isn’t just a lifeline for farmers looking to stabilize on-farm income, it’s also a once-in-a-generation opportunity to create habitat at scale to help species critical to agriculture and ecosystem health. Climate change and loss of habitat pose significant threats to honey bees, bumblebees, monarch butterflies and a wide variety of pollinators. A recent global analysis found that 40 percent of pollinator species may be at risk of extinction in the coming years. 

MULTI-GIGAWATT PARTNERSHIP

Engie and Hannon Armstrong Form Multi-Gigawatt US Renewables Partnership, Greentech Media The portfolio will stretch across five states and encompass both wind and solar projects. Most of the power the Engie-Hannon portfolio produces will be sold to companies looking to increase their renewable electricity, such as T-Mobile and Amazon. 

TRI-STATE NEWS 

  • A power switch in Colorado, by Allen Best, Mountain Town News
    At the stroke of midnight, Colorado’s Delta-Montrose Electric Association officially became independent of Tri-State Generation and Transmission. The electrical cooperative in west-central Colorado is at least $26 million poorer. That was the cost of getting out of its all-requirements for wholesale supplies from Tri-State 20 years early. But Delta-Montrose expects to be richer in coming years as local resources, particularly photovoltaic solar, get developed with the assistance of the new wholesale provider Guzman Energy.
  • Tri-State: Moving a cooperative power provider from coal to clean energy, by Joe Smyth, Clean Cooperative. This article summarizes the key developments over the last few years that led Tri-State to begin a transition away from its reliance on coal, and was first published as a contribution to Energy-Democracy.net

BANK OF AMERICA  

Duke Energy, Bank of America partner on Triad solar farm, Winston Salem Journal
Monday’s joint announcement marks a step toward achieving Bank of America’s goal of “being carbon neutral and utilizing 100% renewable electricity,” bank executive Andrew Plepler said in a written statement. 

MORE ON WHO’S BEHIND ANTI-NET-METERING FERC PETITION

AUSTRALIA

The Midwest’s solar future will be unlike anything seen before

By Tim Sylvia, PV Magazine    

Fitch Solutions Marco Research has released a report, Midwest US Set To Experience Strong Growth In Solar Sector, which makes some very bold predictions about the future of the solar industry in America’s heartland. Chief among those bold predictions, Fitch states that it expects the region to add 100 GW of solar power capacity over the next 10 years. This astronomical, gargantuan, whichever word of scope you use to describe, prediction is supported mainly by the region’s large proposed solar project pipeline, with a total potential added capacity of a smidge under 79 GWac that are registered within the MISO, SPP and PJM generation interconnection queues – the grid operators that cover the region. Read more here.

Regional Transmission Organizations

Photo Credit: Ideal Energy in Iowa

NATIONAL NEWS

  • Decentralization is more than a dream, by Christian Roselund, PV Magazine
    The idea that rooftop solar and other distributed resources could avoid the need for new power lines isn’t theory. In its 2017-2018 transmission plan, California’s grid operator cancelled 20 new transmission projects and revised 21 more due to energy efficiency and residential solar power altering load forecasts, with a projected savings of $2.6 billion.
  • Federal policy could unlock new value from rooftop solar and home batteries, by David Thill, Energy News Network. The report describes how policy guidance from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, which oversees the wholesale markets, could open the door for more participation of aggregated distributed energy resources in the markets. Right now, customer-managed storage, and storage paired with generation like solar, are the resources developers seem most interested in aggregating for wholesale participation, said Jeff Dennis, managing director and general counsel at Advanced Energy Economy.
  • US Wind Industry Seeks Same Tax Incentives as Solar, by Karl-Erik Stromsta, Greentech Media
    In a strategic shift, the American wind industry has begun pressing lawmakers to extend solar’s ITC to onshore wind projects. Regardless of what happens in the battle for tax-credit extensions, the wind market is in the midst of its all-time biggest boom years. Wood Mackenzie expects the U.S. to add nearly 40 gigawatts of capacity in 2019-2021 as developers race to beat the PTC deadline.

EV NEWS

  • 6 US regions leading the way on electric buses, by contributor Jason Plautz, Smart Cities Dive
    Although electric buses can present technological and logistical hurdles for cities and school districts, advanced planning and dedicated resources can make them fit into any environment. That’s the message of a new report from the United States Public Interest Research Group (U.S. PIRG) and Environment America, which examined six U.S. cities and regions that have taken the lead on phasing out diesel buses. 
  • Electric bus fleets are the latest tool for improving air quality, contributed article by William Drier, Research Analyst, Transportation Innovations, Navigant Research. Published by GreenBiz.
    Concerns about air quality and vehicle emissions are rising globally. According to the Health Effects Institute (PDF), air pollution is one of the top-ranking risk factors for death and disability, with vehicle emissions the main contributor of outdoor pollution. Local and regional governments are increasingly focused on improving their ambient air quality.