Tag Archives: Utility Dive

Michigan opens 3.3M farmland acres to bee-friendly solar projects

By Catherine Morehouse, Associate Editor, Utility Dive

Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer on Monday announced an executive decision that frees up 3.3 million acres of farmland protected under the state’s Farmland and Open Space Program to solar development. Previously, the land was allowed to host wind turbines and oil and gas exploration, but solar was historically restricted because it was considered to have a larger footprint, Tom Zimnicki, agriculture policy director at the Michigan Environmental Council, told Utility Dive. But innovations in solar siting are making those installations more compatible with agricultural land, and under Whitmer’s decision, solar projects on protected farmland will be required to meet Michigan’s pollinator-friendly guidelines. Continue reading here.

Additional Recommended Reading 

About Catherine Morehouse

Before joining Industry Dive, Catherine was at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska where she worked as News Editor and then Editor-in-Chief of The Creightonian. She has a B.A. in Journalism and Political Science from Creighton.

More articles by Catherine


About Rob Davis

Rob Davis directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy and also leads the Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy in Minnesota. Top photo by Davis.

Posts by Rob Davis

 

Kearney’s Solar Farm is a nationally-recognized pollinator-friendly site, benefiting local food producers. 

As coal economics worsen, rural renewables development propels Midwest growth: NRDC

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Approximately 5 GW of new renewables were added across nonmetropolitan areas of 12 Midwest states between 2016 and 2017, compared to about 1.7 GW of capacity added in urban areas, according to the report. NRDC’s analysis focused on Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota and Wisconsin.

Development in the region is not slowing down either. Last week Capital Dynamics announced an agreement with power company Tenaska to develop 2,000 MW of solar across half the states listed in the report. And Illinois has 600 MW under construction with another 1.2 GW planned, which will more than double the state’s current rural renewables capacity of 1.6 GW.
Read the entire article here.

Download NRDC Report: Clean Energy Sweeps Across Rural America

NEBRASKA ALSO IN THE NEWS HERE
Data centers, EVs and cannabis poised to boost demand, American Public Power Association
An example of a public power utility attracting a data center can be found with the Omaha Public Power District. Facebook in 2017 said that it had selected a new Nebraska wind project that will supply power to the social media company’s new data center in Papillion, Neb. OPPD played a key role in bringing the data center to Nebraska through an innovative rate plan.

Colorado co-op seeks exit from coal-heavy Tri-State to pursue renewables

By Gavin Bade, Utility Dive

[Delta Montrose Electric Association’s] decision to leave Tri-State demonstrates how the increasing competitiveness of renewable energy is upending the economics of power production in the American West.

Tri-State is a generation and transmission provider that supplies power to more than 40 rural cooperatives across Colorado, Nebraska, New Mexico and Wyoming. While it has increased renewable energy in recent years, coal is still its largest source of electricity — around half its capacity — and member co-ops are required to purchase all but 5% of their power from the company. Read more here.

Photo Credit: Flickr: Jimmy Thomas

NextEra Energy Partners, LP announces agreement to acquire approximately 1,388 megawatts of contracted renewables projects and enters into a $750 million convertible equity portfolio financing

NextEra News Release

JUNO BEACH, Fla., Sept. 5, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — NextEra Energy Partners, LP (NYSE : NEP ) today announced that it has entered into an agreement with a subsidiary of NextEra Energy Resources, LLC to acquire a geographically diverse portfolio of 11 wind and solar projects, collectively consisting of approximately 1,388 megawatts (MW) . . . The assets include the Cottonwood Wind Energy Center, a 90-MW wind generation plant in Webster County, Nebraska. Read the entire release here.

Pixabay Photo

Additional Recommended Reading

  • NextEra’s Sholes Wind Energy Center project in northern Wayne County near the village of Sholes, 160 megawatts, will be completed in 2018. Omaha World-Herald news story:
    OPPD partner’s wind power project will continue utility’s renewable energy growth
    Once opened, it would boost OPPD’s amount of wind-generated electricity to 971 megawatts, OPPD says. That’s enough to power about 125,000 homes.
    The NextEra project is OPPD’s third-largest contract for wind power, behind the 400 megawatts the utility buys from Grande Prairie wind farm in Holt County and the 200 megawatts from the Prairie Breeze project in Antelope County. OPPD is also working with NextEra on building its first community solar power array, a 5-megawatt facility being built near Fort Calhoun.
  • NPPD Wind Generation: NextEra’s first Nebraska wind project was the Steele Flats Wind Farm near the Kansas Border in Jefferson and Gage Counties, 75 megawatts, which began commercial operation in 2013.
  • Utility Dive: NextEra’s renewables backlog grows to 7.4 GW as customers anticipate lower costs
    The influx of new signed contracts show confidence in lower prices of renewables products. ​NextEra, whose batteries have added $0.015/kWh to the cost of wind and solar projects built in the last six to 12 months, anticipates storage costs to fall to $0.005/kWh for projects paired with renewable energy in 2025.
  • PV Magazine USA: 

NextEra expects storage to add half a cent to solar in mid-2020’s

Iowa to extend wind power lead as Invenergy plans 400 MW

By Robert Walton, Utility Dive

Invenergy will develop a pair of wind farms in Iowa, each capable of generating 200 MW, with construction slated to begin next year, according to Iowa Radio. The new projects by the Chicago-based developer in the northwest corner of the state are expected to be online by early 2020 and include more than 80 wind turbines at each location. Iowa generates more of its power from wind resources than any other state in the U.S. and more projects are coming.
Continue reading here.

Wikimedia Commons Photo: Wind Turbines at Pioneer Prairie Renewable Energy Wind Farm, Iowa

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Pollinator habitats: The bees’ knees of rural solar development

By Catherine Morehouse, Utility Dive

Adding more solar “should have been a slam dunk” for Connexus Energy, a “hometown favorite” electric cooperative in Ramsey, Minnesota, said Rob Davis, a clean energy advocate who observed the siting process. But the utility’s motion to build was almost denied. Land is valuable, and “anytime you build anything anywhere there’s a neighbor, and that neighbor is going to have an opinion for better or worse,” said Davis, who directs the Center for Pollinators in Energy and also leads the Media & Innovation Lab at Fresh Energy in St. Paul, Minnesota. The saving grace? Pollinator experts and ecologists testified this wouldn’t be just any solar development — it would be pollinator-friendly, giving work opportunities to local seeders and apiarists as well as providing ecological benefits to the surrounding area. Continue reading here.

Photo Credit: Rob Davis, Fresh Energy

Legislation

Indiana solar, solar+storage comes in at low prices

By John Weaver, PV Magazine USA

Indiana solar, solar+storage comes in at low prices

Also written by John Weaver

  • Texas power grid begging for solar power
    ERCOT has set mid-day demand records and touched pricing maximums over the past week as summer heat broke state records – all of which creates tremendous opportunities for solar.
  • Big oil going big solar

Big oil going big solar

ALSO IN THE NEWS

Is the new California solar mandate a threat to utilities across the country?

By Innogy Consulting, Utility Dive

California, a leader in clean energy, is the first state in the country requiring new homes to include solar panels, beginning in 2020. What’s more, the Sunshine State’s mandate provides incentives for homeowners to pair energy storage with solar. What does this mean for utilities across the U.S.? Read the sponsored post here.

Photo by GRNE Solar: The Sun Haven – Solar-Powered Net-Zero Energy Home in Lincoln, Nebraska. See Solar Examples.

MORE UTILITY DIVE ARTICLES

ALSO IN THE NEWS

The innovations just keep coming in the corporate-utility deal space

By Herman K. Trabish, Utility Dive

The newest innovation may be the biggest. So far, it is simply an ongoing conversation between multi-jurisdictional, vertically-integrated utilities and core members of the WRI corporate buyers group. But according to Southern Company VP for Energy Policy Bruce Edelston, it “is much bigger and broader than green tariffs.”

Click map to enlarge it.

This new WRI-led forum is called the Clean Power Council (CPC). Its purpose is “an efficient and economic transition to clean energy resources,” WRI says. It is intended to go beyond renewable energy “to enable technologies that reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions while growing businesses.”  Read more here.

World Resources Institute:
The scale of the CPC membership, and potential impact, is illustrated in the CPC Utility Member Service Territories map above. WRI also coordinates this work with complementary efforts underway within the Renewable Energy Buyers Alliance (REBA). Together the REBA network aims to enable companies to buy 60 gigawatts of renewable energy in the US by 2025.

ALSO OF POTENTIAL INTEREST

Solar, Wind Provided Nearly All New Electric Generating Capacity In January, February, Solar Industry Magazine 

Predictions 2018: Energy storage growth shows no sign of slowing down

4 experts forecast trends in the upcoming year.
By Krysti Shallenberger, Utilty Dive

Energy storage will reap the benefits of a foundation laid in 2017 — when regulated utilities took the helm of massive storage projects. The resource’s market growth is expected to continue well into this year, analysts say, as states begin compelling utilities to include it in their long-term planning processes. Click here to read the complete article.

ADDITIONAL RECOMMENDED READING
EIA: 700 MW of utility-scale battery capacity installed in US, Utility Dive

Photo: Escondido Energy Storage Facility, San Diego Gas & Electric (SDG&E)