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Renewable Energy Update
May 12, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

EIA charts utility-scale solar’s ‘rapid’ five-year growth

Solar Industry Magazine - May 4 U.S. utility-scale solar installations, including both photovoltaic (PV) and thermal technologies, grew at an average rate of 72% per year between 2010 and 2016, faster than any other generating technologies, according to a new analysis from the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA). The EIA says utility-scale solar generation now makes up about 2% of all utility-scale electric generation in the country. The first utility-scale solar plants were installed in the mid-1980s, but more than half of the currently operating utility-scale solar capacity came online in the past two years. As of December 2016, more than 21.5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar generating capacity was in operation across the U.S., with more than 7.6 gigawatts of that capacity coming online in 2016, according to the agency. Although California has the highest total installed capacity of any state, a number of states have deployed significant utility-scale solar capacity in recent years. 


Community choice is transforming the California energy industry

UCLA - May 5 After decades of dominance by electricity monopolies, California is experiencing the emergence of community choice aggregators (CCAs), a new type of utility that provides cities and counties the opportunity to choose what kinds of energy to purchase for their needs. Community choice aggregation allows cities and counties in California (and other states that have enacted it) to group individual customers’ purchasing power within a defined jurisdiction to buy energy. In California, CCAs are legally defined by state law as electric service providers. Since 2010, California communities have established eight CCAs. More than a dozen additional communities are making strides toward switching to CCAs. According to the report, CCAs in California generally offer a larger share of renewable energy — up to 25 percent more — compared to the investor-owned utility in the same area. 

Seeing a threat to Paris accord, CalPERS urges countries to commit to climate pact

Sacramento Bee - May 7 The California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) joined more than 150 other international investors in a letter Sunday urging the world’s largest economies to remain committed to the 2015 climate change accord known as the Paris Agreement. The letter is both a sign that investors consider the pact to be in jeopardy and an example of the shareholder activism that CalPERS has highlighted this year while it faced calls from environmental activists to divest from certain energy companies. The agreement took effect in November 2016, committing countries to reduce greenhouse gas emissions over time.

Oregon senator pushes bill to overhaul clean energy tax credits

The Hill - May 4 Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has introduced a bill to create a new system of federal tax credits for clean energy projects. The bill, dubbed the “Clean Energy for America Act,” would overhaul the existing tax structure for energy development, which today consists of 44 different tax credits. Wyden’s new bill, which has the support of 21 other Democrats, would instead rely on a “technology-neutral” tax credit for utilities that expand their clean energy options, available in the form of either a production or investment tax credit. The bill also creates a tax credit for the development of cleaner-burning transportation fuel and another to incentivize energy conservation in homes and commercial buildings.

U.S. mayors launch new sustainable power push for cities

Curbed - Apr 27 A group of U.S. mayors announced a new drive to encourage sustainable energy yesterday, imploring colleagues across the country to make pledges and push their cities to adopt roadmaps to transition to renewable power. Building upon the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign, the new Mayors for 100% Clean Energy national initiative aims to encourage more cities and municipalities to make a clean energy pledge in advance of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, which meets in Miami Beach, Florida, in June. Mayors for 100% Clean Energy will be co-chaired by a group of U.S. civic leaders, including Mayor Kevin Faulconer of San Diego.

Kilroy Realty and Nautilus Solar partner on 5.2MW commercial portfolio

Solar Industry Magazine - May 9 Kilroy Realty Corp. (KRC), a California-based real estate investment trust, and Nautilus Solar Energy LLC, a New Jersey-based solar project development and asset management company have teamed up to build a portfolio of commercial solar developments spread across nine of KRC’s Class A office properties in California. The commercial solar developments, which will total 5.2 megawatts when complete, will consist of solar carport and rooftop applications located at KRC’s commercial office properties in San Diego, San Francisco, Menlo Park, and Long Beach. 

Sunlight Financial gets $500 million for home solar loans

Reuters - May 10 Sunlight Financial, a startup that provides loans for home solar systems, on Wednesday said it received a $500 million commitment from Technology Credit Union that will finance about 20,000 new rooftop installations. The announcement, Sunlight's largest single funding commitment to date, comes as demand for residential solar is slowing in California, by far the industry's biggest market. Founded in 2014, Teaneck, New Jersey-based Sunlight is backed by private equity firms Hudson Clean Energy Partners and Tiger Infrastructure Partners and venture capital firm Route 66 Ventures.

SolarWorld files for insolvency

PV Magazine - May 10 Germany’s SolarWorld AG is filing for bankruptcy in local courts. According to the statement, the subsidiaries of SolarWorld AG will be assessed as to whether they can continue as an ongoing concern. This includes SolarWorld Americas, which hosts the largest crystalline silicon PV manufacturing facility in the Western Hemisphere, located near Portland, Oregon.

Navy base in San Diego gets fast-charging station as part of coming fleet of electric cars

San Diego Union-Tribune - May 5 The San Diego Naval Base unveiled last Friday its first so-called DC fast-charging station for electric vehicles, the latest move in a push to green up the regional military’s fleet of light-duty vehicles. Along with the dozens of recently installed chargers around California, officials plan to roll out more than 200 new electric vehicles in coming months on Navy and Marine facilities. San Diego expects to receive about 58 battery-powered Ford Focus cars. The military estimates that the addition of the new vehicles will save more than 50,000 gallons of gas a year. 

Santa Barbara County solar array project generates more savings than anticipated

Santa Ynez Valley News - May 3 A solar project nearly able to fully meet the electrical needs of Santa Barbara County's largest energy user on sunny days also produced more electricity during its first five years of operation than originally anticipated. On Tuesday, the Board of Supervisors received a five-year update on the Calle Real Solar Photovoltaic (PV) Array project. The facility has produced 10 percent more electricity than anticipated since it first went online in 2012, for a total utility savings of about $1.2 million, according to a spokesperson.

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