Author Archives: Admin

Kaiser Permanente To Inject Solar Power Into Its Daily Rounds

One of the largest not-for-profit healthcare providers in the U.S., Kaiser Permanente has announced it is to make a series of major wind and solar energy purchases as it seeks to lower its nationwide greenhouse gas emissions by 30%.  In two separate announcements, the healthcare leader revealed plans to generate as much as half of the electricity it uses in California from clean energy sources, and also confirmed it will purchase as much as 70 MW of onsite solar production from independent power producer NRG Renew.  The former announcement entails a series of power purchase agreements (PPAs) by Kaiser Permanente to support the construction and operation of three renewable energy projects that will generate 590 million kWh of clean power a year.  The PPAs will be signed as 20-year contracts with NextEra Energy Resources, one of which will see Kaiser Permanente purchase solar power from NextEra’s 110 MW Blythe Solar Energy Plant in Riverside County, California.

Two Ways PG&E Community Solar Gardens Enable 100 Percent Solar for All

PG&E already has enough renewable energy contracts in its portfolio that its customers now get a quarter of their electricity from sources like solar and wind. (Large hydro is not included.)  Now California regulators allow PG&E to enable customers to go 100 percent solar. The passage of SB43 gave all state residents the option to potentially buy power from a nearby community solar garden,  creating a new avenue for every Californian to go solar  regardless of home ownership, credit rating or roof suitability.

The other big utilities in California have not yet offered this program, but PG&E has now received regulatory approval to offer its customers this option for a few cents more per kilowatt hour added to their utility bill. While more solar-savvy customers might be comfortable contracting directly with the solar developer, the utility option may be the easier choice for the average ratepayer, since they’d simply check a box on their PG&E bill to get 50 percent or 100 percent of their electricity from the solar garden.

When Conservation Puts a Squeeze on Utilities

What’s driving the conversation over how to compensate utilities when customers reduce usage is the surging growth of rooftop solar technology. Some states, including California, have “net metering” rules requiring the utilities to pay homeowners or businesses for their rooftop generation.  The terms of the debate are already clear. Consumer advocates fear that utility regulators will overcompensate the companies for their lost business, and the utilities fear that they’ll be left without enough income to support their past investments in power plants and the electrical grid.

California’s Solar Industry Employs More People Than State’s Utilities

The California solar industry now employs almost 55,000 people, more than the state’s three major utilities — Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (about 20,000), Southern California Edison (more than 13,600) and San Diego Gas & Electric (about 5,000). That’s a utility job roll of about 38,600.  The numbers were compiled from public records by Nancy Pfund, a clean technology investor who spoke at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy conference, which was held this week outside Washington, D.C. Pfund is a member of SolarCity’s board of directors.

NRG Acquires Verengo Solar’s Northeast Sales and Operations Teams

What remains unclear is what the deal means for Verengo.  Will the company continue to be sold off in chunks? Or will it refocus on its core business in California?

Apple Investing $850 Million In California Solar Farm

Apple Chief Executive Tim Cook said on Tuesday the technology company is investing $850 million to help build a solar farm in California with solar panel maker First Solar.  The project in Monterey County, California will provide enough energy for 60,000 homes as well as Apple’s future head office in nearby Cupertino.  Construction of the 2,900-acre California Flats Solar Project is expected to start in mid-2015 and finish by the end of next year.
Apple will receive electricity from 130 megawatts of capacity under a 25-year purchase agreement, the largest in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user, First Solar said. Output of the project’s remaining 150 megawatts will go to Pacific Gas and Electric Company.

World’s Largest Solar Plant Opens In California Desert

U.S. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell joined state officials on Monday to open the 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight solar project in the town of Desert Center, Calif., near Joshua Tree National Park. Built by First Solar, the project generates enough electricity to power 160,000 average California homes.
Desert Sunlight is the world’s largest solar power plant, although only by a hair.  The Topaz solar project in San Luis Obispo County, Calif. — which, like Desert Sunlight, was built by Arizona-based First Solar — also has a capacity of 550 megawatts. But the desert has more abundant sunlight than San Luis Obispo County, so Desert Sunlight will actually generate more electricity than Topaz, said Georges Antoun, First Solar’s chief operating officer.

Grid Modernization Planning

In June 2015, California IOUs will be required to file “Distribution Resources Plans” that include identifying barriers to increased Distributed Generation and expenses that will be needed to address those barriers.  On February 6, 2015, the  CPUC issued final guidance on what those plans will need to include.

Gov. Brown promotes plan to obtain half of California’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030

Gov. Brown promotes plan to obtain half of California’s electricity from renewable energy by 2030;  experts say the idea is an ambitious but attainable way to limit climate change.
California utilities are on track to meet the state’s current clean energy mandate, which requires them to buy 33 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2020. In his January 2015 inaugural address, Brown proposed raising that mandate to 50% by 2030, as one of several steps to reduce emissions of planet-warming greenhouse gases.

SB 32 (as introduced)

California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006: emissions limit.
The California Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 designates the State Air Resources Board as the state agency charged with monitoring and regulating sources of emissions of greenhouse gases. The state board is required to adopt a statewide greenhouse gas emissions limit equivalent to the statewide greenhouse gas emissions level in 1990 to be achieved by 2020 and to adopt rules and regulations in an open public process to achieve the maximum, technologically feasible, and cost-effective greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
This bill would require the state board to approve a statewide greenhouse gas emission limit that is equivalent to 80% below the 1990 level to be achieved by 2050, as specified. The bill would authorize the state board to adopt interim greenhouse gas emissions level targets to be achieved by 2030 and 2040. The bill also would state the intent of the Legislature for the Legislature and appropriate agencies to adopt complementary policies that ensure long-term emissions reductions advance specified criteria.