Tag Archives: Renewables Portfolio Standard (rps)

Los Angeles’s Low-Priced Solar Power Has Problems Coming Its Way

By Cassie McCorkle, Energy Industry Reports

It has been more than a month that Los Angeles has signed a contract for record-cheap solar power and the officials are trying to deny it. The labor union is concerned over Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to put an end to the three gas-fired power plants. It has been clearly mentioned in the 25-year contract signed with 8minute Solar Energy that the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power will pay 2 cents per kilowatt-hour or lower. This is the lowest price ever waged for solar power in the US and it is lower than the cost of electricity generated from the natural gas-fired power plant. The Eland project has 200 Megawatts of lithium-ion batteries planned other than the 400 Megawatts of solar power to store solar power for a complete day and to let it into the grid for 4 Hours each night.

The combined payment of L.A. payers for solar power could be 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour. The concerns of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18 have forced the City Council to not approve the contract. IBEW Local 18 is concerned that Garcetti’s “Green New Deal” initiative has shutdown 3 coastal gas plants and would result in unemployment of 400 LADWP workers. The workers consider Garcetti’s plans to create unemployment and increase electricity prices. Others may consider the current plan as a childlike proposal but as per the Mayor, the Eland project may not replace the large plants instead can help reduce the dependency on gas. The pricing of 8minute that relies on the federal investment tax credit for solar energy is expected to drop by 26% by this year end. By December, the company plans to start construction to be eligible for the 30% tax credit.

Similarly, a 500 MW project is on its way to construction, as per the Kern County Board of Supervisors. This new project is the one more addition to the long list of large projects taking place in California. This project is a part of the Eland 1 Solar Project: 8minutenergy. The project will be started only after the Eland 1 Solar is approved.

Read full article from Energy Industry Reports

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LA & 8Minute Solar ink lowest cost solar-plus-storage deal in U.S. history

By Steve Hanley, CleanTechnica

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has signed a groundbreaking 25-year power purchase agreement with 8Minute Solar. The deal will make possible the largest municipal solar plus storage facility in the US. But the best part is the combined price for solar energy plus storage is just 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour, the lowest ever in the US and cheaper than electricity from a natural gas powered generating plant.

The electricity will come from a massive solar power plant located on 2000 acres of undeveloped desert in Kern County, just 70 miles from the city. Known as the Eland Solar and Storage Center, it will be built in two stages of 200 MW each, with the first coming online in 2022 and the second phase scheduled to be switched on the following year.

Los Angeles DWP will take 375 MWac of solar power coupled with 385.5 MW/1,150 MWh of energy storage, according to PV Magazine. Neighboring Glendale Water and Power will take 25 MWac of solar plus 12.5 MW/50 MWh of energy. The electricity from Eland I and II is expected to meet between 6 and 7% of Los Angeles’ needs, according to PV Magazine.

The Eland Solar & Storage Center has been engineered by 8minute to provide fully dispatchable power under control of the LADWP to meet its customers’ demands with reliable and cost-effective power — a capability previously reserved for large fossil fuel power plants. Eland’s ability to provide fully dispatchable power for less than the traditional cost of fossil fuels effectively positions solar PV as an attractive candidate to be the primary source of California’s 100% clean energy future.

Read full article from CleanTechnica

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California agencies meet to begin charting course to 100% renewable energy

By Mark Anderson, The Sacramento Business Journal

The first-ever joint meeting of California agencies that will draw the path to a zero-carbon future met in Sacramento to start planning for the state’s 100% renewable goal by 2045.

The meeting included the California Energy Commission, California Public Utilities Commission and the California Air Resources Board, which are all tasked to meet the ambitious goals of 2018’s Senate Bill 100, which mandates that California use renewable resources to supply 100% of its electricity by the end of 2045.

The purpose of the meeting was to make sure that the different agencies are not working in silos, said Alice Reynolds, senior adviser on energy for Gov. Gavin Newsom. “We want to build an integrated plan,” she said. “To bring ambition to action.”

She said the state doesn’t have all the answers now for what will be an “incredibly difficult task,” adding that the state likely won’t have the answers when the agencies’ first report on progress is due next summer. “We’re not planning for the world as it is now. We are planning for the future,” Reynolds said. Temperatures may be higher then, requiring more air conditioning.

Still, commissioners expressed confidence that the effort won’t be damaging to California’s economy. “As we are seeing with coal, rolling back environmental standards doesn’t create jobs,” said Liane Randolph, a commissioner with the California Public Utilities Commission.

California’s previous mandates for renewable energy have created jobs, said Andrew McAllister, a commissioner with the California Energy Commission. He said the state has created 80,000 solar energy jobs and 100,000 jobs in energy efficiency.

Read full article in the Sacramento Business Journal

 

Los Angeles has lined up record-cheap solar power. But there’s a problem

By Sammy Roth, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles has been sitting on a contract for record-cheap solar power for more than a month — and city officials declined to approve it Tuesday because of concerns raised by the city-run utility’s labor union, which is still fuming over Mayor Eric Garcetti’s decision to shut down three gas-fired power plants.

Under the 25-year contract with developer 8minute Solar Energy, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power would pay less than 2 cents per kilowatt-hour — a number city officials and independent experts say would be the lowest price ever paid for solar power in the United States, and cheaper than the cost of electricity from a typical natural gas-fired power plant.

In addition to 400 megawatts of solar power, the Eland project would include at least 200 megawatts of lithium-ion batteries, capable of storing solar power during the day and injecting it into the grid for four hours each night. The combined price to L.A. ratepayers of the solar and storage would be 3.3 cents per kilowatt-hour — also a record low for this type of contract.

But LADWP’s Board of Commissioners voted not to send the contract to the City Council for approval, after utility staff said concerns had been raised by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 18, which represents utility employees. In recent months, IBEW Local 18 has run television and radio ads attacking Garcetti’s Green New Deal initiative, which includes the retirement of three coastal gas plants that employ more than 400 LADWP workers.

…The Eland project, which is planned for the Mojave Desert north of Los Angeles, wouldn’t replace those gas plants. But it could help L.A. reduce its reliance on gas, which has become California’s largest electricity source as utilities look for evening power sources to fill in for solar after the sun goes down.

Read full article in the Los Angeles Times

Opinion: An uncertain path to a cleaner future – Zero carbon electricity legislation in New York and California

By Thomas R. Brill & Steven C. Russo (Greenberg Traurig), Utility Dive

Last month, New York passed the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act, which calls for a carbon free electricity market by 2040. With passage of this law, New York became the sixth state to pass legislation calling for a carbon free electricity market. Just one year earlier, California passed similar legislation, SB100, adopting a state policy to achieve a zero-carbon electricity market by 2045.

These goals will have to be pursued notwithstanding the fact demand for electricity is projected to increase as other sectors pursue beneficial electrification to comply with ambitious emission reduction goals they face. Whether these goals can be achieved, and at what cost, will depend on technology advancements and how these laws are interpreted and implemented by regulators.

New York’s Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act requires 70% of electricity consumed in New York be generated by renewable resources by 2030 and the state must be carbon free by 2040. California’s SB100 requires 60% of electricity come from renewable resources by 2030 and adopts a state policy of a 100% zero carbon electricity by 2045.

The New York legislation explicitly conditions meeting these extraordinarily ambitious renewable energy mandates on maintaining reliability and affordability. This leads to obvious questions: Can a zero-carbon electricity market be achieved in a manner that maintains reliability and affordability, and if so, how? What flexibility exists under these laws to ensure these emission reduction goals can be achieved even if new technologies or significant price declines fail to materialize?

Read full article from Utility Dive

Opinion: How Lackluster Grid Maintenance Jeopardizes California’s Green Energy Future

By Ariel Cohen (Contributor), Forbes

In Part I of this story, I examined the factors that led to California’s now infamous ‘Camp Fire’ and the bankruptcy of the state’s largest utility, Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E). It turns out that while climate change, forest mismanagement, and overzealous lawmakers share some of the blame, PG&E is at the center of this multibillion-dollar catastrophe.

But in California, it is ratepayers, shareholders, and green energy that will pay the greatest price. PG&E has been a key partner in California’s green energy agenda, investing aggressively in solar, wind, and other renewable energy projects over the past decade. Last year renewables accounted for 33% of PG&E’s power mix — an impressive amount by industry standards. However, PG&E’s bankruptcy in the wake of the Camp Fire means that a lack of trust (and credit) in the utility could imperil the state’s green energy sector, and with it dreams of 100% carbon-free power by 2045.

Green power is now an uncertain space to do business in California, and we are already seeing the consequences: a major PG&E solar farm – Topaz – had their credit rating downgraded even before PG&E officially filed for bankruptcy, imperiling the clean electricity it provides to roughly 180,000 homes in California. The credit agency Fitch Ratings recently downgraded NextEra Energy’s 250-megawatt Genesis Solar project in the Sonoran Desert, citing its link to PG&E. Others are on the chopping block.

More critically, bankruptcy court might also jeopardize PG&E’s many long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs) with renewable energy providers. From a financial perspective, it makes sense for PG&E to tear up these contracts and start anew. The falling cost of wind and solar means that energy prices negotiated in 2012 and 2013 are three to four times higher per megawatt hour (MWh) than they are today. According to Bloomberg New Energy Finance (NEF), the estimated remaining obligation on these PPAs are more than $2 billion, though they would be worth only around $800 million at current market rates. Restructuring these contracts in court would increase cashflow, affording PG&E a much-needed liquidity boost to help deal with mounting liabilities.

Read full article at Forbes

 

Gov. Jerry Brown’s carbon-free legacy to require financial sacrifices

By Dan Walters, CalMatters

Jerry Brown publicly denies harboring thoughts of the legacy of his record 16 years as California’s governor.

When a reporter asked Brown about it in January, Brown replied, with a characteristic smirk, “Can you tell me the legacy of Goodwin Knight? Or Gov. (Frank) Merriam? Or (George) Deukmejian? Governors don’t have legacies. That’s my No. 1 proposition.”

Brown pointedly excluded his father, Pat Brown, from his list of legacy-bereft predecessors. And it’s quite obvious that Brown yearns to match his father by being remembered as the governor who made California — at least in his mind — a global leader in fighting climate change through reduction of carbon dioxide emissions. will be 100 percent from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2045.

Just before hosting a global climate-change conference in San Francisco last week, Brown signed a bill decreeing that California’s electrical energy will be 100 percent from renewable or carbon-free sources by 2045. Simultaneously, he issued an executive order that California be “carbon neutral” by the same date.

“This bill and the executive order put California on a path to meet the goals of Paris and beyond,” Brown declared, referring to the international climate agreement. “It will not be easy. It will not be immediate. But it must be done.”

The legislation, Senate Bill 100 by state Sen. (and U.S. Senate candidate) Kevin de León, a Los Angeles Democrat, expands the current 2030 goal for electric power of 60 percent. Both pieces of state paper, however, are more statements of lofty intent than quantifiable policy.

Read full opinion article by Dan Walters

 

World-Renowned Scientists: California Must Operate on 100 Percent Clean Electricity

OAKLAND, Calif. —Amid a summer of record-setting heat and wildfires exacerbated by climate change, 37 scientists signed a letter published today in the Sacramento Bee, calling on state legislators to pass Senate Bill 100, the “100 Percent Clean Energy Act of 2018.” The signers include world-renowned experts in climate, water, energy and health, including Gretchen Daily, the director of the Center for Conservation Biology at Stanford; Alex Hall, the director of the Center for Climate Science at the University of California Los Angeles; James McCarthy, past president of the American Association for the Advancement of Science; Mario Molina, recipient of a Nobel Prize in Chemistry for discovering that chlorofluorocarbon gases were threatening the ozone hole; and Benjamin Santer, a National Academy of Sciences member.

The California Legislature is likely to vote this month on the bill, which would set a goal that all of California’s electricity come from carbon-free resources by 2045. Representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) presented the letter to state legislators today. 

…Last month, the state announced it had reached another key goal—cutting carbon emissions back to 1990 levels—four years ahead of schedule. The goal had been set for 2020 but was achieved in 2016. California investor-owned utilities are on track to reach a 50 percent Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) by 2030, also ahead of schedule. 

According to the letter, “clean energy is among the most urgent solutions needed to avoid the worst impacts of climate change.” SB 100 would accelerate California’s RPS to 60 percent by 2030 and allow for flexibility in how the remaining 40 percent of electricity is supplied. In 2017, California received about 29 percent of its electricity from renewable resources, such as solar and wind, and another 24 percent came from a combination of nuclear and large hydropower, both of which are carbon-free. 

Read full press release from the Union of Concerned Scientists

 

Solar is Generation of Choice in California

By Robert Mullin, RTO Insider

California’s second-largest publicly owned utility is “not buying anything other than solar right now,” said Arlen Orchard, CEO of Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD). Orchard’s comment reflected prevailing opinion at the Infocast California Energy Summit last week: Solar is the generation of choice now in California — and its role will only grow.

For SMUD, the decision to go with solar is a financial one. Despite historically low natural gas prices, California’s environmental mandates — such as emissions caps and a ban on once-through cooling — make investment in even the most efficient new gas-fired generation less attractive than solar, even in the resource-constrained Los Angeles basin. “It sounds like for a lot of reasons, building more gas-fired generation in L.A. is not going to happen,” said Charles Adamson, principal manager with Southern California Edison, also pointing out the political unpopularity of building new gas generation in the state.

In Northern California, the alternatives to solar are other — more expensive — renewable resources. “Solar was once the most expensive — now it’s the lowest cost,” said Jan Smutny-Jones, CEO of the Independent Energy Producers Association, whose membership includes gas-fired and renewable merchant generators.

Declining solar costs are attracting the interest of more than just traditional utilities, according to Mark Fillinger, director of project development for First Solar. California’s investor-owned utilities have effectively met the state’s 33% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard. Fillinger said his company is now seeing a “huge shift” in demand from those customers to large “direct access” commercial and industrial clients who choose to purchase power from an independent electricity supplier rather than a regulated utility.

Read full article from RTO Insider

Yikes! Is California’s interest in Solar Energy Collapsing?

GTM Research and the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) released their US Solar Market Insight 2015 Year in Review on Wednesday, March 9. We’ve been tracking their PV capacity reports for the past several years, and in the figure below we plot the 2015 capacity increases reported in their Executive Summary.

While there was strong national growth in installation capacity this past year, California’s capacity additions were less than in 2014. After a couple years of providing over half the annual capacity additions in the country (57% last year), California’s share has fallen to a mere 45%.

 Annual PV Installations: California and U.S. Total (2010-2015)

Annual PV Installations: California & U.S. Total (2010-2015)

We picked ourselves up off the floor and asked “What is happening; is this for real?” So we called GTM Research and checked other sources to find out what in the world was going on. Turns out that despite the disastrous looking change, solar growth in California remains alive and well.
Turns out the primary reason for the downturn is a sharp decline in Utility-scale PV projects. According to GTM, these additions fell to the vicinity of 1800 MW last year. [I wish we could afford the $2000 – $6000 for the full report that our SEIA Membership entitles us to so that we could access all the GTM data. But we live in lean times and use information from diverse public sources such as US Energy Information Agency (EIA) and California Energy Commission (CEC) as well as GTM’s summaries to inform our understanding.]

According to EIA information published in late February, it appears that Utility-scale solar PV expanded by 2000 MW in 2014, but only 1100 MW (preliminary) in 2015. Data from diverse sources rarely match-up year-to-year, but the trends are identical—California’s utility-scale PV installations experienced a sharp reduction in 2015.

After checking the CEC’s most recent Tracking Progress, Renewable Energy-Overview, we can see why—the utility industry is ahead of target for meeting the state’s 2016 Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) 25% goal. The industry achieved almost 25% renewables in 2014! The state added approximately 4000 MW of utility scale PV capacity between 2013 and 2015. Utilities are meeting their target early; the apparent slowdown is a temporary pause while utilities work on the installations that will get the state to 33% renewable electricity by 2020.

Distributed generation activity remains strong in California, both in the Residential and Non-Residential segments. The state’s residential customers generated demand for approximately 1000 MW of installations—almost half the national total of 2100 MW. And other distributed generation customers (eg, commercial rooftops) account for about another 300 MW.

So for the first time in years, California’s share of new solar PV installation is now less than half the national total. Good news! The rest of the country is waking up to the benefits of solar energy with capacity increasing in numerous states. The Utility sector is leading this expansion, while the residential sector growth is accelerating. We’re pleased to see this expansion.