FERC Order May Undermine Renewables, Energy Storage in New York’s Capacity Markets

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has rejected the latest proposal from New York's grid operator to allow renewable energy and batteries to compete against fossil fuels in its wholesale capacity market. That may give the state's regulators and policymakers more reason to consider alternatives to federally regulated energy markets. In a Friday order, FERC’s Republican majority denied grid operator NYISO’s proposal to restructure what it terms its “buyer-side market power mitigation rules” to allow wind, solar, batteries and other carbon-free resources to compete against

Terabase Raises $6M Series A to Lower Cost of Utility-Scale Solar

A year after launching, solar software startup Terabase Energy has raised $6 million to keep growing its team and services. The Berkeley-based company emerged when SunPower wound down its project development business. Several former SunPower employees built a software tool to manage costs at the kinds of massive solar plants they used to develop: everything from site selection and layout to shipping logistics for millions of panels and the movements of laborers onsite. The ultimate goal is to find enough incremental cost savings across the board to bring the price of solar below one cent per kilowatt-hour in the next five years, said co-founder and CEO Matt Campbell. That would unlock terawatts

FERC Unanimously Dismisses Effort to Undermine Solar Net Metering

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission on Thursday unanimously rejected a plea to declare all state solar net-metering policies illegal, a victory for solar industry groups and state policymakers. All four FERC commissioners voted to dismiss the April petition from the New England Ratepayers Association (NERA), which argued that FERC, not states, should have jurisdiction over sales of electricity from customer-sited generators like rooftop solar. “We find that the petition does not identify a specific controversy or harm that the commission should address in a declaratory order,” FERC Chairman Neil Chatterjee said in Thursday’s FERC open meeting. NERA, a New Hampshire-based 501

FERC’s New PURPA Rule Undermines Clean Energy Projects, Advocates Say

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has changed the rules for a federal law that allows independent energy projects to secure utility contracts for their power. Utility groups say the changes will reduce costs for customers, but clean-energy groups and independent power developers say they’ll stifle open competition. FERC’s new rule for the Public Utilities Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), which closely matches its proposal from last year, passed by a 3-1 vote Thursday over the objections of the commission’s sole Democrat, Richard Glick. In FERC’s Thursday meeting, Chairman Neil Chatterjee said the new rule represents a “wide-ranging and comprehensive set of reforms” to how the 1978 federal

Sunrun Buying Vivint: Unpacking the Biggest Distributed Solar Deal in History

Earlier this month, Sunrun, the largest residential solar company in the U.S., declared its intent to acquire Vivint Solar, the second largest installer. It’s an all-stock transaction that would value the combined entity at over $9 billion. It's a big deal — literally. The enterprise value attached to Vivint is $3.2 billion, which makes it the largest single transaction in the history of the distributed energy market. It’s also a big deal because of what it says about the state and future of distributed

Oregon’s PacWave Aims to Jump-Start US Marine Energy Market

The open ocean is an unforgiving judge of engineering prowess. Salty seawater, gale-force winds and relentless, punishing waves resist entrepreneurs’ determination to install power-generating devices in the water. The scale of that challenge is reflected in the marine energy industry's poor track record to date. Offshore wind turbines operate in harsh conditions, but they do so largely above the waterline. Marine energy devices, on the other hand, are exposed to the full force of the ocean’s ferocity by floating atop or below the waves. At the end of 2019, there were just 531 megawatts of wave, tidal and other marine energy technologies installed globally, according to the International Renewable Energy Agency.

Overcoming Forecast Uncertainties for Better DER Planning

Forecasting load growth and planning the utility investments necessary to handle changing electricity demand used to be a straightforward exercise. Utility planners knew that customers in their service territory more or less shared the same load pattern. The only real wrinkles planners had to navigate as they considered grid upgrades were entirely new loads — like from a new subdivision — or widespread embrace of technologies like LED lighting that reduce demand. The rapid influx of distributed energy resources

Residential Demand Response to Play Key Role Managing US Load This Summer

Heading into summer 2020, looming uncertainty about electricity demand makes flexibility more vital than ever in the United States. In particular, residential demand response faces more pressure than usual as many people continue to work from home over the next few months. Since the economy’s reopening will be gradual, grid operators need not be too concerned that system peak demand will make demand response events necessary. However, some residential-only distribution feeders may face increasing pressure as air conditioning load rises. Already, some vendors providing customer engagement, analytics and demand response services for residential programs are

With the Country Distracted, Trump’s Deregulation Push Accelerates

While the country is distracted by infection rates, deaths and protests, what else have we been missing? This week on The Energy Gang, we peek out from behind the quarantine curtain to see what the Trump administration has been up to on the energy front. The Trump administration has declared a national emergency over cyber

Lightsource BP Wins Solar Project That Would Double Large-Scale Capacity in Arkansas

Lightsource BP, the U.K.-based solar developer backed by BP, secured a power-purchase agreement for a 132-megawatt solar project in Arkansas that would nearly double that state’s utility-scale capacity, currently at 147 megawatts. Municipal utility Conway Corporation will use power from the project, called Happy Solar, which is slated for commercial operation in 2022. The project — finalized from the living rooms and home offices of company executives

Solar Industry’s Next Innovation: Navigating Impacts of Coronavirus

“Nobody knows anything.” Screenwriter William Goldman’s observation about the impossibility of predicting the success or failure of a movie is an apt way to describe COVID-19’s impacts on the global solar industry. During a March webinar, the CEOs of large solar and wind developers including Pattern Energy, Origin Energy, Longroad Energy and SunPower leaned on descriptions such as “fluid,” “dynamic” and “complex” to describe both the potential effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and their

Virginia Mandates 100% Clean Power by 2050

Virginia has become the latest state to pass a law that sets it on a path to 100 percent carbon-free electricity by 2050, as well as setting targets for massive investments in energy efficiency, energy storage, and in-state solar and wind power. The Clean Economy Act passed Virginia’s House of Delegates by a 51-45 vote on Thursday and the state Senate by a 22-17 vote on Friday, clearing the way for the bill to be signed by Governor Ralph Northam, who issued an executive order

Blackstone Buys NRStor C&I for Industrial Battery Development in Ontario and Beyond

Private equity fund Blackstone Energy Partners has bought its way into the commercial and industrial energy storage market by acquiring Toronto-based NRStor C&I. The deal, announced Wednesday, gives Blackstone a portfolio of 200 megawatt-hours of customer-sited storage in operation, under construction or under contract. It marks a particular vote of confidence in the Ontario market, which has become one of the most dynamic regions in North America for large behind-the-meter storage. A provincial demand charge known as the Global Adjustment charge provides a hefty price signal for large industrial facilities to cut their demand during system peak hours throughout the year. This rule has

Meet the Expert Cataloging Every Climate Solution

This week, we have a special addendum to our deep decarbonization draft. We’re talking with Dr. Katharine Wilkinson, the vice president of communication and engagement at Project Drawdown. Katharine is one of the minds behind the Project Drawdown solutions list that we used as the basis for our draft. We chose the list because

The European Investment Bank Has Quit Fossil Fuels. Now What?

COPENHAGEN — With an annual outlay in the energy sector of €15 billion ($16.6 billion), the European Investment Bank is one of the sector’s biggest lenders. And for every euro the EIB puts into a project or business, around seven more are invested by the private sector. That’s around €120 billion ($133 billion) of public and private investment in the energy sector that stems from the EIB’s choices. According to the International Energy Agency, global renewables investment in 2018 amounted to $300 billion. So the EIB's confirmation last month that it would effectively end support for fossil fuels

Sacramento Wants to Electrify Its Homes, Low-Income Families Included

“No one has more to gain from electrification than low-income and moderate-income households.” With that, Scott Blunk set the agenda for a small team that had gathered at a Utah ski resort earlier this year to address a thorny challenge: How does a not-for-profit municipal utility that has committed to eliminate carbon from buildings ensure that its most disadvantaged customers aren’t left behind during the transition? Blunk, a strategic planner with the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), had assembled a diverse group of stakeholders with expertise in energy policy, green building, energy efficiency retrofits and

Can Tesla’s Cybertruck Shape the Burgeoning Electric Truck Market?

Truck buyers are historically some of the most brand-loyal auto consumers But recent surveys suggest that loyalty is loosening. Into the picture steps Elon Musk, who dropped the Tesla Cybertruck last month. This space-age truck concept is truly putting the shift in consumer preferences to the test. It’s also tearing a lot of opinionated people apart. In this episode: what is the Cybertruck and where might it fit into the emerging electric truck market? And can it sway truck buyers who don't care about Tesla? Then, there’s a major tax

7 Projects That Could Put the US Ahead in Floating Offshore Wind

The U.S. is late to the offshore wind party compared to Europe and China. And the injection of new regulatory uncertainty in the shape of permitting delays at Vineyard Wind's 800-megawatt project won't help firm up supply-chain investment. Many of the largest U.S. offshore wind projects are backed by

First Solar Inks 1.7GW Series 6 Module Deal With Intersect Power

First Solar has inked a deal to supply 1.7 gigawatts of its solar modules to Intersect Power, as solar manufacturers and U.S. developers race to push through projects in advance of the wind-down of federal Investment Tax Credit. Tuesday’s announcement, made during the first day of the Solar Power International conference, marks the biggest order yet for the Arizona-based solar manufacturer's Series 6 larger-format thin-film solar modules

AMS Makes Money for Wind Farms by Turning Them Off

Advanced Microgrid Solutions branched out of commercial storage development in 2017, promising big things in the energy software space. Last October, the company signaled an interest in Australia's fast-paced energy market. A period of radio silence ensued. The quiet period is over. In the intervening time, AMS signed five commercial contracts in Australia to algorithmically dispatch 2,000 megawatts of renewables and storage, founder

From Science Project to Money Maker: Energy Storage Hits Inflection Point

In 2014, the vast majority of storage projects Greensmith Energy was working on might have best been described as science projects, often dependent on grants or utility R&D budgets devoted to figuring out emerging technologies. But there was one 20-megawatt project in PJM territory that was unlike all of the

First Solar Ends Q2 With More Losses But ‘Wins on the Board’

Despite record module production and shipments in the second quarter of the year, First Solar reported another quarterly loss on Thursday. First Solar attributed its $18.5 million shortfall — a decrease from the $67.6 million in losses reported last quarter — to increases in operating costs, which offset a boost in module and systems revenue. Though CEO Mark Widmar said on a Thursday earnings call that First Solar “put a number of wins on the board” in Q

More Delays Likely for Vogtle Nuclear Plant, Georgia Regulator Says

Georgia's Vogtle nuclear plant expansion is already years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget, and it may get delayed once again. The Georgia Public Service Commission Public Interest Advocacy Staff this week published an evaluation of the most recent reassessment of project timeline and cost for Vogtle Units 3 and 4. The good news: Staff concluded that the latest analysis by Southern Nuclear Company, the Southern Company subsidiary overseeing plant construction, was “generally sound.” That's notable, seeing as Staff recommended canceling