On Monday, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) released its Renewables Portfolio Standard Annual Report announcing that the State is on track to meet its renewables portfolio standard (RPS) requirement of 50% ten years ahead of schedule. The California RPS sets a requirement that 33% of electricity retail sales be served by renewable resources by 2020, and 50% by 2030. But with aggressive investment in renewables the State’s three large investor owned utilities (IOUs) may achieve the 50% goal by the 2020 deadline, ten years early. Continue Reading CPUC: California May Achieve The 50% RPS Goal By 2020, 10 Years Ahead of Schedule

On May 23 the Trump Administration released its formal FY 2018 budget proposal for congressional approval. The formal budget mirrors many of the aspects of the budget blueprint that the Administration released on March 16—including significant cuts to offices and programs relating to renewable energy.

Overall, the proposal cuts the budgets of the U.S. Department of Energy and the U.S. Department of the Interior. The cuts align with the Administration’s goals of reducing non-defense discretionary spending to fund an increase in defense and infrastructure spending. Continue Reading President Trump Sends $4.1 Trillion Budget to Congress

In a speech last month, Energy Secretary Rick Perry stated that the Department of Energy (“DOE”) may need to “intervene” in state renewable energy policies to protect grid security and reliability. Secretary Perry made the statement to energy industry stakeholders at the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Summit on April 25, 2017. In early April, Secretary Perry ordered a DOE study to determine the extent wholesale market structures, energy mandates, federal policy and tax subsidies are affecting long-term grid reliability. Secretary Perry suggested that the DOE was concerned by ongoing baseload generating facility retirements stimulated in part by pressure on utilities to meet renewable portfolio standard (“RPS”) benchmarks. During a question and answer session, Secretary Perry stated that increased reliance on intermittent renewable energy sources makes the grid unreliable, which ultimately creates a concern for national security. Continue Reading Trump Administration Considers Preemption of State Renewable Policies

By Brian Harms and Emily Prince

On April 6, the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) unanimously approved an order doubling the budget of California’s Self-Generation Incentive Program (SGIP). The order directs California’s three investor owned utilities to double their collection of SGIP fees from ratepayers. Together the utilities will collect $166 million dollars annually through 2019 to fund the SGIP, resulting in an addition $249 million for project funding.

The Order implements California’s Greenhouse Gas Reduction Act (AB 1637), which Governor Brown signed into law in September, 2016. The Act directs the PUC to increase the maximum collection for SGIP and extends the net energy metering program for fuel cells that commence commercial operation on or before December 31, 2021. The law updated the qualifications for the battery storage program by increasing the individual project cap to 5 MW and increasing the statewide cap by approximately 76 MW. Continue Reading California Seeks to Transform the Market: Doubles Funding for Distributed Generation with a Vision for Massive Battery Storage Growth

On Thursday, March 16, the Trump Administration released its 2018 budget blueprint, which shifts away from many of the Obama Administration’s chief initiatives as related to clean energy. While not surprising, the new Administration’s approach to the 2018 budget is to cut spending and reduce regulations.  The proposal demonstrates that goal and “the Administration’s commitment to reasserting the proper role of what has become a sprawling Federal Government.” The White House will release the full budget in May, but this blueprint provides some guidance on the Administration’s direction moving forward.

The U.S. Department of Energy budget blueprint would shrink the overall budget 5.6% from 2017 levels to $20.8 billion. While the overall budget would decrease, Trump proposed an 11% ($1.4 billion) increase to the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees nuclear weapons and falls within the umbrella of the DOE. Accordingly, the 5.6% overall cut may be a bit misleading.   Continue Reading President Trump Releases Budget Blueprint Including Cuts to Clean Energy Research and Development

With New Federal Administration, States Betting Bigger on Renewables

Nearly 1 in 10 States have launched proposals directing utilities to procure anywhere from 50% to 100% of their power from renewable energy resources by mid-century. Currently 29 states and the District of Columbia have renewable portfolio standards (RPS) in place.  Several states, however, have introduced even more aggressive proposals likely in reaction to the fact that new federal requirements are not likely to be promulgated (e.g., the Clean Power Plan).

Some States Move All In For 100% Renewables

In 2015, Hawaii became the first state to adopt a 100% RPS designed to completely decarbonize its power portfolio. Over the next thirty years Hawaii’s RPS will ramp up with incremental requirements starting with 30% renewable generation by 2020 and ultimately achieving 100% renewable generation by 2045.

In recent weeks, state law makers in Massachusetts and California have introduced legislation to require 100% renewable energy output. In Massachusetts, a bill would require the state to get all of its electricity from renewable sources by 2035, and ultimately meet all of its heating, cooling and transportation needs through renewable sources by 2050.  Continue Reading With New Federal Administration, States Betting Bigger on Renewables

On February 13, 2017, a bipartisan coalition of 20 US governors published a letter imploring President Donald Trump to support the renewables industry. The group highlighted the wide impact the industry has across the nation, employing hundreds of thousands of Americans and transforming low-income and rural communities. The Governors highlight four ways in which Congress and the Trump administration could help the renewables industry.

First, grid modernization and transmission development. The Governors argued that any national infrastructure package should provide significant funding for grid modernization to address the electrical transmission challenges created by large expansions of renewable generation across the country. To implement and streamline the grid modernization process, the governors suggested that the administration create a state-federal task force to work with FERC and the National Laboratories. Continue Reading Bipartisan Governors Push Trump to Support Renewables in Infrastructure Planning