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
Southern California Edison (SCE) released The Clean Power and Electrification Pathway, a blueprint for California to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and air pollutants. SCE explains that a clean power and electrification pathway is the best approach to meet California’s 2030 and 2050 climate goals, reducing 1990 levels of greenhouse gas emissions by 40 and 80 percent respectively. The plan largely revolves around three economic sectors: electricity, transportation and buildings. By 2030, the plan calls for California’s electric grid to be supplied by 80% carbon-free energy, at least 7 million electric vehicles in California and one-third of space and water heaters in California to be electric powered. Essentially, the plan proposes to produce an electric grid with more carbon-free energy that will supply high-polluting industries. Other pathways to decarbonization, including renewable natural gas and hydrogen, were also analyzed but were determined to be more expensive than the clean power and electrification pathway. For more information, see SCE’s full plan here.
The United States International Trade Commission (USITC) announced the remedy recommendations in its global safeguard investigation regarding imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products). The USITC previously determined that increased imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells are a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry producing competing articles. The remedy recommendations, along with the injury determination, additional findings, and the basis for them, will be included in a report that will be sent to the President by November 13, 2017. For more information, please see the USITC news release here, and the statements of the Commissioners regarding their remedy recommendations here.
A National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) report shows that utility-scale solar costs fell 29% last year to roughly $35/MWh on a levelized basis. Overall, prices for utility-scale solar power purchase agreements have dropped nearly 75% since 2009, according to the report. The cost decline is attributed to lower module and inverter prices, higher module efficiency, and lower labor costs, though the pace of decline appears to be slowing. The NREL study indicates that the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative has reached its 2020 cost target for utility-scale solar systems three years early. The U.S. Department of Energy Laboratory based its study on 189 PPAs totaling nearly 11,800 MW. The report warned that increasing rates of curtailment is reducing the wholesale market value of solar, but offered that battery storage projects attached to utility-scale solar is one way to restore value. For more information, see the NREL’s press release here, and the full report here.
On September 22, 2017, the U.S. International Trade Commission (USITC) determined that increased imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells (whether or not partially or fully assembled into other products) are a substantial cause of serious injury to the domestic industry producing competing articles. The determination was made by a 4-0 vote and was in response to a petition filed by Suniva Inc. The USITC will proceed into the remedy phase of the investigation with a public hearing set for October 3, 2017, and a report of the USITC’s injury determinations and remedy recommendations will be submitted to the President by November 13, 2017. For more information, please see the USITC news release here.
On June 30, 2017, the North Carolina General Assembly ratified compromise legislation that modernizes the state’s solar energy rules but also includes an 18-month moratorium on wind energy projects in the state. The bill now awaits Governor Roy Cooper’s signature or veto.
House Bill 589 was developed through a year-long process of stakeholder negotiations, including representatives from the North Carolina Sustainable Energy Association (“NCSEA”). Of note, when the bill was introduced in the Senate after passing in the House, the wind moratorium was added to the legislation to provide for a comprehensive study on wind energy development in the state, citing concerns over the impacts of the siting of wind energy facilities on the aviation operations of the state’s military installations. Continue Reading North Carolina Passes Solar Reform Bill with an 18-Month Wind Moratorium
On June 8, 2017, the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (“NERC”) released a report on the August 2016 Blue Cut Fire, which resulted in the loss of 1,200 megawatts (“MW”) of solar photovoltaic (“PV”) power generation. NERC’s report contains recommendations for avoiding similar incidents by reconfiguring solar inverters, the devices that convert solar energy from direct current to alternating current.
On August 16, 2016, the Blue Cut Fire erupted in Southern California’s Cajon Pass, near a significant transmission corridor containing three 500 kilovolt (“kV”) lines owned by Southern California Edison (“SCE”) and two 287 kV lines owned by the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (“LADWP”). During the incident, the fire interrupted solar PV power generation in the transmission corridor by inducing faults on the transmission system. In total, the SCE lines experienced 13 faults and the LADWP lines experienced two faults. The most significant event resulted in the loss of 1,200 MW of solar PV power generation. The fault events did not de-energize any of the solar PV facilities; instead, the facilities ceased output in response to the faults perceived on the system. Continue Reading NERC Recommends Inverter Changes After California Fire Disrupts Solar Generation
We would like to thank all our clients for choosing Troutman Sanders to represent them in 2016. In 2016, our work spanned 23 states and several countries and accounted for more than 2 gigawatts of installed renewable energy with a value exceeding $5.5 billion.
In “2016 Renewable Energy Market Year in Review and a Look Ahead to 2017,” we reflect on the biggest trends and challenges we observed in 2016 and offer insights into important trends and policy agenda items that will continue to be significant in 2017 and beyond, including:
- Tax Reform
- Federal Tax Credits
- The “Duck Curve”
- Renewable Portfolio Standards
- Energy Storage / Battery Storage
- Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 (PURPA)
- Resurgence of Natural Gas-Fired Generation
- Commercial Power Purchase Agreements
- Proxy Revenue Swaps
- Foreign Investment
- Community Choice Aggregation
- Federal Policy
To view the complete newsletter, click here.
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