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 30, 2017, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources (“DOER”) informed the Massachusetts Legislature of its adoption of a 200 MWh energy storage target for electric distribution companies (“EDCs”) to procure “viable and cost-effective energy storage systems” within the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. DOER specified that the target is to be achieved by January 1, 2020, and would permit EDCs to identify the most cost-effective applications and the best locations for energy storage deployment, including both in front of the meter and behind the meter applications. Continue Reading Massachusetts Announces 200 MWh Energy Storage Procurement Target
On June 22, 2017, both chambers of the New York State Legislature unanimously passed legislation—Senate Bill 5190 and Assembly Bill 6571 (collectively, the “Bill”)—which would require the New York Public Service Commission (“NYPSC”) to commence a proceeding to establish an Energy Storage Deployment Program for the State of New York within ninety days of the Bill’s effective date. The Bill would also require that, no later than January 1, 2018, the NYPSC establish a target for the installation of energy storage systems through 2030, and programs that will enable the State of New York to meet those targets. The Bill now heads to Governor Andrew Cuomo for signature. Continue Reading New York Legislature Unanimously Passes Bill Directing NYPSC to Establish Energy Storage Target by January 1, 2018
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
On June 8, 2017, the California Independent System Operator (“CAISO”) released the draft final proposal of Phase 2 of its energy storage and distributed energy resources (“ESDER”) initiative. The aim of the proposal is to lower the barrier to entry and market participation for various transmission grid-connected energy storage and distribution-connected resources. “Integrating these resources,” the proposal states, “will help lower carbon emissions and add operational flexibility.” Continue Reading CAISO Issues Draft Final Proposal on Energy Storage and Distributed Energy Resources
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
Originally Posted on Troutman Sander’s Washington Energy Report
On June 5, 2017, Advanced Energy Economy (“Advanced”), a national trade association representing organizations within the energy efficiency, demand response, and other advanced energy industry sectors, filed a petition for a declaratory order with FERC. Among other things, the petition requests that FERC assert exclusive jurisdiction over how Energy Efficiency Resources (“EERs”) can participate in markets operated by Regional Transmission Organizations and Independent System Operators (“RTOs/ISOs”). In particular, Advanced highlights a recent proposal from PJM Interconnection, L.L.C. (“PJM”) to initiate a stakeholder process to ultimately grant state regulators the authority to bar, restrict, or otherwise condition EER participation in PJM’s capacity market. The petition, filed while FERC still lacks a quorum to take action, came just days before the Kentucky Public Service Commission (“KYPSC”) issued an order restricting participation of EERs in PJM wholesale markets. Continue Reading AEE Requests Declaratory Rulings on Federal Preemption for Energy Efficiency Resources in FERC-Regulated Markets
In the Rose Garden of the White House, President Trump fulfilled a key campaign promise last week by confirming that the United States will begin withdrawing from the Paris Climate Change Agreement (“Agreement”). President Trump cited the Agreement’s potential financial and economic burdens as a reason for the withdrawal. Continue Reading U.S. to Withdraw from Paris Climate Deal