NewEnergyNews

NewEnergyNews

Gleanings from the web and the world, condensed for convenience, illustrated for enlightenment, arranged for impact...

While the OFFICE of President remains in highest regard at NewEnergyNews, this administration's position on climate change makes it impossible to regard THIS president with respect. Below is the NewEnergyNews theme song until 2020.

The challenge now: To make every day Earth Day.

YESTERDAY

  • Weekend Video: Colbert On The Newest Climate Fiasco
  • Weekend Video: Consumer Reports’ Tesla Vs. Bolt Face-Off
  • Weekend Video: All About The Eclipse And The Power Grid
  • THE DAY BEFORE

  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Is ‘Game Of Thrones’ About Climate Change?
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Surprises In The New Global Solar Rankings
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Denmark’s Vestas Wins Mexico’s Biggest Wind Deal
  • FRIDAY WORLD HEADLINE-Supervolcanoes Could Grow Cars With Plugs
  • THE DAY BEFORE THE DAY BEFORE

    THINGS-TO-THINK-ABOUT THURSDAY, August 17:

  • TTTA Thursday-Is The White House Hiding DOE’s Grid Study?
  • TTTA Thursday-Will The White House Hide The Climate Report?
  • TTTA Thursday-Crucial Transmission Line For Wind Denied
  • TTTA Thursday-Wind And Solar Are Saving Lives
  • THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: Organizing California’s Distributed Energy Efforts
  • ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Deep Look At Evolving U.S. Efforts To Support Solar
  • AND THE DAY BEFORE THAT

  • TODAY’S STUDY: Big Growth In Customer-Sited Wind
  • QUICK NEWS, August 15: New Forest To Offset Bad U.S. Climate Policies Has 120,000 Pledges; Wind Becoming The Go-To Power; 88,000 Jobs And The Fight Over Solar Imports
  • THE LAST DAY UP HERE

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Work On Tomorrow’s Grid So Far
  • QUICK NEWS, August 14: Climate Is The Elephant In The Room; Long-Term, NatGas Is Not The Answer; Why Wind Is Such A Good Choice
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    Founding Editor Herman K. Trabish

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    Research Associate and Contributing Editor Jessica R. Wunder

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    Some details about NewEnergyNews and the man behind the curtain: Herman K. Trabish, Agua Dulce, CA., Doctor with my hands, Writer with my head, Student of New Energy and Human Experience with my heart

    email: herman@NewEnergyNews.net

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      A tip of the NewEnergyNews cap to Phillip Garcia for crucial assistance in the design implementation of this site. Thanks, Phillip.

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    Pay a visit to the HARRY BOYKOFF page at Basketball Reference, sponsored by NewEnergyNews and Oil In Their Blood.

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  • TODAY AT NewEnergyNews, August 21:

  • TODAY’S STUDY: The Wind Market Now
  • QUICK NEWS, August 21: Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ Is A ‘Teaching Tool’; Target Targets Big Wind Buy; Michigan Grows Its Solar Garden

    Monday, August 21, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Wind Market Now

    2016 Wind Technologies Market Report

    Ryan Wiser, Mark Bolinger, et.al., August 2016 (Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and (National Renewable Energy Laboratory)

    Executive Summary

    Wind power capacity in the United States experienced strong growth in 2016. Recent and projected near-term growth is supported by the industry’s primary federal incentive—the production tax credit (PTC)—as well as a myriad of state-level policies. Wind additions have also been driven by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, yielding low power sales prices for utility, corporate, and other purchasers. At the same time, the prospects for growth beyond the current PTC cycle remain uncertain, given declining federal tax support, expectations for low natural gas prices, and modest electricity demand growth.

    Key findings from this year’s Wind Technologies Market Report include:

    Installation Trends

    • Wind power additions continued at a rapid pace in 2016, with 8,203 MW of new capacity added in the United States and $13.0 billion invested. Supported by favorable tax policy and other drivers, cumulative wind power capacity grew by 11%, bringing the total to 82,143 MW. The nation’s first offshore project was also commissioned in 2016, the 30 MW Block Island project in Rhode Island. • Wind power represented the third-largest source of U.S. electric-generating capacity additions in 2016, behind solar and natural gas. Wind power constituted 27% of all capacity additions in 2016. Over the last decade, wind represented 31% of all U.S. capacity additions, and an even larger fraction of new capacity in the Interior (56%) and Great Lakes (48%) regions. Its contribution to generation capacity growth over the last decade is somewhat smaller in the Northeast (21%) and West (20%), and considerably less in the Southeast (2%). [See Figure 1 for regional definitions].

    • The United States ranked second in annual wind additions in 2016, but was well behind the market leaders in wind energy penetration. Global wind additions equaled 54,600 GW in 2016, 14% below the record-level in 2015, yielding a cumulative total of 486,700 MW. The United States is the second-leading market in terms of cumulative capacity and 2016 annual wind energy production, behind China. A number of countries have achieved high levels of wind penetration; end-of-2016 wind power capacity is estimated to supply the equivalent of more than 40% of Denmark’s electricity demand, and between 20% and 35% of demand in Portugal, Ireland, and Spain. In the United States, the wind capacity installed by the end of 2016 is estimated, in an average year, to equate to 6.4% of electricity demand.

    • Texas installed the most capacity in 2016 with 2,611 MW, while fourteen states exceeded 10% wind energy penetration. New utility-scale wind turbines were installed in 23 states in 2016. On a cumulative basis, Texas remained the clear leader, with 20,320 MW. Notably, the wind capacity installed in Iowa and South Dakota supplied more than 36% and 30%, respectively, of all in-state electricity generation in 2016, with Kansas close behind at nearly 30%. A total of nine states have achieved wind penetration levels of 15% or higher. • Data from interconnection queues demonstrate that a substantial amount of wind power capacity is under consideration. At the end of 2016, there were 142 GW of wind power capacity seeking transmission interconnection, representing 34% of all generating capacity in the reviewed interconnection queues—higher than all other generating sources. In 2016, 67 GW of wind power capacity entered interconnection queues (the largest annual sum since 2009), compared to 83 GW of solar and 40 GW of natural gas. The Midwest and Southern Power Pool experienced especially sizable additions in 2016.

    Industry Trends

    • Vestas and GE captured 85% of the U.S. wind power market in 2016. In 2016, Vestas captured 43% of the U.S. market for turbine installations, just edging out GE at 42% and followed more distantly by Siemens at 10%. Vestas was also the leading wind supplier worldwide in 2016, followed by GE, Goldwind, Gamesa, and Enercon. Chinese manufacturers continued to occupy positions of prominence in the global ratings, with four of the top 10 spots; to date, their growth has been based almost entirely on sales in China. • The manufacturing supply chain continued to adjust to swings in domestic demand for wind equipment. Domestic wind sector employment reached a new high of more than 101,000 full-time workers in 2016. Moreover, the profitability of turbine suppliers has rebounded over the last four years. Although there have been a number of plant closures over the last 5+ years, each of the three major turbine manufacturers serving the U.S. market has domestic manufacturing facilities. Domestic nacelle assembly capability stood at roughly 11.7 GW in 2016, and the United States had the capability to produce approximately 8 GW of blades and 7 GW of towers annually. The domestic supply chain faces conflicting pressures, including significant near- to medium-term growth, but also strong international competitive pressures and an anticipation of reduced demand over time as the PTC is phased down. As a result, though some manufacturers increased the size of their U.S. workforce in 2016, expectations for significant supply-chain expansion have become less optimistic.

    • Domestic manufacturing content is strong for some wind turbine components, but the U.S. wind industry remains reliant on imports. The United States is reliant on imports of wind equipment from a wide array of countries, with the level of dependence varying by component. Domestic content is highest for nacelle assembly (>90%), towers (65-80%), and blades and hubs (50-70%). Exports of wind-powered generating sets from the United States rose from $16 million in 2007 to $488 million in 2014, but fell back to $17 million in 2016. • The project finance environment remained strong in 2016. The U.S. wind market raised more than $6 billion of new tax equity in 2016, on par with the two previous years. Debt finance increased slightly to $3.4 billion. Tax equity yields drifted slightly higher to just below 8% (in unlevered, after-tax terms), while the cost of term debt fell below 4% for much of the year, before rising back above that threshold towards the end of the year. Looking ahead, 2017 should be another busy year, given the abundance of safe-harbored turbines (those committed to prior to the end of the year to qualify for the full PTC) to be deployed.

    • IPPs own the vast majority of wind assets built in 2016. Independent power producers (IPPs) own 87% of the new wind capacity installed in the United States in 2016, with the remaining assets owned by investor-owned utilities (12%) and other entities (1%). On a cumulative basis through 2016, IPPs own 83% and utilities own 15% of U.S. wind capacity, with the remaining 2% owned by entities that are neither IPPs nor utilities (e.g., towns, schools, businesses, farmers). • Long-term contracted sales to utilities remained the most common off-take arrangement, but direct retail sales gained ground. Electric utilities continued to be the dominant off-takers of wind power in 2016, either owning wind projects (12%) or buying electricity from projects (40%) that, in total, represent 52% of the new capacity installed last year. Direct retail purchasers—including corporate off-takers—account for 24% (a share that should continue to increase next year). Merchant/quasi-merchant projects (22%) and power marketers (1%) make up the remainder. On a cumulative basis, utilities own (15%) or buy (51%) power from 66% of all wind capacity in the United States, with merchant/quasimerchant projects accounting for 23%, power marketers 6%, and direct retail buyers 4% (and likely to increase in the coming years).

    Technology Trends

    Average turbine capacity and rotor diameter saw significant increases in 2016, while hub height increased only slightly; all have grown over the long term. The average rated (nameplate) capacity of newly installed wind turbines in the United States in 2016 was 2.15 MW, up 11% from the average over the previous 5 years (2011–2015). The average rotor diameter in 2016 was 108 meters, a 13% increase over the previous 5-year average, while the average hub height in 2016 was 83 meters, up just 1% over the previous 5-year average. • Year over year growth in rotor diameters has continued unabated for more than a decade, and has outpaced growth in nameplate capacity and hub height. Rotor scaling has been especially significant in recent years, and has outpaced increases in turbine capacity and hub heights. In 2008, no turbines employed rotors that were 100 meters in diameter or larger; by 2016, 97% of newly installed turbines featured rotors of at least that diameter, with over 50% of newly installed turbines featuring rotor diameters of 110 meters or larger.

    • Turbines originally designed for lower wind speed sites have rapidly gained market share. With growth in swept rotor area outpacing growth in nameplate capacity, there has been a decline in the average “specific power” i (in W/m2 ), from 394 W/m2 among projects installed in 1998–1999 to 233 W/m2 among projects installed in 2016. In general, turbines with low specific power were originally designed for lower wind speed sites. Another indication of the increasing prevalence of lower wind speed turbines is that, in 2016, the overwhelming majority of new installations used IEC Class 3 and Class 2/3 turbines— turbines specifically certified for lower wind speed sites. • Turbines originally designed for lower wind speeds are regularly employed in both lower and higher wind speed sites; taller towers predominate in the Great Lakes and Northeast. Low specific power and IEC Class 3 and 2/3 turbines are now regularly employed in all regions of the United States, and in both lower and higher wind speed sites. In parts of the Interior region, in particular, turbines designed for lower wind speeds have been deployed across a wide range of resource conditions. The tallest towers, meanwhile, have principally been deployed in the Great Lakes and Northeastern regions, in lower wind speed sites, with specific location decisions likely driven by the wind profile at the site.

    • Pending and proposed wind power projects continue the trend of ever-taller turbines as lower wind resource sites appear to be targeted. Federal Aviation Administration data on not-yet-built “pending” and “proposed” turbines suggest that future wind projects will deploy progressively taller turbines, continuing the historical trend. Based on the locations of the pending and proposed turbines, it appears that these turbines will be deployed in lowerquality wind resource areas than were built out in 2014–2016. • A large number of wind power projects in 2016 employed multiple turbine configurations from a single turbine supplier. In what may be a new trend, nearly a quarter of the larger projects built in 2016 utilized turbines with multiple hub heights, rotor diameters and/or capacities—all supplied by the same original equipment manufacturer (OEM). This development may reflect increasing sophistication with respect to turbine siting and wake effects, coupled with an increasing willingness among turbine suppliers to provide multiple turbine configurations, leading to increased site optimization.

    Performance Trends

    • Sample-wide capacity factors have gradually increased, but have been impacted by curtailment and inter-year wind resource variability. Wind project performance, as illustrated with data on capacity factors, has generally increased over time. However, interyear variations in the strength of the wind resource and changes in the amount of wind energy curtailment have partially masked the positive influence of turbine scaling on wind project performance. On average across the United States and for 2016 as a whole, wind speeds were near-normal, while wind energy curtailment remained modest at ~2%. • The impact of technology trends on capacity factors becomes more apparent when parsed by project vintage. Focusing only on performance in 2016 and analyzing capacity factors by project vintage tells a more interesting story, wherein rotor scaling over the past few years has clearly driven capacity factors higher. The average 2016 capacity factor among projects built in 2014 and 2015 was 42.5%, compared to an average of 32.1% among projects built from 2004–2011 and just 25.4% among projects built from 1998 to 2001. The ongoing decline in specific power, however, has been offset to some degree by a trend—especially from 2009 to 2012—towards building projects at lower-quality wind sites. Controlling for these two influences shows that turbine design changes are driving capacity factors significantly higher over time among projects located in given wind resource regimes. Though many caveats are in order, older wind projects appear to suffer from performance degradation, particularly as they approach and enter their second decade of operations.

    • Regional variations in capacity factors reflect the strength of the wind resource and adoption of new turbine technology. Based on a sub-sample of wind projects built in 2014 or 2015, average capacity factors in 2016 were the highest in the Interior region (43.7%). Not surprisingly, the regional rankings are roughly consistent with the relative quality of the wind resource in each region, and they reflect the degree to which each region has adopted turbines with lower specific power or taller towers. For example, the Great Lakes has thus far adopted these new designs—and especially taller towers—to a much larger extent than some other regions, with corresponding implications for average regional capacity factors.

    Cost Trends

    • Wind turbine prices remained well below levels seen a decade ago. After hitting a low of roughly $800/kW from 2000 to 2002, average turbine prices increased to roughly $1,600/kW by the end of 2008. Wind turbine prices have since dropped substantially, despite increases in hub heights and especially rotor diameters. Recent data suggest pricing most-typically in the $800–$1,100/kW range. These price reductions, coupled with improved turbine technology, have exerted downward pressure on project costs and wind power prices. • Lower turbine prices have driven reductions in reported installed project costs. The capacity-weighted average installed project cost within our 2016 sample stood at roughly $1,590/kW. This is down $780/kW from the apparent peak in average reported costs in 2009 and 2010, but is roughly on par with—or even somewhat higher than—the installed costs experienced in the early 2000s. Early indications from a preliminary sample of projects currently under construction and anticipating completion in 2017 suggest no material change in installed costs in 2017. • Installed costs differed by project size, turbine size, and region. Installed project costs exhibit some economies of scale, at least at the lower end of the project size range. Additionally, among projects built in 2016, the windy Interior region of the country was the lowest-cost region, with a capacity-weighted average cost of $1,530/kW. • Operations and maintenance costs varied by project age and commercial operations date. Despite limited data availability, it appears that projects installed over the past decade have, on average, incurred lower operations and maintenance (O&M) costs than older projects in their first several years of operation. O&M costs increase as projects age.

    Wind Power Price Trends

    • Wind power purchase agreement (PPA) prices remain very low. After topping out at $70/MWh for PPAs executed in 2009, the national average levelized price of wind PPAs within the Berkeley Lab sample has dropped to around the $20/MWh level—though this latest nationwide average is admittedly focused on a sample of projects that largely hail from the lowest-priced Interior region of the country, where most of the new capacity built in recent years is located. Focusing only on the Interior region, the PPA price decline has been more modest, from ~$55/MWh among contracts executed in 2009 to ~$20/MWh today. Today’s low PPA prices have been enabled by the combination of higher capacity factors, declining costs, and record-low interest rates documented elsewhere in this report. • The relative economic competitiveness of wind power has been affected by the continued decline in wholesale power prices. A continued decline in wholesale power prices in 2016 made it somewhat harder for wind power to compete, notwithstanding the low wind energy PPA prices available to purchasers. This is particularly true in light of the continued expansion of wind development in the Interior region, where wholesale power prices are among the lowest in the nation. That said, the average future stream of wind PPA prices from contracts executed in 2014–2017 compares very favorably to the EIA’s latest projection of the fuel costs of gas-fired generation extending out through 2050.

    Policy and Market Drivers

    • The federal production tax credit remains a core motivator for wind power deployment. In December 2015, Congress passed a 5-year phased-down extension of the PTC, which provides the full PTC to projects that start construction prior to the end of 2016, before dropping in increments of 20 percentage points per year for projects starting construction in 2017 (80% PTC), 2018 (60%), and 2019 (40%). In May 2016, the IRS issued favorable guidance allowing four years for project completion after the start of construction, without the burden of having to prove continuous construction. According to various sources, 30-70 GW of wind turbine capacity had been qualified for the full PTC by the end of 2016, for deployment over the coming four years. • State policies help direct the location and amount of wind power development, but current state policies cannot support continued growth at recent levels. As of June 2017, RPS policies existed in 29 states and Washington D.C. Of all wind capacity built in the United States from 2000 through 2016, roughly 51% is delivered to load-serving entities with RPS obligations. Among wind projects built in 2016, this proportion fell to 21%. Existing RPS programs are projected to require average annual renewable energy additions of roughly 3.9 GW/year through 2030, only a portion of which will come from wind. These additions are well below the average growth rate in wind power capacity in recent years. • System operators are implementing methods to accommodate increased penetrations of wind energy, but transmission and other barriers remain. Studies show that wind energy integration costs are almost always below $12/MWh—and often below $5/MWh—for wind power capacity penetrations of up to or even exceeding 40% of the peak load of the system in which the wind power is delivered. System operators and others continue to implement a range of methods to accommodate increased wind energy penetrations. About 1,000 miles of transmission lines came on-line in 2016—less than in previous years. The wind industry, however, has identified 14 near-term transmission projects that—if all were completed— could carry 52 GW of additional wind capacity.

    Future Outlook

    Analysts project that annual wind power capacity additions will continue at a rapid clip for the next several years, before declining, driven by the 5-year extension of the PTC signed in December 2015 and the progressive reduction in the value of the credit over time. Additionally, near-term additions are impacted by improvements in the cost and performance of wind power technologies, which contribute to low power sales prices. Demand drivers also include corporate wind energy purchases and state-level renewable energy policies. As a result, various forecasts for the domestic market show expected capacity additions averaging more than 9,000 MW/year from 2017 to 2020 (a pace that is supported by the amount of PTC-qualified wind turbine capacity that was reportedly safe-harbored by the end of 2016). Forecasts for 2021 to 2025, on the other hand, show a downturn in part due to the PTC phase-out. Expectations for continued low natural gas prices, modest electricity demand growth, and lower near-term demand from state RPS policies also put a damper on growth expectations, as do inadequate transmission infrastructure and competition from solar energy in certain regions of the country. At the same time, the potential for continued technological advancements and cost reductions enhance the prospects for longer-term growth, as does burgeoning corporate demand for wind energy and continued state RPS requirements. Moreover, new transmission in some regions is expected to open up high-quality wind resources to development. Given these diverse underlying potential trends, wind capacity additions—especially after 2020—remain deeply uncertain.

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    QUICK NEWS, August 21: Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ Is A ‘Teaching Tool’; Target Targets Big Wind Buy; Michigan Grows Its Solar Garden

    Gore’s ‘Inconvenient Sequel’ Is A ‘Teaching Tool’ An Inconvenient Sequel: Truth to Power review – another climate change lesson from Al Gore; A necessary essay from the sharp end of the global warming crisis

    Jonathan Romney, 20 August 2017 (UK Guardian)

    “Davis Guggenheim’s An Inconvenient Truth (2006) was an effective consciousness-raising exercise, focusing on Al Gore’s ‘slide shows’…[and] the reality of climate change…The just-released sequel An Inconvenient Sequel; Truth to Power brings home the intensification of the crisis…[A]s the film’s timeline approaches the present, the spectre of Trump looms like an iceberg on a foggy Arctic night. As Gore visits the world’s environmental flashpoints, the footage of floods, storms and exploding glaciers adds ballast to the statistics. There’s a sliver of against-the-clock narrative at the 2015 Paris climate summit, although the film simplifies matters in suggesting that India’s coming on board was the result of Gore making a few well-placed phone calls behind the scenes…[In short, the film is another] teaching tool…” click here for more

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    Target Targets Big Wind Buy Target Will Buy 100MW of Wind Energy to Power 150 Stores

    Brian Eckhouse, August 9, 2017

    “…[Target Corp. will buy 100 megawatts of output from an Infinity Renewables wind project in Kansas…Power from the 474-megawatt Solomon Forks wind facility will help offset the energy used at 150 Target stores in the area…Terms weren’t disclosed…Construction is expected to begin and be completed next year…[Target’s first wind deal was 2016’s deal for] 40 megawatts of capacity from a wind project in Texas to meet the needs of 60 of its stores in the state.” click here for more

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    Michigan Grows Its Solar Garden Community solar garden taking shape

    Vicki Gerdes, August 20, 2017 (D-L Online)

    “A three-year project to bring affordable solar power to Detroit Lakes residents has at last borne fruit…Two arrays, each containing 40 solar panels, were installed at the Detroit Lakes Public Utilities solar garden site…[There are] 12 subscriptions left…[A]ll DLPU customers are eligible to purchase those subscriptions, at a cost of $1,075 per solar panel…[C]ustomers who purchase the maximum six panels could see a significant savings…Six panels could produce close to 40 percent of a customer's yearly energy needs…Though the current site has room for at least a couple more arrays…[they] won't be added until the DLPU has signed up enough solar customers to make it financially feasible…” click here for more

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    Saturday, August 19, 2017

    Colbert On The Newest Climate Fiasco

    The world is boiling but the White House doesn’t want to talk about it. From The Late Show with Stephen Colbert via YouTube

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    Consumer Reports’ Tesla Vs. Bolt Face-Off

    The near-term future is both. Farther out, better batteries and "charging-while-driving" will end the competition. From Consumer Reports via YouTube

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    All About The Eclipse And The Power Grid

    Bottom line: Nothing to worry about. From U.S. Dept of Energy via YouTube

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    Friday, August 18, 2017

    Is ‘Game Of Thrones’ About Climate Change?

    The 'Game Of Thrones' Theory That Will Completely Change The Way You Watch The Show

    Eric Vilas-Boas, August 18, 2017 (Thrillist)

    “Seven years in, Game of Thrones has overtaken pop culture…[but] we often neglect the core subtext…This epic story has always been about something pretty obvious: humans have an uncanny, self-destructive tendency to fight among themselves while the world around them is getting obliterated by a larger existential threat…The parallels between Thrones and the climate crisis are everywhere…[T]he entire saga flies under the banner of [‘A Song of Ice and Fire’ and] like the current climate crisis, Martin's fantastical war between Fire and Ice dates back a very long time…Winter is coming, whether Thrones characters admit it or not…For all the green explosions and fields of dragon fire that have propelled the drama of Game of Thrones, we've known since Episode 1 that scarier stuff was going on north of the Wall…That's been the trouble climatologists and other scientists have faced for decades…Jon Snow vocalized the problem to Tyrion in Season 7's third episode…[when he asked ‘How do I convince people who don't know me that an enemy they don't believe in is going to kill them all?’…[A]fterward, Reddit raced to compare him to Al Gore…”

    click here for more

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    Surprises In The New Global Solar Rankings

    Japan and Australia move up in Solar topten 2017 of SolarSuperState Ranking

    14 August 2017 (SolarSuperState Association)

    "Japan and Australia [moved up in the Solar topten 2017 rankings from SolarSuperState Ranking. Japan overtook number 4 Italy, number 5 Belgium and number 6 Vatican City State, to move into the number 3 ranking. Frontrunner Liechtenstein widened its lead over second-ranked Germany. A further short-term dramatic increase of solar power especially in Southern Germany in conjunction with energy storage, wind and bio energy could replace all Germany's nuclear and fossil electricity in those areas. SuperStateSolar argued that would be environmentally, socially, and economically better than reinforcing the region's high voltage grid to feed Southern Germany with generation from fossil fuel power plants in Eastern] and Northern Germany…” click here for more

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    Denmark’s Vestas Wins Mexico’s Biggest Wind Deal

    Vestas Wins Order to Supply Mexico's Biggest Wind Energy Project

    Anna Hirtenstein, August 16, 2017 (Bloomberg News)

    "...[Denmark's Vestas Wind Systems] won an order for 424 megawatts of turbines from Zumia Energia for [the Reynosa wind project,] Mexico’s largest wind project...Each turbine will have a capacity of 3.45 megawatts. The order includes a 15-year service contract with turbine delivery planned for 2017 and commissioning in 2018...Zumia Energia is a Mexican energy company backed by private equity firms Actis LLP and Mesoamerica...[Mexico has a 35 percent renewables by 2024 mandate and] Vestas has about 1.5 gigawatts of turbines installed or under construction [there]..." click here for more

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    Supervolcanoes Could Grow Cars With Plugs

    Supervolcanoes Could Drive The Electric Car Boom

    August 17, 2017 (Mining.com via OilPrice.com)

    “…[Scientists] have discovered a new source of lithium, a key element in the manufacturing of battery-powered electric cars and other renewable energy technologies: supervolcanoes…[L]ake sediments within unusually large volcanoes can host lithium-rich clay deposits, which would be an essential step toward diversifying the supply of the metal…Most of the lithium supply that currently powers modern electronics is found at salt flats in Chile and rock formations in Australia; the [new discovery just documented by Stanford University researchers] could open the industry to several other countries…

    Supervolcanoes are much larger than ordinary volcanoes and erupt at least 1,000 cubic kilometers of material in one eruption. They look like huge holes in the ground, known as calderas…Over tens of thousands of years, rainfall and hot springs leach out lithium from the volcanic deposits, and the lithium accumulates, along with sediments, in the caldera lake…Not every supervolcano leaves behind such bountiful lithium and other rare metals essential in building the 21st century energy infrastructure. But the calderas along the relatively thick crust found in western U.S. are particularly good candidates…” click here for more

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    Thursday, August 17, 2017

    Is The White House Hiding DOE’s Grid Study?

    Sierra Club sues Energy Department over long-awaited grid study

    Devin Henry, August 14, 2017 (The Hill)

    “…[Sierra Club is suing] the Department of Energy (DOE) for its ‘secrecy’ over a key study on the reliability of the electric grid…[because DOE] did not respond to open records requests seeking information about internal deliberations and outside communications over the study…[Sierra Club said it has no other choice because the White House has refused] to be transparent in accordance with the law and continues to raise suspicion that it will interfere with the process…Energy Secretary Rick Perry in April ordered a study into…whether the growth of renewable power — and the decline of coal and nuclear generation — is putting the country’s electricity system at risk…[A leaked draft] concluded that declining energy demand and low natural gas prices are to blame for the retirement of traditional power plants, not the rise of renewable energy or government regulations…” click here for more

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    Will The White House Hide The Climate Report?

    Trump Has Broad Power to Block Climate Change Report; Influential advisers press the Trump administration to subject a draft climate change report to a “red team” review that many scientists decry as misplaced.

    Andrew Revkin, August 15 2017 (Pro Publica)

    “…[A final version of the federal science agencies’ latest climate report, reportedly released ahead of White House approval to complicate any attempt to suppress the study or water down its findings, is being delayed but] administration officials and Republican lawmakers accused the leaker and journalists of manufacturing a dispute…[saying it] was moving through a normal process of White House review…[The administration] has broad authority to review its findings. Any one of a number of government agencies can block its release, which is ultimately subject to presidential review…Some of the scientists involved in preparing the document expressed concern that it might never see the light of day…” click here for more

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    Crucial Transmission Line For Wind Denied

    Despite giving vocal support, state regulators again deny Grain Belt Express transmission line, citing court ruling

    Bryce Gray, August 17, 2017 (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)

    “A multistate transmission line for wind energy from Kansas was again tripped up…by regulators in Missouri, which for years has been the only one of four states to withhold approval…Members of the state Public Service Commission acknowledged that the Grain Belt Express project planned by…developer Clean Line Energy would be ‘in the public interest’ and save electric customers in certain Missouri cities millions of dollars annually. However, the PSC determined that a recent court decision requires counties to approve the project first…That court ruling sidelined Ameren’s Mark Twain Project, a 95-mile transmission line planned for northeastern Missouri…Borrowing the same legal reasoning, the PSC’s five commissioners all voted…to deny Grain Belt Express’ application for a certificate of right of convenience or necessity, which would enable the project to use eminent domain. Four of the commissioners, however, said they would sign a concurrence to signal that the certificate would have been granted if not for the Mark Twain decision, which the state Supreme Court declined to review despite a request from the commission…” click here for more

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    Wind And Solar Are Saving Lives

    It's A Bird, It's A Plane — It's SOLARMAN!

    Manola Secaira, August 16, 2017 (Grist)

    “…The increasing presence of wind and solar in the United States helped prevent the premature deaths of up to 12,700 people between 2007 and 2015, according to a new study from Nature Energy…[W]ith the rise of clean energy, there’s a reduced risk of exposure to harmful emissions from fossil fuel–burning power plants, like the class of sooty airborne particulate known as PM2.5 (which has been found to damage lungs)…[Crucial support for renewables came from] increased regulations and shifting markets…The study authors report that sulphur dioxide emissions fell from almost 10 million tons in 2007 to 2.7 million tons in 2015 after coal plants were required to complete retrofits to meet air-quality standards…[These numbers show are] evidence that wind and solar really do save the day.” click here for more

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    Wednesday, August 16, 2017

    ORIGINAL REPORTING: Organizing California’s Distributed Energy Efforts

    Herding cats: California PUC President Picker on the new DER Action Plan; A new regulatory roadmap aims to guide the power sector into the distributed energy future, but is everyone along for the ride?

    Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 21, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: California PUC Chair Michael Picker’s noble effort to organize the state’s distributed energy policies did not get adequate attention because it was released just as stakeholders were focusing on the opening of the IRP process.

    The growth of distributed energy resources (DERs) presents challenges to electric utilities, from reliability to grid planning and rate design. And no state has done more to adapt utility regulation to those challenges than California. The California Public Utilities Commission opened its first regulatory proceeding on DERs in 1998. Since then, the CPUC has led the nation in pushing utilities to plan for DER growth, operate their systems with more distributed resources, and share data with third-party providers. But California’s DER proceedings have evolved into a tangled web of dockets, difficult and resource-intensive for stakeholders to follow. The seven-page DER Action Plan is intended by CPUC President Michael Picker to untangle it.

    The plan covers three key areas: rates and tariffs; DERs on the distribution system; and DERs in wholesale markets. If regulators can devise the right markets and rules, the payoffs could be huge. By 2020, DER could deliver $1.4 billion per year or more to California in net societal benefits, according to SolarCity calculations using an Electric Power Research Institute methodology and rate case data from Pacific Gas and Electric. Many of the distributed energy rules under consideration in California are the product of legislation, the Action Plan notes, including mandates for the reform of utility distribution system planning, investment, and operations to include “time- and location-variant” rates to support DERs. Senate Bill 350, a 2015 law that codified the state’s 50% renewable energy mandate, specifically requires an integrated resource plan (IRP) process (R.16-02-007). That process is outside the Action Plan’s scope, but is the “capstone” of it, according to Picker…” click here for more

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    ORIGINAL REPORTING: A Deep Look At Evolving U.S. Efforts To Support Solar

    War, peace and innovation: Solar policy in 2016; Solar policy debates will continue to rise as stakeholders debate rate design and NEM

    Herman K. Trabish, Feb. 16, 2017 (Utility Dive)

    Editor’s note: Last year’s shift toward successor NEM tariffs detailed in this piece has transformed this year into emerging efforts to improve those successor tariffs.

    The fierce debates between solar interests and utilities over solar policies showed no sign of slowing down in 2016. The annual report from North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center (CETC) found a total of 212 policy debates over solar compensation and rates took place last year, a jump from 175 in 2015. The debates ranged from fixed charges and net metering policies to community solar programs and third-party ownership regulations. And some new trends are beginning to emerge, including fewer tweaks to net energy metering (NEM) policies and a greater emphasis on collaboration between power sector officials and solar advocates on NEM successor tariffs, according to Autumn Proudlove, CETC Manager of Policy Research.

    Solar policy action is also moving out of traditional solar states like California, Hawaii and Nevada, and nascent markets like Arkansas, New Hampshire, and Indiana are becoming key battlegrounds in solar policy debates. Another key trend in 2016 was the changing categories of policy action. More of the discussions focused on changing NEM policies or compensation rates, while there were fewer debates on broader distributed generation valuation or cost-benefit analyses. On the rate side of the debate, requests for fixed charges climbed, but the number of residential demand charge proposals fell. And both fees and rate design proposals found little success with regulators. Not one regulatory commission approved a mandatory residential demand charge, while 79% of fixed charge requests were reduced or rejected outright…” click here for more

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    NO QUICK NEWS

    Tuesday, August 15, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: Big Growth In Customer-Sited Wind

    2016 Distributed Wind Market Report

    Alice C Orrell, Nikolas F Foster, Scott L Morris, Juliet S Homer, August 2017 (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory/Battelle/U.S. Department Of Energy)

    Executive Summary

    From 2003 through 2016, a total of 992 MW in cumulative capacity from over 77,000 wind turbines was deployed in distributed applications across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands (USVI), and Guam. In 2016, 25 states and Guam added a combined 45.4 MW of new distributed wind capacity, representing 2,585 turbine units and $163 million in investment. Of the 45.4 MW, 43 MW is from turbines greater than 100 kW, and 2.4 MW is from small wind (turbines up through 100 kW). Rhode Island, Minnesota, and Massachusetts led the United States in new distributed wind power capacity in 2016.

    The 43 MW from turbines greater than 100 kW installed in distributed applications in 2016 represents $149 million in investment, an increase from 23.7 MW and $81 million in 2015. The increase was driven mainly by the installation of multiple large (greater than 1 MW) turbine projects, mostly installed behind the meter, or remote net metered, for industrial operations and municipalities.

    The 2.4 MW of small wind deployed in the United States in 2016 represents 2,560 units and more than $14 million in investment. This continued the downward trend of recent years and was the lowest small wind annual capacity addition recorded since this annual report was started in 2012. However, while overall capacity is down—driven by the decrease in sales of units sized from 11 kW to 100 kW —sales of units 10 kW and less increased from 2015.

    Since 2012, the number of small wind turbine manufacturers, both operating and participating in the U.S. market, has decreased. U.S. small wind manufacturers accounted for 98% of 2016 U.S. domestic small wind sales; non-U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers continue to have limited sales in the United States and typically focus on international markets. New York led the nation for small wind capacity deployment in 2016, accounting for 25% of documented small wind capacity for the year.

    As certification requirements are becoming increasingly common across the globe, small wind manufacturers continue to pursue the certification process for their turbine models. Certification is also consistent with industry and Department of Energy goals to promote the use of proven technology; raise its competitiveness; and increase consumer, government agency, and financial institution confidence and interest in distributed wind.

    Three new small wind turbine models were certified in 2016. A total of 15 different small wind turbine models are fully certified to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) Standard 9.1-2009 as of July 2017, whereas no turbine models were certified in 2010. Three medium wind turbine models have published power performance and acoustics certifications to International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) 61400-12-1 (power) and IEC 61400-11 (acoustics).

    In January 2016, United Wind, a distributed wind leasing company, announced that it had secured $200 million in project equity capital from Forum Equity Partners to expand its lease program. A year later, United Wind announced that it had purchased 100 Excel 10 Bergey WindPower wind turbines, the largest order ever—by number of units—for either company.

    In December 2016, One Energy Enterprises LLC secured $80 million in financing from Prudential Capital Group, signaling institutional capital acceptance of One Energy Enterprises’ approach to providing distributed wind to industrial and commercial customers.

    Other highlights of the report include:

    • U.S.-based small wind turbine manufacturers continued to favor U.S. supply chain vendors for most of their wind turbine components. Self-reported domestic content levels for 2016 ranged from 80% to 100%.

    • U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers continued to focus on international markets as a source of revenue. While exports doubled from 2014 to 2015, exports in 2016 were back to a level comparable with 2014 at 10.3 MW with an estimated value of $62 million from six manufacturers.

    • Reflecting the increase in sales of units 10 kW and less in size, an estimated 95% of turbine units in 2016 distributed wind applications were deployed to charge batteries or power off-grid sites such as remote homes, oil and gas operations, telecommunications facilities, boats, rural water or electricity supply, and military sites. However, grid-tied wind turbines accounted for nearly 99% of the annual distributed wind capacity (in terms of MW).

    • Based on small wind turbine manufacturers’ reports, the overall capacity-weighted average installed cost for small wind turbines sold in the United States in 2016 was $5,900/kW. After slightly declining the past three years, this cost metric has increased slightly from $5,760/kW in 2015.

    • Based on surveys of international government and industry publications, total global small wind installed cumulative capacity was estimated to be at least 1.4 GW in 2016.

    • The top three U.S. small wind turbine manufacturers, based on 2016 sales in terms of capacity (MWs of domestic sales and exports), in order were Northern Power Systems of Vermont, Xzeres Wind of Oregon, and Bergey WindPower of Oklahoma.

    • The combined value of federal, state, and utility incentives given for distributed wind projects in 2016 was $12.8 million (excluding repaid loans, the federal investment tax credit, and federal depreciation). This reflects a relatively modest increase from the $10.6 million of 2015 funding awards, while still being significantly lower than in the preceding years, when funding levels fluctuated between $100 million (2012), $15.4 million (2013), and $20.4 million (2014).

    • The overall number of wind turbine manufacturers supplying turbines for distributed wind projects has contracted significantly since 2012. In 2016, reported U.S. distributed wind projects encompassed 29 different wind turbine models ranging from 160 W to 2.3 MW from 17 manufacturers. This is comparable to 2015, during which U.S. distributed wind projects used 24 different wind turbine models ranging from 160 W to 2.85 MW from 15 manufacturers and suppliers, but a decline from the peak of 74 different turbine models from 30 manufacturers and suppliers in 2012.

    • For documented projects in 2016, residential and agricultural installations accounted for the majority of 2016 projects (34% and 29%, respectively), but only for 7% of the total distributed wind capacity installed in 2016. Institutional projects, mainly utilities and schools, accounted for 64% of the distributed wind capacity installed in 2016.

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    QUICK NEWS, August 15: New Forest To Offset Bad U.S. Climate Policies Has 120,000 Pledges; Wind Becoming The Go-To Power; 88,000 Jobs And The Fight Over Solars

    New Forest To Offset Bad U.S. Climate Policies Has 120,000 Pledges 'Donald Trump forest' climate change project gains momentum

    Matt McGrath, August 15, 2017 (BBC News)

    “A campaign to plant trees to compensate for the impact of President Trump's climate policies has 120,000 pledges…The project was started by campaigners upset at what they call the president's ‘ignorance’ on climate science…Trump Forest allows people either to plant locally or pay for trees in a number of poorer countries…The organisers say they need to plant an area the size of Kentucky to offset the Trump effect…Based in New Zealand, the project began in March this year and so far has gained pledges from around 450 people based all around the world. In the first month, 15,000 trees were pledged - that's now gone past 120,000…Some people have paid for trees to be planted in forest restoration projects in Madagascar, Haiti, Ethiopia, and Nepal. Others have simply bought and planted a tree themselves and sent a copy of the receipt to the project…” click here for more

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    Wind Becoming The Go-To Power Interactive Map Shows You How Wind Power Is Taking Over America

    August 14, 2017 (IFL Science)

    "…[A new tool maps] every utility-scale wind project and wind-related manufacturing facility in the United States…In 2016, [wind provided over 6 percent of all energy used in the country, after 30 years] of rapid growth…[The tool’s time-lapse feature traces that growth…California took the lead, establishing the earliest modern wind projects in the early 1980s. Since then, several other states have upped their game, including Iowa, Kansas, Texas, and South Dakota, who get as much as 20 percent of their energy from wind…[Wind] supports more than 100,000 jobs across 50 states and the Bureau of Labour puts wind turbine service technicians at the top of its fastest growing occupations list…” click here for more

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    88,000 Jobs And The Fight Over Solar Imports Why 88,000 American jobs in solar energy are at risk

    Charles Hernick, August 14, 2017 (The Hill)

    “…[An August 15] hearing will determine the fate of 88,000 American jobs…The U.S. International Trade Commission must decide whether an influx of lower-cost solar panels, mostly produced in Asian countries, has an excessively harmful effect on domestic manufacturers that make comparable solar cells…[The outcome will have an immediate jobs impact and] set a precedent for how similar cases will be handled…The case was brought by Suniva and SolarWorld, which together employ a little over a thousand workers. [They] claim there are too many imported solar panels that are too cheap…The commission will assess whether there has been injury done and whether it was a direct result of the inexpensive imports, and it will then make a formal recommendation to the president if it has determined that a trade remedy — a tariff increase — is appropriate. The tariff the two companies have requested on imported cells would effectively double their cost, which would obviously be a disaster for the broader solar industry…” click here for more

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    Monday, August 14, 2017

    TODAY’S STUDY: The Work On Tomorrow’s Grid So Far

    50 States of Grid Modernization; Q2 2017 Quarterly Report

    Autumn Proudlove Brian Lips David Sarkisian Achyut Shrestha, August 3, 2017 (North Carolina Clean Energy Technology Center)

    Executive Summary

    What Is Grid Modernization?

    Grid modernization is a broad term, lacking a universally accepted definition. In this report, the authors use the term grid modernization broadly to refer to actions making the electricity system more resilient, responsive, and interactive. Specifically, in this report grid modernization includes legislative and regulatory actions addressing: (1) smart grid and advanced metering infrastructure, (2) utility business model reform, (3) regulatory reform, (4) utility rate reform, (5) energy storage, (6) microgrids, and (7) demand response.

    Purpose

    The purpose of this report is to provide state lawmakers and regulators, electric utilities, the advanced energy industry, and other energy stakeholders with timely, accurate, and unbiased updates about how states are choosing to study, adopt, implement, amend, or discontinue policies associated with grid modernization. This report catalogues proposed and enacted legislative, regulatory, and rate design changes affecting grid modernization during the most recent quarter. The 50 States of Grid Modernization report series provides regular quarterly updates of grid modernization policy developments, keeping stakeholders informed and up to date.

    Approach

    The authors identified relevant policy changes and deployment proposals through state utility commission docket searches, legislative bill searches, popular press, and direct communications with stakeholders and regulators in the industry.

    Questions Addressed

    This report addresses several questions about the changing U.S. electric grid: • How are states adjusting traditional utility planning processes to better allow for consideration of advanced grid technologies? • What changes are being made to state regulations and wholesale market rules to allow market access for distributed energy resources? • How are states and utilities reforming the traditional utility business model and rate designs? • What policy actions are states taking to grow markets for energy storage and other advanced grid technologies? • Where and how are states and utilities proposing deployment of advanced grid technologies, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response programs?

    Actions Included

    This report focuses on cataloguing and describing important proposed and adopted policy changes related to grid modernization and distributed energy resources, excluding policies specifically intended to support only solar technologies. While some areas of overlap exist, actions related to distributed solar policy and rate design are tracked separately in the 50 States of Solar report series, and are generally not included in this report. In general, this report considers an “action” to be a relevant (1) legislative bill that has been introduced or (2) a regulatory docket, utility rate case, or rulemaking proceeding. Only statewide actions and those related to investor-owned utilities are included in this report.

    Specifically, actions tracked in this issue include:

    Studies and Investigations

    Legislative or regulatory-led efforts to study energy storage, grid modernization, utility business model reform, or alternative rate designs, e.g., through a regulatory docket or a cost-benefit analysis.

    Planning and Market Access

    Changes to utility planning processes, including integrated resource planning, distribution system planning, and evaluation of non-wires alternatives, as well as changes to state and wholesale market regulations enabling market access.

    Utility Business Model and Rate Reform

    Proposed or adopted changes to utility regulation and rate design, including performance based ratemaking, decoupling, time-varying rates, and residential demand charges. Time-varying rate and residential demand charge proposals are only documented if they are being implemented statewide, the default option for all residential customers of an investorowned utility, or a notable pilot program intended to soon become a default option. Actions related to inclining or declining block rates are not included in this report.

    Grid Modernization Policies

    New state policy proposals or changes to existing policies related to grid modernization, including energy storage targets, interconnection standards, and energy storage compensation policies.

    Financial Incentives for Energy Storage and Advanced Grid Technologies

    New statewide incentives or changes to existing incentives for energy storage, microgrids, and other advanced grid technologies.

    Deployment of Advanced Grid Technologies

    Utility-initiated requests, as well as proposed legislation, to implement demand response programs or to deploy advanced metering infrastructure, smart grid technologies, microgrids, or energy storage.

    Actions Excluded

    This report excludes utility proposals for grid investments that do not include any specific grid modernization component, as outlined above, as well as projects that have already received legislative or regulatory approval. Actions related exclusively to pumped hydroelectric storage or electric vehicles are not covered by this report. While actions taken by municipal utilities and electric cooperatives are not comprehensively tracked in this report, particularly noteworthy or high-impact actions will be covered. The report also excludes changes to policies and rate design for distributed generation customers; these changes are covered in the 50 States of Solar quarterly report.

    Q2 2017 Grid Modernization Action

    In the second quarter of 2017, 36 states plus DC took a total of 181 policy and deployment actions related to grid modernization, utility business model and rate reform, energy storage, microgrids, and demand response. Table 1 provides a summary of state and utility actions on these topics. Of the 181 actions catalogued, the most common were related to deployment (40), followed by policies (38), and studies and investigations (29).

    Top 5 Grid Modernization Developments Of Q2 2017

    Five of the quarter’s top policy developments are highlighted below.

    Massachusetts DOER Adopts 200 MWh Energy Storage Target

    In June 2017, following the completion of a detailed energy storage study, the Massachusetts Department of Energy Resources adopted a mandatory energy storage target of 200 MWh to be met by January 2020. Pending legislation calls for the Department to establish a subsequent target to be reached by January 2025 and 2030. Massachusetts is the third state to adopt a formal energy storage target.

    Nevada Enacts Suite of Energy Storage and Grid Modernization Bills

    In Q2 2017, Nevada’s Governor signed multiple bills relating to energy storage and grid modernization into law. The enacted legislation includes an energy storage study, a potential energy storage target, an energy storage rebate program, and amendments to the integrated resource planning process.

    Vermont Launches Grid Modernization Proceeding

    Vermont became the latest state to initiate a grid modernization proceeding, with the Public Utility Commission (formerly the Public Service Board) opening a docket in June 2017. The Commission is looking to reexamine the state’s regulatory structure in response to recent transformations in technology, state policy, and more.

    Maryland and North Carolina Initiate Energy Storage Studies

    In June 2017, the North Carolina state legislature passed H.B. 589, a broad solar policy reform bill which also includes a directive for the North Carolina Policy Collaboratory to conduct an energy storage study upon raising $75,000 in non-state matching funds. In late July, Governor Cooper signed H.B. 589 into law. The Maryland legislature also initiated an energy storage study with the signing of H.B. 773 in May. Maryland’s study will examine regulatory reforms and market incentives to encourage storage deployment.

    Hawaii Utilities File Revised Grid Modernization Plan

    In late June 2017, Hawaii’s investor-owned utilities submitted their revised grid modernization plan, after the Public Utilities Commission rejected the utilities’ original plan in January 2017. The new plan comes in at about $205 million, as opposed to the $340 million estimated for the original plan. The new plan includes a near-term (2018-2023) Grid Modernization Roadmap, which focuses on mitigating current service quality issues to allow for greater adoption of distributed energy resources.

    Most Active States And Subtopics Of Q2 2017

    The ten states taking the greatest number of actions related to grid modernization in Q2 2017 can be seen in Figure 2. New York and Massachusetts saw the most action during the quarter with 25 and 16 actions, respectively. The most common types of actions across the country were advanced metering infrastructure deployment (19 actions), smart grid deployment (13), and grid modernization investigations (13)…

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