This was a record-breaking year for rooftop solar power. It’s booming across the country. But as more homeowners make their own power, electric utilities are making less money and that’s shaking up their business model. Utilities in two states — California and Georgia — are handling the growth of solar in dramatically different ways.
The company that lets you compare air fares and translate foreign languages online wants to make it easier to weigh the costs and benefits of installing solar panels on household rooftops. Google is rolling out a new online service that quickly tallies up considerations of going solar and whether homeowners should consider buying or leasing photovoltaic panels costing thousands of dollars. Google’s Project Sunroof combines the eye-in-the-sky images behind Google Earth with calculations on how much shade trees cast over a rooftop, data on local weather patterns, industry pricing and available subsidies to arrive at its bottom line.
With no discussion, state regulators today voted unanimously to slash the value of credits rooftop solar customers earn for generating excess energy. The three-member Public Utilities Commission adopted a proposed order that would reduce by 75 percent the amount NV Energy pays customers for excess power their solar panels produce and change the flat service rate for customers with solar panels. The changes in so-called net metering policies would phase in over four years, starting Jan. 1.
Twenty-nine states and the District of Columbia have requirements that utilities get a certain amount of their electricity from renewable sources. Nine additional states have goals for renewable energy, while a dozen others have no targets. A state-by-state look at renewable energy policies.
All the lawsuits taking aim against the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan have been filed. Now the action begins. The case against U.S. EPA’s rule to curb greenhouse gases from power plants is shaping up as one of the biggest environmental law battles of all time. Nearly 150 opponents — including 27 states, industries and labor groups — rushed to attack the rule with more than 50 separate lawsuits that will all be linked at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. On the opposite side, 18 states, cities, greens and industry groups have jumped in to defend the agency’s signature climate rule.
SolarCity said last week it will stop selling and installing rooftop solar panels in Nevada after energy regulators decided to change the way solar customers are charged for utility service.
SolarCity Corp. issued a statement saying the Nevada Public Utilities Commission”effectively shut down” the rooftop solar industry with Tuesday’s decision, which is expected to raise rates over a five-year period for so-called net metering customers. That includes about 17,000 Nevada customers with solar panels who sell excess energy from their solar systems to NV Energy.
Mr. Stillings’s primary goal as an artist was to put forth a vision of the way things might improve, with clean energy technology, ingenuity and collective action. Given how much information exists about the potential for cataclysm, he wanted to focus on positive change. “I have a lot of concerns,” he said. “I would like to not think I am going to leave a legacy for my children, and other people’s children, that is fraught with danger and with unintended consequences of our selfishness, our greed and our neglect.”
The year 2015 was a strong one for renewables, but maybe more so for none other than the world’s offshore wind industry. “It has taken the offshore wind industry just six months to set the best year the sector has ever seen in terms of installed capacity,” said Kristian Ruby, Chief Policy Officer, EWEA. “While this clearly shows a commitment to offshore wind development in Europe, a number of completed projects, explosive growth in Germany and the use of higher capacity wind turbines are major contributors to these numbers.”
A Spanish renewable energy developer is trying to save a proposed utility-scale solar power project in California that has been in the works for nearly a decade but is threatened by the company’s pending bankruptcy. Abengoa Solar late yesterday filed a petition with the California Energy Commission (CEC) seeking more time to transfer ownership of the proposed 500-megawatt Palen Solar Electric Generating System project to a subsidiary of San Diego-based EDF Renewable Energy Inc.
A court fight now seems likely after Illinois regulators declined to reconsider approval of a high-voltage transmission line that would cross portions of nine central Illinois counties. The Illinois Commerce Commission filed notice last week rejecting appeals from a group of landowners for another round of hearings on the proposed Grain Belt Express power line. Commissioners initially approved the Illinois section of the project on a 3-2 vote in November. The $2 billion project would carry power from a Kansas wind farm across Missouri and Illinois to Indiana. Illinois, Kansas and Indiana regulators have approved Grain Belt Express, while the project was rejected in Missouri.