Two new studies make the case that rooftop solar can be a net benefit to ratepayers, despite concerns from some utilities that say it hurts their business model. The papers are the latest volleys in a raging fight about the economic impacts of rooftop solar and other distributed resources like energy efficiency.
It’s tough to argue with free. That’s why the no-money-down solar lease became the most popular choice for U.S. rooftop power. Now, though, the equation is changing. Falling costs are making it easier for consumers to buy solar systems outright, and banks and solar installers are promoting loans with no upfront payments. That’s a threat to companies such as SolarCity Corp., Sunrun Inc. and Vivint Solar Inc., which built their businesses on people signing decades-long contracts.
The power industry upheaval is playing out in more than a dozen states that deregulated their electricity markets, opening their borders to competition, over the past two decades. In those locations, owners of aging generators are particularly vulnerable as the average wholesale power price has dropped by about half since 2008. In response, electricity providers in places like Ohio and New York are asking for millions of dollars to keep their units running.
Riding high on last year’s congressional extension of the production tax credit, the U.S. wind energy sector must now focus on reducing costs to remain competitive with other fuels like natural gas and solar, industry leaders told a national meeting of wind power officials gathered here this week. In an address marking its achievements but also cautioning against complacency, Chris Brown, the president of Vestas Americas and incoming board chairman of the American Wind Energy Association, challenged his colleagues to “bend the arc of human history” by making wind energy the “obvious choice” to meet rising U.S. electricity demand after 2020.
Earlier yesterday, Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking member Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) signaled she’s not ready to support going to conference. “I’m not going to conference on this as is without some discussion,” she told E&E Daily, citing the multiple veto threats against various House-passed bills that were folded into the bill last weekend
The House is on track to pass a $37.4 billion fiscal 2017 energy and water spending bill today, after adding contentious riders aimed at limiting the U.S.-Iran nuclear deal and addressing rights for LGBT individuals.
WINDPOWER 2016 is off to a hopeful start. WINDPOWER 2016 kicked off yesterday with high hopes and strong optimism, as a host of industry leaders highlighted U.S. wind’s successes over the past year and great future potential.
Following the multi-year PTC extension passed by Congress last year, the American wind industry scored another huge win this month when the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) issued updated guidance on what developers must do to qualify projects for the tax credit. Previously, as long as developers entered physical construction or “safe-harboured” a project by investing 5% of the budget in a year in which the PTC was live, they then had two years to bring it to completion while still qualifying for the tax credit.
China holds the record as the world’s top wind installer, accounting for about a third of the total global installed wind capacity. The United States trails in second place, accounting for just more than 17 percent. But despite its higher total capacity, China still isn’t putting out as much wind-generated electricity as the United States. In other words, it has built the technology, but it just is not able to use it to the max.
The aughts were an inconvenient time for environmentalism. President George W. Bush declared the Kyoto Protocol, the first international treaty meant to address climate change, dead. Environmentalists charged widespread political interference in climate change science conducted at federal agencies. Most people had not heard of global warming. Then former Vice President Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” landed with a thud on the public’s consciousness. It grossed $24 million, won two Academy Awards and earned Gore the Nobel Peace Prize.