What’s in a ‘subsidy’? Fla. may soon find out

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, January 15th, 2016

A utility-backed constitutional amendment for rooftop solar is just 75,000 signatures away from the threshold it needs to go before Florida voters in November. But if there’s any new policy to expand Florida’s rooftop solar market, then taxes, fees or a redesign of customer rates are certain to follow.

Reports: Ohio energy standard costs lower than previously thought

Source: By Kathiann M. Kowalski, Midwest Energy News • Posted: Friday, January 15th, 2016

As Ohio lawmakers continue to debate the state’s renewable energy standards, a pair of recent reports show the costs of complying with the laws are significantly lower than previously thought. The Public Utilities Commission of Ohio (PUCO) issued its final alternative energy compliance report for the year 2013 last week on the same day that the Department of Energy announced new reports showing that renewable energy standards produced nationwide benefits worth more than seven times their costs in 2013.

Obama Administration Will Announce Halt on New Coal Leases

Source: BY KEVIN FREKING, ASSOCIATED PRESS • Posted: Friday, January 15th, 2016

The Obama administration will announce a moratorium Friday on any major new coal leases on federal lands until it completes a comprehensive review of whether the fees charged to mining companies provide a fair return to American taxpayers and reflect coal’s impact on the environment. An administration official says companies will continue to be able to mine the coal reserves already under lease. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the plan hasn’t yet been formally announced. Roughly 40 percent of the coal produced in the United States comes from federal lands. The vast majority of that mining takes place in Wyoming, Montana, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico. It’s unclear what impact the moratorium will have on many coal companies given the declining domestic demand for coal and the closure of numerous coal-fired power plants around the country.

As Oil Crashed, Renewables Attracted Record $329 Billion

Source: By Jessica Shankleman, Bloomberg News • Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

$329.3 billion of investment last year. The 4 percent increase in clean energy technology spending from 2014 reflected tumbling prices for photovoltaics and wind turbines as well as a few big financings for offshore wind farms on the drawing board for years, according to research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance released on Thursday.

President May Have Exaggerated Role of Stimulus in Clean Energy, Experts Say

Source: By CORAL DAVENPORT and DIANE CARDWELL, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

President Obama, in his final State of the Union address on Tuesday night, boldly proclaimed the successes of what he called “the single biggest investment in clean energy in our history,” the 2009 economic stimulus that pumped $80 billion into clean and renewable energy projects. In fields from Iowa to Texas, wind power is now cheaper than dirtier, conventional power,” he said. “On rooftops from Arizona to New York, solar is saving Americans tens of millions of dollars a year on their energy bills and employs more Americans than coal — in jobs that pay better than average.” He added that “we’ve cut our imports of foreign oil by nearly 60 percent and cut carbon pollution more than any other country on Earth.”

Analysis calls rule ‘very achievable’

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

A new study analyzing different compliance scenarios for U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan calls the new rule “very achievable.” The analysis by M.J. Bradley & Associates, an environmental consulting firm, also found the United States could sustain a diverse energy mix under the program, which compels states to lower carbon dioxide emissions from power plants. The analysis also found that having states or companies trade emissions credits or allowances can “significantly” help them reduce the costs associated with the Clean Power Plan.

African Sunshine Can Now Be Bought and Sold on the Bond Market

Source: By Anna Hirtenstein, Bloomberg News • Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Africa’s off-grid solar industry has been turned into an asset class for the first time, bundling contracts for thousands of the sun-powered rooftop electricity systems to sell as bonds. “I worked in commercial banking in the U.S. for several years and was involved in the securitization of residential solar, specifically SolarCity,” said David ten Kroode, renewable energy manager at Oikocredit, which is based in Amersfoort, Netherlands. “We thought it was an interesting model that could be replicated in Africa.”

Fla. solar proponents wrestle utility ‘poison pills’

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 14th, 2016

The future of Florida’s rooftop solar market remains murky despite continued optimism from clean energy advocates who have been fighting for years to strengthen it. There was clear evidence of the tug of war yesterday as backers of a proposed constitutional amendment to create a market for rooftop solar announced they are targeting the 2018 ballot instead of 2016. For now, Floridians for Solar Choice will put all of its money and political muscle behind killing a utility-backed solar proposal — also slated for voters — that needs to clear the Florida Supreme Court.

Solar energy jobs double in 5 years

Source: By Patrick Gillespie, CNN • Posted: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

The number of solar jobs in the U.S. has more than doubled in five years. In fact, there are more people working in solar now than at oil rigs and in gas fields. The solar industry added 35,000 jobs in 2015, up 20% from the previous year, according to the Solar Foundation, a nonprofit in Washington D.C.. The group is not funded by solar companies. In contrast, oil and gas firms slashed nearly 17,000 extraction jobs in 2015 as energy prices continue to plummet. Oil prices are down a stunning 70% in the last 18 months and hovering just over $30 a barrel, a 12-year low.

Calif. holding ‘very preliminary’ carbon market talks with N.Y.

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, January 13th, 2016

California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols yesterday said her state is in “very preliminary” talks with New York to explore the possibility of linking carbon markets. The idea of linking California’s cap-and-trade system with New York’s was first proposed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) late last year. He envisioned a “broader North American market to collectively reduce harmful emissions”