Senate, House panels probe solar firms

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2016

The companies receiving the letters were SunEdison Inc., Abengoa SA, NextEra Energy Inc., NRG Energy Inc., SolarCity Corp., Sunrun Inc. and Sungevity Inc. They are a sample of firms under committee investigation, sources said. The Senate Finance Committee has been examining billions of dollars in green energy incentives — including the 1603 program and investment tax credits — out of concerns that the Treasury Department and IRS lack adequate controls over cash distributions.

House bill would extend investment tax credits

Source: Emily Yehle, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2016

A new bill from Rep. Jim Langevin (D-R.I.) would extend the investment tax credits for offshore wind until 2026. The bill is a companion to S. 3036, which Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) introduced in June. Both bills aim to extend the tax credit beyond its current expiration in 2019. In a statement, Langevin said that deadline is too soon, making it unlikely that any additional wind projects will qualify before the cutoff.

Experts ponder whether Supreme Court will have ultimate say

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2016

“The D.C. decision is very consequential. I’m not all convinced that the Supreme Court will take it up,” Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt (R) said yesterday at a Washington, D.C., event hosted by the conservative Federalist Society. But if the high court does take up the Clean Power Plan, attorneys are mining past cases for hints as to where the justices will fall. Both sides have found prior decisions that they think the justices can lean on in deciding the case.

Watch videos capture power of wind farms, technological advancement

Source: By David Ward, AWEA Blog • Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2016

A wave of new videos shared over the last month do a great job of capturing the power of U.S. wind farms and how wind turbine technology continues to evolve. American wind power has more than tripled since 2008, supplying over five percent of U.S. electricity today. That growth has been largely due to performance-based tax policy (Production Tax Credit) and American workers advancing turbine technology.

More than 80% of Americans support U.S. climate goals

Source: Benjamin Hulac, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 16th, 2016

A strong majority of Americans think the United States should meet its obligations under the Paris climate agreement, though they doubt nations abroad will uphold their end of the bargain, according to an Associated Press and University of Chicago poll released today. The survey found that 80 percent of Americans want the United States to try to cut its emissions, as the deal requires, even if foreign nations, such as India and China, do not.

Solar, wind developers: U.S. desert plan hurts renewable energy

Source: By Nichola Groom, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The United States on Wednesday unveiled a long-awaited plan for desert renewable energy development that the solar and wind industries said unfairly favors land conservation and severely limits the ability to build projects critical to meeting the nation’s climate goals. The Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan, eight years in the making, was designed to streamline development of wind and solar projects on federal and private lands in California while preserving pristine desert habitats.

Solar Rooftop Revolution Fizzles in U.S. on Utility Pushback

Source: By Brian Eckhouse, Bloomberg • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Rooftop solar, which has surged more than 1,000 percent since 2010, will barely grow at all next year. Residential installations are expected to increase by 21 percent this year, but in 2017 the figure will inch upward by about 0.3 percent. The change comes as utilities push back against mandates to buy the electricity and shifting tax policies curb demand. Throw in sliding electricity rates and it’s clear the economic benefits of rooftop panels are no longer so obvious to consumers.

Interior finalizes massive Calif. desert management plan

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The Obama administration has finalized a plan designed to guide commercial-scale wind, solar and geothermal power development across millions of acres of Southern California desert. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today announced that her department has issued a record of decision (ROD) approving the proposal and three land-use plan amendments covering 10.8 million federal acres as part of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).

The government just decided the future of California’s desert, and solar companies aren’t happy

Source: By Chris Mooney, Washington Post • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

But the solar and wind industries, which had strongly criticized a prior version of the plan for cutting off development opportunities, expressed strong disappointment Wednesday. In a statement, Shannon Eddy, the executive director of the Large-Scale Solar Association, charged the plan “is a Model T in a Tesla world. Rather than fostering sustainable clean energy development as a part of a conservation plan, it severely restricts wind and solar.”

Plan Divvies Up Desert for Conservation, Energy Projects

Source: BY ALICIA CHANG, The Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Swaths of public land in the California desert will be opened to solar and wind farms under a federal plan released Wednesday that preserves much of the landscape for conservation and recreation. The long-awaited blueprint finalized by the U.S. Interior Department after a yearslong process seeks to balance renewable energy development and species protection on 17,000 square miles (44,030 sq. kilometers) of desert managed by the federal government.