RES Americas’ Keechi Wind Project Online

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 8.00.25 AMThe Keechi Wind Project in Jack County, Texas is now producing wind power. The 110 MW project was completed by RES Americas and consists of 55 Vestas V100-2.0 MW turbines. The Keechi Wind Project will deliver electricity into the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, Inc. (ERCOT) market, under a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Microsoft Corporation.

“The successful completion of the Keechi wind project included RES Americas self-performing the installation of 55 wind turbines,” said Andrew Fowler, chief operating officer of RES Americas. “It was also extremely important to us to work closely with the local community in sourcing labor and materials to construct the project.”

Keechi Wind was developed by RES Americas and constructed under a fixed-price, engineering, procurement, and construction agreement and was RES Americas’ first project in which it self-performed the turbine installation. The project, which is owned by Enbridge, connects to Brazos Electric’s Joplin substation via a 12-mile generation tie line. Vestas will provide turbine operations and maintenance services for the first five years of the project.

FPL to Power Miami ePrix

Florida Power & Light Company (FPL) will be powering the electric vehicles (EVs) racing for first place with solar power. The inaugural event will take place in downtown Miami on March 14, 2015. Formula E is a new FIA single-seater championship and the first fully-electric race car series. It kicked off in Bejing last September and ends this June featuring 10 teams, each with two drivers, racing on city streets. The racing series was developed to showcase R&D and excitement around EVs and the Miami ePrix marks the first U.S. appearance of the series.

“Our partnership with Formula E and the Miami ePrix is another example of our commitment to advancing zero-emissions solar energy and the use of electric vehicles in Florida,” said Eric Silagy, president and CEO of FPL. “By the end of 2016 we Formula E racing series in Buenos Aireswill triple the energy we are able to produce from the sun, furthering our mission to provide low-cost, reliable and clean energy to our 4.7 million customers.”

“It’s an honor for us to have been selected as one of the 10 founding Formula E teams for the inaugural season,” said Michael Andretti, chairman and CEO of Andretti Sports Marketing who participated in the announcement. “I look forward to bringing this exciting series to North America and joining an impressive field of competitors at the upcoming race in Miami.”

During the announcement, electric race cars were charged with power generated from the Martin Next Generation Solar Energy Center, one of three solar power plants operated by FPL. Earlier this year, FPL announced plans to install more than 1 million solar panels at three additional solar power plants by the end of 2016. When combined with other community projects, FPL will triple its solar capacity, which currently totals approximately 110 megawatts.

“The Formula E Miami ePrix is all about sharing our passion for electric vehicles,” added Alejandro Agag, CEO of Formula E Holdings. “The race series is exciting, it’s entertaining, and we hope it will turn the world’s attention to the potential electric vehicles have to change the way we power transportation. We are pleased to partner with FPL – a company that shares our vision for powering the future with affordable, clean energy.”

Solar Plant Opens in Northern Cape Province

Abengoa and state-owned financier, the Industrial Development Corporation (IDC), together with KaXu Community Trust have launched a 100 MW solar plant – KaXu Solar One – near the town of Pofadder (Northern Cape Province). The new solar facility will power 80,000 homes in South Africa. The Department of Energy of South Africa awarded Abengoa the project. The power will be sold to the utility Eskom under a 20-year power purchase agreement.

Representatives of the South African government, IDC and Abengoa during the grand opening of Kaxu Solar One.

Representatives of the South African government, IDC and Abengoa during the grand opening of Kaxu Solar One.

Minister of Economic Development, Mr Ebrahim Patel, officially inaugurated the solar power plant. He was accompanied by Deputy Minister of Public Enterprises, Mr. Bulelani Magwanishe, Premier of the Northern Cape, Silvia Lucas, executives of Abengoa and IDC and representatives of the local community.

Manuel Sanchez Ortega, Vice President and CEO of Abengoa, said of the project, “We are proud of the role we are playing to help South Africa meet its ongoing energy demands. This project will leave a legacy that will benefit the community of Pofadder, Northern Cape and the entire country. This would not have been possible without the leadership of the South African Department of Energy.”

KaXu Solar One, the first Solar Thermal Electricity (STE) power plant in South Africa, incorporates a storage system that enables production of 100 MW for 2.5 hours after sunset or before dawn. The project will result in approximately USD 891 million direct and indirect investment inflows to South Africa, generate approximately USD 516 million in taxes over the next 20 years.

Fadiel Farao, the Chairperson of the KaXu Community Trust, said KaXu Solar One will be a catalyst for economic development in the Khai Ma municipality in the Northern Cape. “The project has stimulated the local economy and will go a long way toward helping to generate much-needed economic opportunities for people in this area.” KaXu Community Trust is comprised of members of the local community.

Abengoa is building in the region Khi Solar One, a 50MW solar plant using tower technology and has already started the construction of a third project, Xina Solar One, a 100 MW parabolic trough plant. Xina Solar One will shape with KaXu Solar One the largest solar platform in sub-Saharan Africa.

KenGen Commissions Geothermal Plant in Kenya

Kenya continues to rise as one of the leading countries tapping into geothermal energy. The Kenya Electricity Generating Company (KenGen) has inaugurated the 140 MW Oklaria 1 power plant, the last phase of the 280 MW geothermal facility. KenGen believes the additional electricity produced will help further stabilize volatile electricity costs throughout the country.

H.E PresideKenGen logont Paul Kagame of the Republic of Rwanda presided over the geothermal plant commissioning event accompanied by his host H.E President Kenyatta.

According to KenGen, who says the plant has been supplying power to the national grid since December 2014, the Fuel Cost Component (FCC), the single biggest item on the bills, fell to to a low of KShs/kWh 2.51 in February 2015. This represents a 65 percent drop in the FCC. As a result, it has led to a decline in the overall cost of power to consumers. The addition of geothermal power has also helped to mitigate dependence on hydro power; in recent months, Kenya has had no rainfall and as a result, there has been below average inflow of water into hydro dams.

“KenGen is proud to be on the lead in moving the country towards self sufficiency of reliable and affordable and renewable source of energy, which is also available almost 24/7,” said Managing Director and CEO Eng. Albert Mugo.

Today, KenGen is adding 1575 MW of power geothermal power to the national grid, surpassing hydro for the fourth month in a row. At U.S. 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour,  geothermal energy is among the cheapest renewable sources of electricity in the country and the world.

“The country has not experienced power rationing despite low water levels in the hydro generation dams on the Tana Cascade. “This is because the 280 MW project has helped to bridge the power deficit,” concluded Mugo.

W. Virginia Gov – Don’t Put Solar in the Dark

Solar supporters from across the country are calling on West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin to veto House Bill 2201 – a bill that could jeopardize the future of rooftop solar in the state by rewriting net metering policies.

Solar advocates from Tell Utilities Solar Won’t Be Killed (TUSK) claim that utilities, such as American Electomblinheadshottric Power (AEP) and FirstEnergy, are deceiving legislators about the language in HB 2201. Should the Gov sign the bill, TUSK said he would “saddle” hundreds of West Virginia families, churches and businesses, that have invested private funds in rooftop solar with new fees. This is happening, said TUSK, at the same time as two utilities – Mon Power and Potomac Edison – are raising rates.

“The utilities are fighting tooth and nail to eliminate competition while also raising rates for their customers,” said Barry Goldwater Jr., spokesperson for TUSK. “When will it be enough? These monopolies are hurting consumers and West Virginia’s economy by increasing rates and pushing new fees through HB 2201.”

TUSK logoThe net metering fight has been underway for some time and TUSK said that to date, hundreds of consumers have written to their legislators in support of rooftop solar.  TUSK said this particular “attack” uses deceptive language in HB 2201 to impose punitive fees – retroactively and going forward – on West Virginians. The organizations said thousands of West Virginia voters continue to stand strong for choice and competition in the energy market and continue to flood the Governor’s office with letters asking him to preserve net metering and energy choice..

“SEIA doesn’t object to investigating the costs and benefits of net energy metering, but we do object to the assumption that any potential cost shift from a net metering customer to other customers is unjustified,” adds Rhone Resch, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) president and CEO, who notes that the legislation needs to be revised before becoming law. Continue reading

Sungevity Launches Solar Program in NC

Sungevity has launched a new solution for homeowners to own their own rooftop solar systems in North Carolina. Whereas in other states solar leasing is an option, North Carolina law requires homeowners to own the source of renewable energy on their property.

In an effort to equip North Carolina residents with the ease and affordability of the Sungevity solar experience, the company has partnered with solar energy investment platform Mosaic to create a loan product specifically designed for state residents. The 20-year loan is structured to help residents take advantage of both the 35 percent state income tax credit and the 30 percent federal renewable tax credit for solar customers. The entire process is facilitated via Sungevity’s online platform, where North Carolina homeowners can access estimated energy savings specific to their homes via the company’s proprietary iQuote technology.

Screen Shot 2015-02-23 at 1.36.28 PM“Sungevity has always focused on making the solar experience simple and satisfying for our customers. That’s why we crafted a solution that allows North Carolina homeowners to experience the benefits of solar without the hassle or a high upfront payment,” said Andrew Birch, Sungevity’s chief executive officer. “Sungevity is proud to serve North Carolina as we continue to expand across the country to give more people a better choice in how they power their homes.”

According to Sungevity, its entry into the state also extends the company’s long-time partnership with North Carolina-based Lowe’s — where Sungevity solar solutions will be available to residents throughout Raleigh, Durham and Chapel Hill. Sungevity is also partnering with Sierra Club and CREDO in North Carolina, and for every installation purchased through these partners, Sungevity will also provide $750 to the respective organization as part of Sungevity.org, the company’s cause marketing initiative.

Sun Edison & GRID Alternatives “RISE”

SunEdison and its SunEdison Foundation has announced a $5 million solar/funding contribution to GRID Alternatives to launch a two-year initiative called RISE to connect the solar industry’s demand for skilled workers with communities that need jobs. Building on the successful 2014 SunEdison and GRID Alternatives partnership to bring more women into the solar industry, the RISE initiative will provide underserved communities with solar job training and job placement through GRID Alternatives’ workforce development program.

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce major solar workforce initiative called RISE. SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation contribute $5 million to train women and members of underserved communities for jobs in the solar industry. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison, Inc.)

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives announce major solar workforce initiative called RISE. SunEdison and the SunEdison Foundation contribute $5 million to train women and members of underserved communities for jobs in the solar industry. (PRNewsFoto/SunEdison, Inc.)

This partnership is making solar more accessible for everyone in America. For lower income families, that means lower electricity bills, more money for necessities, and the opportunity to receive valuable job training,” said Ahmad Chatila, president and chief executive officer of SunEdison. “I’m very proud that with this contribution, SunEdison is truly helping the people who need it most.”

The RISE initiative will provide hands-on training and real-world solar installation experience to over 4,000 people across the country. In addition, the initiative will connect job trainees with solar companies looking for skilled workers. As part of the initiative, GRID Alternatives through its SolarCorps program will provide 40 individuals with one-year paid fellowships in GRID Alternatives’ offices around the country. In addition, SunEdison employees will donate over 2,000 hours of their time installing solar systems for low-income families and supporting job-readiness for trainees.

“The solar industry is adding jobs at a rate of more than 20% year over year,” added Erica Mackie, co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of GRID Alternatives. “This is an incredible opportunity to connect an industry that needs good people with people that need good jobs, and that’s just what this partnership is doing.”

SunEdison and GRID Alternatives will also be working with the White House to help President Obama meet his goal of installing 100 megawatts of solar capacity on federally assisted housing in a way that provides job training opportunities to the residents of those communities.

Report: Offshore Wind Policy Not Working

According to a new report fueled by concerns that the Cape Wind project may never see fruition, U.S. offshore wind policy is not working. “In Up in the Air: What the Northeast States Should Do Together on Offshore Wind, Before It’s Too Late,” published by Clean Energy Group (CEG) and Navigant Consulting, tells the story of how the Cape Wind project is struggling against a decade of opposition. The report concludes the project’s difficulties highlight a larger policy problem—it is almost impossible for a single state to jump start the entire U.S. offshore wind industry.

Up in the AirThe report recommends a multi-state collaboration among states to create stronger and consistent regional policies, financing actions and permitting across the Northeast states.

“Cape Wind was a battle of the wallets, and the fossil fuel wallet evidently won,” said Lewis Milford, president of Clean Energy Group and the lead author of the report. “But there is a larger and more important story behind this controversy. If Northeast states want to reduce the costs of these projects and create offshore wind jobs, they must develop clear and consistent policies across the region, to give developers good reason to build projects here. If they don’t act together soon, they will lose this clean energy resource for decades to come, which will be bad for the economy and the environment.”

The paper recommends the states consider seven multi-state policy areas for regional action.

  1. Regional Offshore Wind Target. The establishment of a practical regional target (or target range) for offshore wind capacity would produce meaningful economic development and environmental benefits by creating a clear demand signal to developers.
  2. Coordinated Policy Incentives. Individual state policy drivers, including any incentives for developers, should be consistent across the region to drive demand and produce cost reductions over time through scale up of the offshore wind resource.
  3. Financing. States should develop new, regional financing mechanisms for regional and single projects, including use of bonds and green bank financing.
  4. Procurement. States should jointly procure power from one or more large offshore wind projects to reduce costs and create a reliable pipeline of demand for project developers.
  5. Economic Development. Coordinated, multi-state, economic development strategies rather than purely competitive action would spur economic development activity in the region through the creation of clean energy jobs and potentially new manufacturing facilities.
  6. Transmission. States should develop joint public funding of regional transmission and interconnection facilities associated with regional projects.
  7. Permitting. It is essential to the success of the multi-state projects that the policies ultimately adopted for permitting these facilities be standardized.

Continue reading

First Solar, Apple Strike Bright Power Deal

A bright power deal was struck this week when Apple committed $848 million to purchase clean energy from First Solar’s California Flats Solar Project in Monterey County, Calif. Apple will receive electricity from 130 MW AC of the solar project under a 25-year power First Solar logopurchase agreement (PPA), the largest agreement in the industry to provide clean energy to a commercial end user according to First Solar.

“Apple is leading the way in addressing climate change by showing how large companies can serve their operations with 100 percent clean, renewable energy,” said Joe Kishkill, chief commercial officer for First Solar. “Apple’s commitment was instrumental in making this project possible and will significantly increase the supply of solar power in California. Over time, the renewable energy from California Flats will provide cost savings over alternative sources of energy as well as substantially lower environmental impact.”

Construction of the 2,900-acre California Flats Solar Project is expected to begin in mid-2015 and to be completed by the end of 2016. The output of the remaining 150 MW of the project will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric under a separate long-term PPA, and the project is fully subscribed between the Apple and PG&E PPAs.

Murphy USA Expands Sale of E15

Murphy USA has expanded its support of E15 with stations opening in the suburbs of Chicago and Houston in 2015. E15 is a blend of gasoline and 15 percent ethanol and is approved by the EPA for use in 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and all flexible fuel vehicles. Nearly 80 percent of vehicles on U.S. roads are approved to use E15.

“We are excited to offer E15 in addition to our existing product offerings. Murphy USA will continue to pursue opportunities to offer the fuel our customers desire,” said a spokesperson for Murphy USA. E15, a blend of logo-murphy-usagasoline and 15 percent ethanol, is EPA-approved to be used by 2001 and newer passenger vehicles and all flexible fuel vehicles. Those vehicles account for 85 percent of fuel use in the United States.

Growth Energy welcomed the announcement. “Growth Energy applauds Murphy USA’s ongoing commitment to bring higher blends of homegrown renewable fuels to the American motorist,” said Tom Buis, CEO of Growth Energy. “Their dedication to providing the consumer with the best, most cost-effective product is commendable. Furthermore, we are thrilled to see Murphy USA’s success and decision to expand into new markets. Higher blends such as E15 are helping reduce our dependence on foreign oil, improve our environment through reduced emissions and support our domestic economy by creating jobs that cannot be outsourced.”

Buis said that retailers who offer E15 and other mid-level and higher blends of ethanol at competitive prices see increased sales and noted that consumers who use the fuel see better performance.

DOE Commits $13M in Community Solar Funds

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has allocated $13 million in funding as part of the Solar Powering America by Recognizing Communities (SPARC) program. The funds are designed to aid communities in reducing market and policy barriers to solar deployment and also recognize communities for taking solar initiatives. The DOE believes the program will make it faster, cheaper and easier for Americans to install affordable solar energy systems and spur solar development.

SPARC funding will establish a national recognition and technical assistance program for local governments to help them more effectively and efficiently deploy solar energy. Funding recipients will establish and administer a national recognition program and also SPARC iconprovide technical assistance and share best practices with communities seeking national recognition for cutting red tape and improving local solar market conditions.

Once the program is established, says DOE, communities that participate in SPARC will gain access to a network of nationally recognized leaders and receive expert assistance and national distinction while supporting local efforts to spur solar market growth and deploy solar energy faster and cheaper. Find more information about this funding opportunity, including application requirements.

This funding opportunity builds on the work of the Energy Department’s SunShot Initiative to support innovative, locally-driven solutions for cutting the “soft costs” of solar energy—often caused by delays in permitting, inspection, and interconnection—to build markets that support solar businesses, lower costs for consumers, and increase solar deployment. This announcement comes on the heels of DOE’s $59 million funding announcement to support solar energy acceleration and $14 million commitment to help communities develop multi-year solar deployment plans to install solar electricity in homes, businesses, and communities.

Amazon Web Services Using Wind in Indiana

Amazon Web Services has announced it will power its Benton County, Indiana facility with 150 MW wind farm coined the Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge). Pattern Energy has been selected to support the construction and Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 12.11.11 PMoperation of the wind farm that is expected to be in operation as early as January of 2016. The wind farm will generate nearly 500,000 megawatt hours per year and will be used to power both current and future AWS Cloud datacenters.

“Amazon Web Services Wind Farm (Fowler Ridge) will bring a new source of clean energy to the electric grid where we currently operate a large number of datacenters and have ongoing expansion plans to support our growing customer base,” said Jerry Hunter, vice president of infrastructure at Amazon Web Services. “This PPA helps to increase the renewable energy used to power our infrastructure in the US and is one of many sustainability activities and renewable energy projects for powering our datacenters that we currently have in the works.”

Pattern Development’s CEO, Mike Garland added, “We are excited to be working with Amazon Web Services and we commend the Company for its commitment to sustainability and its continued pioneering and leadership in cloud computing. We look forward to working with AWS as it progresses towards its goal of using 100 percent renewable energy.”

Tanzania Action Roadmap for Energy Access

A recent two-day workshop held in Tanzania and hosted by the United Nations Foundation’s Energy Access Practitioner Network and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) gathered support of the UN’s Sustainable Energy for All initiative’s (SE4ALL) 2030 objectives delivering access to modern energy services for all. If the goal is met, it will double the rate of energy efficiency and also double the share of renewables in the global energy mix.

Screen Shot 2015-02-11 at 10.46.15 AMHon. George Simbachawene, Minister for Energy and Minerals, urged participants to discuss best practices and ways to meaningfully engage all stakeholders to achieve sustainable energy for all in Tanzania. “SE4ALL initiatives provide a working partnership with governments, parliamentarians, private sector companies, industries, and civil society towards a sustainable future free of poverty,” he urged.

Tanzania, one of SE4ALL’s 14 African current priority countries, is working to overcome challenges in providing access to energy for its entire population. According to the International Energy Agency’s World Energy Outlook 2014, 36 million people, some 76 percent of Tanzania’s population, do not have the benefits of electricity to power their homes, support education, deliver health care services, or drive economic development across commercial, agricultural and industrial sectors.

“The UN Sustainable Energy For All consultation provides a valuable opportunity to bring energy innovators and government to focus jointly on policy and implementation solutions to bring affordable and reliable energy services to Tanzania,” explained Richenda Van Leeuwen, executive director, Energy Access, UN Foundation. “It showcases how decentralized renewable energy solutions such as solar home systems and community micro-grids complement efforts underway on conventional grid extension.”

WWF Conservation Manager Amani Ngusaru notes that Tanzania will not achieve it vision of securing a middle income country status by 2025 and other goals unless the energy equation is solved. “Access to clean, safe and affordable sources of modern energy is critical for improving people’s livelihoods, and the Government is keen to adopt a mix of solutions to achieve Universal Access.”

Alstom to Build a Geothermal Plant in Indonesia

PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy has awarded Alstom a €61 million contract to supply and install a 30 MW geothermal plant for the Karaha Power Plant in West Java, Indonesia. Alstom will design, supply, install and commission the entire power plant expected to be complete by the end of 2016.

According to Alstom, Indonesia houses the world’s largest potential geothermal source which is estimated to be nearly 30,000 MW. However, recent figures indicated that Indonesia is not harnessing the potential of geothermal energy, with the source geothermal-plant-lahendong-indonesiacontributing only 5 percent of its estimated capacity into the power mix. The Indonesian Authority has been taking advantage of its natural assets and has committed to building several geothermal-related contracts in the past few years.

“We are delighted to play a key role in helping Indonesia achieve its energy goals,” said Steven Moss, Vice President in charge of Renewable Steam Plants at Alstom. “This installation reinforces Alstom’s continued commitment to the geothermal markets and the importance of this renewable fuel source.”

Rony Gunawan, CEO of PT Pertamina Geothermal Energy added, “The competitiveness of Alstom’s offer including quality, environment, health and safety, was key in the awarding of the contract. We are looking forward Alstom improving capability and effectiveness to manage the project.”

USDA Announces REAP Funding

U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom Vilsack has announced new funding under the Rural Energy for America (REAP) program under the 2014 Farm Bill. The more than $280 million in funds are open to rural agricultural producers and small business owners to install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.

“Developing renewable energy presents an enormous economic opportunity for rural America,” Vilsack said during a press call this morning. “The funding we are making available will help farmers, ranchers, business owners, tribal organizations and other entities incorporate renewable energy and energy efficiency technology into their operations. Doing so can help a business reduce energy use and costs while improving its bottom line. While saving producers money and creating jobs, these investments reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon pollution as well.”

USDA Secretary Tom VilsackUSDA is offering grants for up to 25 percent of total project costs and loan guarantees for up to 75 percent of total project costs for renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements. USDA will now accept and review loan and grant applications year-round through an REAP application expansion.

Eligible renewable energy projects must incorporate commercially available technology. This includes renewable energy from wind, solar, ocean, small hydropower, hydrogen, geothermal and renewable biomass (including anaerobic digesters). The maximum grant amount is $500,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant. Energy efficiency improvement projects eligible for REAP funding include lighting, heating, cooling, ventilation, fans, automated controls and insulation upgrades that reduce energy consumption. The maximum grant amount is $250,000, and the maximum loan amount is $25 million per applicant.

USDA is offering a second type of grant to aid organizations that help farmers, ranchers and small businesses conduct energy audits and operate renewable energy projects. Eligible applicants include: units of state, tribal or local governments; colleges, universities and other institutions of higher learning; rural electric cooperatives and public power entities, and conservation and development districts. The maximum grant is $100,000.

Application deadlines vary by project type and the type of assistance requested. Details on how to apply are on page 78029 of the December 29, 2014 Federal Register or are available by contacting state Rural Development offices.

Listen to the press conference that includes Secretary Vilsack’s remarks as well as comments from Jennifer Womble, owner of James’ Supersave Foods and Jeffrey Marstaller, owner of Cozy Acres Greenhouse, here: USDA Announces REAP Funding