The Koch Brothers' Dirty War on Solar Power

Tim Dickinson for Rolling Stone:  The full political might of Florida's IOUs was on display in December, when a deceptive campaign, funded by the state's electric utilities, crushed a citizen-led effort to open Florida to solar competition through the 2016 ballot. "When your opponents have no ethical foundation, have unlimited resources and are willing to say and do anything to defeat you," says Stephen Smith, director of the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, which led the pro-solar effort, "it's a tough hurdle to overcome."

It should come as no surprise that the utilities have fought so hard. The rise of cheap, distributed solar power poses a disruptive – and perhaps existential – threat to the traditional electric utility business.

Monopoly electric utilities used to make sense. Dirty power, generated at a distance from population centers, was carried over a set of transmission lines to homes and businesses. Consumers got reliable power from a single provider. IOUs were guaranteed a profit – both for building power plants and transmission lines as well as for the electricity itself.  Full Article:

SEIA Urges U.S. Senate to Adopt the King-Reid Amendment

Following is a statement from Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in reference to an amendment to the Senate energy bill filed by Sens. Angus King (I-Maine) and Harry Reid (D-Nev.).

France to pave 1000km of roads with solar panels

Derek Markham for TreeHugger:  Over the next five years, France will install some 621 miles (1,000km) of solar roadway using Colas' Wattway solar pavement.

Solar freakin' roadways! No, this is not the crowdfunded solar road project that blew up the internet a few years ago, but is a collaboration between Colas, a transport infrastructure company, and INES (France's National Institute for Solar Energy), and sanctioned by France's Agency of Environment and Energy Management, which promises to bring solar power to hundreds of miles of roads in the country over the next five years.

One major difference between this solar freakin' roadway and that other solar freakin' roadway is that the new Wattway system doesn't replace the road itself or require removal of road surfaces, but instead is designed to be glued onto the top of existing pavement. The Wattway system is also built in layers of materials "that ensure resistance and tire grip," and is just 7 mm thick, which is radically different from that other design that uses thick glass panels (and which is also claimed to include LED lights and 'smart' technology, which increases the complexity and cost of the moose-friendly solar tiles).  Cont'd...

California narrowly upholds critical solar policy

NICHOLA GROOM for Reuters:  California, which boasts more than half of the households with solar panels in the United States, on Thursday extended a policy that has underpinned the rooftop solar industry's dramatic growth over the last decade.

The 3-to-2 decision by California's Public Utilities Commission at a meeting in San Francisco to extend net metering was a major victory for the solar industry, including companies like SolarCity Corp, Sunrun and SunPower Corp.

Net metering allows homeowners with solar panels to sell the power they generate but don't use back to their utility at the full retail rate, sometimes giving them a credit on their bill at the end of the month. The 20-year policy has been critical to making solar cost competitive.

But the narrow victory underscored palpable frustrations with the policy, which has been criticized for rewarding solar users while leaving other ratepayers to shoulder the cost of maintaining the electricity grid.

"I will be the first to say that I think we really have a ways to go before we have a really enduring rooftop strategy," said PUC President Michael Picker, who voted in favor of extending the policy.

The PUC will reconsider net metering again in 2019.  Cont'd...

Better regulation could see house building and CO2 reductions go hand in hand

The scrapping of the Zero Carbon Homes policy in July 2015 [1] has left a policy vacuum that urgently needs filling, says the Solar Trade Association.

Supreme Court Ruling a Win for Clean Energy

Decision helps reduce barriers to critical clean energy resource, reducing rates and enhancing grid reliability

Government statistics show increase in solar installs ahead of cut - but not huge rush

Solar can still be a reasonable investment for customers under lower tariffs

The Two Things To Note In The DOE's Solar + Storage Initiative

Michael Kanellos  for Forbes:  The Department of Energy doled out $18 million in grants this week as part of an effort to drive down the cost of solar plus storage down to less than 14 cents a kilowatt hour. The DOE, under its SunShot program, has long had a goal of driving down the cost of solar alone to 6 cents per kWh by 2020.  So far, the program has hit its milestones.

Grants recipients include Austin Energy, Carnegie Mellon University, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) and Aquion Energy, among others.

The DOE regularly gives out grants, but the latest program is somewhat interesting because:

First, that’s a really low price for storage. Utility-scale solar, generally cheaper than residential solar, without storage delivered power for 14 cents a kilowatt hour in 2014. The cost of batteries, however, has been declining rapidly. Ten years ago, batteries progressed slowly compared to other electronic devices: Tesla Motors TSLA +0.50% co-founder and CTO J.B. Straubel was famous for noting that the performance of batteries doubled every decade, versus the roughly two year cycle for semiconductor.   Cont'd...

Judges' Decision to Allow Clean Power Plans to Move Forward is the Right Approach

Following is a statement from Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), on federal judges' rejection of efforts to block states from developing plans under EPA's carbon rule for existing power plants.

U.S. Department of Energy Awards ComEd $4 Million for Renewable Technology

Second DOE award to help bring solar energy and batteries to Chicago's Bronzeville neighborhood

SolarCity CEO: Governor Sandoval's PUC Owes Nevadans the Truth about Decision to Kill Rooftop Solar

SolarCity (NASDAQ: SCTY) today published the following blog post:

Solar Industry Applauds Gov. Cuomo's Commitment to Clean Energy

Following is a statement from Rick Umoff, Director of State Affairs for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in response to today's remarks by Gov. Andrew Cuomo in his 2016 State of the State:

The Solar Industry Commends President Obama's #SOTU Commitment to Clean Energy

Following is a statement from Rhone Resch, president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), in response to President Obama's State of the Union Address:

Vivint Solar CEO Comments On Net-Energy Metering Rule In Nevada

Vivint Solar CEO, Greg Butterfield, responds to the net-energy metering rule adopted by the Public Utilities Commission in Nevada.

French Biofuel Maker Is Tested by $35 Oil Despite Tax Breaks

Francois De Beaupuy  for Bloomberg:  Global Bioenergies SA, an unprofitable French maker of sugar-based gasoline, said oil’s recent slump to $35 a barrel is testing the financial viability of its technology even as it plans expansion in the U.S.

“The economic case doesn’t stand with oil at $35, except when there’s a tax incentive” as in various European countries and the U.S., Chief Executive Officer Marc Delcourt said in an interview. Without tax breaks, the company would need Brent crude well above $100 a barrel, he said.

Shares of Global Bioenergies, listed in Paris since 2011, have dropped more than 50 percent from their peak in May as oil’s collapse raised investor concern that biofuel makers couldn’t compete. Delcourt is counting on the end of European sugar production quotas in 2017 and changes in U.S. eating habits to keep the sweetener’s price low as it eyes additional capacity. Raw-sugar futures are trading at half their price five years ago.   Cont'd...

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