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Renewable Energy Update
August 10, 2017

Renewable Energy Focus

With a quorum, FERC now grapples with distributed energy trends outpacing market rules

Greentech Media - Aug 4 Last Thursday evening, the U.S. Senate confirmed Robert Powelson, commissioner on the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission and current president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, and Neil Chatterjee, energy adviser to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, as the newest members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). Powelson and Chatterjee now join Acting Chair Cheryl LaFleur on the five-member commission, which hasn't had enough members to be able to make binding decisions since February. Without a quorum over the last six months, work to approve new rules and tens of billions of dollars in energy infrastructure stalled. Along with approving a backlog of natural-gas pipelines stuck in the review process, the commissioners will also be grappling with market-making (or market-breaking) rules for allowing distributed energy to play in wholesale markets. With distributed resource deployment outpacing market regulations, commissioners will be working overtime to keep pace with technology trends on the grid.

San Bernardino County renewable energy development plan sent back to Planning Commission

San Bernardino Sun - Aug 8 Following a 5-hour, standing-room-only public hearing, the San Bernardino County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday unanimously voted to return the county’s renewable energy development guidelines to the Planning Commission for further review. For the past five years, county officials have been working on the guidelines that, once approved by the Board of Supervisors, will be included in the county’s general plan and chart the course for solar energy development in the High Desert for generations to come. Since 2013, the county has hosted a series of public forums to get public buy-in on what it calls its “Renewable Energy and Conservation Element,” the development guidelines for renewable energy projects, mainly solar, in the High Desert region.

Disclosure: Allen Matkins represented the Large Scale Solar Association in advocacy related to the Renewable Energy and Conservation Element discussed in this article.

California regulators propose shifting peak period for SDG&E TOU rates

Utility Dive - Aug 8 California regulators this week will vote on changes to San Diego Gas & Electric's rate design, including a shift in peak hours that has solar advocates crying foul. The California Solar Energy Industries Association and Vote Solar have each criticized the draft decision, which the state's Public Utilities Commission will tackle August 10. The commission's proposed order alters a draft decision from April, which moved the peak period from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. In the order regulators will consider this week, the peak period would run 4 p.m. to 9 p.m.

California releases $44.7 million for microgrid grants

Microgrid Knowledge - Aug 7 California has begun offering microgrid grants totaling $44.7 million to woo projects that will help it achieve its clean energy goals. Issued August 4, the grant offering adds California to a group of states now actively courting microgrids with grant money. Others include Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey. Together these states are currently offering more than $100 million. In California, the energy commission is providing the money as part of a larger effort to increase use of distributed energy resources, including energy efficiency, energy storage, electric vehicles, and demand response – all often core technologies for microgrids.

Stem and CPower will pair demand response and energy storage for dispatchable virtual power plants

Utility Dive - Aug 9 Stem and CPower have formed a partnership to deliver demand side energy solutions to U.S. customers starting in California. The partnership will combine Stem’s energy storage devices with CPower’s demand response services to give utilities access to dispatchable virtual power plants. The partners hope to combine the quick response time and ability of batteries to reduce demand charges with the slower response time but lower costs of traditional demand response tools.

Sempra buys 281MW California solar project from Canadian Solar

PV-Tech - Aug 8 Sempra Renewables, a unit of Sempra Energy, has acquired a 281-megawatt solar project from Canadian Solar subsidiary, Recurrent Energy. The Great Valley Solar project, previously called Tranquillity 8, is currently under construction in Fresno County. Sempra expects to fully complete the project in Q3 2018. The project is located next to the 258-megawatt Tranquillity solar project, which was completed by Recurrent Energy in late 2016 and is majority-owned by a subsidiary of Southern Power.

Commonwealth Edison makes the case for its Bronzeville microgrid cluster

Microgrid Knowledge - Aug 3 Chicago-based Commonwealth Edison took a major step last week toward building the much-watched Bronzeville microgrid, a project that will test the emerging concept of microgrid clusters. The Exelon subsidiary petitioned the Illinois Commerce Commission for permission to recover costs for the $25 million project through customer rates. Designed to serve 10 critical facilities, the Bronzeville microgrid will connect to a nearby microgrid at the Illinois Institute of Technology. Working in coordination, the microgrids will demonstrate how the whole is greater than the sum of its parts when microgrids ‘talk’ to each other.

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