Renewables now less expensive than natural gas generation, new report says

Independent nonprofit Rocky Mountain Institute (RMI) recently released a report showing portfolios of clean energy resources “can provide the same energy and reliability services as traditional gas power plants” at a lower cost, reports. The report, The Growing Market for Clean Energy Portfolios, states the “economics guiding U.S. investments in electricity generation have reached a historic tipping point: Combinations of solar, wind, storage, efficiency and demand response are now less expensive than most proposed gas power plant projects,” according to the article. The report finds “over 95% of gas use in proposed gas-fired power plants across much of the Eastern U.S. could be economically offset by clean energy by 2035,” potentially leading to natural gas plant closures just as cheaper natural gas has led to the retirement of coal-fired plants in recent years. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy

NASA study finds huge solar potential for Cleveland

A 5.4-square mile section of Cleveland has the potential to generate 100,000 megawatt hours of electricity annually — enough to power 10,000 homes — through widespread deployment of rooftop solar systems, NASA researchers found, according to a recent U.S. Energy News article. The analysis, from NASA’s DEVELOP program, “used aerial images to calculate rooftop solar capacity” and found that 85% of the 100,000 megawatts “could be generated on a fifth of the buildings” within that area, according to the article. These findings “could help inform the city’s strategy as it aims to achieve 100% renewable energy” as well as net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Air Force awards $7.4M grant to UT for solar cell project

The University of Toledo (UT)’s “long commitment to solar power” has led to a $7.4 million grant “to have its physics and astronomy department try to develop lighter and more efficient solar cells for the Air Force,” The Toledo Blade reports. The department is being asked to produce tandem technology cells “out of lighter and more flexible materials than glass, such as certain ceramics” and to try to “stack them in a way in which more wavelengths from sunlight can be absorbed,” according to the article. Such cells could become a “primary source of energy used to keep satellites in orbit” or to “help power manned fighter jets used in combat, or large military drones used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.” U.S. Representative Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo), called UT “a worldwide leader driving innovation in photovoltaics research, education and application.” For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, State Updates

New dates set for Republic Wind Farm hearings

The Ohio Power Siting Board has set new dates for hearings regarding Republic Wind LLC’s application to construct the 47-turbine Republic Wind Farm in Seneca and Sandusky Counties, The Advertiser-Tribune reports. The local public hearing will take place from 3:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., September 12, 2019 at Tiffin University. Interested persons, who are not parties to the case, may provide sworn testimony regarding the proposed facility. An adjudicatory hearing will be held October 2, 2019, at 2:00 p.m. at the office of the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Columbus. The purpose of that hearing “is for Republic Wind, OPSB staff and parties to the case to present evidence” regarding the project, according to the article. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy, State Updates

The City of Shelby approves new 2.5 MW solar system

On August 5, 2019, the City of Shelby passed legislation to construct a solar energy project that was more than two years in the making. Shelby entered into a series of agreements with AEP OnSite Partners, LLC for a 2.5 MW solar array which will be located on 14 acres of property. The power produced by the solar facility will serve 3 percent to 4 percent of the City’s overall load. The solar facility will also help the City shave energy during peak periods. John Ensman, the City's director of utilities, highlighted the benefits of adding solar generation to the City’s electric system. "The benefits of having solar behind our meter is the effect of having a generator behind the meter," Ensman said. "It's another source of energy sitting there to help reduce the cost of energy for the community of Shelby. The realized rate is phenomenal when you start factoring in the savings you have for capacity and transmission; that's where the true cost savings come into play." It is estimated that solar facility will result in approximately $3 million in savings over the next 10 years as part of the project agreement. If all goes to plan, the solar field will be operational by mid-December 2019. For more, read the full article.

Energy Efficiency, Renewable Energy, State Updates

AEP acquires Sempra Renewables as part of long-term diversification strategy

The competitive renewable energy subsidiary of American Electric Power, AEP Clean Energy Resources, “has completed the purchase of Sempra Renewables LLC and its 724 MW [megawatts] of operating wind generation and battery assets,” reports. The purchase “includes all or part of seven wind farms and one battery installation in seven states,” according to the article. Nicholas K. Akins, AEP chairman, president and CEO, said the move supports the company’s “long-term strategy to diversify our generation fleet,” adding, “[w]e’ve targeted a total of $2.2 billion in capital investment in competitive, contracted renewables by 2023.” This acquisition increases AEP’s renewable generation portfolio to 1,075 MW. For more, read the full article.

Renewable Energy

Land found for 150-MW Putnam County solar farm

Avangrid Renewables, the developer for a proposed solar farm near Miller City that would “bring in $1.3 million in additional property tax revenue,” said the company has found land for the project, The Lima News reports. Putnam County Commissioners recently met with Jeff Reinkemeyer, Eastern Renewables Development director for Avangrid, and Dylan Borchers of Bricker & Eckler LLP, attorney representing Avangrid, for an update on the project. Borchers said, “[t]he tax revenue that the solar farm will bring into the county will benefit the various taxing bodies,” with about half of the taxing income going to the schools, according to the article. Borchers “said a road use plan needs to be put together” and an application to the Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) submitted; the OPSB “is the agency that will need to approve the project.” For more, read the full article.

Economic Development, Renewable Energy, State Updates

Senate bill proposes federal standard for U.S. renewable electricity generation

The recently introduced Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) Act of 2019 would put the United States “on a trajectory to decarbonize the power sector by 2050,” reports. The Senate bill “is proposing a target of at least 50% renewable electricity nationwide” by 2035, by requiring electricity providers to increase their supply of renewable energy “by a percentage of total retail sales each year, starting in 2020,” according to the article. Gregory Wetstone, president and CEO of the American Council on Renewable Energy, said the RES would “drive investment in our nation’s power generation infrastructure, improve affordability and reliability for our customers, and accelerate the ongoing transition to America’s renewable energy economy.” For more, read the full article.

Federal Updates, Renewable Energy

New dates set for Seneca Wind Farm hearings

The Ohio Power Siting Board (OPSB) has rescheduled the local public hearing for Seneca Wind LLC’s Seneca Wind Farm (see our April 24, 2019 blog post) for July 23, 3:00 to 8:00 p.m. at Tiffin University, The Advertiser-Tribune reports. The hearing “is to provide an opportunity for local people interested in the project area, who are not parties to the case, to provide testimony regarding the proposed facility,” according to the article. An adjudicatory hearing, at which Seneca Wind, OPSB staff and parties to the case may present evidence regarding the project, will take place August 26 at 10:00 a.m. at the Public Utilities Commission of Ohio in Columbus. If approved, the wind farm “would be constructed on about 57,000 acres of leased private land in Scipio, Reed, Venice, Eden and Bloom townships,” with up to 77 turbines and a total generating capacity of up to 212 megawatts. For more, read the full article

Renewable Energy, State Updates

Warren County park solar project also combats pollinator habitat loss

A solar array that has been providing most of the electric power for Warren County’s 311-acre Armco Park during the daytime “is also designed to combat the loss of habitat” for pollinators, the Journal-News reports. The 256-kilowatt array’s “bee and butterfly factor” is what “puts it over the top,” said Jim Yockey, the contractor financing the array, according to the article. Since March, the 745-panel solar system has “been providing 90 to 95 percent of the electric power for the park’s 18-hole golf course, softball complex, tennis and basketball courts, restrooms, concession stand and other facilities.” The project is “expected to reduce the park’s ‘carbon footprint,’ while fighting declines in species needed to pollinate ‘about one third of the world-wide food supply.” For more, read the full article.

Environmental, Renewable Energy, State Updates
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