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12.09.15 Solar Media Update

December 9, 2015

By Clara Schopf, Incentive Coordinator, SoCore Energy

US Lawmakers Propose 5-Year Phase-Out of Renewable Tax Credits

  • Committees in both the House and Senate are working on tax code proposals that could phase out renewable energy incentives for both the solar and wind industries, likely over a five-year period, according to The Hill.
  • The solar investment tax credit is set to revert back to pre-2006 levels at the end of 2016, which would end the 30% tax credit for residential installations and reduce the credit to 10% for commercial installations.
    • The wind production tax credit expired in 2013 and was extended one year, but has not been in effect this year.
  • Renewable advocates say they can accept a future without the credits, but argue the nascent industries are still getting on their feet and need further assistance to remain competitive.

Mississippi Regulators Approve State’s First Net Metering Plan

  • Following years of debate, Mississippi utility regulators have enacted a net metering policy that will compensate solar customers for the power they produce at a rate between the retail and wholesale prices, the Associated Press reports.
  • The first 1,000 low-income customers will receive an additional 2 cents/kWh as a way of offsetting some initial costs, the Public Service Commission said last week.
  • Mississippi will also establish a joint working group to study the cost and benefits of solar energy after three years, which could lead to pricing adjustments. Regulators aim to review the policy’s effectiveness after five years.

Expanded EIA Data on Small-Scale Solar ‘Important Step Forward,’ SEIA Says

  • The U.S. Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) recent decision to provide monthly estimates of small-scale distributed solar PV electricity generation and capacity by state and sector is an important step for the solar industry, Justin Baca, senior director of research, Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said on Dec. 2.
  • The EIA on Dec. 1 released its first monthly statistics for the small-scale solar sector, saying that of the total 3.5 million MWh of U.S. solar generation in September, 33 percent came from small-scale solar PV and 67 percent came from utility-scale solar.
  • The EIA said that its previous Electric Power Monthly reports provided state-level data only for utility-scale generation sources, including solar.
    • National-level generation and capacity estimates for small-scale solar PV were provided on an annual basis.
  • As Renewable Energy World reported, the SEIA earlier this year performed an independent analysis that found that the EIA’s data with only utility-scale solar generation underreported the amount of solar generated in the U.S. by about half.

New York Town Mulls Defection from Utility Grid

  • Nassau, New York, a town of less than 5,000 residents in the eastern portion of the state, is considering ditching National Grid to provide energy for municipal services through renewable energy the town would generate itself, the Albany Times Union reports.
  • The Nassau Town Board is expected to create a committee next week to explore power options, with a goal of being independent from the utility by 2020.
  • The plan would not include residential or commercial accounts, and just focuses on the town’s municipal load.
  • While many towns have considered forming their own utilities, taking over incumbent territories to serve residents, the Nassau proposal appears different; initial reports indicate the town simply wants to disconnect from the grid.

In Other News…

The first Tesla Powerwall home energy storage systems to go on sale in the US through a utility are being sold through Vermont’s Green Mountain Power which is including a “no upfront cost” option for its customers. See article here

The San Diego City Council’s environment committee unanimously approved a proposed Climate Action Plan that would move the city to 100% renewables by 2035. See article here

State-owned Santee Cooper approved a package of solar energy charges Monday that the company says will help it recover lost revenue but that critics contend will chill interest in sun power across eastern South Carolina. See article here

Representatives of several green energy and environmental groups called out Minnesota Power on Thursday for limiting public access to building community solar gardens in Northeastern Minnesota. See article here

The Maine Public Utilities Commission will award a contract to provide wholesale electricity to Maine power companies to Portland-based Dirigo Solar, a move that a company spokesman said proves large-scale solar-electric projects can work in Maine. See article here

The Amphitheater School District will install solar energy at all of its schools by September 2016 as part of its initiative to go green and save power costs. See article here

Morgan Stanley subsidiary MS Solar Solutions committed $100 million to solar developer BlueWave Capital to build more than 25 megawatts of community solar in Massachusetts by the end of 2016. See article here

PG&E Corp. is proposing to sign its first contracts with five companies including NextEra Energy Inc. and Hecate Energy to develop energy storage in California. See article here

A three-megawatt solar installation is now complete on the top deck of two Terminal 1-Lindbergh parking structures at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, Minnesota’s largest solar generation site. See article here

This coming weekend, on the fringes of the crunch COP21 climate talks in Paris, the solar industry will take a major step forwards in its evolution with the launch of the Global Solar Council. See article here

New From BNEF

Tax Me, Says Exxon Mobil, in Declaring Support for Climate Talks

Exxon Mobil Corp., a favorite target of global warming activists, said Wednesday that it’s hopeful for a deal out of the climate-change talks in Paris and still thinks the best solution is a tax on carbon pollution.

SunPower Seeking to Raise $350 Million Through Private Offering

SunPower Corp., the second-biggest U.S. solar manufacturer, is seeking to raise $350 million through a private offering of senior convertible debentures.

Google Buys 781 Megawatts of Wind, Solar Power in Three Nations

Google, the world’s biggest corporate buyer of renewable energy, is expanding its clean power portfolio with deals for 781 megawatts of solar and wind power.

House Passes Broad Energy Bill, but it is Unlikely to Advance

The House of Representatives voted 249-174 Thursday to approve the first broad rewrite of energy policy in eight years, but the bill is unlikely to advance because of opposition from congressional Democrats and the White House.

Duke Energy, Green Charge to Offer Businesses Storage for Solar

Duke Energy Corp. and Green Charge Networks LLC plan to jointly offer solar energy and battery storage to businesses in California and Hawaii.

*Article descriptions and summaries consist of direct quotes from the referenced articles.

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