How ‘Demand Flexibility’ Could Boost Renewables and Save Texas Billions

How ‘Demand Flexibility’ Could Boost Renewables and Save Texas Billions

Rocky Mountain Institute models how a stack of distributed energy resources can solve the duck curve and curtailment challenges—without using natural gas.

‘Demand flexibility' is Rocky Mountain Institute’s term for the capability of water heaters, air conditioners, plug-in electric vehicles, and other loads to provide a massive set of benefits to the grid -- if they’re smart enough to handle it. 

Battle Lines Drawn as SolarCity’s Antitrust Case Faces Supreme Court Review

Battle Lines Drawn as SolarCity’s Antitrust Case Faces Supreme Court Review

The Supreme Court will hear oral arguments next month to determine if SolarCity’s legal battle against Salt River Project’s demand charges can advance.

In 2015, SolarCity, now Tesla, filed an antitrust lawsuit against Salt River Project, claiming the Arizona utility’s $50-per-month demand charges for solar net-metered customers constituted an unlawful use of its monopoly powers to stifle competition. 

The case garnered national attention for its unusual approach to fighting the rise of demand charges, fixed charges and other costs for solar-equipped customers via antitrust law, and its potential implications for ratemaking policy across the country. But before that case can go forward, the U.S. Supreme Court has to decide a separate legal issue -- whether SRP is or isn’t immune from antitrust law as a publicly owned utility.

SunPower Faces a Year of Transition as Trump’s Solar Tariffs Kick In

SunPower Faces a Year of Transition as Trump’s Solar Tariffs Kick In

The solar company is already cutting costs—and headcount—as it seeks a tariff exclusion.

Solar company SunPower is bracing itself for the impact of the Trump administration’s recently issued tariffs on imported solar cells and modules.

The company -- based in Richmond, Calif. and majority-owned by French oil giant Total -- could be hit harder than most in the U.S. solar sector due to its international manufacturing base in the Philippines and Mexico, a well as its high-efficiency solar panels with advanced technology that takes on a price premium.

MISO taking proposals for $130 million transmission line in Texas

MISO taking proposals for $130 million transmission line in Texas

The sixth-month process for competitive proposals began Tuesday on the $130 million Hartburg-Sabine Junction high-voltage transmission project in east Texas, the Midcontinent Independent System Operator (MISO) confirmed.

Earlier this month, the MISO board of directors approved the 500-kV Hartburg-Sabine Junction as a market efficiency project and eligible for the system’s competitive selection process. MISO issued the RFP Tuesday and qualified developers have until July 20 to make bids.

The system operator has to announce a selected developer by the end of 2018. The Hartburg-Sabine is expected to be in service by 2023, according to reports.

Combined Vistra-Dynegy must sell 1,281 MW to stay under cap: Texas PUC staff

Combined Vistra-Dynegy must sell 1,281 MW to stay under cap: Texas PUC staff

A merged Vistra Energy and Dynegy must divest at least 1,281 MW of Texas generation to stay under the state-mandated cap of 20% of Electric Reliability Council of Texas installed capacity, state regulatory staff said Monday, and Vistra said Tuesday it has "a pathway" to comply, if regulators require divestiture.

On October 30, Dynegy and Dallas-based Vistra Energy announced plans to merge in an all-stock transaction valued at about $1.74 billion, with Vistra as the surviving entity by mid-2018.

On November 22, Vistra Energy's Luminant Power generation subsidiary filed an application for the deal's approval by the Public Utility Commission of Texas.

LP&L Approves Agreement of Terms, 1 Step Closer to Joining ERCOT

LP&L Approves Agreement of Terms, 1 Step Closer to Joining ERCOT

LUBBOCK, TX - Lubbock’s Electric Utility Board (the Lubbock Power & Light board) voted unanimously on Tuesday to approve an agreement of terms concerning a transition into the ERCOT market. 

ERCOT is the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.  ERCOT operates the electric grid for most of Texas, however, Lubbock and few other Texas cities are in the Southwest Power Pool. 

The vote is one more step in the process of LP&L’s application to connect to the ERCOT power grid. The terms of the agreement still need to be approved by the Lubbock City Council on Thursday.

NRG sells renewable energy business, Southern plants in reorganization move

NRG sells renewable energy business, Southern plants in reorganization move

NRG's Wednesday announcement advances corporate reorganization goals the company outlined last July. At the time, NRG leadership said they would aim to reduce company debt by $13 billion and raise $4 billion in revenue through the sale of both renewable and conventional assets. 

NRG says the Wednesday sales of its renewable energy business and Southern generators will bring in $2.8 billion and reduce debt by $7 billion. The company also revised its revenue target for asset sales down to $3.2 billion. 

Under the sale, GIP would become the controlling shareholder of NRG Yield and acquire a 6.4 GW project pipeline from its NRG's renewable energy developer. NRG Energy, however, would buy the 154 MW Buckthorn Solar Project and the 527 MW Carlsbad Energy Center from the yieldco before it is sold. 

Denton City Council Approves Energy Plan To Be All Renewable By 2020

Denton City Council Approves Energy Plan To Be All Renewable By 2020

Denton City Council approved a plan Tuesday to update the city’s energy plan to become 100 percent renewable by 2020, the Denton Record-Chronicle reports. 

If the plan is successful, Denton would become the second Texas city to purchase all of its energy from wind and solar farms or other renewable energy sources.

The city is working with Enterprise Risk Consulting, based in Austin and Santa Fe, to develop the plan. The firm helped Georgetown abandon fossil fuels and become one of the first U.S. cities to be 100 percent renewable. 

Trump issues 30% tariff on solar panel imports

Trump issues 30% tariff on solar panel imports

Months of uncertainty have finally ended with Trump's decision.

The final decision appeared to draw upon an ITC recommendationfrom Commissioners David Johanson, a Republican appointed by former President Barack Obama and Irving Williamson, a Democrat appointed by former President George W. Bush. Both commissioners recommended a 30% tariff that would decline in 5% increments over the four-year span. 

The controversy started in April when two U.S.-based solar manufacturers petitioned for import relief using a rare Section 201 global safeguard measure. Suniva, a Georgia-based manufacturer, is under the Chapter 11 bankruptcy process. SolarWorld joined in May after its German parent company filed for insolvency. Both parties blamed low-price imports, mostly from Chinese companies based in other countries, for their predicament.

Rick Perry’s Plan to Rescue Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants Is Rejected

Rick Perry’s Plan to Rescue Struggling Coal and Nuclear Plants Is Rejected

WASHINGTON — Federal regulators on Monday rejected a proposal by Energy Secretary Rick Perry to subsidize struggling coal and nuclear plants, in a major blow to the Trump administration’s efforts to revive America’s declining coal industry.

Over the past decade, an influx of cheap natural gas and the rapid rise of renewable energy have transformed the nation’s power sector, driving down wholesale electricity prices and pushing many older coal and nuclear plants into unprofitability and retirement.