SolarCity announced plans Wednesday to cease operations in Nevada after regulators drastically cut benefits for retail solar owners.
Despite the utilities’ campaign, the California Public Utilities Commission largely backed the solar industry, which had said the power companies’ proposals could have devastated its business.
The giant $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar plant off Interstate 15 just west of the California-Nevada border has apparently won its fight with state regulators and won’t be classified as a heavy polluter that is required to buy carbon-emissions rights in the state air board’s cap-and-trade program.
A study from Bloomberg estimates that the loss of the tax credit will cause solar capacity to only quadruple, instead of quintuple, by 2022—still a substantial increase. Our own analysis reinforces this assessment: In 22 states, at least one gigawatt of solar (and often much more) could be installed at a comparable cost to retail electricity prices by 2017, tax credit not included.
Located in Carlsbad, in the San Diego area, the plant has raised hopes for drought relief — but has brought elevated stakes along with it. “The billion-dollar project is only the nation’s second major seawater plant,” noted the Associated Press. “The first U.S. foray in Tampa Bay is widely considered a flop.” That plant, a decade in the making, lost financing and couldn’t pass performance tests, the AP added. Its capacity was only half that of the Carlsbad plant, expected to churn out 50 million gallons of drinking water every day.
The women are just three of the thousands of TXU Energy customers who are at the vanguard of a bold attempt by the utility to change how people consume energy. TXU’s free overnight plan, which is coupled with slightly higher daytime rates, is one of dozens that have been offered by more than 50 retail electricity companies in Texas over the last three years with a simple goal: for customers to turn down the dials when wholesale prices are highest and turn them back up when prices are lowest.
The majority of the yearly $4 billion spent each year will be used on upgrading transmission systems. Roughly $240 million a year, or about 6%, will go toward new power generation, he said.
The company is one of four that operate in the Altamont Pass Wind Farm, which was one of the first wind farms in the country when commissioned in the early 1980s and currently has about 3,000 turbines.
But, what few Californians may know, is what will not count against that requirement: the rooftop solar units they put on their homes, businesses, schools or other public buildings.
Utilities say that generous net metering rules were necessary to launch the solar industry, but now costs must be realigned. If they’re not, there could be a feedback loop where grid costs are shifted to non-net-metering customers, causing electric rates to rise.
“Utilities contend that rooftop solar owners — often wealthier homeowners, who can afford the high upfront installation costs — haven’t been paying their fair share of the cost of maintaining power lines, transformers, substations and power plants. . . The expansion of solar, utilities say, means that the costs of grid maintenance are being shifted to traditional customers, who tend to be poor or middle-class families.”
“Things have turned so sour for solar power tower technology that in August, the company behind the only power tower project being proposed for the state of California announced it wants to build the plant using a different technology.”
“We are focusing on investing in smart grid technology that will help our grid integrate with renewables and deal with electric vehicles and batteries,” Stephens said. “We are trying to harden our infrastructure for emergency preparedness; we hope to prevent wildfires with new technology.”
Edison says the per-kilowatt fee, or one like it, is necessary to pay for the cost of maintaining the power grid.
On Aug. 11, a federal judge in the Northern District of California shot down a rule proposed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) that would have allowed the wind industry to legally kill bald eagles and golden eagles for up to three decades.