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Regulators Approve
Utilities’ RE Plans

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has approved the renewable energy plans of the state’s investor-owned utilities (IOUs), paving the way for the IOUs to solicit bids for clean energy procurement in order to fulfill California’s 33% by 2020 renewable portfolio standard (RPS).

The decision approved the renewable energy procurement plans of Pacific Gas and Electric Co., Southern California Edison (SCE) and San Diego Gas & Electric, as well as allowed SCE to forego holding a 2012 RPS solicitation and instead focus on procurement from small, distributed generation renewables.

The decision also includes modifications pertaining to standard variables for the least-cost, best-fit bid evaluation methodology; contract termination rights based on higher-than-expected transmission upgrade costs; and the use of energy-only and full deliverability time-of-delivery factors.

 

Renewables Swayed
Swing-State Voters

New polls released by the American Council On Renewable Energy (ACORE) and the Advanced Energy Economy Ohio Institute show that voters in Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia – all states that were critical in deciding the outcome of the presidential election – support renewable energy.

Notably, these states – especially Colorado and Iowa – are home to an established wind energy supply chain.

The poll was conducted the day after the election, following months of anti-renewables campaign rhetoric, ACORE notes. The polls confirm that energy was an important factor in many voters’ decision for president – on par with foreign policy and more so than abortion. A majority of voters in these four swing states indicated that energy impacted their vote: 66% in Colorado, 60% in Virginia, 58% in Iowa and 57% in Ohio.

These same voters want to see cleaner energy encouraged in their state: They ranked solar, wind and natural gas higher than all other energy sources. And, going forward, these swing-state voters are significantly more supportive of candidates who advocate shifting to cleaner energy sources (Iowa: 80%, Colorado: 75%, Virginia: 72%, Ohio: 70%).

Majorities in all four states support continued government investment in clean energy (Iowa: 77%, Virginia: 76%, Ohio: 75%, Colorado: 72%) and requirements for utilities to increase the use of renewable energy (Iowa: 76%, Colorado: 70%, Virginia: 69%, Ohio: 67%).

The bipartisan research team of Public Opinion Strategies and Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates conducted 400 interviews on Nov. 7 with voters in Colorado, Iowa, Ohio and Virginia who cast ballots in the Nov. 6 presidential election. Interviews were conducted on landline and wireless phones. The margin of sampling error for the full sample is +/- 4.9%; margins of error for subgroups within the sample will be higher.

 

SPP Submits Filing
To FERC

Southwest Power Pool Inc. (SPP) has submitted its filing to comply with the regional requirements of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) Order No. 1000.

In its compliance filing, SPP proposes a competitive solicitation model that promotes open competition for transmission projects 300 kV and above. The filing proposes to maintain SPP’s highway/byway cost-allocation methodology, as well as SPP’s integrated transmission planning (ITP) process approved by FERC two years ago.

The highway/byway cost-allocation methodology and the ITP process were developed and approved by SPP’s stakeholders and SPP’s Regional State Committee which comprises state retail regulators in SPP’s footprint. When the ITP process and the highway/byway methodology were approved, FERC heralded both as positive and innovative steps toward the construction of transmission in the SPP region.

“For more than a year, SPP’s stakeholders have diligently worked to develop a competitive model for new transmission projects with the removal of a federal right of first refusal in the SPP footprint in accordance with FERC’s policy contained in Order 1000,” says Paul Suskie, SPP’s senior vice president of regulatory policy and general counsel. “As a result of this diligent work, SPP’s tariff revisions were approved unanimously by all stakeholder groups involved in the process.”

 

Wind Supporter
Named Chairman

Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan. – a supporter of the wind energy production tax credit (PTC) – has been elected to serve as chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), which supports and advises current and prospective Republican U.S. Senate candidates in the areas of budget planning, election law compliance, fundraising, communications tools and messaging, research, and strategy.

Moran has worked with Gov. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., to extend the PTC, and his election could potentially be a boon for wind energy policy.

“I look forward to working with Leader [Mitch] McConnell and others within our conference to make certain we make the right decisions for our country,” Moran said upon being elected. “I am focused on constructing the right team at the committee and thank Sen. Rob Portman for accepting my invitation to serve as vice chairman of finance to help us acquire the necessary resources for success.

 

U.K. Puts Emphasis
On Offshore Wind

The U.K.’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) has introduced a new energy policy that includes renewable energy initiatives and strategies to meet the U.K.’s carbon-reduction obligations.

One of the provisions included in the new energy policy is the “contracts for difference” (CFD) mechanism, which allows for long-term contracts that provide stable revenues for investors in low-carbon energy projects at a fixed level, known as a “strike price,” the DECC says.

According to the DECC, these contracts will help developers secure the large up-front amounts of capital investment required for low-carbon infrastructure such as offshore wind farms, nuclear powers stations, and carbon-capture and -storage plants.

By providing a fixed price, the contracts will help lower the cost of capital and protect consumers from high bills by clawing back money from generators if the market price of electricity rises above the strike price, the DECC explains.

In addition, the U.K. government will establish a new body to act as a single counterparty to the CFDs with eligible generators. The counterparty will have levy-raising powers to enable it to raise funds from suppliers to meet its costs, including payments to generators.

Furthermore, a capacity market will provide an insurance policy for government against future supply shortages, as there is an increased risk to security of electricity supplies toward the end of the decade, when a fifth of the U.K.’s existing capacity is set to close. As part of this initiative, more intermittent (wind) and inflexible (nuclear) generation will be built over time to replace the retired plants.

 

DOI Finalizes Rules
For Tribal Lands

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) has finalized regulations designed to streamline the leasing process for development on tribal lands, including for renewable energy projects.

The DOI consulted with American Indian tribes and considered public comment when developing the regulations, which the agency says overhaul antiquated rules governing the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ (BIA) process for approving the surface leases on lands the federal government holds in trust for American Indian tribes and individuals.

The DOI says the new rule complements and helps to implement the recently passed Helping Expedite and Advance Responsible Tribal Homeownership Act, which allows federally recognized tribes to assume greater control of leasing on tribal lands.

The regulation also establishes separate, simplified processes for residential, business and renewable energy development, rather than using a one-size-fits-all approach that treats a lease for a single-family home the same as a lease for a large wind energy project.

For commercial or industrial development, the BIA would have 60 days to review leases and subleases. If the BIA does not complete its review of subleases within this time frame, those agreements will automatically go into effect.

The DOI says the new rule increases flexibility in compensations and land valuations, with the BIA deferring to the tribe’s negotiated value for a lease of tribal land, rather than requiring additional, costly appraisals. Other changes eliminate the requirement for the BIA approval of permits for certain short-term activities on Indian lands and require the BIA to approve leases unless it finds a compelling reason to disapprove.

Policy Watch

Regulators Approve Utilities’ RE Plans

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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