Archive:May 2015

Oregon Moves Ahead on Energy Storage
Australian Renewable Energy Target (RET) – Revised RET deal finalised
Funding for Washington’s Clean Energy Fund II Hangs in the Balance
North Carolina General Assembly Active on Renewable Energy Issues in 2015 Long Session
Australian Renewable Energy Target (RET) – in principle agreement reached on a revised RET

Oregon Moves Ahead on Energy Storage

The Oregon Department of Energy (ODOE) recently announced that in June 2015 it will issue a request for proposals (RFP) for an electrical energy storage demonstration project. The U.S. Department of Energy will make $250,000 in federal funding available for the selected project, and ODOE and Oregon BEST will supply an additional $45,000. The RFP is intended to incent 500 kW or larger storage projects that “improve electric transmission and/or distribution system operations, service quality, and reliability.” The RFP will be technology neutral, and ODOE hopes to receive bids from “utilities, energy storage technology vendors, energy service suppliers and electric utility customers.” Applicants will need to have either a “committed utility partner” or a letter of support from the utility with which the project will interconnect—potential bidders may want to begin laying the groundwork for those arrangements pending the RFP’s issuance. The recipient of the award will be expected to provide a minimum 50% cost share and will need to “start” the project in 2015. (ODOE’s press release does not explain what will be required to “start,” and presumably the RFP will address that question.)

ODOE’s press release can be found here.  The RFP announcement will appear on ODOE’s energy storage web site in June.

This announcement comes hard on the heels of news that the Oregon Senate Business and Transportation Committee passed H.B. 2193 out to the full Senate following a hearing on May 20. The proposed legislation would direct electric companies, if authorized by Oregon’s Public Utility Commission, to procure certain energy storage systems. The bill passed the Oregon House by a vote of 58-2. We’ll report on the final version of the bill if it is enacted, which seems likely—in the meantime, a summary of an earlier version of the legislation can be found here.

Australian Renewable Energy Target (RET) – Revised RET deal finalised

A bipartisan agreement on the revised Renewable Energy Target (RET) was finally reached between the Australian Government (represented by Industry Minister, Ian Macfarlane and Environment Minister, Greg Hunt) and the Opposition (represented by Mark Butler and Gary Gray) on the morning of 18 May 2015 in Melbourne. There have been reports that the agreement was reached with intervention from the Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s office.

As contemplated by the in principle agreement reached between the Government and the Opposition on 8 May 2015, the existing target of 41,000 GWh of large scale renewable energy by 2020 will now be reduced to 33,000 GWh. This reduction will be effected by way of legislative amendment to the Renewable Energy (Electricity) Act 2000 (Cth).
Australia is the first developed country to formally reduce its renewable energy target. There are suggestions the reduced RET will cause investment in Australian renewable energy projects to fall from an expected AUD20.6 billion by 2020 to AUD14.7 billion.

The Government has agreed not to pursue its proposal to continue reviewing the target every two years. This alleviates concerns over the retention of the two-yearly reviews of the scheme. These reviews have arguably been the predominant cause of the current investment freeze in the renewable energy industry. In lieu of the two-yearly reviews, annual statements detailing achievement towards meeting the RET and impacts on electricity prices will be provided by the Clean Energy Regulator.

Despite lack of support from the Opposition, the Greens and the renewable energy industry, the Government’s plan to include native forest wood waste in the range of energy sources that are eligible to contribute to the RET will be included in the relevant amending legislation which is expected to be presented to Parliament next week. The Government intends to pass this proposal with support from the Senate crossbench.

It is expected the revised RET should be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before the winter recess on 25 June 2015.

The Opposition has indicated that it would increase the 2020 target if it wins the next election, which is to be held on or before 14 January 2017.

Funding for Washington’s Clean Energy Fund II Hangs in the Balance

Funding for Washington’s Clean Energy Fund (“CEF”) II hangs in the balance as the Washington State Legislature entered the 15th day of its first special session following the close of the 2015 regular session. A special session was necessary because neither a general fund budget nor a capital budget has been passed.

The CEF, which was established for the first time in the 2013 capital budget, is managed by the state Department of Commerce and supports clean energy projects and technologies statewide. Governor Inslee proposed $60 million for CEF II in his 2015 capital budget. The House has $40 million for CEF in the House’s 2015 proposed capital budget, and the Senate has $0.

Budget leaders in Olympia are meeting to develop compromise general fund and capital budgets, and the future of CEF II must be resolved in those negotiations.

The 2013 CEF was used to fund energy storage demonstration projects proposed by Avista Utilities, Puget Sound Energy, and Public Utility District No. 1 of Snohomish County, Washington ($15 million). The 2013 CEF funds also were used for revolving loan fund grants to support residential and commercial energy efficiency projects ($15 million). The remainder of the 2013 CEF ($6 million) will be used by Washington research institutions as matching funds for federal grants.

For more information, click here visit the CleanTech Alliance website.

North Carolina General Assembly Active on Renewable Energy Issues in 2015 Long Session

Two bills with significant renewable energy provisions were among those that survived the North Carolina General Assembly’s self-imposed “crossover” deadline of April 30, 2015. Most substantive bills must pass at least one house of the legislature before the crossover deadline in order to remain eligible for consideration in the 2015-16 legislative biennium. However, some bills and portions of bills that do not make crossover can still be included in the budget or as amendments to bills that did beat the deadline.

The two energy bills that made it through crossover provide for (i) a very limited extension of North Carolina’s renewable energy tax credit, and (ii) a reduction of the only mandatory renewable energy portfolio standard in the southeast. The bill providing for a limited extension of the state renewable energy tax credit was signed into law by Governor Pat McCrory and went into effect immediately. The portfolio standard reduction has passed the House and is being debated in the Senate as of this writing. Both bills are described in this alert.

To read the full alert, click here.

Australian Renewable Energy Target (RET) – in principle agreement reached on a revised RET

After months of negotiations, Industry Minister Ian Macfarlane has confirmed that on 8 May 2015 the Australian Government and the Opposition have agreed in principle a revised Renewable Energy Target (RET) of 33,000 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of large scale renewable energy by 2020. Read More

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