Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources
News and Events October 18, 2012
The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) on October 12 finalized a program to spur development of solar energy on public lands in six Western states. The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) for solar energy development provides a blueprint for utility-scale solar energy permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah. The PEIS establishes solar energy zones with access to existing or planned transmission, incentives for development within those zones, and a process for consideration of additional zones and solar projects.
The Solar PEIS establishes an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones, totaling about 285,000 acres of public lands. The zones will serve as priority areas for commercial-scale solar development, with the potential for additional zones through ongoing and future regional planning processes. If fully built out, projects could produce as much as 23,700 megawatts of solar energy, enough to power approximately 7 million U.S. homes. The program also allows, on a case-by-case basis, for the possibility of carefully sited solar projects outside the solar energy zones on about 19 million acres in “variance” areas. See the DOI press release and the complete list of the solar energy zones.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on September 24 presented its 12th annual Green Power Leadership Awards for achievements in advancing the nation’s renewable electricity market. “Green power” is electricity generated from renewable resources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, biogas, and low-impact hydropower, and it produces little or no net increase of greenhouse gas emissions. For most municipalities, electricity usage is the single-largest source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The 24 award-winning partners were chosen from more than 1,300 partner organizations. Utilities, renewable energy project developers, and other green power suppliers were eligible to apply for the “Supplier of the Year” and “Program of the Year” awards. Among the categories were first-ever honorees for “Sustained Excellence in Green Power,” including Intel Corporation, Kohl’s Department Stores, Staples, and Whole Foods Market. In addition, the “Green Power Partner of the Year” awards went to the City of Austin, Texas, Hilton Worldwide, Microsoft Corporation, and the University of Oklahoma, and the “Green Power Community of the Year” winners were Beaverton, Oregon, and Oak Park, Illinois. See the EPA press release and the Green Power website.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) on October 11 announced funding to modernize and improve the efficiency of rural electric generation and transmission systems. The announcement includes additional loan support of $134 million in Smart Grid technologies in 16 states. The selected projects are located in Alabama, California, Iowa, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Mexico, New York, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Texas, Washington, and Wyoming. In August, the USDA reported that it had met its goal to finance $250 million in Smart Grid technologies in fiscal year 2012.
USDA also announced nearly $264 million in loans to partially finance wood-burning plants in Colorado, Hawaii, and Texas that are expected to generate 69 megawatts (MW) of electricity. Additionally, $14,565,000 was announced to finance the construction of a 5.5 MW solar-powered generating facility in Maryland. See the USDA press release.
Massachusetts topped the list of energy efficient states for the second year—followed by California, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Washington, Maryland, and Minnesota—according to a new report. The nonprofit American Council for an Energy-Efficient Economy (ACEEE) on October 3 released its sixth annual State Energy Efficiency Scorecard, which ranks all 50 states and the District of Columbia according to energy efficiency measures.
The report examines six of the primary policy areas in which states typically pursue energy efficiency: utility and “public benefits” programs and policies; transportation policies; building energy codes; combined heat and power policies; state government-led initiatives around energy efficiency; and appliance and equipment standards. Though the baseline year against which ACEEE assessed policy and program changes depends on the policy category, the Council based policy scores on policies that were in place as of September 2012. Among other things, the Council found that utility budgets for electric and natural gas efficiency programs rose to almost $7 billion in 2011, which was a 27% increase over 2010. See the ACEEE press release and the scorecard web-page.
By Minh Le, Acting Program Manager, Solar Program
For the U.S. solar market to continue to expand—maintaining a skilled workforce remains tremendously important. This is why the Energy Department recently announced its support for the Photovoltaic Online Training (PVOT) program—a free online training tool specifically designed for code officials who grant permits and perform field inspections for residential solar installations.
Using video and photographs to illustrate the correct techniques—PVOT teaches participants how to perform safe solar installations. The online course provides in-depth training in a variety of subjects—including electrical requirements and expedited permitting processes. The end goal is to increase the reach and scale of training available to code officials across the country, while also establishing a consistent and streamlined approach to the residential solar inspection and installation process. For the complete story, see the Energy Blog.
Croatian Center of Renewable Energy Sources (CCRES)