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California Energy Markets / This Week
[CEM 1278 / April 11, 2014]
Solar Plants May Be Killing More Birds Than Thought
The number of bird deaths at three large-scale solar projects in Southern California may be "vastly" underrepresented, with one plant-the Ivanpah power tower-acting as a possible "mega-trap" for insects and birds, according to a new federal report. The analysis, based on necropsy findings of bird carcasses at the Ivanpah, Desert Sunlight and Genesis solar plants, was conducted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's forensics lab. The report recommends several measures to monitor and avoid deaths, including installing cameras at Ivanpah and conducting daily carcass surveys over a two-year period at all three plants. Ivanpah operator NRG Energy says the findings are premature and not supported by scientific literature.
CPUC Ponders How Much Renewable Power Is Enough
CPUC members held off on approving a batch of renewable-energy credit contracts for Pacific Gas & Electric, instead discussing how much of a contracted surplus utilities should have under a 33 percent renewables portfolio standard, especially for RECs, which are disfavored under state policy. The deals represent roughly 1 million MWh of RECs with confidential facilities, and PG&E wants to bank them for future RPS compliance. Ratepayer advocates and union groups oppose the deals, citing cost and need. Commissioners debated the merits of exceeding the RPS with low-cost RECs versus the spirit of the law.
Lancaster Takes Energy Storage for a Test Drive
The high-desert city of Lancaster is giving energy storage a spin with the installation of a new 30 kW/30 kWh system provided by Santa Clara-based Green Charge Networks. The storage unit will be installed at the Lancaster Museum of Art & History, along with an electric-vehicle fast charger. Lancaster is hoping to get more experience with storage-and its effectiveness in cutting demand charges-as it strives to become the nation's first zero-net-energy city.
Palo Alto Looks to Jump-Start Solar Feed-In Tariff With Projects on City Structures
In a quest to generate interest in a foundering feed-in tariff program, the City of Palo Alto is making some of its own buildings available for solar-project development. The city is inviting bids to install solar systems atop multi-story parking structures, offering to pay a fixed FIT price of 16.5 cents/kWh for power from the systems once they're up and running. It's estimated projects built through the request for proposals could collectively generate up to 3 MW.
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