PG&E Corp. said Nov. 18 that current CMS Energy Corp./Consumers Energy President and CEO Patricia "Patti" Poppe has been named CEO of PG&E and made a member of its board of directors. Poppe will take over from current PG&E Corp. CEO William Smith on Jan. 4, according to a news release. Poppe was appointed president and CEO of CMS Energy and Consumers Energy in 2016 and resigned with an effective date of Dec. 1. During her tenure she has been "a leader in clean energy," PG&E said.
The California Air Resources Board starting Nov. 17 is offering consumers an instant point-of-sale incentive of up to $1,500 for the purchase or lease of any eligible new battery-electric or plug-in hybrid vehicle from a participating automotive retailer. The California Clean Fuel Reward incentive program is made possible through CARB, which is working with San Diego Gas & Electric, the Sacramento Municipal Utility District and other electric utilities that participate in CARB's Low Carbon Fuel Standard program. Southern California Edison is administering the program. Consumers can combine this and other incentives to decrease the cost of a new electric vehicle. The transportation sector is the single largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in California.
Leap, a privately held company with offices in San Francisco and the Netherlands, signed 10-year resource-adequacy agreements Nov. 12 with two community choice aggregators. A total of 12.5 MW in flexible capacity will be available to Redwood Coast Energy Authority and Valley Clean Energy beginning in June 2021. The RA source will be Leap's marketplace for grid flexibility, which provides access to distributed energy resources. Some of the flexible capacity will be provided by RCEA and VCE customers.
Winemaker Domaine Carneros announced its selection of EDF Renewables North America to design, build and operate a solar-photovoltaic and battery energy storage microgrid solution for its operations. The 250-kW solar PV system will be integrated with a 280-kW/540-kWh behind-the-meter battery storage installation. It will be designed to island the entire facility during a power outage so its operations can continue. Domaine Carneros said this will allow it to reduce its diesel fuel consumption and GHG emissions as well as extend its fuel reserves up to an entire week. It has typically rented backup generators during fire seasons. The vintner's six estate vineyards are located in the Carneros American Viticultural Area, between Napa and Sonoma counties.
Mustang Two Whirlaway, a 100-MW solar project in Kings County, officially began operations Nov. 11. The facility, developed by Idemitsu Renewables, is contracted to provide generation solely for Peninsula Clean Energy. PCE has contracted for a total of 500 MW of renewable energy resources to date, which also includes the 200-MW Wright Solar Project that started operating in January.
Danish materials manufacturer Hexcel on Nov. 2 closed its wind-energy manufacturing plant in Windsor, Colorado. The plant produced prepregs, an epoxy resin reinforced with glass or carbon fibers that is used to manufacture the spars and shells of wind turbine blades. Hexcel reported in its Oct. 19 third-quarter results that wind-energy materials sales experienced a decline of 41.5 percent compared with the third quarter of 2019 as customers pursued outsourced materials. The decrease "reflects competitive pressures that have led to a shift in demand from our advanced fiber prepreg to lower-cost products," Hexcel CEO Nick Stanage said during an Oct. 20 investor call.
Black Hills Energy of Colorado on Sept. 24 became the second Southwest utility to seek regulatory approval for a one-time bill credit this year. After passage of the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, which reduced the corporate tax income rate from 35 to 21 percent, the utility in 2018 began tracking associated savings in an excess deferred federal income tax liability account. BHE in February 2018 proposed returning the funds to ratepayers over a four-year period. Its revised plan would return $7.2 million in December, resulting in a $39 bill credit for the average residential customer [20AL-0394E and 20AL-0395E]. State regulators referred the request to an administrative law judge at the Nov. 18 weekly meeting of the Colorado Public Utilities Commission. NV Energy in October received approval from the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada to return $120 million to ratepayers in a one-time bill credit (see CEM No. 1611).
Vestas Blades America, a subsidiary of Denmark-based Vestas Winds Systems, will eliminate 185 jobs from its Brighton, Colorado, wind turbine facility by Jan. 17, according to a Nov. 17 letter the company filed with the Colorado Department of Labor and Employment. The job losses amount to around 12 percent of Vestas' Brighton workforce, which includes 1,100 workers at its blade production facility and 400 at a separate factory. Vestas employs around 1,900 other workers in Colorado at its Pueblo and Windsor factories. The company in May 2019 announced the addition of 200 jobs at its Brighton facility, citing major wind contracts. Wind turbine order intake dropped 43 percent in the first quarter of 2020 compared with the last quarter of 2019, the company reported in its first-quarter financial report.
A bill in Utah that would bar local jurisdictions from enacting natural gas bans advanced from the Legislature's Interim Committee on Public Utilities, Energy and Technology for consideration in the 2021 legislative session. On a party-line vote of 12-4, Republican lawmakers approved the Utility Permitting Amendments bill, which would amend sections of the Utah Code to prevent municipalities and counties from enacting policies that would prohibit connection of utility service "based upon the type or source of energy to be delivered to the customer." The Arizona Legislature in February passed a similar bill (see CEM No. 1578).