MCE on March 10 released details of its forthcoming 2021 Open Season procurement process, through which the community choice aggregator is soliciting bids for Portfolio Content Category 1 renewable energy and front-of-the-meter, stand-alone energy storage. For the first time, MCE is encouraging "suppliers to consider community benefits and equity metrics when submitting offers," noting that while those elements "are not required, MCE will prioritize offers that include them." Among the optional elements are support for educational programs, environmental-justice initiatives, and workforce development and training initiatives; participation of contractors, subcontractors or businesses owned by disabled veterans, or located in or employing workers living in a designated disadvantaged community; and use of components and materials manufactured or assembled in the United States. Offers will be accepted starting April 9 and are due by 5 p.m. Pacific time on May 7. Additional information and instructions are available through MCE's website.

The Camarillo City Council unanimously approved the award of a contract to Clean Coalition at its March 10 meeting. Clean Coalition will manage the design work for hybrid solar microgrids at five city sites: City Hall, the corporation yard, the public library, the police station and the wastewater treatment plant. The project is expected to save Camarillo millions of dollars over the microgrids' anticipated 30-year life span. The microgrids are being designed to provide at least five days of continuous power for emergency use during outages, and are expected to reduce the cumulative carbon footprint of the five sites by about 88 percent.

Rio Tinto, a multinational mining company, said it is building a new tellurium recovery plant in Utah. It will recover the commercially critical mineral, which is used in thin-film solar-photovoltaic panels, from its Kennecott copper refining facility near Salt Lake City, the company stated in a March 8 news release. Construction of the plant is expected to cost $2.9 million. Tellurium is a byproduct of copper smelting. The facility is expected to produce roughly 20 metric tons of tellurium per year and will begin production in the fourth quarter. The mineral is considered rarer than rare-earth minerals, at an average of 3 parts per billion in most rocks, according to the U.S. Geological Survey. Although domestic market data is proprietary, according to the agency, in 2015 roughly half the domestic demand for the mineral was being met by imports, with most supplies coming from China and Canada. Domestic supplies were "nearly all" from a single copper refinery in Texas.

Newport Beach-based Clean Energy Fuels Corp. and Total SE, its largest shareholder, signed a 50-50 joint venture agreement to develop renewable natural gas production facilities that includes credit support for the construction of additional downstream RNG fueling infrastructure, the companies said in a March 4 statement. The companies said the initial firm commitment is $100 million and that the amount can increase to $400 million as development opportunities arise: "Since Clean Energy and Total will be providing the equity portion of the investments, the actual amount of capital invested in RNG projects may be higher than $400 million depending on the amount of leverage that is deployed." Total will also provide credit support, which includes $45 million for Clean Energy's development of contracted RNG fueling infrastructure. Clean Energy, the largest RNG fuel provider in the California Low Carbon Fuel Standard program, said the agreement will help it meet RNG demand. The Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the largest bus fleet in the nation, converted its entire fleet to RNG and in February signed a deal with the company for 47 million gallons of the fuel.

Chevron Corp. and Noble Midstream Partners reached an agreement under which Chevron will acquire all 33.925 million publicly held common stock units of Noble Midstream, the companies said in a March 5 news release. The all-stock transaction gives outstanding owners of Noble Midstream common stock 0.1393 of a share of Chevron common stock in exchange for a single share. Noble Midstream is a master limited partnership originally formed by Noble Energy Inc. to own, operate, develop and acquire domestic midstream infrastructure assets. The company, which is majority-owned by Chevron, provides crude oil, natural gas, and water-related midstream services, and also owns equity interests in oil pipelines in the Denver-Julesberg Basin of Colorado and Texas' Delaware Basin. Chevron said the transaction will enable the company to "simplify the governance structure and capture value in support of our leading positions in the DJ and Permian basins." The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter.

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