Renewable Energy Tax Credit News Briefs - February 2017

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Ohio Gov. John Kasich vetoed H.B. 554, a bill that would have retained the current freeze on renewable energy standards, Dec. 27, 2016. The legislature set renewable energy standards in 2008, mandating that investor-owned utilities obtain 25 percent of their energy from advanced energy sources by 2025, with half the energy coming from renewable sources. The Senate voted 18-13 on the bill to extend the freeze. However, Kasich’s veto reinstated the standards at the beginning of 2017.

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Sally Jewell, U.S. Secretary of the Interior, announced Dec. 13, 2016, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with California Gov. Jerry Brown to collaboratively encourage the development of renewable energy projects on federal and state lands and offshore California waters. The MOU establishes specific objectives for onshore and offshore renewable energy development on federal and state lands and waters, with a high priority on processing applications for renewable energy projects in areas that minimize environmental effects, make efficient use of existing transmission systems and are consistent with ongoing cooperative planning efforts. In addition, Jewell announced approval of two transmission line projects developed in consultation with several states that will distribute up to 4,500 megawatts of renewable power across the Mountain West, Desert Southwest and California. The two lines approved will minimize impacts on sensitive avian habitat. The 416-mile Energy Gateway South transmission project will carry up to 1,500 megawatts (MW) and cross 228 miles of public land administered by Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) in Utah, Colorado and Wyoming. TransWest Express, a 728-mile line that crosses 442 miles of BLM public land, would deliver up to 3,000 megawatts from southcentral Wyoming to southern Nevada. 

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The Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and the Solar Energy Finance Association (SEFA) announced Jan. 3 the Solar Energy Finance Advisory Council (SEFAC), a new advisory council formed under SEIA to focus on supporting wide-scale, low-cost solar deployment by improving access to investment capital. Under SEIA, the SEFAC will leverage the insight of its participating members to expand and lower the cost of investment capital to meet the growing needs of the solar industry. Specific actions will include expanding the supply of tax equity from banks, corporations and other potential investors; opening capital market opportunities through asset-backed securitizations; reducing tension points in debt and tax equity which can often complicate solar project finance; and communicating the technical and financial performance of solar projects to improve understanding and confidence among investors.

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Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) and GTM Research announced Dec. 13, 2016, that the United States solar market shattered all previous quarterly solar photovoltaic (PV) installation records, according to SEIA’s Q4 2016 U.S. Solar Market Insight report. The report stated that 4,143 megawatts (MW) of solar PV were installed in the United States in the third quarter of the year, a rate of one MW every 32 minutes. This is a 99 percent increase over the second quarter of 2016 and 191 percent over the same quarter in 2015, reaching 35.8 gigawatts (GW). GTM Research forecast that 14.1 GWdc of new PV installations would come online in 2016, up 88 percent over 2015. Utility PV is expected to account for more than 70 percent of that new capacity. SEIA stated that with more than 1 million residential solar installations nationwide and record-breaking growth in the utility-scale sector, the industry is poised to nearly double year-over-year. The report is available at www.seia.org.

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