California moves towards 100% carbon-free electricity after landmark vote

California moves towards 100% carbon-free electricity after landmark vote

  • Legislators vote for complete shift to clean energy by 2045
  • Bill heads to state senate and then to Governor Jerry Brown

Oliver Milman in New York.  @olliemilman
Wed 29 Aug 2018 12.10 EDT Last modified on Wed 29 Aug 2018 12.29 EDT

Wind turbines near Rancho Mirage in southern California. State senator Kevin de Leon called the bill ‘a victory for clean air’.

Photograph: Xinhua/Barcroft Media

California has given fossil fuel-derived energy a hefty shove towards obsolescence after legislators voted to require that 100% of the state’s electricity come from carbon-free sources.

The bill, which will need to be approved by the state senate and Governor Jerry Brown, will require a complete shift to clean energy such as solar and wind by 2045. It would also demand that electric utilities source 60% of their power from renewable sources by 2030, up from the current target of 50%.

California ridding itself entirely of carbon-intensive energy has been a politically vexed proposition for the past two years, with state Republicans arguing it was unfeasible and would drive up electricity prices.

But the state has emerged as a bastion of defiance to the Trump administration on climate change, among other issues, as it has been scorched by record wildfires and a prolonged drought. A report released this week warned that the state is on course for punishing heatwaves, thousands of additional deaths and the erosion of two thirds of its coastline due to rising temperatures, wildfires and sea level rise.

Brown has already set out ambitious goals to expand renewables and the use of electric cars. The state legislature has already passed a law that requires newly built homes to be equipped for solar power. In July, the state announced its greenhouse gas emissions were lower than in 1990, despite a growing economy.

The bill to go 100% renewable energy was authored by state senator Kevin de Leon, who called it a “victory for clean air. It’s a victory to tackle climate change and the devastation that it’s leaving in its wake.”

Brown has yet to confirm he will sign the bill his predecessor as governor, Arnold Schwarzenegger, wrote to lawmakers to back the legislation and urge them to be “undeterred by those who wish to stop our progress and move backwards”.

California becomes the second US state, after Hawaii, to call for carbon-free electricity by 2045. The clout of the Californian economy could help spur some other states, such as Massachusetts and New Jersey, to do the same.

Environmentalists hailed the vote as a landmark moment.

“This is a pivotal moment for California, for the country, and the world,” said Michael Brune, the executive director of the Sierra Club.

“California is showing the world that moving to 100% clean energy is within our reach and what bold climate leadership looks like in the face of a Trump administration.”

California currently sources around a third of its electricity from clean sources. Opponents of the 100% renewable bill warned that electricity prices would go up if the state relied too heavily upon intermittent solar and wind before energy storage improves.

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How solar power saved $6.7 million on a Tuesday

How solar power saved $6.7 million on a Tuesday

A report analyzing the week of a heat wave in the Northeast estimates that solar power saved $30 million in wholesale electricity costs due to lowering demand at its peak during mid-day – including $6.7 million in savings on July 3rd.

Boston set a record August 29th with the temperature at 98 degrees and the highest peak in New England – Mt Washington – set a record of 65 degrees recently. And while 65 degrees may not seem particularly warm, back in January Mt Washington was the second coldest place on the planet.

With all that, this summer has been a hot one in which grids in several parts of the nation have leaned heavily on solar power. We saw hints of this coming back in the cool spring days of April when it became clear that New England had developed a case of the duck curves, with solar meeting 20% of demand and pushing peak pricing to after sundown. On July 19 solar provided as much as 15% of total electricity in New England, knocking a full 2 GW off of demand at its peak and shifting that peak to the early evening.

Recent data from the Department of Energy showed the changes in electricity generation of New England to the broader world, with solar representing more than 10% of in-state electricity generation in both Massachusetts and Vermont in the first half of 2018.

As this summer cruises into September, SunCommon decided to quantify a portion of the value of solar in a new pair of reports by Synapse Energy EconomicsWholesale Cost Savings of Distributed Solar in New England & New York.

The reports look specifically at the wholesale pricing market and how solar power lowered the amount of demand on the grid, which in turn lowered the price of electricity. During the six days of July 1 – 7, 2018 the wholesale electricity markets saved approximately $29.9 million. New York saved $10.2 million, while New England’s savings totaled $19.7 million.

On Tuesday July 3, New England and New York combined to save $6.7 million. During the whole of the week, New York saved 6% of its wholesale costs and New England saved 14%. Between the two regions, 154 GWh of solar electricity was generated – with New York peaking at approximately 1 GW of solar generation and New England at 1.6 GW, representing 3% and 7% of the peak demand, respectively, during the week.

Though back in April solar made up more of total demand (20%), the yellow sliver at the top of that curve on July 3 was much pricier during the summer heat waves – and so very valuable for the grid. Nor has this phenomenon ended for the year, as just yesterday we saw New England electricity pricing hitting extremes.

These numbers don’t account for the role that energy storage is playing, and Green Mountain Power has estimated that Vermont was able to save $500,000 during the heat waves due to its distributed energy storage facilities.


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Climate Action & Sustainability Fair

On Saturday May 7, 2016 @ 11 am to 11 pm is the Climate Action & Sustainability Fair!
Located at Shire City Sanctuary, 40 Melville Street, Pittsfield, MA.

SHIRE poster FINAL!-page-001

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The Solar in MA is Grinding to a Halt

The Solar in MA is grinding to a halt in National Grid Territory in MA

The Net Metering Cap is maxed for 171 MA towns in National grid territory. Only systems smaller than 10kW residential or 25kW 3 phase are exempt. The net metering cap is a percentage based on the historic peak demand in each utility territory. There is still space in Eversource territory due to the less competitive rate structure for net metering credits.

Reaching the Net metering cap means all the progress of building a robust, growing renewable energy sector is slowing down. As well as progress for 100% renewable energy is slowing down in MA.

We need the net metering caps raised if we are to have any chance of keeping and growing the 12,000 solar jobs, moving commercial and large scale solar projects from the drawing boards into reality, helping municipalities reduce their electric bills, and provide equitable access to solar for low income or residents without a viable solar roof.
Send this template letter to the members of the TUE.

check for more info

Thank you, Claire and John

JCTUE addresses 2015

Sample template letter raise the cap TUE

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Food Bank of Western Mass will Bike 4 Food

Solar Store’s recent fundraising for the Food Bank of Western Mass will Bike 4 Food event.

wb4f far snall

Tom Doyle, Shelly Beck, Lisa Appleton, John Ward and Claire Chang. left to right.

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Leverett Inks Contracts for 15kW Solar Array

Leverett Inks Contracts for 15kW Solar Array


Contributing Writer
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
(Published in print: Thursday, October 3, 2013)

LEVERETT — The Solar Store, a Greenfield-based solar panel retail and installation service, has been awarded the contract to build a 15 kilowatt solar panel array in Leverett.

The Solar Store was one of two developers to submit a proposal to build the solar array, which will be located between the town’s elementary school and public safety complex.

“There’s a little hill there that separates the two buildings and the Solar Store will put five pole-mounted solar arrays on that land because of it’s south-facing slant,” said Town Administrator Marjorie McGinnis.

Bidders were given the flexibility to choose the site they preferred to place the array on, with a plot of land between the Leverett Library and the elementary school being the other possible location.

McGinnis said that the entire project will cost $98,016 and will be funded by a $138,750 grant the town received through the Massachusetts Green Communities Act last year. The town’s original estimate put the cost between $70,000 and $80,000.

Leverett is one of 110 communities in the state that have earned “green community” designations. In addition to the solar energy project, the town has also used funding from the grant to install energy-efficient lighting in Town Hall, in the safety complex and in library buildings.

The only other company to submit a bid was GM Industries of Tolland, Conn.

McGinnis said the Solar Store was chosen because it had experience working in western Massachusetts and chose the installation location that the town preferred.

“We’re excited to get it all done and get the poles in, and so far our relationship with the bidder had been very good,”

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