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Laura Wisland

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About the author: Laura Wisland is a senior energy analyst and an expert on California renewable energy policies. She holds a master’s degree in public policy. See Laura's full bio.

Largest Solar Power Plant in the World Turns On

The largest solar plant in the world, a 392 MW concentrated solar power tower in California’s Mojave Desert, began generating electricity from all three of its power towers the day before Valentine’s Day. The timing seems fitting, because the project is [almost] guaranteed to touch your heart, one way or another. For some, the Ivanpah plant has made hearts flutter in excitement. After all, the construction of the plant is a huge step forward in our nation’s effort to increase technology options for supplies of pollution-free electricity. The plant has the generation capacity of a mid-sized natural gas plant, and will make enough electricity to power 140,000 homes. Read More

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Powering California with 50% Renewable Energy by 2030: New Analysis Shows It Can Be Done

Last week, a new analysis was released that explored the technical, environmental, and economic implications of raising California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 33 percent by 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. I’m excited to report that although the study illuminates the challenges of installing unprecedented amounts of renewables on the grid, it is technically possible. Moreover, California has tools in hand today to scale up renewables, and is developing programs and policies that will continue to lower the cost and technical challenges of doing so. Read More

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Renewable Energy, an Aging Electricity Grid, and the Solutions that Matter

The LA Times recently wrote an article about the U.S. electricity grid that inaccurately likens the challenges we face deploying large amounts of renewable energy to serious grid problems caused by major storms, cyber-attacks, or other forms of sabotage. Read More

Categories: Energy, Fossil Fuels  

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How Should California Design its Renewable Energy Future?

California’s landmark renewable energy policy, the Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS), establishes a clear blueprint for clean energy investment in the short-run: by 2020, all utilities are required to source 33 percent of their retail electricity sales from renewables. The big question now is what happens after that? What role should renewables play in California’s long-term goal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050? Read More

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Arizonans Stand Up for Solar Power

In July, I blogged about a proposal that Arizona Public Service (APS) submitted to its regulator, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC), to dramatically reduce incentives to install solar panels on homes and businesses. On Wednesday more than 100 people descended on ACC to protest it. The event kicked off two days of hearings that will decide whether to maintain Arizona’s existing net metering policy, which allows solar customers to receive credit on their electricity bills for each kilowatt-hour of electricity generated by their solar panels. Read More

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California Jumpstarts Energy Storage

One of the biggest challenges of relying on large quantities of renewable energy has to do with the fact that we can’t control when renewables actually generate electricity. When the wind blows, we get electricity, period. When the sun sets, our solar panels cannot provide the electricity we need at night. That is, of course, unless we capture the energy and store it for later use. Read More

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Electricity Rate Hikes in California? Not the Jolt Clean Energy Opponents Claim.

A coalition of industry trade groups that have long opposed California’s clean energy policies funded a report about a month ago that blamed California’s rising electricity rates on — you guessed it — California’s clean energy policies. Since the California Energy Commission just updated its electricity and natural gas demand forecast, which contains revised estimates for rate increases that are 15-20 percent lower than original predictions (see slide 3 of Tuesday’s presentation), I thought it was time for a blog on the subject of renewables and rates. Read More

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Latest Data on Solar Shows Price Declines through 2012

According to the latest Tracking the Sun report from the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), prices for installed solar photovoltaic (PV) systems fell between 6% and 14% in 2012. The report also contains a 2013 snapshot for California systems, where prices fell by an additional 10% to 15% in the first 6 months. Read More

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Arizona: Don’t Turn Out the Lights on Solar Power

Arizona, a state known for abundant sunshine and one of the fastest growing populations in the country, may be changing its rooftop solar program in a way that would decrease the benefits that utility customers receive from installing solar panels on their roofs. Read More

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New Renewable Energy Rule Adopted for California’s Publicly Owned Utilities

On Wednesday, the California Energy Commission adopted regulations that clarified how the state’s more than 40 publicly owned utilities (POUs) will participate in the country’s largest renewable energy purchase program. Read More

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