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EGEB: Clean Energy for America Act, North Dakota and Vermont solar, and more

In today’s EGEB:

  • New legislation would streamline the tax code to boost clean energy.
  • North Dakota is last in American solar capacity, but the state is looking to make progress.
  • A Vermont policy designed to spur solar development on landfills seems to be working.
  • Britain sets another record in consecutive hours for coal-free power.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., introduced the Clean Energy for America Act in Congress last week. The proposed bill aims to get rid of the current “patchwork” of expiring incentives for renewables in the US, and opts to replace it with a different system. From the bill’s summary:

The bill creates a performance-based incentive that would be neutral and flexible between clean electricity technologies. Taxpayers are able to choose between a production tax credit (PTC) and an investment tax credit (ITC), which are scaled based on the carbon emissions of the electricity generated – measured as grams of carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) emitted per kilowatt hour (KWh) generated. Power plants that emit at least 35 percent less carbon than the current nationwide average begin qualifying for a small incentive, which increases for power plants that are progressively cleaner. Zero emission facilities qualify for the maximum credits – a 2.3 cents per KWh hour PTC or a 30 percent ITC. The PTC is available for the 10 years after a facility is placed in service.

The Clean Energy for America Act also touches upon clean fuel, energy-efficient homes and energy-efficient buildings, among other things. The Union of Concerned Scientists has expressed its strong support for the bill, though there’s plenty of overall skepticism about it being passed.

North Dakota Solar

For a number of reasons — including its fossil fuel resources and wind power — North Dakota hasn’t been a big solar state. In fact, it ranks last in the US for installed solar capacity, with less than 0.5 MW installed at the end of 2018.

But Morning Consult reports on how the state recently approved its first commercial solar project, and North Dakotans may be becoming a bit more receptive to solar’s potential.

Brian Kroshus (R), chairman of the North Dakota Public Service Commission, voted in favor of the project. He believes North Dakota’s lack of a Renewable Portfolio Standard hasn’t incentivized state utilities to pursue solar energy.

When paired with the northern state’s preference for wind, it’s clear why solar has lagged behind, but there appears to be room for at least some solar development going forward.

Vermont Solar

It’s a different story in Vermont, home state of “Solar Star” city Burlington. Energy News Network took a look at the state policy which aims to put solar in areas like landfills and brownfields — and away from undeveloped land — by incentivizing developers to do so through a “premium rate” for such projects.

One example cited in the report is a 500 kW solar array that’s been set in a remediated brownfield. The state has received more than 100 applications for these projects since the program came about in July 2017. It’s been so successful, officials are now thinking about ways to further refine the program to make it more effective.

No Coal for Britain

Another week, another record for British energy use without coal. Britain was powered completely by sources other than coal for more than 100 hours straight over the recent weekend, according to The Telegraph.

A National Grid spokesman said it seems to be becoming a “regular occurrence,” and that does seem to be the case. A few weeks ago, Britain went more than 90 hours without coal. During a week in March, 35% of British electricity was generated by wind power alone.

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