News Coverage

Some idle solar energy projects may soon connect to grid

Two federal agencies and Southern California Edison say they’re close to ending a long impasse that has made renewable energy projects sit unused. Negotiations with a third agency are tougher.

EPA finalizes tough new rules on emissions by power plants

The Obama administration finished crafting tough new rules Friday curbing mercury and other poisons emitted by coal-fired utilities, according to several people briefed on the decision, culminating more than two decades of work to clean up the nation’s dirtiest power plants.

First Solar Sells California Solar Farm to MidAmerican Energy

First Solar Inc. is selling one of its large California solar farms to MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., ending the solar-panel maker’s search for a buyer. The sale places MidAmerican Energy, a unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., in the solar-power business for the first time. MidAmerican operates fleets of wind farms and conventional power plants. The companies didn’t disclose terms of the deal Wednesday, but said the Topaz solar-power plant, in San Luis Obispo County, is worth more than $2 billion. Shares of First Solar rallied nearly 7% on the news, and traded at $49.16, up 6.7%.

Breaking ground in California Valley: Sun rises on new solar farm

A forest of thousands of sturdy metal posts is sprouting in the wide open spaces of California Valley.The posts will eventually support 720,000 photovoltaic panels that will be part of the California Valley Solar Ranch, one of the world’s largest facilities to turn sunlight into electricity.

California hits renewable energy milestone: 1 gigawatt of solar power installed to date

California has hit a major renewable energy milestone: 1 gigawatt — or 1,000 megawatts — of solar power has been installed on rooftops throughout the state, according to a report to be released Wednesday by Environment California, a statewide advocacy group. One gigawatt is roughly the size of two coal-fired power plants and is enough energy to power 750,000 homes. Five countries have hit the 1 gigawatt installation mark to date: Germany, Spain, Japan, Italy and the Czech Republic. California has installed more solar power than France, China and Belgium.

Viewpoints: Solar merits subsidies – just like other energy sources

“What the federal government should not do is be in the business of picking winners and losers,” proclaims John Boehner, GOP speaker of the House of Representatives. “For the federal government to be out there picking one company over another, one type of energy sources over another I think is wrong.” What prompted this espousing of free-market rhetoric so popular with the tea party crowd?

Fracking in Sacramento: Gasland cometh?

Concerns about fracking’s environmental impact—not to mention a scene from fracking documentary Gasland, where a man lights methane-heavy water coming out of his kitchen faucet on fire—is reason for alarm. And such concerns have led to improved regulation in other states. But in California, the state’s regulating agency, the Division of Oil, Gas & Geothermal Resources, has maintained fracking is used too infrequently to be a concern, and therefore needs minimal oversight.

Dark Day for Solar Thermal: Solar Trust Switches 500MW Power Plant to PV

Solar Trust said today that it will convert a 500-megawatt solar thermal power plant it had been planning in Blythe, California into a 500-megawatt plant made from photovoltaic panels. The shift comes because of “improved market conditions” for building power plants with PV modules.

California Solar Project Gets U.S. Approval

WASHINGTON—The Interior Secretary Wednesday approved the highest capacity solar-panel plant ever constructed on public-owned land. The approval cleared a permitting hurdle for First Solar Inc.’s 550-megawatt Desert Sunlight project, which needed to pass an environmental review from the Interior Department because it is being built on federal land.