5 January 2010
In 2009, the West’s abundant renewable energy potential received significant new attention from policymakers at the federal, regional and state levels. The Obama Administration’s emphasis on rebuilding our nation’s economy through increased reliance on clean, domestic clean energy resources and new transmission development resulted in new activity by utilities, state governments, federal agencies, the renewable energy industry and many other top stakeholders in states throughout the West in 2009.
Over 850 megawatts of new wind energy projects came online in 2009 in Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming, and a number of large new solar and wind projects were announced in these five states, plus Nevada.
The Interwest Energy Alliance’s annual summary of western renewable energy highlights provides just a snapshot view of some of the numerous activities that industry, NGOs, governmental entities and many other parties are pursuing throughout the West to bring the region’s renewable energy market foothold to scale. These efforts are helping to create new jobs and new economic development opportunities in rural, suburban and urban areas…providing the underpinnings of a smarter, cleaner, modern energy infrastructure that will power our nation’s future.
The Interwest Energy Alliance is a regional trade association that represents the nation’s leading companies in the renewable energy industry in six western states. Interwest works closely and cooperatively with the West’s leading non-governmental conservation organizations to seek consensus approaches to new project and transmission development for clean and economically beneficial renewable energy resources.
Here are just a few of the many highlights that took place throughout the West in 2009, in which Interwest was involved in some manner:
- Transmission expansion efforts gain momentum in the West
- Federal stimulus targets renewable project and transmission development
- Western governors continue their support for clean energy
- Tri-State scrutinized by Colorado PUC
- Renewable energy industry increases cooperation with West’s wildlife and conservation communities
- Wyoming keeps wind industry on its toes in 2009
- New wind and solar plants dedicated and announced in western states
- Renewable energy policy successes in western legislatures and regulatory commissions
- Interwest Energy Alliance continues advocacy of renewable energy policies throughout the West
Transmission expansion efforts gain momentum in the West
Transmission constraints are a primary hindrance to renewable energy development in the West. In 2009, policymakers at the state, regional and federal levels redoubled their efforts to strengthen the region’s grid to accommodate significantly increased amounts of renewable energy generation.
A renewable energy resource evaluation process was conducted by stakeholders in Arizona. The resulting report, “Arizona Renewable Resource and Transmission Assessment,” provided data for Arizona’s electric utilities to use to assess areas that need transmission access to support renewable energy development. The report documents the process used by the group, the data sources assimilated, assumptions and decision and provides maps that categorize lands into excluded, and high, moderate and low sensitivity.
Colorado Governor’s Energy Office Renewable Energy Development Infrastructure Report
Key principals of the Interwest Energy Alliance took part in the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office Renewable Energy Development Infrastructure (REDI) task force, charged with providing recommendations on further transmission buildout for renewable resources in Colorado. Supported by a grant from the U.S. Department of Energy, a primary objective of the REDI Project is to provide the public with a stronger technical understanding of Colorado’s electricity sector, with a special emphasis on utility-scale renewable energy and high-voltage transmission.
The 100-page final REDI Report, entitled “Connecting Colorado’s Renewable Resources to the Markets in a Carbon-Constrained Electricity Sector,” provides an analysis of the issues facing Colorado’s electric power sector as it strives to meet the goal of a 20% reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by the year 2020 from a 2005 base.
- View the REDI Report website, which includes the report, background materials and a project video
- View the Colorado Governor’s Energy Office’s (GEO) Annual Report for fiscal year 2009.
- This report details “Colorado’s expanding New Energy Economy and the GEO’s role in creating jobs through diversifying the state’s energy portfolio, development of renewable energy resources, increasing energy efficiency and reducing pollution and carbon emissions.”
Nevada Renewable Energy Transmission Access Advisory Committee
On 3 September, members of the Nevada Renewable Energy Transmission Access Advisory Committee (RETAAC) presented the committee’s Phase II report to Governor Jim Gibbons. This report includes “new recommendations to harness the power of renewable energy in Nevada and updates on implementation of recommendations made by the RETAAC Phase 1 report dated December 31, 2007.”
Several key findings in the report include:
- “After evaluating available secondary data collected for this project and consulting with representatives from land management agencies, no fatal flaws were identified for the proposed interconnections [for transmission to renewable energy zones].
- “…certain transmission lines could charge economically acceptable fees for the use of the transmission lines and that these fees could recover the costs, if the transmission line usage were fully subscribed.
- “…a significant market exists in California, Arizona and elsewhere for Nevada’s renewable energy [and the] transmission paths are feasible.”
The full report and many other related materials are posted on the RETAAC website.
New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority identifies its first export project
In its December annual report, the New Mexico Renewable Energy Transmission Authority (RETA) highlighted a financed project that will export New Mexico wind to Arizona: “The High Lonesome Mesa Wind Ranch, LLC. is a 100 MW wind farm located near Willard, New Mexico. The project consists of 40 Clipper, 2.5 MW wind turbines intended to take advantage of New Mexico’s wind resources and export them for use by the Arizona Public Service Company. RETA has already adopted a resolution pledging its support for the project and expects in 2010 to issue bonds for the upgrade of 115kV (Kilovolt) line to insure successful transmission of the power generated at the facility. The High Lonesome Mesa project represents RETA’s first opportunity to meet its overriding objective to the state by putting money into New Mexico communities and employing New Mexico workers.”
- View 24 August Edison International press release on the High Lonesome Mesa wind project: “Senator Bingaman Helps Dedicate Torrance County Wind Project”
Utah REZ Phase I final report posted; Phase II begins work
The UREZ (Utah Renewable Energy Zone) multi-stakeholder task force’s Phase I Report was completed in February and is posted on the UREZ website.
The specific objectives of this task force were to:
- Identify renewable energy zones (REZs)
- Identify information or procedures to recognize areas with cumulative potential for larger amounts of renewable energy production
- Generate information to identify renewable energy resource areas within and outside REZs
- Support renewable energy development
This UREZ Phase I report identified geographic areas throughout the state that have the theoretical potential for generating significant amounts of clean, inexhaustible and competitive power from solar, wind and geothermal resources.
Now the UREZ Phase II task force is examining the following specific objectives, with stakeholder comments invited:
- Identify policies or market mechanisms that would facilitate transmission planning and permitting for renewable energy projects
- Quantify cost-effective generation potential
- Identify necessary transmission to bring resources to market
Federal stimulus targets renewable project and transmission development
President Obama signed the federal economic stimulus legislation (American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, or “ARRA”) into law in Denver at a February ceremony emphasizing renewable energy’s role in rebuilding our nation’s economy. Stakeholders around the West (and around the country) immediately began to assess how to incorporate this new law into their work. With an emphasis on clean energy and transmission, the ARRA offers significant opportunities to advance deployment of renewable resources.
Western interconnection-wide planning meeting
Interwest has been participating with Western Grid Group, CEERT and RNP to identify a slate of candidates to participate in the Scenario Planning Steering Group (SPSG) being formed by the Western Electricity Coordinating Committee to guide their west-wide transmission planning effort. This 10- and 20-year planning effort is the first of its kind in the West. Seats on the SPSP are dedicated to a number of renewable energy technologies and non-governmental organizations.
- View 18 December U.S. Department of Energy press release: Secretary Chu Announces Efforts to Strengthen U.S. Electric Transmission Networks
- View 18 December WECC press release: DOE grant awarded to WECC for transmission planning
- View 18 December Western Governors’ Association press release: DOE awards WGA $12 million to assist states examine best options for new transmission
Bureau of Land Management fast-tracks renewable energy and transmission projects
The U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is fast-tracking the approval process for certain renewable energy and transmission projects in the West. As BLM explains, “[f]ast-track projects are those where the companies involved have demonstrated to the BLM that they have made sufficient progress to formally start the environmental review and public participation process. These projects are advanced enough in the permitting process that they could potentially be cleared for approval by December 2010, thus making them eligible for economic stimulus funding under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”
WAPA begins implementation of transmission from stimulus funding
The Western Area Power Administration’s new Transmission Infrastructure Program “establishes six project principles and four program principles to provide guidance in implementing the authority to borrow up to $3.25 billion from the U.S. Treasury to fund partnerships to develop transmission infrastructure that delivers renewable energy to market across the West.”
Western Governors’ Association continues close involvement and support for clean energy
In June, the Western Governors’ Association held its annual meeting in Park City, Utah. This meeting continued WGA’s long track record of highlighting the West’s clean energy potential and examining how best to leverage this wealth of resources. At their meeting, the western governors inked an agreement on coordinating state wildlife data systems and protecting wildlife corridors and key habitats, and accepted the Phase I report of the Western Renewable Energy Zones initiative, in which Interwest’s principals were closely involved.
The WGA’s annual Winter Meeting that took place in San Diego in December focused on energy and transmission issues, along with how best to integrate a growing fleet of electric vehicles into the West’s electric infrastructure. This meeting, chaired by Montana Gov. Bryan Schweitzer, illustrates the ongoing involvement of the West’s governors in charting a course for a clean, beneficial regional energy infrastructure.
- View Phase I report of the WGA’s Western Renewable Energy Zones Initiative (WREZ)
Tri-State scrutinized by Colorado PUC; announces first significant solar and wind investments
In January, the Colorado Public Utilities Commission opened a docket to investigate whether the future resource acquisitions of Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association (Tri-State) should undergo PUC oversight. After a lengthy public comment period that set a commission record for the number of comments received, the commission held a stakeholder workshop in July and scheduled deliberations on the matter during the fall. In December, a landmark settlement agreement was reached between Tri-State and Western Resource Advocates, one of the West’s leading non-governmental conservation organizations.
Under the settlement agreement, Tri-State will increase the information it files with the Commission and will adopt a formal public participation process where the public will have an opportunity to provide input to the Company’s resource plans over an eight-month period beginning early in 2010. Tri-State will file a final plan with the Commission by 30 November 2010. During the public participation process, among many other things, members of the public will be able to specify particular resource scenarios to be evaluated using the Company’s resource planning computer models. This will allow for an assessment of the costs and benefits to the Tri-State system of higher levels of clean-energy resources. In addition, Tri-State will consider the effect of the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions on its plan.
Western Resource Advocates points out that the public participation process to which Tri-State has agreed and the level of information Tri-State will now include in its resource plan is a significant change from Tri-State’s past planning process. The new process should assure much greater transparency in Tri-State’s resource planning. It should also be an initial step toward a more balanced resource plan than Tri-State has prepared in the past. WRA’s John Nielsen, who led the Tri-State negotiations on his organization’s behalf, is a founding Interwest board member, and Interwest supported the WRA position in this docket
- Tri-State announces contracts for 30 MW solar project (to be built by First Solar) in New Mexico and 51 MW wind project (to be built by Duke Energy Generation Services) in New Mexico
Renewable energy industry increases cooperation with West’s wildlife and conservation communities
The Colorado Renewables and Conservation Collaborative (CRCC) is an informal collaborative effort between the renewable energy industry and the conservation community to constructively address conservation concerns related to renewable energy development in Colorado. Specifically, the group wishes to develop tools to assist the renewable energy industry to reach its project development and transmission goals while simultaneously enabling the conservation community to meet its goals. Ultimately, the participants in the CRCC hope the collaboration will result in a high-performing renewable energy industry and the preservation of the opportunity to conserve vibrant prairie and mountain ecosystems in Colorado.
- Learn more about the Colorado Renewables Conservation Collaborative (CRCC)
- Colorado PUC accepts nearly all changes to Renewable Energy Standard rules proposed by CRCC industry and conservation leaders in Docket No. 08R-424E. View this December 2009 PUC decision.
Wyoming keeps wind industry on its toes in 2009
Wyoming has one of the best wind energy resources in the nation, but ranks significantly behind many other states in installed capacity. Sensing a new uptick in future development possibilities in the state, Wyoming’s governor, legislators, regulators and key stakeholder communities took an intensive look at laws, regulations and policies relating to wind energy in the Cowboy State.
Some key Wyoming activities in 2009 included:
- Repeal of the state’s end sales and use tax exemptions for wind: in their 2009 session, Wyoming’s legislators passed, and Gov. Dave Freudenthal signed, legislation ending the state sales and use tax exemption on wind energy projects.
- PacifiCorp (Rocky Mountain Power) IRP: In February, the Wyoming PSC issued a proposed IRP rule in Docket No. 90000-107-XO-09. On 7 August, Interwest filed comments on PacifiCorp/Rocky Mountain Power’s 2008 IRP and are posted on Interwest’s website. Interwest’s comments cover several issues of concern, including modeling of wind integration, an argument that Present Value Revenue Requirements validate higher levels of renewable acquisitions, and RMP’s cost estimates for wind integration.
- Rocky Mountain Power rate case: Interwest is an intervening party in the Rocky Mountain Power rate case (Docket No. 20000-352-ER-09) at the Wyoming PSC. Our intervention in this docket focuses on wind integration costs, and we will use expert witnesses to pursue our goals of achieving equitable, justifiable and verifiable integration costs. Interwest believes that these integration costs should be based on peer-reviewed, publicly available, state of the art study methods. Testimony in this case is due in February, with the hearings to be held in April 2010. Interwest’s attorney in this and other Wyoming dockets is Lisa Hickey.
- Public Service Commission: Interwest joined in a regulatory settlement in an avoided cost docket at the Wyoming PSC providing wind QFs an opportunity at avoided cost pricing calculated pursuant to a wind proxy formula using deferrable wind resources rather than a deferrable gas-fired resource for the first 50MW in 2011 and in 2012, for a total of 100 MW.
- Sage-grouse: All of Interwest’s members wish to see a thriving greater sage-grouse population in Wyoming and throughout the West. Concerned with a state government moratorium on wind energy development in sage-grouse “core areas,” Interwest joined a 10 July joint letter (together with the American Wind Energy Association and Renewable Northwest Project) to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing industry concern over the sudden development moratorium, based on available scientific study of oil and gas impacts, rather than wind impacts on the birds, in Wyoming and seeking opportunities to advance clean energy development while protecting the sage-grouse and its habitat
- View the 10 July joint letter (from Interwest, the American Wind Energy Association and Renewable Northwest Project) to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar expressing industry concern over sage-grouse “core areas” in Wyoming
- View the 5 October reply letter from Department of Interior on Wyoming sage-grouse “core area” issue
- View presentation delivered at the Wyoming Wind Symposium (see next bullet point) by wildlife biologist Dale Strickland of WEST, Inc. on the sage-grouse issue
- Governor’s Wind Energy Symposium: Gov. Freudenthal sponsored a “Wyoming Wind Symposium” in Laramie on 13-14 August that attracted over 600 participants from around the state representing various stakeholder communities.
- View the website for Governor Dave Freudenthal’s Wyoming Wind Symposium
- Legislature’s Wind Energy Task Force: this bipartisan legislative task force, composing of state Senators and Representatives, plus two non-legislative members appointed by Gov. Freudenthal, held several public hearings in 2009 to examine what policies to recommend for the legislature’s consideration. This task force held meetings in August and October, and issued its final draft report on 1 November. A full interim study of all taxation issues by the Joint Revenue Committee is expected to take place between the 2010 and 2011 legislative sessions.
- “The Wind Energy Task Force believes there are significant benefits to Wyoming from the responsible development of a substantial wind energy industry. Wind energy development could help bring Wyoming from a transitional phase to a transformational stage in energy development. Wind energy development could help maintain Wyoming’s status as one of the energy capitals of the United States. The Task Force believes that Wyoming must work to diversify its energy portfolio in response to a market which is placing increasing value on energy supplies created by renewable sources. Mindful of the benefits of wind energy development, the Task Force recognizes that a lack of appropriate regulation may impact Wyoming’s quality of life and its wildlife and environmental resources. Wind development in Wyoming should be promoted and regulated in a way that maintains the fledgling industry’s competitiveness, which promotes job opportunities and economic development and which addresses its impact on Wyoming’s communities, wildlife and landscapes.” (from position statement of the Legislature’s Task Force on Wind Energy final draft report of 1 November 2009)
- Western States Energy and Environment Symposium held in Jackson: the Wyoming legislature convened the “Western States Energy and Environment Symposium” in Jackson Hole on 25-27 October. Attended by a number of state legislators and stakeholder leaders from western states, this event sought to bring together representatives of various energy industries and organizations.
- View the final report from the Western States Energy and Environment Symposium
- Game & Fish issues draft wind development guidelines: In November, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department issued a notice soliciting public comments on its new draft document: “Wind Energy Issues: Impacts and Mitigation for Wildlife in Wyoming,” which provides recommendations “for assessing impacts to wildlife from wind energy projects, for collecting data, and for mitigating effects on wildlife.
- Many of the draft recommendations pose great concerns to the wind energy industry, and Interwest will be among the many parties filing comments on this document by the 1 February 2010 deadline date.
- View the Wyoming Game & Fish Department’s draft wind energy development guidelines
- Many of the draft recommendations pose great concerns to the wind energy industry, and Interwest will be among the many parties filing comments on this document by the 1 February 2010 deadline date.
- View op-ed by Interwest executive director Craig Cox in 31 May Casper Star-Tribune: “Wyo.: Take advantage of wind energy”
New wind and solar plants dedicated and announced in western states
In October, U.S. Secretary of Interior Ken Salazar (see photo on right) helped dedicate Arizona’s first utility-scale wind project as he cut the ribbon on the Dry Lake wind plant in Navajo County. The developer of this 63 MW project is Iberdrola Renewables, and the customer is Salt River Project.
A month later, dignitaries, led by Utah Lt. Gov. Greg Bell, dedicated Utah’s largest wind project in November in Millard and Beaver Counties as the 203 MW Milford Wind Corridor project came online. The developer of Milford Wind is First Wind and the power from this wind plant is delivered to the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP), the cities of Burbank and Pasadena, and the Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA).
NextEra Energy Resources added another 174 MW to Colorado’s wind generation portfolio in 2009 with the opening of its Logan County wind project. Together with its other wind projects in Logan County, NextEra has invested over one billion dollars in wind energy development in this rural county of 20,504 residents .
In Wyoming in 2009, the 29 MW McFadden Ridge I project in Carbon and Albany Counties, for which RES Americas was the BOP contractor and PacifiCorp is the customer, was completed a month ahead of schedule. In Laramie County, Duke Energy Generation Services brought online the 42 MW Silver Sage project, near Cheyenne and the 99 MW Campbell Hill project in Converse County. Meanwhile, Rocky Mountain Power brought three more projects online in Wyoming in 2009: the High Plains (99 MW), Rolling Hills (99 MW) and Glenrock III (39 MW).
In December, SunEdison announced that it had signed a deal with Xcel Energy’s regional operating company, Southwestern Public Service Company, for five photovoltaic solar installations in New Mexico that will total 50 megawatts (MW) in generation capacity. The five 10 MW sites, to be located in Lea and Eddy counties in southeastern New Mexico, will comprise a utility-scale, ground-mount system that will be fully operational by the end of 2011.
Renewable energy policies advance in western legislatures, regulatory commissions and other venues
In Arizona, the state’s Supreme Court tossed two legal challenges by the Goldwater Institute to the authority of the Arizona Corporation Commission to require the renewable energy standard for regulated utilities. Interwest was a party in two friends of the court briefs in this matter.
Three landmark December votes by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) will propel Arizona, where Interwest is represented by Amanda Ormond, to a cleaner electric future:
On 16 December, the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) approved a rate case settlement agreement for Arizona Public Service Company (APS). The vote was 4-1 with Commissioner Gary Pierce the only “no” vote. With this settlement, APS will be able to improve its bond rating and thus access to capital as it anticipates spending approximately $1 billion per year on infrastructure needs. The settlement, signed by 22 of 24 parties, requires APS to double the amount of renewable energy required by the Renewable Energy Standard and to implement an aggressive energy efficiency program ramping to saving 20% of retained load by 2020. The settlement also provides funding for low income customers, requires the that utility reduce costs by $50 per year for five years and includes a stay-out provision ensuring that ratepayers will not see an increase in rates for 3-4 years. The cost increase to consumers is estimated to be only one dollar per month as lower natural gas prices are providing a break for consumers.
The ACC unanimously approved strong Energy Efficiency Resource Standards for investor-owned electric utilities, as well as rural electric cooperatives in Arizona. The standards specify the amount of electricity that utilities are required to save through their cumulative energy efficiency programs during 2011-2020. By 2020, utilities are required to achieve energy savings of at least 20% of retail energy sales, plus up to a 2% credit for peak demand reductions from demand response programs, for a total requirement of 22% by 2020. The Southwest Energy Efficiency Project (SWEEP) estimates that these requirements will result in annual energy savings exceeding 2% of retail sales beginning in 2014, after a three-year ramp-up of the energy efficiency programs. These energy efficiency standards are among the most ambitious approved by any state in the country. The approved Energy Efficiency rules will now be sent to the Arizona Secretary of State for rulemaking. Following approval by the Secretary of State, the rules will go to the Attorney General for endorsement before implementation.
In December, the ACC also approved Integrated Resource Planning rules for regulated utilities. The rules, which are still to be approved by the Secretary of State and Attorney General, will require that regulated utilities file a resource plan by 1 April 2010 and each year following a resource plan that includes input from customers and stakeholders. Arizona was one of the only states in the West without a integrated resource planning process in place. The previous rules had been suspended when the state took up electric competition. The new rules, which recognize (or embed) the renewable energy and energy efficiency rules, also include best practices for procurement which ensure competitive bidding and an independent monitor.
Interwest helped spearhead 2009 legislation in Colorado requiring the Public Utilities Commission to report to the General Assembly on efforts to improve statewide, coordinated transmission planning. This legislation led to the creation of a PUC docket (09M-616E), which will lead to the issuance of a comprehensive new transmission rule or discussion draft early in 2010. Interwest hopes this rulemaking, together with possible new legislation and regional/federal work on transmission planning, will help jump-start new planning and development for transmission capacity that will serve the state and the entire region.
In the Colorado PUC, Interwest is an active intervenor in many dockets, with representation by attorneys Ron Lehr and Lisa Hickey. Some of these dockets are discussed in the context of other highlights in this annual summary, while a few others include:
Interwest is one of a number of intervenors in this docket, as we believe this proposed project would support significant new solar and wind development. This filing stands as a model of the kind of joint, coordinated planning between Tri-State and Xcel Energy that Interwest has long advocated. This is the only new line described in Xcel’s November 2008 SB 100 informational report for which a CPCN has been filed.
Transmission Investigatory Docket (08I-227E)
With transmission being the most critical issue to increasing the large-scale development of renewable energy resources in Colorado and throughout the West, this docket provided an important opportunity to weigh in on new ideas and opportunities to advance new transmission development.
Public Service Company of Colorado’s Energy Resource Plan (07A-447E)
A number of activities took place under this docket in 2009, including the issuance of PSCo’s all-source solicitation and bid evaluation reports by PSCo and an Independent Evaluator. PSCo’s resource acquisition portfolio approved by the PUC includes
- 950 MW of intermittent renewable resources that will be phased in from 2010 to 2013, exceeding the 850 MW target level established in Phase I (includes the 190 MW of wind and PV solar that were selected in the 2008 “early” renewable request for proposals);
- 280 MW of Section 123 resources;
- Selection of firm capacity resources needed to meet the reliability needs of the system;
- Allowing the Company to retire the Cameo units at the end of 2010 and to optimize the retirement of Arapahoe units 3 and 4 between the end of 2013 and the end of 2014, based on the successful demonstration of the selected Section 123 resources; closing these plants is an historical first
- The portfolio works equally as well under either the 100% and 130% DSM levels, and;
- Places PSCo ahead of the carbon reductions anticipated in its originally filed resource plan.
Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons announced on 12 October that he has named Dr. Hatice Gecol as the newly created Commissioner of Energy and Director of the Office of Energy. With this appointment, Gecol transfers from her position as Director of the Office of Energy to become the Commissioner. Under AB 522, passed during the 2009 legislative session, Nevada’s new Energy Commission is responsible for pursuing a state mandate to increase renewable energy business involvement in Nevada. Replacing Gecol as Director of the Nevada Office of Energy is Nevada National Guard Chief Warrant Officer Jim Groth.
Despite facing a large budget shortfall, 2009 was a good year on the renewable front. The 2009 legislative session in New Mexico was a good one for renewable energy interests, particularly those interested in solar development. Additionally, New Mexico made a strong commitment to job creation in the renewable sector by providing preference to job training funds in renewable energy sectors and by creating a new bond fund for “green job” development. Additionally, legislation was passed to continue to stimulate the solar PV market in New Mexico.
In New Mexico, Interwest is represented by lobbyist Drew Setter, who reports that several key bills passed during the 2009 legislative session, including:
- HB 75 “Manufacturing and Investment Tax Credits” sponsored by Representative Ben Lujan. The bill extends the Manufacturing and Investment Tax Credits to 2020. They were set to expire in 2011.
- SB 237 “Renewable Energy Tax Credit” sponsored by Senator Carlos Cisneros. The legislation expands the Advanced Energy Tax Credit to solar photovoltaic energy generating facilities of at least 1 MW and allows the credit to be carried over for ten years instead of five.
- SB 647 “Renewable Energy Financing District Act” sponsored by Senator Peter Wirth. The legislation permits counties and municipalities to form renewable energy financing districts in order to facilitate the funding of renewable energy improvements. The act could be used as a means to allow federal stimulus funds to flow through the local governments and projects. Additionally, the districts would be funded through bonds. The City of Albuquerque is planning to implement a solar district using this legislation in early 2010.
- HB 622 “Green Jobs Bonding Act” sponsored by Representative Ben Lujan. Creates a new “green jobs bonding fund” within the New Mexico Finance Authority for the purposes of issuing tax-exempt green jobs revenue bonds.
- SB 318 “Development Training Funds for Green Jobs” sponsored by Senator Eric Griego. The legislation allows job training funds to be used for the development of “green jobs.”
- HB 572 “Solar Energy Improvement Special Assessments” sponsored by Representative Brian Egolf. Authorizes counties to impose, administer and disburse solar energy improvement special assessments to encourage the development of residential solar energy improvements. This bill is less comprehensive than SB 647, but contemplates both public and private financing. All assessments would be on a voluntary basis. Santa Fe County has passed an ordinance to put this plan into place.
- SB 257 “Solar Market Development Tax Credit” sponsored by Senator Tim Keller. The legislation amends the state’s solar tax credit to 10% regardless of federal incentives, thus making it more than the federal credit. By doing so, the credit keeps in place the state’s certification program for systems, thereby ensuring a level of quality control.
- In April, Utah Clean Energy released a study detailing the economic benefits of clean energy for Utah, quantifying the benefits that would accrue through implementation of Gov. Huntsman’s clean energy goals.
In June, Interwest filed comments with the Utah Public Service Commission on PacifiCorp’s proposed IRP, making the case that the utility should acquire more renewable resources as required under Utah law and that customer-sited solar resources should be given proper attention in the IRP. Interwest also advanced “energy-first planning” principles in its IRP comments to the Utah PSC and pressed for more realistic wind integration cost modeling.
Interwest Energy Alliance continues advocacy of renewable energy policies throughout the West
Interwest airs TV ads congratulating congressional clean energy supporters
The Interwest Energy Alliance aired a television ad in the Las Vegas market in late summer congratulating U.S. Rep. Dina Titus for her support of H.R. 2454, the Waxman-Markey clean energy legislation that passed the U.S. House in June. Separate ads aired in key Colorado and New Mexico markets applauding Reps. Betsy Markey (D-Colo.) and Harry Teague (D-N.M.) for their support of this important legislation.
Interwest cosponsors clean energy business reception in Denver —Denver event draws both Senators, Mayor, 125 attendees and TV coverage
On 24 October, Interwest cosponsored a clean energy business reception together with a number of other groups and companies. Designed to highlight the state’s clean energy accomplishments and held in a newly renovated, highly efficient former warehouse, the event attracted over 125 participants, plus both U.S. Senators and Denver’s Mayor.
- View the news story on this event from Denver TV station KDVR
Interwest project locator map gains new categories
One of the most popular items on Interwest’s website is the project locator map, which uses Google Maps in an attempt to show all grid-connected renewable (wind, solar, geothermal and biomass) electricity generation projects in Interwest’s six-state region.
Now, this map has been upgraded so that it can show all manufacturing facilities, educational and workforce training programs (e.g., community colleges) and research and development centers (e.g. national laboratories, universities and company R&D labs).
I invite your submissions to this map so that it will eventually show all the appropriate manufacturing, educational and R&D sites throughout our region.
Interwest cosponsors SWREC
Interwest cosponsored the Southwest Renewable Energy Conference, hosted by Northern Arizona University on 10 and 11 September in Flagstaff. The conference is focused on the states of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, Nevada and Utah.
Your comments or questions are invited on any of the items in this summary. The Interwest Energy Alliance looks forward to working with you and our other colleagues, friends and all involved parties to continue the building new markets for renewable energy throughout the West in 2010.