U.S. Energy News

Coronavirus disrupts surge in solar growth

SOLAR: The fallout from the coronavirus pandemic is threatening project schedules, supply chain and demand in the fast-growing solar industry. (Reuters)

• San Francisco’s solar industry is preparing for no business due to the COVID-19 “shelter in place” order issued for all Bay Area residents yesterday. (E&E News, subscription)
• The industry had momentum heading into the crisis, building over 13 GW of new capacity last year, more than any other generating source. (Greentech Media)
• A New York City nonprofit works to bring community solar to low-income residents for financial and environmental justice reasons. (Yale Climate Connections)

STORAGE: Sen. Angus King of Maine introduces a bill to provide $150 million over five years for battery recycling research to keep lithium-ion batteries out of landfills. (Grist)

GEOTHERMAL: A California lithium startup is partnering with an Australian firm to develop a lithium-extraction facility at the Salton Sea as part of the area’s first new geothermal power plant in a decade. (Los Angeles Times)

• A Louisiana utility reaches a deal with regulators, Walmart and an advocacy group to add 810 MW of wind energy in Oklahoma. (Arkansas Business)
• A clean energy company buys a 300 MW wind farm in Oklahoma and plans to sell the power to three Fortune 500 customers. (Daily Energy Insider)

EFFICIENCY: Efficiency Maine leads an incentive program in March for schools to convert to LED lighting beyond what it already offers to commercial and industrial customers. (Energy News Network)

• More than 50 industry trade associations, environmental groups, and think tanks urge Congress to appropriate more money for energy research. (E&E News)
The U.S. Department of Energy begins restricting access and ramping down activities at its national laboratories in response to coronavirus. (Science)

CLIMATE: A U.S. House climate committee indefinitely postpones the release of its long-awaited policy report amid the coronavirus pandemic. (E&E News)

U.S. grid operators say no substantial effect on electricity demand has occurred yet as the coronavirus has spread, but that could change. (E&E News)
A study commissioned by environmental groups says PJM overcharges customers by up to $4 billion annually with faulty energy use projections that cause it to buy too much capacity. (NJ Spotlight)

• Tesla reportedly plans to keep operating its San Francisco Bay area factory despite a three-week regional lockdown to stop the spread of coronavirus. (Reuters)
• Florida lawmakers pass a bill directing the state transportation department to develop a long-term plan for electric vehicle infrastructure expansion. (Utility Dive)
A Chicago City Council committee approves an ordinance requiring certain new commercial and residential buildings to have at least 20% of parking spaces ready for EV equipment. (Chicago Sun-Times)

• ExxonMobil is proposing new federal regulations on methane emissions that would require the rest of the industry to largely adopt its approach. (DeSmog)
• Exxon says it will make “significant” cuts to spending as oil prices and its shares take an unprecedented slide due to coronavirus. (Reuters)
• Celebrity drag queen RuPaul reveals in an interview that he and his husband own fracking sites in Wyoming, and the internet reacts. (Paper)

FRACKING: A plan by U.S. Steel to frack natural gas at its historic mill site outside Pittsburgh complicates Democratic Party politics at the federal, state and local levels. (Philadelphia Inquirer)

ELECTRIFICATION: A new poll suggests 70% of Californians prefer efficient electric appliances powered by clean electricity instead of gas. (Earthjustice)

NUCLEAR: A third worker at Georgia’s Plant Vogtle nuclear plant is tested for COVID-19, which could throw off the project’s timeline. (E&E News, subscription)

• Property rights advocates and environmentalists are working together to push Congress and the courts to overhaul the federal permitting process for natural gas pipelines. (Virginia Mercury)
• Pipeline company Enbridge issues a work from home order due to COVID-19 concerns that affects 1,100 employees in the Houston area. (Houston Chronicle)

COAL: The future of water rights owned by energy companies in the wake of Western coal-fired power plant closures may decide the economic future of many rural communities. (Daily Yonder)

UTILITIES: Virginia’s Clean Economy Act could be part of a bigger wave of change from lawmakers challenging Dominion Energy, experts say. (E&E News, subscription)

BIOFUELS: A federal government-backed startup is looking at the viability of giant, drone-managed seaweed farms for fuel, despite concerns about unexpected effects on marine ecosystems. (Scientific American)

OVERSIGHT: The Supreme Court and D.C. Circuit close to the public, though the latter is expected to hear a case March 31 about federal regulators blocking landowners from challenging pipelines. (E&E News, subscription)

COMMENTARY: It’s increasingly cheaper to build wind and solar than run coal plants and risk stranded assets, a Forbes writer says.

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