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California Narrowly Upholds Key Policy For Solar Growth

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By Nichola Groom, Reuters

California delivered a narrow victory to the solar industry this week by maintaining a policy that has underpinned rooftop solar’s dramatic growth while introducing fees that were smaller than utilities requested.

After two years of rancorous debate, California’s Public Utilities Commission upheld net metering by a vote of 3-to-2, allowing homeowners with solar panels to keep selling the excess power they generate back to their utility at the full retail rate.

Homeowners with solar panels cheer net metering as it lowers their power bills. But net metering has been criticized by utilities and some ratepayer advocates for rewarding solar users while leaving others to shoulder the cost of maintaining the electricity grid.

The decision was being watched far beyond the Golden State by states and utilities that are working to integrate ever larger amounts of rooftop solar onto their power grids.

Solar panels are pictured on the rooftops of residential homes in San Diego in this Aug. 21, 2015 file photo. 
Credit: Reuters/Mike Black/Files

Most states have passed laws allowing net metering, but a 40 percent drop in the cost of residential solar installations in the last five years has prompted some to review those policies amid calls by utilities to roll them back. Most recently in Nevada, regulators last month approved changes to the state’s net metering policy that prompted some solar companies to stop doing business there.

The narrow victory in California reflected what the Commission said was the difficult job of balancing its desire to support the growth of rooftop solar while making sure solar customers pay their fair share.

“I will be the first to say that I think we really have a ways to go before we have a really enduring rooftop strategy,” said PUC President Michael Picker, who voted in favor of extending the policy.

In response to critics, the PUC did make some changes that will drive up the cost of going solar.

Solar customers will have to pay a new fee of between $75 and $150 to connect a system to the grid, and will be required to move to time-based utility rates, paying more for power during peak hours. They will also be required to pay monthly fees of about $6 for certain utility programs.

The revised structure serves as somewhat of a placeholder, as the PUC will reconsider net metering again in 2019.

Net metering, which has been in place for 20 years in California, has been critical to making it affordable to go solar. It is largely responsible for the rise of major rooftop solar installation companies like SolarCity Corp and Sunrun Inc.

Solar company shares soared following the decision, with SolarCity’s stock up nearly 8.4 percent. Sunrun’s stock was up more than 20 percent.

Industry groups like the California Solar Energy Industries Association and environmentalists applauded the decision.

Two commission members who voted against the proposal indicated the PUC had gone too far in supporting the industry when it backed away at the eleventh hour from imposing transmission charges on solar owners.

The state’s three investor-owned utilities, Pacific Gas & Electric, Southern California Edison and San Diego Gas & Electric, initially argued for fixed charges for solar customers, but in the last month authored a new proposal that would preserve net metering but reduce the rate at which solar customers are compensated for the excess power they produce.

PG&E spokesman Donald Cutler said the utility was “extremely disappointed” in the decision.

Reporting by Nichola Groom; Additional reporting by Bruce Wallace; Editing by Terry Wade and Phil Berlowitz


source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ClimateCentral-News/~3/zC7RC8jE1js/california-narrowly-upholds-key-policy-for-solar-19976

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - January 31, 2016 at 6:08 am

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The Stream, January 29: Iraq Mosul Dam Could Collapse, U.S. General Says

The  Global Rundown

The Global Rundown

The Mosul Dam, Iraq’s largest dam, could collapse and cause a catastrophic flood, a top U.S. general said. Employees of an aluminum oxide plant on trial for a 2010 flood of toxic sludge in Hungary were acquitted, and Michigan extended a state of emergency for the city of Flint over contaminated drinking water. India identified 20 cities that will get uninterrupted water supplies and other services as part of its smart cities initiative. Floods in Myanmar last fall contributed to a rise in malnourished children. Scientists in Europe are designing swarms of robots to monitor Venice’s water quality.

“When it goes, it’s going to go fast, and that’s bad.” — Lieutenant General Sean MacFarland, the top U.S. general in Iraq, on the deteriorating state of Iraq’s Mosul Dam. The American-led coalition in Iraq has raised concerns about the dam’s structural integrity, warning that it could kill hundreds of thousands of people if it collapses. (Associated Press)

By the Numbers

By The Numbers

20 cities Number identified by India Thursday to be part of a smart cities project launched by the government. The project aims to provide each city with constant supplies of water and electricity, among other services, by 2022. Reuters

$28 million Amount approved by the Michigan state legislature to address a lead-contaminated drinking water crisis in the city of Flint. The state’s governor extended a state of emergency for the city until April 14. Reuters

Science

Science, Studies, And Reports

Swarms of more than 100 small, underwater robots designed to look like fish and aquatic plants are being developed to monitor water quality in Venice waterways. The $US 4.4 million project is backed by the European Commission. Bloomberg

On the Radar

On The Radar

Rates of malnutrition among young children in Myanmar’s Rakhine state have increased dramatically since last fall, according to the European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department. The increase is linked to floods that hit the region in October, which destroyed crops and contaminated water supplies. Reuters

A court decision in Hungary acquitted 14 employees and the former director of an aluminum oxide plant that released a flood of toxic sludge in 2010, killing 10 people and polluting nearby rivers. The employees and director had been facing charges of negligence, waste management violations, and damages to the environment for their involvement in the disaster. Agence France-Presse

The post The Stream, January 29: Iraq Mosul Dam Could Collapse, U.S. General Says appeared first on Circle of Blue WaterNews.

source: http://www.circleofblue.org/waternews/2016/the-stream/the-stream-january-29-iraq-mosul-dam-could-collapse-u-s-general-says/

Be the first to comment - What do you think?  Posted by Editor - January 30, 2016 at 6:01 am

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Optimism for Mexico’s Solar Roadmap Despite Market Headwinds

As Mexico’s wholesale power market launches, a clearer roadmap of the country’s solar development is emerging. However, there are market headwinds, speakers and panelists at GTM Research’s Solar Summit in Mexico City agreed.

Mexico’s solar growth is likely to mirror that of its northern neighbor and other developed countries, but with key differences. The country still faces obstacles that the U.S. and other markets have successfully overcome.

And while important lessons can be learned from solar development elsewhere, Mexico faces some unique hurdles, summit attendees learned.

Obstacles include a lack of awareness among potential customers of the benefits of switching to solar, a lack of capital among residents and access to financing for larger-scale projects, in addition to uncertainty as to how the nascent wholesale power market will play out.

Mexico’s solar growth is likely to be slower than in the U.S., which increased from a cumulative 2 gigawatts in 2010 to around 26 gigawatts by the end of 2015, with Mexico’s installed capacity currently at less than 1 gigawatt and likely to only add around 2 to 3 gigawatts by 2020.

On a comparative development timeline, Mexico is currently in 2004 in terms of U.S. installed capacity by that year, and is at the stage Germany was at 20 years ago, GTM Research’s Shayle Kann said during the summit.

At that time in the U.S., the fastest growth in the country was the commercial PV market, which hit 203 megawatts by 2009. But in Mexico, utility-scale solar is expected to lead growth, at least during the next decade.

Summit panelists identified policy and regulatory uncertainty as the biggest obstacles to the growth of utility-scale solar, followed by a lack of competitiveness and availability of capital.

“Solar will have a hard time competing in Mexico over the next two or three years due to a lack of available capital,” according to panelist Pablo Otin, VP for emerging markets at 8minutenergy.

Mexico’s wholesale power market, which launched in Baja California on January 27 and on January 29 nationwide, establishes the framework for greater private participation in generation, transmission and distribution.

But in addition to the lingering regulatory uncertainty, the new market model is not seen as a level playing field, as it is dominated by state utility CFE.

Ilioss CEO David Arelle likened participating in the Mexico market to playing soccer against the CFE, but in a match in which the utility fields 22 players, chooses the referee and ties the opposing players to the goalposts.

“The CFE remains a monopoly, but many people don’t mention this because they are afraid the CFE will block their entry into the market,” he told GTM. “The CFE has the faculty to enforce payment by cutting electricity supply to consumers, which private firms do not have. Plus, it has a database of all the country’s consumers, which is an unfair advantage.”

As part of Mexico’s energy reform, the CFE is restructuring to form separate transmission, distribution, supply and generation subsidiaries, with the utility participating in the market as both a supplier and an offtaker.

Arelle expressed his hope that Mexico’s solar energy association (Anes) and solar power association (Asolmex) would lobby for private firms and ensure that the energy regulatory commission (CRE), national energy control center (Cenace) and even the energy ministry (Sener) act as watchdogs to curb the CFE’s monopoly.

Compared to the U.S., where residential solar has now topped 2 GW and seen four straight years of 50 percent growth, residential solar in Mexico is likely to see the slowest growth, panelists agreed.

A month-on-month drop in electricity prices by the CFE throughout 2015 has removed residents’ incentive for switching to solar. In addition, the installation outlay surpasses the average annual electricity bill, making developers’ customer acquisition work that much harder.

Residents are not yet convinced of the savings solar could offer, Rogelio Nochebuena, chief operating officer at renewables firm Servicios Ambientales de Baja California (SERAMBC), said during the summit.

But as the market is deregulated and private firms bid for generation contracts in auctions, the first of which is slated for March 31, electricity prices are expected to rise, which will revive the incentive to convert to solar.

Panelists cited increasing retail electricity prices as the biggest driver of solar growth in Mexico, followed by increased access to capital and a revised tender process, with resource-specific auctions.

“Let solar compete against itself and not against other energy sources,” said Marco Garcia, chief commercial officer of California-based NEXTracker, which already builds components at its Mexico facility.

The solar content of the first auction has yet to be revealed, but panelists predicted solar would make up around 10 percent of the total projects up for grabs.

A lack of economic competitiveness was also cited as one of the biggest barriers to residential solar development in Mexico.

But Mexico is also an attractive solar manufacturing market, according to GTM Research SVP Shayle Kann. Solar component manufacturing is moving to domestic markets in other countries, and there is the potential for that to happen in Mexico, he said, citing the current 15 percent import tariff on panels as an incentive, in addition to Mexico’s proximity to the U.S., one of the world’s largest solar markets, which could become an export destination.

“The country has enormous potential but lacks manufacturing clusters,” Nochebuena of SERAMBC said.

Panelists dialed down their optimism regarding how big a market share domestic manufacturers could secure in the short term. “You can only build a certain number of factories in five years,” Otin of 8minutenergy said, predicting that the percentage of domestic manufacturing would remain well below 25 percent by 2020.

Panelists were also conservative in their estimates of Mexico’s installed solar capacity by 2020, predicting that it is likely to total between 2 and 3 gigawatts.

But the ambition exists to surpass that amount, and the government is committed to ironing out the issues concerning regulation that are currently causing a project bottleneck, according to GTM Research senior solar market analyst Mohit Anand.

“Despite all the challenges, solar is poised to be a key player in Mexico,” he said.


source: http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/~r/GreentechMedia/~3/PoZwAUXgzy4/Optimism-For-Mexicos-Solar-Roadmap-Despite-Market-Headwinds

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News Quiz: How Much Solar Capacity Was Installed Globally in 2015?

Welcome to GTM’s energy news quiz. I’m your host, Alex Trebek Mike Munsell.

We’ve provided explainer links to all of the solutions below the quiz, so try not to cheat by looking ahead! Sign up for our newsletter to improve your score every week.

How’d you do? Share this with colleagues and see if they can beat your score. Feel free to brag (or shame yourself) in the comments section.

***SPOILERS BELOW***

1. The U.S. Supreme Court just ruled that FERC has the authority to regulate this.

2. Which solar developer just filed for an initial public offering, aiming to raise $100 million?

3. According to GTM Research, how much solar capacity was installed globally in 2015?

4. Which company recently completed the industry’s first securitization of distributed solar loans?

5. Which U.S. city will be the new home of General Electric’s headquarters?

6. How much wind capacity was installed in the U.S. in the fourth quarter of 2015?

***

Mike Munsell is GTM’s resident game show host. In addition to creating the GTM Energy News Quiz, he writes original riddles at www.riddleearth.com. Sign up to get them in your inbox every Monday and Friday.


source: http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/~r/GreentechMedia/~3/Ta09OAxiv5o/news-quiz-how-much-solar-capacity-was-installed-globally-in-2015

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Is High-Voltage DC the Best Way to Modernize the Grid and Reduce Emissions?

Wind and solar power coursing across a national system of high-voltage direct current transmission lines could significantly cut power sector carbon dioxide emissions without increasing the cost of energy in the U.S., according to a new study published in Nature Climate Change.

Researchers at NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory and the University of Colorado, Boulder looked at three scenarios in which wind, solar, hydropower and nuclear were paired with natural gas at different cost points. They also included the cost of building a national high-voltage direct current (HVDC) transmission system on top of the existing power system.

“The average variability of weather decreases as size increases; if wind or solar power are not available in a small area, they are more likely to be available somewhere in a larger area,” wrote lead author Alexander MacDonald, director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory. Although energy storage can also provide stability to the grid, HVDC can do it at a lower cost, the study contends.

The results showed that with mid-cost renewables and mid-cost natural gas, electric power CO2 emissions could be cut by about 60 percent by 2030, a figure that rises to nearly 80 percent if natural gas costs rise while renewables decline by 2030.

In all scenarios, the cost of power in 2030 would be cheaper than the International Energy Agency’s estimate of an average $0.115 per kilowatt-hour for the levelized cost of electricity in the U.S. in 2030.

The model used weather data with high temporal and spatial resolution and assumed co-optimized dispatch of renewables across the modern HVDC grid. “We integrate complex weather data over continental-scale geography while still handling the salient features of an electrical power system,” the authors wrote in the paper.

The authors modeled 3 gigawatts of HVDC transmission to carry 523 gigawatts of wind power, 371 gigawatts of solar PV, 471 gigawatts of natural gas, 100 gigawatts of nuclear and 74 gigawatts of hydroelectricity, an increase of 30 percent over 2012 installed capacity.

 

The HVDC transmission network assumes a cost of about $700 per megawatt-mile and another $182,000 for each substation. The authors note that economies of scale allow for that price for the HVDC line, which becomes substantially cheaper once the lines are longer than about 300 miles. Costs for renewables were fairly conservative, with medium cost-assumption estimates nearly in line with today’s costs for wind and solar.

A benefit of HVDC, besides connecting generation to load centers more efficiently than high-voltage alternating current, is that it reduces the need for frequency regulation that comes with a high penetration of renewables.

One limitation of the study is that it only used hourly data for wind and solar, although fluctuations within the hour can be highly variable. Hourly data was used because there was not more granular electricity demand data and/or detailed weather data available across the large geographic scales the researchers used.

To realize the scenario laid out in this study, the U.S. power sector would have to embrace HVDC in a way that it has not previously. There is very little HVDC in the U.S., although it is being used more frequently in Europe and China. One of the largest projects in the U.S. is the 1,000-megawatt Clean Power Link in the Northeast that was recently green-lighted.

But large-scale transmission projects are difficult to site and often challenging to get approval for, especially as they move across state lines. Another benefit of HVDC, which PowerLink took advantage of, is that it can often be buried along existing rights of way, eliminating many of the battles that traditional transmission faces.

The authors acknowledged the challenges, and the political will that would have to be mustered for a project of this scope. They concluded that building out a national HVDC power system over the existing one would be similar to the challenge and opportunity of building the transcontinental railroads or the interstate highway system.


source: http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/~r/GreentechMedia/~3/-mzZwlqxqLM/Is-High-Voltage-DC-the-Best-Way-to-Modernize-the-Grid-and-Reduce-Emissions

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Sonnen Grows US Energy Storage Effort by Partnering With SolarWorld, PetersenDean and Spruce

German energy storage company Sonnen has officially opened its new headquarters in Los Angeles, and is wasting no time in selling batteries to as many American customers as possible.

Sonnen announced today that it is teaming up with SolarWorld, the largest crystalline-silicon solar manufacturer in the U.S., and PetersenDean, a large California-based roofing and solar company, to offer a complete solar-plus-storage package for the U.S. residential market.

Partnerships are a key element of Sonnen’s expansion plans as it tries to edge out Tesla, its top competitor. The German energy storage company has already built a U.S. distribution network of more than 30 local solar installation companies, and plans to grow that network to 100 dealers by the end of the year.

Sonnen also announced today that it’s working with Spruce, the product of a recent merger between Clean Power Finance and Kilowatt Financial, to develop a financing product focused purely on energy storage.

The two companies plan to make financing available to Sonnen’s channel partners in the first quarter of 2016. They’re also working on a solar-plus-storage financing option for release later this year.

“We’re building a comprehensive product that allows our channel partners to provide their end customers with a solution that’s fully integrated in all aspects,” said Boris von Bormann, CEO of Sonnen North America, in an interview.

The battery system itself is an integrated solution that incorporates a Sony Fortelion lithium-ion phosphate battery, an inverter, and a control system that can be accessed via computer or smart phone, or through a user interface on the battery.

Sonnen offers a commercial battery product, but its core market is on the residential side. Today, the value proposition for residential storage is largely for resiliency, like in the Northeast, where customers have to cope with severe winter storms, and for self-consumption, typically in places with high electricity costs, like Hawaii. New mandatory time-of-use rates in California will also make residential storage more attractive as a way to arbitrage between peak and off-peak times.

Sonnen told Greentech Media in mid-December that it had shipped the first 1,000 U.S. storage system orders from its factory in San Jose, and expected some of those systems online before Christmas.

Tesla, meanwhile, confirmed it has started manufacturing its Powerwall batteries at the Gigafactory in Nevada, and is expected to make the first deliveries in Australia next month and soon begin making deliveries in North America. However, it’s unclear when the systems will actually be installed.

A pricing comparison finds the Powerwall is likely cheaper than Sonnen’s offering, but prices vary based on product type and location. Both firms would appear to be engaging in specsmanship in their claims, as well.

In the U.S., von Bormann said Sonnen’s recent deliveries give the company first-mover advantage. 

“The important point is not just that we’re first; it’s that we’re first in the market with a product that’s been tested in thousands of units in various markets around the world,” he said.

Sonnen is currently the leading battery system vendor in Europe. And in the coming weeks, the company will hit 10,000 battery sales worldwide. Since residential batteries live in the home, sometimes right next to where people sleep, there’s a high value placed on a proven safety record, said von Bormann.

Sonnen’s partnership network could also give the German company a leg up in the U.S. over Tesla, which plans to work primarily through its partner SolarCity.

“There aren’t many markets with an economic proposition for the residential segment, as a result of which we haven’t seen many financing products catering to the residential segment,” said Ravi Manghani, senior energy storage analyst at GTM Research. “Residential storage vendors will have to rely on strong channel partners, and not financing packages alone to acquire customers. Sonnen’s partnerships with SolarWorld and PetersenDean offer it such channels.”

PetersenDean is one of the largest roofing companies in the country, and the eighth-largest residential solar installer in the country, according to GTM Research’s U.S. PV Leaderboard. By manufacturing in the U.S., Sonnen aligns itself with PetersenDean’s “Made in America” campaign.

“They’re right in our swim lane,” said Erin Clark, president of PetersenDean’s solar division, in a statement. “We are all resolved to offer complete solar solutions that include and promote the arrival of storage. We, SolarWorld and Sonnen are all best-in-class operators and employers right here on U.S. soil.”  

The grand opening of Sonnen’s new headquarters in L.A. today cements the company’s presence in America, building on the launch of its manufacturing plant in San Jose, and its research and development hub in Atlanta. With a major launch event planned for tonight, the company intends to make its presence known. The next step is translating that presence into sales.


source: http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/~r/GreentechMedia/~3/WjA0eXm8TGs/Sonnen-Grows-US-Energy-Storage-Effort-By-Partnering-with-SolarWorld-Peters

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PV Solar Costs Have Fallen 10% per Year Since 1980

Union of Concerned Scientists: West Coast States Could Cut Petroleum Consumption in Half by 2030, New Study Shows

California, Oregon and Washington could cut their petroleum use by half in the next 15 years through policies that encourage greater transportation options and the more robust use of existing and emerging low-carbon technologies, according to a report prepared by ICF International and released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists.

The report finds that the three West Coast states are already on track to reduce petroleum consumption and outlines strategies for further cutting oil use from car and freight transportation that is fouling air quality and contributing to climate change.

Photon: Study Shows Costs of PV Decreased 10 percent per Year Since 1980

We put ourselves in the past, pretended we didn’t know the future, and used a simple method to forecast the costs of the technologies.

These were the methodological premises of a study conducted by a research team from the University of Oxford, which has also analyzed the development of the PV technology over the past and future decades. The paper (titled “How predictable is technological progress?”) found that the costs of a PV module decreased at an average rate of 10% per year since 1980. It provides a quantitative answer to a fundamental question: How do we know that the historical trend will continue? Isn’t it possible that things will reverse, and over the next 20 years coal will drop in price dramatically and solar will go back up?

Bloomberg Businessweek: Who Owns the Sun?

Warren Buffett controls Nevada’s legacy utility. Elon Musk is behind the solar company that’s upending the market. Let the fun begin.

SolarCity’s success is partly because the government provides subsidies and enables an arrangement called net metering, which allows homeowners with panels to sell back to the grid any solar energy they don’t use. This helps offset their cost of power when the sun’s not shining. Like more than 40 other U.S. states, Nevada forces utilities to buy the excess energy at rates set by regulators — usually the same rate utilities charge (hence, the “net” in net metering). In Nevada, it’s worked well. So well, in fact, that NV Energy, the state’s largest utility, is fighting it with everything it’s got.

Photo Illustration by Justin Metz from Photograph by David Brandon Geeting for Bloomberg Businessweek. Buffett: Lacy O’Toole/Getty Images; Musk: Rebecca Cook/Reuters

Kleiner Perkins partner Randy Komisar discusses the roadmap for pitching a venture capital firm in the firm’s podcast, Ventured.           

The Present is a thesis short from the Institute of Animation, Visual Effects and Digital Postproduction at the Filmakademie Baden-Wuerttemberg in Ludwigsburg, Germany.


source: http://feeds.greentechmedia.com/~r/GreentechMedia/~3/BOl7tQ0cz_U/PV-Solar-Costs-Have-Fallen-10-per-Year-Since-1980

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El Niño Is Here, So Why Is California Still in Drought?

A parade of El Niño-fueled storms has marched over California in the last few weeks, bringing bouts of much needed rain and snow to the parched state. But maps of drought conditions there have barely budged, with nearly two-thirds of the state still in the worst two categories of drought.

So what gives?

The short answer, experts say, is that the drought built up over several years (with help from hotter temperatures fueled in part by global warming) and it will take many more storms and almost assuredly more than a single winter — even one with a strong El Niño — to erase it.

An above-average amount of snow covers a small cabin in Phillips, Calif., Dec. 30, 2015.
Credit: REUTERS/Fred Greaves

The issue for California comes down to this: there are short-term drought impacts and long-term ones.

With the former, the signs are encouraging: Soil moisture is increasing and some areas are greening up thanks to repeated rains. Temperatures have also been cold enough that snow is building up in the mountains. The snowpack in the Sierra Nevada, a major water resource come spring and summer, is up to an average of 113 percent of normal for this time of year, according to California’s Department of Water Resources (DWR). Compare that to the record low 6 percent of normal at the end of winter last year.

“The good news is we are seeing the benefits of El Niño, but they are trying to climb out of a 4-year drought,” Mark Svoboda, a climatologist with the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, said in an email.

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Long-term impacts like depleted groundwater, low reservoir levels and pitiful stream flows, “they’re not responding much at all yet,” Brian Fuchs, another NDMC climatologist, said. “The reservoir levels have hardly moved.”

To name just a few examples (all in Northern California): Trinity Lake is at 27 percent of capacity and 38 percent of its historical average, Shasta Reservoir is at 49 percent of capacity and 73 percent of the historical average, and Lake Oroville is at 40 and 61 percent, respectively, according to DWR records.

Those reservoirs are crucial to agriculture and supplying water to many areas. A report released in June by scientists from the University of California, Davis, estimated that the drought had cost the state’s agricultural industry some $2.7 billion. With levels still low, it’s unclear how much will be available to farmers come spring.

 

Lake Oroville up more than 20 ft. in the last week! It is at 34% of capacity! #WeStillNeedMoreSnowandRain #CADrought pic.twitter.com/bugTb8C193

— CA – DWR (@CA_DWR) January 20, 2016

 

To get reservoirs and groundwater back to pre-drought levels will simply take more time and more precipitation.

Such issues “are the last to emerge going into drought and they will be the last to recover coming out,” Svoboda wrote in the most recent Drought Monitor report, which the NDMC puts out on a weekly basis.

That reality has led Fuchs, Svoboda and the other Drought Monitor authors to keep the map of drought in California largely unchanged since late fall, when the storms began blowing through.

If the precipitation continues, there may be some slight easing in the coming weeks, but Fuchs warned that “it’s going to be slow.”

The situation has been very different in Oregon and Washington, which were similarly smothered by drought earlier in the year, but have made huge strides thanks to the spate of storms. Three months ago, Washington was entirely in drought; now just 25 percent is. Oregon has more drought conditions remaining, but the worst-off areas have gone from taking up two thirds of the state to only about 4 percent of it in the same period of time.

The difference in those states, Svoboda said, was that their drought was not as deeply entrenched, having largely developed over only the last year.

Drought levels across California as of Jan. 28, 2015.
Click image to enlarge. Credit: U.S. Drought Monitor

Drought conditions in California, in contrast, have been building up since 2012. Over that time, the state has missed out on nearly a year’s worth of rain, according to a study published in July. That means they need the equivalent of two full years’ worth of rain to catch up. Even if this winter brings above-average precipitation to the state, it won’t be on that level.

Unexpectedly for a strong El Niño, most of the storms so far have hit Northern California, while Southern California has lagged behind in rain and snow totals. El Niño typically shifts the jet stream to a position where it funnels incoming storms over the southern tier of the U.S., and as we are reaching the time of year when El Niño’s impacts typically peak, we could see a shift to that classic setup, Fuchs said.

All the snow in the Sierras is still beneficial to the state as a whole, though, as some of the water that will fill reservoirs when the snow melts is funneled to the southern portions of the state.

Overall, with the precipitation that has fallen in the last few weeks and the expectation that that pattern will hold, “the momentum is there” to make some headway in alleviating the drought, Fuchs said.

“The first of the dominoes has fallen in that they needed to wet up the soils in the short-term so that they release water into streams and groundwater,” Svoboda said.  “But we’re a long ways away yet for seeing California in an all-clear situation.”

{like}


source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/ClimateCentral-News/~3/Js29UdMA6M4/el-nino-is-here-so-why-is-california-still-in-drought-19975

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How to Join the Sustainable Energy Marketplace and Get Grant Funding for your Renewable Energy Project (Webinar)

Monday, February 1, 2016 – 12:30

This webinar will cover eligibility criteria of the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) grant opportunity, provide updates about the International Renewable Energy Agency’s Sustainable Energy Marketplace and show how to register a project on the Sustainable Energy Marketplace in order to qualify for the IDB grant. The webinar will be held on 1 February at 9:30 a.m. EST in English and at 10:30 a.m. EST in Spanish.

source: https://cleanenergysolutions.org/news/events/how-join-sustainable-energy-marketplace-get-grant-funding-your-renewable-energy-project

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Georgia Power files 20-year energy plan with Georgia PSC

Plan focuses on preserving reliable and affordable service, while maintaining options and flexibility

source: http://feedproxy.google.com/~r/generation-rss/~3/XFHXxRSERLA/georgia-power-files-20-year-energy-plan-with-georgia-psc.html

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