En­ergy Briefs: Mile­stones and con­cerns from so­lar

Imperial Valley Press - - LOCAL & REGION - BY ED­WIN DEL­GADO Staff Writer

Ed­i­tor’s Note: En­ergy Briefs is a weekly rec­ol­lec­tion of lo­cal, re­gional and na­tional news re­gard­ing some of the most in­trigu­ing up­dates re­gard­ing en­ergy, wa­ter, and the en­vi­ron­ment.

The state of California re­cently reached a mile­stone in clean en­ergy us­age. For a por­tion of a sin­gle day dur­ing the first week­end of the month, the state used so­lar en­ergy to sup­ply 50 per­cent of its power de­mand.

The Desert Sun re­ported the state uti­lized more than 10,400 megawatts of so­lar power, which is 500 megawatts more than the pre­vi­ous record set last sum­mer.

De­spite the con­tin­u­ing growth of so­lar en­ergy in the state, the con­cerns of over gen­er­a­tion of so­lar power dur­ing the mid­dle of the day con­tinue. As a re­sult, the state leg­is­la­ture is look­ing to dis­cuss a bill that would al­low the state to join a western grid to be able to sell its ex­cess power out of state.

Sim­i­lar pro­pos­als were de­feated in 2016 and 2017.

Lo­cally, the Im­pe­rial Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict has been skep­ti­cal of the ben­e­fits of such move as the dis­trict fears it could be a way for the state to gain con­trol of its bal­anc­ing au­thor­ity. IID has also ar­gued im­port­ing power from other states would get in the way of ad­di­tional re­new­able en­ergy de­vel­op­ment in the Im­pe­rial Val­ley.

Ethanol

California Ethanol and Power, which plans to build and op­er­ate a plant near Im­pe­rial, got a step closer to its goal last week af­ter se­cur­ing an in­ter­con­nec­tion with the Im­pe­rial Ir­ri­ga­tion Dis­trict.

The pro­posed California Ethanol and Power pro­cess­ing plant will be lo­cated at the Key­stone In­dus­trial Park, and it is ex­pected to pro­duce 66 mil­lion gal­lons of ethanol per year from 55,000 acres of lo­cally grown su­gar cane.

The plant will also have the ca­pac­ity of gen­er­at­ing up to nearly 35 megawatts of elec­tric­ity, as well as bio­gas. Once it is fully op­er­a­tional, it is pro­jected to gen­er­ate about 300 full­time jobs.

Un­der the agree­ment, IID staff noted that the in­ter­con­nec­tion of the plant to IID’s 92-kilo­volt trans­mis­sion sys­tem will re­quire the con­struc­tion of a new 92-kilo­volt switch­ing sta­tion along the J Line.

Cost of the sys­tem im­prove­ments is es­ti­mated to cost close to $5 mil­lion, which will be fully funded by the de­vel­oper. The cost of com­mon net­work up­grades to the IID sys­tem is es­ti­mated at $750,000, with the de­vel­oper be­ing el­i­gi­ble for re­im­burse­ment of such sys­tems up­grades via the is­suance of trans­mis­sion rate cred­its.

The planned in-ser­vice date for the pro­ject is June 1, 2020, with com­mer­cial oper­a­tion pro­posed on June 30, 2020.

Cli­mate change de­bate

Since his early days as head of the U.S. En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Agency, Scott Pruitt has en­ter­tained the idea of hold­ing a pub­lic de­bate on the sci­ence of cli­mate change. The New York Times re­ported last week that though the president en­dorsed the idea, Chief of Staff John Kelly scrapped the plans, as the idea seemed po­lit­i­cally risky as well as a dis­trac­tion from the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ef­forts to dis­man­tle en­vi­ron­men­tal rules set in place un­der pre­vi­ous ad­min­is­tra­tions.

Also, Sci­en­tific Amer­i­can re­ported last week EPA’s sci­en­tific ad­vi­sory board has not met in six months, with some of its mem­bers fear­ing the de­lays are con­nected to Pruitt’s ef­forts to side­line sci­en­tific ad­vi­sors from ques­tion­ing or get­ting in the way of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s agenda.

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