Energy Briefs: Milestones and concerns from solar
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.
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.