To build or not to build: TVA asks public to weigh in on construction of large solar farm

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RenewableEnergyWorld – The Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) is asking for public input on the draft Environmental Impact Statement for the North Alabama Utility-Scale Solar Project in Lawrence County.

In January 2019, TVA announced that it holds a two-year purchase option on 3,000 acres in Lawrence County to study the feasibility of building a large solar farm in order to continue reducing its carbon footprint.  

The purpose of this EIS is to address the potential environmental effects associated with constructing, operating, maintaining, and decommissioning the solar facility.

The draft EIS includes two alternatives: a No Action Alternative and an Action Alternative. Under the No Action Alternative, TVA would not execute the purchase under the Purchase Option Agreement, and TVA would not develop a solar facility at this location. Under the Action Alternative, TVA would execute the purchase under the Purchase Option Agreement for the Lawrence County, Alabama, property. 

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Minnesota governor accelerates state’s carbon-free power target 10 years, to 2040

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UtilityDive – Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, D, on Thursday proposed a series of policies that would bring the state to 100% carbon-free electricity by 2040, a decade earlier than the goal he proposed in 2019.

His proposed policy goals follow a report from the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency issued earlier this month, finding the state is not on track to meet its previous goals of reducing economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 30% below 2005 levels by 2025, and 80% by 2050. Overall, greenhouse gas emissions have declined 8% since 2005, according to the agency’s latest data, which measures emissions through 2018.

Minnesota’s largest investor-owned utilities (IOUs) — Xcel Energy and Minnesota Power — are pursuing 100% carbon-free energy by 2050 targets, and said their plans are more realistic.

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State regulators fine Xcel Energy $1M over dispute with solar developers

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StarTribune – Minnesota utility regulators Thursday slapped Xcel Energy with a rare $1 million fine for a bevy of complaints over delays in connecting solar projects to the electricity grid.

Almost all of the roughly 120 complaints were filed by St. Paul-based All Energy Solar in 2019. A solar trade group said All Energy’s grievances reflect longstanding and costly interconnection problems with Xcel for the entire industry.

Minneapolis-based Xcel, the state’s largest electric utility, has acknowledged shortcomings. But it argues that the big batch of complaints should be rolled into one.

The Minnesota Public Utilities Commission (PUC) unanimously disagreed with Xcel’s assertion but split on whether to immediately hit Xcel with the $1 million fine.

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Elon Musk to offer $100 million prize for ‘best’ carbon capture tech

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Reuters – Tesla Inc chief and billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk on Thursday took to Twitter to promise a $100 million prize for development of the “best” technology to capture carbon dioxide emissions.

Capturing planet-warming emissions is becoming a critical part of many plans to keep climate change in check, but very little progress has been made on the technology to date, with efforts focused on cutting emissions rather than taking carbon out of the air.

The International Energy Agency said late last year that a sharp rise in the deployment of carbon capture technology was needed if countries are to meet net-zero emissions targets.

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Dominion files plans with federal regulators for 2.6 GW offshore wind project, largest in US to date

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UtilityDive – Dominion Energy has filed the construction and operations plan for its 2.64 GW offshore wind project, with construction expected to start off the coast of Virginia in 2024. The anticipated filing with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) was made after Dominion completed construction of a 12 MW pilot offshore wind project in Virginia — the first offshore wind turbines approved by regulators in federal waters. The company expects the BOEM review process for the largest offshore wind farm in the country announced to date to take about two years.

The offshore wind generation capacity is a large component of the utility’s clean energy plan, to meet the state’s rigid decarbonization standards in the Clean Economy Act passed earlier in 2020. Pending approval of the project by the State Corporation Commission and federal regulators, the project would provide renewable electricity to power up to 660,000 homes upon completion in 2026.

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