Advanced Energy Perspectives

NEWS: U.S. leads in M&A Google’s Offshore Wind ‘Backbone’

Posted by Lexie Briggs

Jun 14, 2013 10:14:00 AM

    

Google offshore windThe U.S. is set to lead the world in renewable energy mergers and acquisitions, according to a new report from CohnReznick LLP. This will be the second year in a row the U.S. has come out on top in M&A for these advanced energy resources. Solar power, biomass, and onshore wind account for the largest markets targeted by investors, in part because those projects are “stable assets providing predictable returns,” according to Anton Cohen, a partner with CohnReznick. “They know there is only room to increase the installed capacity in the U.S.,” he said in an interview with Bloomberg.

The global advanced energy market has been valued at $1 trillion, and in the U.S. is experiencing rapid growth. The U.S. is well positioned to lead the advanced energy industry.


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In electric vehicle news, CBS Detroit reported excitement at Michigan’s Electric Vehicle show, with rising gas prices and 53 electric vehicles on display. Missing from the show was Miles Electric, whose low-speed cars and trucks are used off-highway purposes at universities and military bases. Miles announced this week that it has filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. But a bargain awaits some EV buyers: In order to reduce inventories of its Chevrolet Volt, General Motors is offering consumers up to $5,000 in incentives and reducing its lease price to $269 a month.

 

Elsewhere in Michigan, Traverse City joined the many communities offering community solar. The program is popular enough that the local utilities had to triple the number of solar arrays they were planning to install. “Shared solar” is becoming an increasingly useful model for communities nationwide. On a recent Policy Podcast, AEE’s Vice President for State Policy Tom Plant cited lower costs, increased access, and easier participation as reasons for widespread adoption.

 

This week Lockheed Martin announced a partnership with SNPASEC, a Chinese state-run nuclear power company to develop a protection system for new nuclear power plants. “We recognize the importance of nuclear power as a critical energy alternative for increased demand and have been developing instrumentation and control systems for more than 55 years,” said Jim Gribschaw, general manager of nuclear systems and solutions at Lockheed Martin. Lockheed Martin’s stock prices saw a boost from the news as well-- its shares picked up 67 cents to close at $106.63 on Wednesday.

 

For consumers with their own rooftop solar arrays, 43 states offer “net metering,” a way for excess power generated to be sold back to the grid, offsetting power bought by those customers without on-site generation. But as rooftop solar has proliferated, utilities have begun to push back. The Washington Post reports that some utilities around the country are arguing that net energy metering customers should pay more for the power they pull from the grid, in order to pay their fair share for grid infrastructure. Solar advocates contend that more solar is ultimately a good thing for the grid and homeowners should not be punished by higher rates for installing it.

 

The issue is coming to a head in Idaho, where the state’s Public Utilities Commission is taking it up. “Customers who reduce their base charges to zero through financial credits can avoid contributing to energy-efficiency programs and municipal fees in addition to avoiding the costs of distribution, infrastructure and customer services," Matt Larkin, a regulatory analyst for Idaho Power, said in testimony filed with the commission. But Idaho PUC staff have sided with solar owners, saying that net metering is having little cost impact on other customers while distributed generation provides benefits for the overall electric system. “Aside from potentially providing a capacity benefit during the utility's peak, net-metering potentially allows the company to meet growing load with current resources,” wrote PUC analyst Matt Elam in filed testimony.

 

(Stories like this highlight the vital role of Public Utility Commissions for the future of advanced energy. For information about AEE’s PUC program, click here.)

 

This week the editors of Bloomberg weighed in with support for allowing master limited partnerships (MLPs) in advanced energy in order to attract more private investment. And, as the federal government got set to auction leases for offshore wind development, Rick Needham, Energy and Sustainability Director for Google, laid out the case for Google’s investment in an offshore transmission “backbone” to serve offshore wind installations. “At Google, we believe investing in renewable energy makes business sense,” wrote Needham, in a guest column for New Jersey’s Star-Ledger. “When we looked at the Mid-Atlantic states, we considered what renewable resource could best scale to help those states meet their renewable energy goals — and concluded that was offshore wind, which has the potential to power the entire East Coast of the United States.”

 

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