PG&E Goes Big On Renewable Resources
Nearly 70% of the electricity Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) delivered to its customers in 2016 came from greenhouse-gas-free resources, the San Francisco-based company has announced.
For renewable resources in particular – including wind, solar, geothermal, biomass and hydroelectric – PG&E says it delivered an average of 32.8% of its electricity from these sources. That’s more than a 3% increase in just one year and the highest percentage yet for the state’s largest combined natural gas and electric company, which delivers power to roughly 16 million people in northern and central California.
In total, 69.3% of PG&E’s electric power mix is from nuclear, large hydro and renewable sources of energy. This record level of renewable deliveries also propels PG&E toward California’s goal of 50% renewables by 2030, the company notes.
“Delivering this amount of renewable electricity strongly confirms PG&E’s continued commitment to a cleaner energy future for our customers and all of California,” says Geisha Williams, CEO and president of PG&E Corp.
Avangrid Wins N.C. Offshore Wind Lease
The U.S. Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) has announced the completion of the nation’s seventh competitive lease sale for renewable wind energy in federal waters.
A wind energy area of 122,405 acres offshore Kitty Hawk, N.C., received the highest bid of $9,066,650 from Avangrid Renewables LLC, the provisional winner, after 17 rounds.
Also participating in the lease sale were Wind Future LLC, Statoil Wind US LLC and wpd offshore Alpha LLC.
Before the North Carolina auction, BOEM had held six competitive lease sales, which generated $58 million in high bids for more than 1 million acres in federal waters, including a lease sale for 79,000 acres offshore New York. That auction generated a winning bid of $42.5 million from Statoil.
BOEM says it has been working with the North Carolina Renewable Energy Task Force since 2010 to identify an area of sufficient size for offshore wind development while “avoiding ecologically sensitive areas and multiple-use conflicts.”
The North Carolina lease area, designated OCS-A 0508, begins about 24 nautical miles from shore and extends 25.7 nautical miles in a general southeast direction. Its seaward extent ranges from 13.5 nautical miles in the north to .6 of a nautical mile in the south.
According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s estimates of 3 MW per square kilometer, the lease area has a potential generating capacity of 1,486 MW – enough energy to power more than 500,000 homes. The actual size of the wind energy project will be determined by the developer, notes BOEM.
“The same winds that once lifted the first powered flight above North Carolina’s Outer Banks could soon power thousands, if not millions, of American homes,” says Nancy Sopko, director of offshore wind and federal legislative affairs for the American Wind Energy Association. “Millions of dollars in private investment drawn to this new ocean energy resource will help North Carolina’s economy take flight – creating new demand for skilled jobs, factories and U.S. flagged vessels.”
The lease will have a preliminary term of one year, during which the lessee may submit a site assessment plan (SAP) to BOEM for approval. The SAP will describe the facilities (e.g., meteorological towers or buoys) a lessee plans to install or deploy for the assessment of the wind resources and ocean conditions of its commercial lease area.
Following approval of a SAP, the lessee will then have four-and-a-half years to submit a construction and operations plan (COP) to BOEM for approval. This plan will provide a detailed proposal for the construction and operation of a wind energy project within the lease area.
Once BOEM receives a COP, it will conduct an environmental review of the proposed project and reasonable alternatives. Public input will be an important part of BOEM’s review process; if BOEM approves the COP, the lessee will then have a term of 25 years to construct and operate the project.
“The success of this lease sale reflects the continued interest of coastal communities to develop their offshore energy resources,” says Ryan Zinke, DOI secretary. “Renewable energy, like offshore wind, is one tool in the all-of-the-above energy toolbox that will help power America with domestic energy, securing energy independence and bolstering the economy. This is a big win for collaborative efforts with state, local and private-sector partners.”
James P. Torgerson, CEO of Avangrid Inc., adds, “We salute the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Department of the Interior for the professional manner in which they went about the bidding process, reflected by the initial large number of parties that prequalified to bid. We are excited to undertake the enormous task before us in bringing this project to fruition and confident in its completion.”
Firm Offers Renewables Purchasing Program
Geronimo Energy LLC, a renewables developer based out of Minneapolis, has introduced a new renewable energy purchasing solution, dubbed the Renewable Energy Project Units (REP-Units) program.
According to the company, REP-Units are suited for commercial electricity customers who are looking for a low-cost solution to achieve corporate sustainability goals under shorter-term contracts.
Each REP-Unit offers 10 MW of power – equal to approximately 40,000 MWh – of a larger wind or solar project’s output. REP-Units are priced based on a portion of 100 MW of a renewable energy project and, as such, offer economies-of-scale benefits to customers who have smaller electricity needs, Geronimo Energy explains.
Furthermore, every project offered in Geronimo’s REP-Unit program is a new-build project that includes Green-e certified renewable energy credits.
Thanks to the hundreds of megawatts of renewables available across the U.S., customers can mix and match their REP-Unit purchase to align with their needs, says the company, which adds that it welcomes multiple REP-Unit holders per project. In addition, volume discounts are available for customers interested in purchasing multiple REP-Units.
“While sustainability goals are no doubt important to hundreds of commercial organizations, historically, purchasing renewable energy has presented barriers and undue risk for companies,” states David Reamer, executive vice president of business development at Geronimo Energy. “Our REP-Unit program removes these barriers and risks by offering low-price, shorter-duration renewable energy contracts for projects in numerous locations across the country to align with customers’ electricity usage.”
Jaguar Land Rover Revs Up Renewables Pledge
Under a new agreement with EDF Energy, Jaguar Land Rover Automotive PLC, which touts itself as the U.K.’s largest car manufacturer, is buying all of its electricity from renewable sources until March 2020.
Jaguar Land Rover says its electricity supply is backed by renewable energy guarantees of origin (REGOs), meaning a proportion of EDF Energy’s renewable energy is ring-fenced specifically for the company. The REGO scheme certifies the proportion of supply that comes from renewable generation – 100% in Jaguar Land Rover’s case.
“EDF Energy is pleased to announce that we will continue to supply Jaguar Land Rover with 100 percent renewable electricity for the next three years,” comments Béatrice Bigois, managing director of customers for EDF Energy. “Jaguar Land Rover is a valued partner of EDF Energy; we share a strong focus on sustainability and are very proud to support Britain’s biggest car maker in achieving their low-carbon ambitions.”
Ian Harnett, executive director of human resources and global purchasing for Jaguar Land Rover, adds, “Our future is low-carbon, clean and efficient. Our program to reduce our burden on the national grid doesn’t end here: We seek continual improvements, both in how we can reduce energy consumption further and how to minimize our carbon emissions. Our aim is to give our customers an assurance that the company’s electricity will come from renewable sources – those being in addition to the solar array at our engine manufacturing center in Wolverhampton, one of the largest rooftop installations in Europe.”
Gamesa-Siemens Merger Gets The Green Light
The European Commission has officially cleared the acquisition of Gamesa by Siemens. Considering a number of “credible competitors” would remain in both the onshore and the offshore wind markets, the institution has found that the transaction “raises no competitive concerns.”
The transaction was notified to the commission on Feb. 6 and then examined under its normal merger-review procedure. The commission explains that it has the duty to assess mergers and acquisitions involving companies with a turnover above certain thresholds in order to “prevent concentrations that would significantly impede effective competition” in the European Economic Area.
With this unconditional clearance, the merger has now obtained anti-trust approvals in all required jurisdictions, and all of the conditions precedent for the merger have been satisfied, says Siemens. Subject to pending closing actions, Siemens and Gamesa expect to close the merger in early April (after the registration of the merged entity in the Vizcaya Companies Register).
“This approval brings us one step closer to turning our vision of creating a global leader into reality and forming a company with presence in all the important wind markets,” says Ignacio Martín, executive chairman and CEO of Gamesa.
The joint management team of the merged company will take office after being appointed at the first meeting of the new company board and will be announced to all stakeholders promptly after the appointment, says Siemens.
Gamesa, a publicly listed company in Spain, is primarily active in the supply of onshore wind turbines but also in the sale of offshore wind turbines through its wholly owned subsidiary, Adwen Offshore SL. Siemens, a publicly listed company in Germany, is active in a number of industrial areas, including the supply of onshore and offshore wind turbines and their components, such as generators, gearboxes and switchgears, through its wind power and renewables divisions.
The institution has investigated the potential impact of the transaction on the onshore and offshore wind turbine markets, where the activities of Siemens and Gamesa overlap. Even after the merger, it says, the onshore wind market would be “rather fragmented” with several large competitors.
In addition, with Siemens and MHI Vestas as the “main competitors,” the offshore wind market is more concentrated. Gamesa is also active in the market through its Adwen subsidiary, the commission notes. However, the investigation confirms that Adwen is not a competitive constraint on Siemens; therefore, it is unlikely that the transaction would “appreciably change the competitive situation,” the commission says.
At the start of last year, Gamesa confirmed via regulatory filing that it was in negotiations with Siemens. In June, the companies signed binding agreements to combine their respective businesses. Up for grabs was Areva’s stake in Adwen, Gamesa and Areva’s 50/50 offshore wind joint venture, which was eventually sold to Gamesa for $67.5 million.
In October, Gamesa held an extraordinary general meeting at which its shareholders ratified the resolutions needed to close the merger. Specifically, they cast 99.75% of votes in favor of the deal. In December, Spain’s securities market regulator confirmed the merger.
Gamesa will absorb Siemens’ wind power assets in exchange for newly issued shares in Gamesa. In the wake of the deal, Siemens will own 59% of the new company, while Iberdrola will retain an 8% interest. At the October meeting, the company’s shareholders also approved the distribution of a special cash dividend of EUR 3.5911 per share (before withholdings), to be paid out by Gamesa after the merger closes.
According to the companies, the transaction will create a global wind giant with an installed base of 75 GW, an order book of EUR 20.9 billion and revenue of EUR 11 billion (using pro forma data for the last 12 months, as of December 2016).
Siemens will fully consolidate the merged entity in its financial statements; the merged entity will remain listed on the Spanish stock exchange.
“We have reached a milestone in our path to merge Gamesa and Siemens Wind Power and create a leading global wind player,” states Lisa David, member of the managing board of Siemens. “This merger is designed to combine the complementary strengths of both companies to benefit our customers, shareholders, employees and suppliers. I’m excited about bringing the new company to the market very soon.”