Weekend reads: - Smart Energy Decisions

Power Prices, Regulation, Utilities, Distributed Generation, Regulation, Solar  -  July 15, 2017

Weekend reads: China's panda solar farm; NRG's green power pivot; congress debates climate change & more

Every Saturday, we'll bring you five of the most interesting — or quirky; it is the weekend after all — energy stories from around the web that you may have missed this week. This weekend's reads: 

China just built a solar power array that looks like a panda (Vox):  A Chinese solar power company has just completed the first phase of an ingenious PR stunt: building a 100MW solar power plant in the shape of a panda bear. According to a release from the company, Panda Green Energy, and the Chinese state press Xinhua News Agency, the first half of the plant, with 50MW of installed capacity, was connected to the electricity grid in Datong, China, on June 29.

Even the Man Who Tried to Turn NRG Green Backs Elliott (Bloomberg):  David Crane spent five years trying to convince Wall Street that he needed to turn the coal-burning, natural gas-dependent power generator NRG Energy Inc. into a clean-energy company. The crusade ultimately cost him his job. In late 2015, after NRG’s debt had swelled to $20 billion, Crane was fired as chief executive officer of the nation’s largest independent power producer. His rooftop solar business was shelved. And in case it wasn't clear enough where investors stood on the "green" image he was building: NRG, facing pressure from billionaire Paul Singer’s Elliott Management Corp., said Wednesday that it would seek a buyer for the unit Crane created primarily to run solar and wind farms as part of a plan to divest as much as $4 billion of assets.

Rooftop Solar Dims Under Pressure From Utility Lobbyists (The New York Times): Over the past six years, rooftop solar panel installations have seen explosive growth - as much as 900% by one estimate. That growth has come to a shuddering stop this year, with a projected decline in new installations of 2 percent, according to projections from Bloomberg New Energy Finance. A number of factors are driving the reversal, from saturation in markets like California to financial woes at several top solar panel makers. But the decline has also coincided with a concerted and well-funded lobbying campaign by traditional utilities, which have been working in state capitals across the country to reverse incentives for homeowners to install solar panels. 

Dozens of Republicans side with Dems on climate vote (Axios): Forty-six House Republicans joined Democrats Thursday to protect language in defense policy legislation that calls climate change a "direct threat" to national security and requires new Defense Department analysis of its effect on the military. The House voted 185-234 against GOP Rep. Scott Perry's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act that would have stripped the language in the bill requiring the study.

Add shareholder discontent to the list of problems facing Southern Co. (Utility Dive): The problems stemming Southern Co.’s troubled investments in its Kemper integrated gasification combined-cycle (IGCC) project in Mississippi and its Vogtle nuclear project in Georgia just continue to grow. In addition to the Southern's recent decision to end work on the gasification units at Kemper and run the plant as a natural gas generator, Westinghouse Electric, the main contractor for the Vogtle project, filed for bankruptcy in March, throwing the future of the project into question.  Now, some shareholders are up in arms over Southern’s executive pay practices.


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