Morning Brief: PG&E’s massive Tesla battery proposal approved, NorthWestern Energy unfair to solar, wind and storage

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One of PG&E’s massive battery proposals approved: The Monterey County Planning Commission has approved a proposal for Pacific Gas and Electrcic’s (PG&E) gigantic 182.5MW, 730MWh Elkhorn Battery Energy Storage System, set to be located in Moss Landing, California. The behemoth is one of four considerably large battery energy storage projects first proposed for California’s South Bay area by PG&E in July 2018. And just what kind of batteries will this massive system use? Tesla Megapacks. What’s more is that Elkhorn is not the largest of the proposed quadruplets. That honor goes to proposed but so far unapproved 300MW, 1,200MWh Dynegy-Vistra project. And if Elkhorn hasn’t filled the big battery itch, some further reading may be in order. Source: Energy Storage News

Montana regulators’ own consultant says NorthWestern’s resource plan unfair to solar, wind and storage: The utility’s plan to spend nearly a billion dollars on gas plants was “a foregone conclusion” given modeling choices “that favor thermal resources over renewables and storage,” said a study from consultant Synapse Energy Economics. Beyond that, several ‘severe’ flaws in the utility’s resource procurement “restrict the ability for resources to compete to serve NorthWestern’s needs,” said the study. The Montana Public Service Commission hired Synapse to evaluate NorthWestern Energy’s planning efforts. Synapse had limited access to NorthWestern’s PowerSimm model, and did not have access to conduct its own model runs. Last fall the Sierra Club, suspecting biased modeling by NorthWestern, requested access to the utility’s modeling. Sources: Montana Public Service Commission, Montana Environmental Information Center

SolarEdge launches Site Controller: SolarEdge has launched a new inverter solution, dubbed the Site Controller, a load management tool for grid failures. The Site Controller switches the inverter to an alternative power source mode, which simultaneously maximizes solar energy production, and supplements it with power from a diesel generator when required to meet on-site energy demand, while also providing overload protection. In short, the Site Controller lets homeowners integrate easily as many power sources as they need during an outage, with solar generation being the main source. A mock system is modeled below. Source: SolarEdge

Accounts of America’s first solar town: A culmination of the dreams of a former NFL player and the biggest land preservation deal in the state of Florida, Babcock Ranch is an 18,000 acre community that holds the crown as America’s first and only solar town. The town is powered by 150 MW of solar, the Babcock Ranch Solar Energy Center, accompanied by a 10 MW, 40 MWh battery storage center, both run by Florida Power and Light. This electricity serves 500 homes, though the vision of creator Syd Kitman is to grow that number to 19,000. The town also features solar installations on many of the residences and commercial buildings, while each new house comes wired to accept a power supply for electric cars. There are a multitude of electric vehicle chargers across Babcock Ranch as well. You can read Lavanya Sunkara’s full account of her visit to the town in the Forbes article this entry is sourced from. You can also read the firsthand testimony of Mark Wilkerson, a 34-year solar industry vet looking to make the move to Babcock Ranch.

Solar Spring Break brings solar to low-income families: 160 students from 16 colleges in nine states will be spending their spring break not on the beach, but installing no-cost solar for low-income families through GRID Alternatives’ Solar Spring Break program. Within the program, student teams, regardless of where they hail from, will travel to project sites in California, from San Diego to Sacramento, and in tribal communities including the Chemehuevi Tribe, on the Campo Reservation, and with the Ojo Encino Chapter of Navajo Nation. Participating schools include Duke University, Georgia Tech, Michigan State University, University of California Berkeley and Villanova, among others. 2020 will be the 7th year of the Solar Spring Break, which pv magazine has covered before. Source: GRID Alternatives