Morning brief: $1.8 billion FPL solar plan gets state approval, Bernie Sanders on public ownership of power sector

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State regulators Tuesday approved a $1.8 billion plan by Florida Power & Light to add 20 solar-power plants by the middle of next year. The Florida Public Service Commission’s decision came after its staff recommended rejecting the utility’s “SolarTogether” program because of the way it is structured. The plan also drew opposition from the state Office of Public Counsel, which represents consumers in utility issues. But commissioners said the program, which involves adding a total of 1,490 megawatts of solar capacity, will expand renewable energy and reduce the state’s reliance on fossil fuels to generate electricity. FPL had backing from Walmart, the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Vote Solar. Source: The News Service of Florida

Bernie Sanders’s publicly owned clean power proposal is actually pretty tame. The U.S. has a long history of nationalizing in times of crisis. Whether Sanders’s platform really calls for taking over “major parts” of the economy is up for debate. His Green New Deal plan does call for publicly owned clean power generation, and he’s joined calls in California to bring PG&E—the bankrupt California utility—under the control of the state government there. Sanders isn’t the first politician to propose public ownership of parts of the power sector. In his successful 1932 presidential bid, Franklin D. Roosevelt railed against the “monstrosity” of private utility holding companies and argued that people should have the right to take control of their privately owned power lines.  Source: The New Republic

Coal deliveries to U.S. power plants fell to 555.02 million short tons in 2019, down 6.7% from 594.68 million short tons delivered a year earlier, according to U.S. Energy Information Administration data released late Friday.  Source: S&P Global Platts

Widespread shortfalls in solar irradiance across North America between 2017 and 2019 have impacted the performance of U.S. solar projects and portfolios, highlighting the need for investment in more robust resource data to reduce financial risks to the industry. Marcel Suri, managing director, Solargis, said: “The output of solar projects is inextricably linked to meteorological trends – but the success of solar asset owners depends on how they react to and plan for this. On average, a 1% decrease in asset performance translates to lost revenue of $1000 per megawatt per year.” Solargis data is used for monitoring and forecasting of solar power plants with a combined capacity of 20+ GW.  Source: Solargis

Schletter Group has supplied the mounting systems for one of the largest customer-sited projects in the American Midwest. On the grounds of a retired gravel pit near Chicago, 7,260 solar modules generate roughly 2 MW of solar power for the local business, Thelen Sand & Gravel. The two-support structure Schletter FS Duo was installed with extra-strong pile-driven foundations. Fabian Huber, head of technical advisory for ground-mounted systems at Schletter, said, “The soil in the gravel pit is extremely compressed and stony, and at the same time, plants in this region have to withstand high snow and wind loads in winter.” Source: Schletter