Center for American Progress: The Economic Fallout of the Freeze on Ohio’s Clean Energy Sector

Passed in 2008 with overwhelming bipartisan support, Ohio’s renewable energy and energy-efficiency standards proved unambiguously successful in spurring economic progress in the state. Among their benefits were increased in-state investment and energy development, new jobs for Ohioans, and decreased electricity bills.

Despite broad public support for these standards, the Ohio legislature passed S.B. 310 in May 2014, which froze the state’s ramp-up schedules for renewable energy and energy efficiency. It subsequently passed H.B. 483, which dramatically increased the setback requirements for wind turbines. Gov. John Kasich (R) signed both bills into law in June 2014.

To understand whether S.B. 310 and H.B. 483 are beginning to chill investment in Ohio and erode the progress made by its clean energy sector, the Center for American Progress interviewed business leaders and experts in renewable energy and energy efficiency across the state. All spoke to the uncertainty created in the clean energy sector, and all reported negative impacts of the recent legislation. For example, some have had to stall hiring or lay off employees; some are shifting their operations to other states; some are experiencing a downturn in business or difficulty attracting new investment; and some have had to cancel projects that the new legislation made economically unviable.

Quartz: Could Solar Power Overtake Natural Gas in the U.S.?

Both natural gas prices and PV costs have plunged in recent years. Some utility-scale PV projects in the West have power generation comparable to natural gas plants -- in the hundreds of megawatts -- and were built at costs competitive with other energy sources. At the same time, natural gas production is growing fast due to hydraulic fracturing and plummeting costs.

All this leads to a big question: As natural gas grows, will it clip solar’s success -- or can the two be collaborators in creating a less carbon-intense energy system?

Forbes: How Fast and How Deep Will Utilities Venture Into the Solar Energy Craze?

The recent showdown in Arizona between customers who generate electricity using rooftop solar panels and the Salt River Project is a microcosm of a national phenomenon. Questions persist over how to allocate the cost of running the grid and how utilities should be investing for the future.

While it’s easy to paint one side as the darling of the New Energy Economy, the reality is that the situation is far more complicated. The transmission grid is an intricate mechanism that has reliably delivered electrons from centralized power generators for a century. Now, though, with the falling cost of solar panels and the advent of new technologies that include microgrids and energy storage devices, residential and business customers are becoming adept at doing it themselves.

“We need to depoliticize this as much as possible,” says Bryan Hannegan, associate lab director for the National Energy Renewable Labs, in an interview. “Political actions work on a two- to four-year time scale. These renewable assets that we are building have economic lives of between 10 years and 30 years.”

Milwaukee Wisconsin Journal Sentinel: Madison Utility Commits to Renewable Energy Expansion

A group of shareholders of Madison’s electric utility has received commitments from the power company to expand its use of renewable energy technologies.

The shareholder group had pushed for a proposal to be voted on by MGE Energy Inc.’s shareholders in May that would have asked that its utility subsidiary, Madison Gas & Electric Co., evaluate a plan to get 25% of its energy from renewable sources by 2025.

In exchange for dropping that and another proxy proposal, MG&E has committed to expanding renewable energy development and agreed to work with an expert, in consultation with the shareholder group, “to study adding substantial and measurable amounts of renewable energy to MGE’s supply mix.”

Think Progress: You Can Now Invest in Solar Bonds Through Your Retirement Account

Investing in solar energy through a retirement account just got easier, thanks to a new initiative.

Major solar provider SolarCity announced Monday that it was partnering with securities and investment firm Incapital to allow Americans to invest in Solar Bonds through their IRAs or financial advisers.

Solar Bonds, which were created by SolarCity in 2014, are a way for Americans to invest in solar through a bond structure, rather than buying stock in a company. Bonds are similar to a loan made to a company which is paid back to the investor, with interest, over time, and are typically considered less risky than stocks. Before SolarCity’s new partnership, people interested in purchasing Solar Bonds had to go through SolarCity; now, they can do it through through the financial company that manages their retirement account. The bonds start at $1,000 and have maturities of up to 15 years and annual interest rates as high as 5.45 percent.

Bloomberg: Baidu May Introduce Autonomous Car This Year, CEO Says

Baidu Inc. may introduce an autonomous car this year, as the owner of China’s largest internet search engine joins companies from Google Inc. to Apple Inc. in developing connected vehicles.

Baidu has been researching the smart car and is working with auto manufacturers, Chief Executive Officer Robin Li said in Beijing today, where he is attending meetings of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. He declined to name the automaker partners.