AP: SolarCity Brings Loan Program to New Mexico

A California-based company chaired by entrepreneur Elon Musk said Wednesday it has set its sights on expanding the number of homes in New Mexico outfitted with solar panels -- a move that could fuel a regulatory battle over tax credits and other incentives for the industry.

SolarCity announced plans that include opening an operations center in Albuquerque and hiring at least 30 employees for sales and installation.

New Mexico has the potential to be one of the best markets in the nation, company officials said.

“New Mexico has hardly moved the needle in terms of solar being deployed,” SolarCity CEO Lyndon Rive said in an interview with The Associated Press. “It’s still a very small state in comparison to mature states that have solar. To me, one of the big reasons is a big investment needs to be made.”

Utility Dive: Maryland Attorney General Opposes Exelon-Pepco Merger, Urges Regulators to Reject

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh (D) filed a strongly worded brief with the state's Public Service Commission urging the utility regulators to deny the proposed merger of Exelon and Pepco Holdings. The submission is a setback for Exelon, which has submitted an enhanced merger benefits package to Maryland regulators this week.

The document, written on behalf of the State of Maryland and the Maryland Energy Administration, argues that ratepayers would not be "better off" if the merger was approved. "The only significant benefits accrue to Exelon and PHI shareholders and corporate officers -- not the State or Maryland customers," the brief reads.

EnergyWire: PJM Analysis of EPA Clean Power Plan Puts Price on Carbon

A new analysis of the economic impacts of U.S. EPA's Clean Power Plan by the nation's largest grid operator places a price on carbon dioxide emissions and concludes that under nearly 40 compliance scenarios, a regional solution is less costly than a state-by-state approach.

The model employed by the PJM Interconnection in its analysis also concludes that the retirement of fossil-fueled power plants "will occur gradually" through the 2030 deadline for compliance with the EPA plan.

Bloomberg: Brazil to Reduce Taxes for Distributed Solar Energy Generation

Brazil is planning to reduce taxes for solar panels in an attempt to promote wider use of rooftop power systems.

The federal government will lower profit participation contributions and social security taxes, known respectively as PIS and Cofins, for solar equipment used by residential consumers, Energy Minister Eduardo Braga said Wednesday. The government will also ask states to reduce the goods flow tax, known as ICMS, on the energy generated.

“The state of Sao Paulo endorsed our proposal and is leading a process that is a milestone for Brazilian solar generation,” Braga said in a speech to Congress. “Tax exemption will enable this source to be competitive.” He didn’t say how much the taxes might be reduced.

Smart Grid News: ComEd First Utility to get FAA Approval to Use Aerial Robotics to Inspect Electric Lines

ComEd has received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration to use innovative, unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), also known as aerial robotics, to inspect its electric transmission and distribution lines, as well as its substation. ComEd is the first utility in the United States to gain approval to use UAS as part of its ongoing operations, although San Diego Gas and Electric received permission to use the technology for research and training purposes last year.

Bloomberg: Tesla Hiring for New Stationary-Storage Unit

Tesla Motors Inc. is staffing up for its new stationary-storage unit that will make battery packs and help founder Elon Musk expand beyond electric vehicles into providing energy for homes, businesses and utilities.

The electric-car maker currently lists 78 open jobs on its website for the storage team, including chief counsel, several engineers, an installation project manager, and a regulatory and policy advocate.