Solar firm announces layoffs, will join trade case

SOLAR: SolarWorld is joining a trade case brought by bankrupt solar manufacturer Suniva that seeks to impose tariffs on solar imports into the U.S. (Portland Business Journal)

• SolarWorld Americas Inc. says it will permanently lay off around 500 employees at a plant in Oregon and may close the facility entirely. (Portland Business Journal)
• Sunrun’s CEO describes the company’s long-term approach to the chaotic residential solar market. (Greentech Media)

STORAGE: An Arizona utility installs two identical grid-scale batteries at different locations to test how the technology performs in the Phoenix area. (Greentech Media)

BIOENERGY: A pair of federal efforts could make it more profitable to turn organic waste from agriculture and other sources into energy by taking advantage of the Renewable Fuel Standard. (Midwest Energy News)

CLIMATE: Over 20 Republican senators send a letter urging President Trump to pull out of the Paris climate agreement, so the administration can “follow through on its commitment to rescind the Clean Power Plan.”

Nevada lawmakers approve pro-solar and wind legislation

POLICY: Lawmakers in Nevada approve energy bills to incentivize solar energy storage and make it easier for residents to install wind turbines. (Las Vegas Sun)

• Pope Francis presents President Trump with a papal letter on preserving the environment, while the Vatican’s secretary of state urges him not to withdraw from the Paris climate accord. (New York Times)
• California’s governor says he now believes President Trump will stay in the Paris climate agreement and that progress under his administration may not be “as disastrous as we thought.” (Politico)

CAP-AND-TRADE: Nearly all of California’s cap-and-trade permits were purchased in its latest auction, generating an estimated $500 million in revenue. (Los Angeles Times)

CLEAN ENERGY: States are creating their own clean power plans with policies to limit carbon emissions, lower pollution and increase renewables.

Trump budget slashes energy research, boosts drilling

POLICY: President Trump’s budget proposal for 2018 would cut $3.1 billion from energy research programs and open up vast new areas of public land for oil and gas drilling, prompting worry in the science community. (New York Times, Boulder Daily Camera)

EPA: Trump’s 2018 budget would cut EPA funding by over 31 percent to its lowest level in 40 years. (Washington Post, Mother Jones)

• The federal agency that manages the power grid across the Pacific Northwest will replace its plan for a new transmission line with non-wires alternatives like efficiency, demand response and rooftop solar. (Greentech Media)
• Uncertainty over jurisdiction and compensation caused the estimated demand response availability in ISO/RTO territories to drop by 2 gigawatts over the last year, according to a new report. (Greentech Media)
• The Trump administration wants to privatize about three-quarters of the high-voltage transmission grid in the Northwest, saying it will save nearly $5 billion over 10 years.

Utilities working to meet corporate clean energy demands

RENEWABLES: A growing number of utilities across the country are offering green energy tariffs in response to corporate demand for renewable energy. (Greentech Media)

WIND: Texas House lawmakers vote to restrict property tax exemptions for wind farms near military bases, saying turbines could pose a threat to military exercises. (American-Statesmen)

• In an effort to crack down on “rebate and run” companies, a San Antonio-based utility will no longer offer its popular rooftop solar rebate program to installers with a home office or co-working space. (San Antonio Business Journal)
• The CEO of Arizona-based First Solar talks about running a profitable solar business, while many competitors are struggling. (Greentech Media)
• The senior vice president at Greentech Media predicts how the U.S. solar market can reach thousands of installed gigawatts.

Electric vehicle sales surging in California

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Electric vehicle sales rose over 90 percent in California during the first quarter of 2017 compared to the same time last year, thanks largely to Tesla and Chevrolet Bolt sales. (Los Angeles Times)

• Why 100% renewable energy goals — whether in a city like Atlanta or a small town like Abita Springs, Louisiana — are more than just symbolic. (Southeast Energy News)
• Small and average-size companies face challenges when it comes to harnessing solar and wind power, but some organizations are trying to lower the barriers. (Wall Street Journal)

• A bill in Texas would prevent local governments from offering tax incentives for wind farms near military aviation facilities, paralleling a similar debate in North Carolina. (Times Record News, Southeast Energy News)
• The footprint for an Oregon wind farm being developed for Apple may be decreased with taller, more powerful turbines.

Sunrun CEO: Residential solar market still “incredibly strong”

SOLAR: Despite a recent slowdown in the residential solar market, the CEO of California-based Sunrun insists that long-term growth is still strong and “trends are so in our favor.”(Utility Dive, Greentech Media)

• The country’s first grid-responsive solar farm in the Mojave Desert could help meet federal calls for grid stability. (Greentech Media)
• Alliant Energy plans a 5 MW solar array in Dubuque, which would be the largest in Iowa. (Toledo Chronicle)

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Report: Trump DOE budget would cut renewables office 70%

• A new Trump administration draft budget seeks to cut funding for the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy by 70 percent, along with significant cuts to offices focused on nuclear power and fossil fuel research. (Axios)
• The EPA’s newest appointee is a former energy lobbyist for a group that opposed the Clean Power Plan, which could violate President Trump’s executive order barring political appointees who worked as a registered lobbyists within the last two years. (ThinkProgress)

WIND: Iowa’s Republican senator tells Energy Secretary Rick Perry that a study he commissioned on the U.S. electric grid is pre-determined and “geared to undermine” the wind energy industry. (Reuters)

***SPONSORED LINK: Network with 450-plus solar, storage and utility execs at the 4th Annual Midwest Solar Expo & Smart Energy Symposium, May 22-24 in Minneapolis. Gain the latest market insights and trends while networking with hundreds of industry leaders.

Report: New residential solar capacity drops by 17 percent

SOLAR: New residential solar capacity has dropped by 17 percent this year, led by a 31 percent drop in California. (Greentech Media)

• An Arizona utility proposes new export rates and time-of-use rates for solar, which could make installing distributed solar less attractive to customers. (Utility Dive)
• A plan is underway to install floating solar panels in a California reservoir. (Fox 5)
• Bankruptcy filings reveal Georgia-based Suniva was deep in debt to foreign suppliers, despite claims its products were mostly American-made. (E&E News)

RENEWABLES: Renewable energy groups tell the Department of Energy that its study on the electric grid is “based on a faulty premise” and ask for more input.

Report: U.S. nuclear capacity to decline 25 percent by 2050

NUCLEAR: About 25 percent of U.S. nuclear capacity will be retired over the next three decades, according to a report from the Energy Information Administration. (Utility Dive)

CAP-AND-TRADE: The California Chamber of Commerce is appealing a state appeals court decision to uphold cap-and-trade, arguing that the program functions as an unconstitutional tax. (Los Angeles Times)

CLEAN POWER PLAN: Supporters of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan say a federal court should send the case, which has been frozen indefinitely by the Trump administration, back to the EPA so it can consider changes. (InsideClimate News, The Hill)

CLIMATE: Scientists are teaming up with lawyers to combat the Trump administration’s attacks on climate science. (New York Times)

• The Solar Energy Industries Association is gearing up to fight Suniva’s petition to impose import duties on solar panels, saying it “poses an existential threat to the broad solar industry and its 260,000 American jobs.”

At least five states moving forward on carbon pricing

CLIMATE: Legislators in at least five states are pushing for a price on carbon in the form of a tax or fee. (Washington Post)

• A plan introduced in the District of Columbia would charge polluters for their carbon emissions and send funds back to city residents, with advocates saying “the only people who don’t benefit are polluters.” (ThinkProgress)
• Virginia’s attorney general said the state can regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which could include setting a statewide cap for new and existing fossil fuel plants. (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
• The oil and gas exploration company Occidental Petroleum Corp. approves a proposal requiring it to report on the business impacts of climate change after the company’s largest shareholder backed the decision.