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Microsoft commits to running data centers off 50% renewable energy by 2018

Microsoft announced it plans to power its data centers around the world using 50% renewable energy by 2018.

The company also plans to boost its use of renewable power for its data centers to 60% by the early 2020s.
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Rob Bernard, Microsoft's chief environmental & cities strategist, made the announcement at the VERGE16 conference last week.

Bernard's comments during a conference keynote were a reiteration of a commitment earlier this year by the company to increase its use of clean energy.

Microsoft's latest announcement came on the same day that Apple committed to 100% renewable energy use by joining RE100, a global initiative by influential businesses. To date, RE100 has amassed membership from 77 corporations, including Microsoft.

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Obama's clean energy plan goes to court

A federal appeals court will hear what one participating lawyer calls an environmental "case for the ages" on Tuesday. At issue: the centerpiece of President Obama's climate change plan.

The administration's effort to regulate the electricity sector and burn less fossil fuel is the Clean Power Plan. The coal industry and more than two dozen states are challenging the rule, which gives every state an emissions target. The overall goal is to cut U.S. greenhouse gas emissions by one third by 2030.

A central legal question: does the EPA have authority to regulate beyond physical power plants, and "green" up the broader power grid? It's a rather untested question.

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Clean Energy Gets A Boost With California Regulations

The California ISO (CAISO) was recently approved by the Federal Energy Regulation Commission to introduce new regulations to boost accuracy in determining market demand. These revisions will be affecting non-generator resources or distributed energy resources (DERs), basically locally generated power via wind turbines and solar panels. This represents a small portion of the California power but means the grid is taking steps to become more efficient.

The new rules that are to be introduced October 1st will have electric storage providers monitoring and submitting their state-of-charge status directly into the day-ahead market. State-of-charge is how charged a battery is, similar to the percentage on your phone. By entering bids, directly into the day-ahead market, CAISO can estimate a more accurate price level for power in the region. Electric providers will soon be installing more regulators to monitor this percentage.

On top of this, CAISO has begun monitoring behind the meter state-of-charge. Some households produce their own power using solar panels on their roofs. That power can either be sent directly into the home (behind the meter) or into the grid (in front of the meter). Supply can be challenging to monitor when it doesn’t pass through these meters. Prior to this, CAISO has been using statistical analysis to estimate the supply. They are now introducing smaller meters behind the main meter to report the amount being supplied. By pinpointed areas where demand was incorrectly predicted, CAISO can recommend to companies areas where DERs can be constructed. This would reduce the need for power to travel long distances over cables and increase efficiency.

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Complaint filed over Montana suspension of solar payments

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is being asked to step in after Montana officials suspended payment for solar projects until a rate structure can be determined.

The Montana Environmental Information Center and Vote Solar filed a complaint after the Public Service Commission decided to review standard rates for small solar energy developers in Montana.

Supporters say the commission violated federal regulations that encourage renewable energy production and reduce reliance on fossil fuels.

"That rate has now been taken off the table when projects were in their late stages," said Brian Fadie, clean energy program director for the Montana Environmental Information Center. "It undercuts solar development in Montana at the moment."

He said three developers had 43 projects each moving forward with power purchase agreements at 3 megawatts, which would have meant a lot more electric power in Montana.

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Minnesota and Xcel Energy announces partnership bringing renewable energy to state capitol

Lt. Governor Tina Smith and the Minnesota Department of Administration has announced a new partnership with Xcel Energy called the Renewable*Connect Government Pilot Program. The new initiative will ensure that 33% of the base energy used at the State Capitol Complex comes from renewable sources. If approved by the Public Utilities Commission, the program will provide a reliable and stable supply of solar and wind energy on a long-term basis, and serve as a template for other government customers to purchase utility scale renewable energy packages.

“Transitioning Minnesota to renewable energy is good for our health, environment, and economy. Our clean energy industry already supports 54,000 jobs and is expected to add 2,300 this year alone,” said Lt. Governor Tina Smith. “Governor Dayton and I are committed to ensuring state government does its part to lead by example. I thank Xcel Energy for collaborating with us to bring renewable energy to the State Capitol Complex, and supporting the development of a more resilient, sustainable energy future for Minnesota.”

The Renewable*Connect Government Pilot Program builds on the past leadership of state government to reduce energy consumption and carbon emissions. Since 2008, energy consumption at the State Capitol Complex has been decreased by 25%.

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Backing Clean Power Plan Will Accelerate The Clean Energy Future

While legal experts are debating EPA’s Clean Power Plan in Washington next Tuesday, the U.S. business community is galloping ahead on the clean energy future.

From General Motors to Bank of America to Apple, dozens of iconic companies are now fully committed to running their companies with 100 percent renewable energy. The writing is on the wall: clean energy has arrived and fossil fuel power generation is fading. And a favorable Clean Power Plan ruling will hasten this transition, benefiting both our global climate, which is over-heating due to carbon pollution, and businesses that want policy certainty in dealing with this threat. By enacting this rule, all 50 states will be on the path to lowering the carbon footprint of their electric power plants.

Even with today’s patchwork quilt of energy policies, wind and solar power are becoming mainstream. More than 10,000 megawatts of new capacity was added in 2015 alone, more than two-thirds of the total renewable energy generating capacity installed last year in the United States.

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Hillary Avoids Saying ‘Climate Change’ In Speeches, Talks about ‘Clean Energy’ Instead

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton has avoided talking about global warming in campaign speeches since getting Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders’ endorsement, according to an analysis of speech transcripts.

While Clinton talks a lot about “clean energy” jobs, she rarely says “climate change” in speeches anymore since winning Sanders’ endorsement, according to the news site Climate Home.

“During the last six months of Clinton’s primary campaign against Sanders, the transcript log of her speeches shows she was talking about climate change at one out of every two speeches she gave,” Climate Home found.

The new site found that “since Sanders endorsed Clinton on July 12, the full focus of the Clinton campaign has swung to Trump,” and in “38 speeches since that date, Clinton mentioned climate change specifically eight times.” That’s only once per every five speeches.

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World Energy Council report: Renewables now account for over 30% of total global installed power generation capacity

According to a new report published by the World Energy Council in partnership with CESI S.p.A., renewables, including hydro, now account for over 30% of the total global installed power generation capacity and 23% of total global electricity production.

Explosive wind and solar PV growth
In the past 10 years, wind and solar photovoltaics (PV) have witnessed an explosive average annual growth of 23% and 50% respectively, although their combined contribution to the global electricity supply is currently only 4%, according to “Variable Renewables Integration in Electricity Systems 2016 – How to get it right”.

The Report draws upon 32 country case studies, representing about 90% of installed wind and solar PV capacity worldwide.
Renewables have become big business: in 2015 a record USD 286 billion was invested in 154 GW of new renewables capacity (76% in wind and PV), by far overtaking the investment in conventional generation to which 97 GW were added.

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Republicans to rally around renewable energy in D.C.

A conservative clean energy summit will descend on Washington this week to show "it's OK" for Republicans to support wind and solar.

The summit, backed by groups representing young conservative and Christian voters, will hear from a number of Republican lawmakers who support renewable energy and want conservatives to take back leadership from the Left on the subject, and to some degree climate change.

Former presidential candidate Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tops the list of Republicans addressing the Conservative Clean Energy Summit being held Thursday on Capitol Hill. Graham will be joined by Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, a key Republican advocate for wind energy subsidies and senior member on the Senate Finance Committee.

Other Republicans addressing the summit will include Sens. Cory Gardner of Colorado, Mark Kirk of Illinois and Dean Heller of Nevada. Retired U.S. Navy Capt. Leo Goff, who now serves on the Military Advisory Board for the Washington think tank Center for Naval Analyses, also will address the summit.

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America's first wave-produced power goes online in Hawaii

KANEOHE BAY, HAWAII — Off the coast of Hawaii, a tall buoy bobs and sways in the water, using the rise and fall of the waves to generate electricity.

The current travels through an undersea cable for a mile to a military base, where it feeds into Oahu's power grid — the first wave-produced electricity to go online in the U.S.

By some estimates, the ocean's endless motion packs enough power to meet a quarter of America's energy needs and dramatically reduce the nation's reliance on oil, gas and coal. But wave energy technology lags well behind wind and solar power, with important technical hurdles still to be overcome.

To that end, the Navy has established a test site in Hawaii, with hopes the technology can someday be used to produce clean, renewable power for offshore fueling stations for the fleet and provide electricity to coastal communities in fuel-starved places around the world.

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