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Renewable Energy Generation Breaks Records Every Month in 2016

Electricity generation from wind, solar and other renewable energy technologies have set monthly records every month so far in 2016, based on data through June released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA) Wednesday.

"Both hydroelectric and nonhydroelectric renewables have contributed to this trend, but in different ways. After a lengthy West Coast drought, hydro generation has increased and is now closer to historical levels. Nonhydro renewable generation continues to increase year-over-year and has exceeded hydro generation in each month since February 2016," the EIA said.

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How Will a Clinton or Trump White House Affect Renewable Energy?

Renewable energy has made significant inroads into the U.S. energy system and even in the era of low fossil fuel prices, costs for solar and wind installations are down dramatically.

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, the solar industry trade group, costs to install solar panels fell by more than 70 percent over the last 10 years and during that time, solar saw a compounded annual growth rate of nearly 60 percent. The trade organization for the wind energy industry, the American Wind Energy Association, said costs are down more than 90 percent since the early 1980s.

Federal tax policy and renewable energy mandates from various states spurred much of the rapid development. With a new presidential administration set to take office in 2017, how much further federal renewable energy policy may expand, or if it may contract, could be determined by whether Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump is elected.

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Colorado launches first low-income rooftop solar project

The Colorado Energy Office (CEO), Energy Resource Center (ERC), and Colorado Springs Utilities announce the installation of a 2kW rooftop solar power array as part of the state's Weatherization Assistance Program (WAP). The CEO WAP provides free, cost-effective energy efficiency measures to income-eligible households in all of the state's 64 counties. Historically, the WAP has only allowed energy efficiency measures, but the Department of Energy recently authorized CEO to be the first state to integrate rooftop solar into weatherization services. This project with ERC and Colorado Springs Utilities will demonstrate the feasibility of combining energy efficiency measures with rooftop solar energy offerings to help reduce utility bills for residents most in need—those paying more than 4 percent of household income on energy costs.

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Apple Becomes a Green Energy Supplier, With Itself as Customer

The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.”

If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power.

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Offshore wind farm a green-energy milestone

The first offshore wind energy farm in the USA is up and nearly ready to go, marking a new chapter in the nation’s changing electricity grid. Thursday, workers finished installing the last of five turbines off Rhode Island’s coast, a little more than a year after the Providence-based developer Deepwater Wind first put steel in the water. “A lot’s happened over the last year,” said Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind. “I feel like the industry has really turned the corner.” As Grybowski spoke, a Norwegian ship called the Brave Tern and two other vessels mounted General Electric turbine nacelles — the housing for the generating equipment — on 270-foot towers in state waters 3 miles southeast of Block Island. Now that all the turbines are installed, the next step is commissioning and testing the equipment, which will take several weeks.

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Analysis Finds Wind Could Replace 6,000 Gigawatt-Hours of Coal in Colorado

In 2004, Colorado voters passed an initiative establishing, for the first time, a renewable energy standard (RES) through a popular vote. The legislative declaration for the initiative, Amendment 37, started with: “In order to save consumers and businesses money” and concluded with the idea that renewable energy should be developed to the “maximum practicable extent."

Colorado voters bet on the outcome of costs dropping for wind and solar energy as they were used more -- and it looks like the initiative’s promise is coming to fruition.

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Offshore wind farm completes construction

The nation’s first offshore wind farm completed construction Thursday when the final turbine blade was installed.

Jeff Grybowski, CEO of Deepwater Wind, tweeted about the milestone Thursday afternoon at the Block Island Wind Farm, which the company is building off the coast of Block Island in Rhode Island.

When the project starts operation later this year, it will be the first utility-scale offshore wind farm in the United States.

The $300 million Block Island project has five turbines with a total generating capacity of 30 megawatts — enough to power about 17,000 homes.

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California Has More Solar Power Than You Think—a Lot More

California has more solar power than any other state in the U.S. -- and that's always been the case.

Every summer, the California Independent System Operator issues a press release explaining that the state has hit another record for solar power generation. The most recent came in July, when CAISO reported that the state hit 8,030 megawatts of solar on July 12 at 1:06 p.m., almost 2,000 megawatts more than the previous summer.

With more solar panels being installed every day, new records are as predictable as the sunrise. But strangely, everyone gets the numbers wrong.

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Tesla's Chinese rival is spending $1.8 billion on an electric car factory

LeEco, the Chinese company looking to rival Tesla with its own electric car, said on Wednesday it would invest 12 billion yuan ($1.8 billion) to build an electric car plant in eastern China with eventual annual production capacity of 400,000 cars.

The company said in a statement its first China factory would be built in two phases in Deqing county near the eastern Chinese city of Hangzhou.

Non-automakers and start-ups have rushed to begin making electric vehicles and hybrid vehicles as China's central government liberalizes the industry to promote a switch to electricity as an ultimate replacement for petrol to fuel cars.

LeEco's production facility will be part of a larger project to build an "Eco Experience Park" that will cost 20 billion yuan ($3 billion) in total that will also include an entertainment park, facilities for internet-connected electric cars and offices, the statement said.

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Why These Cities Are Leading on Clean Energy

Cities large and small are leading the charge on the country’s transition to clean energy, driven by concerns that range from air pollution to the need to create jobs, according to a new report from the Sierra Club.

The report, part of the Sierra Club’s Ready for 100 campaign that is pushing cities to transition to 100% renewable energy, underscores the role urban areas play in addressing climate change. Cities produce more than 60% of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions, according to a United Nations report, and which makes urban zones a key point of leveraging fighting global warming.

But addressing climate change is often not the reason that cities accelerate their push to clean energy, according to the Sierra Club. In San Diego, one of the country’s most conservative big cities, a Republican mayor committed to transitioning to clean energy by citing how the commitment will help expand the city’s clean tech sector. Leaders in Aspen, Colorado cited climate change’s effect on the local economy: global warming has detracted from the local ski industry.

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