Ernesto Londoño, THE NEW YORK TIMES
Cerro Pabellón, Chile — It looks and functions much like an oil drilling rig. As it happens, several of the men in thick blue overalls and white helmets who operate the hulking machine once made a living pumping crude.
But now they are surrounded by snowcapped volcanoes, laboring to breathe up here at 14,760 feet above sea level as they draw steam from the earth at South America’s first geothermal energy plant.
With the ability to power roughly 165,000 homes, the new plant is yet another step in Chile’s clean energy transformation. This nation’s rapidly expanding clean energy grid, which includes vast solar fields and wind farms, is one of the most ambitious in a region that is decisively moving beyond fossil fuels.
Latin America already has the world’s cleanest electricity, having long relied on dams to generate a large share of its energy needs, according to the World Bank.
But even beyond those big hydropower projects, investment in renewable energy in Latin America has increased 11-fold since 2004, nearly double the global rate, according to a 2016 report by the International Renewable Energy Agency, an intergovernmental organization. Chile, Mexico and Brazil are now among the top 10 renewable energy markets in the world.
So as Latin America embraces greener energy sources, government officials and industry executives in the region have expressed a sense of confusion, even bewilderment, with the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw from the climate change commitments contained in the Paris Agreement, declare an end to the “war on coal” and take aim at American environmental regulations.
Read more at: Chile’s Energy Transformation Is Powered by Wind, Sun and Volcanoes – The New York Times
James Dunn, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Startup power utility Sonoma Clean Power on Wednesday reported two long-term contracts for geothermal and solar power.
The first contract is for 10 years of geothermal power from Calpine’s Geysers facilities in northeastern Sonoma County. The deal provides steadily rising volumes reaching 50 megawatts in 2018. By then the total energy coming from that source will amount to 23 percent of Sonoma Clean Power’s mix.
The second contract is for 20 years of solar power from Recurrent Energy, adding 40 megawatts to the agency’s previous purchase of 30 megawatts for a total of 70 megawatts.
The alternative-power agency claims rates about 4 percent lower than PG&E’s rates. The new geothermal and solar deals will help the agency keep its rates low into the future. Sonoma Clean Power provides electric generation service to customers in much of Sonoma County, with about 22,000 residential customers.
In December, an additional 140,000 customer accounts will be eligible to receive the agency’s cleaner mix of power. All cities in Sonoma County participate in the program except Petaluma and Rohnert Park, where a vote on whether to allow participation in the agency will be taken by Jan. 31. Healdsburg has its own municipal utility and is not a part of Sonoma Clean Power.
Read more via Sonoma Clean Power plugs in big geothermal, solar deals – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.
Eric Gneckow, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
U.S. Geothermal Inc, a geothermal energy company with offices in Boise, Idaho, has announced plans to acquire a late stage development at the Geysers that has shown promise for enough steam production to power up to 26,000 homes.
Currently under ownership of Reno, Nev.-based Ram Power Corp., the project, encompassing 3,800 acres, includes permits and design plans for a proposed power plant and five production-ready geothermal steam wells. U.S. Geothermal announced an agreement to buy the project for $6.4 million in cash, acquiring assets and subsidiaries associated with its development and leasing of related lands.
via Idaho firm acquiring Geysers site – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.
Eric Gneckow, NORTH BAY BUSINESS JOURNAL
Sonoma County’s startup public power agency is set to consider the purchase a portion of its electricity supply locally from the Geysers, the world’s largest complex of geothermal power plants located along the Sonoma and Lake County border, according to material presented to the agency’s governing board.
The contract with Calpine Energy Service would constitute approximately 10 percent of Sonoma Clean Power’s electricity through 2023, ramping up to 18 megawatts — 158,000 megawatt-hours annually — as the renewable energy-focused power provider increases its customer volume in the coming years. Houston-based Calpine operates 15 geothermal power plants at the Geysers, with a combined capacity of 725 megawatts.
The item does not disclose the wholesale pricing per megawatt-hour currently under discussion, but notes that agency staff are currently acting within an approved framework for negotiations that would set a ceiling for average retail rates that are equal to or below the anticipated 2014 average rate from Pacific Gas & Electric Co. — 9.72 cents per kilowatt-hour, or $972 per megawatt-hour.
via Sonoma Clean Power eyes North Bay geothermal – North Bay Business Journal – North San Francisco Bay Area, Sonoma, Marin, Napa counties – Archive.