Google Invests in Silver Ridge Power’s Mount Signal Solar Project

Google partnered with Silver Ridge Power, formerly known as AES Solar, to invest approximately $103 million in Silver Ridge Power’s 265.7-MW Mount Signal Solar project. The project, also known as Imperial Valley Solar 1, is a utility-scale solar PV generating plant under construction in Imperial County, California. Mount Signal Solar is expected to be fully operational in 2014 and will sell its output to the San Diego Gas & Electric under a long-term PPA.

Cape Wind: For Real?

For more than a decade the prospect of a wind farm in Nantucket Sound has sparked imaginations and spurred debate. At times it looked like a pipe dream, but the project is now fully permitted and construction is expected to begin in the next year. Jim Gordon, president of Energy Management Inc. -- the company developing the Cape Wind project -- spoke with Green Utility about the benefits of offshore wind power, and the challenges of developing the nation’s first offshore wind farm.

GU: How did your company get involved with wind energy?

EV Hype and Hope

Six months after Solyndra's bankruptcy, the resulting controversy is affecting other companies that were hoping to secure loans from the Department of Energy. Lawmakers want to know whether the DOE loan program has stalled out -- and whether reforms are needed to clarify the mission and the risks for taxpayers.

In the past few years, hype over electric vehicles reached a crescendo in the media and in political circles. The good news is that this hype spurred major investments -- both private and public -- toward R&D and commercialization that’s already starting to show results (See “The Hundred-Dollar Race” - left). The bad news, however, is those results haven’t yet translated into dramatically better or cheaper cars in showrooms, leaving first-generation EVs to compete against mature gas-powered cars with much lower sticker prices.

Technology for the Masses

The consumer-centric smart grid and its challenge for regulators.

Federal and state regulators play a critical role in the evolution of the smart grid. Lawmakers face a host of questions, from deciding who owns consumer data and how it can be used, to defining a new range of regulated and unregulated utility services and applications. How much regulation will be needed to manage the transformation to a smart grid? And how much regulation will be too much?

Electric Avenue

Connecting vehicles to smart systems.

Electric vehicles (EV) are just getting started, with rapid growth ahead. Plug-in hybrids and other EVs could capture 20 percent of the U.S. auto market by 2030. When planning for future infrastructure and technology needs, utilities face difficult questions about how EVs will interact with the utility grid. A comprehensive approach to communicating and integrating vehicle information will allow utilities and drivers to make the most of smart electric transportation.

The 40 Best Energy Companies

(September 2011) Our annual ranking tracks the publicly traded electric and gas companies that produce the greatest value for shareholders. Despite the year’s topsy-turvy financial markets, perennial performers like DPL, PPL and Exelon return to the top of the list. Others face looming cap-ex burdens as regulators impose new mandates and requirements. Leading companies are positioning for growth, despite a challenging landscape.

Navigating in the Age of Uncertainty

Business models are evolving to suit a shifting industry landscape.

The next decade will bring serious disruption to the utility industry. But with cooperation from regulators and legislators, utility companies will be able to shift their business models to capture significant value—both in existing businesses and emerging ones.

Transactions (August 2011)

Energy Transfer Equity buys Southern Union; Google and Citi finance Alta Wind Energy Center; Calpine and GE Energy Financial Services secure project financing, plus transactions and bond issues from NiSource, Spectra Energy, FP&L, PSE&G and others, totaling more than $8.5 billion during the month of June.

Vendor Neutral

(August 2011) Shaw Group completes 500 MW combined cycle plant; Pattern Energy begins building Spring Valley wind farm; AEP, Duke and TVA team up on interstate transmission line; AEP and MidAmerican contract for Texas transmission projects; Alliant contracts Open Systems International for volt-VAR control system; Alstom buys into AWS Ocean Energy; Siemens acquires shares in PV manufacturer Semprius; Lockheed Martin introduces cyber security system; plus contracts and announcements involving Elster, Itron, Suzlon, Solon, Sensus, Westinghouse Electric, Morgan Lewis and others.

Better Safe Than Compliant

Protecting the smart grid requires a broader strategy.

NERC’s critical infrastructure protection (CIP) standards set a minimum level of security performance—and only for high-voltage transmission systems, not the distribution grid. A compliance-checklist approach to security might lack the adaptability needed to combat evolving threats like the Stuxnet worm. A multi-layered, risk-based approach will provide better protection for the emerging smart grid.