Sutherland Coop Law Blog
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Solar and Wind Prices Expected to Continue to Fall

The cost for solar photovoltaic (PV) generation and onshore wind power is expected to continue to fall and to be approximately 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt hour by the end of the decade, according to a report by the International Renewable Energy Agency.  This decrease in cost is largely due to improved technology, reduced overall systems costs and favorable policies.  To help support coops that are considering solar, NRECA is working under a Department of Energy grant with 14 coops to develop a toolset that aims to help coop staffs and their boards evaluate PV...
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FAA Relaxes Drone Rules; Caution Urged for Coops

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has relaxed rules on commercial use of drones weighing less than 55 pounds.  The NRECA is urging caution for coops interested in utilizing the new technology.
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USDA Announces New Program to Help Rural Utilities

The United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced the new Rural Energy Savings Program (RESP).  RESP is a program aimed at helping rural residents conserve energy and save money on their utility bills.  The RESP will make available $52 million in interest free loans to rural energy providers who fund projects for consumers to make energy efficient improvements in their homes or businesses.
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EIA Predicts Slow Sales Growth

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has forecasted slow electricity sales growth over the next 25 years in its latest Annual Energy Outlook.  The EIA predicts that the electricity sales to commercial customers will increase at an average annual rate of 0.7 percent through 2040, while residential sales through 2040 will increase at a rate of only 0.3 percent, despite a projected 0.8 percent annual growth in number of households.
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Wolverine Announces Commission of Alpine Power Plant

Wolverine Power Supply Cooperative, Inc. (Wolverine) announced that the new Alpine Power Plant, a natural gas-fired peaking plant located turbine in Elmira, Michigan, is now fully-powered.  Once final commissioning is complete, the two generators, capable of producing a combined 410 MWs of electricity, will be handed off to the Midcontinent Independent System Operator for routine dispatch.
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Texas Grid Operator Expects Major Increase in Solar Growth

The Electric Reliability Council of Texas expects solar to become the second or third largest source of electric generation in Texas by 2031.
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NRECA Names Former U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson New CEO

The National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) has announced that former U.S. Rep. Jim Matheson has been selected to serve as NRECA’s sixth chief executive officer.  He will join the association and assume his duties as CEO in July.
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S&P Issues Favorable Report on Coop Credit

On June 7 S&P Global Ratings (S&P) released a report on the electric cooperative sector.  The report generally strikes a positive note, highlighting the “resilience” of electric cooperatives and concluding that even the implementation of the EPA’s Clean Power Plan will not pose an “imminent threat” to the credit quality of cooperatives.
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Clean Power Plan to Rush Need for Infrastructure

The North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC) has forecasted that by 2030 the Clean Power Plan will boost renewable resources 10-20 gigawatts and coal capacity will fall by as much as 27 gigawatts.  This shift will accelerate the need for more transmission and pipeline infrastructure, with most new gas generation in the North and Southeast, and most wind power in the Midwest and Southwest.
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Dairyland Power Cooperative Announces Significant Wind Expansion

Dairyland Power Cooperative, located in La Crosse, Wisconsin, recently announced that it will begin purchasing energy from a 98 megawatt wind project located in southwestern Wisconsin. The project is owned by EDP Renewables North America. The project is currently working its way through the MISO generation interconnect process, and construction is set to begin in 2017.
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FCC to Allow Auction Entry for Coops

The Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has ruled that coops can have access to Connect American Funds (CAF), which are meant to promote broadband in rural areas.  The FCC agreed, at the NRECA’s suggestion, that coops may satisfy the auction program’s technical qualifications by providing evidence of their capabilities to operate transmission or distribution systems.  The FCC has also agreed to allow the National Rural Utilities Cooperative Finance Corporation to provide the letters of credit necessary for the coops to apply for the next program auction.  The next CAF auction,...
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ECSC Planning South Carolina Solar Projects

The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina (ECSC) has announced the creation of the largest network of community solar installations in the state.
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NRC has Approved Transfer of La Crosse License to La Crosse Solutions

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has approved the transfer of the license for the La Crosse Nuclear Plant, which has been inactive since 1987, from Dairyland Power Cooperative to La Crosse Solutions LLC, a subsidiary of the radioactive waste disposal specialist Energy Solutions LLC.  La Crosse Solutions will lease the above-ground structures other than the spent fuel storage site and will assume responsibility for decommissioning activities.  Dairyland will retain title to and responsibility for the spent nuclear fuel on the property and will remain the owner of the...
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Construction begins on Dairyland Power and Richland Electric Solar Projects

On Monday, May 23, Dairyland Power Cooperative (Dairyland Power), Richland Electric Cooperative (Richland Electric) and SoCore Energy began construction on two solar projects.  The first is a community solar project being constructed for members of Richland Electric and the second is the first of 12 major solar projects announced by Dairyland Power in February.  SoCore Energy will install, own, operate and maintain both of the solar facilities.
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