Renewable Energy: 100% Of New U.S. Generating Capacity In January

Renewable energy comprised virtually 100 percent of the new generating capacity installed in the United States in January, according to a new government report.

The monthly Energy Infrastructure Update from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission shows 325 megawatts of new generation going into service in January. The breakdown: 287 MW of solar; 30 MW of geothermal steam; 4 MW of wind; 3 MW of biomass; and 1 MW of “other” [PDF]. Don’t know what that “other” was, but it wasn’t natural gas, coal or oil, so we’re calling this an all-renewables month.

january 2014 solar

Part of the AV Solar Ranch One project (image via First Solar)

Most of the new solar power came in the form of a few big projects in the Southwest, but North Carolina was active (again), too. Here’s the full roster of projects highlighted in the FERC update:

  • Exelon Corp’s 130 MW Antelope Valley Solar Phase II expansion project in Los Angeles County, CA is online. The power generated is sold to Pacific Gas and Electric under long-term contract.
  • Berkshire Hathaway Inc.’s 61 MW Topaz Solar Farm Phase III expansion project in San Luis Obispo County, CA is online. The power generated is sold to Pacific Gas and Electric under long-term contract.
  • Duke Energy Corp’s 20 MW Dogwood Solar Power project in Halifax County, NC is online. The power generated is sold to Dominion Virginia Power under long-term contract.
  • NextEra Energy Inc.’s 20 MW Mountain View Solar project in Clark County, NV is online. The power generated is sold to NV Energy under long-term contract.
  • Strata Solar LLC has three solar projects that came online in NC: 6 MW Marshville Farm Solar project in Union County, and 6.4 MW Waco Farm Solar project in Cleveland County (The power generated from Marshville and Waco is sold to Duke Energy Carolinas under long-term contracts); and 6.4 MW Nash 58 Farm in Nash County (The power generated from Nash 58 Farm is sold to Progress Energy Carolinas under long-term contract).
  • Wagstaff Farm I LLC’s 5 MW Wagstaff Farm I Solar project in Person County, NC is online. Power generated is sold to Progress Energy Carolinas under long-term contract.
  • KKR Global Infrastructure Investors LP’s 20 MW Recurrent Gillespie 1 Solar project in Maricopa County, AZ is online. The power generated is sold to a local utility under long-term contract.
  • Consolidated Edison Inc.’s 4 MW Russell Point Wind Farm project in Logan County, OH is online. The power generated is sold to Buckeye Power Inc. under long-term contract.
  • Gradient Resources Inc.’s 30 MW Patua Hot Springs Geothermal project in Lyon County, NV is online. The power generated is sold to Sacramento Municipal Utility District under long-term contract.

It has to be said that FERC’s month-to-month reports can be volatile: Last year, solar comprised 100 percent of new capacity additions in March, then just 2.5 percent in April. Nevertheless, even with wind suffering down year in 2013 (likely to be reversed this year), renewables ended up accounting for about 37 percent of the new capacity installed, and they appear to be off to a good start in 2014. As always, too, we note that the FERC data includes only utility-scale development, leaving out rooftop solar on home and businesses that these days is averaging over 100 MW of new capacity every month.

Sports columnist, newspaper desk guy, website managing editor, wine-industry PR specialist, freelance writer—Pete Danko’s career in media has covered a lot of terrain. The constant along the way has been a fierce dedication to knowing the story and getting it right. Danko's work has appeared in Wired, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.