US ROUND-UP: Solar industry welcomes President Biden, Peck rebrands as iSun, Dominion buys Facebook-backed solar facility

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Solar industry welcomes President Biden

20 January, 2021: The US solar industry expressed relief on Wednesday as President Joe Biden was inaugurated as the country’s 46th President, and repealed core aspects of Donald Trump’s legacy on climate change.

Biden signed an order for the US to re-join the Paris Agreement, as well as signing an executive order to embark on a sweeping climate action programme that includes a US$500 billion budget to switch to clean energy.

Abigail Ross Hopper, the president and CEO of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), said the sector “stands ready to help America meet its commitments,” adding that local governments and corporate leaders are already committed to deploying more solar to cut greenhouse gas emissions in future.

“We are looking forward to working with these leaders and the Biden administration to meet this moment,” she said, “and reclaim America’s standing as a global leader in the fight against climate change.”

The renewable energy industry praised Biden’s climate team nominations and appointments last month, with Gina McCarthy, who served as Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) administrator under President Obama, named the US’ first national climate advisor and set to lead a new White House Office of Domestic Climate Policy.

You can read more about the solar sector’s take on Biden’s climate action plans and the Paris Accord here.

 

Dominion Energy acquires Ohio solar project backed by Facebook

19 January, 2021: Major US utility Dominion Energy is making its first participation in Ohio's solar market, acquiring a 150MW solar power facility funded through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with tech giant Facebook.

Dominion purchased the Ohio-based Hardin solar generating system from Chicago developer Invenergy in 2020, and the project was completed last month.

Facebook, which spent much of 2020 securing PPAs for wind and solar farms in Illinois, Ohio, Tennessee and Utah, will take electricity generated at the facility through a long-term agreement that was signed before construction on the project commenced.

It is not the first time Dominion Energy and Facebook have joined forces on solar PV. Dominion developed a series of projects to supply a data centre for the social media group in Richmond, Virginia, in 2017.

Diane Leopold, executive vice president and chief operating officer, said Dominion will continue to seek out clean energy projects “for companies like Facebook that are looking to reduce their carbon footprints and to contribute to combating climate change.”

 

Joule rolled out community choice programmes for New York residents.

20 January 2021: Energy financing group Joule Assets has said it will expand the number of municipalities it provides community choice aggregation programmes (CCA) to in New York state this year.

The group rolled out three CCAs in 12 municipalities across the state of New York, enabling the local governments to enrol their residents under a single energy supplier, and plans to establish a further four CCAs in eight municipalities including the city of Rochester to help the state reach its sustainability goals.

The company has also enrolled 1,700 customers in community solar programmes and raised US$85,000 through solar bill credits which are placed into municipal sustainability funds. The rollout for 2021 will see Joule offer 250,000 households across 31 municipalities community solar programmes, which the company claims could raise US$50,000 for every 1,000 households enrolled.

Joule currently operates five types of CCA in 20 municipalities across New York. All but one municipality has selected 100% renewable energy as the default energy supply.

Joule Assets managing director, Jessica Stromback, said she is “proud to have been able to work with our municipal partners throughout 2020, laying the groundwork for the expediential growth of renewable energy, as well as customer and municipal benefits in 2021, through our innovative use of opt-out solar and electricity supply”.

 

Peck rebrands to iSun

19 January 2021: Solar construction firm Peck has officially rebranded as iSun, having acquired the electric vehicle (EV) and charging group of the same name earlier this month.

As part of the deal Peck, which changed its name on Tuesday (19 January) will now list on the NASDAQ stock exchange as “iSun”. iSun’s products include solar canopies for EV charging as well as smart benches for urban areas, and will be made available to Peck’s current and future client base.

The construction group will continue to operate its solar installation business, but also use iSun’s network to expand into new markets.

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