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EGEB: Solar bills in three states, solar carports in Massachusetts, and more

Today in EGEB, three state legislatures went forward with solar bills last week which would be sure to have varying effects. HVAC company Trane installed five solar carports at Massachusetts schools. And a Texas petrochemical fire burns on.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

Three states recently made changes to their solar policies, with major differences. First up, Maine. The state quickly passed LD 91, “An Act to Eliminate Gross Metering,” through the senate and house, where it should be signed by Gov. Janet Mills (D).

The bill is essentially designed to bring back the state’s previous net metering policy, rather than the oft-criticized gross metering policy enacted by former Gov. Paul LePage (R). A commission already exempted large- and medium-scale solar projects in Maine from LePage’s policy last year, and this will do the same for residential and small-scale projects. It’s a return to form that should give solar power a boost in the state.

Arkansas and Kentucky

Arkansas passed a Republican-sponsored renewable energy bill that opens up the state’s solar policy. It allows third-party ownership of solar panels. It also increases the size cap of solar projects from 300 kW to 1 MW.

While the bill offers easier access to solar, it also seems to leave open the ability to change net metering policy in the state, if it’s in “the public interest.”

Kentucky’s bill aims to change the state’s definition of net metering entirely, allowing the compensation rate to be set by state regulators. Louisville Public Media’s 89.3 WFPL News talked to some solar advocates who were predictably upset with the bill as it made its way to the governor.

HVAC to Solar

Trane is primarily known as an HVAC company, but it’s branching out into solar installation. And a school district in Massachusetts is benefitting.

The solar projects were funded via lease and won’t forward any costs on taxpayers, according to Solar Builder. Five sites within the Dighton Rehoboth Regional District contain 12 solar carports, for a total of 1.2 MW.

The district will receive the energy and Solar-Log will provide monitoring. In a neat touch that will help students better understand renewable energy and energy conservation,

“Each of the five schools has the ability to display the Solar-Log Dashboards on large flat screen monitors located where it is easily visible to students, faculty, parents, and visitors.”

A February EGEB reported on a similar Massachusetts solar carport — that project also allowed residents to charge their electric cars at the site.

Welsh Wind Farm

The Mynydd y Gwair wind farm in South Wales is complete. The 32.8 MW project should be fully operational this spring.

Burning On

A petrochemical storage site in Houston caught fire on Sunday. It seems to have just been extinguished as of this writing on Wednesday morning, according to various local reports. Thick, black smoke poured out of the site, which houses petrochemicals used for gasoline octane, solvents and plastics, Reuters reports.

The plant is owned by Intercontinental Terminals Co., which claims the air was “not compromised.” Shifting winds carried the smoke across the region, as seen below.

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