Utilities Plan Huge Electric Grid Upgrades, Adding to Power Bills – American utilities are planning their biggest spending increases in decades to upgrade aging grids, prepare for electric vehicles and make the transition to renewable energy—moves poised to further boost power costs as consumers face historic inflation. The plans propose tens of billions of dollars in spending in the coming years to reduce carbon emissions, partly in response to state and federal mandates, and to replace aging infrastructure that has become more prone to failure. Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group, expects that utilities will invest roughly $140 billion each year in 2022 and 2023, substantially more than any year since 2000, when the group began tracking spending.

Automated solar permitting program sees 31 MW approved in first year of operation – SolarAPP+, an online permitting platform, has so far processed more than 4,700 permits representing 31.3 MW of new solar energy since it was launched last May by the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Renewable Energy Laboratory. Nine communities in Arizona and California have adopted SolarAPP+, according to NREL. Four communities are piloting or testing the app, and a pilot testing the app’s ability to review installations combining solar with on-site storage is underway. Although the app is still limited to permits for residential rooftop solar, work is underway to both speed up the online permitting process, and to expand it to other types of solar installations, according to Amber D’Ottavio, vice president of product management at software developer Accela.

US battery storage industry ‘at crisis point’ over supply chain crunch – The US battery storage market is struggling to adapt to rising raw materials costs and has reached a “crisis point”. The steep rise in the cost of lithium carbonate in particular means that it’s likely the industry will see a slowdown in new projects in 2022 and possibly next year, Adam Walters, a specialist lawyer with Stoel Rives, said. “We’re at the point where batteries are going to be uneconomical in the short term for a lot of projects. The economics are not going to stack because those raw materials prices being so much extremely higher, translates to 20% to 30% higher battery prices overall,” Walters said in an interview. Cobalt and other raw materials important for lithium-ion battery production have also gone up in price, but it is lithium carbonate prices, which have “quintupled since last August,” that present a massive issue, he said.