Xcel Energy Inc. Chief Executive Officer Ben Fowke may have found the sweet spot as the leader of one of the nation’s largest utility holding companies. It’s not that his four regulated utilities with operations in eight states aren’t challenged by the multiple trends shaking up the electricity industry across the U.S. They certainly are.
More than 1,000 clean-air advocates are en route to Atlanta. Those against U.S. EPA’s proposed carbon rules for existing power plants will be there in full force, too.
“This is the continuing battle on the Supreme Court between those who believe in Chevron deference and those who believe Chevron deference has gone too far,” said Thomas Lorenzen, a former Justice Department attorney now at Dorsey & Whitney. “You’ve got [Chief Justice John] Roberts and [Justices Antonin] Scalia — and presumably [Samuel] Alito and [Clarence] Thomas — who would say this has gone too far — Chevron should be limited.”
While political battles rage in Congress over U.S. EPA’s landmark proposal for curbing carbon emissions from existing power plants, most expect that court rulings, not legislation, will decide the rule’s fate. Even if November’s elections swing Senate control to the Republicans, their efforts to clip EPA authority stand little chance of overriding President Obama’s veto, given how few Democrats are likely to link arms with the GOP on the issue.
Texas this year completed work on a $7 billion experiment to address the challenges of transmitting wind power to the masses: 3,600 miles of high-voltage power lines, connecting millions of customers from the state’s major cities to the Panhandle. An inability to transmit power historically has been a major barrier to the wind industry. “We’ve built it, and they’re marching this way,” Warren Lasher, the director of system planning at the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, said of development plans.
For energy-producing states, shifts in domestic fuel use could be the biggest impact of the Clean Power Plan
States that pay the highest abatement costs under U.S. EPA’s new power plant carbon rule may actually emerge as economic winners once upstream impacts are accounted for, according to a new joint analysis by the Rhodium Group (RHG) and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS). In the month and a half since EPA first released a draft version of its Clean Power Plan (CPP), most analysts and pundits have focused on the costs of emissions abatement the plan would require — costs that, barring significant gains in energy efficiency, would be passed on to ratepayers in the form of higher electricity prices.
A report from investor activist group Ceres is gauging the nation’s major utilities’ embrace of renewable energy and energy efficiency with an eye toward encouraging compliance with upcoming federal electricity rules. The study ranked 32 of the country’s largest investor-owned utility holding companies on their renewable energy and energy efficiency performance. The companies and their 80 utility subsidiaries accounted for about 70 percent of U.S. retail electricity sales in 2012.
U.S. EPA’s proposal for existing power plants greenhouse gases will be a windfall for states that produce natural gas and a blow to those that produce coal, according to a study released today by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group. The two research organizations found in preliminary study results the draft rule’s impact on a state’s fossil fuels extraction industries will be a more significant economic predictor than its effect on electricity prices or the relative greenhouse gas abatement responsibilities assigned to that state.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy yesterday asked low-carbon industry advocates to help spread the word about the economic and job-creation opportunities she said would be created by EPA’s greenhouse gas proposal for existing power plants. McCarthy told environmental entrepreneurs on a call hosted by the green business group Business Forward that she needed their help in communicating the positive message about greenhouse gas reduction.
Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the creation of a $10 billion fund to support the development of water, transportation and energy infrastructure, as well as rural businesses, in rural America. USDA, CoBank and Capitol Peak Asset Management Co. have joined to create a mechanism that will provide loans to projects that boost rural infrastructure and business development. “It means we can begin to address the infrastructure deficit that exists in rural communities today,” Vilsack said in a call with reporters yesterda