Sen. Tom Udall introduced legislation today that would force utilities to generate more of their power from clean sources, such as wind, energy and coal. The New Mexico Democrat’s effort to implement a so-called “renewable electricity standard” has no Republican co-sponsors and likely faces a tough, uphill climb in the GOP-controlled Congress. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is a cosponsor. The Udall-Heinrich bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. That’s a boost from the 25 percent by 2025 mandate that Udall tried to legislate in his very first Senate bill back in 2009.
Two organizations with expertise in grid reliability today released a set of practical recommendations for how state leaders can go about crafting an interstate compliance program for U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which represents state utility regulators, and the Eastern Interconnection States Planning Council (EISPC) said in their new guidebook that interstate cooperation has the potential to afford some states a lower-cost compliance option for the existing power plant carbon rule. It tracks with the interstate nature of the grid, the organizations said, and might avoid some of the supply pitfalls stakeholders say they fear.
Pomerantz, an author of the Greenpeace report, said that Duke and Dominion should look to utilities that have partnered with data-center companies on renewable energy. He mentioned Google’s partnership with MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. in Iowa to supply 407 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, and Apple’s deal with NV Energy in Nevada to supply its data center with electricity from solar and geothermal sources. Dominion and Duke “can try to get out in front if it and offer it themselves, and if they don’t, they’re at significant risk of those operations finding other ways to power themselves,” Pomerantz said.
A group of Senate Democrats is pushing legislation to require electric utilities to deliver 30 percent of their supply from renewable sources by 2030. The renewable energy standard (RES) bill introduced yesterday updates to a policy proposal that clean energy advocates have pushed for years. It would impose at the federal level the same type of mandate that currently exists in dozens of states. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said today he would like to see the measure included in a broader energy bill being assembled by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.
Senate Democrats want to create a national renewable electricity standard to create jobs, save consumers money and reduce pollution. The bill unveiled Tuesday that would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030, starting with an 8 percent requirement by 2016 followed by gradual increases.
Philip Moeller, an outspoken Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, announced yesterday that he plans to leave the agency in the coming months, creating an opening expected to be filled by a senior Senate GOP aide. Moeller’s likely replacement is Patrick McCormick, senior counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who has deep ties in the energy world. A source familiar with the situation said McCormick would be the nominee.
Coastal lawmakers from both parties have long pushed to give states a greater share of revenues from energy development along the outer continental shelf amid opposition from some inland lawmakers and environmentalists wary of providing more incentive for offshore drilling. Murkowski said the bills would be considered next week when the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, which she chairs, holds a hearing on various energy supply proposals. But she has acknowledged the challenge such proposals face.
So there will be no legislative fight over wind energy this year, and renewable energy producers will know where they stand in Kansas. That’s about the best that can be said of a compromise on a fast track to the governor’s desk. Six years ago, the Legislature and then-Gov. Mark Parkinson threw open the state’s borders to wind investment with the renewable portfolio standard (RPS) mandating that green-energy resources account for 20 percent of utilities’ capacity to generate electricity by 2020. It was part of a deal struck to allow an expansion of a coal-fired power plant near Holcomb. Though the power plant is pending, most of the state’s utilities have reached the 20 percent level for renewables. Proponents credit the RPS with helping the state add 12,000 good jobs and attract $8 billion in investment.
Time is running short for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to weigh in on how to address reliability concerns arising from state compliance with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, although the industry seems to be coalescing around tools that might be needed. One FERC watcher thinks EPA will send the plan to the White House Office of Management and Budget by the end of this month, leaving little time for the agency to develop a consensus. Still, others predict that EPA’s expectation of publishing the rule in “midsummer” could mean late July or August.
Georgia Power and clean energy advocates agree on this: The Peach State could do more when it comes to wind energy. What they disagree on is how much and when. With the combination of cheap wind and U.S. EPA’s proposed rule that targets greenhouse gas emissions, there’s an opportunity for wind in Georgia to be built or bought, renewable energy boosters said. The state has to reduce its carbon emissions rate by 44 percent under the current proposed target by EPA.