Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz has brought in a raft of new staff members — including some of his former colleagues and old friends — to help him run the Department of Energy. He’s also overhauling DOE’s organizational chart in a bid to make the department a bigger policy player in President Obama’s second term. A top priority for Moniz this year is the “Quadrennial Energy Review,” a high-profile report that will be part of Obama’s climate agenda and is intended to serve as a road map for federal energy policy across agencies.
Environmentalists are tired of “all of the above.” A coalition of 18 environmental groups yesterday called on President Obama to stop touting an “all of the above” energy strategy — a shorthand expression that lawmakers from both parties often employ to show support for traditional and renewable fuel sources.
Stressing the project’s potential benefits for the local economy, Maine regulators have approved the terms of a pilot offshore wind development spearheaded by the University of Maine, a significant step forward for the industry in the state’s deep but windy waters. Maine Aqua Ventus 1 GP LLC, a consortium including the University of Maine and two partner companies, Emera Inc. and Cianbro Corp., plans to construct two 6-megawatt floating wind turbines 12 miles off the coast of Maine at a cost of $120 million. Last June, the group installed the first grid-connected offshore turbine in the United States, a 1:8-scale prototype of its floating wind technology.
The polar vortex that enveloped much of the eastern United States in subzero temperatures last week was a huge boon to electricity and natural gas companies, a new report from the consulting group ICF International has found. Daily wholesale electricity prices between Jan. 3 and 6 saw extreme swings, from as low as $40 per megawatt-hour to nearly $800 per MWh, with the greatest spikes experienced in the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) territory Jan. 6, followed a day later by most other Eastern power markets.
Eighteen senators opened a campaign yesterday to highlight the science of climate change and defend the president’s actions to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. They also tried to help Republicans understand the movement of lobsters. The unveiling of the Senate Climate Action Task Force adds to the growing number of voices within Congress expressing concern about the absence of legislation to stem greenhouse gases. It’s the latest in a series of high-profile efforts to resuscitate the issue after cap and trade’s disastrous showing sent it tumbling into political exile four years ago. Both chambers now feature organized efforts to speak on climate regularly.
Speaking at the National Press Club, Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin (R) noted that when she gave the group’s State of the States address last year, she outlined the challenges faced around the country as well as governors’ visions for 2013. But one year later, nothing has changed, she said. “Our message for 2014 is clear: States are leading, and we encourage our federal partners to work more closely with us and to take note of and use the policy ideas coming from their state partners,” she said. “Above all, please do not get in the way.” She and Gov. John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) noted that energy policy is one arena in particular where states are taking charge. The creation of state energy plans and policies is leading to more production and energy efficiency initiatives, they said.
The pilot project, called Maine Aqua Ventus I, is the next step in the development of UMaine’s offshore wind technology. The university in June 2013 deployed a one-eighth scale model of VolturnUS, its prototype floating turbine, in waters off Castine. The turbine began generating power that month and became the first offshore wind turbine in the Americas to send electricity into the power grid.
Internet superpower Google announced Tuesday a $75 million investment in a wind farm in the Panhandle. “It sure is windy in Texas. So windy, in fact, that we’ve made another wind energy investment there,” a Google rep posted to the company’s blog Tuesday.
Just a week into his new job at the White House, John Podesta made a public vow today to play a leading role in shaping the Obama administration’s climate and energy policies.
“The president asked me to return to the White House,” the former Clinton administration chief of staff said, to work with top officials “to both ensure the implementation of the Climate Action Plan that you’ve heard about and to push forward with great vigor to transform our economy — one that’s inefficient, high-carbon-based — to one that’s low-carbon-based and is building sustainability, and to do it with the resolve that we have to build more resilience into the economy overall.
The consortium backing a high-stakes offshore wind project using floating turbine technology developed at the University of Maine faces a key test Tuesday morning. At stake is whether state regulators will grant the project a long-term power contract that would allow it to move forward, but under terms that could cost the state’s electric ratepayers hundreds of millions of dollars over the next 20 years.