New research from a national environmental group finds that the cost of producing electricity from renewable resources like wind and solar is lower than that of conventional coal-fired generation when factoring for the adverse costs of climate change and human health impacts. That conclusion, derived from analysis on the “social cost of carbon,” is at the heart of a study published in the Journal of Environmental Studies and Sciences by Laurie Johnson, chief economist of the Natural Resources Defense Council’s Climate and Clean Air Program, Starla Yeh of NRDC’s Center for Market Innovation, and Chris Hope of the Judge Business School at the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom.
It is an audacious undertaking with wide and deep support in Germany: shut down the nation’s nuclear power plants, wean the country from coal and promote a wholesale shift to renewable energy sources. But the plan, backed by Chancellor Angela Merkel and opposition parties alike, is running into problems in execution that are forcing Germans to come face to face with the costs and complexities of sticking to their principles.
Sen. Ed Markey laid out an ambitious energy agenda in his first speech on the Senate floor this morning, pledging to introduce legislation setting a 25 percent target for “clean energy and energy efficiency improvements” in the country by 2025.
Two members of President Obama’s energy team today defended the administration’s climate change policies before a House Energy and Commerce subpanel that has repeatedly tried to roll back their authorities. U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy and Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz used their opening remarks to affirm the science of man-made climate change and to cast their efforts to mitigate CO2 emissions as a boon to the U.S. economy.
“The evidence is overwhelming, the science is clear, and the threat from climate change is real and urgent,” Moniz told the Subcommittee on Energy and Power.
Calling Binz “unacceptable” for allegedly “demonizing coal and gas,” Manchin voiced his opposition after ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) took similar positions. Binz “prioritizes renewables over reliability,” Manchin said. Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) is working on scheduling a committee vote on Binz, said Keith Chu, a spokesman for the senator. Wyden respects members’ views but believes Binz’s “years of service in Colorado and views on respecting FERC’s role make him well-qualified to serve on the commission,” Chu said.
The top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday said she cannot support President Obama’s highly controversial pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, despite his efforts to respond to myriad attacks from libertarian and conservative groups. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she could not support Ron Binz, a former Colorado regulator. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to support your nomination, and I say that reluctantly,” Murkowski said. “The process will move forward; I recognize we need a full commission.”
The nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman reached out to executives at oil giant BP PLC for help with the confirmation process, according to emails released yesterday by a conservative think tank opposing his nomination. Former Colorado energy regulator Ron Binz thanked three BP officials in a July 25 email, part of a packet of emails obtained by the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Independence Institute in Colorado through a Freedom of Information Act request from FERC.
Ron Binz, the president’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, charged into his Tuesday confirmation hearing with a central message: I’m no radical tree-hugger. But critical pieces moved into place that could sink or stall his bid — for instance, losing the support of the Energy Committee’s top Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. That makes it more likely that Binz’s fate will come down to the decisions of two fossil-fuel-friendly Democrats, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, neither of whom tipped their hands Tuesday.
The Nebraska Public Power District’s plans for a new transmission line spanning 220 miles across north-central Nebraska is sparking excitement in the area. Known as the R-Project, it would create a 345,000-volt transmission line starting at the Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland, heading north and then turning due east to the Holt/Antelope county line. NPPD officials have said the $290 million project could open the door for expansion of renewable energy.
How can regulators and utilities work together to make the United States’ often rigid electricity sector more flexible? During today’s OnPoint, John Jimison, managing director at the Energy Future Coalition and a former senior counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, discusses a new report, “America’s Power Plan,” that provides a blueprint for state and local lawmakers and business leaders to address the challenges facing the electric power system.