The highly controversial and increasingly political confirmation of President Obama’s pick to lead the otherwise sleepy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will take center stage this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The panel tomorrow will weigh the fate of Ron Binz, a Democrat and former chairman of Colorado’s utility board, a nominee who has sparked a fierce campaign battle among clean energy groups, foundations, libertarian think tanks and conservative organizations in Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Tesla is hitting the autobahn just as the German Goliaths start selling their own electrics from dealer networks with hundreds of stores. Musk will also need to win over buyers who traditionally have been loyal to homegrown brands. “The European home turf belongs to the likes of Daimler, BMW and Audi,” said Bryan Batista, Tesla’s European sales director. “We’re confident that we have a product that stacks up very well.”
Through funding clean technologies, cementing incentives for renewables and helping the United States adapt to a new normal, the Department of Energy will be a major player in meeting President Obama’s climate goals.
The administration’s Climate Action Plan, presented earlier this year, uses executive authority to bypass a divided Legislature to mitigate the country’s impacts on the global climate.
The emails that the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Independence Institute in Colorado obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from FERC showed that Binz, former chairman of Colorado’s Pubic Utilities Commission, received guidance from Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm VennSquared Communications regarding edits to the biography he was submitting to members of Congress. The emails were first reported last night in The Washington Times.
Rhode Island-based renewable energy company Deepwater Wind won the first federal auction for offshore wind development, paying $3.8 million for 164,000 acres of ocean on the Atlantic seaboard between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The lease for the Deepwater Wind Energy Center has not been officially signed but will be completed in the next few weeks, said Jeff Grybowski ’93, CEO of Deepwater Wind.
House leaders abruptly pulled a bill yesterday that sought to honor top scientists after conservative groups expressed concern that President Obama might politicize the position to advance his agenda on climate change The measure, H.R. 1891, would allow a president to name three scientists as unpaid laureates to inspire school-age Americans to pursue degrees in science and engineering. The bill, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the Science Committee, was scheduled for an easy vote yesterday on the suspension calendar, typically meant for noncontroversial legislation.
Wind farms have killed at least 85 eagles in nearly a dozen states over the past 15 years, according to a new study by Fish and Wildlife Service scientists. But that tally underestimates, “perhaps substantially,” the total number of eagles that have been struck by wind turbines, due to a lack of rigorous monitoring and reporting of eagle deaths, the study said.
The Obama administration has found someone to fill the shoes of Lauren Azar, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s top adviser on greening the U.S. electric grid, who quietly left the agency Friday. Skila Harris, who served as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s first female director and as a special assistant to former Vice President Al Gore, is now serving as senior adviser for the Power Marketing Administration. Although Department of Energy officials did not offer to comment about the personnel moves in time for publication, Harris will likely be tasked with addressing bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill over a number of the agency’s programs.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on the nominations of Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor to become deputy Interior secretary, former Colorado energy regulator Ron Binz to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and NASA Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson to be undersecretary at the Department of Energy.
A large wind energy developer has committed to use the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project if built, a rare bit of good news for a project that has been dogged by criticism from congressional leaders, Defense Department officials and environmentalists who have questioned claims that the line will support renewables development. The project’s developer, Phoenix-based SunZia Transmission LLC, announced late Friday that it has a formal letter of intent from Boston-based First Wind Energy LLC reserving up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity capacity on the planned New Mexico-to-Arizona power line.