Long before wind and solar, water was the nation’s top renewable energy source. Going back some 100 years, the United States built enormous dams — like the Depression-era Hoover Dam in Nevada — to produce tremendous amounts of energy. We have so many such dams that hydropower last year remained our fourth largest source of electricity overall and our single largest renewable source, providing 6 percent of Americans’ electricity. Yet it’s rarely talked about and lacks the excitement attached to other renewables. That’s in part because dams are controversial and can have major environmental consequences, affecting wildlife and altering local ecosystems. New ones also are expensive to build.
Lobbyists and journalists surrounded Trevor Houser after a panel discussion on energy and the environment here this week. Houser, an adviser to Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, has been in demand at events related to the party’s national convention. He’s not only helping craft the candidate’s positions but also explaining them. “He’s a person who really gets that intersection of what can be done in government, both nationally, internationally,” Clinton campaign Chairman John Podesta said during an interview.
Minnesota Power, a division of US energy company Allete Inc (NYSE:ALE), intends to add roughly 600 MW of wind and solar power capacity to its fleet following a request by state regulators. The company said on Wednesday it has released a Request for Proposals (RfP) targeting up to 300 MW of new wind power capacity. It currently has 625 MW of wind on its system. Proposals are due by September 7, 2016.
Madison-based Alliant Energy Corp., which owns utilities serving four U.S. Midwestern states, plans to spend $1 billion over the next five years to expand its wind power in Iowa by as much as 500 megawatts. The company is seeking regulatory approval to enlarge its Whispering Willow Wind Farm in Franklin County and potentially build developments elsewhere in Iowa, Alliant said in a statement Wednesday.
Alliant Energy says it will invest $1 billion over the next five years to add 500 megawatts of wind energy to an existing farm in north central Iowa. Alliant CEO Patricia Kampling announced the project Wednesday with Gov. Terry Branstad in Cedar Rapids, headquarters of Alliant’s Iowa utility, Interstate Power & Light. “Our customers expect low-cost, clean energy, which is exactly what this project will bring to our communities,” said Doug Kopp, president of Interstate Power & Light. “Wind has no fuel costs and zero emissions, making it a win-win for Iowans and the Iowa economy.”
The largest proposed wind energy project in Iowa’s history appears to be back on track this week after a tense period when it seemed the deal might fall apart over differences between a utility and large energy users. On Tuesday, MidAmerican Energy — the utility pursuing the $3.6 billion Wind XI project — reached an accord with several major customers that objected to the plan, including tech giants Google, Microsoft and Facebook and a group of large industrial customers known as the Iowa Business Energy Coalition (IBEC).
Standing with Kirkwood Community College’s 2.5 megawatt wind turbine at his back, Gov. Terry Branstad shared the latest news for Iowa’s growing wind industry — Alliant Energy’s $1 billion investment in wind power. That investment will add 500 megawatts — equal to 200 of Kirkwood’s turbines — to Iowa’s renewable energy infrastructure. Branstad, Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds and Alliant CEO Patricia Kampling announced the utility’s plans during a Wednesday news conference.
California and its neighbors are in the throes of birthing a new electricity market, with features just beginning to emerge. The Golden State is spearheading proceedings to form a full-fledged Western electricity market — an idea that hasn’t been entertained since the energy crisis of 2000-01. Several states, including California and Nevada, are already sending electricity cross-border in five-minute increments, but now California is exploring forming a regional transmission organization with the five other states that share utility PacifiCorp’s territory — Idaho, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming.
The venture capital system is “broken” for clean energy technology, according to a new paper from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The analysis concludes that alternative funding streams from government or elsewhere are needed to boost the next wave of clean energy innovations. “The picture for clean tech venture capital looks grim — especially for companies developing breakthrough energy technologies,” said Benjamin Gaddy, director of technology development at Clean Energy Trust and author of the new research released by MIT’s Energy Initiative.
Meetings of state electricity regulators have for years been dominated by conversations about how to cut greenhouse gas levels under U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. But at a conference here of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners this week, mentions of the federal climate change rule were few and far between. More than five months since the Supreme Court halted implementation of the rule, a majority of states are no longer actively talking through compliance options. And regulators from those states don’t want to disrespect the wishes of their political leaders by speaking about the Clean Power Plan publicly, several commissioners noted.