President Obama on Monday issued a global call for urgent action to address climate change, declaring that the United States was partly to blame for what he called the defining challenge of the century and would rally the world to counter it. “Climate change is no longer some far-off problem; it is happening here, it is happening now,” Mr. Obama said here at an international conference on the Arctic. “We’re not acting fast enough. I have come here today, as the leader of the world’s largest economy and its second-largest emitter, to say that the United States recognizes our role in creating the problem, and we embrace our responsibility to help solve it.”
We have all heard about Obama’s “war on coal,” but in reality, the challenges facing the coal industry are much more varied and complex than the “war” label would lead us to believe. There is a war on energy being waged, but the target is not coal, it is renewable energy, namely wind and solar. The attack dogs in this war—all of which have ties to Koch industries and include Americans for Prosperity (AFP), American Energy Alliance (AEA) and the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC)—frame their attacks as a defense of the free market and fiscal conservatism. Yet even a cursory examination of their positions reveals they’re not defending the free market, but attempting to protect the fossil fuel industry from competition.
As lawmakers consider new measures to combat climate change, researchers at UC Berkeley released a study saying stronger renewable energy requirements would lead to new jobs. California law requires the state to get 33% of its electricity from renewable sources, such as solar and wind, by 2020. A bill by Sen. Kevin de León (D-Los Angeles) would increase that standard to 50% by 2030.
MidAmerican Energy Co. of Des Moines said Thursday that its next wind farms, estimated last spring as a $900 million investment, will be installed in northwest Iowa’s Ida and O’Brien Counties by the end of 2016. The Ida Grove wind farm will have 134 wind-powered generators and the O’Brien wind farm will have 104 for a combined capacity of 552 megawatts. As a comparison, Omaha Public Power District’s north Omaha power plant has a capacity of 638 megawatts.
President Obama will travel to Alaska on Monday to call for urgent and aggressive action to tackle climate change, capitalizing on a poignant tableau of melting glaciers, crumbling permafrost and rising sea levels to illustrate the immediacy of an issue he hopes to make a central element of his legacy. But during a three-day trip choreographed to lend spectacular visuals and real-world examples to Mr. Obama’s message on global warming, he will pay little heed to the oil and gas drilling offshore that he allowed to go forward just this month, a move that activists say is an unsavory blot on an otherwise ambitious climate record.
California is starting to dole out nearly $2.2 billion generated by its cap-and-trade program to cut carbon emissions, allocating funds to hundreds of projects. Winners include regional rail, electric car rebates and rooftop solar for low-income residents. Revenue from auctions of pollution permits under the system has bolstered the state’s budget. A database compiled by ClimateWire shows for the first time precisely where funds have been directed. It reveals that more than $1.4 billion has been pledged to more than 350 recipients.
A new report by a research firm argues that the challenge of integrating wind, solar and other renewables into the U.S. electric system is largely a “solved problem” that won’t be as expensive as critics argue. Synapse Energy Economics Inc. asserts that by maximizing coordination between regional electric system operators, taking advantage of renewable generation sites across a broader geographic scale, strategically investing in new transmission and seeking demand-side solutions, grid operators are well-equipped to handle more renewables. And, the report states, it’s likely that the cost of doing so is “relatively small, on the order of $5 per megawatt-hour.”
Whereas the first offshore wind farm, located in Denmark, began operations in 1991, it has taken nearly 25 years for the United States to begin construction on its first offshore wind farm. It has taken a long time for the U.S. to catch up, but Alstom and GE are making it happen. GE already has a dominating presence in the U.S. onshore market, and, through its acquisition of Alstom, stands to prosper from the offshore market should it take off.
The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada voted 3-0 yesterday to approve a measure requiring NV Energy to provide the same net metering rates and credits for rooftop solar customers throughout the rest of the year. The agency’s decision was seen as a reprieve for Silver State solar advocates concerned about rate treatments disintegrating after the state hit its limit on the number of customers allowed to participate in the program, and the state’s largest utility, NV Energy, proposed changes that would reduce the value of the credits.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) today asserted that Colorado will be able to easily meet lower carbon emissions dictated by the Obama administration, and said he did not see the benefit of the state opting into a lawsuit that aims to block the Clean Power Plan. Hickenlooper made his remarks in an appearance at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit. “I don’t think we’re going to have a heavy lift to meet those rules,” Hickenlooper said in a brief speech in which he focused on Colorado’s current energy economy — acknowledging a downturn in oil prices while asserting that “these down-cycles always drive innovation” — and briefly touched on the Clean Power Plan.