With slew of new purchases, SE utilities continue to warm up to solar 

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Southern Co.’s wholesale power unit bought its fourth California-based solar array yesterday in one of several deals that has put the Southeast in the solar spotlight this week. Atlanta-based Southern’s wholesale unit now has a controlling interest in a 32-megawatt solar array in California. The purchase means the company’s Southern Power unit will own roughly 990 MW of solar and wind projects throughout the country.

Oklahoma House agrees to eliminate wind energy tax credit

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Oklahoma’s wind energy industry could no longer claim a five-year exemption from ad valorem taxes under legislation advanced by the Oklahoma House. House members voted 78-3 for the measure Thursday and sent it to the Senate for more work. The measure, Senate Bill 498, prohibits wind electricity manufacturers from claiming a state tax exemption for equipment placed in commercial operation after 2016.

Nebraska utility partners with California firm in becoming first U.S. utility to produce electricity from hydrogen

Source: By Henry J. Cordes / Omaha World-Herald staff writer • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Friday’s announcement was the latest in a recent flurry of moves by the state’s public utilities to reduce the amount of carbon their plants spew into the air. Federal regulators are expected later this year to issue new rules cracking down on power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. The Omaha Public Power District announced last summer it will be shutting down some coal burners and possibly converting others to natural gas. OPPD, NPPD and Lincoln Electric System all have invested in wind power.

Solar Power Battle Puts Hawaii at Forefront of Worldwide Changes

Source: By DIANE CARDWELL, New York Times • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Mr. Akamine, 61, a manager for a cable company, has wanted nothing more than to lower his $600 to $700 monthly electric bill with a solar system of his own. But for 18 months or so, the state’s biggest utility barred him and thousands of other customers from getting one, citing concerns that power generated by rooftop systems was overwhelming its ability to handle it. Only under strict orders from state energy officials did the utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company, recently rush to approve the lengthy backlog of solar applications, including Mr. Akamine’s.

Warm winter hurts energy production from Calif. wind farms

Source: By NICHOLA GROOM, REUTERS • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Wind energy deliveries to California’s top utility fell by half in the first two months of the year because of unusually weak winds in some Western states. The slowed wind energy production has exacerbated electricity shortfalls caused by a long drought, which has reduced hydroelectric power in the most populous U.S. state. Southern California Edison, which is owned by Edison International, said that any gaps left by the 50 percent drop in wind production during an execptionally warm January and February will be filled with electricity bought on the open market. Spot purchases tend to be more expensive and often come from natural gas.

Some governors push back over McConnell letter to defy EPA 

Source: By RIK STEVENS, Associated Press • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for governors to defy proposed federal rules to limit pollution has been met with mostly silence, but leaders in downwind New England states and drought-stricken areas in the West are pushing back. The Kentucky Republican wrote to all the nation’s governors in March after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants. McConnell said he thinks the rule is illegal and, if enacted, would hurt the U.S. economy and kill energy jobs. Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin was blunt in his response to McConnell.

Ark. utility pushes for state’s biggest solar array 

Source: Krysti Shallenberger, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

An Arkansas public utility is poised to offer its customers a choice of sun alongside its standard nuclear and hydro-powered fare, fattening the state’s super-slim solar industry. Entergy Arkansas Inc., a subsidiary of Entergy Corp., yesterday announced a 20-year power purchase agreement with solar developer NextEra Energy Resources, which will supply the company’s solar generation if a proposed 81-megawatt solar facility gets the green light from the state’s Public Service Commission.

Falling costs, barriers help solar flourish in the Southeast 

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

Some Southeastern states slowly are loosening barriers that once prevented consumers from putting solar panels on their homes and small businesses. But many say that isn’t the reason for the recent — and probably future — growth in the residential solar market. The explanation is more likely straight-up economics, solar industry advocates argue. Solar panel technology is improving, the costs are falling, and developers are installing systems more efficiently, they say.

New chairman’s first day is marked by protests, weighty decisions 

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

Norman Bay’s first day on the job as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was repeatedly interrupted by the removal of shouting climate activists opposed to hydraulic fracturing and the agency’s approval of gas pipelines and export terminals. “Well, I guess one wouldn’t be the chairman of FERC without having to deal with protesters,” Bay said today after Ted Glick, the national campaign coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, was removed from the commission’s meeting room in Washington, D.C.

Support for carbon tax reaches almost 70% 

Source: Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

A large majority of Americans support taxing carbon emissions, according to polling results released yesterday, and favorability rises to two-thirds if the tax is used to send money back to households. The survey by Stanford University and Resources for the Future also found that efforts by environmental organizations to increase urgency around climate change by pointing to extreme weather isn’t working, and neither are efforts to erode people’s belief in global warming by questioning the science. “There is really no evidence here at all that the disinformation campaign has successfully, dramatically reduced confidence in environmental scientists,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford professor who oversaw the poll.