Gov. Paul LePage vetoed a landmark solar energy bill Wednesday, after failed attempts by Democratic leadership to reach a compromise during extensive negotiations. Solar advocates now plan to press lawmakers to override the veto when they reconvene Friday. Rep. Sara Gideon, D-Freeport, the assistant majority leader, said a request by the governor to cap at a very low level the price that homeowners receive for solar power they generate was a deal breaker.
West Coast states are continuing work on how to mesh their power sectors with federal carbon regulations, with California and Washington releasing new details this week on how they expect generators to fare. Washington regulators said they plan to issue a new statewide carbon-capping proposal next month that would regulate power plants but allow them to come under federal regulation in the event that U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan survives legal challenges.
U.S. wind generation grew by 5.1% in 2015, the smallest annual increase since at least 1999, as weather patterns in the Western half of the United States lowered wind speeds and dampened wind generation during the first half of the year. The same weather patterns resulted in stronger winds in the central part of the country, where wind generation growth in 2015 was most pronounced.
It’s not your imagination. It’s been windier than usual lately across Minnesota. April is the windiest month of the year on average in Minnesota. And this April our winds have blown harder than average. I had the pleasure of talking with University of Minnesota Professor and excellent MPR weather and climate contributor Mark Seeley during MPR’s Climate and Health event this week in Rochester, Minn.
Despite spending his life in a public power state – Nebraska’s power generation has come from public utilities since the 1930s – Buffett said there’s a certain irony in that particular business model being not only a source of pride for the state, but also a source of cost. “The wind doesn’t start blowing at the Missouri River. That wind could be captured in Nebraska and so far it really hasn’t been,” Buffett said. The costs to Nebraska ratepayers – and others in states served by utilities with lesser renewable portfolios than BHE? Money from their bank accounts for higher rates in addition to potential jobs and economic development. Companies like Google and Facebook have planted server farms in Iowa because of that state’s share of renewable energy, Buffett said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) set another tentative procedural vote for 1:45 p.m. But leaders of both parties said nothing had changed since yesterday, when Democrats blocked an earlier effort to begin wrapping up debate. Another failed vote would leave the energy spending measure stalled as the Senate leaves tomorrow for a weeklong recess. It was the first test of a fragile accord among Senate leaders to try to pass as many spending bills as possible over the next 12 weeks.
For years Nebraska wind energy proponents have lamented the fact that the state lags so far behind its neighbors in producing wind power. Kansas and Iowa have installed four to five times the amount of wind energy capacity as Nebraska—even though Nebraska is consistently ranked among the top states for wind power potential. A new law seeks to change that. “It’s really a reduction of paperwork,” said Rich Lombardi, a lobbyist with the Wind Coalition, which represents wind developers and trade groups. Under the new law, private renewable energy developers no longer have to find a buyer for their power before they build the project, nor do they have to prove that their project won’t compete with other, more traditional energy sources (like a coal-fired power plant). Proponents say removing these regulatory hurdles will make Nebraska more competitive for wind development.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) confirmed yesterday that discussions continued on reviving the energy-water bill but said the failed cloture vote didn’t portend well for efforts to rein in the wayward appropriations process. “I hope it’s a temporary glitch because, I mean, if we can’t get this appropriation bill done, it doesn’t bode well for the future, and I think there seemed to be a bipartisan agreement that we need to get our work done on these appropriations bills and avoid a year-end omnibus appropriation,” he told E&E Daily. “I’m still hopeful we can work out those differences.”
For 11 years, Derrick Terry has powered his home off a 1.6-kilowatt solar photovoltaic-wind hybrid generator that produces enough electricity to light his home and refrigerate his family’s perishable food in a remote region of the sprawling Navajo reservation. Terry, a renewable energy specialist with the Navajo Tribal Utility Authority and a member of the tribal nation, and his family are one of more than 200 on the 27,000-square-mile reservation who rely on the units to generate power in its most remote areas.
Rep. Jared Polis (D-Colo.) introduced a bill this week to boost distributed solar power on rooftops and other decentralized sources. The bill would provide a 20 percent increase in the current investment tax credit for small solar systems under 20 kilowatts. The measure is the latest push to expand renewable tax credits that were extended last year.