How should state regulators be influencing the business model evolution facing the electric power sector? During today’s OnPoint, Colette Honorable, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, discusses the role of regulators in the net metering debate, the transition to a diversified fuel supply and transmission planning challenges. Honorable, whose name was circulated as a potential candidate for the top spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also comments on the nomination of Norman Bay to lead the agency.
At issue are concerns that the current standards-making process, in which the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), an industry group, works with the electric sector to reach a consensus on rules that then go to FERC for final approval. Lawmakers have become increasingly alarmed that the process can take months to complete, lagging behind quickly evolving cyber and physical threats to the system.
The world could meet all of its energy needs with a combination of wind, water and solar power, Stanford University scientist Mark Jacobson reported Saturday at the American Association for the Advancement of Science annual meeting. In a fast-paced presentation, Jacobson outlined the results of an analysis of a variety of fuel sources, their associated environmental costs and how much of those sources would be needed to power the world.
A panel of Iowa lawmakers advanced legislation on Tuesday rewriting the approval process for construction of certain new power lines in the state. The measure is a direct response to vocal opposition to the proposed Rock Island Clean Line from landowners across northern Iowa. The proposed 500-mile transmission line will deliver wind energy from northwest Iowa to markets in Illinois and points eastward, but may have to take land by eminent domain to secure the long, narrow strip on which the power lines and poles will run through 16 Iowa counties.
The LePage administration pushed back against a proposal Tuesday that supporters say would ensure the decision-making process on wind energy proposals in Maine clearly follows the law. The bill, by Senate President Justin Alfond, D-Portland, would mean several changes for wind energy regulators, including requiring them in instances where their views differ from the hired experts to explain why. Alfond said his measure would ensure wind regulators at the Department of Environment Protection aren’t using criteria not specified by law to unfairly reject a proposal.
The Obama administration in recent days has increased its focus on the need to combat climate change, announcing new action plans both at home and abroad. President Obama said he will ask Congress for $1 billion in new spending for climate research and adaptation and tied warming temperatures to the drought in California, while Secretary of State John Kerry half a world away in Asia denounced climate deniers and revealed a new joint emissions plan with China.
Sioux City manufacturer could see up to $200 million in business from Rock Island Clean Line project
Sabre Industries, which makes large transmission towers in Sioux City, could see up to $200 million in new business from a proposal to build a $2 billion transmission line across Iowa, designed to move wind energy from the Midwest to the eastern United States
The mighty winds that blow through Texas, Oklahoma and elsewhere in the United States aren’t as mighty or as consistent as the gusts out in the oceans. But 13 years after the nation’s first offshore wind park was envisioned in Nantucket Sound, this plentiful source of renewable energy has yet to produce a kilowatt of utility power. Now a Seattle company hopes to join that race by harnessing some of the fiercest winds off the Pacific Coast. Earlier this month, Principle Power got a nod from the U.S. Department of the Interior to proceed with its application to lease 15 square miles of federal waters near Coos Bay, Ore.
Detweiler says the line extends the availability of the Iowa power. “The purpose of the project is to allow the enormous untapped wind energy potential in the northwest Iowa and sort of great Siouxland region to be developed and to allow it to reach markets that are in Illinois and further east from there,” Detweiler says. State economic development director, Debbi Durham, says wind power is another product Iowa to sell. “We need to look at wind as any other export. That’s really our role at this point now — is to really explain to Iowans why we believe this is an important infrastructure project that needs to occur,”
Hans Detweiler, director of development for Clean Line Energy Partners, said the company is awaiting approval from regulators in Iowa and Illinois before it sets a timeline on construction, but he estimated the line to be in service in 2017 following about two years of construction.
“You’re seeing strong demand in state laws for renewable energy and you’re also seeing a very broad move away from coal,” Detweiler said. “You bundle those together and there’s a very strong demand for additional resources.