Simply put, the Renewable Portfolio Standard is working — for everyday Mainers and businesses alike. In light of our struggling economy, programs such as the RPS should be celebrated and protected. So what could possibly have motivated Gov. Paul LePage to devote an entire weekly radio address to attacking the program? And why are some elected officials pushing legislation that would dismantle it? A new report by the Maine Conservation Alliance, Maine’s Majority Education Fund and Maine People’s Alliance, issued earlier this month, sheds some light on the powerful forces fueling LePage and his allies’ efforts to weaken Maine’s RPS: Charles and David Koch, billionaire industrialists from Kansas and owners of the second largest private company in the U.S. with revenues estimated at $100 billion a year.
Heineman announced Tuesday morning that he had signed 33 bills into law, but left four measures, including the wind bill, unsigned until late afternoon. The governor said he signed the wind measure, Legislative Bill 104, only because it included an amendment to prevent a half-cent increase in local sales taxes in Omaha.
The Interior Department today announced that next month it will hold its first competitive lease sale for offshore wind in the Atlantic Ocean, a move hailed as historic by industry officials and clean energy advocates. The department on July 31 will auction the rights to develop two wind farms on more than 250 square miles off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island, an area believed to contain nearly 3,500 megawatts of wind power.
The failed attempt to pass climate legislation at the start of the Obama administration has fueled a renewed conflict over what went wrong, which offers useful insight — and potential implications — for what lies ahead. The retrospective, in particular, could bolster the president’s promise to pursue sweeping regulatory action to circumvent the continuing congressional deadlock.
Portland General Electric Co. (POR), a utility that serves about 800,000 customers in northwest Oregon, agreed to buy a wind farm under development in Washington State that’s expected to cost as much as $535 million.
The utility will buy the second phase of Puget Sound Energy Inc.’s Lower Snake River wind farm near Dayton, Washington, and expects to complete the deal in August, PGE said today in a statement.
The carbon dioxide cap-and-trade bill that passed the House in June 2009 did so with scant Republican support — but if it came to the floor today, the GOP tally might be zero. The five GOP supporters of the measure by Reps. Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) who are still roaming the halls of the Capitol — eight voted for it in total — are increasingly reluctant to talk about climate change with reporters. Three others are gone — one voluntarily, two because they lost elections.
At least a half-dozen states saw an introduction of legislation to repeal or weaken RPS laws, though none has been enacted. And renewable proponents were able to go on the offense in a few states like Colorado, where legislators voted to strengthen an existing RPS. The repeal push is being driven by many of the same conservative groups that have lobbied against federal policies like the production tax credit, which Congress extended in January over the objection of some tea party-backed lawmakers.
More than six years after he departed the Republican Party to become an independent, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee made another shift today, registering as a Democrat. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office told The Providence Journal that Chafee’s decision came as “a recognition that the Democratic Party and he are aligned on policies and principles.”
Nebraska, an also-ran so far in the race to develop wind energy, took another step Wednesday to try to catch up with the pack. On a 38-2 vote, state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill granting sales tax breaks to wind farms. Proponents said the measure would make the state competitive for projects that are now going to Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, where such breaks are already offered.
One reason that offshore wind has not caught on in the United States is the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but researchers at the University of Maine tried another approach on Friday by launching a floating wind machine. It is the first offshore wind installation in United States waters, according to the Energy Department, which helped pay for it.