PacifiCorp, part of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., is considering joining California’s power grid, expanding the state’s access to renewable energy. The company is studying the feasibility of becoming a transmission-owning member of the state-wide network operated by California Independent System Operator Corp., the company and the Folsom, California-based ISO said in statements on Tuesday. The Portland utility would become one of only two transmission owners outside of California to be a part of the system.
President Obama’s most far-reaching regulation to slow climate change will have its first day in court on today, the beginning of what is expected to be a multiyear legal battle over the policy that Mr. Obama hopes to leave as his signature environmental achievement. In two separate but related cases to be jointly argued in the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, the country’s two largest coal companies, along with 14 coal-producing states, have challenged a proposed Environmental Protection Agency regulation, which the agency issued under the authority of the Clean Air Act, to curb planet-warming carbon pollution from coal-fired power plants. If put in effect as E.P.A. officials have proposed, the rule is intended to fundamentally transform the nation’s power sector, shuttering hundreds of coal plants and expanding renewable energy sources such as wind and solar.
“I can’t let my South Dakota friends feel neglected,” the president told KSFY anchor Nancy Naeve, announcing he would be the commencement speaker at Lake Area Technical Institute in Watertown, S.D., on May 8.
SolarCity, the country’s hungriest solar installer, and Nest, the maker of the highest-profile thermostat, announced a partnership yesterday that hints at how rooftop solar and the connected home might play together. The program, offered in California, gives a free Nest thermostat to the first 10,000 homeowners in the state who sign up for solar panels from SolarCity and also agree to be part of Nest’s growing ecosystem of connected home devices. As soon as this summer, the two may start to link, seeking energy efficiencies when the sun is shining.
Harvard University President Drew Faust convened a panel yesterday led by seven experts on climate policies and energy sources and anchored by a star of the journalism world, Charlie Rose. It came in response to mounting pressure from Harvard students, faculty and alumni on the university to divest its $35.9 billion endowment — the largest of any college or university worldwide — from investments in coal, oil and natural gas companies.
Developers behind a cross-state transmission line project submitted plans to Illinois regulators for the portion of the line that crosses the state from Missouri to Indiana. Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners has been working for years on several large electricity transmission projects, including the 780-mile Grain Belt Express line. Clean Line aims to cash in on wind energy generation in the Great Plains by building the infrastructure to wire it to population centers further east.
Germany’s model, which heavily leans on renewables, is slowly being copied from California to China as wind and solar upstage traditional fuels like nuclear and coal. “Our job has become much more complex,” Scheibner said in an interview from the control center outside Berlin owned by 50Hertz Transmission GmbH, one of Germany’s four main grid operators. “It’s not an easy mission, and it will cost money. But if you are doing it consciously, then it will be doable. We have already come so far.
A cadre of liberal Senate Democrats yesterday sought to counter Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) recent advice to states, warning governors that choosing not to comply with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan would limit their options. The group led by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) cautioned in an open letter to the National Governors Association that the “just say no” strategy would put states “in defiance of the climate change laws and regulations of the United States government.”
The House sponsor of a bill to declaw U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan today told the agency’s air chief that she should not be surprised that Congress is mulling an assault on the unprecedented rule. “We think you’re overstepping your authority. We think you’re now legislating,” Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.) told acting Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe at the top of a hearing of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, which he chairs.
The Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that would close the book on two programs that helped fuel the state’s years-long surge in wind energy production. With a 21-10 vote, the chamber sent Sen. Troy Fraser’s proposal, Senate Bill 931, to House lawmakers. It would end the Renewable Portfolio Standard, which established a state renewable energy goal. It would also close Texas’ Competitive Renewable Energy Zone (CREZ) initiative, a power line program that sparked huge investments in wind energy.