The Southeast’s three major investor-owned utilities have big plans to ramp up their renewable energy portfolios across the United States in the near future, citing falling costs and rising demand because of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Duke Energy Corp., NextEra Energy Inc. and Southern Co. each recently told analysts that opportunities to add more wind and solar projects have exceeded their expectations. All three companies plan to invest billions into expanding solar arrays and wind farms, either by buying or building them, despite the possibility of eventual changes in some of the federal tax incentives.
The Obama administration yesterday advanced the federal portion of a major plan designed to guide commercial-scale wind, solar and geothermal power development across millions of acres of Southern California desert. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced completion of a final environmental impact statement (EIS) and three proposed land-use plan amendments covering about 10 million acres of federal lands as part of the first phase of implementation of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).
U.S. companies announced almost 10,000 new clean energy and transportation jobs in the third quarter of this year, with a host of solar and wind projects pushing Utah to the top of the job growth rankings, a new report says. The solar industry accounted for 7,300 of the announced jobs at 23 separate projects, according to the report from the nonprofit Environmental Entrepreneurs. The wind industry announced more than 2,500 jobs at 11 separate projects, it said.
The White House may wait months to fill a vacant Republican seat on the powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — and then use that nomination as a bargaining chip when the time comes, according to sources. The Obama administration has yet to tap a replacement for Philip Moeller, a member of the agency who stepped down at the end of last month to pursue opportunities in the private sector.
Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is talking up the potential of renewable energy to shield developing countries from the effects of climate change. Clinton visited Central America’s biggest wind farm Tuesday. The electricity project in western Panama is scheduled to open next year with the capacity to produce about 6 percent to 8 percent of Panama’s energy needs.
In a vote that could affect wind farm development elsewhere in Nebraska, the Lancaster County Board on Tuesday adopted tough new noise restrictions on wind turbines. The restrictions prohibit wind turbines from generating more than 40 decibels of noise during the day — about what’s generated by a household refrigerator — as measured at nearby residences. Currently, 50 decibels is recognized as a standard noise limit by several Nebraska counties.
In Washington state, a circulating petition might be the key to both permanently cutting down on the state’s carbon footprint and also reforming what is widely considered one of the nation’s most regressive tax systems. If enough signatures are secured, the petition will allow the United States’ first-ever carbon tax a spot on the ballot.
The leader of the Department of Energy effort to drive down the cost of solar power enjoys a big challenge. When Lidija Sekaric was recruited for the SunShot initiative in 2010, she turned up her nose at the program’s goal — lowering the installed cost of solar from $2 a watt to 50 cents by 2020. “We were not ambitious enough for her,” then-Director Minh Le recalled in a recent interview. “I pitch it to her that we are going to reduce costs by 75 percent, and her immediate reaction — with a straight face — was, ‘Why not 25 cents per watt?'”
RES Americas Developments Inc. and US Wind Inc. won leases to build wind farms off the coast of New Jersey in a U.S. Interior Department auction Monday. Closely held RES Americas agreed to pay almost $881,000 for a lease area with about 160,500 acres. US Wind, a unit of the Italian construction and engineering company Toto SpA, won a site with more than 183,000 acres with a bid of slightly more than $1 million, the department’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said in a statement Monday. Fishermen’s Energy LLC also participated in the auction.
A major European energy company is proposing what could be North America’s largest offshore wind farm 15 miles south of Martha’s Vineyard, outlining its plans less than a year after the proposed Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound suffered a stunning financial setback. Denmark-based DONG Energy A/S, the world’s largest developer of offshore wind farms, Monday said it would build up to 100 giant wind turbines, generating as much as 1,000 megawatts of electricity — more than double the output Cape Wind had proposed for its site off Cape Cod.