Depending on whose spin you believe, President Obama’s nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is either a radical environmentalist hellbent on greening the electric grid no matter the cost or a level-headed energy regulator getting a bad rap. But friends of FERC nominee Ron Binz — whose confirmation hearing is today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee — say the man is a lot more interesting than the caricature being drawn by either side.
As the United States moves to modernize its aging power grid, it is being pulled in two different, and sometimes opposed, directions, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said yesterday. On the one hand, many consumers are pushing for a greater degree of autonomy from traditional power systems, opting for a more decentralized system of small operators producing and distributing energy on a local scale, said Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, speaking during a briefing co-hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.
U.S. EPA may be poised to introduce a proposal for new power plant carbon dioxide emissions that is legally sturdier than the one it issued last year but that still relies on a costly emissions-reduction technology that coal-fired utilities say is not commercially viable.
California’s Legislature yesterday approved a sweeping rewrite of electricity rates, passing a package of legislation that would allow prices to rise while expanding a program that gives bill credits for renewable energy. The state also would throw out a barrier to hiking its ambitious green power mandate as part of A.B. 327 from Assemblyman Henry Perea (D). The California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, had been barred from increasing the existing requirement of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. Under the bill, the agency would be free to raise the level.
Following up on President Obama’s pledge in June to address climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency plans this week to propose the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants.
But even before the proposal becomes public, experts on both sides of the issue say it faces a lobbying donnybrook and an all-but-certain court challenge. For a vast and politically powerful swath of the utility industry — operators of coal-fired plants, and the coal fields that supply them — there are fears that the rules would effectively doom construction of new coal plants far into the future.
The highly controversial and increasingly political confirmation of President Obama’s pick to lead the otherwise sleepy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will take center stage this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The panel tomorrow will weigh the fate of Ron Binz, a Democrat and former chairman of Colorado’s utility board, a nominee who has sparked a fierce campaign battle among clean energy groups, foundations, libertarian think tanks and conservative organizations in Washington, D.C., and beyond.
Tesla is hitting the autobahn just as the German Goliaths start selling their own electrics from dealer networks with hundreds of stores. Musk will also need to win over buyers who traditionally have been loyal to homegrown brands. “The European home turf belongs to the likes of Daimler, BMW and Audi,” said Bryan Batista, Tesla’s European sales director. “We’re confident that we have a product that stacks up very well.”
Through funding clean technologies, cementing incentives for renewables and helping the United States adapt to a new normal, the Department of Energy will be a major player in meeting President Obama’s climate goals.
The administration’s Climate Action Plan, presented earlier this year, uses executive authority to bypass a divided Legislature to mitigate the country’s impacts on the global climate.
The emails that the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Independence Institute in Colorado obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from FERC showed that Binz, former chairman of Colorado’s Pubic Utilities Commission, received guidance from Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm VennSquared Communications regarding edits to the biography he was submitting to members of Congress. The emails were first reported last night in The Washington Times.
Rhode Island-based renewable energy company Deepwater Wind won the first federal auction for offshore wind development, paying $3.8 million for 164,000 acres of ocean on the Atlantic seaboard between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The lease for the Deepwater Wind Energy Center has not been officially signed but will be completed in the next few weeks, said Jeff Grybowski ’93, CEO of Deepwater Wind.