This sleepy coastal town of 10,000 people along California’s Central Coast is known for its fishing fleet, nearby Hearst Castle and Morro Rock, a craggy 581-foot-tall monolith that dominates the views to the ocean. But a few years from now, Morro Bay may be known for something else: a huge offshore wind farm. In a venture that could pit the state’s commitment to green energy against its famed coastal environmental movement, a Seattle company is proposing to build the first ocean wind farm off California’s coast.
In Texas, wind farms are generating so much energy that some utilities are giving power away. Briana Lamb, an elementary school teacher, waits until her watch strikes 9 p.m. to run her washing machine and dishwasher. It costs her nothing until 6 a.m. Kayleen Willard, a cosmetologist, unplugs appliances when she goes to work in the morning. By 9 p.m., she has them plugged back in. It is possible because Texas has more wind power than any other state, accounting for roughly 10 percent of the state’s generation. Alone among the 48 contiguous states, Texas runs its own electricity grid that barely connects to the rest of the country, so the abundance of nightly wind power generated here must be consumed here.
As world leaders prepare to gather in Paris next month to address global warming, their populations generally agree on the need to curb greenhouse gas emissions, but the countries that emit the most carbon dioxide per person are also the ones least worried about climate change, according to a poll released Thursday by the Pew Research Center.
Drive across Iowa, passing wind turbines by the hundreds, and it doesn’t take long to see the Hawkeye State is blowing Nebraska away when it comes to wind power. “Are the people in Iowa that much brighter than we are?’’ asked State Sen. Rick Kolowski of Omaha. “It’s baffling to me.’’
Last month, America’s business leaders and investors met in Washington to discuss the American Business Act on Climate Change. Now more than ever, we need an electric grid that is up to the task of delivering low-cost wind and solar energy from the resource areas to locations with a demand for clean power. After years of review, the federal government is on the verge of making decisions on the first major interstate transmission lines in the past three decades – the TransWest Express Transmission Project and the Plains & Eastern Clean Line.
A group of 13 retired admirals and generals are calling for “immediate action” to modernize the electric grid in a report on energy security risks. The report from the nonprofit CNA Military Advisory Board finds that the grid is increasingly at risk from a “wide variety of threats” and advocates for the federal government to develop a formal national strategy for strengthening the grid.
The opening of an investigation of Exxon Mobil by the New York attorney general’s office into the company’s record on climate change may well spur legal inquiries into other oil companies, according to legal and climate experts, although successful prosecutions are far from assured. Many oil companies have funded lobbying efforts and research on climate change, so prosecutors would most likely be able to search through vast amounts of material. The industry has also resisted pressure for years from environmental groups to warn investors of the risks that stricter limits on carbon emissions could have on their businesses, although that appears to be changing.
The New York attorney general has begun an investigation of Exxon Mobil to determine whether the company lied to the public about the risks of climate changeor to investors about how such risks might hurt the oil business. According to people with knowledge of the investigation, Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman issued a subpoena Wednesday evening to Exxon Mobil, demanding extensive financial records, emails and other documents. The investigation focuses on whether statements the company made to investors about climate risks as recently as this year were consistent with the company’s own long-running scientific research.
Carbon dioxide emissions from U.S. electricity production are the lowest in 20 years, according to an analysis released today by the Sierra Club. The Sierra Club credited falling CO2 levels to large reductions in coal use driven by the retirement or the proposed retirement of nearly one-third of the nation’s fleet of coal-fired power plants since 2010.
A federal judge in Nevada has thrown out the Obama administration’s approval of what was projected to be the Silver State’s largest wind power project, ruling that the Interior Department did not properly evaluate potential impacts to golden eagles and Mojave Desert tortoises.