Renewable Energy Rise Drives Changes in European Wholesale Power

Source: By BY VERA ECKERT AND NERIJUS ADOMAITIS, Reuters • Posted: Sunday, March 6th, 2016

Short-term deals are growing in Europe’s wholesale power market as a surge in renewables requires traders to ensure that volatile wind and solar energy meets demand at all times. The European Union is pushing towards clean energy sources, whose output follows weather patterns and is hence unpredictable. This means more sales and purchases of power occur nearer the time of consumption, because electricity cannot yet be stored in large volumes and grids must keep a stable voltage to uphold supply security.

Texas: Wind energy boom spurs $77.4M expansion

Source: By KEVIN WELCH, Amarillo Globe News • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

The towering white turbines are hard to miss in many areas as wind farms continue to sprout, but the production of wind energy in the region is already about to overwhelm some of the lines that take it to the more populated areas of Texas. Those lines cost more than $1 billion when completed about three years ago. Sharyland Utilities, one of the utility companies that completed transmission lines from the Texas Panhandle to the grid serving the rest of the state, is asking to double its capacity on 166 miles of its route.

As Utah coal slumps, solar energy booms

Source: By John Hollenhorst, Deseret News • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

The sun is becoming big business in Utah. Whether it’s in the sun-drenched deserts of Dixie or the sometimes smoggy valleys of northern Utah, more and more homeowners are taking the plunge and betting that solar energy will pay off for them in the future. The boom has pushed employment in Utah’s solar industry to a point well beyond the job numbers in a more traditional energy sector, Utah’s coal industry.

Ore. passes bill to boost renewables, exit from coal

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

Oregon lawmakers Wednesday approved a bill to raise the state’s share of renewable energy to 50 percent and quit its reliance on coal-fired power. S.B. 1547, sponsored by state Sen. Lee Beyer (D), passed the state Senate 17-12 on a party line vote. It now heads to Gov. Kate Brown (D), who is expected to sign it. It passed the state House 38-20 on Tuesday. Originally put forth by the state’s two largest utilities and a cadre of environmental groups, the bill would instruct the utilities — Pacific Power and Portland General Electric — to exit their out-of-state coal contracts by 2030. It would also raise the state’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2040 from the current target of 25 percent by 2025.

Solar energy is poised for an unforgettable year

Source: By Chris Mooney, Washington Post • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

New statistics just released by the U.S. Energy Information Administration suggest that in the coming year, the booming solar sector will add more new electricity-generating capacity than any other — including natural gas and wind.

Roberts’ refusal to halt rule means no ‘open season’ on EPA

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts signaled today that the Supreme Court won’t intervene to block every major environmental rule that comes before it. Roberts took swift action to rebuff a request from 20 states to put a major U.S. EPA mercury rule on hold. The states’ request, led by Michigan, was widely seen as an attempt to test the court’s willingness to freeze controversial EPA regulations after the justices recently agreed to halt the agency’s Clean Power Plan.

Chief Justice Rejects Effort to Block E.P.A. Limit on Power Plants

Source: By ADAM LIPTAK and CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times • Posted: Friday, March 4th, 2016

“This is a pretty strong way of sending a signal that the fact that the court granted a stay of the Clean Power Plan was highly extraordinary, and they don’t want to be inundated with these,” said Jeffrey Holmstead, a lawyer with the firm Bracewell and a deputy administrator of the E.P.A. in the George W. Bush administration. “I think this is Justice Roberts’s effort to say that the Clean Power Plan is an extraordinary situation.”

Comments on Wash. draft rule reveal variety of concerns

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

Public comments about a Washington state proposal to control greenhouse gases may give a clue to the changes that state officials will make to the regulations that it withdrew last week. Gov. Jay Inslee’s (D) Department of Ecology received a wide variety of feedback from private companies, utilities and environmental groups between proposing its Clean Air Rule on Jan. 5 and withdrawing it Friday. Agency staff suggested that the comments influenced their decision to replace the draft rule with a new one in the spring.

New BLM mitigation aims to promote development in energy zones

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The Obama administration has taken a major step toward developing commercial-scale solar projects in specially designated zones in Arizona, Colorado and Nevada. The Bureau of Land Management today announced that it has completed regional mitigation strategies for four formally designated solar energy zones (SEZs) covering 25,000 acres for the Dry Lake Valley North SEZ in southeast Nevada and 8,500 acres for three other SEZs in Arizona. In addition, BLM unveiled a draft regional mitigation strategy for three SEZs covering about 33,200 acres of federal lands in the solar-resource-rich San Luis Valley in southern Colorado.

Years of work remain on tardy toxics reviews — EPA official

Source: Sean Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 3rd, 2016

The standoff is among the latest in a long-running series of court clashes over EPA’s handling of the air toxics review mandates set by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments. The law sets out 189 pollutants to be regulated; after establishing emissions standards for major sources based on what is known as “maximum achievable control technology,” the agency is then supposed to follow up with another review within eight years to determine both whether the technology has improved and whether any “residual risk” remains to public health, according to court filings.