Technology giants Apple Inc. and Google Inc., marked this year’s Earth Day by applying new polish to their clean energy credentials and, in the case of Apple, sending a clear signal to its customers and the public that the company is working hard to become one of the world’s most eco-friendly brands. In what may be her highest-profile acts since joining Apple as vice president of environmental initiatives almost a year ago, former EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson gave a series of media interviews this week and posted a five-paragraph letter on Apple’s revamped environmental website detailing the company’s continued path toward environmental sustainability. Yet, she acknowledged more work needs to be done.
More Americans support U.S. EPA regulation of coal-fired power plant carbon than oppose it, according to survey results released today by the Yale Project on Climate Change Communication and George Mason University. Out of 1,013 adults surveyed, 64 percent favored “strict” power plant rules, even when they were told “the cost of electricity to consumers and companies will likely increase.” Support for the rules among Democratic and Democratic-leaning respondents was stronger (80 percent) than opposition among Republicans (56 percent), and independents were evenly split at 50 percent.
A conflict between state laws continues to stifle renewable energy development in Illinois, a state with one of the most ambitious green power mandates that’s already among the nation’s largest wind energy producers. Illinois passed a measure in 2007 requiring investor-owned utilities Commonwealth Edison and Ameren Illinois to gradually step up use of renewable energy to 25 percent in 2025. Wind development flourished in the state in subsequent years, driven partly by the law. Today, Illinois ranks fourth nationally, with more than 3,500 megawatts of wind generation capacity from 46 different wind farms dotting the northern half of the state, according to data from the American Wind Energy Association.
‘‘Out there, in much of the country, the talk is about the energy revolution, the abundance of energy that we have, the way that we are in fact drawing upon new resources . . . promoting renewables, at the same time reducing carbon emissions,’’ he said. “But yet if we come here, it’s not a discussion of abundance. It’s a discussion of, in particular, infrastructure constraints,’’ he said.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said tech companies Microsoft and Google, with large data center investments in Iowa, rank among the top five organizations nationally for using electricity from renewable energy. EPA released its top 100 green power users today, with Intel Corp. leading the list, followed by Kohl’s Department Stores, Microsoft Corp., Whole Foods Market and Google. It comes a day after Google announced it was buying 407 megawatts of wind-sourced energy from MidAmerican Energy. The agreement provides enough power to operate its Council Bluffs operations and for future expansions, the Mountain View, Calif.-based company said.
ENERGY storage is crucial to transforming the electric grid into a clean, sustainable, low-emissions system, the experts say. And it’s happening already, just not the way most consumers would expect. The simplest idea for storage — charging up batteries at night when there is a lot of wind energy and not much demand for it, or at midday when the sun is bright — is years from being feasible, according to the experts.
Colorado wind power continued to soar in 2013, but may flag this year according to facts and figures in American Wind EnergyAssociation’s annual market report. AWEA, the industry’s main trade group, pronounced 2013 a good year with 61,110 megawatts operating in the U.S. across 46,100 wind turbines in 39 states and Puerto Rico. The 905 utility-scale wind projects operating can power the equivalent of 15.5 million American homes.
Wyoming is among the greenest states in the nation, at least in terms of renewable power production. Wind energy accounted for 8 percent of the Cowboy State’s electricity generation in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency, making it the second-biggest source of power production in the state. Coal was far and away the largest power producer in Wyoming, responsible for generating 89 percent of the state’s electrical production. No other sector accounted for more than 1 percent of Wyoming’s power.
Iowa’s wind energy will fully power the first phase of Google’s Council Bluffs data center, adding another Iowa data center that is receiving power from renewable energy.
Under an agreement with Google, MidAmerican Energy will provide up to 407 megawatts of wind-sourced energy to the Mountain View, Calif.-based technology company’s Council Bluffs data center. The two companies said Tuesday that the energy provided will fully power the first phase of that data center.
The behemoths of the electric power sector are pushing federal regulators hard to enact reforms in East and Midwest markets that they say would strengthen the reliability of electricity supply and shore up their bottom lines. A central focus of the reform efforts is the capacity market in the PJM Interconnection, which oversees the wholesale electricity business in 13 states and the District of Columbia.