The U.S. solar industry is on course for a new growth record in 2015, according to a new report that finds that solar photovoltaic installations now exceed 20 gigawatts in capacity and could surpass an unprecedented 7 gigawatts this year alone across all segments. A gigawatt is equivalent to 1 billion watts and can power some 164,000 homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA).
If you want to see how U.S. utilities could lose control of the electricity industry, keep an eye on Brooklyn’s Red Hook neighborhood, which spent a week in the dark after Hurricane Sandy hit New York in 2012. Red Hook is planning to use a mix of solar panels, battery storage and small wind turbines to create a “microgrid” that can power local apartment buildings, businesses and a community center, as well as ensure the neighborhood can successfully endure another big storm.
In a major setback for environmental advocates in California, Gov. Jerry Brown and Senate Democrats abandoned a 50 percent cut in petroleum use by 2030 that was a centerpiece of emissions legislation, blaming an intense campaign against the mandate by the oil industry. The measure, the latest and most ambitious part of a series of legislation and regulations by the state to significantly curb greenhouse gas emissions over the next 35 years, passed the Democratic-controlled Senate but faced almost certain defeat in the Assembly, where Democrats are also in control but tend to be more moderate and represent economically struggling parts of the state. Opponents had warned that the 50 percent mandate would result in higher fuel and electricity costs; the oil industry, in its advertisements, asserted that it could lead to fuel rationing and bans on sport utility vehicles.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock praised the state’s potential for wind energy development at a conference in Bozeman on Wednesday, saying he hopes the industry can keep growing and help the state meet standards set by the federal Clean Power Plan, to which he gave a lukewarm welcome last month. “These are really incredible opportunities for our state,” Bullock said. “As long as we view them as opportunities, not just obstacles to hold us back.”
A federal appeals court yesterday denied an initial effort by more than a dozen states and industry to block the Obama administration’s landmark greenhouse gas standards for power plants. West Virginia and 15 other states last month sought an emergency stay to halt the Clean Power Plan while litigation challenging the regulations plays out. But in a short order, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said the challengers “have not satisfied the stringent standards that apply” for “extraordinary writs that seek to stay agency action.”
“America has been lulled into complacency during downturns in energy prices before, believing cheap energy would last forever, only to be hit harder each successive time when energy prices inevitably increased,” the report states. “Smart energy policy can help us avoid falling into this trap as we have before by ensuring that America maintains a diverse portfolio of energy options.”
General Electric on Tuesday overcame the last big hurdle to the largest acquisition in its history, a $13.5 billion deal for the power business of Alstom of France, as European officials agreed that the American company had adequately addressed their antitrust concerns. For General Electric and its chairman and chief, Jeffrey R. Immelt, the proposed deal is part of the company’s renewed emphasis on industrial businesses after a risky diversification into finance by his predecessor, Jack Welch.
One of the coal industry’s top lobby groups is warning candidates — particularly Democrat Hillary Clinton — against supporting President Obama’s climate agenda. The American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity today released a memo and video calling U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan a “carbon copy” of failed greenhouse gas cap-and-trade legislation. The industry group warns that politicians who support EPA’s rule may suffer the same consequences as those who voted for cap and trade.
Protesters angry about the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of infrastructure related to hydraulic fracturing are kicking off a monthlong fast in front of the agency’s Washington, D.C., headquarters today. Members of Beyond Extreme Energy (BXE), a group known for disrupting FERC’s monthly meetings and picketing the agency in clown costumes, are aiming to occupy the sidewalk in front of FERC’s building through Sept. 25 to demand a stop to the approval of all gas-related infrastructure.
Consumers in the United States bought automobiles in the four months from May through August at the fastest clip in more than a decade, propelled by strong appetite for trucks, sport utility vehicles and crossover models and by low gas prices. Light-vehicle sales for August surpassed 17 million units for the fourth month in a row, measured at an annualized, seasonally adjusted rate, according to automotive data company WardsAuto. The last time that happened was 2000, the firm said.