ON A breezy day in October last year the governor of Kansas, Sam Brownback, took a tour of his state’s flourishing oil- and gas-exploration industry. But as the bus travelled across the open plains it was difficult not to notice a new phenomenon in Kansan energy: wind turbines. Lots of them. Last year the state doubled its wind-power capacity; this now provides 11% of its electricity. But a weatherbeaten oil man, looking up at one inactive turbine, remarked that the thing did little more than suck up government subsidies.
How can the federal government effectively engage states and local players on energy productivity? During today’s OnPoint, Thomas King, U.S. executive director at National Grid, discusses recommendations for productivity and security outlined in a report by the Alliance Commission on National Energy Efficiency Policy. King also weighs in on the future of the Senate’s Shaheen-Portman efficiency bill.
Electric utilities in Oregon, California and Texas led the nation last year in green power sales using voluntary programs in which customers pay a premium to receive electricity produced using clean sources, according to Energy Department figures released yesterday. The No. 1 utility for total green power sales was Portland General Electric, with 834,125 megawatt-hours, according to data compiled by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory. PGE was followed in total green power sales by Austin Energy of Texas, at 744,443 MWh, and two California utilities — PacifiCorp (604,007 MWh) and the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (416,477 MWh).
The top Republican on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee today said the federal government is making a fiscally foolish bet in offshore wind, an energy source he said would not stand on its own without government subsidies. Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today said he received a response to his letter last November to the Interior Department seeking an economic rationale for its issuance of a noncompetitive lease to offshore wind developer NRG Bluewater Wind Delaware LLC off the coast of Delaware.
Tech giant Google Inc. has made two renewable energy deals in one week, one with a 24-turbine wind farm in Sweden and another with a solar power project in South Africa.
State renewable standards could be tools for keeping the power on at critical facilities like hospitals during extreme weather events like Superstorm Sandy, according to a new report. Because 29 states have such standards in place, and there is a precedent for adding adjustments to them, they are an obvious potential choice to establish new mechanisms for improving the nation’s outdated infrastructure and vulnerability to blackouts, according to the study from the Clean Energy States Alliance, a pro-renewable and energy efficiency group.
Several renewable energy developers and equipment manufacturers yesterday launched a new coalition to push legislation that would extend to their sectors the ability to establish partnerships that have long been prevalent among oil and gas companies as a way to avoid corporate taxes and more easily raise money from investors. The Financing America’s Investment in Renewables (FAIR) Coalition plans to lobby Congress to allow wind, solar, efficiency and other clean energy firms to establish master limited partnerships (MLPs), pass-through entities that fossil fuel firms have used for decades.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) signed a controversial bill into law this afternoon that will double the renewable energy standard for rural electric cooperatives in the state, drawing cheers from environmental leaders. Hickenlooper’s signature was the last obstacle in front of S.B. 252, which will require electric co-ops with more than 100,000 customers to increase the minimum amount of renewable energy offered to 20 percent from the current 10 percent by 2020.
Simply put, the Renewable Portfolio Standard is working — for everyday Mainers and businesses alike. In light of our struggling economy, programs such as the RPS should be celebrated and protected. So what could possibly have motivated Gov. Paul LePage to devote an entire weekly radio address to attacking the program? And why are some elected officials pushing legislation that would dismantle it? A new report by the Maine Conservation Alliance, Maine’s Majority Education Fund and Maine People’s Alliance, issued earlier this month, sheds some light on the powerful forces fueling LePage and his allies’ efforts to weaken Maine’s RPS: Charles and David Koch, billionaire industrialists from Kansas and owners of the second largest private company in the U.S. with revenues estimated at $100 billion a year.
Heineman announced Tuesday morning that he had signed 33 bills into law, but left four measures, including the wind bill, unsigned until late afternoon. The governor said he signed the wind measure, Legislative Bill 104, only because it included an amendment to prevent a half-cent increase in local sales taxes in Omaha.