The House passed legislation last night that would create new basic research programs at the Department of Energy for electricity storage and solar fuels. Both bills prohibit funds from being used for commercial application of energy technology, spurring disagreement on the House floor about their focus on “basic” research. They passed by voice vote under suspension of the rules of the House, which dictate that no amendments can be made to the legislation and two-thirds of voting members are required for passage.
Bipartisan momentum is building in the Senate for going to conference with the House to reconcile competing versions of energy overhaul legislation. The House appointed conferees weeks ago. Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said his chamber would likely vote to join the House in talks sometime this week. “Going to conference on this measure would put us one step closer to arriving at a final bill and sending it to the president’s desk,” said McConnell in floor remarks.
Congressional leaders are set to work this week to revive a flailing appropriations process and set the stage for the first major energy reform law in a decade. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) will be working to convince colleagues to join the House in a conference committee to merge competing versions of an energy bill.
In a pair of subcommittee hearings this week, House Natural Resources Committee members will consider legislation to promote renewable energy development on public lands and scrutinize existing projects that have been built there. The Energy and Mineral Resources Subcommittee is set to host the first hearing on Wednesday afternoon. With representatives from the conservation community, renewables industry and country governments, they will evaluate the “Public Land Renewable Energy Development Act,” or H.R. 2663.
Democrats on Saturday struck a compromise over energy policy in the party’s 2016 platform that calls for incentives that favor renewable energy development over natural gas power plants but does not include an outright ban on hydraulic fracturing promoted by supporters of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. A “unity” amendment backed by supporters of both presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton and Sanders — who is expected to abandon his bid for the nomination and endorse Clinton as early as tomorrow — also failed to include a formal carbon tax, although it states that “greenhouse gases should be priced to reflect their negative externalities, and to accelerate the transition to a clean energy economy.”
More than a third of Canada’s electricity demand could be met with wind turbines without compromising the country’s grid reliability or driving up power bills, new findings from a much-anticipated wind power integration study show. The study, led by GE Energy Consulting, is the first to make a detailed systemwide examination of the opportunities, costs and benefits of adding significant amounts of wind energy capacity to Canada’s grid, officials said.
A report by a Berlin research institute said that on Sunday, May 15, Germany had generated just short of 100 percent of its electricity from renewable energy. It appeared to be an environmentalist’s dream come true. A surge of wind and solar power helped handle nearly all of the day’s power demands, and the grid hadn’t flickered. “Germany achieves milestone,” said one headline. But like many aspects of adapting electricity grids to cleaner energy sources, the milestones are still to come. First, the institute’s report was wrong. Later calculations showed the portion of electricity supply from renewable energy was around 82 percent, not a record.
Wisconsin regulators have relaxed noise restrictions on a major wind farm in St. Croix County. The Public Service Commission approved the Highland wind farm in 2013, but a St. Croix County judge ruled the commission improperly imposed noise restrictions on the farm’s turbines. The restrictions required the turbines to remain within maximum decibel levels 95 percent of the time, or just under 23 hours per day.
For the Colorado Public Utilities Commission, June was a month of changes for the future of renewable electricity and solar gardens in this state. Here is why: At June’s end, PV-Tech reported the Colorado PUC reversed an earlier decision it had rendered by approving the deployment of community solar gardens. The regulatory agency granted reconsideration of a proposal by the state’s largest utility, Xcel Energy, and three solar companies, for community solar gardens which had earlier been rejected. Community solar gardens provide scope for virtual net-metering to those wanting to go solar but who are unable to have panels on their own property, and were part of Xcel’s wider Renewable Energy Standard (RES) compliance plan.
Apple recently made headlines when it established a subsidiary called Apple Energy and filed for authorization to sell capacity, energy and ancillary services in wholesale energy markets nationwide. It will be some time before we see Apple participate in many of these markets, since Apple’s application currently covers only its renewable energy projects in California and Nevada, as well as one under construction in Arizona. But the fact that a consumer technology company has formed an energy subsidiary reflects the extent to which large corporations are taking an active approach to energy management.