Midwest legislators find second careers as utility regulators

Source: Jeffrey Tomich, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

In four Midwestern states — Wisconsin, Iowa, Missouri and Kansas — former state legislators represent a majority on commissions. In three other states, commissions include at least one former state senator or representative. In all, of 10 Midwestern states where utility commissioners are appointed, about 40 percent of commissioners (15 of 37) previously served as state representatives or senators.

China’s Electric Vehicle Industry Shaken by Scandal

Source: By Joe McDonald, Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

China’s booming electric vehicle industry, a flagship for Beijing’s technology ambitions, has been rocked by scandal after five companies were caught collecting millions of dollars in subsidies for buses they never made. The affair of the phantom buses has prompted questions about whether it might disrupt the ruling Communist Party’s financial support to an industry it is spending heavily to promote.

Advocates press Georgia Power to fulfill solar plan

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Solar advocates are demanding that Georgia Power fulfill its promise to add 100 megawatts of distributed solar projects to the grid by the end of the year. The Georgia Solar Energy Industries Association last week filed documents asking state utility regulators to enforce Georgia Power’s 2013 integrated resource plan, which called for 525 MW of utility-scale and distributed solar projects to be added to the grid by the end of 2016. The Georgia Public Service Commission has approved 65 MW of the 100 MW of distributed projects, and it’s unclear whether the balance will be reviewed by the end of the year, GSEIA attorneys said.

Scientists predict massive drop in wind energy costs

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The costs of producing electricity from wind could plunge as much as 40 percent by midcentury, according to a new study from federal and university scientists. Researchers considered land-based wind, as well as offshore wind and floating wind farms, and surveyed 163 global wind experts. They concluded that costs would fall roughly 24 to 30 percent by 2030 in comparison to 2014 levels under a “best guess” scenario and between 35 to 41 percent by midcentury.

Cash-strapped Alaska looks to Senate energy bill for help

Source: Geof Koss, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

While Alaska has its share of big wind farms, smaller turbines used for microgeneration at homes and businesses are a more common sight, especially in isolated rural areas that have never been connected to a centralized electric grid. Rural residents in recent years have been turning to the broad array of renewable resources found in Alaska to replace the expensive — and polluting — power from diesel generators, which have historically powered rural Alaska. Both the state and local governments have been all in to encourage the spread of renewables, which reflects the fact that Alaska’s energy costs are among the highest in the nation. In some remote villages, residents spend as much as half their income on energy and heating bills.

N.D. adapts to climate change, without saying it’s real

Source: Erika Bolstad, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Something is happening, though, and it’s measurable: The growing season is almost two weeks longer in much of the state, and average temperatures in North Dakota are 2 degrees Fahrenheit warmer than they were at the start of the 20th century. It’s still bitterly cold in the winter, but the number of extremely cold days has been below average since 1980, and winter average temperatures are about 5 degrees warmer than they were 100 years ago. Those rising wintertime lows have changed the freezing and thawing patterns that contribute to spring flooding.

CPP Rule meets Clean Air Act requirements — legal experts

Source: Amanda Reilly, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The Clean Power Plan falls squarely within the bounds of the Clean Air Act, a trio of law professors at New York University argue in a new policy brief. In the paper released yesterday, the experts from NYU’s Institute for Policy Integrity contend that U.S. EPA’s foes are incorrect that the agency “dramatically overstepped its authority” in issuing the rule to reduce the power sector’s carbon footprint.

China ‘laser-focused’ on legal challenge — former EPA chief

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

The legal challenge to U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan is “very definitely” causing concern among the international community that America may fall short of commitments it made during the Paris climate talks last year, a former Republican EPA administrator said today. William Reilly, who led the agency under President George H.W. Bush and who now advises an international investment partnership, today told a crowd at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., that China in particular is “laser-focused” on the court battle.

Voters in states suing EPA support Clean Power Plan rule — poll

Source: Hannah Hess, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 14th, 2016

Two weeks ahead of oral arguments on legal challenges to the Clean Power Plan, backers of U.S. EPA’s rule are touting support from voters in states suing to halt its implementation. A survey found that 67 percent of registered voters in the 24 states challenging the rule said they favored the program for cutting carbon emissions, pollsters said during an event at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., this morning.

New electric bus has longer range than a Tesla

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Electric bus company Proterra Inc. unveiled its latest Catalyst E2 series at the American Public Transportation Association’s annual meeting in Los Angeles today. The electric bus has a storage capacity of 440 to 660 kilowatt-hours and a range of roughly 350 miles between charges. The Catalyst E2, which can accommodate 77 passengers, has a longer range than either the Tesla Model S or a Tesla Model 3, which can travel 315 and 215 miles between charges, respectively.