Interior finalizes massive Calif. desert management plan

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

The Obama administration has finalized a plan designed to guide commercial-scale wind, solar and geothermal power development across millions of acres of Southern California desert. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today announced that her department has issued a record of decision (ROD) approving the proposal and three land-use plan amendments covering 10.8 million federal acres as part of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).

The government just decided the future of California’s desert, and solar companies aren’t happy

Source: By Chris Mooney, Washington Post • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

But the solar and wind industries, which had strongly criticized a prior version of the plan for cutting off development opportunities, expressed strong disappointment Wednesday. In a statement, Shannon Eddy, the executive director of the Large-Scale Solar Association, charged the plan “is a Model T in a Tesla world. Rather than fostering sustainable clean energy development as a part of a conservation plan, it severely restricts wind and solar.”

Plan Divvies Up Desert for Conservation, Energy Projects

Source: BY ALICIA CHANG, The Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, September 15th, 2016

Swaths of public land in the California desert will be opened to solar and wind farms under a federal plan released Wednesday that preserves much of the landscape for conservation and recreation. The long-awaited blueprint finalized by the U.S. Interior Department after a yearslong process seeks to balance renewable energy development and species protection on 17,000 square miles (44,030 sq. kilometers) of desert managed by the federal government.

Mich. net-metering programs: small, growing and uncertain

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

Utility net-metering programs in Michigan surpassed 2,000 customers for the first time since the programs were created by legislation in 2008. But the programs, among the many energy policies being debated in the Legislature, still represent just a tiny fraction of peak demand.

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.