News

R.I. governor switches to Democratic Party

Source: Jennifer Yachnin, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

More than six years after he departed the Republican Party to become an independent, Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee made another shift today, registering as a Democrat. A spokeswoman for the governor’s office told The Providence Journal that Chafee’s decision came as “a recognition that the Democratic Party and he are aligned on policies and principles.”

In approving wind-energy incentives, lawmakers hope to make Nebraska a player

Source: paul.hammel@owh.com, Omaha World Herald • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Nebraska, an also-ran so far in the race to develop wind energy, took another step Wednesday to try to catch up with the pack. On a 38-2 vote, state lawmakers gave final approval to a bill granting sales tax breaks to wind farms. Proponents said the measure would make the state competitive for projects that are now going to Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma, where such breaks are already offered.

A Floating Wind Tower Is Launched in Maine

Source: Mathew Wald, NYT • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

One reason that offshore wind has not caught on in the United States is the steep cost of erecting a tower in the water, but researchers at the University of Maine tried another approach on Friday by launching a floating wind machine. It is the first offshore wind installation in United States waters, according to the Energy Department, which helped pay for it.

First grid-connected floating turbine is launched off Maine’s coast

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The Energy Department and University of Maine announced today the launch of the nation’s first grid-connected offshore floating wind turbine prototype off the shore of Castine, Maine. The 65-foot-high prototype is the world’s first concrete-composite floating wind turbine to be deployed. It is only one-eighth the size of a planned 6-megawatt, 423-foot rotor diameter design that will anchor a larger wind farm planned by the University of Maine-led DeepCwind Consortium.

Outgoing chairman fields calls on C-SPAN, reflects on his legacy

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

The chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said today that he’s stepping down because he has been there “a long time” and has managed to push through major reforms in grid planning and oversight of the energy markets. “I’ve been there seven years, which is a long time for a FERC commissioner,” Chairman Jon Wellinghoff said during an interview with C-SPAN’s “Washington Journal.” “I think it’s time to move on, look for other opportunities and sort of turn it over to the next group.”

Chairman — a champion of clean power — resigns

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

A former Nevada consumer advocate, Wellinghoff came to FERC to fill a vacant seat in 2006 with the backing of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.). He was reconfirmed in 2008 for a full five-year term as a commissioner, and Obama tapped him in March 2009 to become chairman — a step that didn’t require Senate confirmation. His current term expires June 30. It remains unclear whether Obama will tap a sitting Democratic FERC commissioner — Cheryl LaFleur or John Norris — to take the commission gavel or whether he will pick an outsider.

Berkshire unit buying NV Energy for $5.6 billion

Associated Press • Posted: Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Berkshire Hathaway’s MidAmerican Energy utility said Wednesday that it will buy Nevada electric and natural gas company NV Energy for $5.6 billion as it expands its footprint in the energy sector. MidAmerican has been aggressively investing in renewable energy projects in recent years, and the companies expect that MidAmerican’s experience will help NV Energy develop renewable projects in Nevada, which has vast solar, wind and geothermal resources.

BLM approves major project that critics say threatens Calif. condors

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, May 27th, 2013

The Obama administration announced today it has granted final approval of the Alta East Wind Project in Southern California that includes a first-ever authorization allowing the project proponent to injure or kill an endangered condor during the 30-year life of the project. The Bureau of Land Management’s announcement that it has approved a record of decision (ROD) and plans to issue a right of way grant authorizing the 153-megawatt project touched off a wave of concern among environmental groups, who fear that authorizing the “take” of a California condor could set a dangerous precedent.

Recurring GOP bill updated to include wind tax credit phaseout

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, May 27th, 2013

A House Republican has updated his recurring energy bill this year to include a phaseout of a key renewable energy tax credit, marking the first inclusion in formal legislation of an idea the wind industry floated last year. Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) introduces his “no more excuses” energy bill every Congress, outlining a lengthy wish list of policies for oil, natural gas, nuclear and renewable energy, including calls to allow expanded oil drilling on federal lands and waters and to extend targeted renewable electricity and alternative fuel tax credits.

Iowa student makes case for larger wind turbines

Posted: Monday, May 27th, 2013

Grant Schmitz can’t remember exactly what triggered his interest in engineering. But it might have been family vacations to Colorado as a child. Schmitz, now 24, can remember traveling there from his home in Audubon, Iowa, in the late 1990s and walking over the Royal Gorge Bridge. He was fascinated with how one of the world’s highest suspension bridges, at more than 950 feet above ground, could safely span the gorge.