The Senate voted today to move forward with its “fast-track” trade legislation, paving the way for final passage in the upper chamber as soon as next week. The vote sets up a debate next week on a trade promotion authority (TPA) bill the Obama administration is seeking to finalize for the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) with 11 Asian countries and a separate trade pact in Europe. The TPA bill would give Congress an up-or-down vote, without any amendments, on trade deals over the next six years.
Entergy New Orleans Inc. has announced its first solar power project as part of its effort to explore how sunlight can reliably and cost-effectively jazz up the power grid in the city. The company plans to install more than 4,000 solar panels at an existing site that holds the capacity to generate 1 megawatt of electricity, with a deadline of late 2016. The company also hopes to integrate new battery technology for storing excess energy from the grid.
Google, Microsoft and Yahoo are all getting into green energy in a big way. But for companies with a lack of capital or direct access to energy sources, going green isn’t so easy. Corporate power purchase agreements from renewable energy providers have surged in popularity amid a slew of policies aimed at increasing renewable power sources in states and nationwide. But signing off on 20-year power purchase agreements for renewable energy resources is often the easiest part of the process. Often companies encounter a Gordian knot of regulations, financial and legal protocols that eat up valuable work hours.
Hundt believes the same experience could be repeated in developing clean energy to cope with global climate change. Borrowed money paid for the communications boom, Hundt explained, speaking yesterday at an energy efficiency conference in Washington, D.C. He added that world leaders should apply the same method to fund the renewable energy market.
“Everything in communications has been purchased with debt,” he said, holding up an iPhone and describing how rapidly mobile phones have spread internationally.
The bipartisan co-chairs of the Grid Innovation Caucus unveiled two bills yesterday for shoring up critical transformers, paving the way for federal recognition of “smart grid” technology.
Republican Rep. Renee Ellmers of North Carolina and Democratic Rep. Jerry McNerney of California floated H.R. 2244, which would direct the Energy secretary to shore up an emergency stockpile of mobile high-voltage grid transformers that could replace units damaged by storms or a terrorist attack.
A hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee homed in on some of the key considerations Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and her colleagues will have to balance as they try to craft the first bipartisan, comprehensive energy bill to be considered in years. The hearing was called to consider nearly two dozen proposed energy infrastructure bills proposing various approaches to compensating owners of rooftop solar panels, siting new gas pipelines and electric transmission wires, and updating decades-old laws governing utilities, among other issues.
In the United States, Tesla is set to sell a 10 kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery that is mounted on the wall for $3,500, and another lower-capacity model for $3,000. The batteries are expected to be available in Europe this year and in the Asia-Pacific region in early 2016, according to Khobi Brooklyn, director of global communications at Tesla. International pricing has not yet been announced.
Back in 2010, China became the world’s largest wind energy producer and the boom is continuing unabated, fuelled by government support and ambitious renewable energy targets. Data from the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA) revealed that wind energy surpassed nuclear for the very first time in 2012 to become the country’s third largest source of electricity, after coal and hydro-electric power.
West Virginia’s two senators took the lead today in launching their chamber’s flagship bid to kill U.S. EPA’s proposed rules for carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, pledging the bill would move quickly through committee. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) sponsored the measure, which heavily borrowed from a bill that co-sponsor and Mountain State colleague Sen. Joe Manchin (D) floated in the last Congress. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) promised at a Capitol press conference unveiling the bill today that he would prioritize it.
For the first time in three years, natural gas is about to catch up with coal as a fuel for the nation’s power plants, foreshadowing the crucial role of gas supplies in meeting U.S. EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Natural gas prices below $3 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) have created the closest convergence of the two power plant fuels since April 2012, the Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Analysis reported yesterday. And the dead heat that April was the only other time that has ever happened, noted EIA, an arm of the Department of Energy.