Rhode Island’s legislature passed a bill that raises the renewable energy mandate from 14.5% by 2019 to 40% by 2035, joining a growing number of US states that have done so to diversify their energy mix and reduce CO2 emissions. Governor Gina Raimondo, a strong supporter of wind energy development, is expected to sign the bill, 2016-S 2185A/House 7413B into law.
Lawmakers and aides from both sides of the aisle said this week’s turn of events underscore how partisan Capitol Hill has become this election season. They say partisan tensions from the protest will leave an already polarized Congress even more hard-pressed to pass any significant legislation, including an energy overhaul and the annual spending bills, before this November’s general elections.
Storing electricity adds value to intermittent renewable energy, and a new study could help investors figure out where to place their bets on storage technology development. Lulls in wind and sunshine present a challenging problem for utilities that need to deliver stable power. Storing electrons for later — whether using batteries, flywheels or pumped hydropower — would help shave peaks and fill valleys in power production. However, much of the technology on the market isn’t ready for prime time, often too expensive or falling short in some critical performance metric.
Tesla Motors’ stock is taking a hit today as financial analysts question the wisdom of the automotive company joining forces with SolarCity. Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced plans yesterday to acquire the solar installer as part of a broad effort to integrate the company’s existing residential battery business with solar power (ClimateWire, June 22). The stock had fallen more than 7 percent by publishing time. Meanwhile, multiple investors slammed the deal, with one saying it stretches the “bounds of industrial logic.”
PG&E Corp.’s plan to shut California’s last nuclear power plant by 2025 would cost $15 billion if all its output is replaced with solar-generated electricity at current prices, according to Bloomberg Intelligence analysts. Actual costs could be lower because the company expects to account for reduced demand and replace only part of the plant’s production, energy policy analyst Rob Barnett said Wednesday in an interview. PG&E plans to use a mix of renewables, storage and energy conservation in place of the Diablo Canyon nuclear complex, the utility’s chief executive officer, Tony Earley, said Tuesday.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock, a Democrat facing re-election challenges, released an energy blueprint yesterday that he said is aimed at protecting coal jobs while embracing renewable power and energy efficiency. The state holds more coal reserves than any other — making the future of the energy sector a big election-year issue (ClimateWire, March 10). Montana is also grappling with what to do with its large Colstrip coal plant, which is facing environmental regulations and financial pressures as some co-owners eye exit strategies.
Just last year, Virginia was poised to become the first U.S. state to tap the Atlantic coast’s offshore winds. That’s when Dominion Resources Inc., the commonwealth’s largest electric utility, doubled down on its promise to build a 12-megawatt wind power facility 25 miles off Virginia Beach, with notions of eventually siting hundreds of turbine towers across a swath of open ocean. But if Virginia was first out of the gate in its pursuit of offshore wind power, it has fallen far behind today as it watches a handful of other Atlantic states put “steel in the water” much more quickly than Dominion.
Sen. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) struck a more positive tone on negotiations to go to conference with the House on energy after meeting with top House and Senate lawmakers this morning, but stopped short of saying she’s ready to vote to launch formal talks. The ranking member on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee described “good conversations” with Energy Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska); House Energy and Commerce chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and ranking member Frank Pallone (D-N.J.); and House Natural Resources Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and ranking member Raúl Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
The Danish Parliament is considering delaying the construction of new wind farms as it prepares to end an electricity tax for renewable energy. The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board called it a sign that “economic and political reality is catching up with Europe’s green ambitions.” The European Commission ruled that Denmark’s green levy on electricity bills violated E.U. rules in 2014. The levy contributes to energy bills that are the highest in Europe. Parliament is considering ending the levy altogether rather than fixing it.
A bipartisan House coalition urged Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today to finalize a proposed rule that would establish competitive leasing for renewable energy projects on federal lands across the West. Fourteen House members led by California Reps. Paul Cook (R) and Alan Lowenthal (D) wrote in a three-page letter to Jewell that completion of the rule unveiled in 2014 is critical to continue the unprecedented effort by the Obama administration to develop commercial-scale solar, wind and geothermal projects on federal lands.