The short-term price of natural gas in the Northeast eased on Wednesday after surging during the cold snap this week, but many consumers face the prospect of higher bills as utilities seek to pass along the added costs. Already, several utilities, including Connecticut Light and Power as well as National Grid and NStar, which serve Massachusetts, have recently announced increases in their retail electricity rate as they struggle to meet peak periods of demand. On Tuesday, for example, spot prices for a few large energy customers in the region spiked nearly 10 times higher than national prices as demand for electricity and heat soared and overwhelmed pipelines taking gas supplies to the region from the south and west.
A national bird conservation group plans to take legal action against the Ohio Air National Guard to stop the construction of a wind turbine along the shores of Lake Erie in one of the largest bird migration corridors in North America. The American Bird Conservancy, along with Oak Harbor, Ohio-based Black Swamp Bird Observatory, today sent a notice of intent to sue the Ohio Air National Guard, which is proposing to place the wind turbine at its Camp Perry facility near Port Clinton in northern Ohio.
Wireless vehicle charging, which uses an electromagnetic field to transfer energy, made great strides toward commercialization in 2013, according to Navigant Research. In June, Bosch began offering the Plugless Power unit developed by Evatran for $3,000. The system is designed to serve popular EV models the Nissan Leaf and the Chevrolet Volt. “In 2014, wireless charging will enter a critical phase as the first large-scale pilot projects and retail sales of chargers from Evatran/Bosch occur,” said John Gartner, research director at Navigant.
Researchers at Harvard say they have developed a new battery technology that can store energy at lower cost, a development that Energy Department officials say could pave the way for a new generation of batteries. The findings, which were published on Wednesday in the journal Nature, come as utilities are under pressure to overcome one of the major shortcomings of renewable energy: how to make the electricity available even when the sun is not shining or the wind is not blowing. California recently became the first state to order utilities to install storage.
KCP&L said it plans to buy 400 megawatts of power from two new wind turbine facilities, increasing its wind energy portfolio to 939 megawatts. The company said that will make it the largest provider of renewable energy generation of any investor-owned utility in Missouri or Kansas. The two new wind facilities — expected to produce power by early 2016 — will be built in Coffey County, Kan., and in Holt County, Mo.
Despite the widespread view that tax reform will not happen this year — necessitating another stopgap bill to extend dozens of temporary incentives — House Ways and Means Committee members are maintaining a singular focus on an imminent proposal for a full overhaul of the tax code. Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-Ohio), the chairman of the subcommittee with jurisdiction over the temporary tax breaks, said Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) has not diverted his focus from overall tax reform and was not ready to consider a “tax extenders” bill
A state administrative law judge has given Minnesota’s nascent solar industry a huge competitive boost by finding that a 100-megawatt solar power project by renewable energy developer Geronimo Energy is a more economical and environmentally sound way to meet future electricity demand than the construction of natural gas-fired power plants.
The renewable energy production tax credit is gone for now and, even if it is reinstated this year, there are growing calls to replace the current system of year-to-year extensions with a more definitive path meant to phase out the credit altogether. To that end, the Congressional Research Service last month produced a report weighing the pros and cons of various phaseout proposals that have been floating around Capitol Hill and in energy policy circles over the last few years.
For the fourth year in a row, Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration is pushing to roll back or significantly change portions of Maine law aimed at boosting in-state renewable energy production. LePage says he wants to level the state’s energy-production playing field and open the door to cheap, renewable hydropower from Quebec and maritime Canada, an idea to which Canada seems lukewarm.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) said Congress should not renew the wind energy tax credit. Instead he said the money would be better spent reducing the federal debt. “The massive taxpayer subsidy to windmill developers expired Jan. 1,” Alexander said. “A good way to celebrate the New Year would be to not renew it and to reduce the federal debt by $60 billion, an amount about equal to the spending in the recent budget agreement.”