President Obama on Monday named two people to his cabinet who will be charged with making good on his threat to use the powers of the executive branch to tackle climate change and energy policy if Congress does not act quickly. Mr. Obama nominated Gina McCarthy, a tough-talking native of Boston and an experienced clean air regulator, to take charge at the Environmental Protection Agency, and Ernest J. Moniz, a physicist and strong advocate of natural gas and nuclear power as cleaner alternatives to coal, to run the Department of Energy.
It looks like smooth sailing ahead for Ernest Moniz. President Obama’s pick to lead the Department of Energy has attracted some grumbling from environmentalists over his previous support for natural gas, nuclear energy and clean coal — but nothing that rises to a level that could derail his confirmation. Senate Republicans say they are withholding judgment until after his confirmation hearings, but GOP aides and lobbyists say there are no immediate red flags that would result in his nomination being held up or filibustered
The cost of offshore wind could compete with conventional and alternative renewable energy sources by 2030 if the United States is willing to invest $18 billion to $52 billion, according to a new report commissioned by offshore wind advocates. The Brattle Group Inc. study found that such an investment would produce “modest” increases in consumers’ monthly energy bills and that investments in the technology would help diversify the country’s energy portfolio.
A key House subcommittee tomorrow will examine how electric utilities are adjusting to shifts away from coal and toward natural gas and intermittent renewable sources in the United States. The Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power will invite public and investor-owned utility executives to testify on the role of a “diverse electricity generation portfolio.”
Global investment in smart grid technology rose 7 percent in 2012, according to a new report by the Worldwatch Institute, buoyed by the growing presence of renewables in the energy mix and the integration of new technologies into infrastructure upgrades. World markets saw $13.9 billion invested in smart grid technology. The United States remains the lead investor in smart grids, though its investments fell last year to $4.3 billion, from $5.1 billion in 2011. China, in second place, appears to be closing the gap, increasing its smart grid spending 14 percent to $3.2 billion.
White House climate adviser Heather Zichal repeated the president’s warning that Congress must act on climate change yesterday, but she declined to give lawmakers a deadline or say which carbon policy is preferred by the administration. Describing climbing temperatures as “one of the clearest and most urgent challenges of our time,” Zichal also hinted at forthcoming action by President Obama as he faces pressure to spend more time rallying the public around solutions to climate change. He will pick up where his State of the Union address left off, Zichal said, noting that the Feb. 12 speech was “just the beginning of the conversation.”
“I would take $12 million in the subsidies to wind to begin to double energy research,” Alexander said today after a speech at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) fourth annual Innovation Summit at the National Harbor in suburban Washington, D.C. The senator, who has criticized wind energy subsidies in particular in the past, said during his speech that he would target “subsidies,” not just wind, as places to find funding for R&D.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg blasted coal-fired power generation today during a high-profile Energy Department innovation summit just outside Washington, D.C. “The king is dead. Coal is a dead man walking,” Bloomberg said during the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E) conference. “We are heading toward the sustainable future that we all want.”
A recent [Harvard] study errs in its assessment of potential wind energy resources by ignoring real-world data and experience and instead relying on crude theoretical modeling techniques. In reality, wind project developers and investors work closely with atmospheric scientists and other experts to make sure that their projects will produce as much as expected, and real-world data from large-scale wind installations in the US and Europe confirms that they do. Regardless of who is correct, the inescapable fact is that America’s developable wind energy resources are many times greater than our country’s energy needs.
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) today is expected to reintroduce a bill offering tax credits for the first companies to build offshore wind projects in the United States. Carper’s bill would offer a 30 percent investment tax credit for the first 3,000 megawatts of new offshore wind projects, which would likely cover at least the first several projects. Carper said he is hoping his bill can be part of a comprehensive overhaul of the tax code.