Green ad campaigns urge PTC extension, support for EPA rules

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 13th, 2014

The Sierra Club today announced an ad campaign targeting House Republicans in competitive races and accusing them of not doing enough to support wind energy development by extending a key renewable energy tax credit. And the League of Conservation Voters is launching an online advertising effort to urge support for U.S. EPA’s recently unveiled rule to limit greenhouse gas emissions from power plants. The efforts highlight the extent to which energy and environmental issues are likely to be a factor in November’s midterm elections and beyond. Supporters of the production tax credit (PTC), which expired at the end of last year, do not see an opening for Congress to reinstate it until a post-election, lame-duck session at the earliest, and even then, the prospects are uncertain. EPA’s power plant rule, meanwhile, has mobilized both sides of the climate fight with Republicans and some business groups reiterating accusations of a war on coal while environmentalists and their Democratic allies say the rule would benefit public health and the environment.

FERC commissioners at odds over high-stakes court case

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 13th, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s acting chairwoman’s announcement yesterday that the agency intends to fight a court ruling that vacated a key demand-response rule has drawn less-than-enthusiastic reactions from FERC’s two Republican commissioners. Acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur said FERC will ask a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision that threw out FERC’s Order 745, which provided incentives for electricity users to consume less power, a practice dubbed “demand response.”

Energy panel schedules votes on FERC nominees, KXL bill

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, June 13th, 2014

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced plans today to hold votes Wednesday on the contentious nomination for chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and a bill backing the Keystone XL pipeline. Negotiations between the White House, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and committee members are continuing on the nomination of Norman Bay to lead FERC and acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur, whose term expires this month.

Commentary: Wind power can help reduce carbon pollution

Source: By Tom Kiernan, American Wind Energy Association, The Wichita Eagle • Posted: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and with the Environmental Protection Agency unveiling new rules regulating the amount of carbon pollution released by existing power plants, many Americans should know what can be done to meet these standards – including ways we can do so without significantly raising electricity rates or hurting the economy. Fortunately, there’s good news. We don’t have to give up economic growth in exchange for keeping our air clean. Wind power is already working to achieve these goals, as it is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways to help us reduce carbon emissions within the electric power sector while also driving significant economic development.

FERC seeks rehearing of high-profile energy case

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to throw out a high-profile ruling that scrapped a critical agency order providing incentives for electricity users to consume less power, a practice dubbed demand response. The commission today said it will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reconsider the case en banc, meaning before all the circuit court’s judges.

MIT study finds Obama’s power plant rule more costly than putting a price on carbon

Source: Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

It turns out that cap and trade might not be so bad after all. New research shows that reducing carbon emissions through regulations like the administration’s recent rules on power plants cuts less carbon at a higher price than the embattled climate policy Congress failed to pass in 2010. Cap and trade, or an equivalent carbon tax, would be economically easier on families, fairer to lower-income people and more flexible for emitters, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kan. regulators raise questions about Southwest Power Pool expansion

Source: Jeffrey Tomich, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Kansas utility regulators want the Southwest Power Pool to demonstrate how consumers in the state would benefit from the grid operator more than doubling the size of its footprint with the addition of the Upper Great Plains Region of the Western Area Power Administration. The three-member Kansas Corporation Commission ordered the investigation on the request of the commission staff, which in a Monday memo raised concerns about SPP membership terms for WAPA-Upper Great Plains and two other entities that jointly operate a regional transmission system known as the Integrated System.

What do renewable portfolio standards cost states? Not a lot, national labs say

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

For over a decade, state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) have been a major driver of clean energy in the United States. They’ve fed the growth of solar and wind power even in the absence of federal climate policy and laid some of the foundations on which U.S. EPA’s proposed carbon rule for existing power plants builds. At the same time, they’ve been subject to attacks in several GOP-led states, inevitably along the lines that they curb economic growth. So what are the costs of state standards for renewable energy? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently crunched the numbers, and their answer is: only about 1 percent of retail electricity rates.

Talks on FERC nominees continue as Senate panel plans confirmation vote

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, June 12th, 2014

Jockeying over Federal Energy Regulatory Commission posts continued yesterday as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced plans to vote next week on nominees to lead the agency. The committee will vote on President Obama’s pick to lead FERC, Norman Bay, and acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur for another five-year term, an aide said. But the committee hasn’t set a date for the vote. The committee of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans is trying to break a confirmation logjam, with some senators wary of Bay’s lack of experience as a regulator and others keen on seeing LaFleur holding onto the gavel.

Zichal joins lighting tech advisory board

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 11th, 2014

Former White House energy and climate adviser Heather Zichal is getting back in the game. Zichal, who left the administration late last year, has joined an advisory board of Sensity Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based lighting technology company, the company announced today.