U.S. doubles down on gas, solar infrastructure

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 7th, 2016

The United States has added twice as much natural gas and solar power to its electric grid compared with the same period last year, federal energy regulators say.

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s energy infrastructure update says nearly 4,300 megawatts of new gas-fired generation came online from January through May of this year, compared with 1,796 MW installed during the same period last year. FERC also tracked the addition of almost 1,500 MW of solar power in the first five months of this year, compared with 679 MW in the same stretch last year. Other forms of generation were stagnant or in decline.

Conference vote may come this week

Source: Hannah Hess and Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, July 7th, 2016

A Senate vote to launch negotiations with the House on energy reform legislation could happen as soon as this week. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski said this afternoon she hasn’t scheduled meetings with other lawmakers looking for a path forward. “Hopefully we won’t need any more meetings,” the Alaska Republican said. “Hopefully we’ll be able to just find time to go to a vote.”

State electric grid expansion would add coal-heavy utility

Source: By Ivan Penn, Los Angeles Times • Posted: Thursday, July 7th, 2016

The manager of California’s electricity grid is chasing windmills in Wyoming as a way to help the state meet its clean-energy goals. But some see the plan as a billionaire’s pipe dream, wondering: How will the California Independent System Operator achieve its goals by tapping an out-of-state company that produces 62% of its power from coal and 15% from natural gas? The company, PacifiCorp., is a subsidiary of Nebraska investor Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Energy. And it produces just a small fraction of the clean energy the state needs to reach its mandate of 50% renewable generation from sources such as wind and the sun by 2030.

Modernizing the grid: a tugboat ‘trying to turn a big ocean liner’

Source: John Fialka, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 7th, 2016

The U.S. electric power grid is one of the biggest, most costly machines on Earth. Its value is somewhere in the trillions of dollars, and it currently delivers power to 334 million people in the United States and parts of Mexico and Canada. Its basic technology was settled over 100 years ago as a kind of one-way street that delivers electricity from a network of power plants to passive consumers. The National Academy of Engineering once rated the grid as the “supreme engineering achievement of the 20th century.” But starting about three years ago, the Obama administration realized that without a 21st-century technology boost, the grid might not be able to support its Clean Power Plan. The grid would have to perform more like a two-way street to provide renewable energy quickly enough to lower the risks of climate change.

Solar and Wind Energy Costs Could Drop By 59 Percent By 2025

Source: by Sarah Lozanova, TriplePundit • Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

The average cost of electricity from wind and solar energy could drop by 26 to 59 percent, according to a new report released by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The report, entitled The Power to Change: Solar and Wind Cost Reduction Potential to 2025, finds policy framework and the regulatory environment to be key unknown factors in the future cost of electricity from wind and solar energy.

Mass. lawmakers pursue ambitious clean energy bill

Source: Emily Holden, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Massachusetts could be on the cusp of a cleaner energy future. Legislation making its way through the State House could raise Massachusetts’ renewable energy standard and establish an ambitious clean energy procurement program. House and Senate lawmakers are expected to hash out different versions of the measure before the end of the month.

Lawmakers to vote on solar, storage bills

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

The House Science, Space and Technology Committee will vote on legislation this week to establish new federal research programs for solar fuels and electricity storage. Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) is introducing the “Electricity Storage Innovation Act” today ahead of a markup later in the week. The legislation would establish a Department of Energy research program on storing and converting electrical power into chemical energy.

Germany to limit offshore wind power

Source: By Andreas Rinke and Caroline Copley, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

Germany plans to cap the expansion of offshore wind power at the start of the next decade to ensure the future growth of renewables keeps step with the construction of new power lines, according to a revision to a new energy law seen by Reuters. Between 2021 and 2025 the government plans to limit offshore wind installations to 3.1 gigawatts (GW) of capacity since high-voltage power lines needed to carry green energy from the windy north to the industrial south will not be ready.

Embattled offshore wind project violated NEPA, ESA — judges

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

A long-stalled offshore wind project is facing new hurdles after federal judges today ruled that the government’s environmental approvals were unlawful. The decision from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit marks a win for environmentalists challenging the Cape Wind offshore wind project planned for coastal Massachusetts. Permits for the project have been stalled in federal courts and agencies for more than a decade.

Lawmakers plot endgame on spending; energy bill appears stuck

Source: Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, July 6th, 2016

The House pulled its energy and water spending bill in May over a controversial Democratic amendment to prohibit federal contractors from discriminating against LGBT workers. Also in limbo are talks to merge House and Senate versions of energy reform legislation. The House named conferees weeks ago, but the Senate has yet to act. “We’re sort of like the Maytag repairman. We’re waiting for the call that they’ve named conferees,” said House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton (R-Mich.) yesterday.