Republican leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking grid operators if future U.S. EPA regulations on coal plants will spur reliability problems and rising power prices. Chairman Fred Upton (Mich.) and Reps. Ed Whitfield (Ky.), Joe Barton (Texas), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.) and Steve Scalise (La.) sent letters this week to the four grid operators responsible for electricity delivery in the eastern United States. Their questions were spurred, they said, by high prices for natural gas and electricity in the East caused this winter by persistent Arctic blasts and constrained gas supplies.
With the relaunch of its “Energiewende” program earlier this year, the German government renewed its commitment to the near phaseout of fossil fuels — including a transition to 80 percent renewable energy — by 2050. Many Germans, meanwhile, remain optimistic that a complete transition to renewables could be possible by midcentury.
Siemens, the German power and industrial giant, said on Tuesday that it would build facilities for offshore wind turbines on the east coast of England, as Britain rapidly expands into wind power. Siemens plans to invest about 160 million pounds, or about $264 million, in the production and installation facilities. Its partner, the port operator Associated British Ports, which is owned by a group of investors including Goldman Sachs, will contribute about £150 million.
A key renewable energy tax break is facing stiff resistance as Congress begins to debate the fate of dozens of business tax breaks that expired at the beginning of this year, according to lawmakers, aides and outside stakeholders tracking the process, and its main beneficiary is rolling out an answer to the leading attack it is expected to face this year. The future of the production tax credit (PTC) and other energy extenders will be decided in the coming months as Congress begins to craft legislation that could reinstate some of the more than 50 temporary provisions, collectively known as “tax extenders,” that expired at the beginning of this year.
Finally, there’s an electric car that rivals Tesla’s eye-catching Model S. The sleek, new-for-2014 Cadillac ELR coupe is arguably as sexy looking as the sporty Model S, and like the Tesla, it’s a plug-in vehicle that’s capable of traveling for hours without stopping.
Last week, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit heard a case regarding the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000, which seeks to address some of the modernization challenges facing the grid. During today’s OnPoint, Sue Sheridan, president and chief counsel at the Coalition for Fair Transmission Policy, a plaintiff in the case, discusses the four key issues at play and the rationale behind the plaintiffs’ petition. She also explains how this case is significant to the larger debate over Order 1000.
A new federal study estimates that ratepayers in California could save as much as $1 billion a year in power generation costs to meet renewable energy goals if transmission lines are built that allow the Golden State to access wind-generated electricity from Wyoming. The detailed economic study, conducted by researchers at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, Colo., and released this week, would seem to bolster ongoing federal efforts to build new transmission lines connecting vast wind resources in Wyoming to power-hungry load centers across the desert Southwest.
Great news out of Kansas! Just one day after the Kansas Senate voted to repeal the state’s renewable electricity standard (RES), the House of Representatives sent the measure packing by an overwhelming 77-44 vote margin. This is a victory for renewable energy in Kansas and across the nation. It is also yet another direct rebuke to the shady tactics and misleading cost analysis put forth by clean energy opponents like Americans for Prosperity, Heartland Institute, and ALEC; all of which are funded by the Kansas-based Koch brothers.
The Senate Finance Committee is aiming for next week to begin its consideration of how and whether to extend a bevy of temporary tax breaks that lapsed at the beginning of this year, such as the production tax credit (PTC) and other clean energy incentives. Finance Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) told reporters yesterday afternoon that he hoped to convene a markup Wednesday to consider a bill that would reinstate the business tax breaks, which are collectively known as extenders. Wyden said he hoped the bill would extend the provisions for two years, but he stressed that details of the bill, including its duration, were still being negotiated.
Dan Lashof, a veteran of the climate wars in Washington, D.C., for three decades, is moving to California to take the helm of billionaire Keystone XL pipeline foe Tom Steyer’s new advocacy group. Lashof, who has worked at the Natural Resources Defense Council since 1989, will take over April 1 as CEO of NextGen Climate America, the policy shop affiliated with the more political NextGen Climate Action. He will continue to play an advisory role at NRDC, but Clean Air Act lawyer David Doniger will replace him as head of the group’s climate and clean air program.