China’s largest wind energy manufacturer, Sinovel Wind Group Co., has become the new face of a growing fracas between the United States and its global economic rival over intellectual property and the legal use and transfer of renewable energy goods and services. Sinovel, which once bragged of pushing U.S. power systems giant General Electric Co. into third place for global wind turbine manufacturing, now faces charges in U.S. federal court that it and two of its employees conspired with another individual to steal proprietary software from a U.S. firm that was used to improve the efficiency of Sinovel wind turbines.
Utility regulators in New Jersey have rejected an agreement intended to clear the way for construction to begin on the state’s first offshore wind farm, creating more obstacles for the project, which developers aim to significantly advance by the end of this year in order to claim a lucrative federal tax credit.
Clean energy advocates have hired a Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm to advocate for President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and thwart increasing attacks from Colorado’s coal industry and free market groups. Green Tech Action Fund, a San Francisco group that describes itself as a nonpartisan grant-making organization, has hired VennSquared Communications to advocate for Ron Binz as the next chairman of FERC.
A bipartisan national poll conducted for the Natural Resources Defense Council found that two-thirds of registered voters approve of the most controversial proposal in President Obama’s recent climate change action plan. “This is something the American people are strongly behind,” said Peter Altman, director of the NRDC’s climate and clean air campaign. “They’re behind it from both parties.”
Newly installed U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy distributed a brief video message to staffers this morning laying out her priorities as she officially takes the reins of the 17,000-employee agency. McCarthy, who was sworn in Friday after a tough confirmation battle on Capitol Hill, said that the agency is facing a “defining” moment in large part because President Obama has called on the agency to take the lead in his new push to fight climate change.
More than six months after Congress extended a vital tax break for U.S. wind energy developers, the industry is showing signs of strengthening as electric utilities and high-profile companies such as Wal-Mart, Google, Microsoft and Apple chart their growth strategies around the use of wind and other renewable energy resources.
“Our state continues to lag behind our neighbors in reaping the economic development benefits of wind energy, and this latest announcement makes it clear that there is still more to be done to make Nebraska wind projects competitive with states like Iowa, Kansas and Oklahoma,” Mello wrote.
Secretary Ernest Moniz outlined an ambitious effort to reorganize the Department of Energy in a memo and address to department staff yesterday, aiming to restructure the responsibilities of his top deputies and bringing in a cadre of senior advisers. The effort includes establishing a new undersecretary for management and performance, a position to which President Obama yesterday nominated NASA Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson (E&E Daily, July 19). Moniz also will be combining the undersecretaries of science and energy into a single position, for which a nomination is expected soon. “Successful implementation of the President’s Climate Action Plan, ‘all of the above’ energy strategy and nuclear security agenda require the appropriate alignment of management functions and strengthened management throughout the agency,” Moniz wrote yesterday in a memo to DOE staff.
A group of Colorado county commissioners are so miffed by the state’s new renewable energy requirements and other regulations that they are mulling a plan to secede. Commissioners from 10 counties in rural northeastern Colorado were irate when Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) last month exempted municipally owned utilities from a law that requires rural electric cooperatives with more than 100,000 customers to double their renewable energy standard to 20 percent by 2020 (Greenwire, June 5).
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission rejected part of a plan yesterday floated by a Southern grid operator and utilities to comply with the agency’s landmark Order 1000 rule over objections from Republican commissioners. FERC voted 3-2 to approve a plan filed by Southwest Power Pool (SPP) to comply with the rule, which aims to revamp the planning and financing of power lines. SPP operates the grid in Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas.