Rooftop solar is casting a $2 billion shadow over power generators across the eastern U.S. With more than a million U.S. houses set to have solar panels by the end of next month, grid managers serving the eastern U.S. plan to cut the amount of electricity they buy from conventional plants by about 1,400 megawatts, starting in 2019, according to industry consultant ICF International Inc. That’s enough juice to power about 780,000 households.
Nevada’s home solar business is in turmoil as the state’s Public Utilities Commission starts to phase out incentives for homeowners who install rooftop solar panels. Some of the largest solar companies have stopped seeking new business in the state and laid off hundreds of workers. Even for small solar installers, this once-booming business has slowed to a trickle. The warehouse at Robco Electric in Las Vegas was filled to capacity with pallets of solar panels stacked high last year. Now, it’s nearly empty.
Democrats are urging House appropriators to support the president’s budget request for renewable power and efficiency to ensure an “all of the above” energy strategy. In a letter to the chairman and ranking member of the House Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee, 122 House members urged support for the $2.898 billion request for the Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, which is more than $800 million above last year’s level.
A San Diego-based alternative energy company has proposed building a $200 million wind farm in rural Plymouth County. County Zoning Administrator Alan Lucken says EDF Renewable Energy is interested in building the project between Le Mars and Kingsley. Company officials will meet with rural landowners this week to discuss the construction of about 100 windmills. The company didn’t return phone calls from the Sioux City Journal Monday.
During a briefing on Capitol Hill this morning, presidential climate adviser Dan Utech said renewable energy was at a “turning point.” He said the administration would continue pushing for cleaner energy and action against global warming “with everything we’ve got.” Utech said tax credits that Congress extended last year would make it easier for states to rely on solar and other renewables to comply with the Clean Power Plan, if the courts don’t strike it down. Without the credits, switching from coal to gas would be more attractive.
“We heard from many corners that now is not the time to offer oil and gas leasing off the Atlantic Coast,” Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said. “When you factor in conflicts with national defense, economic activities such as fishing and tourism, and opposition from many local communities, it simply doesn’t make sense to move forward with any lease sales in the coming five years.”
Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said the GMO legislation would likely take up much of the week. That would likely delay any action on the energy bill, S. 2012, and the Flint package until after next week’s recess.
For too long, our energy policies have benefitted the entrenched interests of big oil, gas and coal companies over clean energy industries like wind and solar. The tax subsidies for these fossil fuel industries are permanent pieces of the tax code that never expire. Meanwhile, the government spending bill that became law last December will begin phasing down the tax credits for wind power in 10 months. By the end of 2019 they will be completely gone. And the tax credits for solar will phase out by the end of 2021.
Congressional Republicans and legal scholars will take aim this week at the wiggle room federal judges generally give agencies during disputes about administration actions. Republican lawmakers in both chambers have scheduled hearings this week on the so-called Chevron doctrine, referring to an opinion holding that if Congress has been silent or ambiguous about how to tackle an issue, the courts should defer to an agency’s reasonable interpretation of the law.
A New York startup is pushing into the distributed wind energy market in Kansas and other Midwestern states, backed by significant international dollars and the opportunity for landowners to use third-party financing to tap into wind energy. United Wind’s WindLease program, which has just been launched in Kansas by a company consultant located in Topeka, eliminates the substantial initial investment farmers and property owners would have to make to purchase a wind turbine, said CEO and co-founder Russell Tencer.