Wind power installation rates aren’t what they used to be. But that could change within the next two years, asserts the leading wind energy industry group, largely thanks to a surge of construction activity in Texas. The first quarter of 2014 saw 214 megawatts of wind energy built, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s “U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2014 Market Report,” released yesterday. This is a drop from the 1,016 MW installed in the fourth quarter of 2013 and pales in comparison to the record 8,385 MW completed at the close of 2012 as wind developers hurried to qualify for the 2.3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) before it expired.
Energy regulators in Albany have been tasked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a daunting job over the next year: to fundamentally reshape how power is bought, sold and distributed in a high-cost, high-profile state that is quickly adjusting to new market realities. Last week, the Democratic governor directed the New York Public Service Commission — which oversees the private power sector and the grid — to begin a proceeding meant to pave the way for distributed energy, smart-grid technologies, demand response, electric vehicles and, ultimately, the prospect of less hard infrastructure.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has tapped a task force to help craft a climate change bill he will put before the state’s Legislature next year. Inslee, who was a leader on environmental issues during his time in the House of Representatives, signed an executive order today creating the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce, which he called on to write a carbon cap proposal that would draw down emissions while phasing out coal use in the Evergreen State. “It must include the market mechanisms needed to meet the limits in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” the executive order reads. “The program must be designed to maximize the benefits and minimize the implementation costs, considering our emissions and energy sources, and our businesses and jobs.”
As with any fierce competition, there are bound to be casualties. When the Department of Energy in 2012 announced the contenders for three multimillion-dollar grants to complete pilot offshore wind projects, there were seven developers in the running — one in Oregon, one in Lake Erie, one on Texas’ Gulf Coast and four on the East Coast. Now there are six, after Maine’s conservative governor successfully squelched one of the proposals in his state. Another East Coast pilot recently suffered a major setback — a setback some local environmentalists have linked to a different Republican governor’s presidential ambitions.
Environmental groups today threw heaps of praise on this morning’s Supreme Court ruling upholding U.S. EPA’s authority to regulate cross-state air pollution, while industry groups and some Republicans said the decision could imperil U.S. energy sources and further federalizes environmental regulation. Some environmentalists also suggested that the recent string of court rulings supporting EPA make it more likely that the agency’s blockbuster upcoming greenhouse gas regulations might survive inevitable court scrutiny.
In a landmark win for the Obama administration and public health advocates, the Supreme Court today resurrected U.S. EPA’s program for air pollution that drifts across state lines after a lower court had thrown it out. The 6-2 decision upholds EPA’s Cross-State Air Pollution Rule, or CSAPR, a regulatory regime for 28 Eastern states that requires upwind states to cut emissions that cause downwind states to exceed the agency’s air standards. A federal appellate court invalidated the program in August 2012 after it was challenged by utilities and several states, holding that EPA had improperly relied on a cost analysis in determining how much states must cut emissions and superseded state authority by implementing federal plans before states were allowed to draft their own.
In a major victory for the Obama administration, the Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate the smog from coal plants that drifts across state lines from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast. The 6-to-2 ruling bolsters the centerpiece of President Obama’s environmental agenda: a series of new regulations aimed at cutting pollution from coal-fired power plants. Republicans and the coal industry have criticized the regulations, which use the Clean Air Act as their legal authority, as a “war on coal.” The industry has waged an aggressive legal battle to undo the rules.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy today struck back at EPA critics in a forceful address to scientists that defended agency actions on climate change, air quality issues and safe drinking water. With science as our North Star, EPA has steered America away from health risks and toward healthier communities and a higher overall quality of life,” she told the annual meeting of the National Academy of Sciences in Washington. “That’s why it’s worrisome that our science seems to be under constant assault by a small — but vocal — group of critics.”
Her involvement highlights growing industry-backed calls for state and regional market fixes to protect nuclear reactors in the absence of a national price on carbon emissions. Industry behemoths are pushing federal regulators to enact reforms in Eastern and Midwestern markets that they say would strengthen the reliability of electricity supplies and shore up their bottom lines (EnergyWire, April 21). But unlike Exelon, which partially blames production tax credits for wind for hurting nuclear’s bottom line, Browner said she supports the wind industry’s tax incentives. Exelon’s opposition to wind PTCs has drawn the ire of wind advocates and the attention of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.
The developer of an offshore New Jersey wind farm says it will sue the state after regulators this week rejected for a second time the company’s proposal to build a 25-megawatt project. At issue is a pilot wind farm off the coast of Atlantic City that is in the running for an Energy Department phase two $47 million grant and would be the first wind project built in the state. The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities last week rejected a motion to reconsider the project.