Sen. Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) introduced legislation yesterday that would give federal regulators power to override state decisions and site power lines meant to move large amounts of renewable energy across long distances. “We certainly understand that states would have a lot of questions about how any new federal authority would affect their existing authority,” said Bill White, senior adviser for Americans for a Clean Energy Grid. “At the same time, we all recognize that there’s a challenge here in getting these really important and valuable interstate infrastructure projects built.”
While Congress struggles to define the federal government’s role in promoting solar and wind power, American homeowners remain strongly supportive of federal tax credits and other subsidies for emissions-free electricity, according to recent polling done by the consulting firm Zogby Analytics. The January survey of 1,400 homeowners, commissioned by Clean Edge Inc. and SolarCity, revealed that 74 percent of homeowners support continuing the investment tax credit (ITC) for solar power and the production tax credit (PTC) for wind energy, while nearly 9 in 10 homeowners believe renewable energy is important to the nation’s future.
Contrary to the claims of Thomas Pyle [“As taxman cometh, wind producers get a windfall,” April 14], whose group is funded by the fossil fuel billionaire Koch brothers, wind has received far less in tax credits and other government support than other energy sources. Its primary federal incentive, the Production Tax Credit, has been successful in attracting more than $100 billion to the U.S. economy since 2008 and increasing the amount of electricity provided by clean, affordable wind power.
Sen. Martin Heinrich unveiled legislation today that would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission the ability to override a state’s opposition to specific power lines. The New Mexico Democrat’s bill would amend the Federal Power Act to give FERC the authority to approve a project if a state fails to greenlight construction or routing of the projects within a year of a company’s seeking the state’s approval. FERC’s authority may also apply if the state denies the project or doesn’t have the authority to approve the transmission line, or if approval is accompanied by contingencies that “unreasonably interfere” with construction.
The grid’s federally appointed monitor said today that parts of the industry need more time to comply with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan, but its latest analysis was unable to quantify how much delay is required. The North American Electric Reliability Corp., the federally designated grid reliability overseer, in an assessment of EPA’s landmark proposal to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from power plants said the agency needs to make changes to its final rule to coordinate and adjust to an accelerated shift to natural gas and renewables and account for long lead times needed to build new generation, pipes and wires.
“The cost of energy in our region is a major issue that our states need to address in a collaborative way,” Malloy said. “At this meeting, the governors will renew and strengthen our commitment to working together to put solutions to this challenge in place.” The agenda includes the lack of pipeline capacity to bring natural gas to power plants, growing concerns about reliability, and the challenge of integrating power from renewable energy sources into the grid, Malloy said.
“While we share our differences with this administration regarding energy policy, when it comes to the transmission, storage, and distribution of our resources, we can all agree that targeted changes to our laws and policies are necessary. We need a modern and resilient energy infrastructure that will meet tomorrow’s energy challenges,” Upton and Whitfield said.
White House officials touted the Quadrennial Energy Review, which focuses on the energy industry’s infrastructure needs, as a two-pronged tool. First, it assesses the effect of recent developments such as the advent of hydraulic fracturing, which sparked the domestic boom in oil and natural gas production, and the decreasing costs of renewable energy technologies such as solar and wind, whose deployment has more than tripled since President Obama came into office.
The Obama administration on Tuesday laid out an agenda under its Quadrennial Energy Review to modernize the country’s energy infrastructure and make it more resilient to challenges ranging from extreme weather to the domestic energy boom. Commissioned by President Barack Obama when he announced his Climate Action Plan in June 2013, the QER was more than a year in the making and is the administration’s first comprehensive attempt to analyze the country’s aging energy systems.
Vice President Joe Biden in a visit to Philadelphia on Tuesday called the nation’s infrastructure “incredibly outdated” and said it must be fixed to serve the nation’s 21st century energy needs. “Much of it was built decades ago, and can’t handle today’s demands,” Biden said Tuesday at Peco Energy Co., which is using a $200 million federal stimulus grant to help develop technology like smart meters to allow customers to monitor and reduce their usage.