EPA power plant rule could lead to drastic cuts in traditional air pollutants — study

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

A new study finds that allowing more flexible compliance with U.S. EPA’s upcoming power plant rule wouldn’t only lead to less greenhouse gas emissions — it would lead to cleaner air and healthier ecosystems, too. Researchers from Harvard University and Syracuse University modeled three different possible scenarios for the June 2 proposal, which seeks to limit greenhouse gas emissions from the country’s existing power plants for the first time. They measured reductions in four different pollutants: fine particulate matter, nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and mercury.

Dueling experts weigh in on upcoming EPA power plant proposal

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 29th, 2014

With U.S. EPA set to release its greenhouse gas proposal for existing power plants Monday, a leading environmental group and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce painted very different pictures today of the rule’s potential impacts. The Natural Resources Defense Council, which released its own proposal for the rule in 2012, lauded the coming rule as a boon to energy efficiency and public health, and a game-changing moment in U.S. climate change politics.

Former FERC, NARUC members join pro-nuclear group

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

A campaign promoting nuclear energy as a weapon against climate change announced the enlistment today of former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission member Vicky Bailey and former National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners President David Wright. Financed partially by Exelon Corp., Nuclear Matters has also lined up former White House climate adviser Carol Browner, former Sens. Evan Bayh (D-Ind.) and Judd Gregg (R-N.H.), former Energy Secretary Spencer Abraham and former Commerce Secretary and Obama chief of staff Bill Daley.

Court ruling on demand response breeds uncertainty

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Officials at PJM Interconnection are reviewing a Friday federal appeals court ruling that invalidated a 2011 Federal Energy Regulatory Commission order providing incentives for electricity users to consume less power, a practice known as demand response. FERC has no jurisdiction over demand response, the court said. The court ruling strikes a blow to the Obama administration’s energy efficiency efforts and injects a large degree of uncertainty into how the rapidly expanding demand-response industry will play a role in the nation’s electricity markets.

Interior eyeing Long Island waters for next competitive lease

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

The Interior Department this morning announced it will explore whether 127 square miles of federal waters south of New York’s Long Island are suitable for commercial wind leasing, the latest step in the Obama administration’s bold offshore wind agenda.The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it will complete a National Environmental Policy Act review to determine whether wind development about 10 miles south of Long Beach, N.Y., would conflict with a potential offshore liquefied natural gas facility or commercial or recreational fishing in the area.

Turbines Popping Up on New York Roofs, Along With Questions of Efficiency

Source: By MATT A.V. CHABAN, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

A dozen construction workers gathered around a flatbed truck in Long Island City, Queens, one recent Tuesday, marveling at the final piece of a new 15-story apartment building they had just finished assembling. As a mobile crane hoisted the 20-foot-long black contraption over Pearson Street, many of the workers used their phones to film its ascent. What looked like a huge carbon-fiber strand of DNA strung around a 10-foot mast was the last of three wind turbines being installed atop thePearson Court Square, a 197-unit luxury apartment building. In an industry, a city and a society obsessed with being green, wind turbines remain scarce — only two apartment buildings in New York City harvest the skies for energy, with limited yields.

White House releases sweeping regulatory agenda

Source: Amanda Peterka and Jean Chemnick, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

The White House on Friday released its latest regulatory agenda, a sweeping plan that includes rules on power plants, renewable fuels, ozone pollution, Clean Water Act jurisdiction and disclosure of payments by oil and gas companies. The spring issue of the biannual “Unified Agenda of Federal and Regulatory and Deregulatory Actions” details both short- and long-term plans for every agency in the government. The most notable goals include timelines for the release of greenhouse gas emission standards, proposed 2015 renewable fuel standard targets, a controversial stream protection rule, crude-by-rail safety standards, and methane and hydraulic fracturing regulations.

Wind power sees itself on fast track to benefit from new EPA rules

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 28th, 2014

Some of the nation’s top greenhouse gas-emitting states — including Texas, Illinois and California — are better positioned to meet new U.S. EPA regulations targeting utility-sector carbon dioxide emissions because they are early and aggressive adopters of wind power, according to a new analysis by the American Wind Energy Association. In a white paper released this morning, AWEA notes that wind energy produced in the United States in 2013 resulted in a reduction of nearly 127 million tons of carbon dioxide, or roughly the equivalent of taking 20 million cars off the road, according to the Washington, D.C.-based trade group

For the first time, hydropower accounts for less than 50% of U.S. renewable energy

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

Solar and wind power may be leading the growth of renewables in the United States today, but it has long been an older source of energy — hydropower — that has dominated the renewable energy sector. Built for the most part decades before climate change entered the popular lexicon, hydroelectric has continued to supply the majority of the country’s clean, renewable energy, even as other power sources raced forward. Until now, that is. In the first quarter of 2014, hydroelectric fell below 50 percent of total renewable electricity, outpaced by the collective output of solar, wind, biofuels, waste energy and geothermal, according to data from the International Energy Agency.

First grid-scale battery of its kind unveiled at Calif. farm

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 27th, 2014

In the middle of an almond grove near here, in California’s Central Valley, a first-of-its-kind battery is sharing space with nut trees, solar panels and irrigation equipment. The 1-megawatt system, which holds four hours of power, is the first large-scale example of an iron-chromium flow battery. According to Silicon Valley startup EnerVault, it’s a major milestone for renewables, grid stability and energy efficiency, as well as the energy storage market itself.