n the Midwest, as in much of the country, the benefits of clean energy are only as real as the ability to move that power to market. Yet despite concerted efforts at the federal and regional levels to create an “interstate highway system” for electricity to flow across state and even national boundaries, renewable energy providers continue to face roadblocks in getting their power to market.
The foot is on the gas pedal in the Senate as analysts expect a transportation reauthorization bill to finally clear the chamber early this week. That puts all of the momentum with the upper chamber and could force the hand of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), who is still scrambling to pull together enough votes for a bill that could be tied to his disparate party. The House is out for the week, but members say that doesn’t mean the transportation bill will be out of their minds.
The National Academy of Engineering in Washington, D.C., once asked its members to pick the greatest engineering achievement ever. Their choice? The electrification of the country through what’s known as “the grid.”
Ernest Moniz, director of the Energy Institute at MIT, says they were right on the money.
California’s largest utilities have hit or are close to reaching a mandate that they generate 20 percent of their power from renewable sources, a major milestone as the state pushes toward the country’s most ambitious green energy goal.
After weeks of wrangling over their surface transportation reauthorization bill, the Senate this afternoon is set to start working through a list of 30 amendments that contains a meaty assortment of energy measures. The Senate is scheduled to start voting at about 2:15 this afternoon on a negotiated list of 30 amendments that will include language on the Keystone XL pipeline, U.S. EPA clean air rules, energy tax extenders and expanded offshore drilling. The set of amendments includes 18 germane amendments and 12 nongermane ones, plus a manager’s amendment that includes 37 noncontroversial ones from both sides.
The Senate dispensed with several controversial amendments yesterday, including provisions dealing with Gulf of Mexico restoration, EPA’s air pollution rules, offshore drilling and funding for rural schools. They also held two high-profile votes on amendments dealing with the Keystone XL pipeline. Up next week are a trio of amendments that would either renew or eliminate some energy tax credits, a bill creating incentives for natural gas vehicles and language that would restrict tour flights over the Grand Canyon.
The Senate rejected a measure from Sen. David Vitter (R-La.) today that would have expanded offshore drilling as they moved through the first day of a slog of 30 amendment votes to their transportation reauthorization bill. The Senate cleared eight of its 12 nongermane amendments, many of which dealt with contentious energy issues that have been repeated talking points throughout this Congress. Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said the chamber would resume work Tuesday on those amendments, as well as 18 germane amendments. A final vote on the transportation spending package is tentatively expected next week.
Environmentalists are challenging the Forest Service’s approval of the first utility-scale wind farm on national forestland, potentially delaying a project that was supposed to signal the agency’s readiness to assume a greater role in renewable energy development.
President Obama on Wednesday proposed sweetened tax incentives and subsidies to spur the market for alternative-power cars and trucks, promoting his “all of the above” energy strategy while warning against other politicians’ “quick fixes” to the latest spike in gasoline prices.
Wind power leaders meeting here this week say they will leave “no stone unturned” as they seek to win votes in Congress for a renewal of the federal production tax credit (PTC) before the end of the year. Should they fail in Washington, however, industry executives said other drivers — including state-based renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) and lower electricity costs borne of technology improvements and other efficiencies — should sustain wind power developments in 2013 and beyond, albeit at a smaller scale