The Energy Department today announced a $150 million conditional loan guarantee for the Cape Wind project, a strong signal that the almost 15-year quest to build the first commercial offshore wind farm may soon cross the finish line. “The Department’s loan guarantees have assisted the launch of new industries in the U.S., and today’s announcement of a conditional commitment to the Cape Wind project demonstrates our intent to help build a strong U.S. offshore wind industry,” Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said in a statement. The project would generate 360 megawatts of electricity — a tiny step toward the White House goal to deploy 54 gigawatts of offshore wind by 2030.
Global adoption of renewable energy shows no signs of slowing over the next 15 years, with nearly two-thirds of an expected $7.7 trillion in new investment going toward non-fossil power generation, according to new projections by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. In particular, major additions of solar and wind energy will continue to displace coal as a primary source of power generation across many of the world’s largest economies, while shale gas will remain a key factor in U.S. energy markets at least through 2024, BNEF said in the latest “2030 Market Outlook,” released this morning.
Nine states have joined to support Murray Energy Corp.’s litigation against U.S. EPA’s rulemaking to control greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. Filed last month in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, Murray’s complaint accuses EPA of running afoul of the Clean Air Act’s plain language. “The ‘specific prohibition’ against EPA’s proposed rule is in the very statutory provision the agency cites as its authority,” says the brief from Alabama, Alaska, Kentucky, Nebraska, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, West Virginia and Wyoming.
The Interior Department plans to survey beachgoers from Massachusetts to South Carolina about how wind turbines in the Atlantic Ocean would affect their travel and recreation plans. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management has contracted with the University of Delaware to ask about 1,400 visitors to East Coast beaches whether turbines on the horizon would make them more or less likely to return. The results could aid BOEM as it auctions and develops federal waters for wind farms from New York to Virginia and beyond.
An audience gathered here earlier this month to hear the first bits of intelligence on new proposed federal limits on power plant emissions. Travis Kavulla was ready. He and Natural Resources Defense Council attorney Ralph Cavanagh stole the show on the second day of the Western Conference of Public Service Commissioners. Kavulla grabbing the spotlight with a spirited attack on U.S. EPA’s 1-day-old rule, which he called “infantilizing” to states in its emphasis on “building blocks” like improving efficiency at fossil-fueled power plants and switching to other less-emitting power sources.
“They get to be the children in this great game of federalism and put the building blocks together however they want,” he said.
The power department in Los Angeles could be required to implement the country’s most aggressive carbon emissions reduction program. A Los Angeles city councilman on Friday introduced a measure calling on the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (LADWP) by 2030 to cut its carbon emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels, a move that the Sierra Club said would be the first of its kind in the nation for any utility. The language on the LADWP plan was part of a larger motion that would have the city — including Los Angeles International Airport and the Port of Los Angeles — shrink greenhouse gas pollution 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.
In the past few years, wind power in Michigan has created jobs, given rise to new companies that supply components — such as Ventower Industries in Monroe — and even inspired a few school projects and tourism. The nonprofit group, Natural Resources Defense Council, says Michigan is home to about 120 companies that supply wind components and employ 4,000. A state law that requires 10% of electricity produced come from renewable sources by the end of next year has increased demand and helped propel the construction of wind farms. Michigan still gets more than half, 54%, of its power from coal, a significant source of carbon dioxide emissions.
The Senate will vote on President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission when the chamber returns following the Fourth of July recess, according to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s (D-Nev.) office. The Senate will also vote on Obama’s nomination of acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur to another five-year term, but a week for that vote has not been set, according to Reid’s office.
States have had several weeks to mull over U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan (CPP), which, once finalized, would set standards for greenhouse gas emissions from existing power plants. While most are keeping mute as they analyze the rule and prepare to submit comments, a few early movers have already taken action, either to challenge the rule or comply with it — and, in some cases, both. Creating plans to meet EPA’s guidelines — plans that, due to flexibility mechanisms built into the CPP, will span each state’s energy sector and could even cross state lines — will inevitably be a long and costly process. For that reason, many states “are looking at and preparing for the proposed rule as if it were final today,” said Eric Massey, director of the Air Quality Division for the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality (ADEQ)
The Obama administration announced approval of the first-ever permit for a wind farm to legally kill or harm protected eagles under a plan that officials say will have no overall harm on eagle populations. The Fish and Wildlife Service today said it will issue Shiloh IV Wind Project LLC a five-year permit to “take” up to five eagles at its 50-turbine wind farm north of San Francisco.