California today became the first state in the country to require utilities to invest in energy storage, a move that policymakers say will pave the way for increasing amounts of renewable energy and greenhouse gas reductions. The California Public Utilities Commission unanimously voted to approve a proposal setting out biennial procurement targets for the state’s three major investor-owned utilities through 2020. In total, the three utilities — Pacific Gas & Electric Co., Southern California Edison Co. and San Diego Gas & Electric Co. — will have to buy 1.325 gigawatts of storage by 2020, an amount that would increase energy storage capacity worldwide by 50 percent, not counting energy stored behind hydroelectric dams. The ruling has separate carve-outs for technologies that store energy from generation connected to transmission and distribution lines, as well as customer-owned generation.
The Omaha Public Power District Board approved an agreement Thursday to buy up to 400 megawatts generated by a proposed wind farm near O’Neill. Under the 20-year-agreement, OPPD will purchase all of the renewable energy generated at the Grande Prairie Wind Farm, which will be built by Geronimo Energy of Edina, Minn. “This will be the largest wind purchase for us that we have had to date,” said OPPD spokesman Mike Jones. The wind farm will be located northeast of O’Neill and will have 235 turbines.
Statoil ASA yesterday said it is pulling the plug on a planned offshore wind project off the coast of Maine. The move came after the state announced plans to reopen a competitive bidding process for offshore wind projects in the state’s waters, which Statoil had already completed. Gov. Paul LePage’s (R) administration opposed the project, and the governor signed legislation in July to allow the University of Maine to submit a bid for the project.
The Supreme Court today decided to review whether U.S. EPA’s greenhouse gas regulations for motor vehicles should have triggered permitting requirements for stationary sources of carbon pollution. Justices granted six of nine petitions asking the court to review a June 2012 appellate court ruling that upheld a suite of EPA greenhouse gas regulations. The court will not consider other issues, such as whether greenhouse gases endanger public health or the emissions standards for vehicles, instead limiting the case to EPA’s decision that its “tailpipe” rules triggered Prevention of Significant Deterioration, or PSD, permitting for stationary sources.
Norwegian company Statoil announced on Tuesday that it was abandoning a proposed $120 million wind project off the coast of Maine, which industry officials once said could make Maine a leader in offshore wind power, after Republican Gov. Paul LePage’s administration maneuvered to reopen the competitive bidding process. The company said in a statement that changes in terms with the state and scheduling delays “made the project outlook too uncertain to proceed.” Statoil said it was focusing on a project in Scotland while continuing to explore the United States’ offshore wind market.
A Kansas oil company is going public with its concerns over a proposed wind energy transmission line. Kurt Mai, owner of Mai Oil in Russell, Kansas, took out a two-page ad in Monday’s Topeka Capital Journal newspaper. It spells out his concerns over the proposed Grain Belt Express line.
Nebraska Farmers Union President John Hansen cited estimates from the National Renewable Energy Laboratory that show 200 megawatts of wind energy development would provide between $174 million and $328 million for Nebraska. “Nebraskans will miss this enormous economic development opportunity at a time when rural landowners and communities are hungry for these new revenue streams from new jobs and tax revenues,” Hansen said. “Harvesting Nebraska’s world class wind energy, ranked the third best in the nation, is a win-win for our economy and our environment.”
Coal-state champions in Congress have expressed grave concerns about how U.S. EPA’s forthcoming carbon emissions rule for today’s power plants might affect their home-state utilities. But although Republicans and some Democratic members from states heavily reliant on coal — including West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri — say their states’ power sectors may not survive the plans EPA has in store for them, the air quality regulators and public utility commissioners who will implement that rule back in their home states take a less dim view.
The $45.9 billion spent makes it “almost certain” that annual investment in renewables and energy-smart technologies will fall for the second consecutive year from $281 billion in 2012, Bloomberg New Energy Finance said in a statement. Investment in the quarter was 20 percent lower than the same period last year as spending in China, the U.S. and Europe fell. The U.S. saw the largest decline, sliding 41 percent to $5.5 billion, according to the London-based research company.
The state’s largest public power district on Friday rejected a resolution to more heavily invest in wind energy. Pro-wind forces say that the Nebraska Public Power District Board blew it, not only because wind energy is cheaper now, but also because it would increase economic development in shrinking rural areas. “Instead of being there for its customer-owners, NPPD decided to continue to send millions of Nebraskans’ energy dollars to Wyoming to fuel its big coal plants rather than investing in local, clean, affordable wind energy,” said Ken Winston of the Sierra Club of Nebraska. But the head of NPPD said that the utility has an excess of electric-generating capacity, and it didn’t make sense to add to that.