Calif. billionaire might be the next big name in U.S. energy politics

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Billionaire Tom Steyer isn’t well-known outside California, but plenty of people believe that’s about to change. He’s seen here as a likely star in energy politics.
Steyer, 55, is a self-made mogul who made a bundle as a hedge fund manager. He’s also a philanthropist, environmentalist and father of four who says the country needs a clean energy revolution. He’s spent part of his wealth working toward that aim.

Wyden names senior energy committee staff for 113th Congress

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, January 10th, 2013

Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), the incoming chairman of the Energy and Natural Resources Committee, today announced his senior committee staff, which includes nearly a dozen new faces.
Joining the committee this year will be Joshua Sheinkman, Michele Miranda, Isaiah Akin, Drew Johnston, Dave Berick, Peter Gartrell and Keith Chu, who all come from Wyden’s personal office. The committee also welcomes Todd Wooten, Dan Adamson, Meghan Conklin, Cisco Minthorn and Samantha Offerdahl, each of whom comes from other committees, member offices or advocacy groups.

Hands Off, Oil Industry Warns Government

Source: By JOHN M. BRODER, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Jack Gerard, the often-combative chief executive of the American Petroleum Institute, said Tuesday that the United States was “at the crossroads of a great turning point” in the nation’s energy history. As long as Congress and the Obama administration don’t mess it up, he warned.

Lots of talk about Gregoire as rumor mill churns on administrator opening

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs and Jean Chemnick, E&E reporters • Posted: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Put the name of Washington Gov. Christine Gregoire on top of the list of potential nominees to run U.S. EPA in President Obama’s second term. That’s the talk these days among EPA watchers in Washington, D.C. Gregoire, a Democrat whose second term ends this month, had been rumored to be under consideration for several administration positions, including the Department of Energy, but until Friday wasn’t believed to be in the running for EPA chief.

Challenges Ahead for Wind Power Developers

Source: By KATE GALBRAITH, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Last week, global wind turbine manufacturers heaved a sigh of relief after the U.S. government extended a tax credit considered crucial to the industry.
But 2013 will still bring challenges to wind developers around the world. In the United States, long-term uncertainty about the tax credit — which was extended for only one year, after considerable political tension — will continue. Growth in China is expected to slow, a casualty of constraints on the electric grid. And Spain, an important market in Europe, has stalled.
“The industry’s rate of growth will slow substantially in the coming few years,” the Brussels-based Global Wind Energy Council said in a report released in November. A global deal to put a price on planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions would bolster the outlook for wind power, the report said, but such a deal seems unlikely.

Xcel Energy clarifies wind energy position after lobbyist implies doubt

Source: By Leslie Brooks Suzukamo, Pioneer Press • Posted: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Xcel Energy, long the nation’s top wind energy provider, had to do some damage control Monday, Jan. 7, after its chief Washington lobbyist implied the Minnesota utility was considering a split with its wind energy allies. Company officials told state wind energy advocates the Minneapolis-based utility is not abandoning wind power and chalked up its lobbyist’s statements to frustration and fatigue over a last-minute tax credit extension inserted in the New Year’s Day fiscal cliff bill.

Georgia Power to shutter 15 coal- and oil-fired power plants

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Georgia’s largest power provider announced today that it will retire 15 coal- and oil-fired generating units by April 2016.
Georgia Power, Southern Co.’s largest division, said it will ask the Georgia Public Service Commission to decertify units at four of its power plants as it reformulates its generating strategy

Rumored Gregoire nomination shines light on governors’ climate efforts

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

An unconfirmed nod for Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire (D) to head U.S. EPA could indicate that Obama will nominate someone with a leadership background on climate change. The Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported on Friday that Gregoire — who has served two terms and will relinquish her post next week to Gov.-elect Jay Inslee (D) — is the White House’s top pick to replace Lisa Jackson as administrator of EPA.

Wind turbines wearing down faster than expected, study asserts

Special to E&E • Posted: Monday, January 7th, 2013

Wind turbines installed in Denmark and the United Kingdom are wearing down faster than manufacturers expected, a new study claims. The study is billed as the largest of its kind and looked at 3,000 onshore and offshore turbines in operation between 2000 and 2011. But it was published by the U.K.-based Renewable Energy Foundation (REF), a think tank that has campaigned against wind farms, which prompted the wind industry to accuse it of bias.

With long-term fate of PTC in balance, big utility assesses its relationship with wind industry

Source: Nick Juliano and Hannah Northey, E&E reporters • Posted: Monday, January 7th, 2013

A top utility is reassessing its membership in the wind industry’s main trade association to focus on lobbying Congress to modify the key tax incentive designed to support construction of wind turbines and send benefits directly to wind purchasers. Xcel Energy, which provides more electricity from wind than any other investor-owned utility, is evaluating whether to stay with the American Wind Energy Association over a disagreement with the trade association over the best way for the government to create incentives for wind development. The company supported an extension of the production tax credit — which was enacted this week after an intense lobbying push from AWEA — but also sought to augment the credit with an incentive that would go directly to utilities.