A hearing before the Energy and Natural Resources Committee homed in on some of the key considerations Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) and her colleagues will have to balance as they try to craft the first bipartisan, comprehensive energy bill to be considered in years. The hearing was called to consider nearly two dozen proposed energy infrastructure bills proposing various approaches to compensating owners of rooftop solar panels, siting new gas pipelines and electric transmission wires, and updating decades-old laws governing utilities, among other issues.
In the United States, Tesla is set to sell a 10 kilowatt-hour, lithium-ion battery that is mounted on the wall for $3,500, and another lower-capacity model for $3,000. The batteries are expected to be available in Europe this year and in the Asia-Pacific region in early 2016, according to Khobi Brooklyn, director of global communications at Tesla. International pricing has not yet been announced.
Back in 2010, China became the world’s largest wind energy producer and the boom is continuing unabated, fuelled by government support and ambitious renewable energy targets. Data from the China Wind Energy Association (CWEA) revealed that wind energy surpassed nuclear for the very first time in 2012 to become the country’s third largest source of electricity, after coal and hydro-electric power.
West Virginia’s two senators took the lead today in launching their chamber’s flagship bid to kill U.S. EPA’s proposed rules for carbon emissions from new and existing power plants, pledging the bill would move quickly through committee. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R) sponsored the measure, which heavily borrowed from a bill that co-sponsor and Mountain State colleague Sen. Joe Manchin (D) floated in the last Congress. Senate Environment and Public Works Chairman James Inhofe (R-Okla.) promised at a Capitol press conference unveiling the bill today that he would prioritize it.
For the first time in three years, natural gas is about to catch up with coal as a fuel for the nation’s power plants, foreshadowing the crucial role of gas supplies in meeting U.S. EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan. Natural gas prices below $3 per million British thermal units (MMBtu) have created the closest convergence of the two power plant fuels since April 2012, the Energy Information Administration’s Short-Term Energy Analysis reported yesterday. And the dead heat that April was the only other time that has ever happened, noted EIA, an arm of the Department of Energy.
Philip Moeller, an outspoken Republican member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, announced yesterday that he plans to leave the agency in the coming months, creating an opening expected to be filled by a senior Senate GOP aide. Moeller’s likely replacement is Patrick McCormick, senior counsel for the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, who has deep ties in the energy world. A source familiar with the situation said McCormick would be the nominee.
Sen. Tom Udall introduced legislation today that would force utilities to generate more of their power from clean sources, such as wind, energy and coal. The New Mexico Democrat’s effort to implement a so-called “renewable electricity standard” has no Republican co-sponsors and likely faces a tough, uphill climb in the GOP-controlled Congress. Sen. Martin Heinrich, a New Mexico Democrat who sits on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, is a cosponsor. The Udall-Heinrich bill would require utilities to generate 30 percent of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2030. That’s a boost from the 25 percent by 2025 mandate that Udall tried to legislate in his very first Senate bill back in 2009.
Two organizations with expertise in grid reliability today released a set of practical recommendations for how state leaders can go about crafting an interstate compliance program for U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), which represents state utility regulators, and the Eastern Interconnection States Planning Council (EISPC) said in their new guidebook that interstate cooperation has the potential to afford some states a lower-cost compliance option for the existing power plant carbon rule. It tracks with the interstate nature of the grid, the organizations said, and might avoid some of the supply pitfalls stakeholders say they fear.
Pomerantz, an author of the Greenpeace report, said that Duke and Dominion should look to utilities that have partnered with data-center companies on renewable energy. He mentioned Google’s partnership with MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co. in Iowa to supply 407 megawatts (MW) of wind energy, and Apple’s deal with NV Energy in Nevada to supply its data center with electricity from solar and geothermal sources. Dominion and Duke “can try to get out in front if it and offer it themselves, and if they don’t, they’re at significant risk of those operations finding other ways to power themselves,” Pomerantz said.
A group of Senate Democrats is pushing legislation to require electric utilities to deliver 30 percent of their supply from renewable sources by 2030. The renewable energy standard (RES) bill introduced yesterday updates to a policy proposal that clean energy advocates have pushed for years. It would impose at the federal level the same type of mandate that currently exists in dozens of states. Sen. Tom Udall (D-N.M.), the bill’s lead sponsor, said today he would like to see the measure included in a broader energy bill being assembled by Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who chairs the Energy and Natural Resources Committee.