Increased oil and gas production and use of renewable energy means the United States economy is stronger, greenhouse gases are down and security is better, the White House said Thursday. Those are some of the benefits of the energy boom of recent months that the White House’s Council of Economic Advisers outlined in a major report on the economy.
Jim Hoecker, a former FERC chairman who is now general counsel of Wires, a nonprofit group of transmission owners, said EPA has said “virtually nothing about electric transmission in this rule” and called on FERC to work through its landmark Order 1000 — a rule that requires regional transmission planning — to identify the Clean Power Plan as a public policy priority. Hoecker said that transmission cannot be a Band-Aid and that FERC needs to teach EPA about the difficulty of building new transmission lines. “This is absolutely critical that the commission be active as an educator and as a regulator, because this is happening all over your jurisdictional turf,” he said.
Illinois legislators are introducing a sweeping bill today that would “fix” the state’s troubled Renewable Portfolio Standard, create ambitious goals and policies for energy efficiency and solar energy and, backers say, create 32,000 clean-energy jobs per year.
How are the country’s utility regulators responding to the pending finalization of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan? During today’s OnPoint, from the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners’ winter meetings, Lisa Edgar, president of NARUC and a commissioner on the Florida Public Service Commission, discusses her strategy for leading NARUC during one of the most dynamic times for utility regulators. She talks about how her power plan concerns as a Florida commissioner are shaping her role as NARUC president and explains why she believes a regional approach would have limited success in her state.
Plunging oil and natural gas prices are creating elation at the pump, winter gas bill relief, and unpredictable swings in the stock market. They also serve as a sharp reminder of one of fossil fuels’ inherent characteristics — price volatility. Instead of basking in the temporary glow of cheap fuel, America should remember this volatility and direct current savings towards increasing efficiency and developing renewable energy resources with reliable and secure input costs.
“Our customers want wind,” says Jonathan Weisgall, vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs Berkshire Hathaway Energy Co., which is building a $1.9 billion wind farm in Iowa. “We like wind because it is a hedge against fossil prices.” To the wind industry, the resource provides energy diversity that enhances grid reliability and reduces carbon dioxide emissions. To critics, though, it is unreliable and inefficient, adding costs that are ultimately passed through to taxpayers or ratepayers. It’s a face off that now exist between the White House and Congress and one that will manifest itself during the Clean Power Plan roll-out.
“Our research found that Nebraska has enough renewable resources to provide 73 percent of the state’s energy needs,” said Ryan Hodum of David Gardiner and Associates. “Maximizing the state’s renewable energy potential will allow Nebraska to power the state with homegrown energy.”
The world’s biggest offshore wind scheme has been given the go-ahead off the coast of Yorkshire, in a move the government said was likely to create hundreds of jobs. The Dogger Bank Creyke Beck project is expected to be one of the UK’s biggest power stations, second only to the Drax coal-fired plant in North Yorkshire and capable of supplying about 2.5 per cent of the country’s electricity.
A conservation group has renewed its push for the Fish and Wildlife Service to tighten regulation of bird deaths at wind farms. The American Bird Conservancy says the agency should establish a mandatory permitting regime under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA), a move it argued would bolster protections for wildlife while providing legal certainty for wind developers.
EU nations are on track to meet a target to get one fifth of their energy from renewable sources by 2020, even though Britain, the Netherlands and Luxembourg are lagging behind, the European Environment Agency (EEA) said on Tuesday. The EEA, which provides analysis to EU policymakers, said energy from sources such as wind and solar had become much cheaper. As a result, alternatives had displaced coal and gas, cut carbon emissions and improved energy security.