President Obama will travel to Alaska on Monday to call for urgent and aggressive action to tackle climate change, capitalizing on a poignant tableau of melting glaciers, crumbling permafrost and rising sea levels to illustrate the immediacy of an issue he hopes to make a central element of his legacy. But during a three-day trip choreographed to lend spectacular visuals and real-world examples to Mr. Obama’s message on global warming, he will pay little heed to the oil and gas drilling offshore that he allowed to go forward just this month, a move that activists say is an unsavory blot on an otherwise ambitious climate record.
California is starting to dole out nearly $2.2 billion generated by its cap-and-trade program to cut carbon emissions, allocating funds to hundreds of projects. Winners include regional rail, electric car rebates and rooftop solar for low-income residents. Revenue from auctions of pollution permits under the system has bolstered the state’s budget. A database compiled by ClimateWire shows for the first time precisely where funds have been directed. It reveals that more than $1.4 billion has been pledged to more than 350 recipients.
A new report by a research firm argues that the challenge of integrating wind, solar and other renewables into the U.S. electric system is largely a “solved problem” that won’t be as expensive as critics argue. Synapse Energy Economics Inc. asserts that by maximizing coordination between regional electric system operators, taking advantage of renewable generation sites across a broader geographic scale, strategically investing in new transmission and seeking demand-side solutions, grid operators are well-equipped to handle more renewables. And, the report states, it’s likely that the cost of doing so is “relatively small, on the order of $5 per megawatt-hour.”
Whereas the first offshore wind farm, located in Denmark, began operations in 1991, it has taken nearly 25 years for the United States to begin construction on its first offshore wind farm. It has taken a long time for the U.S. to catch up, but Alstom and GE are making it happen. GE already has a dominating presence in the U.S. onshore market, and, through its acquisition of Alstom, stands to prosper from the offshore market should it take off.
The Public Utilities Commission of Nevada voted 3-0 yesterday to approve a measure requiring NV Energy to provide the same net metering rates and credits for rooftop solar customers throughout the rest of the year. The agency’s decision was seen as a reprieve for Silver State solar advocates concerned about rate treatments disintegrating after the state hit its limit on the number of customers allowed to participate in the program, and the state’s largest utility, NV Energy, proposed changes that would reduce the value of the credits.
Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper (D) today asserted that Colorado will be able to easily meet lower carbon emissions dictated by the Obama administration, and said he did not see the benefit of the state opting into a lawsuit that aims to block the Clean Power Plan. Hickenlooper made his remarks in an appearance at the Colorado Oil and Gas Association’s annual Rocky Mountain Energy Summit. “I don’t think we’re going to have a heavy lift to meet those rules,” Hickenlooper said in a brief speech in which he focused on Colorado’s current energy economy — acknowledging a downturn in oil prices while asserting that “these down-cycles always drive innovation” — and briefly touched on the Clean Power Plan.
“It’s why he ran for this office — is that for too long we saw the oil and gas industry exert significant pressure on politicians in Washington, D.C.,” Earnest said from the West Wing. “And that did have an impact on the ability of the federal government to make smart policy decisions in terms of offering preferences to oil and gas companies and not making the kinds of investments that we know we should be making in renewable and clean energy. And that’s — I guess to borrow a phrase — that’s change you believe in.”
Many prognostications have been made about the impact of EPA’s Clean Power Plan, the rules to reduce carbon pollution from existing power plants, issued on August 3. Despite what you may have heard, EPA doesn’t dictate any particular outcomes, instead deferring to states to develop implementation plans, and those plans aren’t due until 2018. Still, modeling and recent trends point to one big winner: wind power.
The national security-focused Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory is the latest institution to agree to help the California energy storage industry conduct research. The Energy Department’s LLNL will sign an agreement with the industry trade group CalCharge to make it easier for the group’s members to work with federal scientists, lab officials said yesterday.
In parallel with the White House, North Dakota said it was planning to connect a 43-turbine wind farm to the grid as part of an “all of the above” strategy. North Dakota Lt. Gov. Drew Wrigley was on hand for a ceremony to celebrate the upcoming completion of the Thunder Spirit wind farm, a 43-turbine wind farm with a maximum capacity of 107 megawatts of power. “The completion of the Thunder Spirit wind farm marks another important milestone in North Dakota’s ‘all of the above’ energy production journey,” Wrigley said in a statement.