Grid evolves, and FERC isn’t just for energy wonks anymore

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Mentioning FERC, or the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, at social gatherings inside the Beltway hasn’t always been cool. Dropping the f-bomb, some energy wonks say, could clear your corner of the room. “If you mentioned FERC at a cocktail party, people would just try and walk away from you,” said Allison Clements, an environmental lawyer at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “You have these conversations about cool renewable energy policies, big-picture federal issues and then you say FERC. It’s like someone dragged a needle across the record and everyone stops talking.”

Prestigious science society seeks to move dialogue on climate change by releasing ‘What We Know’ report

Source: Stephanie Paige Ogburn, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Scientific consensus that humans cause climate change is akin to the scientific consensus that smoking causes cancer, says a report released today by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The report, called “What We Know,” marks the kickoff of a new AAAS initiative to increase dialogue on the risks of climate change. “Opinion polls show that more than half of the American public still think that there is a debate over whether climate change is happening or whether it is human-caused,” said James McCarthy, a Harvard University oceanographer and co-chairman of the report.

Podesta to lead forum on preparing U.S. for climate risks

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

The White House will host a high-level forum tomorrow evening on its plans to make the United States more resilient to climate change. In a statement released yesterday, the administration promised “new announcements” from federal agencies and the private sector on efforts to help communities shore up infrastructure and respond to the effects of warming.

Maryland House OKs energy projects on preserved farmland

Source: By Timothy B. Wheeler, The Baltimore Sun • Posted: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

A bill that could allow hundreds of acres of preserved farmland to be converted to wind farms or other renewable energy projects was approved Monday by the House of Delegates, 97 to 33. Supporters say farmers need the ability to diversify their income to stay viable. Some conservationists, though, worry that the measure would open the door to other commercial activities, ultimately undermining the viability of farmland preserved at taxpayer expense.

Kansas’s Renewable Portfolio Standard is Under Attack (Again!)

Source: David Weiskopf’s Blog, NRDC • Posted: Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Here in the Midwest we are seeing the perennial first signs of Spring: a few early buds are appearing on the magnolia trees, rivers and lakes are starting to thaw, and of course, ALEC and the Koch brothers are pushing yet another pointless and harmfulattack on Kansas’s wildly successful Renewable Energy Standard. This year’s bill, SB 433, is sponsored by the Kansas Senate’s Committee on Ways and Means, which is chaired by Ty Masterson, a known ALEC member and supporter of last year’s failed attack on renewable energy policy in Kansas. There will be a public hearing on the bill at 1 p.m. (half an hour earier than the usual hearing time) this Wednesday, March 19th at the Kansas Statehouse in Topeka, Room 548 South.

William Koch, pessimistic about coal’s future in the U.S., is out of the business

Source: Elizabeth Harball and Manuel Quiñones, E&E reporters • Posted: Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

William Koch, CEO of energy and industrial products giant Oxbow Carbon LLC, expressed pessimism about the future of coal in the United States during an interview last week.
“The coal business in the United States has kind of died,” Koch said during a phone interview Friday, “so we’re out of the coal business now.”

Political ambitions in N.J. seen as helping to derail pilot project off Atlantic City

Source: Colin Sullivan, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

This week could be a crucial one for the offshore wind industry in New Jersey. The state body with oversight on offshore wind in state waters, the Board of Public Utilities, is expected to hold a public meeting Wednesday during which a proposed 25-megawatt wind farm off Atlantic City will be discussed. An actual vote on the project is possible. That’s the simple part. More complicated is whether the board will get behind the blueprint from developer Fishermen’s Energy, which is also vying for a $49 million “phase 2″ Energy Department grant to help demonstrate the market readiness of offshore wind.

Americans don’t attribute unusually cold or dry winter to climate change — poll

Source: Julia Pyper, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 18th, 2014

Frigid temperatures gripped large swaths of the United States this winter, while southwestern parts of the country were hit with severe drought, but only a small number of Americans link these phenomena to climate change, according to a new Gallup poll. Two-thirds of respondents in the national survey (66 percent) said they are experiencing colder-than-usual temperatures this winter, but of that group 29 percent attributed it to human-caused climate change. The vast majority (70 percent) attributed the unusual weather to the “normal variation in temperatures.”

Federal judge backs bulk of Cape Wind approval, orders additional work from 2 agencies

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 17th, 2014

A federal judge today ruled the evaluation of a project aiming to be the nation’s first offshore wind farm was generally aboveboard, but directed two agencies to further review some of the project’s impacts on wildlife. The decision has led both sides to declare victory. Cape Wind backers say the project off the coast of Massachusetts scored a major win because the bulk of plaintiffs’ claims were dismissed and because the judge did not question the underlying conclusions of supporting agencies even as he determined they hadn’t quite completed everything that was required of them. But project challengers say the work that must be redone cuts to the heart of whether the wind farm would be viable, exacerbating the uncertainty that has surrounded it for more than a decade.

Cape Wind touts U.S.-based labor with new cable contracts

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, March 17th, 2014

The group aiming to install America’s first offshore wind farm announced yesterday two new contracts that it says will ensure U.S.-based labor during construction. The proposed 420-megawatt Cape Wind project, which aims to install 130 turbines in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound, has awarded contracts to Prysmian Cables and Systems USA, which will manufacture the onshore transmission cables, and Caldwell Marine International, which will install the underwater cables that will connect the farm to the grid.