A new computer model devised by federal researchers could help wind-power developers better forecast possible bird fatality problems at wind farms nationwide. Researchers with the U.S. Geological Survey and Fish and Wildlife Service said today that the computer model has been designed to allow developers, policymakers and ecologists to predict the number of deaths at proposed wind farms before they’re built and placed into operation.
Montana’s ability to ship its wind to power-hungry Pacific Northwest markets may have taken another hit. The federal Bonneville Power Administration refused to scuttle the state’s rate on a 90-mile section of a major Northwestern transmission line known as the Montana Intertie, according to a draft record of decision. Opponents claim the agency’s refusal could cramp wind energy development in the Big Sky State.
A renewable energy developer has broken ground on a giant wind farm in central Maine that is expected to power 65,000 homes. SunEdison, the Missouri solar energy company that purchased the Boston wind developer First Wind last year, said Wednesday that it has completed financing and started construction on a 185-megawatt wind farm near the town of Bingham. The wind farm was previously under development by First Wind.
The local Marine Corps Air Station, depicted in the movie “Top Gun,” may soon be able to unplug from California’s power network thanks to a microgrid partly built with Raytheon technology. An independent energy system, the microgrid has roots in Raytheon’s long history of innovations in managing power. Many of the company’s products incorporate ingenious energy systems, from battery packs that can supply entire neighborhoods to electric gun systems that produce enough power to hurl projectiles at seven times the speed of sound. Microgrids help guard against power interruptions from natural disasters, security threats or other causes, and reduce environmental impact. Much of the Miramar system was developed by Raytheon engineers Ryan Faries and Dave Altman, working with a company team.
A think tank linked to industrialists Charles and David Koch launched a campaign today to stop states from complying with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. The Institute for Energy Research sent letters to public utility commissions in all 50 states, warning that existing generation is cheaper than any replacements that would arrive under EPA’s draft rule.
Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa is urging fair treatment of the wind energy production tax credit whenever the committee of jurisdiction takes up expired or expiring tax provisions. “Good tax policy requires certainty that can only come from long-term predictable tax laws,” Grassley wrote to Sen. Orrin Hatch, chairman of the Finance Committee. “Businesses need certainty in the tax code so they can plan and invest accordingly. And, while I look forward to working with my colleagues in the future to enact tax reform and put an end to the headaches and uncertainty created by the regular expiration of tax provisions, right now our focus must be on extending current expired or expiring provisions to give us room to work toward that goal.”
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy yesterday slammed what she called several attempts by Congress to undermine agency science. In a call with reporters, McCarthy singled out legislation to make the agency’s science more transparent, reform EPA’s scientific advisory board and stipulate that biomass energy is “carbon neutral.” “Congress is trying to legislate science,” the administrator said.
While energy experts have promoted natural gas as a “bridge fuel” that can help the world shift from coal and oil to more carbon-neutral alternatives, even the “bridge” will need to be dismantled to achieve a low-carbon energy economy, experts with the Carbon Tracker Initiative (CTI) say in a new analysis. When that happens, energy firms and investors with deep holdings in liquefied natural gas — the world’s only exportable form of gas — could be forced to shed as much as $283 billion in capital expenditures by 2025 as surplus gas loses value and LNG producers see their markets soften.
It is unfortunate that the Missouri Public Service Commission isn’t doing all it can to feed the growth. The commission recently rejected a Texas company’s plan for a $2.2 billion, 780-mile transmission line to carry electricity generated by wind farms from Kansas across Missouri to power grids in the East. The project was viewed as a step forward for renewable energy. The commission’s 3-2 vote was a setback. But it will not be the end of green energy expansion in Missouri and nationwide.
Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) said today that lawmakers should resist the temptation to tap the Strategic Petroleum Reserve to pay for unrelated legislative initiatives. “I’m very worried about any incursions into the SPR that are just meant to fund something else, whether it’s related to health care, whether it’s related to transportation,” she told E&ENews PM. “I’ve been pretty vocal and consistent in saying the SPR is our insurance policy out there. And you don’t sell the insurance policy for a one-term shot in the arm. It doesn’t make sense to me.”