About half of the $15 billion in federal spending proposed in the Department of Energy’s Quadrennial Energy Review would go to modernizing the electric grid and providing incentives to replace aging natural gas lines, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said. It will be up to Congress to find a source of funding, although about $350 million has been set aside for grid modernization in the Energy Department’s fiscal 2016 budget, Moniz said during a press conference at the IHS CERAWeek conference here
The planning of high-voltage power lines in the United States — marked by just-in-time, least-cost projects — is failing to prepare the nation for unavoidable changes to the power grid, ensuring that consumers will ultimately have to pay significantly more for electricity, a new study by transmission proponents argues. Commissioned by WIRES, an advocacy group including utilities and transmission developers and operators, the study by the Brattle Group is directed at power grid officials, regulators and members of Congress who are confronting implications of U.S. EPA’s proposed Clean Power Plan on the future of the power grid.
Federal officials are moving to speed up their review of wind power projects across the Upper Great Plains in anticipation that the industry will continue growing, a situation that’s alarmed wildlife advocates who say many bird and bat species are being put at risk as wind turbines proliferate. The proposal would cover future wind farms in Montana, Iowa, Minnesota, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Companies to date have installed roughly 8,000 turbines generating more than 12,000 megawatts of wind energy in the six states. That’s almost one-fifth of the wind power in the U.S. and represents enough energy to power the equivalent of almost 3.3 million homes, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
Sunny Arizona’s road to solar has been fraught with problems, the latest of which is tied into the state’s big public utilities placing higher fees on solar users to compensate for their dwindling use of the electric grid. Industry advocates said the increased fees assault the state’s burgeoning solar industry. Supporters of the fee hikes said it’s just another sign of changing markets as utilities navigate the blossoming demand for renewables.
Chuck Hassebrook, the 2014 Democratic nominee for governor and former executive director of the Center for Rural Affairs, has joined a wind energy firm. Hassebrook will be vice president for renewable energy export for Sandhills Wind Energy, which is based in Valentine. “I am excited to help develop the profound opportunity that renewable energy offers the people and communities of rural Nebraska,” Hassebrook said Thursday.
A year-old initiative to mobilize the global business community around the risks and opportunities of climate change has entered a second phase, according to the nonprofit group BSR. It said it will focus efforts in 2015 on deepening private-sector understanding of climate science while also helping develop collaborative strategies to reduce and mitigate against warming’s most harmful effects.
Rep. John Delaney told an audience at a conservative think tank yesterday that he’s drafting a bill to tax carbon that could lead to the repeal of President Obama’s signature policy of regulating CO2 emissions at power plants. “I think it would inevitably lead to that,” the Maryland Democrat said. Delaney made his Earth Day announcement at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative policy shop that has made splashes in Republican circles, not all of them welcome, by hosting discussions about taxing carbon.
U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy told energy executives in Houston today that the Clean Power Plan wouldn’t harm grid reliability. Delivering a keynote address at IHS CERAWeek, McCarthy told executives from industries that would be regulated under the power plant rule that EPA has taken care not to disrupt their ability to deliver electricity to the public.
Gov. Jay Inslee on Wednesday renewed his call for climate change legislation, though Republican lawmakers continue to reject proposals to tax carbon and mandate biofuels as too costly for manufacturers and motorists, and potentially fatal to a transportation plan that depends on a gas tax increase. Speaking on Earth Day, Inslee said lawmakers have done “zero” for the environment this year. “An absolute goose egg,” he said.
This is solar’s year, at least in Washington state and Oregon, whose market growth should expand by a collective 200 megawatts of installed solar capacity, according to a recent Solar Energy Industries Association report. Titled “U.S. Solar Market Insight 2014 Year in Review,” the report said most of the growth centered around residential solar, with some commercial installations from Walgreens Co. and Safeway Inc. “all making significant investments in solar energy systems.”