White House rolls out executive actions to promote solar, efficiency

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

Top Obama administration officials touted a new program to install solar power in low-income Washington, D.C., homes today as the White House announced a new suite of executive actions to advance solar deployment and boost energy efficiency. U.S. EPA chief Gina McCarthy joined Housing and Urban Development Secretary Julián Castro, Council on Environmental Quality acting Chairman Mike Boots, and White House energy and climate adviser Dan Utech in the Ivy City neighborhood of northeast D.C. this morning to view new solar installations by the nonprofit GRID Alternatives on affordable homes developed by Habitat for Humanity.

Legendary EPA boss Ruckelshaus stays in political picture

Source: Robin Bravender, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

Bill Ruckelshaus isn’t afraid of chest-pounding politicians. He’s famous for standing up to Richard Nixon. In October 1973, then-Deputy Attorney General Ruckelshaus resigned after refusing the president’s order to fire the Watergate special prosecutor in an episode known as the Saturday Night Massacre. And now, the legendary two-time U.S. EPA chief speaks freely about his disdain for his longtime political home, the Republican Party, what he sees as a pathetic Congress, and the reluctance of U.S. pols and policymakers to act decisively on global warming.

White House officials acknowledge their climate plan’s limits, but decry inaction

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

Don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. That was the message from top White House officials yesterday as they grappled with Republican critics of the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan. The officials argued that action, even limited, is preferable to and less expensive than inaction on climate change.

MGA Addresses Choices and Flexibility for Electric Grid

Source: By Emily Marthaler • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

The Midwestern Governors Association (MGA) recently met in Indianapolis to examine the tools available to states, the region, utilities and grid operators to meet the future challenges of grid and electricity reliability. The meeting, Empowering the Grid: Choices and Flexibility for Grid Operations and Utilization, took place September 16 – 17, and attendees included governors’ staff, state utility commissioners, utilities and other industry stakeholders. “Throughout the Midwest, states are grappling with ways to meet new environmental demands on electricity production and upgrading their transmission infrastructure. Sharing ideas on how to meet new requirements, as well as ensuring regional flexibility, is an important conversation that I am glad this meeting helped facilitate,” said Indiana Governor Mike Pence.

MISO study suggests bigger is better when it comes to EPA carbon compliance

Source: Jeffrey Tomich, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

States within the Midcontinent Independent System Operator’s footprint could save billions of dollars complying with U.S. EPA’s proposed carbon rules for existing power plants by banding together and applying strategies beyond the four “building blocks” put forward by the federal agency, according to an analysis by the grid operator.

FERC reaches agreement on contentious cost-allocation rule in the West

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today clarified that Bonneville Power Administration — a Department of Energy agency that operates the Pacific Northwest grid — won’t be required to enroll in transmission planning under FERC’s far-reaching Order 1000 rule.The commission unanimously approved Order 1000 compliance filings for WestConnect and ColumbiaGrid — a nonprofit corporation to which BPA belongs — that makes clear nonpublic utility transmission providers are not required to enroll in transmission planning under the rule. If BPA does join, it will be subject to the regional cost allocation method, FERC said.

Court rejects FERC request for rehearing of high-profile demand-response ruling

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 19th, 2014

A federal appeals court yesterday rejected the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s request to reconsider its May decision that scrapped a high-profile policy providing incentives to electricity users to consume less power. In a win for utilities, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit rejected FERC’s request for the court to rehear its 2-1 ruling that vacated Order 745, which required grid operators to pay customers and demand-response providers the market value of unused electricity.

Environmental, consumer groups seek greenhouse gas reduction metrics in Ill.

Source: Jeffrey Tomich, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Consumer and environmental groups in Illinois are urging state regulators to require utilities to track reductions in greenhouse gas emissions directly linked to smart grid investments. The metrics proposed by the Citizens Utility Board and Environmental Defense Fund would focus on when and how shifts in energy use translate to reductions in greenhouse gas emissions.

2 buoys will help the U.S. explore vast offshore wind power potential

Source: Niina Heikkinen, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Developers hoping to make offshore wind power a commercial reality in the United States have been slowed in part by one problem: None of the instruments measuring offshore wind speeds is recording winds at 600 feet above sea level, the height of the wind turbine blades. This particular obstacle may soon be solved with the launch of two bright-yellow highly equipped research buoys designed to do just that.

FERC deadlocked over fairness of rules in power-starved New England

Source: Hannah Northey and Rod Kuckro, E&E reporters • Posted: Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Skyrocketing prices in energy-starved New England — made worse by the closure of the region’s largest coal plant — are now pitting members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission against one another in a debate over market rules and consumer protection. The disagreement could shine a bright light on Norman Bay’s leadership style come next year.