New Tesla base model includes all-wheel drive, longer range 

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Starting today, Tesla will stop selling its old base Model S called the 60, which was a rear-drive car with 380-horsepower motor that could travel 208 miles on a single charge. The new model, called the 70-D, has 514 horsepower and can go 240 miles per charge.

Golden eagle study could complicate federal development plans in Calif. desert 

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Golden eagles in the Mojave Desert fly much farther and have a much larger range of habitat than previously known, according to a new study that suggests federal land managers should factor this into a sweeping plan designed to guide renewable energy across the Southern California desert. The latest study, published this month in the journal Biological Conservation, used radio telemetry and global positioning system devices to track the year-round movements of eagles in the Mojave Desert in California.

Board votes to bar agency workers from discussing climate change 

Source: By Eric Roston, Bloomberg • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

A Wisconsin state agency enacted a ban on staff communication on climate change yesterday, calling the issue of rising global temperatures a distraction from its mission. The state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a three-member panel, approved the ban at a meeting yesterday. The board oversees an agency that manages certain state properties.

Utilities May Lose More Grid-Connected Customers, And Billions of Dollars

Source: By Ken Silverstein, Forbes • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

A rebounding economy will lead to greater demand, rising electricity rates and falling costs tied to technology — especially energy storage devices that could facilitate the use of rooftop solar panels. For utilities, that means fewer grid connected customers and possible declines in revenue of $35 billion a year. That’s according to a study by Snowmass, Colo.-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which concludes solar-plus-battery systems will escalate, albeit the pace of that rise is contingent on the regulatory framework that states establish. It’s a follow up to an examination released a year ago in which the institute concluded that the trend toward more rooftop solar electricity, or distributed generation, is conditioned on more affordable and reliable battery technologies.

Renewables jobs surpass coal job losses, but it’s not ‘a one-for-one replacement’ — study 

Source: Pamela King, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Employment gains in the natural gas, wind and solar sectors are more than offsetting job losses in coal — but not necessarily at the local level, researchers from Duke University have found. In the four years following the 2008 recession, the coal industry lost 49,534 laborers, or about 12 percent of its workforce, driven by higher costs associated with subsurface mining and regulatory compliance, according to a paper published yesterday in the journal Energy Policy. Over the same time period, the natural gas, solar and wind businesses added nearly 220,000 jobs, a 21 percent increase.

Texas, a robust job producer, starts to feel sting from falling oil prices

Source: Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Texas’ economic vibrancy is beginning to lose some of its luster in the wake of the collapse in global crude oil prices. The Lone Star State has been the top job generator in the United States for a string of years, coming in second last year behind another booming oil producer, North Dakota. Texas also survived and bounced back from the 2008 economic crisis far stronger than many of its neighbors. But evidence is mounting that the state’s economy will have a much rougher year ahead as layoffs mount, company spending pulls back and the broader economy feels the impact of the 50 percent plunge in oil prices.

Inslee, Branstad To Lead Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition 

Source: By North America Windpower • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

“States continue to play a leading role developing the nation’s renewable energy resources, and capturing the jobs and economic benefits that these growing clean energy industries provide,” Inslee says. “Washington state’s wind energy industry has attracted more than $5.7 billion in investment since 2001 – creating thousands of jobs, supporting our rural communities and reducing emissions from our electricity sector. I look forward to working with Gov. Branstad and our coalition colleagues to promote federal and state policies that will help the wind energy industry continue to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.”

Legislature ponders raising state’s share of renewable energy to 50%, cutting oil use 

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

A major legislative push to raise California’s share of renewable energy to 50 percent by 2030 had its first hearing before a panel of largely receptive lawmakers yesterday. The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee took up Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León’s (D) S.B. 350, which would implement Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) inaugural January pledge to boost renewables, lower petroleum use by half and double energy efficiency in buildings.

Wind Power Creates 30,000 Texas Jobs, Generates $85 million in Taxes

Source: By Big Country Homepage • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

The boom in West Texas wind-powered electricity generation has delivered a major economic boost to the region, including creation of over 40 new businesses and 30,000 construction jobs in 57 West Texas counties since 2001, according to data collected by Public Citizen’s Texas office. The 40 new manufacturers and businesses make everything from wind turbine blades and steel towers to electronics, according to the data. Wind farms also generate over $85 million in taxes annually in rural Texas counties and more than $9 billion in new taxable assets in the last 14 years.

NYSERDA to lead New York’s $160 million program to subsidize wind, solar projects

Source: By TED BOOKER, Watertown Daily Times • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Large-scale wind and solar projects being planned across the state will have a chance to get a financial boost from a $160 million program announced this week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Developers will be able to apply for contracts of up to 20 years under the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s renewable portfolio standard program, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Funding will be used to support private investment in a variety of renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, solar and biomass facilities, fuel cells, and small to medium-sized hydropower projects. A May 8 deadline has been set for developers to apply for the competitive program, which is part of the state’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” strategy.