Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico is prepared to unveil legislation today that would allow residents tapping into communal solar projects to offset power from traditional power plants and more easily connect to the grid. Heinrich’s bill, S. 1723, the “Promoting Renewable Energy with Shared Solar Act of 2015,” would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 by adding a standard to the law that requires utilities to allow community solar projects of up to 2 megawatts in size to connect to the grid.
The long-fought effort to fix Illinois’ broken renewable portfolio standard (RPS) is in a holding pattern for the summer as lawmakers and other stakeholders await two key national energy developments that are expected to shape the state’s energy debate. A battle raged in the Illinois General Assembly this spring about the state’s energy future, and stakeholders expected to see an omnibus energy bill emerge toward the end of the session. But despite several hearings, lawmakers didn’t act on any of the energy bills pending in both chambers.
New York yesterday awarded $8.3 million in $100,000 increments to 83 entities looking to explore and possibly build a community-supported micro grid. The awards came under a prize competition concocted by Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s (D) energy team that will move forward in three stages. The first stage, announced yesterday, will allow those selected — including local governments, public utilities, community organizations and others — to study the feasibility of a microgrid. Those that move forward into stage 2 would get engineering support and more funding, with stage 3 victors winning state money for project construction.
A microgrid is a stand-alone energy system that operates independently of the traditional electric grid. The idea is to avoid widespread outages and give local entities more flexibility to connect to renewable power, storage and other technologies.
The Senate’s leading climate change skeptic said yesterday he does not believe Congress can prevent an international global warming accord but insisted that the United States will never live up to it. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), speaking after a hearing in which he and other GOP lawmakers questioned Obama’s authority to enter into even a voluntary U.N. climate deal, said he expects to follow up with legislation. But, he acknowledged, there is probably not much congressional opponents of reducing carbon emissions can do to stop the Obama administration from signing onto the agreement expected in Paris this December.
Senate Democrats today successfully amended the fiscal 2016 State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs spending bill to soften the impact of a policy rider that sought to bar the United States from contributing to the U.N. Green Climate Fund. The Appropriations Committee voted 16-14 for an amendment by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) to strike language from the bill that made funding for the climate fund contingent on later authorization by Congress.
Renewable energy supporters are scrambling to shore up support for their respective tax incentives ahead of an expected Senate Finance Committee markup of an extenders package. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) yesterday said he’s working to ensure that an extension of the renewable production tax credit makes the cut for an extenders package. “If there is just one thing in the extenders package that’s a target for striking, it will be that,” Grassley told E&E Daily yesterday.
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.