Gov. Sam Brownback and legislative leaders unveiled a plan Monday to end a state mandate that requires utility companies to get one-fifth of their power from renewable sources by 2020. The wind industry, which had fought that idea in the past, now supports it as part of a compromise that will keep lawmakers from imposing an excise tax on wind energy production. The plan was announced about a half-hour before a scheduled meeting of the House Energy and Environment Committee, which placed the new language into HB 2373 and approved it within an hour. The bill will now head to the House floor.
Under the deal announced by Brownback, the requirement Kansas utilities draw 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020 would become voluntary rather than a mandate. The state’s utility companies are expected to reach that benchmark in about a year. The bill would allow renewable energy facilities, primarily wind farms, to retain a lifetime exemption from payment of property taxes. New alternative energy units built after 2016 would be eligible for a 10-year property tax exemption. At the conclusion of that period, producers would be taxed at the 25 percent commercial rate instead of the 33 percent utility rate.
The Supreme Court today granted the Obama administration’s request to review a regulatory effort that would reshape energy markets by incentivizing reduced electricity use. In a customary short order, the court agreed to review a federal appeals court decision last May that threw out the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s demand-response regulations.
FERC’s Order 745 requires grid operators to compensate customers and demand-response providers for unused electricity at approximately the same rate as it purchases electricity from power companies.
The $3,000 residential battery system unveiled by Tesla Motors Inc. won’t let a home sever its grid connection and isn’t likely to disrupt the national power market anytime soon, the associate director of a national laboratory told lawmakers today. Jud Virden, an associate director of the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Energy and Environment Directorate, said Tesla’s 7-kilowatt-hour system can’t meet a household’s daily power needs — typically, eight hours of baseload plus peak load consumption of air conditioners, dryers or other appliances kicking on simultaneously.
Question: Elon Musk last week debuted a product that promises to store renewable energy. How long before distributed energy storage becomes a threat to utilities like Berkshire Hathaway Energy?
Buffett called out Berkshire Hathaway Energy CEO Greg Abel during the Q&A to update shareholders about how much energy MidAmerican Energy will get from wind after the Des Moines utility completes its latest project. Abel said the $900 million investment, announced Friday, will push the amount of energy MidAmerican customers get from wind to 58%.
MidAmerican Energy plans $900 million worth of new wind-generated electricity capacity in Iowa, bringing the total wind farm investment it has announced this week to $1.5 billion. MidAmerican is a division of Berkshire Hathaway Energy of Des Moines, in turn, a subsidiary of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of Omaha. It said today it has filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board for up to 522 megawatts of generating capacity at two undisclosed locations in Iowa. That’s on top of a 400-megawatt Nebraska wind farm, worth about $600 million, that MidAmerican announced Thursday.
The utility filed plans with the Iowa Utilities Board for the development of up to 552 megawatts of new wind generation in Iowa. The news comes as leaders of Berkshire Hathaway, the parent of Berkshire Hathaway Energy, which owns MidAmerican, gather in Omaha this weekend for the company’s annual meeting. MidAmerican Energy is in the process of obtaining necessary permits and easements for the construction of wind farms at two new sites, it said Friday.
The Obama administration is close to granting final approval to a multi-state power line project that would allow wind-generated electricity in Wyoming to power homes and businesses from Las Vegas to San Diego, Calif., but that still has some environmentalists concerned about potential impacts to greater sage grouse. The TransWest Express line would carry as much as 3,000 megawatts of electricity — including wind-generated power from planned wind farms in Wyoming — from a substation in Sinclair, Wyo., in the south-central part of the state across portions of Colorado and Utah to a substation in southern Nevada, about 25 miles south of Las Vegas. Once placed into service in 2018, the project would have the capacity to transmit enough electricity to power about 1.8 million homes.
The 131 MW of new wind energy capacity reflects a 40 percent drop from the same period in 2014, when the industry added 217 MW, according the American Wind Energy Association, which released the sector’s latest quarterly report Wednesday. But AWEA downplayed the anemic Q1 numbers, which reflect the sector’s fourth smallest quarterly growth since 2008 (its three smallest quarters all occurred in 2013). Instead, AWEA said the sector has emerged from its recent downslide and is poised for huge capacity additions as more than 100 projects currently under construction come online later this year and into 2016 and 2017.