American West is so dry that the land is rising

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

If you live out West, you’ve likely noticed that things have been pretty dry lately. What you probably haven’t noticed is that the ground beneath your feet is also a little bit higher in elevation — an average of 4 millimeters higher, to be exact. It may be hard to believe, but new research using data from hundreds of different GPS stations shows it to be true: The current drought in the American West is so bad that the loss of water weight has actually caused the land to rise.

Health benefits offset costs of climate policies — MIT study

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 26th, 2014

Savings due to avoided health problems help offset — and in some cases greatly outweigh — the costs of carbon dioxide-cutting policies in the United States, according to a new study. The study, led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology, found that health benefits offset between 26 and 1,050 percent of the cost of greenhouse gas reduction policies. The study examined three different types of climate policies: a clean-energy standard, a transportation policy targeting on-road vehicles and a cap-and-trade program.

Vestas headed for first dividend in a decade

Source: Alex Morales, Bloomberg • Posted: Sunday, August 24th, 2014

The world’s largest wind turbine manufacturer is on the verge of its first cash dividend payment in more than 10 years, possibly signaling a turnaround for the industry after a three-year slump. Vestas Wind Systems AS is set to meet solvency and profitability targets required for a dividend payment, according to seven analysts who responded to an emailed Bloomberg News survey. Six expect a payout will follow the 2015 announcement of this year’s earnings. All anticipate payments in 2016.

Big turbine maker feels the breeze of growing U.S. markets

Source: E&E • Posted: Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest wind turbine maker, said the U.S. market continues to show high activity, but the industry is starting to focus on whether the production tax credit (PTC) will be renewed before the end of the year. The Danish manufacturer announced turbine orders of 800 megawatts in the United States in the second quarter, which accounted for most of the 18 percent increase in total orders for the company versus last year. Vestas hired more than 2,000 people during the quarter, most of them at factories in Colorado, where it is ramping up production.

‘Major investment cycle’ and rapidly changing U.S. energy markets pose fresh challenges for FERC — Chairman LaFleur

Source: Rod Kuckro, E&E reporter • Posted: Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Prudent. That word might best describe Cheryl LaFleur’s approach to her job — and answering questions about it — as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. President Obama named the Harvard University-trained attorney and former National Grid executive to lead the agency at the end of July. She had been acting chairman of FERC since November after Jon Wellinghoff left the post before his term was up. LaFleur, 59, will serve as FERC chairman until April 15, 2015, when newly named Commissioner Norman Bay, the former head of FERC’s enforcement office, will step into that role.

10 Questions for the Iowa Senate Candidates

Source: By JOHN HARWOOD, New York Times • Posted: Friday, August 22nd, 2014

The Iowa Senate race is one of a handful that will decide whether Republicans or Democrats control the Senate for the last two years of President Obama’s tenure. The race to succeed retiring Senator Tom Harkin, a Democrat, pits Bruce Braley, a Democrat who is currently in the United States House, against Joni Ernst, a Republican state senator.

EPA trumpets ‘considerable gains’ in curbing toxic emissions

Source: Amanda Peterka, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, August 22nd, 2014

U.S. emissions of air pollutants linked to cancer, asthma and other serious health problems have plunged over the past few decades, according to a report released today by U.S. EPA. Overall, toxic air pollution from smokestacks and other stationary sources has declined 1.5 million tons each year between 1990 and 2012, while emissions from motor vehicles and other moving pollution sources have been cut in half each year during that time, EPA said.

Wind developer drops project, citing state regs

Source: William Thornton, Birmingham News • Posted: Friday, August 22nd, 2014

New wind energy regulations in Alabama caused a wind farm developer to abandon two projects in the state, the company’s attorney said. Pioneer Green Energy attorney Charlie Stewart said the Texas-based company dropped plans for two wind farms after the state passed a wind energy bill that limited the noise that wind farms can produce. The rule also requires wind projects to have a larger setback from nearby properties.

Calif. takes a crack at climate’s effects — but first, a definition of success

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

California has been trying to mitigate climate change for more than a decade now but is just now getting down to business on dealing with its impacts. At the state’s first-ever adaptation forum this week, experts ruminated on the meaning and utility of terms like “resiliency” and “readiness,” as well as “adaptation” itself, to refer to measures taken in response to the rising seas, fiercer storms, more-frequent wildfires and other phenomena expected to intensify as greenhouse gas levels rise.

Md. offshore wind auction rakes in $8.7M

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 21st, 2014

The Interior Department’s third auction of acreage for offshore wind development was dubbed a resounding success by the federal agency, drawing a final bid of $8,701,098 for two lease areas totaling nearly 80,000 acres near Ocean City, Md. This result far outstrips the winning bids during the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management’s first two offshore wind energy area auctions; the first, for ocean area near Rhode Island and Massachusetts, resulted in a final bid of $3.8 million, and the second, for ocean area near Virginia, garnered $1.6 million.