In the Midwest, the support for renewable fuels is clearly bipartisan. Gov. Terry Brandstad (R) of Iowa is one of their most vocal champions. As far as solar power is concerned, the industry’s support is from coast to coast, including Govs. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) and Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.) and former Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.). Plus, wind power farms can be found in 39 states and that only happens when political support exists amongst mayors, city councils, state legislatures and governors
Colorado Democrats controlling a House of Representatives committee on Monday killed a Republican attempt to roll back rural renewable-energy standards. The measure made it through the Republican-controlled Senate last month but faced an uphill climb in the House, where Democrats on the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee ended the effort by a 6-5 party-line vote.
In an about-face from his first term, Gov. Scott Walker wants to eliminate funding for a University of Wisconsin-Madison renewable energy research center that has played a key role in helping land one of its biggest government grants ever. In his budget, Walker is proposing to eliminate $8.1 million over two years — a total of 35 positions — from a bioenergy program. The reductions are separate from his proposal to cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin System over the next two years.
While problems have mounted for Cape Wind’s 130-turbine installation, a smaller developer may steal its thunder. Deepwater Wind, a Providence-based renewable energy developer, said Monday that its Block Island wind farm project was fully financed. The $250 million, five-turbine project is on track to put “steel in the water” in Rhode Island state waters later this summer, the company said, and begin generating 30 megawatts of power in 2016.
ELPC is among a few regional environmental law centers that operate in the gap between national Goliaths like the Natural Resources Defense Council and small grass-roots organizations. The center takes on major litigation — fighting lawsuits brought by former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, arguing for solar and wind energy in state Supreme Courts, and battling Great Lakes pollution.
“We are increasing our commitment to storage,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a House budget hearing this week. Storing energy on the grid is a big part of making intermittent renewable energy more palatable for utilities. Industry officials also want EPA to include storage as a way to comply with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, as well as state renewable portfolio standards.
Wind power is one of the great success stories of the modern economy. Inventors in New Hampshire launched the world’s first wind farm 35 years ago. In the early 1980s, just one state, California, housed more than 80 percent of all installed wind power worldwide. Today, U.S. wind turbines are so productive that our nation regularly finishes ahead of other countries that have also installed large numbers of turbines, including China, Spain and Germany. This is some of the best infrastructure America has ever built.
Cape Wind may be dead in the water, but climate activists aren’t giving up on the ambitious offshore turbine project yet. In January, after a decade of starts and stops, National Grid and other utility companies that had promised to purchase power from Cape Wind pulled out of their contracts, citing backers’ failure to meet key financing deadlines. Without buyers lined up, the project is effectively stalled. Now, a coalition of environmental groups led by the Better Future Project have kicked off a “hail Mary” campaign asking National Grid president Marcy Reed to reconsider.
Vermont’s new requirement would stipulate that utilities get 55 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2017, ramping up to 75 percent by 2032. Some have met or exceeded those goals already, since Vermont gets big chunks of power from hydroelectric dams — which are considered renewable — as well as biomass plants like the wood chip-burning McNeil power plant in Burlington.
Kansas has been called the “Saudi Arabia of wind,” but why limit ourselves? We have lots of wind. We have lots of sun. We have lots of grain for ethanol. Renewable sources of energy are big business in Kansas. The sector, largely ethanol and wind, make up about 10 percent of the energy consumed in all forms by Kansans, according to the U.S. Energy Information Agency.