President Obama officially named Cheryl LaFleur today to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission until next April. The White House has designated Norman Bay to take over the chairmanship on April 15, 2015. LaFleur had been FERC’s acting chairwoman since the resignation of former Chairman Jon Wellinghoff last November. The unusual measure of having a chairman-in-waiting is the result of a tumultuous confirmation process for Bay, currently the head of FERC’s Office of Enforcement, and for LaFleur for a second term. LaFleur was officially sworn in this week. Bay still hasn’t been sworn in, according to FERC.
Tesla Motors Inc. and Panasonic Corp. are teaming up to build a battery manufacturing plant. The California-based electric vehicle maker and Japanese electronics giant will produce lithium-ion battery cells for EVs at a “gigafactory” in the United States, the companies said today.
Several thousand coal miners, other union workers and supporters flooded the streets here in opposition to U.S. EPA’s proposals to reduce carbon emissions from coal-fired power plants. Action in the streets, including a smaller presence by climate activists, overshadowed the agency’s daylong listening session on the regulations on the 13th and 15th floors of the federal building downtown. Police arrested more than a dozen union activists, including United Mine Workers of America President Cecil Roberts for sitting in front of the building’s steps in protest.
The Sierra Club also has a history of zeroing in on the Metro station that makes the most sense for its current mission. When the State Department was considering the Keystone XL pipeline, the group placed ads in the Foggy Bottom station, near the department’s headquarters. When the House was holding up a bill on a tax credit for wind energy, the group ran ads in the Capitol South station, on the House side of the hill. “We’re bringing our message directly to where the decision makers, to where the influential, are,” said Melinda Pierce, the legislative director of the Sierra Club.
Germany is now getting 28.5 percent of its electricity from renewable energy sources such as solar, wind and biomass, said the utility lobby BDEW. According to the lobby’s preliminary estimates, the amount of power from wind increased by 21.4 percent, while solar rose by 27.3 percent.
A team of Stanford University researchers, including former Energy Secretary Steven Chu, believes it has achieved the “holy grail” of lithium battery design: an anode of pure lithium that could boost the range of an electric car to 300 miles. Lithium-ion batteries are one of the most common types of rechargeable batteries on the market today. But most of the batteries — found in technologies like smartphones and electric cars — use an anode made of graphite or silicon.
A House panel today tussled over whether U.S. EPA’s premier greenhouse gas rule is an illegal effort by the Obama administration to reshape the electric power system or a stimulus for new industries.Rep. Cynthia Lummis (R-Wyo.), who heads a House Science, Space and Technology subcommittee, blasted the existing power plant proposal as a bid by EPA to “take control of our nation’s electric system without any legal or scientific justification.” “The rule has the potential to shut down power plants across the nation, raise energy prices and threaten energy security,” she said.
The proposed U.S. EPA rules to limit carbon emissions at existing power plants could require an overhaul of how grid operators line up electricity supply, causing significant confusion in power markets, according to federal energy regulators. Philip Moeller, a Republican commissioner on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, confirmed that switching electric markets to power dispatch based on lowest carbon emissions instead of the current system that is based on lowest-priced supply would require approval from FERC and “a complete redesign of markets to include essentially a carbon fee on any resources that emit carbon dioxide,” according to his answers to preliminary questions to the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power. Tony Clark, another Republican commissioner, made similar points in his preliminary answers.
The most important climate change hearing in town today will be held miles down Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol Building, but the listening session on U.S. EPA’s marquee carbon rule is still drawing plenty of congressional interest. Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.), a sponsor of the carbon dioxide cap-and-trade bill that cleared the House in 2009, will be among the first to testify on the existing power plant proposal this morning as the two-day listening session begins. Markey commended EPA in prepared remarks for a draft rule that he said would make sure “millions of Americans are healthier” and create jobs. But he blasted Republicans for attacking the rule on economic grounds.
Hundreds of supporters of the Obama administration’s flagship climate change rule turned the grounds around the U.S. EPA headquarters into a green carnival this morning as the agency opened the first public hearings on the proposal in Washington, D.C. Stoking enthusiasm outside the William Jefferson Clinton Building was Ben & Jerry’s, which handed out free cookie dough and fudge ice cream to rule backers — notably children organized by the Moms Clean Air Task Force. The group is also staging “play-ins” at the other three EPA listening sessions this week in Atlanta, Denver and Pittsburgh.