Warm winter hurts energy production from Calif. wind farms

Source: By NICHOLA GROOM, REUTERS • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Wind energy deliveries to California’s top utility fell by half in the first two months of the year because of unusually weak winds in some Western states. The slowed wind energy production has exacerbated electricity shortfalls caused by a long drought, which has reduced hydroelectric power in the most populous U.S. state. Southern California Edison, which is owned by Edison International, said that any gaps left by the 50 percent drop in wind production during an execptionally warm January and February will be filled with electricity bought on the open market. Spot purchases tend to be more expensive and often come from natural gas.

Some governors push back over McConnell letter to defy EPA 

Source: By RIK STEVENS, Associated Press • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for governors to defy proposed federal rules to limit pollution has been met with mostly silence, but leaders in downwind New England states and drought-stricken areas in the West are pushing back. The Kentucky Republican wrote to all the nation’s governors in March after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants. McConnell said he thinks the rule is illegal and, if enacted, would hurt the U.S. economy and kill energy jobs. Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin was blunt in his response to McConnell.

Ark. utility pushes for state’s biggest solar array 

Source: Krysti Shallenberger, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

An Arkansas public utility is poised to offer its customers a choice of sun alongside its standard nuclear and hydro-powered fare, fattening the state’s super-slim solar industry. Entergy Arkansas Inc., a subsidiary of Entergy Corp., yesterday announced a 20-year power purchase agreement with solar developer NextEra Energy Resources, which will supply the company’s solar generation if a proposed 81-megawatt solar facility gets the green light from the state’s Public Service Commission.

Falling costs, barriers help solar flourish in the Southeast 

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

Some Southeastern states slowly are loosening barriers that once prevented consumers from putting solar panels on their homes and small businesses. But many say that isn’t the reason for the recent — and probably future — growth in the residential solar market. The explanation is more likely straight-up economics, solar industry advocates argue. Solar panel technology is improving, the costs are falling, and developers are installing systems more efficiently, they say.

New chairman’s first day is marked by protests, weighty decisions 

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

Norman Bay’s first day on the job as chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission was repeatedly interrupted by the removal of shouting climate activists opposed to hydraulic fracturing and the agency’s approval of gas pipelines and export terminals. “Well, I guess one wouldn’t be the chairman of FERC without having to deal with protesters,” Bay said today after Ted Glick, the national campaign coordinator for the Chesapeake Climate Action Network, was removed from the commission’s meeting room in Washington, D.C.

Support for carbon tax reaches almost 70% 

Source: Evan Lehmann, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

A large majority of Americans support taxing carbon emissions, according to polling results released yesterday, and favorability rises to two-thirds if the tax is used to send money back to households. The survey by Stanford University and Resources for the Future also found that efforts by environmental organizations to increase urgency around climate change by pointing to extreme weather isn’t working, and neither are efforts to erode people’s belief in global warming by questioning the science. “There is really no evidence here at all that the disinformation campaign has successfully, dramatically reduced confidence in environmental scientists,” said Jon Krosnick, a Stanford professor who oversaw the poll.

Wind power breezes back, led by Iowa and Texas 

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

In Iowa, a center for both wind energy production and manufacturing, the sector has attracted $10 billion in cumulative investment and supports 6,000 jobs, according to AWEA. With nearly 5,700 MW of installed capacity, Iowa also receives more of its electricity from wind energy than any other state, at 28.5 percent, followed by South Dakota (25.3 percent) and Kansas (21.7 percent).

Skeptical judges question attack on EPA’s proposed rule 

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

Courts typically don’t entertain challenges to rules before they are finished. Previous attempts to block EPA from finalizing greenhouse gas rules — such as a 2012 bid to stop the agency from finalizing greenhouse gas rules for new power plants — were quickly dismissed. Judge Thomas Griffith, a Republican appointee, asked Lin whether there is “any case in which we have halted a proposed rulemaking.””Why in the world would we resort to an extraordinary writ?” he asked, adding that the climate regulations seemed to be going through a “garden-variety rulemaking” process.

Judges Skeptical of Challenge to Proposed E.P.A. Rule on Climate Change

Source: By CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times • Posted: Friday, April 17th, 2015

A panel of federal judges appeared inclined on Thursday to dismiss the first legal challenge to President Obama’s most far-reaching regulation to slow climate change. But in the arguments before the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, lawyers for the nation’s two largest coal companies, more than two dozen states and the Environmental Protection Agency offered a preview of what is expected to be a protracted battle over a regulation Mr. Obama hopes to leave as his signature environmental achievement.

Renewable energy jobs drop sharply in Australia amid political uncertainty 

Source: By Sydney Morning Herald • Posted: Thursday, April 16th, 2015

In the last two years, renewable energy jobs in Australia have declined by 15 percent, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics. More than 2,000 jobs have been lost since the industry hit a peak of almost 15,000 full-time workers in 2011 and 2012. Last year, there were 12,590 jobs in renewable energy. According to the Australian Conservation Foundation, job loss can be attributed to political indecision over the Renewable Energy Target, which calls for 20 percent of Australia’s electricity to come from renewable sources by 2020. The Australian Bureau of Statistics said the indecision was having a negative impact on investments.