With approximately half of its electricity coming from coal-fired generation, how is Michigan preparing for U.S. EPA’s pending regulations for existing power plants? During today’s OnPoint, Commissioner Greg White, a member of the Michigan Public Service Commission, discusses the future of his state’s renewable portfolio standard and the role of coal in its energy future. He also talks about recent court action on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Order 1000.
With only six weeks left until U.S. EPA is set to release its proposed guidance for existing power plant carbon emissions, stakeholders across the country are making their closing arguments about what the rule should look like. Representatives from energy-producing states will meet tomorrow in North Dakota to try to find consensus on how EPA should craft its proposal in a way that respects state policies and energy mixes.
In 2013, 12 states accounted for 80% of U.S. wind-generated electricity, according to preliminary generation data released in EIA’s March Electric Power Monthly report. Texas was again the top wind power state with nearly 36 million megawatthours (MWh) of electricity. Iowa was second, with more than 15 million MWh, followed by California, Oklahoma, Illinois, Kansas, Minnesota, Oregon, Colorado, Washington, North Dakota, and Wyoming.
While renewable energy developers dream of harnessing the stronger, more consistent breezes that blow thousands of feet above our heads, it’s hard to say when airborne wind energy technology will become commercially viable. But a recent study roughly estimates that if these high-flying devices are deployed at strategic locations around the globe, they have the potential to provide between 7.5 and 9 terawatts of energy — “more than enough to provide electricity to all of humanity,” it states.
Wind farms are more popular in Britain than hydraulic fracturing, a new study shows. According to the YouGov poll, 62 percent of respondents said they would rather live next to a wind farm than a fracking site. Nineteen percent said they would prefer an oil or gas well near their home, according to the poll.
The world needs to ramp up the ambition of its greenhouse gas reduction goals — and do so quickly — if it is to avoid the worst effects of global warming, a U.N. panel of experts warned yesterday. A draft summary of the mitigation section of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s fifth assessment report, released yesterday in Berlin, showed that the world’s current greenhouse gas emissions reduction pledges are likely to hold warming to 3 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels — if countries stick to them. But scientists have warned that if human emissions push warming above 2 degrees Celsius compared with that base line, that will open the door to dangerous and costly shifts in the world’s climate.
Faced with uncertain domestic markets and mounting regulatory pressures over pollution at home, the U.S. coal industry is shifting its focus to some of the poorest nations of the world, where it argues coal should be a primary antidote to global energy poverty. In a sophisticated public relations campaign launched in late February, Peabody Energy Corp., the world’s largest private coal company, argues that policymakers, along with anti-poverty nongovernmental organizations and global investment banks, have overlooked the positive role that coal can play in meeting economic development and even environmental goals throughout the developing world.
International Monetary Fund Director Christine Lagarde told finance ministers today that solving climate change can improve their countries’ bottom lines. Joined by World Bank President Jim Yong Kim and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon as they prepared to speak to a gathering of 46 finance ministers on the economics of fighting global warming, Lagarde advocated both a tax on carbon and the elimination of fossil fuel subsidies. “The protection of ecology is an imperative,” she said. “Everybody says it’s mostly physical … [but] dealing with the protection of ecology can be mostly fiscal.” By getting prices right and spurring investment in low-carbon technology, she said, “you can do well for the economy.”
A senior White House security official yesterday downplayed conclusions of a confidential study last year by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission warning that attacks on a handful of high-voltage substations could cause cascading power outages across the United States.
Rand Beers, deputy assistant to the president for homeland security, said at a conference on cybersecurity that a headline finding in the FERC analysis — which was obtained and published by The Wall Street Journal in March — was built on “extraordinarily narrow” assumptions. The likelihood of such an event happening was “of such a low probability as to be next to impossible,” Beers said.
While federal regulatory uncertainty took a predictable toll on the U.S. wind industry in 2013, the American Wind Energy Association’s (AWEA) annual report takes a rosy view of the year ahead, pointing out the record number of new wind farms in the pipeline at the close of 2013, rather than facility closures and job losses. According to the report, released yesterday, more than 12,000 megawatts of new wind capacity was under construction by last December with an additional 5,200 MW on the way thanks to a record 60 power purchase agreements signed last year.