News

FERC lowers transmission rates in New England

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, October 20th, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday said New England companies should make less money on power line projects and scheduled a hearing to review complaints that rates are also too high in the Midwest. FERC commissioners agreed that the rate of return on equity — the amount transmission owners can earn from new power lines by charging ratepayers — of 11.14 percent in New England is unjust and unreasonable. The commission unanimously upheld an order that lowered the rate to 10.57 percent.

Tax Credits for Energy Industry Are Under Scrutiny

Source: By JIM MALEWITZ, New York Times • Posted: Monday, October 20th, 2014

Susan Combs, the state comptroller, stirred controversy last month when she said Texas’ growing wind energy industry should “stand on its own two feet.” “Billions of dollars of tax credits and property tax limitations on new generation helped grow the industry, but today they give it an unfair market advantage over other power sources,” said Ms. Combs, a Republican, upon the release of a study meant to illustrate how energy policy affects Texans’ wallets.

Coal industry questions legal foundation of EPA’s modified power plant rule

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 17th, 2014

U.S. EPA can’t count on its modified power plant rule to keep its entire greenhouse gas program for utilities on firm legal footing, the coal industry said yesterday. In comments to EPA’s docket for the rule, the National Mining Association warned that the modified power plant rule — which was released June 2 together with EPA’s sweeping proposal for existing power plants — could not act as a “necessary predicate” for the Clean Power Plan.

Natural gas’s impact as a ‘bridge fuel’ has been oversold, report says

Source: Gayathri Vaidyanathan, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 17th, 2014

Natural gas will not be a bridge fuel to a post-carbon future in the absence of an overarching climate change policy, according to a study published yesterday in the journal Nature. That’s because the fuel is likely to displace low-carbon renewable energy sources as well as coal from the energy mix, the study finds. So the net impact on global warming of using abundant supplies of natural gas would be rather small, said Haewon McJeon, a scientist at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and lead author of the paper.

FERC investigating market behavior during last year’s arctic plunge

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, October 17th, 2014

Federal regulators today revealed that they have launched three nonpublic investigations into “discrete market participant actions” that may have been at play when extreme, subfreezing temperatures seized the Northeast during last winter’s polar vortex siege. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Enforcement said it had found no proof of “widespread or sustained market manipulation” when a blast of arctic air hit the United States in January, the coldest in 17 years, producing record demands for electricity and natural gas.

Commentary: The benefits of wind energy in Colorado

Source: By By Tom Darin, The Denver Post • Posted: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Clean energy is creating real opportunities and prosperity in Colorado. Earlier this year, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corporation reported that over 18,000 Coloradans were employed in the state’s red-hot clean tech sector that has now grown to over 1,400 companies in the nine-county metro Denver area. And wind power plays a key role in the growing diversification of Colorado’s economy. The state has 19 supply chain facilities that employ thousands of residents in good paying family-wage jobs.

Expanded use of natural gas won’t slow global warming — study

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

Using more natural gas won’t slow the growth of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and isn’t “necessarily an effective substitute for climate change mitigation policy,” according to a study published online today in the journal Nature. The study says inexpensive natural gas would replace not only higher-emission fossil fuels like coal but also low-carbon, expensive sources like nuclear reactors and renewable energy.

Renewable energy, energy storage will combine to power future distribution systems — experts

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, October 16th, 2014

The clean energy revolution can trace its origins to the dramatic expansion of wind power, solar power and other renewable energy resources globally over the last decade. Its future, however, will be determined by ideas that are only now taking shape on the dry-erase boards and engineering test beds of the world’s energy visionaries. Among the next big energy breakthroughs, experts told an audience gathered here Monday, are batteries capable of socking away thousands of megawatts of clean energy for later use; microgrids that allow energy to be produced, delivered and controlled at scales as small as a village or campus; and the application of the “Internet of Things” to power-consuming devices, allowing for unprecedented levels of demand-side energy management.

Software aids grid operators struggling with the vagaries of renewable energy

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

One of the top challenges facing electric utilities and grid operators over the coming decade will be how to integrate distributed energy, such as that produced by rooftop solar panels and wind turbines, into the electricity mix without compromising the steady flow of electrons to the end-users when and where they need them. The exploding growth of such energy resources, called distributed generation (DG), has already become a central issue in states like California, Hawaii, New Jersey and even North Carolina, where solar and wind power represent ever-larger parts of the electricity mix.

Iowa’s scientists release statement on health effects of climate change

Source: By Timothy Meinch, Des Moines Register • Posted: Wednesday, October 15th, 2014

Professors and scientists in Iowa last week emphasized the tangible effects climate change will have on local lives. Over 180 science faculty members and researchers from 38 colleges endorsed this year’s Iowa Climate Statement, which was released at the Iowa Capitol on Friday. The aim of the statement is to increase Iowans’ access to resources and scientific data, according to its authors.