U.S. EPA for months has said it worked with grid overseers when crafting its landmark Clean Power Plan in order to protect grid reliability, but at least one member of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is publicly questioning the depth of that input. Republican FERC Commissioner Tony Clark told House and Senate Republicans in a letter this month that no commission members or agency staff had any “significant or meaningful role” in providing analysis to EPA on grid reliability on the Clean Power Plan, either before or after the proposal was released last summer.
Solar energy industry officials yesterday said they will seek an extension of a tax credit that is set to drop by two-thirds in 2016, adding another potentially contentious issue to the growing energy debate in Congress this year. Solar producers will lobby lawmakers to extend a 30 percent investment tax credit for commercial-scale projects that drops at the end of next year, said Solar Energy Industries Association President and CEO Rhone Resch.
Michigan’s use of wind energy is expanding. Enough turbines are expected to go up this year around the state, including in Mason County, to produce 250 megawatts.
The outgoing head of the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality said today that he’s sure the Obama administration’s effort to combat climate change won’t waver — even though President Obama is losing two of his top environmental aides.
Brian Deese, deputy director of the White House budget office and a longtime aide to President Obama, will take over for John Podesta in February. The new gig — which comes with the title of senior adviser — will include taking over Podesta’s portfolio on climate and energy issues, which will be among the president’s “top priorities for the remainder of his term,” a White House official said yesterday.
The House yesterday approved a controversial bill to fast-track federal approval of natural gas pipelines despite sharp Democratic opposition and a veto threat from the White House. The chamber voted 253-169 to approve Rep. Mike Pompeo’s (R-Kan.) “Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act,” H.R. 161, which would give the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a year to approve or deny a pipeline, and other agencies are given three or four months beyond that to complete their work on any additional permits, licenses or approvals that would be needed.
U.S. Senator Tom Udall announced that he has introduced an amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill to establish a national Renewable Electricity Standard (RES) that would create over a quarter of a million jobs, reduce pollution and save consumers billions of dollars. The legislation, which would help the United States become energy independent while establishing our leadership in clean energy production, would require utilities to generate 25 percent of their electricity from wind, solar and other renewable energy sources by 2025.
Businesses in California have been thinking about this goal for some time. An analysis is well underway on how the state can cut its carbon footprint in half by 2030. It’s being funded by about two dozen companies, trade groups and foundations with interests in large-scale renewable energy, including GE, Sunpower, NRG, BrightSource Energy, the American Wind Energy Association and the Energy Foundation.
Seventy-nine percent of respondents voiced support for alternative and renewable energy mandates, framed as “requiring a set portion of all electricity to come from renewable energy sources such as wind and power.” An even higher portion — 84 percent — backed “requiring increased energy efficiency standards for new homes and applications.” These options both showed broad support from Republicans, Democrats and independents. But nearly 60 percent of respondents — including majorities from all three groups — opposed a carbon tax.
The reason why offshore wind has not happened — even though the federal government says New Jersey’s coastline offers some of the best offshore wind resources — is a matter of dispute. At least a dozen developers have expressed an interest in building winds farms along the coast. To critics, however, the economics of offshore wind make little sense, particularly with historically low natural gas prices in a state burdened with some of the nation’s highest electric bills. A growing portion of the state’s electricity is produced by conventional natural-gas-fired power plants.