News

Obama admin presses Supreme Court to revive demand-response regs

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, July 14th, 2015

The Obama administration on Friday urged the Supreme Court to reverse a lower-court ruling invalidating a major initiative to encourage reduced electricity consumption. Solicitor General Donald Verrilli argued in court documents that the federal appeals court ruling misread the Federal Power Act and that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission deserves deference in its interpretation of the law. At issue is FERC’s 2011 Order 745, which requires grid operators to compensate electricity users for committing to not use power at peak times at the same rate as the operators purchase electricity from generators.

Pacific NW smart grid project called a success as it concludes

Source: Colin Sullivan, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, July 13th, 2015

A five-year regional smart grid project spanning five states in the Pacific Northwest recently ended with a healthy note of optimism from the consultant that ran the pilot. Project leader Battelle, which oversaw the experiment for the Energy Department, praised the demonstration as one of the nation’s largest rollouts of a complex smart grid to date, noting a number of lessons learned on the ground both good and bad. The project was a $178 million affair involving 11 utilities; the Bonneville Power Administration; two universities; and multiple companies in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. It was funded under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act through DOE along with matching funds from participants.

White House opens doors to eleventh-hour pleas on Clean Power Plan

Source: Rod Kuckro and Emily Holden, E&E reporters • Posted: Monday, July 13th, 2015

Multiple state environmental regulators will meet Tuesday with senior Obama administration staff in an attempt to shape the final version of the forthcoming U.S. EPA rule to curb carbon emissions from power plants. The meeting is the latest in a string that began about a month ago with a visit by a six-person delegation from the Sierra Club to an Office of Management and Budget conference room in Washington, D.C. OMB, an arm of the White House, is leading the interagency review that will culminate in the final EPA rule being released sometime in August, according to the current administration schedule.

Top and Bottom Wind Energy-Producing States in the US

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Monday, July 13th, 2015

The U.S. Department of Energy wants 20 percent of the nation’s energy to come from wind power in the next 15 years, up from the 5 percent wind generates now. A new Energy Department report finds that wind technology featuring taller towers and larger turbines may get the nation to that goal by opening up areas to wind farm development that were previously dead zones. New data based on wind resources at higher elevations show that the Southeast, which currently has no commercial wind farms, could be a viable location.
Here’s a look at the top wind-producing states, as measured in megawatts, as well as the eleven states that currently have no commercial wind power

As Obama heads to Africa, his signature energy program there seeks firmer footing

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, July 13th, 2015

Power Africa, the Obama administration’s effort to infuse billions of energy investment dollars across sub-Saharan Africa, is entering its third year focused on completing up to 30,000 megawatts of new generation projects while adding 60 million new grid connections across the world’s least-electrified continent. Yet for all its ambition, the $7 billion program, rolled out in Cape Town, South Africa, in 2013 and likely to be touted by Obama on his upcoming trip to East Africa this month, has gained relatively little media attention or public notoriety compared with other major energy initiatives happening here. For many Africans and Africa observers, the massive Medupi and Kusile coal plants being built by South Africa’s Eskom at a cost of more than $20 billion, or the 6,000-MW Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam under construction on the Blue Nile River for an estimated $4 billion, are hallmarks of the continent’s progress toward electrification.

Wind power generates 140% of Denmark’s electricity demand

Source: By Arthur Neslen, The Guardian • Posted: Monday, July 13th, 2015

So much power was produced by Denmark’s windfarms on Thursday that the country was able to meet its domestic electricity demand and export power to Norway, Germany and Sweden. On an unusually windy day, Denmark found itself producing 116% of its national electricity needs from wind turbines yesterday evening. By 3am on Friday, when electricity demand dropped, that figure had risen to 140%. “It shows that a world powered 100% by renewable energy is no fantasy,” said Oliver Joy, a spokesman for trade body the European Wind Energy Association. “Wind energy and renewables can be a solution to decarbonisation – and also security of supply at times of high demand.”

The Clean Energy Case for Transmission Has Never Been Stronger

Source: By Bill White & John Jimison, Green Tech Grid • Posted: Saturday, July 11th, 2015

In the two years since we outlined how smarter transmission policy could accelerate and reduce clean energy costs in America’s Power Plan, evidence continues to mount that robust high-voltage transmission networks are indispensable to a clean energy future. Smart transmission planning has enabled most of the wind and solar now operating in the United States and has done so while generating large net economic benefits; one study estimated that co-optimizing generation and transmission planning could save an incredible $90 billion.

Calif. Gov. Jerry Brown, U.S. mayors to travel to Vatican for climate meetings with Pope Francis

Source: Scott Detrow, E&E reporter • Posted: Saturday, July 11th, 2015

Pope Francis and California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) have led very different lives since they both began studying for the priesthood in the 1950s. Brown left the Jesuit seminary after only a few years, realizing his vocation lay in the family business of politics, rather than the church. Francis, of course, went on to become the leader of the world’s 1 billion Catholics. But this month, the two men whose paths took them in dramatically different directions will meet to discuss a common concern: climate change.

Senators roll out bipartisan bill promoting offshore projects

Source: Daniel Bush, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 10th, 2015

The “Incentivizing Offshore Wind Power Act” would establish an investment tax credit for offshore wind projects, letting power producers claim a 30 percent tax credit on the first 3,000 megawatts generated at offshore energy facilities. “Senator Collins and I have introduced this bill to help create the nurturing environment the industry needs to grow and thrive,” Carper said in a statement. Twelve Senate Democrats and Sen. Angus King, a Maine independent, have signed onto the current legislation, which comes as lawmakers prepare to debate a new package of tax extenders that could include investment and production tax credits for wind and solar.

Heinrich to introduce communal solar bill

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 10th, 2015

Democratic Sen. Martin Heinrich of New Mexico is prepared to unveil legislation today that would allow residents tapping into communal solar projects to offset power from traditional power plants and more easily connect to the grid. Heinrich’s bill, S. 1723, the “Promoting Renewable Energy with Shared Solar Act of 2015,” would amend the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978 by adding a standard to the law that requires utilities to allow community solar projects of up to 2 megawatts in size to connect to the grid.