Report ranks power companies’ pursuit of renewables, efficiency gains

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

A report from investor activist group Ceres is gauging the nation’s major utilities’ embrace of renewable energy and energy efficiency with an eye toward encouraging compliance with upcoming federal electricity rules. The study ranked 32 of the country’s largest investor-owned utility holding companies on their renewable energy and energy efficiency performance. The companies and their 80 utility subsidiaries accounted for about 70 percent of U.S. retail electricity sales in 2012.

EPA’s power plant rule wouldn’t mess with Texas — analysis

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

U.S. EPA’s proposal for existing power plants greenhouse gases will be a windfall for states that produce natural gas and a blow to those that produce coal, according to a study released today by the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Rhodium Group. The two research organizations found in preliminary study results the draft rule’s impact on a state’s fossil fuels extraction industries will be a more significant economic predictor than its effect on electricity prices or the relative greenhouse gas abatement responsibilities assigned to that state.

McCarthy enlists low-carbon businesses to help tout rule

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy yesterday asked low-carbon industry advocates to help spread the word about the economic and job-creation opportunities she said would be created by EPA’s greenhouse gas proposal for existing power plants. McCarthy told environmental entrepreneurs on a call hosted by the green business group Business Forward that she needed their help in communicating the positive message about greenhouse gas reduction.

USDA, private sector launch $10B fund to boost rural projects

Source: Tiffany Stecker, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack announced today the creation of a $10 billion fund to support the development of water, transportation and energy infrastructure, as well as rural businesses, in rural America. USDA, CoBank and Capitol Peak Asset Management Co. have joined to create a mechanism that will provide loans to projects that boost rural infrastructure and business development. “It means we can begin to address the infrastructure deficit that exists in rural communities today,” Vilsack said in a call with reporters yesterda

White House to Begin $10 Billion Rural Investment Fund

Source: By ALEXANDRA STEVENSON, New York Times • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

The White House Rural Council will announce plans on Thursday to start a $10 billion investment fund that will give pension funds and large investors the opportunity to invest in agricultural projects. Those include wastewater systems, energy projects and infrastructure development in rural America. “We’re the of infrastructure and business investment,” the agriculture secretary, Tom Vilsack, said, referring to the online dating service.

Why Oklahoma’s Wind Energy Future Could Be Shaped by Osage County

Source: By JOE WERTZ, KOSU • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

Wind-energy is becoming a big deal in Oklahoma. In 2013, this state was the country’s fourth-largest wind power producer. Wind farms are a common sight in western Oklahoma, but the industry is new to northeastern Oklahoma. Developers say the wind here is good, and this region is close to electrical infrastructure. That makes it cheaper to get wind power to the grid. But resistance has been fierce. A key question local and state officials are wrestling with: Where do one person’s property rights end, and another person’s begin? On one side you have landowners like Frank Robson, one of the loudest anti-wind farm voices in Oklahoma.

Wind Turbine Manufacturer Hiring 800 People In Colorado As Orders Pile Up

Source: BY ARI PHILLIPS, Think Progress • Posted: Friday, July 25th, 2014

While the politics of fracking has taken hold of election-year energy discussions in Colorado, the wind power industry is quietly surging. On Friday Vesta Wind Systems announced it was hiring 800 new workers, part of plans to fill 1,500 jobs this year in Colorado, after receiving orders for 370 turbines over the last few weeks. The jobs will be full-time, high-skilled jobs primarily in the manufacturing of blades and towers. “We have received U.S. orders of 740 MW in the last month alone, so our North American factories are very busy, as are factories overseas,” Vestas spokesman Adam Serchuk told ThinkProgress. “As far as I can see this will be the case at least through the end of 2015.”

Energy and climate change are large factors in U.S. defense, experts tell Senate panel

Source: Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

From Iraq to Ukraine, fast-shifting energy needs are changing the face of international security, experts told Congress yesterday. Testifying before a Senate Foreign Relations Committee panel, current and former defense leaders put climate change squarely at the center of security operations, arguing that rising seas and fiercer storms must be taken into account when planning for America’s military future.

Bay to appear at hearing on grid reliability under EPA carbon rules next week

Source: Katherine Ling, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

Norman Bay will fill a fifth seat when members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission testify before a panel of the House Energy and Commerce Committee next week, the committee confirmed yesterday. The Senate approved Bay last week for a four-year term as a commissioner on FERC, but the White House has not sworn him in yet, which led to uncertainty about whether Bay would appear with four other FERC members for an Energy and Power Subcommittee hearing on grid reliability under the proposed U.S. EPA regulations on carbon emissions for existing power plants set for Tuesday

Sierra Club hits 9 more House Republicans with ads criticizing PTC inaction

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, July 24th, 2014

The Sierra Club announced today it is launching online advertisements targeting nine more House Republicans to criticize the lack of action to renew a key clean energy tax break. The campaign continues the green group’s efforts to secure an extension to the production tax credit, or PTC, which expired at the end of last year. The credit supports wind, geothermal and other renewable energy sources and typically enjoys broad bipartisan support, but advocates have struggled to secure an extension amid intense criticism from conservative critics who say the PTC is too expensive and has outlived its necessity. Advocates say the credit should be reinstated because it supports job creation and energy innovation.