U.S. power grid operators face tension between integration and independence — FERC chairman

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

As the United States moves to modernize its aging power grid, it is being pulled in two different, and sometimes opposed, directions, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said yesterday. On the one hand, many consumers are pushing for a greater degree of autonomy from traditional power systems, opting for a more decentralized system of small operators producing and distributing energy on a local scale, said Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, speaking during a briefing co-hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

New power plant rule legally sturdier but still requires CCS — source

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

U.S. EPA may be poised to introduce a proposal for new power plant carbon dioxide emissions that is legally sturdier than the one it issued last year but that still relies on a costly emissions-reduction technology that coal-fired utilities say is not commercially viable.

In sweeping rewrite, Calif. overhauls rates, lifts net metering cap

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

California’s Legislature yesterday approved a sweeping rewrite of electricity rates, passing a package of legislation that would allow prices to rise while expanding a program that gives bill credits for renewable energy. The state also would throw out a barrier to hiking its ambitious green power mandate as part of A.B. 327 from Assemblyman Henry Perea (D). The California Public Utilities Commission, or CPUC, had been barred from increasing the existing requirement of 33 percent renewable energy by 2020. Under the bill, the agency would be free to raise the level.

E.P.A. Is Expected to Set Limits on Greenhouse Gas Emissions by New Power Plants

Source: By MICHAEL WINES, New York Times • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

Following up on President Obama’s pledge in June to address climate change, the Environmental Protection Agency plans this week to propose the first-ever limits on greenhouse gas emissions from newly built power plants.
But even before the proposal becomes public, experts on both sides of the issue say it faces a lobbying donnybrook and an all-but-certain court challenge. For a vast and politically powerful swath of the utility industry — operators of coal-fired plants, and the coal fields that supply them — there are fears that the rules would effectively doom construction of new coal plants far into the future.

FERC nominee to spark political showdown on Senate panel; other picks less controversial

Source: Hannah Northey, Phil Taylor and Nick Juliano, E&E reporters • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

The highly controversial and increasingly political confirmation of President Obama’s pick to lead the otherwise sleepy Federal Energy Regulatory Commission will take center stage this week before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. The panel tomorrow will weigh the fate of Ron Binz, a Democrat and former chairman of Colorado’s utility board, a nominee who has sparked a fierce campaign battle among clean energy groups, foundations, libertarian think tanks and conservative organizations in Washington, D.C., and beyond.

Tesla Challenges BMW on Home Turf as Germans Go Green

Source: By Dorothee Tschampa, Bloomberg • Posted: Friday, September 13th, 2013

Tesla is hitting the autobahn just as the German Goliaths start selling their own electrics from dealer networks with hundreds of stores. Musk will also need to win over buyers who traditionally have been loyal to homegrown brands. “The European home turf belongs to the likes of Daimler, BMW and Audi,” said Bryan Batista, Tesla’s European sales director. “We’re confident that we have a product that stacks up very well.”

DOE official lays out the climate strategy under Secretary Moniz

Source: Umair Irfan, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 13th, 2013

Through funding clean technologies, cementing incentives for renewables and helping the United States adapt to a new normal, the Department of Energy will be a major player in meeting President Obama’s climate goals.
The administration’s Climate Action Plan, presented earlier this year, uses executive authority to bypass a divided Legislature to mitigate the country’s impacts on the global climate.

Newly released emails fuel controversy, GOP concerns about FERC nominee

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 13th, 2013

The emails that the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Independence Institute in Colorado obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request from FERC showed that Binz, former chairman of Colorado’s Pubic Utilities Commission, received guidance from Washington, D.C.-based public relations firm VennSquared Communications regarding edits to the biography he was submitting to members of Congress. The emails were first reported last night in The Washington Times.

R.I. company to develop offshore wind farm

Source: By Mariya Bashkatova, Senior Staff Writer, Brown Daily Herald • Posted: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

Rhode Island-based renewable energy company Deepwater Wind won the first federal auction for offshore wind development, paying $3.8 million for 164,000 acres of ocean on the Atlantic seaboard between Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The lease for the Deepwater Wind Energy Center has not been officially signed but will be completed in the next few weeks, said Jeff Grybowski ’93, CEO of Deepwater Wind.

House conservatives stop science bill, fearing liberal climate agenda

Source: Evan Lehmann, E&E reporte • Posted: Thursday, September 12th, 2013

House leaders abruptly pulled a bill yesterday that sought to honor top scientists after conservative groups expressed concern that President Obama might politicize the position to advance his agenda on climate change The measure, H.R. 1891, would allow a president to name three scientists as unpaid laureates to inspire school-age Americans to pursue degrees in science and engineering. The bill, introduced by Rep. Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.) and co-sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith (R-Texas), chairman of the Science Committee, was scheduled for an easy vote yesterday on the suspension calendar, typically meant for noncontroversial legislation.