U.S. wind power developers, racing against the year-end expiration of the federal production tax credit, worked at breakneck speed to install 4.7 gigawatts of wind power capacity in 2014, according to new figures released yesterday by Bloomberg New Energy Finance. The increased pace of development resulted in a 600 percent increase in U.S. installations over 2013 and solidified the United States’ status as the second-largest global wind energy market behind China, BNEF researchers found.
Jeff Wright, director of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s Office of Energy Projects, is retiring at the end of February. Wright, who has been with the agency since 1979, will be replaced by Ann Miles, the office’s deputy director.
Study Finds Producing 40 Percent of Power from Renewable Energy in Minnesota Would Spur $6 Billion in Clean Energy Investments and Boost Rural Economies
Strengthening Minnesota’s renewable electricity standard to require that 40 percent of the state’s electricity comes from renewable sources, such as wind and solar, by 2030 would drive billions in new investment in clean energy generation in Minnesota at little additional cost to consumers, according to a study released today by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). Minnesota’s current standard is 25 percent by 2025.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s monthly meeting in Washington, D.C., was disrupted today after climate activists opposed to the agency’s approval of natural gas projects tied to hydraulic fracturing refused to stop speaking. After trying at least twice without success to call the meeting to order, FERC Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur called for an unscheduled recess to allow security guards to usher out a dozen or so Beyond Extreme Energy activists. They chanted, “FERC doesn’t work!” and “Stop fracking.”
Energy and environmental interests spent hundreds of thousands if not millions of dollars on federal lobbying last year. While Capitol Hill may have offered little in legislation to lobby on, the Obama administration proposed a number of controversial regulations that pitted powerful industries against each other in Washington.
The Interior Department today announced the release of an environmental assessment of a plan to lease up to 300,000 acres off the coast of North Carolina for the construction of offshore wind farms. The plan calls for leasing a 122,000-acre wind energy area about 28 miles off the coast of Kitty Hawk and two additional areas of 52,000 acres and 134,000 acres beginning about 12 miles off Cape Fear.
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.