This week, the Supreme Court declined to review the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s approval of a cost allocation system for new transmission lines for renewable sources in the Midwest. How will this move by the court influence the debate over cost allocation in Midwestern states? During today’s OnPoint, Howard Learner, executive director of the Environmental Law and Policy Center, discusses challenges to modernizing the nation’s transmission system and talks about Midwestern states’ varied approaches to addressing distributed generation and net metering.
A bill revamping Oregon’s renewable energy mandates — and protecting them from a potentially devastating ballot measure — passed unanimously through the state Senate’s Business and Transportation Committee on Tuesday despite criticism from independent utilities and other opponents. Oregon’s renewable energy mandates require large utilities to draw 25 percent of their power from renewable sources by 2025 with a lower percentage required for smaller utilities. But the mandates came under fire recently from smaller utilities worried they would get forced out, lacking the funds to build the renewable power sources necessary to satisfy the mandate.
The proposed Cape Wind offshore wind farm in Massachusetts’ Nantucket Sound moved another step toward realization yesterday, announcing that it has received approval for a significant chunk of financial backing needed for construction of the project, which is estimated at $2.6 billion. In a speech to Offshore Wind Power USA conference attendees, Cape Wind President Jim Gordon yesterday said the initiative has received a $600 million loan from EKF, Denmark’s official export credit agency.
In a panel discussion held here yesterday, high natural gas costs spurred by the Northeast’s frigid winter emerged as a point of hope for the kingpins of the offshore wind energy industry. Jim Gordon, president of the long-delayed Cape Wind project and a former natural gas developer himself, opened his remarks at the Offshore Wind Power USA conference noting that the price of natural gas in New England that morning was $29.75 per million British thermal units, while the price of electricity was $237 per megawatt-hour. “Contrast that to Cape Wind’s power. If it was up and running today, [it] would be $190 per megawatt-hour,” Gordon said.
Saying the state needs a long-term energy plan, Democrats in the state Legislature are proposing to expand utilities’ use of renewable energy to supply power to their customers. The bill being unveiled this week would increase the state’s renewable energy target to 30% by 2030. Wisconsin utilities have already complied with the 2015 mandate, which requires that 10% of the state’s electricity come from renewable sources that year.
Getting American businesses to support action on climate change is the key to prompting congressional movement, financial investor turned billionaire activist Tom Steyer told a group here yesterday. Businesses need to see how not acting on climate will affect their bottom line, Steyer said as he spoke at the Climate Leadership Conference. As well, he said, there are opportunities to make money by developing technological and other solutions to climate-related problems.
It’s physics 101: A wind turbine spins by extracting energy from moving air. As a turbine moves faster, the wind powering the twirling blades slows down a little bit. But what happens when turbines are hit with the high-speed winds that power hurricanes like Sandy or Katrina? Could an offshore wind farm actually dampen the destructive force of a superstorm?
Though energy security and economic competitiveness are important benefits, officials speaking yesterday at the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy Summit outside Washington, D.C., said slowing climate change is the primary driver for energy research and innovation. “I’ve certainly not shied away from emphasizing the role of climate” in driving policy, said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz. “The big questions [around legislation], then, are what, how much and when.”
Cape Wind, the much-delayed offshore wind farm project proposed for Nantucket Sound, said Wednesday that it had received a new loan commitment that would allow it to finish its financing this fall and begin producing power by 2016. “We expect to complete project financing in Q3,” Mark Rodgers, a spokesman for Cape Wind, wrote in an email, referring to the third quarter. “We will begin construction (on land) shortly thereafter. We will begin ocean construction in 2015 and commission the project in 2016.”
The University of Delaware yesterday announced a new initiative to educate policymakers and other stakeholders about the value of offshore wind, ultimately aiming to aid the commercial-scale deployment of the technology off America’s shores. Called the Special Initiative on Offshore Wind (SIOW), it will be housed by the University’s College of Earth, Ocean and Environment and headed by Stephanie McClellan, formerly policy director and offshore wind adviser for Delaware Gov. Jack Markell (D). “It’s our goal to help accelerate the deployment to a scalable level necessary to address the grand challenge of global climate change and to grow our domestic clean energy economy,” said Charles Riordan, the University of Delaware’s vice provost for research, at yesterday’s announcement.