The Obama administration must take steps in the coming months to ensure that the unprecedented growth of renewable energy development on public lands continues, according to a report released today by the Center for American Progress. The report from the liberal think tank, co-authored by David Hayes, a former Interior deputy secretary who is now a visiting senior fellow at CAP, outlines a four-point plan to help continue the push to expand solar, wind and geothermal power regardless of who’s elected president next year.
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) repeated calls to “decarbonize the economy” while speaking at an annual conference on the state of Lake Tahoe yesterday as officials are increasingly concerned about the effect of wildfires on the lake. Because drought conditions increase fire risk, many scientists are concerned that rising global temperatures may worsen both wildfires and the effects of California’s drought.
Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) yesterday used the bully pulpit of his annual Clean Energy Summit to lean on his home state’s chief power provider, which is embroiled in a closely watched battle over rooftop solar. Reid repeatedly castigated NV Energy over its position in the rooftop solar fight, which pits the state’s dominant utility against its burgeoning solar industry.
Federal investment has spurred innovation in solar and wind power technologies, and now is “not the time to pull back on those investments,” President Obama said yesterday. Speaking at the eighth annual National Clean Energy Summit, hosted by Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), Obama touted clean, renewable energy as a way to not only cut emissions that contribute to climate change but also create jobs and grow the economy. For Congress and other naysayers, the president had little patience.
In the fierce congressional fight over comprehensive climate change legislation in 2009-10, the Obama administration warned it would act to curb heat-trapping emissions if lawmakers faltered. Enter the Clean Power Plan, U.S. EPA’s regulatory push to overhaul the nation’s power grid.
The Asia Pacific Resilience Summit kicked off this morning, an event that showcases clean tech solutions for island grids, communities, and military applications across the Pacific. The opening keynote speaker, Governor David Ige, wasted no time in making major headlines, stating, for the first time publicly, a strong opposition to proposed LNG projects.
“I look at these unbelievable [power purchase agreements], and it’s remarkable that we’ve come so far so quickly,” said Jesse Morris, a manager at the Rocky Mountain Institute, which focuses on reducing the price of solar power. Whether this boomlet of ultra-cheap large solar plants will continue is unknown. Developers and utilities are racing to get the solar plants connected before the most generous provisions of the federal solar investment tax credit expire at the end of 2016. The economics of solar versus fossil fuels varies from place to place, and it is uncertain whether steady drops in the price of solar systems will be able to compensate for the end of federal tax subsidies.
The speech, at the National Clean Energy Summit, came as his administration announced a series of measures to encourage solar power construction, including making an additional $1 billion in loan guarantee authority available in a federal program for innovative versions of residential rooftop solar systems. But none of the measures would have as great an impact on the solar industry as the Clean Power Plan, which requires states to cut carbon emissions by an average of 32 percent. That plan, announced this month, provides incentives for much of those reductions to come from renewable energy projects — exactly what executives at the conference are looking to sell.
President Obama challenged energy utilities, fossil fuel producers and their allies in Congress on Monday to get onboard with his push for clean energy or risk backlash from American consumers and companies. Speaking at a clean energy summit in Las Vegas, Obama dismissed energy interests that oppose his push to green the energy sector as “naysayers” who are “backed by fossil fuel interests, or conservative think tanks, or the Koch brothers.”
The state’s electric power sources are poised to get cleaner still. In 15 years, electric utilities that power California’s lights and cellphones would need to get fully half their electricity from renewable sources, if Senate Bill 350, which is working its way through the Legislature, passes. The goal, often called a renewable portfolio standard, can almost certainly be met, though it will require utilities to make behind-the-scenes adjustments as they juggle different types of energy. “Increasing the renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent is completely doable by 2030,” said Severin Borenstein, an energy economist at the Haas School of Business at the University of California, Berkeley. “Exactly how we do it and how much cost we’re willing to bear is an open question, but I don’t think it would be a huge cost.”