During the year-end flurry, Oregon rose to the top five states for wind energy production, and welcomed the nation’s second-largest complex at Shepherd’s Flat — just as the two multinational wind companies with Portland regional headquarters were shedding staff. Iberdrola Renewables, the North American arm of a Spain-based energy giant, laid off about 25 people last year, shrinking to about 375 employees. Vestas, the Danish wind turbine maker whose North American headquarters is blocks away in Northwest Portland, shrank to about 250 employees here, down from nearly 400.
How willing is U.S. EPA to compromise with industry on its power plant emissions standards? During today’s OnPoint, Robert Sussman, the former senior policy adviser at EPA, gives his take on the key hurdles facing the agency as it tries to meet President Obama’s aggressive timeline for new and existing power plant emissions standards. Sussman, who departed the agency earlier this month, also discusses how the holdup of Gina McCarthy’s confirmation as administrator has affected operations and slowed the progress of agency projects.
President Clinton today said efforts to bolster the world’s economy rest on a commitment to a “sustainable, green, shared future” at a ceremony that renamed U.S. EPA’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in his honor. “It’s not just that you can grow the economy and have a sustainable future,” he said. “It is the only way to do it.”
Xcel Energy on Tuesday announced its single largest increase in wind generation in the Upper Midwest, saying it will add three large wind farms in Minnesota and North Dakota. The additional 600 megawatts of electricity, enough to serve 180,000 homes, is a 33 percent increase over the Minneapolis-based utility’s existing wind capacity of 1,800 megawatts in the region.
The National Petroleum Council should study how power outages caused by major weather events such as last year’s Superstorm Sandy affect the availability of transportation fuel, Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz said today. Speaking at an NPC meeting in Washington, Moniz said the Obama administration’s efforts to address climate change would feature a heavy focus on how to adapt to the effects of rising temperatures and more frequent extreme weather, including examining how to ensure the resiliency of energy infrastructure. And he said the federally chartered advisory committee to the Department of Energy should play a central role in those efforts.
The Department of Energy has removed the top executive of the Bonneville Power Administration after an audit uncovered illegal hiring practices at the federal nonprofit agency. In an email to employees yesterday, DOE said Elliot Mainzer, deputy administrator, would step in as acting chief, replacing Bill Drummond.
The Lincoln and Minnehaha County economic development associations on Tuesday formally announced preliminary action on a new community wind power project in Lincoln County. Dakota Power Community Wind, a group of Lincoln County landowners and community leaders formed in 2012 to look at developing a wind farm, has been working with Aberdeen-based wind farm developer Dakota Plains Energy to lay the ground work for the potential project. The hope, according to some of the group’s board members, is to help develop the county’s economy.
The president’s nominee to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission has vowed to shelve his consulting firm and shed investments in Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, a critical step in the wake of past ethics controversies. Ron Binz, a pro-renewables champion and former Colorado utility regulator, pledged in a June 17 letter to stop consulting at a firm he has operated since 1995 and to sell up to $50,000 in shares of Berkshire Hathaway.
The installation rate of offshore wind turbines in Europe doubled in the first half of the year, with Siemens AG accounting for 83 percent of the new capacity. Nations including the United Kingdom and Germany are increasingly relying on offshore wind to help meet carbon reduction and renewable energy goals.
The Senate today is scheduled to vote to confirm Gina McCarthy to lead U.S. EPA, but a broader showdown over whether to limit the filibuster still threatens to throw the upper chamber into chaos as no agreement emerged from a closed-door meeting that went well into the night.