Hearing date set for top Interior, FERC, DOE nominees

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 11th, 2013

The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on the nominations of Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor to become deputy Interior secretary, former Colorado energy regulator Ron Binz to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and NASA Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson to be undersecretary at the Department of Energy.

Embattled Southwest project secures pledge from large wind developer to use power line

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

A large wind energy developer has committed to use the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project if built, a rare bit of good news for a project that has been dogged by criticism from congressional leaders, Defense Department officials and environmentalists who have questioned claims that the line will support renewables development. The project’s developer, Phoenix-based SunZia Transmission LLC, announced late Friday that it has a formal letter of intent from Boston-based First Wind Energy LLC reserving up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity capacity on the planned New Mexico-to-Arizona power line.

Key Democrat expresses ‘serious concerns’ over FERC pick

Source: Hannah Northey and Manuel Quinones, E&E reporters • Posted: Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) yesterday expressed strong concerns about President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I’ve got a problem. I’ve got serious problems,” Manchin told E&E Daily during a brief interview yesterday evening about the nominee, who has encountered strong opposition from the coal industry.

European Automakers Hope Technology Can Lure Younger Buyers

Source: By JACK EWING, New York Times • Posted: Monday, September 9th, 2013

BMW is going to extremes to make the i3 the most carbon-neutral car on the road. A wind turbine outside the BMW factory in Leipzig provides power for the i3 assembly line, and the carbon fiber for the passenger compartment comes from a factory in Washington State that uses hydropower. And of course the i3 itself has no tailpipe emissions (unless buyers choose a range-extender version that has a small gasoline motor).

Nebraska Wind plant needs buyers of electricity to get aloft

Source: By Paul Hammel / World-Herald staff writer • Posted: Monday, September 9th, 2013

A small wind farm planned near this small town is ready to begin construction except for one major snag — no one, so far, wants to buy the electricity it will produce. The 22 farmers behind Burt County Wind LLC are trying to change that by convincing Nebraska utilities that they need to look past the slightly higher cost of the energy produced by small wind farms and consider the bigger economic impact that such projects would provide.

DOE: Iowa is key part of national surge in wind energy

Source: by Perry Beeman, Des Moines Register • Posted: Monday, September 9th, 2013

Iowa is among several states now getting more than 20 percent of its power from wind, a key reason wind energy was the fastest-growing power-generation sector for the first time in 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Tuesday. Wind accounted for 43 percent of all new electricity generation last year, a $25 billion investment, DOE reported.

Bonneville Power Administration’s hiring and promotion practices get stinging critique by Department of Energy audit

Source: Print By Ted Sickinger, The Oregonian • Posted: Friday, September 6th, 2013

The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday released a stinging critique of human resources activities at Bonneville Power Administration. The overall conclusion of a triennial audit of the Portland based power marketing agency was that its hiring and promotion activities are “NOT EFFECTIVE.” The audit revealed “pervasive misapplications” of and “system departures” from federal hiring guidelines and laws.

Coal-fired power, hit hard by natural gas, could see further market erosion from regulations — report

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 6th, 2013

s the largest power grid in North America, the Eastern Interconnection encompasses 39 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia. Some 84 percent of all U.S. coal-fired capacity falls within its jurisdiction. Given the Eastern Interconnection’s lion-sized role in hosting the flow of coal-fired electrons in the United States, the findings of a recent report by the consultancy ICF International are unlikely to bring much comfort to the nation’s faltering coal industry. The report, commissioned by the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), finds few challenges to natural gas’s current price advantage within current market or regulatory conditions.

Va.’s largest utility leases offshore wind property to diversify its portfolio

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, September 6th, 2013

The auction garnered praise from environmental groups and industry leaders. Oceana’s vice president for U.S. oceans, Jacqueline Savitz, said in a statement that the auction was “further proof that the Obama administration is committed to building a strong offshore wind industry in the United States.” Chris Long, offshore wind and siting policy manager for the American Wind Energy Association, called it “an important milestone in efforts to launch the offshore wind industry in the United States.”

DOE study finds wind farms have no economic impact on neighbors

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, September 5th, 2013

A new study from the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory finds that wind farms have no measurable effect on real estate prices in communities where turbines are built within 10 miles of homes. But the analysis, prepared for the Energy Department’s Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, is unlikely to quell ongoing debate over wind farms’ effects on property values, especially at the local level.