Batteries and Renewable Energy Set to Grow Together

Source: By HENRY FOUNTAIN, New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

The future of American energy, according to one widely held view, will include solar panels and wind turbines continuing to proliferate, churning out ever more electricity and eventually eclipsing fossil fuels to help offset the forces of climate change. With the cost of renewable technologies falling sharply, that vision is starting to take shape, especially in areas with abundant sunshine or steady wind. Here in California, the state is making such quick progress toward its goal of getting 33 percent of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020 that Gov. Jerry Brown raised the ante earlier this year, setting a target of 50 percent by 2030.

Administration to propose billions for infrastructure in QER release today

Source: Nick Juliano and Hannah Northey, E&E reporters • Posted: Tuesday, April 21st, 2015

[T]he administration is calling for $2.5 billion to $3.5 billion over 10 years for a natural gas pipeline maintenance program, and it says DOE should establish a $3 billion to $5 billion grant program for states to improve electric transmission systems to enhance “resilience and reliability.” The QER calls for a partnership between the DOE and 17 federal, municipal and investor-owned utilities, including the Tennessee Valley Authority, nuclear giant Exelon Corp. and renewables-rich NextEra Energy Inc. The QER also attempts to use the government’s existing leverage within state and federal programs to bolster the development of renewables and transmission projects, including the Department of Agriculture’s provision of $72 million for solar deployment through transmission and smart grid projects in rural areas.

In 2 community ventures, new ways to think solar 

Source: Krysti Shallenberger, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Want to trade your roof for some free solar panel installation? Buy a solar panel to power someone else’s home? Two Boston-based startups are looking for some good Samaritans and energy-conscious folks to do just that.

EU approves German aid to support construction of 20 offshore wind farms

Source: by Julia Fioretti, Reuters • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

The European Commission on Thursday gave Germany the green light to support the construction of 20 offshore wind farms by paying operators a premium on top of the market price for electricity, it said in a statement. The Commission concluded that the projects would contribute to reaching Germany’s 2020 targets for renewable energy without distorting competition. The total investment costs amount to 29.3 billion euros ($31.19 billion).

With slew of new purchases, SE utilities continue to warm up to solar 

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Southern Co.’s wholesale power unit bought its fourth California-based solar array yesterday in one of several deals that has put the Southeast in the solar spotlight this week. Atlanta-based Southern’s wholesale unit now has a controlling interest in a 32-megawatt solar array in California. The purchase means the company’s Southern Power unit will own roughly 990 MW of solar and wind projects throughout the country.

Oklahoma House agrees to eliminate wind energy tax credit

Source: By Associated Press • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Oklahoma’s wind energy industry could no longer claim a five-year exemption from ad valorem taxes under legislation advanced by the Oklahoma House. House members voted 78-3 for the measure Thursday and sent it to the Senate for more work. The measure, Senate Bill 498, prohibits wind electricity manufacturers from claiming a state tax exemption for equipment placed in commercial operation after 2016.

Nebraska utility partners with California firm in becoming first U.S. utility to produce electricity from hydrogen

Source: By Henry J. Cordes / Omaha World-Herald staff writer • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Friday’s announcement was the latest in a recent flurry of moves by the state’s public utilities to reduce the amount of carbon their plants spew into the air. Federal regulators are expected later this year to issue new rules cracking down on power plants, the largest source of carbon emissions in the United States. The Omaha Public Power District announced last summer it will be shutting down some coal burners and possibly converting others to natural gas. OPPD, NPPD and Lincoln Electric System all have invested in wind power.

Solar Power Battle Puts Hawaii at Forefront of Worldwide Changes

Source: By DIANE CARDWELL, New York Times • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Mr. Akamine, 61, a manager for a cable company, has wanted nothing more than to lower his $600 to $700 monthly electric bill with a solar system of his own. But for 18 months or so, the state’s biggest utility barred him and thousands of other customers from getting one, citing concerns that power generated by rooftop systems was overwhelming its ability to handle it. Only under strict orders from state energy officials did the utility, the Hawaiian Electric Company, recently rush to approve the lengthy backlog of solar applications, including Mr. Akamine’s.

Warm winter hurts energy production from Calif. wind farms

Source: By NICHOLA GROOM, REUTERS • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Wind energy deliveries to California’s top utility fell by half in the first two months of the year because of unusually weak winds in some Western states. The slowed wind energy production has exacerbated electricity shortfalls caused by a long drought, which has reduced hydroelectric power in the most populous U.S. state. Southern California Edison, which is owned by Edison International, said that any gaps left by the 50 percent drop in wind production during an execptionally warm January and February will be filled with electricity bought on the open market. Spot purchases tend to be more expensive and often come from natural gas.

Some governors push back over McConnell letter to defy EPA 

Source: By RIK STEVENS, Associated Press • Posted: Monday, April 20th, 2015

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s call for governors to defy proposed federal rules to limit pollution has been met with mostly silence, but leaders in downwind New England states and drought-stricken areas in the West are pushing back. The Kentucky Republican wrote to all the nation’s governors in March after the Environmental Protection Agency proposed a rule to limit carbon pollution from existing coal-fired power plants. McConnell said he thinks the rule is illegal and, if enacted, would hurt the U.S. economy and kill energy jobs. Democratic Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin was blunt in his response to McConnell.