MacArthur Foundation vows to push climate solutions, starting with $50M pledge to green groups

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

The charitable foundation known for its annual “genius grants” and its public broadcasting underwriter’s message promoting “a more just, verdant and peaceful world” is deepening its commitment to addressing climate change under a new multimillion-dollar program aimed at building leadership capacity and political consensus around climate solutions. Roughly $50 million in initial funding, announced yesterday by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will be shared by nine nonprofits engaged in climate policy and advocacy. It is being characterized by the foundation as “a down payment on a major new commitment to help curb global climate disruption by significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions.”

Wind slowdown stirs debate about industry’s plans for extreme weather

Source: Camille von Kaenel, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 20th, 2015

Lower-than-average winds in the western United States in the first half of the year have cut into production and revenues at wind farms there, according to company data. Now, the industry is trying to figure out how it will deal with variable weather in the future. Wind energy is booming in the United States, with prices at an all-time low. The sector grew 8 percent in 2014, boosting domestic capacity to almost 66,000 megawatts and providing around 4.4 percent of the country’s electricity, according to the Department of Energy

Google launches ‘Project Sunroof’ to scan rooftops for solar potential

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Google is hoping to spur rooftop solar adoption with a new map that shows individual properties’ capacity to save money — and directs potential customers to solar installers. The Silicon Valley company yesterday released a website, building on the popular Google Maps application, that analyzes properties’ solar generation potential. Users can enter an address or simply scan a street to see rooftops depicted in bright yellow, with purple shadows where sun is less plentiful.

Inside Microsoft’s wind energy strategy

Source: By Stephen Abbott, Greenbiz • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable powerfrom two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms — capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes — could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment.

E.P.A. Announces New Rules to Cut Methane Emissions

Source: By GARDINER HARRIS and CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

The Obama administration on Tuesday proposed the first federal regulations requiring the nation’s oil and gas industry to cut emissions of methane as part of an expanding and increasingly aggressive effort to combat climate change. In a conference call with reporters, Janet McCabe, the Environmental Protection Agency’s acting assistant administrator for the Office of Air and Radiation, said the rules were designed to ensure that oil and gas companies reduced waste and sold more gas that would otherwise be lost, while protecting the climate and the health of the public.

EPA proposes crackdown on methane emissions

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, August 19th, 2015

U.S. EPA today proposed methane rules for new and modified oil and natural gas operations, setting in motion a regulatory apparatus that eventually could cover leakage from the entire sector. Addressing four of the five segments that EPA considered regulating, the draft rule would require the oil and gas industry to find and repair leaks, capture natural gas from the completion of hydraulically fractured oil wells, limit emissions from new and modified pneumatic pumps on well pads, and limit emissions from several types of equipment used at natural gas transmission compressor stations.

Fossil fuel investments responsible for losses of $5B in CA public pension funds

Source: By David R. Baker, San Francisco Chronicle • Posted: Monday, August 17th, 2015

California’s public pension funds, CalPERS and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, have lost more than $5 billion from their investments in fossil fuels from June 2014 to June 2015. Many fossil fuel stocks have continued to plunge as oil and coal prices drop, according to an analysis from environmental group The report comes as some push forward legislation that would make the funds divest from coal companies.

N.D. hits near-record oil production as prices plummet

Source: Mike Lee, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, August 17th, 2015

North Dakota’s oil production grew in June, despite a drop in prices, a combination that could spell trouble for state revenue if it continues. If the price stays low, it could crimp the state’s tax revenue, state Mineral Resources Department Director Lynn Helms said on a conference call with reporters. “We think we’re in a period of sustained low prices for at least two years,” Helms said. “It’s going to be a long, difficult period.”

States aim for conservative judges to hear challenge

Source: Emily Holden and Rod Kuckro, E&E reporters • Posted: Monday, August 17th, 2015

A federal court bid last week by 15 states to block U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan offered few new arguments but illuminated a key legal strategy: retaining the same three Republican-appointed judges who considered an earlier, premature challenge to the regulation. Led by West Virginia, the states asked the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to take the unusual step of granting an emergency stay of the greenhouse gas standards for power plants. That would put the rules on hold pending the resolution of litigation.

Texas Transmission Line Upgrades Slash Wind Curtailment

Source: By Clayton Handleman, The Energy Collective • Posted: Monday, August 17th, 2015

The improvement was no accident. As wind became valued as an important contributor to the Texas generation portfolio, it became apparent that to fully benefit from wind they would need to build transmission lines from where the best generation sites were to the population centers where it would be used. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) set about defining Competitive Renewable Energy Zones (CREZ) and creating an electric transmission plan to assure that the electricity could get from the CREZs to point of use. The transmission lines have now been built and have nearly zeroed out the need to curtail wind generation.