Texas, once left in the shade, plans major moves into solar 

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, April 10th, 2015

Austin Energy, the municipally owned utility providing power to roughly 1 million people in the Texas capital, will add 600 megawatts of solar to its generation portfolio by as soon as 2017. Under a request for proposal announced yesterday, Austin Energy said it would consider acquiring the solar power under power purchase agreements with independent solar firms, or it could own the solar capacity outright.

Obama Turns to Diplomacy at Americas Summit

Source: By THE ASSOCIATED PRESS • Posted: Friday, April 10th, 2015

Punishing electricity costs that are as much as five times more expensive than prices on the U.S. mainland and a lack of energy security have long been major concerns in the scattered islands of the Caribbean. The sun-splashed, wind-swept region derives nearly all of its electricity from plants that burn imported oil and diesel. Obama on Thursday announced a $20 million effort to help jump start private and public sector investment in clean energy projects in the Caribbean and Central America. “If we can lower those costs through the development of clean energy and increased energy efficiency we could unleash, I think, a whole host of additional investment and growth,” Obama said.

Jindal, Perry, Santorum take aim at bureaucratic overreach

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, April 10th, 2015

Bureaucratic overreach was a common theme as potential presidential candidates Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal and Rick Santorum discussed federal energy policies Thursday in Des Moines. Perry, the former governor of Texas, Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, and Santorum, a former Pennsylvania senator, used the forum to mostly take shots at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed rule that would require utilities to reduce carbon emissions that contribute to climate change. The three Republicans said the proposed rule would add costs, hinder business investment and kill jobs. Affordable energy, they said, is critical to national defense.

Washington Blackout Highlighted Aging Electrical Grid

Source: By REUTERS • Posted: Friday, April 10th, 2015

The fact that a severed transmission line in Maryland could cut power to much of the nation’s capital became the latest warning sign that the country’s aging electrical grid can’t meet modern demands. Tuesday’s widespread power outage came just weeks before the Department of Energy (DOE)is expected to release recommendations for modernizing the country’s electricity infrastructure. The department recently spearheaded a 15-month review that examined the country’s energy transmission, storage, and distribution infrastructure.

New Tesla base model includes all-wheel drive, longer range 

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Starting today, Tesla will stop selling its old base Model S called the 60, which was a rear-drive car with 380-horsepower motor that could travel 208 miles on a single charge. The new model, called the 70-D, has 514 horsepower and can go 240 miles per charge.

Golden eagle study could complicate federal development plans in Calif. desert 

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Golden eagles in the Mojave Desert fly much farther and have a much larger range of habitat than previously known, according to a new study that suggests federal land managers should factor this into a sweeping plan designed to guide renewable energy across the Southern California desert. The latest study, published this month in the journal Biological Conservation, used radio telemetry and global positioning system devices to track the year-round movements of eagles in the Mojave Desert in California.

Board votes to bar agency workers from discussing climate change 

Source: By Eric Roston, Bloomberg • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

A Wisconsin state agency enacted a ban on staff communication on climate change yesterday, calling the issue of rising global temperatures a distraction from its mission. The state Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a three-member panel, approved the ban at a meeting yesterday. The board oversees an agency that manages certain state properties.

Utilities May Lose More Grid-Connected Customers, And Billions of Dollars

Source: By Ken Silverstein, Forbes • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

A rebounding economy will lead to greater demand, rising electricity rates and falling costs tied to technology — especially energy storage devices that could facilitate the use of rooftop solar panels. For utilities, that means fewer grid connected customers and possible declines in revenue of $35 billion a year. That’s according to a study by Snowmass, Colo.-based Rocky Mountain Institute, which concludes solar-plus-battery systems will escalate, albeit the pace of that rise is contingent on the regulatory framework that states establish. It’s a follow up to an examination released a year ago in which the institute concluded that the trend toward more rooftop solar electricity, or distributed generation, is conditioned on more affordable and reliable battery technologies.

Renewables jobs surpass coal job losses, but it’s not ‘a one-for-one replacement’ — study 

Source: Pamela King, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Employment gains in the natural gas, wind and solar sectors are more than offsetting job losses in coal — but not necessarily at the local level, researchers from Duke University have found. In the four years following the 2008 recession, the coal industry lost 49,534 laborers, or about 12 percent of its workforce, driven by higher costs associated with subsurface mining and regulatory compliance, according to a paper published yesterday in the journal Energy Policy. Over the same time period, the natural gas, solar and wind businesses added nearly 220,000 jobs, a 21 percent increase.

Texas, a robust job producer, starts to feel sting from falling oil prices

Source: Nathanial Gronewold, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, April 9th, 2015

Texas’ economic vibrancy is beginning to lose some of its luster in the wake of the collapse in global crude oil prices. The Lone Star State has been the top job generator in the United States for a string of years, coming in second last year behind another booming oil producer, North Dakota. Texas also survived and bounced back from the 2008 economic crisis far stronger than many of its neighbors. But evidence is mounting that the state’s economy will have a much rougher year ahead as layoffs mount, company spending pulls back and the broader economy feels the impact of the 50 percent plunge in oil prices.