Turbine operator reduces output to limit bat deaths

Source: By Henry Brean, Las Vegas Review-Journal • Posted: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

A Nevada wind farm has been forced to make changes after killing more bats than allowed under a deal with the federal government. The 152-megawatt Spring Valley Wind Energy project northeast of Las Vegas has adjusted its turbine operations at night to factor in bat migrations through the region. On nights with heavy bat activity, the turbines now kick in when wind speeds reach 11 mph, instead of about 7 mph, the facility’s owner said.

Overloaded power lines mean profits for traders

Source: Doan/Crawford, Bloomberg • Posted: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Traders betting on electric transmission constraints netted nearly $2 billion in the first quarter of this year. PJM Interconnection LLC’s market alone yielded $1.1 billion in profits for traders — three times last year’s total, the operator said. Other big payouts were in New York, California and Texas. More traders are looking to the grid operator-run transmission-rights markets, which power market deregulation created. Julia Sullivan, co-head of the energy regulation and enforcement practice at law firm Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, said the firm has seen a “pretty steady drumbeat of clients” interested in jumping into those markets.

U.S. Energy Department Reports Highlight Strength of U.S. Wind Energy Industry

Source: By U.S. Department of Energy • Posted: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

The U.S. continues to be a global leader in wind energy, ranking second in installed capacity in the world, according to two reports released today by the Department of Energy. Wind power is a key component of the nation’s all-of-the-above strategy to reduce carbon pollution, diversify our energy economy, and bring innovative technologies on line. With increasing wind energy generation and decreasing prices of wind energy technologies, the U.S. wind energy market remains strong and the U.S. is moving closer to doubling renewable electricity generation from energy resources like wind power yet again by 2020.

DOE sees capacity growing through 2015, uncertainty beyond

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

A Department of Energy report out today suggests the wind industry is on an upward trajectory thanks to last year’s brief renewal of a key tax credit — and the likelihood it could continue to thrive thanks to a combination of technological improvements and the effect of U.S. EPA rules on power plant emissions, among other factors. DOE’s annual wind technologies market report predicts capacity will increase at least through 2015 as developers finish projects they started last year to qualify for the production tax credit (PTC), the industry’s primary federal incentive. However, the pace of installations over the next two years is not expected to reach the record set in 2012, and the PTC’s expiration at the end of last year creates significant uncertainty beyond 2016.

Oklahoma Wind Power Companies Run Into Headwinds

Source: by JOE WERTZ, NPR • Posted: Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Oklahoma is the nation’s fourth-largest generator of wind energy. But wind developers in the northeast corner of the state, where the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve lies, are up against stiff opposition from an unlikely pair of allies: environmentalists and oil interests. Bob Hamilton, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, has been fighting to block construction of a 68-turbine wind farm.

D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals Affirms Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) Order No. 1000 on Regional Transmission Planning and Cost Allocation

Source: By Thomas L. Blackburn, National Law Journal • Posted: Monday, August 18th, 2014

FERC had authority under Section 206 of the Federal Power Act (FPA) to require transmission providers to participate in a regional planning process. The Court held that FERC reasonably concluded that transmission planning affects rates for transmission service and its order therefore was within the scope of Section 206. The Court also rejected assertions that Section 202 of the FPA limits FERC to encouraging voluntary coordination of transmission, stating that Section 202 applies to operational coordination, not pre-operational planning.

Coal Still Is Top Source of Electricity in U.S.; Where Does Your State Stand?

Source: By RANI MOLLA, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Monday, August 18th, 2014

In 2014 more states use natural gas as their main fuel for electricity generation compared to 2001, while several fewer states use coal than at the start of the millennium. Hawaii and Massachusetts were the only states in 2001 to get the majority of their electricity from petroleum. While Q1 data for petroleum usage is Hawaii says it is “not meaningful due to large relative standard error,” previous data shows that petroleum is still the most used fuel for electricity there.

Need for wind energy tax credit debated

Source: By Trish Choate, San Angelo Standard-Times • Posted: Monday, August 18th, 2014

An environmental group is criticizing U.S. Reps. Mike Conaway and Randy Neugebauer over the expiration of the Wind Energy Tax Credit, but the two West Texas congressmen say sooner or later wind energy must stand on its own. The Sierra Club in a set of political ads attack Conaway and Neugebauer, saying they’re “doing nothing while Texas wind jobs blow away.” The Sierra Club isn’t alone in touting wind energy’s economic benefits in hopes of getting congressional backing for the credit.

In win for FERC, appeals court upholds regional grid-planning rule

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs and Hannah Northey, E&E reporters • Posted: Monday, August 18th, 2014

A federal appeals court today upheld a landmark ruling that overhauls the process for upgrading the country’s aging electric grid. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit handed the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission a sweeping win, rejecting the arguments from more than 40 state regulators, utilities, regional transmission organizations and industry groups that challenged the commission’s Order 1000. “We conclude that their contentions are unpersuasive,” the three-judge panel wrote in a 97-page opinion.

Shifting Climate Has North Dakota Farmers Swapping Wheat For Corn

Source: by JOHN YDSTIE, NPR • Posted: Friday, August 15th, 2014

Overall, climate change is predicted to hurt agriculture around the world. It could even threaten corn production in the Corn Belt. But in North Dakota conditions are now better for raising corn, and that’s a big benefit for farmers. When I was growing up in Wolford, N.D., up near the Canadian border, wheat was king. It had been the dominant crop since the prairie was first plowed in the late 1800s. So it was kind of strange to go back this summer and find Larry Slaubaugh, a local farmer, filling his 18-wheeler with corn from a huge steel grain bin.