Political stakes high for Monday showdown over EPA climate crackdown

Source: Jeremy P. Jacobs, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 24th, 2014

President Obama’s use of executive power to tackle global warming goes on trial Monday when the Supreme Court hears arguments in a challenge from industry and a dozen states to a U.S. EPA effort to curb industrial emissions of greenhouse gases. Returning from a month off, the justices have scheduled unusually long arguments in a case focused on whether EPA lawfully included greenhouse gases in the permitting process for power plants and other large pollution sources.

FERC clarifies rule critical to storage, renewables

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 24th, 2014

“Although it will help the entire marketplace, frankly a lot of these changes are designed to help facilitate renewable and intermittent generation along with the newer technologies for faster frequency response or storage,” Moeller said. “I think the key takeaway is that this commission has been very amenable to trying to integrate intermittent resources.”

Democratic leader’s pitch to make carbon tax part of broader reform meets some skepticism

Source: Debra Kahn, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 24th, 2014

California’s Senate majority leader yesterday proposed a carbon tax for transportation fuel to replace part of the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases but immediately ran into opposition from fellow top Democrats and environmental groups. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) pitched it as part of a broader tax reform movement that he hopes to institute, possibly in time for next year, when the state’s emissions trading program expands from utilities, refineries and other industrial emitters to covering carbon-based transportation fuels, as well.

Camp expected to roll out comprehensive reform draft as Wyden stays focused on extenders

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, February 24th, 2014

Political considerations also could complicate the push for a tax extenders package. Such legislation typically carries a hefty price tag that rankles budget-conscious members, and some of the specific provisions — in particular the PTC — are facing increasingly intense opposition from outside conservative groups aligned with fossil fuel interests. Congress most recently passed an extenders bill in the lame-duck session following the 2012 election. However, at that time it was able to hitch a ride on the larger “fiscal cliff” legislation to prevent an across-the-board increase in individuals’ taxes. The lack of a similarly significant “must-pass” bill this time around further complicates the prospect for extenders, but many of the breaks enjoy broad backing from lawmakers, and advocates say they are staying optimistic.

Powering California with 50% Renewable Energy by 2030: New Analysis Shows It Can Be Done

Source: Laura WislandLaura Wisland, senior analyst, Clean Energy, Union Concerned Scientists • Posted: Friday, February 21st, 2014

Last week, a new analysis was released that explored the technical, environmental, and economic implications of raising California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 33 percent by 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. I’m excited to report that although the study illuminates the challenges of installing unprecedented amounts of renewables on the grid, it is technically possible. Moreover, California has tools in hand today to scale up renewables, and is developing programs and policies that will continue to lower the cost and technical challenges of doing so.

FERC to probe gas price spikes during deep freeze

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, February 21st, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to probe recent wintry wallops that triggered both unprecedented natural gas price spikes in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic in recent weeks and the agency’s first-ever order for a private pipeline to ship propane into the Midwest.

Birds halt UK offshore wind farm expansion

Source: BY SUSANNA TWIDALE, Reuters • Posted: Thursday, February 20th, 2014

The need for a study into the potential threat to the red-throated diver, a type of waterfowl, has forced developers to scrap a project to expand the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Britain’s London Array. The consortium of Denmark’s Dong Energy, Germany’s E.ON and Abu Dhabi state-owned energy investor Masdar joined a growing list of companies scaling back plans to build new offshore wind capacity in Britain.

World’s biggest wind turbine wins its first contract

Source: Special to E&E • Posted: Thursday, February 20th, 2014

he world’s biggest offshore wind turbine, a Vestas behemoth with wings that sweep an area the size of three football fields, has signed its first potential order. The Vestas V164 8-megawatt machine has won a competitive tender for Dong Energy’s Burbo Bank Extension wind farm in U.K. waters. The final decision to install the turbines is subject to the wind farm receiving the relevant subsidies.

Moniz touts plans for building ‘grid of the future’

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, February 20th, 2014

Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today outlined the Obama administration’s vision of a more resilient U.S. electric grid capable of handling severe weather linked to climate change. Addressing the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers smart grid conference in Washington, D.C., Moniz said the administration aims to shape an energy network with reduced emissions and a grid that’s tough enough to withstand rising temperatures and fierce storms.

Iowa Power line construction bill draws critics to House hearing

Source: Written by Jason Noble, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, February 20th, 2014

A panel of Iowa lawmakers advanced legislation Tuesday rewriting the approval process for construction of certain power lines in the state. The measure is a direct response to vocal opposition to the proposed Rock Island Clean Line from landowners across northern Iowa. The proposed 500-mile transmission line would deliver wind energy from northwest Iowa to markets in Illinois and points eastward. But it but might have to take land by eminent domain to secure the long, narrow strip that the power lines and poles would run through.