With Congress deadlocked, a huge chunk of the action on clean energy in the United States is happening at the state level. Some 29 states and Washington D.C. have renewable standards requiring utilities to get a chunk of their power from sources like wind or solar. Over the past year, conservative groups have made a big push to try to repeal these laws, arguing that the mandates drive up electricity prices (since wind and solar can be pricier than coal or natural gas in many cases). What’s surprising, though, is that these attempts have been so unsuccessful — even in deeply conservative red states. As Matt Kasper of the Center for American Progress documents here, repeal efforts by one major group have failed in every state so far
Former members of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission yesterday hit back at an editorial in The Wall Street Journal calling President Obama’s pick to lead the agency a radical who will attempt to circumvent Congress to impose an anti-carbon and pro-renewables regime.
A federal judge’s decision this week that New England electric transmission companies should make less money on power line projects has triggered concern among wind and solar generators hoping to see a revitalization and expansion of the country’s aging grid. Administrative Law Judge Michael Cianci Jr. issued an initial decision that would reduce the return of transmission owners’ investments from 11.14 percent to 9.7 percent in New England states like Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont and Rhode Island. The decision now goes before the full Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, where the commissioners can reject the decision entirely, approve it or make changes.
During the height of last month’s heat wave, millions of people in northern New England were urged to conserve energy, and some utilities fired up expensive, dirty sources of power to meet demand. But at the same time, at least two wind farms in Maine and Vermont were ordered to reduce the amount of electricity they provided. Even when the energy is needed most, weakness in the rural system linking wind turbines to the power grid mean wind companies are routinely taken offline or have their output reduced.
It has taken less than half a decade for the concept of cybercrime to migrate from the realm of science fiction into the boardrooms and bureaus of major U.S. institutions. A rash of intellectual property thefts, the recent hack into servers at the Department of Energy and a number of high-profile cyberattacks overseas have put both the private sector and national security services on alert.
Rare is the Obama administration official who can smile after testifying before House appropriators. But Energy and Water Development Subcommittee Republicans enjoyed hearing from the Department of Energy’s David Danielson. The DOE assistant secretary told the Republican-led panel recently about how he was turning his Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) into an accountable, efficient organization that would work smoothly with the private sector and protect U.S. innovation from foreign raiders. And he made music for Republican ears by promising “go, no go” project goals to protect taxpayer cash.
Kansas is among the largest and fastest growing wind energy markets in the country, the Energy Department reported this week. The agency’s annual Wind Technologies Market Report said Kansas ranked third among all U.S. states in the percentage of in-state electricity generation from wind power, with enough capacity to generate more than 20 percent of its electricity from wind energy.
The Nebraska Supreme Court has ruled that a wind company can claim a $1.6 million tax credit to avoid paying higher taxes over the next several years, striking down a lower court’s ruling that the credit was unconstitutional.
The United States experienced its warmest year yet in 2012, with the highest surface temperatures since record keeping began in the mid- or late 1800s, according to the annual “State of the Climate” report released today. Last year also ranked either eighth or ninth in highest surface temperatures worldwide, depending on which of the four data sets considered by the report were used. The report, posted online today by the American Meteorological Society, was authored by an international group of nearly 400 scientists, with those from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Climatic Data Center serving as its lead editors.
California needs to set more aggressive targets for renewable energy, aiming to mandate as much as 90 percent of power by 2050, community advocates said here yesterday. A state official, however, said it’s not feasible. Members of a committee representing low-income and minority populations, which is advising the California Air Resources Board as it plans future moves, raised the issue when asking how soon the state will cut fossil fuel-derived electricity generation.