The Interior Department has approved the first transmission line in federal waters to serve an offshore wind farm. Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management approved Deepwater Wind LLC to build a 9-mile subsea cable connecting Block Island to the Rhode Island mainland, a project that will support the company’s 30-megawatt Block Island Wind Farm, the agency announced today.
The California grid operator requested a federal waiver yesterday from electricity-pricing rules because of price fluctuations in a new market intended to accommodate rising amounts of renewable energy. The California Independent System Operator filed a petition yesterday asking the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for an immediate 90-day exemption from rules governing the settlement of energy prices because of software glitches and other issues that spurred price increases in the West’s new energy imbalance market.
California already has imposed some of the world’s toughest air quality standards as it moves aggressively to lower emissions. The state’s cap-and-trade program, launched nearly three years ago, offers one of the few real-world laboratories on how to reduce carbon emissions. The state has opted to impose extra costs on businesses that emit pollutants. Next year, the program will be expanded to include companies that produce gasoline and other fuels, prompting predictions that consumers will see a spike in prices to cover the costs.
Months before U.S. EPA’s proposed rule on power-sector carbon emissions becomes final, battle lines are already hardening between states that support the rule and those that would see it quashed. This week, attorneys general in 14 states and the District of Columbia filed an amicus curiae brief with the D.C. Court of Appeals in support of EPA’s authority to regulate carbon, asking the court to throw out an earlier lawsuit by Murray Energy Inc. and nine states that sought to block the rule.
Three Iowa agencies told the federal government a proposed rule that would force utilities to reduce carbon emissions should not significantly increase consumer costs or jeopardize reliability. The joint comments were submitted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Utilities Board, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday. EPA has proposed existing power plants reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming an average of 30 percent by 2030. Iowa’s goal is lower — 16 percent — because of the generation of green power, especially from wind, federal leaders have said. Iowa leads the nation in the amount of energy it gets from wind, about 27 percent of its total portfolio, officials have said. Still, about 60 percent of Iowa’s energy comes from coal, a large contributor to greenhouse emissions.
A nation as large and diverse as the United States should not address major transmission development without a national plan. We should be siting and building major transmission lines to wind and solar rich areas of the nation now. Just as waiting for private developers to build a hodgepodge of roads did not work for the national highway system, it will not work for the grid. The plan will require leadership from federal and state governments and must consider and incorporate regional differences in electricity delivery systems.
SPP will now integrate the Western Area Power Administration — Upper Great Plains Region, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Heartland Consumers Power District. Together, the new members provide the backbone of the bulk electric transmission system across seven states in the Upper Great Plains region, consisting of about 9,500 miles of transmission lines, according to FERC.
Powerful conservative groups including those backed by the Koch Brothers are pushing Republicans to take a hard line on a raft of expired tax breaks pending in the lame duck, an effort that could jeopardize party leaders’ hopes for a low-drama Congress. Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action for America and others want Republicans to capitalize on their election victory by killing some of the tax “extenders” they’ve long hated, such as a one subsidizing the wind energy industry. Americans for Prosperity said it will spend $200,000 targeting 25 House Republicans on the wind issue. Among them: Reps. Gus Bilirakis (Fla.), Larry Bucshon (Ind.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.) and Michael Turner (Ohio).
A national surge toward natural gas and renewable energy driven by cheap gas and new government rules and policies is creating reliability concerns — especially in the Midwest, New York and Texas — and weakening buffers for blackouts, grid overseers warned today. And those problems loom even before considering the impact of U.S. EPA’s power plant initiative, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said.
The agreement calls on the U.S. to cut its emissions by between 26 and 28 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2025. China’s emissions must stop growing no later than 2030. But while the announcement is the first firm commitment by China to stop increasing its carbon dioxide output, opponents of CO2 restrictions say it will lead to an uneven playing field that places U.S. industry at a crippling disadvantage. Returning to the Senate floor for the first time since last week’s election all but assured that he would become Senate majority leader next year, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Obama seemed to be ignoring the voters’ demands for more cooperation across branches of government.