The Senate confirmed Rick Perry on Thursday as the head of the Energy Department, an agency he had once pledged as a presidential candidate to eliminate. The vote was 62 to 37. Mr. Perry, a former Texas governor, will lead an agency that, despite its name, is largely focused on overseeing the nation’s vast arsenal of nuclear weapons, as well as a network of 17 national scientific laboratories.
Beijing had the best of intentions when it started to promote all-electric taxis in 2011. Not only would the green cars reduce the city’s choking pollution, but they’d highlight its commitment to becoming a center of innovation. There was just one problem: cold weather. Electric cars lose their charge quickly when temperatures drop, reducing their range, utility and — for taxi drivers — profitability. Just ask the unlucky souls driving them around Beijing this winter. According to local news media, they’re shutting off battery-draining heaters and driving in heavy boots that — thanks to fares lost while charging their batteries — they can’t really afford.
The future is bright for clean energy in Texas. That’s the message from a recent Environmental Defense Fund report, which once again highlights Texas’ clean energy strengths. We are the nation’s leading producer in wind energy. Back in 2005, state officials, including former Gov. Rick Perry, now head of the U.S. Department of Energy, saw how building transmission infrastructure would open the market for affordable wind energy. It made for good environmental and economic policy.
Solar installation companies and Arizona’s largest utility said on Wednesday that they had reached a long-sought deal under which new rooftop solar systems would be compensated at a lower rate for the energy they send to the grid. The settlement agreement between Arizona Public Service, a division of Pinnacle West Capital Corp, and solar installers including Sunrun Inc, must be approved by state utility regulator the Arizona Corporation Commission.
When it comes to renewable energy, there’s a new kid on the block and he’s making lots of new friends quickly. We’re talking of course, about offshore wind. While once resisted as too expensive and too unsightly, the technology finally has found its sea legs and is really making a splash. Europe is where most of the activity has been. It started with Vindeby, the world’s first offshore wind farm, off the Danish coast. Vindeby, commissioned in 1991, has 11 turbines, with a combined capacity of 4.95 MW. According to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL), the gross wind resource along the two coasts of the U.S. amounts to 4,223 GW. That’s an amount roughly four times the entire generating capacity of the current U.S. electric grid.
As President Trump pitches a $54 billion boost in defense spending alongside an equal cut to numerous federal agencies, some lawmakers already are eyeing the Department of Energy in particular for major budget reductions. A letter obtained by Fox Business Network asks acting Energy Department Secretary Grace Bochenek to identify sweeping budget cuts. House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden, R-Ore., and Tim Murphy, R-Pa., chairman of the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, asked the department to identify “administrative waste and a clear path to achieve significant budget savings in the next five years.”
Bills before the Nebraska and Kansas legislatures to allow electricity customers to choose their power provider are being viewed with caution, and a little skepticism, by clean-energy promoters in the two states. A Houston-based energy developer with Nebraska ties, Gary Aksamit, appears to be the driving force behind the legislation.
President Trump announced plans to slash the EPA’s budget by 24 percent, seriously hampering the agency’s ability to execute effectively as an institution tasked with overseeing environmental and energy policy. A few weeks prior, a group of 20 governors (12 Dem, 8 Rep) sent Trump’s office a letter advocating for strong government support for a number of renewable energy initiatives such as further research and development, grid modernization, offshore wind farms and robust development of battery, storage and distribution technology. The Governors’ Wind & Solar Energy Coalition holds considerable clout due to its bipartisan collection of successes already seen across the United States. Discouraging Trump from following through on gutting the EPA may be a tall order, though.
Minnesota’s renewable energy standard would increase to 50 percent by 2030 under a bipartisan plan unveiled Monday by Lt. Gov. Tina Smith. The state’s current renewable energy standard, or RES, stands at 25 percent by 2025 for all utilities, with a more aggressive target for the state’s largest investor owned utility, Xcel Energy. The standard was established in 2007 in the Next Generation Energy Act and signed by Republican Gov. Tim Pawlenty. In 2013 legislators passed an additional requirement for public utilities to generate or buy 1.5 percent of their retail sales from solar energy.
In a recent letter to President Trump, Brownback and Gina Raimondo, the Democratic governor from Rhode Island who currently chairs the coalition, wrote: “The nation’s wind and solar energy resources are transforming low-income rural areas in ways not seen since the passage of the Homestead Act over 150 years ago. For example, U.S. wind facilities pay rural landowners $222 million a year, with more than $156 million going to landowners in areas with below-average incomes. In addition, $100 billion has been invested by companies in low-income counties, where some 70 percent of the nation’s wind farms are located.”