New York regulators today signed off on Democratic Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s plan for tackling climate change by rapidly expanding the state’s renewable footprint and throwing a lifeline to ailing nuclear reactors. The New York Public Service Commission approved key parts of Cuomo’s landmark clean energy standard, which requires the state’s electric sector to generate half its power from renewables by 2030.
A carbon tax may be the best way to reduce carbon emissions, according to most economists and theoreticians, but the idea is not as popular among regulators and utilities. Cathy Woollums, the chief environmental counsel at Berkshire Hathaway Energy, said the company, whose utility subsidiaries include Iowa-based MidAmerican Energy Co., Nevada-based NV Energy Inc. and PacifiCorp, does not favor a carbon tax, but instead prefers more “creative” solutions.
Two Iowa utilities are investing a combined $4.6 billion to build 2,500 megawatts of new wind energy in the state over the next four years. On Wednesday, Alliant Energy announced a $1 billion, 500-megawatt expansion of its 200-megawatt Whispering Willow Wind Farm in north-central Iowa, while MidAmerican Energy announced that it had settled a rate agreement that would allow its Wind XI project, a $3.6 billion, 2,000-megawatt wind farm, to proceed.
“The Clean Power Plan is a level of detail that the public still doesn’t necessarily know so much about,” said David Goldston, head of governmental affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. “You tend to emphasize, especially at this point, clean energy, cleaning up power plants, meeting the Paris accords.” He said Democrats in the short term are more likely to focus on GOP nominee Donald Trump’s stance that climate change is a “hoax” and to play up the economic benefits of renewable power.
Mrs. Clinton’s opponent in the November election, Donald J. Trump, has gone further than any other Republican presidential nominee in opposing climate change policy. He often mocks the established science of human-caused climate change and dismisses it as a hoax. The Republican platform calls climate change policy “the triumph of extremism over common sense.”
“Generate enough renewable energy to power every home in America, with half a billion solar panels installed by the end of Hillary’s first term.” (That would mean installed solar PV capacity of 140 gigawatts by the end of 2020, up 700 percent from current levels and well beyond most forecasts.) Much of the green-infrastructure plan is part of Clinton’s larger infrastructure plan, with its proposed National Infrastructure Bank. It includes a “pipeline partnership” that would help cities and states more easily locate and repair leaky natural gas pipelines, various financing tools for grid investments to ease the spread of distributed energy, and investments in clean energy R&D.
New York state and nuclear power have never been best friends, but the state is expected to decide as soon as Monday on a proposed subsidy plan that could furnish the rest of the country with a model for saving a struggling industry while reducing carbon emissions. Nuclear power is nearly carbon free, but many U.S. plants are losing money, hammered by sharply lower prices for rival fuel natural gas and lackluster demand for electricity. Five plants in states from Florida to California have shut since 2013 and many others are at risk. The New York Public Service Commission on Monday is expected to vote on whether to subsidize nuclear power plants under a proposed Clean Energy Standard, or CES.
Nearly 6,190 birds died at the Ivanpah solar energy plant in Southern California’s Mojave Desert in its second year of operation, a 77 percent increase over the estimated fatalities from the previous year. The estimate by Western EcoSystems Technology Inc. (WEST), a contractor for the plant, is bringing fresh scrutiny to solar “power tower” facilities built to turn the sun’s heat into electricity. Two have been built on public lands in the U.S. Southwest with billions of dollars of federal loan assistance, and others are in development in Chile, South Africa and China
Turning old wind farms into new wind farms could become a cornerstone of NextEra Energy Inc.’s investment strategy in the coming years, especially if the company has stockpiled cheaper, more efficient turbine equipment during a broader pause in the wind industry’s development pipeline. NextEra management during a second-quarter earnings call emphasized the company’s decision to repower a pair of wind facilities in Texas totaling 327 MW for roughly $250 million, an investment it hopes to replicate across its wind holdings, so as to capture federal production tax credits for repowered wind plants, per guidance the Internal Revenue Service issued in May.
The stereotype is that the switch to clean energy is driven by political progressives, but wind energy is booming in conservative states like Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Texas produces more wind-generated electricity than any other state. And Oklahoma and Kansas aren’t too far behind. That’s not a coincidence.