News

600 state, local officials praise Obama’s action plan, regulatory push

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, May 23rd, 2014

“By committing to clean up power plants with a stakeholder process similar to that which was used for other Clean Air Act standards, you are once again demonstrating your commitment to commonsense solutions that takes the challenge of climate change seriously,” the officials wrote. “This move, combined with the strong efficiency and clean energy goals also outlined in your Climate Action Plan, is key to putting America on a path to a future powered by homegrown clean energy.”

Virgin Islands builds renewable portfolio with new payment system

Source: Jenny Mandel, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Renewable energy use can look like a no-brainer for sunny, windy island nations that face high conventional power prices, but the reality of renewable installations can be fraught with challenges linked to the small size of such power systems and barriers involved with linking them to the power grid. The government of the Virgin Islands this week took steps to tackle some of those issues with the passage of a new Feed-In Tariff Act designed to encourage the construction of small to midsize renewable energy installations that would integrate with its diesel-based electric infrastructure.

When will smart meters’ day come?

Source: Peter Behr, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

When the Obama administration seeded smart grid and advanced meter deployments in 2009 with American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds, proponents hoped the meters would be linked with new “time of use” electricity rates and household displays that would dramatically demonstrate the high wholesale cost of peak, midday power, prompting customers to conserve electricity at those times.

Democrat moves to revive carbon tax as option for upcoming EPA rules

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

One House Democrat yesterday floated draft legislation that would allow states to implement a carbon tax to comply with U.S. EPA’s forthcoming rule for existing power plant CO2. Rep. John Delaney (D-Md.) proposed giving states the option of implementing a state-level excise tax on the greenhouse gas emissions from regulated existing generation as a means of satisfying the rule EPA will propose next month under Section 111(d) of the Clean Air Act. He is soliciting feedback on his draft.

Ohio poised to loosen renewable energy standards in nationwide first

Source: Dan Gearino, Columbus Dispatch • Posted: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

Ohio could become the first state to soften standards for utilities’ energy efficiency and renewable energy use if a fast-tracked bill passes the House this week as expected. The state’s Senate Bill 310 would repeal requirements for power providers to source half their renewable energy in-state and would freeze annual increases in alternative energy integration for two years.

Wash. governor set to use executive authority to enact clean fuels program

Source: Julia Pyper, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

On the heels of an executive order that jump-starts efforts to address climate change, Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has signaled he is willing to take further executive action to reduce the carbon intensity of transportation fuels. Appearing on a recent Seattle-based television show, Inslee said he is willing to use executive authority to implement a low-carbon fuel standard (LCFS). The program would mandate that fuel producers reduce the carbon intensity of their fuel mix over time to clean up the transportation sector, which accounts for roughly 44 percent of Washington’s greenhouse gas emissions. “It is clear that it is both my role and my responsibility to act where legislators fail, and there’s been so far an abject failure to do any action to really deal with carbon pollution,” he said.

Action on warming likely in short term, some Republicans say

Source: Anne C. Mulkern, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey and head of U.S. EPA under President George W. Bush, and Bob Inglis, former congressman from South Carolina, said they see the politics of climate change beginning to shift. “The two things that really drive Republicans are fiscal growth, economic growth and national security,” Whitman said at the Fortune Brainstorm Green Conference, a gathering of businesses, environmentalists and state and federal officials. “Climate change runs smack headlong into both of those.”

Obama nominee faces tough questions from GOP senators

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

Norman Bay, President Obama’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, faced sharp criticism today from Republicans on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee bristling over enforcement complaints. But Bay also appeared to have found critical allies on the panel of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans. Ranking member Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) asked Bay, a former New Mexico prosecutor, to address recent criticism that FERC’s Office of Enforcement — which Bay has led since 2009 — has handed out excessive fines.

Lawmakers Scrutinize Nominee to Head Federal Electricity Regulator

Source: By AMY HARDER, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Wednesday, May 21st, 2014

The Obama administration’s nominee to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission faced congressional scrutiny on Tuesday for his role in the commission’s push to hold Wall Street firms and traders accountable for alleged manipulation of electricity prices. As FERC’s enforcement director, Norman Bay worked with former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Jon Wellinghoff to put more muscle in the commission’s enforcement program, seeking substantial fines from financial firms such as J.P. Morgan Chase and Barclays

Pundits weigh risks, benefits of Obama himself rolling out power plant rule

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, May 20th, 2014

President Obama himself plans to roll out his administration’s proposal next month for curbing greenhouse gases from existing power plants, U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy said today. The EPA chief confirmed in a Google+ hangout on the president’s climate agenda that Obama “indicated his intent” to announce the proposal himself — something that she said showed his commitment to it. Greens say some direct involvement from the president would guarantee the proposal gets the attention it needs to win public support and counter opposition messaging by industry groups that the rules will drive up energy costs and damage grid reliability.