Rooftop solar jumped 50 percent last year, the number of active community solar programs spiked 80 percent, and 27 state legislatures or utility commissions took up net-metering reform in 2015 as debates raged about how much to compensate homeowners for excess power sent to the grid. Those were some of the chief conclusions from the Smart Electric Power Alliance’s solar market snapshot, which surveys hundreds of utilities about current trends in the industry. The group, which recently changed its name from Solar Electric Power Association, said about 350 utilities participated this year, a 20 percent increase from the prior year.
Deepwater Wind’s proposed 90MW offshore wind farm in New York has been put into a temporary holding pattern. Officials at the Long Island Power Authority have reportedly delayed a vote on whether to offer the 15-turbine South Fork project a route to market, pending a new state-wide offshore wind plan.
Nebraska utility the Omaha Public Power District is looking for bidders to provide the utility between 1 MW and 400 MW of renewable power capacity, according to a request for proposals released by OPPD July 18. The RFP would lead to a doubling of the utility’s level of renewable power. As of the end of 2015, OPPD had 416.5 MW of wind and landfill gas capacity, according to a company fact sheet.
Those who want to generate support from conservative voters for climate change policies might want to start by omitting the words “climate change” from their pitch. That’s the idea being embraced by some conservative activists as they look to grow the number of Republicans who will back policies to address rising emissions, reduce pollution or grow clean energy. “Get away from this phrase ‘climate change.’ It alienates,” Cella Energy Chairman Jay Lifton said yesterday at a forum on the sidelines of the Republican National Convention organized by the Environmental Defense Fund’s Defend Our Future campaign and Bloomberg Government. “You’re trying to separate people when you use that phrase.”
The 2016 Republican platform that party leaders adopted here yesterday envisions a reorganization of U.S. EPA into an independent commission, with primary regulatory authority over the environment handed to state governments. The 66-page document, formally approved on the first day of the Republican National Convention, echoes many familiar GOP themes on energy from recent years, including opening more public lands to production, easing federal regulations and reforming key environmental statutes.
“The issue is, how do we decarbonize the electricity sector, while keeping the lights on, keeping costs low and avoiding unintended consequences that could make emissions increase?” said Jan Mazurek, who runs the clean power campaign at the environmental advocacy group ClimateWorks. Addressing those challenges will require a more subtle approach than just attaching more renewables to the grid.
Matt Mead, the governor of Wyoming, the nation’s leading coal-producing state, fiercely opposes President Obama’s climate change regulations, which could shutter hundreds of coal plants and deeply wound his state, one of 27 that are suing to block the plan. Nevertheless, Mr. Mead, a Republican, has ordered his top environmental officials to prepare to comply with the president’s effort, known as the Clean Power Plan — to prepare for a future in which Mr. Obama’s climate change rules prevail and the country’s coal market is nearly frozen. Wyoming is one of at least 20 states that are moving forward with efforts to comply with the rules or to analyze alternative plans. Several of these states are also suing to stop the rules, according to experts who track state climate change policy.
U.S. automakers can still hit aggressive fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions targets, contrary to some concerns from the industry, state and federal agencies said yesterday. A draft report by U.S. EPA, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the California Air Resources Board shows that manufacturers are on track to reach an average fuel economy ranging between 50 and 52.6 mpg across their fleets by 2025.
The White House is renewing its efforts to deploy solar power, bring more people into solar jobs and finance clean energy projects with a funding mechanism that has proved controversial in the past. As part of the Clean Energy Savings for All Initiative, which does not require new congressional appropriations, the departments of Energy, Agriculture, Housing and Urban Development, and Veterans Affairs and U.S. EPA are backing new initiatives to reach a goal of bringing 1 gigawatt of solar to low- and moderate-income families by decade’s end.
As a native Texan, summer brings to mind many activities, like swimming, outdoor concerts and family barbecues. It also makes me think of the hot summer sun. But this year, as millions of Texans are cranking up the AC to stave off heat, I can rest a little easier knowing that our state’s electricity is increasingly being powered by cleaner, less polluting resources. That’s because market forces are leading to coal’s rapid decline, resulting in a cleaner electric grid in the Lone Star State. According to a new analysis from the Brattle Group and the Texas Clean Energy Coalition, natural gas and renewable energy — such as that from wind turbines and solar panels — are on the rise in Texas.