Power plants are the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States, and with the Environmental Protection Agency unveiling new rules regulating the amount of carbon pollution released by existing power plants, many Americans should know what can be done to meet these standards – including ways we can do so without significantly raising electricity rates or hurting the economy. Fortunately, there’s good news. We don’t have to give up economic growth in exchange for keeping our air clean. Wind power is already working to achieve these goals, as it is one of the biggest, fastest, cheapest ways to help us reduce carbon emissions within the electric power sector while also driving significant economic development.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission is asking a federal appeals court to reconsider its decision to throw out a high-profile ruling that scrapped a critical agency order providing incentives for electricity users to consume less power, a practice dubbed demand response. The commission today said it will ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to reconsider the case en banc, meaning before all the circuit court’s judges.
It turns out that cap and trade might not be so bad after all. New research shows that reducing carbon emissions through regulations like the administration’s recent rules on power plants cuts less carbon at a higher price than the embattled climate policy Congress failed to pass in 2010. Cap and trade, or an equivalent carbon tax, would be economically easier on families, fairer to lower-income people and more flexible for emitters, according to a study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Kansas utility regulators want the Southwest Power Pool to demonstrate how consumers in the state would benefit from the grid operator more than doubling the size of its footprint with the addition of the Upper Great Plains Region of the Western Area Power Administration. The three-member Kansas Corporation Commission ordered the investigation on the request of the commission staff, which in a Monday memo raised concerns about SPP membership terms for WAPA-Upper Great Plains and two other entities that jointly operate a regional transmission system known as the Integrated System.
For over a decade, state renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) have been a major driver of clean energy in the United States. They’ve fed the growth of solar and wind power even in the absence of federal climate policy and laid some of the foundations on which U.S. EPA’s proposed carbon rule for existing power plants builds. At the same time, they’ve been subject to attacks in several GOP-led states, inevitably along the lines that they curb economic growth. So what are the costs of state standards for renewable energy? The National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory recently crunched the numbers, and their answer is: only about 1 percent of retail electricity rates.
Jockeying over Federal Energy Regulatory Commission posts continued yesterday as the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee announced plans to vote next week on nominees to lead the agency. The committee will vote on President Obama’s pick to lead FERC, Norman Bay, and acting Chairwoman Cheryl LaFleur for another five-year term, an aide said. But the committee hasn’t set a date for the vote. The committee of 12 Democrats and 10 Republicans is trying to break a confirmation logjam, with some senators wary of Bay’s lack of experience as a regulator and others keen on seeing LaFleur holding onto the gavel.
Former White House energy and climate adviser Heather Zichal is getting back in the game. Zichal, who left the administration late last year, has joined an advisory board of Sensity Systems, a Sunnyvale, Calif.-based lighting technology company, the company announced today.
As mayors of New Bedford, Massachusetts and Virginia Beach, Virginia, a Democrat and a Republican, we are not interested in partisan politics. We believe that effective job-creation strategies are critical for our cities to remain good places to work, live and raise families. We also believe that our local economies, and those of other communities from coast to coast, are primed to become the beneficiaries of thousands of new jobs from a new national renewable energy industry that has the capacity to power millions of homes – offshore wind. Simply put, the offshore wind opportunity is real and we cannot afford to miss it.
Utilities that led the march to clean energy sources and efficiency are assessing whether they’ll get full credit for their efforts under U.S. EPA’s proposed climate change rule for existing power plants. At issue is EPA’s apparent use of 2012 as the cutoff year for states to claim credit for early emission-reduction measures. EPA’s proposal would allow states to take credit for projects, measures and policies that will lower carbon dioxide emissions for the life of the rule — through 2030. Spokeswoman Liz Purchia said that provision ensures that states with renewable energy standards and existing clean power infrastructure will be better-positioned to meet emission goals.
How will U.S. EPA’s proposed standards for existing power plants impact the wind energy industry’s growth? During today’s OnPoint, Rob Gramlich, senior vice president of public policy at the American Wind Energy Association, discusses which states could benefit most from incorporating wind energy as part of their compliance mechanisms and talks about lobbying efforts to derail state renewable portfolio standards. Gramlich also explains why he believes the wind industry still needs the production tax credit, despite an expected boost from the existing source regulations.