Officials from the Department of Energy took a victory lap yesterday after the Senate passed the first energy bill in nine years and world leaders prepared to sign a climate accord that could help double America’s clean energy spending. In a packed room on Capitol Hill, DOE hosted National Laboratory Science Day, with scientists from the department’s 17 laboratories across the country presenting their research to lawmakers with hands-on demos and presentations.
SunEdison Inc, once the fastest-growing U.S. renewable energy company, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Thursday after a short-lived but aggressive binge of debt-fueled acquisitions proved unsustainable. In its bankruptcy filing, the company said it had assets of $20.7 billion and liabilities of $16.1 billion as of Sept. 30.
A solar plane on an around-the-world journey has reached the point of no return over the Pacific Ocean after departing Hawaii, and now it’s California or bust. The plane was cruising over the cold northern Pacific late Thursday at about 20,000 feet with a nearly-full battery as night descended, according to the website that’s documenting the journey of Solar Impulse 2.
Wind and solar farms are regularly built on farmland, which is typically flat, cheap and treeless. That has provided rental income for farmers and created a groundswell of construction jobs. Wind and solar companies employed nearly 300,000 people in the U.S. in 2015, roughly four times more than the coal industry. All of the top 10 wind-energy producing congressional districts are represented by Republicans, according to The American Wind Energy Association. “It gives us a real leg up on economic development,” said Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, a Republican whose state ranks third nationally in wind energy.
The top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee said yesterday he’ll use the upcoming energy bill conference to press for funding for upgrading energy infrastructure.
Rep. Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), the ranking member on the panel, said neither the House H.R. 8 nor Senate S. 2012 bills contain “any real funding” for improving infrastructure.
The Senate passed the first broad energy bill in nine years on Wednesday, legislation containing modest measures popular with both Republicans and Democrats to modernize the power grid and speed the permitting process for liquefied natural gas exports. The bill, which passed 85-12, attempts to protect the power grid from extreme weather events such as ice storms and hurricanes, and from cyber attacks. It also aims to spur innovations in storage of power from wind and solar energy.
“Decreasing funding for the DOE Wind Energy Program harms our country’s ability to continue advancing wind energy technology and keep more money in the pockets of millions of Americans,” said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan. “To maximize America’s wind energy potential, we urge Congress to, at a minimum, fund this critical program at its [fiscal] 2015 level.”
The Senate easily passed bipartisan energy reform legislation yesterday, setting the stage for conference talks with the House that members hope will result in the first new major energy law in almost a decade. The Senate passed S. 2012 on a 85-12 vote this morning after senators yesterday voted on a series of amendments set up under an earlier agreement.
The Senate on Wednesday passed the first broad energy bill since the George W. Bush administration, a bipartisan measure to better align the nation’s oil, gas and electricity systems with the changing ways that power is produced in the United States. The bill, approved 85 to 12, united Republicans and Democrats around a traditionally divisive issue — energy policy — largely by avoiding the hot-button topics of climate change and oil and gas exploration that have thwarted other measures.
The House Appropriations Committee approved an energy and water spending bill yesterday by voice vote after a meeting that erupted into a tense debate about the Flint, Mich., water crisis. The $37.4 billion energy and water measure would slash efficiency and renewable research programs below the White House request, increase fossil fuel spending and provide a funding boost for the controversial Yucca Mountain nuclear repository in Nevada, a Republican priority.
It also would block the administration from implementing its recent Clean Water Act jurisdictional rule and boost funding for the Army Corps of Engineers to a record $6.1 billion — $100 million more than fiscal 2016 enacted level and $1.5 billion over the president’s budget request.