Texas’ economic vibrancy is beginning to lose some of its luster in the wake of the collapse in global crude oil prices. The Lone Star State has been the top job generator in the United States for a string of years, coming in second last year behind another booming oil producer, North Dakota. Texas also survived and bounced back from the 2008 economic crisis far stronger than many of its neighbors. But evidence is mounting that the state’s economy will have a much rougher year ahead as layoffs mount, company spending pulls back and the broader economy feels the impact of the 50 percent plunge in oil prices.
“States continue to play a leading role developing the nation’s renewable energy resources, and capturing the jobs and economic benefits that these growing clean energy industries provide,” Inslee says. “Washington state’s wind energy industry has attracted more than $5.7 billion in investment since 2001 – creating thousands of jobs, supporting our rural communities and reducing emissions from our electricity sector. I look forward to working with Gov. Branstad and our coalition colleagues to promote federal and state policies that will help the wind energy industry continue to diversify our nation’s energy portfolio.”
A major legislative push to raise California’s share of renewable energy to 50 percent by 2030 had its first hearing before a panel of largely receptive lawmakers yesterday. The Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee took up Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De León’s (D) S.B. 350, which would implement Gov. Jerry Brown’s (D) inaugural January pledge to boost renewables, lower petroleum use by half and double energy efficiency in buildings.
The boom in West Texas wind-powered electricity generation has delivered a major economic boost to the region, including creation of over 40 new businesses and 30,000 construction jobs in 57 West Texas counties since 2001, according to data collected by Public Citizen’s Texas office. The 40 new manufacturers and businesses make everything from wind turbine blades and steel towers to electronics, according to the data. Wind farms also generate over $85 million in taxes annually in rural Texas counties and more than $9 billion in new taxable assets in the last 14 years.
Large-scale wind and solar projects being planned across the state will have a chance to get a financial boost from a $160 million program announced this week by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. Developers will be able to apply for contracts of up to 20 years under the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s renewable portfolio standard program, according to a news release from the governor’s office. Funding will be used to support private investment in a variety of renewable energy sources, such as wind farms, solar and biomass facilities, fuel cells, and small to medium-sized hydropower projects. A May 8 deadline has been set for developers to apply for the competitive program, which is part of the state’s “Reforming the Energy Vision” strategy.
A 25-turbine wind project planned for Maryland’s Somerset County has been scrapped, with developers blaming unforeseen political obstacles. Officials in the Eastern Shore community had welcomed the project, saying it would bring jobs to the state’s poorest county, but state lawmakers had concerns that the wind farm would interfere with a nearby naval air station.
Lawmakers frequently discuss ways to conserve the environment, but in Missouri, little action is taken. But one group is hoping Missouri regulators approve a project that allows them to them expand the state’s transmission grid in order to provide a cleaner, and hopefully cheaper energy to Missouri consumers. The Grain Belt Express Clean Line is a proposed 750-mile, four state, high-capacity direct current overhead transmission line designed specifically to transmit low-cost energy from wind turbines in western states like Kansas to consumers in Missouri, Illinois and Indiana.
Large swaths of Washington, D.C., and Maryland went dark this afternoon, halting train service, affecting the Capitol and White House, and turning out the lights on a crowded room listening to Oprah Winfrey. A “major disturbance on the transmission system” occurred at about 12:30 p.m. in Pepco Holdings Inc.’s footprint that caused three power plants — about 2,000 megawatts — and transmission lines to shut down, according to PJM Interconnection, which operates the grid in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic.
A first-term Democratic governor from the Pacific Northwest and a seasoned Republican from the Corn Belt have been appointed chairman and vice chairman of the Governors’ Wind Energy Coalition, the organization announced yesterday. Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D), elected to the statehouse in 2012 after resigning his seat in the U.S. House, will lead the group alongside Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad (R), a two-time governor who served from 1983 to 1999 and was elected again in 2010 after 12 years out of office. He was re-elected in 2014.
Duke Energy Florida announced plans Thursday to launch a major solar power effort that will produce electricity equivalent to that of a small power plant. The plan is a surprising move for Duke, which has held steadfast to the idea that solar won’t work in Florida without storage because the Sunshine State has too many clouds. Duke’s new position on solar comes as pressure mounts on Florida’s investor-owned utilities from homeowners and business owners who want more solar on their rooftops.