The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission today moved forward with a high-profile effort to protect the U.S. bulk power system from cyberattacks as activists dressed as clowns marched outside the agency’s headquarters to protest the spread of gas infrastructure. FERC Chairman Norman Bay and his fellow commissioners unanimously proposed revisions to reliability standards to address the threat utilities face from network or computer hardware infected with malware.
In May 2013, Kristen House, her husband and their three children packed up their Nashville, Tenn., home, strapped their Nissan Leaf to the back of the moving truck and hit the road to foggy San Francisco. Whenever they’d stop somewhere, House would pull the Leaf off the moving truck and the family would drive it around town, running errands or grabbing a bite to eat. They even zipped around the Bonneville Salt Flats in northwestern Utah with the electric car. With a range of 60 to 100 miles on one charge, it was too much of a risk to drive the car out West like a traditional gas car. During the trip, she said, they could go days without seeing an electric charging station.
And not all Alabama Power customers will receive the power. Rather, it will be sold to business and industrial customers that are “looking to meet renewable mandates pushed down from their headquarters,” said Tony Smoke, Alabama Power’s vice president of marketing, in a post published on the company’s online news site. Nick Sellers, the Birmingham-based utility’s vice president of regulatory and corporate affairs, said in a statement that the proposal “provides a common-sense path for expanding renewable in Alabama.” But he added that that state regulators have made clear that they do not want renewable energy resources “to be subsidized by all of our customers.”
Iowa could meet 40 percent of its energy needs from wind power within five years, according to an industry report Thursday that looks at the state’s wind generation potential. The state could push its wind-energy mix to 41 percent in 2020 and supply enough power to more than match its energy usage by 2030, with excess energy to export to other states, the American Wind Energy Association said Thursday.
Iowa ranks first in the U.S. for having the highest percentage of wind energy used on its electrical grid, but a new industry report by the American Wind Energy Association and the Wind Energy Foundation says there is room to grow. Based on data from the U.S. Department of Energy, the report finds that 28 percent of Iowa electricity in 2014 was generated by wind, and that number could grow to 40 percent by 2020. During a panel on the state’s wind industry at Des Moines Area Community College’s Ankeny campus, Mike Prior of the Iowa Wind Energy Association says these projections are based on the industry’s current rate of development.
From the muscle cars of the 1950s to Volkswagen buses with sandy surfboards strapped to the roof, cars have long been part of the culture of California. Highways and freeways crisscross the state, and drive-ins and drive-thrus grew up there. The state’s latest ambition is to slash its greenhouse gas emissions by switching its car culture from gas guzzlers to electrics. That’s a tall order. California’s transportation sector produces about 40 percent of the state’s greenhouse gas emissions. As the state reaches toward its climate change goals — emissions reductions of 40 percent below 1990 levels by the year 2030 and 80 percent by 2050 — vehicles and emissions reductions will be inextricably tied.
Continued growth of wind energy in Iowa places it ahead of other states in meeting a proposed rule that would require existing power plants to cut carbon emissions, a leader with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says. Iowa would be required to cut carbon emissions 16 percent by 2030, under the proposed rule. The state’s target is lower than the 30 percent national average because of its investment in renewable energy development and energy efficiency, federal leaders have said. Karl Brooks, the EPA’s regional director, said outcry against the rule, proposed in June, has been less than expected.
We know America’s electricity supply is rapidly de-carbonizing. Renewables generated 13 percent of national power supply in 2014, but Iowa got a third of its electricity from renewables this past March. California will hit 50 percent by 2030, and another dozen states, including South Dakota, Oregon, Colorado and Minnesota, are surging ahead. Cleaner electricity will feed increasingly efficient homes and devices, and these will be increasingly controlled by iPhones, sensors and data centers. Add this all up, and it reveals a new role for utilities: system optimization.
The Los Angeles Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/1K729QP ) that the supervisors unanimously approved a draft Renewable Energy Ordinance that updated regulations on small-scale wind and solar projects and utility-scale solar projects. Supervisor Michael Antonovich, whose district includes Antelope Valley, says many residents have complained of large wind turbines, saying they would destroy their vistas, impeded aerial firefighting, create dust and noise and contribute to health concerns like valley fever.
The Senate Finance Committee is facing familiar pressure from interest groups over energy provisions as members await word on whether next week’s expected extenders markup will proceed. Senators from both parties this week have indicated the markup may happen Tuesday, although a spokeswoman for Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said yesterday that nothing has been scheduled yet. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) said yesterday that the package will largely mirror the extenders bill the panel passed in May 2014, known as the “EXPIRE Act.”