Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush this weekend said he favors phasing out the wind industry’s production tax credit. The former governor of Florida told a crowd here Saturday that he would phase out the $23-per-megawatt-hour incentive over a period of three to five years. Wind power, he said, is “very close” to being competitive as an energy source and no longer needing the support provided by the tax credit. “Do it over a three- to five-year period,” Bush said. “Be certain about it: Say this is as long as we need to be competitive to create a diverse feedstock for power generation.”
Oregon Gov. Kate Brown (D) is asking the state Department of Justice to investigate a $12 million tax credit awarded to the Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University for six solar arrays. That project has come into question thanks to an investigation by The Oregonian that found the state’s Department of Energy had relied on potentially phony documents when it approved the $11.8 million in tax credits in 2012. The tax credits amounted to half of the total cost of the project, which is owned by a series of limited liability companies.
How will the evolution of the utility industry converge with Clean Power Plan targets and natural gas policy? During today’s OnPoint, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar discusses the challenges facing U.S. EPA as it crafts its final Clean Power Plan rule and the impact the plan could have on grid reliability. Salazar, now a partner at WilmerHale, also weighs in on expanding oil and gas development in the United States and the Interior Department’s proposed leasing expansions along the Atlantic Coast and in the Arctic.
The nascent U.S. energy storage market will “pick up speed” this year, more than tripling the installments from 2014, analyst GTM Research says in a report released today. There will be 220 megawatts installed in 2015, compared with 62 MW last year, the report says. This dwarfs the 40 percent gains seen between 2014 and 2013, which saw 44 MW of energy storage installed, says the GTM report done in collaboration with the Energy Storage Association.
“It is a little bold to talk about the China-California partnership as though we were a separate nation. But we are a separate nation,” he said, to applause and laughter. Since taking office in 2010, Brown has signed agreements with the national governments of China and Mexico, as well as a subnational agreement with Guangdong province and a regional pact with Oregon, Washington state and British Columbia to work on West Coast low-carbon fuel and energy policies.
Michigan Republicans announced this week that they do not support higher renewable energy targets and that they will seek to eliminate energy efficiency standards from state law. Separate comprehensive energy packages emerging from the House and Senate — both of which have Republican majorities — differ on some topics, including electric choice, but committee chairs from both chambers are intent on removing efficiency standards that were adopted seven years ago. Neither packages call for a higher renewable portfolio standard, while one House Republican introduced a stand-alone bill Thursday to repeal the RPS.
The American Legislative Exchange Council won a significant victory this week when West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin (D) signed a law requiring legislative approval of the eventual plan the state submits to comply with U.S. EPA’s ambitious Clean Power Plan. Under the new law, West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection will have to produce a study examining the impact of the federal guidelines, which aim to drop the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions 30 percent below 2005 levels over the next 15 years.
Hybrid cars, fruit grown without pesticides, clean coal plants — going green usually comes at a premium. But not so with consumer electricity plans that promise energy exclusively from wind turbines and solar farms. As those renewables have proliferated in recent years, green plans have become readily affordable. So much so that in Texas, the country’s largest wind energy producer, renewable energy plans count among the cheapest options available. In a review of the state-run website PowertoChoose.org, three of the 10 lowest-priced plans offered in Dallas this week were advertised as 100 percent renewable energy plans.
The European Union will fail to meet an ambitious goal of significantly reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 unless it takes more aggressive measures to limit the use of fossil fuels and adopts new environmental policies, according to a report scheduled for release on Tuesday. Although European countries are on track to meet, and even surpass, the goal of reducing 1990-level greenhouse gas emissions by 20 percent by 2020, existing policies are not robust enough to ensure that the 2050 targets are met, the report said. Those targets, scientists have said, are critical to forestalling the most catastrophic effects of climate change, which are linked to carbon emissions caused by human activity.
The Senate’s top Republican waded into state regulatory policy today, urging state officials in an newspaper op-ed to not let themselves be “bullied” into complying with U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky wrote in the Lexington Herald-Leader op-ed that state lawmakers and officials have little to fear from EPA if they don’t comply with its draft rule for power plants’ carbon dioxide emissions. Compliance, he said, could make states legally vulnerable.