Berkshire Hathaway Inc., (BRK/A)which has struck deals to expand its utility business in Nevada and Western Canada, plans more investment in the industry, in part by betting on renewable power, ChairmanWarren Buffett said. “We’ve poured billions and billions and billions of dollars in retained earnings, and several billion of additional equity,” into the energy business, Buffett, 83, said today at the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Las Vegas. “And we’re going to keep doing that as far as the eye can see.”
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said today that the Defense Department has sent her as promised a formal mitigation plan that proposes to bury sections of a New Mexico-to-Arizona transmission line near an Army missile testing range and that the project’s proponents have indicated the proposal is acceptable. But Neil Kornze, director of the Bureau of Land Management, said the agency needs to conduct additional evaluation on the proposal to bury up to 5 miles of the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project line near New Mexico’s White Sands Missile Range. Kornze conceded a new environmental asse
When it comes to producing wind energy, three-blade propeller turbine systems have been the gold standard for so long, they’ve become boring. Sure, engineers have put forth their fair share of alternate designs, but nothing has proven to be quite as efficient. They aren’t perfect either, however. Despite unmatched rotational speeds upwards of up to 200 mph, taking full advantage of the elements requires that the turbines be positioned directly into the face of the current. So while such systems generally make sense for offshore wind farms, they’re not as practical in surroundings where winds are far less predictable.
“Oh really? No kidding,” Mr. Reid said. “Wow, that is amazing—that a majority leader who has a responsibility of selecting people would have some opinion as to who he suggests to the White House.” Mr. Reid’s interest stems from his expressed intent to develop his state’s renewable-energy industry. In 2013, Nevada ranked second in the nation for geothermal energy production and third for solar production, and 18% of its total electricity generation came from renewable, above the national average of 13%. Nevada and the West in general, however, need more power lines to deliver renewable energy to customers. While FERC, which can have as many as five members, doesn’t generally approve construction of interstate power lines, it does approve wholesale electric transmission sales and tariffs, which influence where power companies decide to build transmission lines
Legal challenges to U.S. EPA’s proposed rule on power plant carbon won’t be possible until a final version is released next year, but that hasn’t stopped a number of states from laying foundations for resistance. Nineteen states — nearly all of which either produce or consumer significant quantities of coal — have introduced resolutions targeting the proposed rule. Eleven states have introduced legislation related to the rule with six bills enacted so far. While the language of the resolutions and bills runs the gamut from tentative support to outright opposition to EPA’s authority, a common refrain among them is the desire for state primacy in developing and implementing plans, said Melanie Condon, a policy associate for the National Conference of State Legislatures, which is tracking state reactions to the proposed EPA rule.
The relatively sanguine reaction from most utilities to U.S. EPA’s landmark climate change rule reflects the extent to which power companies are confident in their ability to influence the state governments that will be crafting plans to hit required carbon dioxide emissions reductions. EPA’s proposal was greeted with predictable outrage from coal miners, heavy industry and ideologically motivated interest groups that warned of higher energy prices, lost jobs and a less reliable energy supply. But utilities were generally more likely to welcome — or at least begrudgingly accept — the regulation on existing power plants as something they were already on the way to achieving by switching from coal to natural gas-fired power, promoting energy efficiency and relying more on renewables.
A White House report released today aims to reinforce President Obama’s message from earlier this week that new greenhouse gas regulations are needed because global warming threatens Americans’ health. The seven-page report illustrates the link between climate change and atmospheric ozone, particulate matter and other emissions, which the president and U.S. EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy cited Monday when promoting EPA’s newly released carbon dioxide emissions rule for existing power plants.
Joining forces to cut 30 percent of their carbon emissions by 2030 is a matter of practicality versus political ideology, environmental lawyers and advocates say. “I think it would be shortsighted for the Southeast state air regulators to not at least explore the idea,” said Stephen Smith, executive director for the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy. “I’m just not sure that the ideological inertia will let it be fully vetted.”
It turns out that adding renewable energy to the electricity generation mix doesn’t end up costing all that much, in at least one case it has even saved money. In Colorado the cost came to less than a penny per kilowatt-hour in 2012. Among the 24 states with renewable portfolio standards that were analyzed, the cost of complying between 2010 and 2012 was equal on average, roughly 1 percent of retail electricity rates, according to study by two national laboratories.
Some critics of the Environmental Protection Agency’s new requirementsfor power plants argue that forcing emissions reduction will curtail economic growth. But the recent experience of states that already cap carbon emissions reveals that emissions and economic growth are no longer tightly tied together. One of the ways that states will be able to meet the new E.P.A. standards is by joining a Northeastern cap-and-trade program known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, which first put in a carbon cap in 2009. In a cap-and-trade system, the government places a ceiling on total carbon emissions and issues permits for those emissions, which companies can buy and sell from one another.