The United States could lower carbon emissions from electricity generation by as much as 78 percent without having to develop any new technologies or use costly batteries, a new study suggests. There’s a catch, though. The country would have to build a new national transmission network so that states could share energy. “Our idea was if we had a national ‘interstate highway for electrons’ we could move the power around as it was needed, and we could put the wind and solar plants in the very best places,” says study co-author Alexander MacDonald, who recently retired as director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.
After a blizzard-induced delay, the Senate will today open debate on long-awaited broad and bipartisan energy reform legislation backed by Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “I don’t know about you all, but I spent a good portion of my weekend shoveling,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor yesterday. “I feel stronger today, but I’m ready to be back at work where it’s a little less rigorous.”
Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric are pushing back against a regulator proposal for new rules on compensating California homeowners and businesses for the solar power they produce. The three investor-owned utilities have united in an unusual counterproposal that would be less generous to solar-panel owners than the plan that the California Public Utilities Commission is set to vote on next week.
Gall? Nerve? Chutzpah? Call it what you like, but Christine Harbin’s two recent anti-wind columns in The Hill are prime examples of Koch-funded dishonesty—and hypocrisy.
National Grid has selected Connecticut outfit McPhee Electric to build an onshore substation for Deepwater Wind’s 30MW Block Island offshore project in Rhode Island. Caldwell Marine and Environmental Crossings will handle horizontal directional drilling for submarine cable installation. The two companies are in the final stages of mobilization and expect to start drilling in the next week or so.
The Supreme Court yesterday refused to hear a case surrounding how much a utility is required to pay a family producing wind power. In a customary short order, the high court rejected an appeal from Gregory and Beverly Swecker, owners of a small farm in Iowa with a wind generator. The Sweckers sell surplus electric energy to Midland Power Cooperative and have been engaged in legal battles for more than a decade with the utility over the rate paid for their wind power.
Some wind resources are hundreds of miles from potential customers. Projects to build high voltage lines to carry that power to where it’s needed are regularly stymied by the regulatory environment.
Barely a month after world leaders signed a sweeping agreement to reduce carbon emissions, the global commitment to renewable energy sources faces its first big test as the price of oil collapses. Buoyed by low gas prices, Americans are largely eschewing electric cars in favor of lower-mileage trucks and sport utility vehicles. Yet the Obama administration has shown no signs of backing off its requirement that automakers nearly double the fuel economy of their vehicles by 2025.
A landmark Supreme Court opinion issued yesterday underscored the government’s power to regulate an evolving electric grid. In a 6-2 opinion, the high court sided with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission by reviving the agency’s contentious “demand-response” rule aimed at encouraging energy conservation. A majority of the justices found that FERC did indeed have the authority to issue a regulation requiring that power users be paid for committing to scale back electricity use at times of peak demand.
The Senate may begin debating bipartisan energy legislation as early as this week, Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). The chamber is slated to vote on a motion to proceed to a House-passed bill that would impose new screening requirements on Iraqi and Syrian refugees. The legislation — which stems from mounting fears over domestic attacks from the Islamic State group — easily passed the House in November, but it’s unclear whether supporters can muster 60 votes to clear the procedural hurdle in the Senate.