EPA confirms wind, solar only renewables to receive early credit

Source: Elizabeth Harball, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 13th, 2015

U.S. EPA is throwing cold water on hopes that renewables other than wind and solar might qualify for an incentive program designed to reward emissions reductions made before the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan takes effect. In an informational call Tuesday, Tina Ndoh of EPA’s office of Air Quality Planning and Standards shut down a suggestion that the Clean Energy Incentive Program (CEIP) could be used to give credits for hydropower, geothermal or other forms of clean power.

Republicans seek FERC review of Carter-era renewables law

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 13th, 2015

Congressional Republicans called on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to explore whether changes are needed to improve a law crafted in the Carter administration to boost renewables and efficiency. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, House Energy and Commerce Chairman Fred Upton of Michigan, and Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power Chairman Ed Whitfield of Kentucky asked FERC to review its use of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act of 1978, or PURPA. The letter to FERC Chairman Norman Bay reflects concerns with the law that Berkshire Hathaway Energy (BHE) raised earlier this year as the Senate and House were crafting comprehensive energy legislation.

Utilities plan a surge of solar, wind in Southeast

Source: Kristi E. Swartz, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 13th, 2015

The Southeast’s three major investor-owned utilities have big plans to ramp up their renewable energy portfolios across the United States in the near future, citing falling costs and rising demand because of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Duke Energy Corp., NextEra Energy Inc. and Southern Co. each recently told analysts that opportunities to add more wind and solar projects have exceeded their expectations. All three companies plan to invest billions into expanding solar arrays and wind farms, either by buying or building them, despite the possibility of eventual changes in some of the federal tax incentives.

BLM advances federal portion of massive Calif. desert plan

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 13th, 2015

The Obama administration yesterday advanced the federal portion of a major plan designed to guide commercial-scale wind, solar and geothermal power development across millions of acres of Southern California desert. Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced completion of a final environmental impact statement (EIS) and three proposed land-use plan amendments covering about 10 million acres of federal lands as part of the first phase of implementation of the Desert Renewable Energy Conservation Plan (DRECP).

Almost 10K solar, wind jobs announced in 3rd quarter — report

Source: Ben Panko, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 13th, 2015

U.S. companies announced almost 10,000 new clean energy and transportation jobs in the third quarter of this year, with a host of solar and wind projects pushing Utah to the top of the job growth rankings, a new report says. The solar industry accounted for 7,300 of the announced jobs at 23 separate projects, according to the report from the nonprofit Environmental Entrepreneurs. The wind industry announced more than 2,500 jobs at 11 separate projects, it said.

White House may wait months to fill FERC vacancy — sources

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 13th, 2015

The White House may wait months to fill a vacant Republican seat on the powerful Federal Energy Regulatory Commission — and then use that nomination as a bargaining chip when the time comes, according to sources. The Obama administration has yet to tap a replacement for Philip Moeller, a member of the agency who stepped down at the end of last month to pursue opportunities in the private sector.

Bill Clinton Visits Big Wind Farm in Western Panama

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

Former U.S. President Bill Clinton is talking up the potential of renewable energy to shield developing countries from the effects of climate change. Clinton visited Central America’s biggest wind farm Tuesday. The electricity project in western Panama is scheduled to open next year with the capacity to produce about 6 percent to 8 percent of Panama’s energy needs.

Lancaster County Board’s strict noise restrictions for wind turbines a blow to wind-farm developers

Source: By Paul Hammel / World-Herald Bureau • Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

In a vote that could affect wind farm development elsewhere in Nebraska, the Lancaster County Board on Tuesday adopted tough new noise restrictions on wind turbines. The restrictions prohibit wind turbines from generating more than 40 decibels of noise during the day — about what’s generated by a household refrigerator — as measured at nearby residences. Currently, 50 decibels is recognized as a standard noise limit by several Nebraska counties.

These could be the first U.S. states to tax carbon — and give their residents a nice paycheck

Source: By Chelsea Harvey, Washington Post • Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

In Washington state, a circulating petition might be the key to both permanently cutting down on the state’s carbon footprint and also reforming what is widely considered one of the nation’s most regressive tax systems. If enough signatures are secured, the petition will allow the United States’ first-ever carbon tax a spot on the ballot.

Barrier-breaking physicist clears path for solar power

Source: Ariel Wittenberg, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 12th, 2015

The leader of the Department of Energy effort to drive down the cost of solar power enjoys a big challenge. When Lidija Sekaric was recruited for the SunShot initiative in 2010, she turned up her nose at the program’s goal — lowering the installed cost of solar from $2 a watt to 50 cents by 2020. “We were not ambitious enough for her,” then-Director Minh Le recalled in a recent interview. “I pitch it to her that we are going to reduce costs by 75 percent, and her immediate reaction — with a straight face — was, ‘Why not 25 cents per watt?'”