Over the past two years, Microsoft has contracted for 285 MW of renewable power from two off-site wind energy projects. These two wind farms—capable of generating enough electricity to power 125,000 U.S. homes—could not have been built without the long-term off-take agreement provided by Microsoft, demonstrating the large-scale impact that companies can have on renewable energy deployment. The Business Renewables Center (BRC), an RMI-convened initiative and member-led platform, is working to accelerate corporate procurement of off-site renewable energy such as Microsoft’s, by bringing together corporate buyers, project developers, and service providers.
Ikea will no longer sell halogen and ‘energy-saving’ compact fluorescent bulbs from September, when it switches all its lighting sold globally to super efficient light-emitting diodes (LEDs). The move affects over 2.3m bulbs sold by the Swedish furniture chain each year in the UK and an undisclosed number in its markets elsewhere in Europe, North America, Asia, Africa and Oceania.
With a shift in strategy on natural gas in its final Clean Power Plan, is the Obama administration retracting on its support for the fuel? During today’s OnPoint, David Doniger, director of the climate and clean air program at the Natural Resources Defense Council, discusses changes made in the final rule and the impact they could have on the rule’s legal defensibility. He also previews NRDC’s plans for defending the rule in the courts and in Congress.
A number of national policymakers, utilities, and industry groups have repeatedly claimed President Obama’s Clean Power Plan regulations for existing power plants will raise utility costs and sacrifice reliable electricity service. But Colorado tells a very different story, where renewable energy is replacing coal power plants and driving down the cost of electricity service without sacrificing reliability. Consider the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals recent rejection of a lawsuit claiming the state’s renewable energy standard was illegal and raised consumer utility bills because it limits out-of-state coal plants from selling electricity.
Eight oil- and gas-producing states are in for some serious economic and budgetary pain this year and next, economists at the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas are warning. Texas may feel the lightest hit to its economy and should narrowly avoid recession, Dallas Federal Reserve Director of Research Mine Yücel predicted. Alaska, Oklahoma, Louisiana, Wyoming, West Virginia, New Mexico and North Dakota may not be as lucky, as sharp job losses and steeply lower government revenues are presumed.
A new paper by a group of California energy companies is aiming to set out a vision for how the state’s electricity grid should function in 2030. The paper released today by the Advanced Energy Economy Institute, a nonprofit founded by the activist investor Tom Steyer, is intended to “further inform” stakeholders as they come up with policies to support California’s push to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase renewable energy. The state has a renewable portfolio standard of 33 percent by 2020, and a bill currently moving through the Legislature would increase it to 50 percent by 2030.
It’s no secret utilities nationwide see distributed generation (DG) — most commonly in the form of rooftop solar — as a major upstart to their business model. Now Black & Veatch’s annual report bolsters that opinion but also notes that utilities are cognizant of such challenges and, more importantly, are preparing to clear the hurdles. Of the 435 utilities responding to surveys for the annual report, about 60 percent consider DG a major or minor threat with long-reaching consequences.
The U.S. wind energy sector grew 8 percent in 2014, boosting domestic capacity to nearly 66,000 megawatts while further reducing costs through greater operational efficiencies and technology improvements, according to the Department of Energy’s latest assessment of the renewable energy sector. The “2014 Wind Technologies Market Report,” compiled by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, said the industry’s solid performance in 2014 helped solidify the United States’ position as the world’s second-largest wind energy producer behind China and will aid in meeting recently established U.S. EPA rules aimed at reducing energy sector carbon dioxide emissions.
Is U.S. EPA’s final Clean Power Plan legally vulnerable because it is seen by many as a significant departure from the agency’s proposed rule? During today’s OnPoint, Jason Grumet, president of the Bipartisan Policy Center, discusses the biggest winners and losers following last week’s release of the plan and talks about his organization’s next steps for engaging states on crafting compliance mechanisms.
When U.S. EPA released its long-awaited final Clean Power Plan last week, it was immediately clear that states would face vastly different obligations than they had been preparing for under the 2014 draft rule. Many coal-heavy states originally faced relatively lax targets, based on a formula EPA had devised to account for current clean energy policies and infrastructure. But the draft rule’s algorithm was left on the cutting room floor and replaced by uniform standards applied directly to fossil-fuel power plants, no matter where they’re located — 771 pounds of carbon per megawatt-hour of power for natural gas plants, and 1,305 pounds of CO2/MWh for coal or oil plants.