News

House Republicans fill McCarthy’s in-box with criticism of power plant rule

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans yesterday intensified their demand for more information about the basis for U.S. EPA’s proposed mandate that all future coal-fired power plants use partial carbon capture and storage to limit heat-trapping emissions. In a letter to EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, six GOP committee leaders again charged that September’s new power plant proposal for carbon may overstep EPA’s statutory authority. They asked for more details about how the agency arrived at its decision that partial C

White House keeps highly anticipated MIT study on major power line under wraps — for now

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The results of a much-anticipated federal study that could determine the fate of a multistate transmission line project deemed a top priority by the Obama administration are being shared this week with congressional staffers in Washington, D.C., but have not been released to the public at the request of the White House Council on Environmental Quality. CEQ asked congressional staff members at a formal briefing yesterday not to release or publicly discuss the results of the study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Lincoln Laboratory that evaluated strategies to build the 515-mile-long SunZia Southwest Transmission Line Project without interfering with the mission of a nearby Army weapons testing range, according to sources who attended the briefing.

Congressman says MIT report found problems with major power line project

Source: Scott Streater, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

A federal study found that a proposed multistate transmission line could harm a New Mexico Army training and weapons testing range and should be rerouted, a key lawmaker said today. However, a senator who supports the project claimed the study — which has not been released to the public at the request of the White House Council on Environmental Quality — offers “pragmatic solutions” and encouraged the Obama administration to approve the project.

Snowden disclosures complicate new FERC security order

Source: Blake Sobczak, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest plan to boost utilities’ physical security has one strange hitch: the trove of top-secret documents released last year by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden. FERC’s order Friday for grid overseers to tackle physical threats to the U.S. bulk electric power system seems to share little in common with Snowden’s sweeping revelations about government eavesdropping. But utility executives and current and former White House officials claim Snowden’s leaks have poisoned efforts to streamline information sharing about threats and weaknesses in the North American electric grid — one goal of FERC’s order.

Excerpts from Senate Climate Caucus Floor Debate

Source: By Sandy Dechert, Sustainable Enterprises • Posted: Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

Al Franken (Minnesota) observed pointedly that the currently flourishing natural gas mines enabled by hydraulic fracturing were started with government investment and government research and government grants. He said we’re in an analogous position now, and we need to support renewable energy development now just as we originally developed fracking for the petroleum industry. “Big Oil is no longer the main enemy of action on climate change—not even Exxon, which until 2008 was a leading funder of the climate denial movement.”

Wind power has more than tripled in 6 years — report

Source: Daniel Cusick, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

The top 10 wind-energy-producing states are generating enough clean energy to power roughly 11.5 million U.S. homes, according to data released last week by the American Wind Energy Association. The findings, based on an analysis of Energy Department data, provide another snapshot of how and where wind power is growing in the United States. Nationally, wind power now accounts for 4.1 percent of all electricity generated nationwide. It is the fifth-largest electricity source in the country behind natural gas, coal, nuclear and hydropower, according to the Washington, D.C.-based trade group.

Kerry directs State Dept. to make climate change a top priority

Source: Lisa Friedman, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry doubled down Friday on comments that climate change is “the world’s most fearsome weapon of mass destruction” and instructed the agency’s nearly 50,000 employees globally to make the issue a “top tier” diplomatic priority. In a policy directive — Kerry’s first since taking the helm of the State Department last year — he told all bureaus to put climate change at the center of their daily work and set establishing a new global climate deal in 2015 as a top priority.

Drought Hastens End of a Region’s Hydropower Era

Source: By JIM MALEWITZ, New York Times • Posted: Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

The years long drought in Central Texas could eventually snuff out a renewable power source that fueled the region’s early growth: hydropower. Faced with dwindling water supplies, the Lower Colorado River Authority, which supplies water and energy to much of Central Texas, is limiting downstream water releases for activities like rice farming. Aside from stirring controversy among water users, the changes have shrunk the amount of electricity the agency generates from its six Colorado River dams.

How Texas Made Wind Energy a Real Player

Source: Mike Jacobs, senior energy analyst, Climate & Energy Program, Union of Concerned Scientists • Posted: Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Press reports of Texas completing new transmission lines for wind describe an energy boom with a difference — this is carbon-free wind energy. The grid operator in Texas, ERCOT, says agreements are already done for 7,500 MW of new wind power, most of which will be using the new transmission lines by 2016. That will put installed Texas wind around 20,000 MW. There are 15 U.S. states with 1,000 MW or more, but Texas wind is already twice as big as the next largest wind states, California and Iowa.

FERC orders new standards to enhance grid security

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission ordered grid overseers Friday to develop new rules to guard against physical threats, responding to growing calls on Capitol Hill for stepped-up action following an attack by gunmen on a California power substation last year. FERC’s acting chairwoman and three commissioners unanimously ordered the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), an industry group that oversees the grid, to craft one or more new security standards that electric utilities must implement to protect major substations and other critical infrastructure from physical threats.