Kenya was supposed to be one of the easiest targets. It is considered a business-friendly country accustomed to working with foreign companies in conjunction with aid agencies for ambitious partnerships. Kenya’s power situation is also precarious—the failure of two transmission lines last year caused a nationwide blackout. But the Kinangop wind farm is proving politically nettlesome and symbolic of the larger challenges facing President Obama’s signature aid program in Africa. Though it was the smallest of the wind projects, Kinangop was scheduled to supply enough power for 150,000 homes by the middle of 2015. The land dispute with farmers has thrown all schedules into question.
Currently, 11 states with wind power are seeing 10% reductions in carbon emissions, plus three other states near the benchmark. The US government is targeting a 23% decline in emissions by 2030 from wind energy as part of its current goal. Iowa achieved 20% of its electricity coming from wind thanks to the state’s renewable energy standard. The short documentary Scaling Wind features Iowa Governor Terry Brandstand talking about how the Hawkeye state got its target.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott — under fire from both national environmentalists and his gubernatorial opponents — pledged millions in new environmental funding yesterday, spawning cheers from supporters along with a new wave of Democratic attacks about the governor’s climate change stance. On a multi-city environmental tour with stops from Orlando to Miami, the Republican governor pledged $1 billion for Florida’s waters, including via a 10-year, $500 million plan for an alternative water supply in the state and $500 million over the same period for springs restoration, a water quality issue.
House Testimony: Renewable Electricity Standards are Delivering Significant Economic Benefits Across the United States
Last week, I was invited to testify at the U.S. House of Representative’s Energy and Commerce Committee, Energy and Power Subcommittee’s hearing on “Laboratories of Democracy: The Economic Impacts of State Energy Policies.” My remarks focused on the tremendous success story of state renewable electricity standards (RES) and the important economic benefits they are delivering to state and local economies, as described in more detail in this 2013 UCS report.
Xcel Energy Inc. announced Thursday the creation of two subsidiaries to pursue multistate transmission projects that would serve multiple utilities. Chief Executive Ben Fowke said Xcel Energy Transmission Development Co. will focus on the Midwest and that Xcel Energy Southwest Transmission Co. will pursue Southwest projects.
When it comes to the Houston Import Project, there are a lot of plotlines to keep straight. CenterPoint Energy Inc., a regulated utility, contends that it should oversee all of a new transmission line that would send electricity to the Houston area, not just some of it. Calpine Corp. and NRG Energy Inc., independent power producers, say the state’s main grid operator acted improperly in endorsing the development in the first place. The Electric Reliability Council of Texas, the grid operator, defends its actions in backing the proposal and designating a division of construction work.
Coal-dependent states have launched another suit against U.S. EPA aimed at killing its proposed greenhouse gas rule for existing power plants, but environmentalists say the challenge is more likely to earn them press coverage than a legal result. West Virginia’s Attorney General Patrick Morrisey (R) filed the petition in federal court in Washington, D.C., on Friday with the backing of 11 other states. In it, the states took aim at a settlement agreement reached in December 2010 between EPA and state and environmental plaintiffs in which EPA agreed to propose rules for new and existing power plants by July 26, 2011, and finalize them by May 26, 2012.
Tesla Motors Inc. took concrete steps this week toward launching a first-of-its-kind, large-scale battery production facility. CEO Elon Musk told investors yesterday he’s confident electric vehicles will match or beat the price of comparable internal-combustion-engine vehicles within the next 10 years. Auto industry experts believe that battery costs would have to drop to $100 per kilowatt-hour in order for electric vehicles (EVs) to have a distinct cost advantage over gasoline-powered cars. Tesla currently produces batteries for its 300-mile-range Model S all-electric sedan at roughly $250 per kWh.
Exelon Corp. owns one of the nation’s largest electric generating fleets, competing with the likes of NRG Energy Inc. and NextEra Energy Inc. But unlike those rivals, Chicago-based Exelon has no plans to pursue a “yieldco” to house its renewable assets, executives told analysts and investors during a conference call yesterday morning. “We’ve leaned more toward project financing, and we think that fits our needs better than a yieldco in the long term,” Chris Crane, Exelon’s chief executive, said on the call. “So we’re not heading toward a yieldco.” Yieldcos are just one method of equity financing for energy projects, but one gaining more traction in recent months
Analysts say they are a relatively safe way to invest in renewable energy — much safer, for example, than buying shares in notoriously volatile solar panel makers. Warren Buffet agrees. He’s invested $15 billion in the same type of wind and solar projects that yieldcos own, and he plans to double that amount.