Stopping U.S. EPA’s climate change rules for power plants could hurt utilities investing to crack down on their greenhouse gas emissions, a coalition of energy companies told a federal court yesterday. A broad coalition of utilities, states and others have asked the court to issue a stay halting the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan while litigation plays out. But several power companies including NextEra Energy Inc., Calpine Corp., Pacific Gas and Electric Co., and Southern California Edison Co. today urged judges to keep the rule in place.
Experts in urban planning and related fields acknowledge that there are many ways to measure energy efficiency — or energy intensity, an idea that encompasses the quantity and quality of energy consumed — and that any assessment must include a degree of subjectivity. Some surveys adjust the measurement of a city’s energy intensity to include not just how much its residents consume but also how much others consume on their behalf.
Mr. Gates told Mr. Hollande that energy innovation needed to be a top agenda item at the climate change conference now taking place in this airport suburb outside Paris. For years, Mr. Gates had prodded governments to increase spending on research and development of clean technologies. He had sunk $1 billion of his own fortune into start-ups working on new kinds of batteries and nuclear reactors. “Honestly, I’ve been a bit surprised that the climate talks historically haven’t had R.&D. on the agenda in any way, shape or form,” Mr. Gates, 60, said in an interview last week on the sidelines of the summit meeting, which ends on Friday.
According to a summary of the House extenders bill, the PTC would be extended through the end of 2016. However, the bill is silent on the extension of the investment tax credit for solar that many Democrats have wanted. The omission of the ITC from the two-year bill comes despite a plea yesterday from Nat Kreamer, chairman of the board of the Solar Energy Industries Association, who flagged his experiences serving in the special forces in Afghanistan in a letter to House Ways and Means members.
Senate Appropriations Committee ranking member Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) yesterday told reporters the omnibus spending bill “is kind of in a frozen state for a bit” while negotiators continue work on a tax extenders package. “But we’re making very good progress on trying to resolve the money issues,” she told reporters. “We have about 40 or 42 poison pill riders, some are really big, Hobby Lobby, campaign finance reform, things that never really should have been on appropriations. So we’re kind of stuck at the riders.” In the meantime, a short-term continuing resolution to keep the government running past Friday appears likely.
If negotiators in Paris reach an agreement next week on a global plan to rein in the use of fossil fuels, the next question becomes this: How can the participating countries fulfill their pledges to do their part? They may get some direction from Germany, which has claimed some early success in diversifying its energy sources and balancing economic growth with environmental concerns.
The spinning blades of wind turbines produced 9 percent of Germany’s electricity in 2014. Most of those turbines are in the north of the country, near Denmark and the Netherlands, or off the coast in the North Sea. The majority of Germany’s electricity demand, however, comes from some 400 miles to the south, in the factories and corporate headquarters of Bavaria.
Transporting electricity from the place where it is generated to the place it will be used means installing high-voltage power lines. But while renewable energy is extremely popular among the German public, power lines are not.
Renewable-energy developers are increasingly selling wind power straight to the users, tapping a new customer base as some traditional utility buyers are backing away. Technology giants have led the way, including Google’s deal Dec. 3 for 625 megawatts of U.S. wind power and Microsoft Corp.’s biggest-ever wind deal Dec. 1. Other industries are following suit, with businesses, universities, government agencies and other non-utility buyers accounting for 32 percent of U.S. contracts this year through early November, according to the American Wind Energy Association, up from 5 percent for all of 2013.
Not long ago, Denmark was making headlines for harvesting so much wind power that it was leading the way in generating renewable energy, while becoming a center of innovation and growth for green and clean technology. Then, in June, a center-left government was replaced by a right-wing, minority coalition determined to tighten spending and balance the budget in a program to grow the economy. The budget cuts include a key fund that was used to seed green technology projects — a government subsidy that environmental advocates said had paid itself off many times over.
Lawmakers may work into next weekend to finish negotiations on a multiagency spending bill and a tax-credit extension package, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy said yesterday afternoon. “I don’t see any of them ending when it comes to extenders or when it comes to the” omnibus spending bill, the California Republican said. McCarthy echoed House Speaker Paul Ryan (R), who told a radio station in his home state of Wisconsin that the House may not finish its work this week, as many lawmakers want. “It might take us more than just this week to get these issues put together correctly,” Ryan said.