Falling solar prices in Florida may lead to a renewable energy boom in the state, much to the chagrin of utility giants. Utility companies poured around $30 million into a constitutional amendment that would limit solar installation in the state, but it failed at the ballot box last week. The Florida Solar Energy Industries Association estimates that Florida businesses and homeowners will install 2,315 megawatts of solar capacity over the next five years — a nineteen fold increase from the past five years.
The Obama administration established a new target yesterday to slash solar costs by an additional 50 percent between 2020 and 2030.
It is the first such goal for the 2030 time period from the Department of Energy’s SunShot Initiative, which was established in 2011 to make solar cost competitive with traditional energy sources. Earlier this year, the program announced it nearly reached its goals in cutting solar costs through the end of this decade. It remains unclear to what degree President-elect Donald Trump might support DOE’s solar programs
While campaigning in Iowa last year, Trump said he supported a wind production tax credit that phases out in 2020, and some industry leaders have said a new administration is unlikely to revise those tax incentives. Changing or repealing the tax credit also would have to be approved by the Republican-controlled Congress, and that could prove difficult. Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) has said Trump would get a bill through Congress to scrap the wind production tax credit only “over my dead body.”
A key transition aide told E&E News that the Trump team is in fact looking for ways to withdraw from the accord once the administration takes office. But participants in Marrakech note Trump has never held elected office and argue he is likely to be swayed by advisers with a more nuanced view of global policy. He’ll be reluctant to harm U.S. clout abroad, they say, as a withdrawal from Paris surely would.
The Trump administration is exploring steps to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement on Jan. 20, 2017, the first day of Donald Trump’s presidency, according to a person working on the transition team. “I think this is likely a first-day action,” the source said on the condition on anonymity.
A new report from the Georgetown Climate Center shows that a dramatic shift to clean energy is taking place across the U.S. Between 2011 and 2014, installed wind energy capacity grew by more than 40 percent nationally, for example, while solar capacity grew by 577 percent nationally. “We are seeing significant progress in the growth of clean energy,” said Vicki Arroyo, executive director of the Georgetown Climate Center. “States are taking action to increase renewable energy, slash energy use, and reduce reliance on older, inefficient fossil-fuel power plants.”
Rep. Kevin Cramer, an ally of President-elect Donald Trump, believes Continental Resources Inc. CEO Harold Hamm should have the “right of first refusal” to become Energy secretary in the new administration. “If I can serve North Dakota in the House of Representatives with a friend in the White House and another good friend would become Energy secretary, I’d feel like I won the lottery,” the North Dakota Republican told reporters last evening.
Lawmakers had been expected to tackle the 11 remaining ones — including those funding the Interior and Energy departments and U.S. EPA — between now and Dec. 9, when a temporary continuing resolution expires. Another CR would leave most agencies operating for at least half of fiscal 2017, which began on Oct. 1, at fiscal 2016 levels with little room for fiscal maneuvering. They would also remain severely restricted from launching new programs or ending existing ones.
“There’s no reason to fight for a bill that the House leaders didn’t like that much in the first place,” he said. Book put the odds of a lame-duck energy deal at 30 percent. Before the election, ClearView gave a deal a 60 percent chance. Nonetheless, lobbyists last week said the uphill fight to see a host of credits extended in the next Congress may prompt lawmakers to clear the decks of outstanding extenders in the coming weeks.
The mystery hangs over turbine manufacturers like Vestas Wind Systems, which fell 12 percent since the election, and coal companies such as Peabody Energy Corp., which soared 73 percent. In his only major energy speech, Trump, 70, said he would rescind “job-destroying” environmental regulations within 100 days of taking office and revive U.S. coal. It’s terrible news for efforts to slow the pace of climate change, but the impact on the renewable energy revolution may be limited. Here’s what it could mean for America’s clean-energy darling, Tesla Motors Inc.: