N.Y. power plants pay record-high price for greenhouse gas credits

Source: By Brian Nearing, Albany Times Union • Posted: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Power plants in New York must pay an all-time-high price to emit greenhouse gases under the nine-state Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI). RGGI — which began in 2009 under former Republican Gov. George Pataki — is the country’s first state-level greenhouse gas cap-and-trade program, requiring power plants to purchase state-issued permits to emit carbon dioxide. A credit auction last week was the first since the states decreased the amount of available credits by 45 percent, beginning this year. The price for a credit — which allows the release of 1 ton of greenhouse gas — increased to $4.

Renewables Could Meet Nearly a Third of Michigan’s Energy Needs

Source: Union of Concerned Scientists • Posted: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Michigan can meet nearly a third of its electricity needs by tripling power produced from in-state renewable energy sources by 2030 at virtually no additional cost to consumers, all while maintaining reliability and spurring billions of dollars of investment in the state, according to a Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) report released today. By continuing to ramp up renewables at the same growth rate as the current renewable energy standard (RES) —1.5 percent per year—Michigan could boost its in-state renewable energy production to 32.5 percent in 2030. Such a move would cut power plant carbon emissions and lower the state’s exposure to the economic, health, and environmental risks of over-relying on coal or natural gas.

Landrieu announces Energy Committee senior staff

Source: Phil Taylor, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Mary Landrieu (D-La.) has named Louisiana native Elizabeth Craddock as her committee staff director. Landrieu also announced that her personal staffers Caroline Bruckner and David Gillers will serve in senior roles alongside longtime ENR aides Sam Fowler, David Brooks and Daniel Adamson. Craddock, who has served in Landrieu’s office since 2006, replaces Joshua Sheinkman, who followed former committee Chairman Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) to his new chairmanship on the Finance Committee.

Vestas passes GE to regain title as biggest wind turbine maker

Source: Special to E&E • Posted: Thursday, March 13th, 2014

Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S is once again the undisputed top turbine manufacturer in the world, according to a report by Make Consulting. The Danish company had 13.2 percent of the market share in 2013, down from 14.6 percent the year before, Make said. General Electric Co., which some studies had listed as having surpassed Vestas in 2012, fell to No. 6 with a market share of 4.9 percent from 13.7 percent a year earlier.

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.