The industrial conglomerate run by the billionaire brothers Charles and David Koch is refusing to provide Democratic lawmakers with information on whether it has paid for climate change research. Last month, three Democratic senators sent 100 letters to an assortment of fossil-fuel companies and organizations seeking information on whether they have backed research into global warming and other environmental topics.
The shakeup comes one month after the board disappointed MidAmerican Energy by ordering it to return $2 million to customers as part of a $280 million wind project that had been publicly praised by Branstad. It also comes as the board considers whether to approve two controversial projects: a transmission line that would send wind energy from northwest Iowa to Illinois and a pipeline to transport crude oil across the state.
The United States commanded a 15 percent share of the $1.3 trillion global market for advanced energy systems in 2014, with revenue in this sector growing at five times the rate as the economy as a whole, according to a report, released yesterday. Commissioned by Advanced Energy Economy, a business consortium, the report found that the market for companies developing low-carbon generation, renewable power, energy efficiency and electricity analytics is growing worldwide, spurred by economic recovery, maturing technology and policy.
Wind and solar energy support about 30,000 jobs at about a thousand companies in Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa, according to a series of reports released by the Environmental Law & Policy Center over the past two weeks. The reports show the jobs created not only by the manufacture of wind turbine components, the building of wind farms and the installation of solar panels, but also in related businesses from banking to making cables and glass.
More than 100 companies from across the state of Iowa are working in the wind and solar energy supply chain. That’s according to a report recently released by the Environmental Law and Policy Center. Howard Learner, Executive Director, says Iowa is helping to power the world through renewable energy businesses that build wind machines and solar panel equipment.
Public meetings are underway in Oklahoma and Arkansas to get input on a high-voltage transmission line. The U.S. hasn’t added a line like this since the 1970s, but not everyone is happy about it. “We’ve maxed out the available grid, so if you want to continue to grow the export of Oklahoma wind to other states, you need new infrastructure to do that with,” says Michael Skelly of Cleanline Energy.
Wind farm supporters urged lawmakers Tuesday to retain current laws that require utility companies to generate or purchase renewable energy by the year 2020. Wind farm supporters opposed Senate Bill 253, which would discontinue the Renewable Energy Standards Act by the end of the year. The act requires major electricity companies like Westar Energy to generate at least 10 percent of energy from renewable sources. The second part of the legislation would cancel the scheduled Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) increases to 15 percent by 2016 and 20 percent by 2020.
There was a series of attempts in 2013 and 2014 to repeal or weaken state laws that set targets for increasing the use of renewable energy. States across the country—including Wisconsin, Kansas, Texas and North Carolina, among others—faced campaigns against their renewable energy standards. All of those attempts were unsuccessful except in the case of Ohio.
A growing number of state legislatures are trying to insert themselves into the debate over crafting plans to comply with U.S. EPA’s unprecedented effort to lower the carbon footprints of state power sectors. Pennsylvania and West Virginia have already enacted laws giving their legislative chambers veto power over the proposals their states’ environmental protection agencies ultimately will draft to comply with the Clean Power Plan. The influential conservative American Legislative Exchange Council is pushing for other Republican-controlled chambers to pass similar bills. Earlier this week, a Minnesota House committee approved language mirroring ALEC’s model legislation.
The Obama administration is setting higher goals for wind power, saying it could supply 35% of the nation’s electricity by the year 2050.
Wind power currently generates 4.5% of electricity, but that number is expected to more than double to 10% by 2020, says a report obtained by USA TODAY that will be released today by the U.S. Department of Energy. “Wind energy continues to be one of America’s best choices for low-cost, zero-pollution renewable energy, and in an increasing number of markets, may be the cheapest source of new energy available,” says a summary of the report by the Obama administration.