2016 was a bright year for solar energy in Minnesota

Source: By Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio • Posted: Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Minnesota’s solar energy capacity is skyrocketing after a breakthrough year. It took about 10 years to go from virtually nothing to 35 megawatts of capacity in 2015, but last year that jumped to 250 megawatts. State officials don’t expect the pace to slow. Within the next two years, they expect solar panels scattered throughout the state will be capable of producing as much electricity as a coal-fired power plant.

Is Pruitt Vulnerable?

Source: By ANTHONY ADRAGNA, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

Progressive groups are seizing on a new pro-Scott Pruitt group (see below) as evidence that Republicans are worried Pruitt’s EPA nomination is more vulnerable than had been thought. In a talking points memocirculated over the weekend and obtained by ME, environmentalists and others are encouraged to “drive a narrative that the nomination is in trouble and the polluters are coming to the rescue with millions in undisclosed dirty money to fund a secret campaign to force Pruitt.” That includes noting Pruitt’s previously reported “secretive alliance” with oil and gas companies to fight EPA regulations.

Can West Virginia’s New Governor Save Coal Country?

Source: By Paul Barrett, Bloomberg • Posted: Wednesday, January 11th, 2017

If Trump is going to “make America great again,” one of his biggest challenges will be West Virginia (population 1.8 million), and his necessary ally will be Justice. The state is starting from rock bottom, or very near it, in a dismaying array of socioeconomic categories. Only 53 percent of its adults are working or looking for work, the lowest rate of labor force participation in the country, according to West Virginia University’s College of Business and Economics. The state’s per capita personal income of $36,758 ranks 49th; only Mississippi’s is lower.

Vermont’s New Governor Sticking With Renewable Energy Goal

Source: By The Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

Vermont’s new Republican governor said Monday he would stick with his Democratic predecessor’s long-term goal of getting 90 percent of the energy needed in the state from renewable sources by 2050. But Gov. Phil Scott, highlighting the construction of a new solar power project in the parking lot of a Montpelier food cooperative, said he believed new technology would be needed to make it happen. In his farewell address last week a day before Scott took office, Shumlin said Vermont had the highest per capita number of people working in clean energy jobs in the country. He said the state also had 12 times more solar panels than when he took office and 25 times the wind power.

New Obama report warns of changing ‘threat environment’ for the electricity grid

Source: By Chris Mooney, Washington Post • Posted: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

At a time of heightened focus on U.S. cybersecurity risks, the Energy Department released a comprehensive report on the nation’s rapidly changing electrical grid Friday that calls for new action to protect against evolving threats. The agency urged policymakers to grant regulators new emergency powers should threats become imminent, among other recommendations.

New Study Helps Map Out Road Ahead for U.S. Electricity System

Source: BY JOHN P. HOLDREN, DAN UTECH, SECRETARY ERNEST MONIZ, White House • Posted: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The Obama Administration released the second installment of the interagency Quadrennial Energy Review (QER 1.2), “Transforming the Nation’s Electricity System”. The new report focuses on the Nation’s electricity system, from electricity generation to end uses, and addresses the need for improvements in that system. Today, January 9, is the third anniversary of the Presidential Memorandum that initiated the QER. Since that time, the QER team has produced two landmark installments and made a significant impact on energy policy.

U.S. Likely To Become Net Exporter Of Energy, Says Federal Forecast

Source: By Jeff Brady, NPR • Posted: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

The U.S. could become a net exporter of energy in coming years, according to the federal government’s Annual Energy Outlook 2017. This continues a trend the Energy Information Administration has highlighted before in its annual report. The EIA projects the country will continue to import oil through 2050, though at much lower levels than in the past. The main thing that will make the U.S. a net exporter of energy is natural gas.

Obama Presses Trump Not to Back Away From Clean Energy

Source: By Josh Lederman, Associated Press • Posted: Tuesday, January 10th, 2017

President Barack Obama cast the adoption of clean energy in the U.S. as “irreversible,” putting pressure Monday on President-elect Donald Trump not to back away from a core strategy to fight climate change. Obama, penning an article in the journal Science, sought to frame the argument in a way that might appeal to the president-elect: in economic terms. He said the fact that the cost and polluting power of energy have dropped at the same time proves that fighting climate change and spurring economic growth aren’t mutually exclusive.

U.S. solar lobbying group names ‘bridge builder’ as new lead

Source: By Nichola Groom, Reuters • Posted: Monday, January 9th, 2017

The U.S. solar industry’s top lobbying group named energy policymaker Abigail Ross Hopper as its new chief executive, pledging pragmatism as the sector prepares to work with an incoming president who has expressed doubts about its importance. Hopper joins the Washington-based Solar Energy Industries Association after serving as director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management for two years. At the BOEM, Hopper was responsible for leasing and permitting oil, gas and offshore wind projects.

EPA head’s top regret: failing to connect with rural America

Source: By Valerie Volcovici, Reuters • Posted: Monday, January 9th, 2017

Among the millions of rural Americans who voted for incoming president Donald Trump, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s legacy of hard-nosed regulation earned it a reputation as a jobs killer – a fact that outgoing EPA Director Gina McCarthy says could prove to be one of her biggest regrets. “We tried to change the outreach and messaging in rural America in a number of ways, but … has it changed the rhetoric that people hear? It hasn’t,” McCarthy said in an interview this week at EPA headquarters in Washington. “We couldn’t get it, but I wish we had.”