The most significant U.S. tax credit for solar power will expire at the end of next year, and the biggest one for wind power already has. Renewable-energy developers aren’t losing much sleep over it. “The fundamentals of the renewable business have never been stronger,” Jim Robo, chief executive officer of NextEra Energy Inc., told investors during a conference call Wednesday. Robo said the largest North American wind and solar builder will as much as double its resources for developing clean energy projects over the next few years. The need for tax breaks, which once underpinned the economics of wind and solar projects, is fading as prices fall and the technologies become more competitive with electricity produced from fossil fuels. At the same time, other federal policies such as the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan are creating new incentives for renewable energy plants. Developers are planning now for the day when they will no longer receive the credits.
President Obama’s top environmental attorneys said they’re ready for what one dubbed the “Super Bowl” of climate litigation. The legal battle over the administration’s Clean Power Plan — a rule to slash power plants’ greenhouse gas emissions — formally kicked off last week. It pits U.S. EPA and its allies against 26 states and numerous industry challengers.
Federal judges won’t decide whether to freeze an Obama administration climate change rule prior to international climate talks this year, to the chagrin of at least one Senate Republican. A panel of judges for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit issued an order laying out a schedule for a handful of requests from states and industries to halt implementation of U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan. Foes of the administration have asked the court to stay the rule while EPA’s critics challenge the regulation that aims to slash greenhouse gas emissions from power plants.
Following House passage of the two-year budget deal, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) last night set the procedural wheels in motion for bringing the bill up in the upper chamber. McConnell filed cloture on the bill (H.R. 1314), while also “filling the amendment tree” to prevent extraneous proposals from clogging up the bill.
Many environmentalists believe that the oil and gas major Exxon, now known as Exxon Mobil Corp., is on the wrong side of history when it comes to climate change. Two new investigations into the company’s early history of climate research have deepened the antagonism toward the company. In recent weeks, these probes into the corporation’s early climate research have painted a picture of a behemoth that not only led path-breaking research on climate, but in the process became aware of the financial risks to its own business from climate change decades ago. Then, it decided to take measures to protect its business interests while publicly claiming that uncertainty about climate change was too great to warrant immediate action.
Google — or rather, its newly created parent company known as Alphabet — is making energy a priority among its smorgasbord of ventures. On a quarterly earnings call held Thursday, Alphabet’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, said that the division known as “Access and Energy” is a foremost priority for growth among the company’s risky endeavors that are apart from Google’s core business of online search and advertising.
Nearly three-quarters of the states reduced their carbon emissions between 2000-13, according to a federal report. Thirty-seven states cut their emissions between 2000-13, according to an analysis of state-level carbon emissions by the Energy Information Administration, the independent analysis arm of the Department of Energy. The largest decrease came in Maine, which cut 27 percent.
Twenty-four states have filed suit, up from the 16 that launched a pre-emptive challenge of the draft. Meanwhile the list of states “just saying no” is shrinking, not growing. The trend in many states is two-pronged — attorneys general file suit while environmental regulators and cabinet members grapple behind the scenes with compliance strategies.
A pair of House lawmakers from opposite sides of the country and different parties this week will launch a new caucus focused on energy storage. Reps. Chris Collins (R-N.Y.) and Mark Takano (D-Calif.) will officially kick off the Congressional Battery Energy Storage Caucus tomorrow afternoon, during an event featuring the Energy Storage Association and representatives of storage companies.
When David Vieau left the battery maker A123 in 2013 after it went bankrupt despite having received about $147 million in government money, he didn’t go looking to start another energy storage business. But three years later, he is at it again, as chief executive of Vionx Energy. This time, though, he is pursuing a different strategy.