As Republicans gain control of both chambers of Congress this week, energy and climate issues are expected to dominate discussions on Capitol Hill. How will the power shift, oil price dynamics and the Obama administration’s executive actions on climate impact policies coming out of the 114th Congress? During today’s OnPoint, Malcolm Woolf, senior vice president for policy and government affairs at Advanced Energy Economy, previews crucial legislative and regulatory energy battles expected this year. He also explains how the debate, and likely vote, on the Keystone XL pipeline could set the stage for subsequent energy measures.
Advanced Energy Economy’s Woolf says EPA climate rule to converge with utility business evolution in 2015
Gov. Jerry Brown’s goal of cutting California’s oil use in half may sound like an impossible task in a state famous for freeways and sprawl. But by one measure, we may be halfway there. Similarly, Brown’s call for California to get half of its electricity from the sun, the wind and other renewable sources by the year 2030 seems daunting, except that we’re already at 25 percent. The state is widely expected to hit 33 percent by 2020, if not sooner.
U.S. EPA will put off finalizing its greenhouse gas rules for new, modified and existing power plants until midsummer, acting EPA air chief Janet McCabe said today. The new schedule means deadlines will slip for all three regulations. McCabe also announced EPA will begin writing a federal model rule for the Clean Power Plan for existing power generators.
The Cape Wind project suffered a major blow yesterday when two utilities opted to terminate agreements to purchase power from the planned offshore wind farm.Northeast Utilities and National Grid had agreed to purchase more than 75 percent of the power produced by Cape Wind’s planned 130-turbine wind farm in Nantucket Sound. Today, the utilities attributed their decision to terminate the contract to Cape Wind’s failure to meet a Dec. 31 financing deadline for the $2.5 billion project.
Cape Wind, a massive wind farm proposed in Nantucket Sound, has been dealt a setback that threatens its finances and throws into doubt whether it will become the nation’s first such offshore project. NStar and National Grid, the two largest utilities in Massachusetts, which had agreed to buy three-fourths of the wind farm’s power, said late Tuesday that they were canceling their contracts because Cape Wind had failed to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to complete financing and begin construction.
Writing on behalf of the 23-state coalition, Daugaard and Inslee urged Obama to “expand the nation’s wind energy production and improve the resilience of our energy system.” Among the recommendations, the governors asked Obama to push for a multiyear extension of the renewable energy production and investment tax credits. “These incentives have made possible the robust growth of the American wind industry and clean energy jobs, with substantial economic return to our states and the nation,” they wrote. The letter also asked for Obama to support the governors’ efforts to expand national transmission development both offshore and onshore. “Today’s transmission system is inadequate for the electrical demands of the states’ modern information-based economies,” they said. “Revitalization of the electrical transmission system must be accomplished on a multi-state basis with leadership from both you and the governors.”
Wind power companies have spent more than $532 million on projects in Maine over the past eight years and are poised to spend an additional $745 million over the next four, an industry trade group said Tuesday in a report summarizing the economic impact of wind energy in the state between 2006 and 2018.
U.S. EPA’s air chief appeared to hint today that her agency might include language in its final version of the Clean Power Plan that would soften state carbon reduction responsibilities in the short term. In a post on EPA’s blog this afternoon, Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation Janet McCabe hit back at criticisms that the June 2 draft rule would be costly and affect grid reliability by citing her agency’s release in October of a document asking for comment on whether to loosen the proposal’s interim state targets.
Clean-energy programs initiated by Gov. Jerry Brown and governors before him have California already well on its way to meeting his new goals for reducing the use of climate-changing fossil fuels, industry experts and state officials said Tuesday. Pushing programs such as high-speed rail, for which Brown broke ground on Tuesday in Fresno; increasing the standard for gas-powered cars to 35 miles per gallon; and ramping up use of electric cars and other vehicles powered by alternative fuels would all help get California to Brown’s goals on time, state clean-air officials and industry representatives said.Brown set promotion of conservation programs and alternatives to oil, gas and coal as a priority for his fourth and final term in his inaugural speech on Monday.
After the drama of electing a new speaker of the House and the changing of control in the Senate, the House on Tuesday approved an obscure but significant rule change requiring the economic effects of legislation to be included in a bill’s official cost to the Treasury. The change on “dynamic scoring” — ardently sought since the 1990s by Republicans — could ease passage of major tax cuts by showing that their impact on economic growth would substantially reduce their cost to the Treasury.