The Western Electricity Coordinating Council (WECC, which includes Western states and some Canadian provinces) and Texas have both seen healthy growth in wind power over the last decade. But since 2013, wind build-out in the Western U.S. states has slowed down while Texas wind continues to flourish. The lesson for transmission planning is clear: if you build it, wind will come.
S.B. 350, better known for raising the Golden State’s renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 and a bruising battle by oil companies to prevent it from including a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use, also contains language that would broaden the authority of state electricity market regulators, a move aimed at encouraging electricity trading across the West. Brown’s office inserted language just before the bill’s passage last week that would change the governance of the California Independent System Operator, the state-founded nonprofit that administers the electricity grid, and would allow other transmission-owning organizations to join it. If the bill is signed by Brown, the move could usher in a West-wide electricity market, which hasn’t been entertained since California’s energy crisis of 2000-01. Most of the rest of the country is organized under regional transmission organizations, but not the West.
In July 2015, Gov. Jay Inslee directed Ecology to strengthen existing air pollution rules and set limits on greenhouse gases to help meet emission reductions passed by the Legislature in 2008. Inslee said Washingtonians have too much at stake to wait any longer for action on climate change. “This year’s record-setting drought and wildfires are sobering examples of what our future could look like if we don’t take action on climate change,” said Ecology Director Maia Bellon. “We need to do our part to protect what we have for future generations. We can’t afford the cost of inaction.”
The state Department of Ecology on Monday proposed capping greenhouse gases from the state’s 35 largest emitters, rolling out a new rule-making process months after Gov. Jay Inslee failed to get legislation passed on his ambitious cap-and-trade plan. The agency began writing a rule to limit — and reduce over time — the amount of heat-trapping gases from the state’s largest industrial facilities, including power plants, refineries and landfills. “The governor asked us to take action because we have too much at stake,” Ecology Director Maia Bellon said in a call with reporters. She cited drought and devastating wildfires as “sobering examples” of what will happen if the state fails to act.
Senate Democratic leaders on Tuesday plan to unveil a measure intended to signal their full-throated support of President Obama’s aggressive climate change agenda to 2016 voters and to the rest of the world. The Democrats hope that the bill, sponsored by Senator Maria Cantwell, of Washington, the top Democrat on the Senate Energy Committee, will demonstrate a new unity for the party on energy and climate change, and define Democrats’ approach to global warming policy in the coming years. The measure would establish as United States policy a reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2 percent each year through 2025 — a cut even larger than the target set by the Obama administration.
“The bill addresses the need for new jobs, updated infrastructure and technological innovation,” it said. “Specifically, the proposal includes programs essential to renewed economic growth in the energy sector that empower consumers, modernize infrastructure, cut carbon pollution and waste, invest in clean energy technologies, and support research and development.”
Wind farms could supply a quarter of the European Union’s electricity needs by 2030 if member states come good on energy and climate pledges, an industry report said on Wednesday. Wind energy provides around 10 percent of the bloc’s electricity but lobby group, the European Wind Energy Association (EWEA) said it expects wind capacity could reach 320 gigawatts over the next 15 years, making a near 25 percent contribution to overall electricity supply.
Climate change in this country has mostly been viewed as a debate over scientific evidence and economic calculations, but very little has been said about the moral aspects of it. “Elected members may easily dismiss secular environmental groups when it comes to climate change,” Annett said. “Brushing off the pope is another matter altogether.”
California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) issued an executive order in April that set a goal to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions by 40 percent by 2030 and eventually 80 percent by 2050 compared with 1990 levels. “I don’t know how you’re getting anywhere close to that without electrification,” Ted Craver, CEO of Edison International, the parent company of Southern California Edison Co., said in an interview with ClimateWire yesterday, referring to that 2050 target.”This research points to the importance of two fundamental and parallel trends in energy and the environment,” Mike Howard, EPRI president and CEO, said in a statement. “First is the continuing decarbonization of the electricity sector and second is the electrification of energy use in transportation and industry.”
About one year from now, on September 6, 2016, all states must submit their plans, detailing how they intend to meet their individualized targets using their own unique set of industries, technologies, and resources, or formally request an extension. In coastal states, particularly along the Atlantic seaboard, governors and state legislatures should look to a massive, untapped source of zero-carbon energy sitting just beyond their shores and large enough to sustain most of their required carbon pollution cuts: offshore wind power.