In a dramatic move that passed the state Legislature with little debate and almost no opposition, West Virginia lawmakers on Jan. 22 voted to repeal the state’s 2009 alternative energy standard, which requires utilities to get 25% of their power from alternative sources by 2025. The repeal bill passed the state Senate unanimously and the state House of Delegates by a 95–4 vote. The mandate was repealed in its entirety, though the law leaves in place the state’s net metering provision. The bill now goes to Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, who has indicated he will sign it.
A bipartisan group of Nebraska lawmakers has introduced a package of five bills aimed at boosting the state’s renewable energy industry. The proposals deal with creating financial incentives, streamlining processes for renewable energy projects and calling for a state energy plan.
Natural gas and renewables made up the bulk of new generation that came online last year, according to a report the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission released today. Fifty-nine gas-fired units — almost 7,500 megawatts — were the largest addition to the grid last year, followed by more than 4,000 MW of wind and a little more than 3,000 MW of solar capacity, according to FERC staff’s findings.
Installations of wind turbines in the U.S. more than quadrupled last year led by growth in Texas, as developers took advantage of an expiring federal tax credit, according to the American Wind Energy Association.
A flurry of wind farm completions in the closing months of 2014 helped the U.S. wind energy sector regain its footing after a near-collapse in 2013, with 4,850 megawatts of new wind power coming online over the 12 months ending in December, the American Wind Energy Association reported yesterday. The 2014 annual figure represents a fivefold increase in year-over-year installations from 2013, when the industry commissioned just over 1,100 MW and suffered steep drops in both investment and jobs. The down year came after Congress allowed the industry’s primary federal tax credit to expire before renewing it in January 2013 for one additional year.
Bidders were interested in only half the offshore wind development leases being auctioned by the Interior Department today. The Bureau of Ocean Energy Management put up for auction four lease areas near Massachusetts totaling 742,000 acres and with the potential to support 4 gigawatts of commercial wind generation.
The Interior Department’s largest sale of federal waters for offshore wind development today drew relatively modest bidding, with two companies paying a combined $448,000 for the right to develop two tracts totaling 354,000 acres about 14 miles south of Massachusetts’ Martha’s Vineyard. The auction was brief, lasting two rounds before the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management declared Offshore MW LLC and RES America Inc. as the provisional winners of 187,523-acre and 166,886-acre tracts, respectively.
Not too long ago, in 2013, the Obama administration began auctioning off leases for offshore wind farms up and down the Eastern Seaboard, hoping to spur a nascent industry. But now, the industry is languishing. Projects off the coast of New England, New Jersey and Delaware are dead, moribund or struggling. And an auction on Thursday for parcels off the coast of Massachusetts — some of the windiest areas of the country — drew little interest from developers. Two of the four parcels drew no bids at all, and the ones that did attracted substantially lower prices than other auctions in recent years.
“These same harsh winds that we’ve endured for centuries can be turned into clean power for our homes, creating jobs even as it cuts the carbon pollution that is worsening climate change and supercharging storms,”“ Markey said in a statement. “Instead of drilling for oil and gas off of the Atlantic Coast, we should pursue a clean energy vision that safeguards our environment and boosts our economy.”
A federal appeals court will hear oral arguments in April on lawsuits from several states, utilities and power companies challenging U.S. EPA’s proposal to set greenhouse gas standards for power plants. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit said yesterday it will convene April 16 to hear the consolidated lawsuits brought by West Virginia, Murray Energy Corp. and others.