President Obama announced his intention last night to renominate Democrat Cheryl LaFleur to another five years on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, pleasing lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. LaFleur, once rumored to be a potential presidential pick to lead the agency, has been serving as acting chairwoman since former FERC Chairman Jon Wellinghoff officially stepped down last year. Her term was slated to expire next month.
In a New York Times op-ed published today, Bloomberg and Environmental Defense Fund President Fred Krupp staked out a middle ground on fracking that emphasizes “strong rules and enforcement” in order to mitigate legitimate local resistance to a fossil fuel extraction method that “is indeed lowering energy costs, creating new jobs, boosting domestic manufacturing and delivering some measurable environmental benefits.” In his own October column on the topic, Steyer called for tabling any discussion about fracking’s emissions upside until oil and gas producers begin “paying their fair share” in taxes and royalties.
A leading bird conservation group has notified the Obama administration that it intends to sue over a rule for renewable energy projects that would permit injuring, killing or disturbing bald eagles for up to 30 years. The American Bird Conservancy (ABC) today sent a notice of intent to sue to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe saying the group plans to take legal action against the Interior Department and FWS over the revised eagle “take” rule announced in December 2013 and implemented earlier this year.
Berkshire Hathaway Inc’s energy unit has changed its name to Berkshire Hathaway Energy from MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co, the largest of a growing list of businesses to adopt the name of the company run by billionaire Warren Buffett. The change “reflects the benefits we gain from Berkshire Hathaway’s ownership, particularly our ability to reinvest in our businesses and take a long-term view of our customers’ needs,” Greg Abel, the unit’s chief executive, said in a statement on Wednesday. MidAmerican’s new name also reflects a recent trend in which the company Buffett took over in 1965, when it was a failing textile maker, sees its name planted on an array of units.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee announced plans yesterday to cap the state’s greenhouse gas emissions while eliminating the use of coal and expanding cleaner cars and energy efficiency programs. An executive order signed by Inslee, a Democrat, creates the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce to design a “cap and market” program to help Washington cut its emissions by 2020, 2035 and 2050. The panel of 21 people is instructed to provide its recommendations to Inslee by November. “This is the right time to act, the right place to act and we are the right people to act,” Inslee said in a press conference yesterday, according to his office.
Christine Harbin Hanson, the Federal Affairs Manager for Americans for Prosperity, recently wrote an article published on Forbes that shows that she is either very ill-informed on this matter or is simply looking to deceive people. I can only hope it’s the former. Her article incorrectly argues that Renewable Portfolio Standards cost citizens a great deal and that “renewable energy sources like wind and solar… are significantly more expensive than their traditional energy alternatives.”
Wind power installation rates aren’t what they used to be. But that could change within the next two years, asserts the leading wind energy industry group, largely thanks to a surge of construction activity in Texas. The first quarter of 2014 saw 214 megawatts of wind energy built, according to the American Wind Energy Association’s “U.S. Wind Industry First Quarter 2014 Market Report,” released yesterday. This is a drop from the 1,016 MW installed in the fourth quarter of 2013 and pales in comparison to the record 8,385 MW completed at the close of 2012 as wind developers hurried to qualify for the 2.3-cent-per-kilowatt-hour renewable energy production tax credit (PTC) before it expired.
Energy regulators in Albany have been tasked by Gov. Andrew Cuomo with a daunting job over the next year: to fundamentally reshape how power is bought, sold and distributed in a high-cost, high-profile state that is quickly adjusting to new market realities. Last week, the Democratic governor directed the New York Public Service Commission — which oversees the private power sector and the grid — to begin a proceeding meant to pave the way for distributed energy, smart-grid technologies, demand response, electric vehicles and, ultimately, the prospect of less hard infrastructure.
Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) has tapped a task force to help craft a climate change bill he will put before the state’s Legislature next year. Inslee, who was a leader on environmental issues during his time in the House of Representatives, signed an executive order today creating the Carbon Emissions Reduction Taskforce, which he called on to write a carbon cap proposal that would draw down emissions while phasing out coal use in the Evergreen State. “It must include the market mechanisms needed to meet the limits in the most effective and efficient manner possible,” the executive order reads. “The program must be designed to maximize the benefits and minimize the implementation costs, considering our emissions and energy sources, and our businesses and jobs.”
As with any fierce competition, there are bound to be casualties. When the Department of Energy in 2012 announced the contenders for three multimillion-dollar grants to complete pilot offshore wind projects, there were seven developers in the running — one in Oregon, one in Lake Erie, one on Texas’ Gulf Coast and four on the East Coast. Now there are six, after Maine’s conservative governor successfully squelched one of the proposals in his state. Another East Coast pilot recently suffered a major setback — a setback some local environmentalists have linked to a different Republican governor’s presidential ambitions.