Colorado wind power is rising with 1,880 huge turbines erected across the prairie, twisting white blades as long as soccer fields, a cleaner source of energy replacing fossil fuels. It has reached the point where the wind turbines generated 67 percent of Xcel Energy’s Colorado-made electricity one morning in November and 54 percent for two 24-hour periods in October — feats unmatched around the nation, industry officials said Tuesday. Falling costs, a state mandate, a federal subsidy and sheer momentum are driving the shift to renewable energy.
Wind energy generated a record 191 megawatt-hours of electricity last year, enough for 17.5 million homes, an industry group said Tuesday. The American Wind Energy Association said wind produced 4.7 percent of the nation’s electricity in 2015. Coal generated 33 percent and natural gas slightly less than that, the association said. The association released the statistics at a Vestas Wind Systems turbine plant in Brighton, Colorado, near Denver.
After several steps by the federal government in just the past month to move states like New York and Hawaii closer to hosting offshore wind, North Carolina could be the next state to take strides toward completing the long regulatory process needed to install floating turbines off the state’s beaches. This summer, the U.S. Department of the Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management plans to propose ocean areas near the North Carolina coast that could be leased to potential offshore wind developers.
Being a windy state comes with an increased risk of prairie fires and downed power lines. But the natural resource’s abundance has its advantages as well, with the planned Cimarron Bend wind farm and nine other pending projects newly demonstrating how such clean energy can answer market demand while helping out Kansas’ economy. When the 200-turbine, $610 million Cimarron Bend facility goes online early next year in Clark County, south of Dodge City, Italy-based Enel Green Power North America will have five wind farms in Kansas, adding to its operating capacity of nearly 1 gigawatt in the state. The new wind farm’s 400 megawatts already are spoken for, with tech giant Google and the Kansas City Board of Public Utilities each planning to buy 200 megawatts under long-term agreements.
The breezy lands of the Midwest lay claim to some of the best sites for wind farms in the U.S., and electricity consumers to the east are hungry for clean power. But connecting the two has proved challenging. In addition to the obstacles faced by any large infrastructure project, new clean-power transmission lines face opposition from competing interests in the energy sector. However, as demonstrated by several recent developments, it looks like the opposition is set up for a giant game of whack-a-mole, and at least one of several proposed wind transmission lines will get off the drawing board. The question is: Which one?
A new state law could jump-start stalled solar energy projects in Massachusetts. The measure given final approval by lawmakers last week and signed Monday by Republican Gov. Charlie Baker raises caps on the state’s net metering program. Net metering allows homeowners, solar developers and municipal governments to sell excess power they generate back to the electrical grid in exchange for credit.
Hopes are fading that Congress can pass a broad energy bill before the year ends. Leaders of energy committees in the House and Senate made it a top priority this session to pass the first major energy overhaul since 2007.
By setting their sights low and avoiding hot-button issues that could sink bipartisan action, they thought it was possible to get a bill through an often-dysfunctional Congress, even in an election year.
The Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee will mark up its bill Wednesday afternoon, continuing the tradition of moving early on legislation that is widely popular because it funds DOE’s nuclear weapons programs and federal laboratories. The Senate Energy and Water Development Appropriations Subcommittee will also take up its version of the bill Wednesday, where they will also announce the discretionary spending caps known as 302(b) allocations, followed by a full committee markup Thursday.
Global renewable energy capacity increased 8.3 percent in 2015, with a record 152 gigawatts of new power coming from wind, solar, hydroelectric, biomass and geothermal resources, findings from the International Renewable Energy Agency show. The surge comes against a backdrop of record low oil and gas prices, IRENA noted, a condition experts attribute to the renewable energy sector’s maturity and resilience to shifts in fossil fuel prices, traditionally the major driver in electricity markets.
An unprecedented number of countries plan to sign the Paris climate deal when it opens for signatures April 22, increasing the odds that the accord will enter into force before 2020. The United Nations announced last week that more than 130 countries will be on hand in New York City to sign the landmark climate deal, more than have ever signed a U.N. agreement before in its first day.