Solar use in Japan has exploded over the last two years as part of an ambitious national effort to promote renewable energy. But the technology’s future role is now in doubt. Utilities say their infrastructure cannot handle the swelling army of solar entrepreneurs intent on selling their power. And their willingness to invest more money depends heavily on whether the government remains committed to clean energy.
Today, in his first budget address as Governor of Pennsylvania, Tom Wolf proposed $325 million in investments in the state’s energy sector, including significant investments in wind, solar, and energy efficiency. This proposal is part of an overall economic development plan aimed at investing in education and creating high-paying jobs across the Commonwealth.
Efforts to roll back state-level renewable energy standards hit another roadblock yesterday, as Colorado Democrats rejected a measure aimed at reducing the state’s current generation requirements. But opponents to the mandated use of resources including wind and solar power will still press similar bills in a handful of other states this year.
Two-thirds of respondents (66 percent) said that world leaders are morally obligated to take action to reduce CO2 emissions. And 72 percent said they were “personally morally obligated” to do what they can in their daily lives to reduce emissions. “When climate change is viewed through a moral lens it has broader appeal,” said Eric Sapp, executive director of the American Values Network, a grassroots organization that mobilizes faith-based communities on politics and policy issues.
In the Midwest, the support for renewable fuels is clearly bipartisan. Gov. Terry Brandstad (R) of Iowa is one of their most vocal champions. As far as solar power is concerned, the industry’s support is from coast to coast, including Govs. Pat McCrory (R-N.C.) and Brian Sandoval (R-Nev.) and former Gov. Jan Brewer (R-Ariz.). Plus, wind power farms can be found in 39 states and that only happens when political support exists amongst mayors, city councils, state legislatures and governors
Colorado Democrats controlling a House of Representatives committee on Monday killed a Republican attempt to roll back rural renewable-energy standards. The measure made it through the Republican-controlled Senate last month but faced an uphill climb in the House, where Democrats on the State, Veterans and Military Affairs Committee ended the effort by a 6-5 party-line vote.
In an about-face from his first term, Gov. Scott Walker wants to eliminate funding for a University of Wisconsin-Madison renewable energy research center that has played a key role in helping land one of its biggest government grants ever. In his budget, Walker is proposing to eliminate $8.1 million over two years — a total of 35 positions — from a bioenergy program. The reductions are separate from his proposal to cut $300 million from the University of Wisconsin System over the next two years.
While problems have mounted for Cape Wind’s 130-turbine installation, a smaller developer may steal its thunder. Deepwater Wind, a Providence-based renewable energy developer, said Monday that its Block Island wind farm project was fully financed. The $250 million, five-turbine project is on track to put “steel in the water” in Rhode Island state waters later this summer, the company said, and begin generating 30 megawatts of power in 2016.
ELPC is among a few regional environmental law centers that operate in the gap between national Goliaths like the Natural Resources Defense Council and small grass-roots organizations. The center takes on major litigation — fighting lawsuits brought by former Chesapeake Energy Corp. CEO Aubrey McClendon, arguing for solar and wind energy in state Supreme Courts, and battling Great Lakes pollution.
“We are increasing our commitment to storage,” said Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz in a House budget hearing this week. Storing energy on the grid is a big part of making intermittent renewable energy more palatable for utilities. Industry officials also want EPA to include storage as a way to comply with the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, as well as state renewable portfolio standards.