News

Iowa agencies comment on proposed EPA clean power plan

Source: Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Friday, November 14th, 2014

Three Iowa agencies told the federal government a proposed rule that would force utilities to reduce carbon emissions should not significantly increase consumer costs or jeopardize reliability. The joint comments were submitted by the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, Iowa Utilities Board, and the Iowa Economic Development Authority to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Wednesday. EPA has proposed existing power plants reduce carbon emissions that contribute to global warming an average of 30 percent by 2030. Iowa’s goal is lower — 16 percent — because of the generation of green power, especially from wind, federal leaders have said. Iowa leads the nation in the amount of energy it gets from wind, about 27 percent of its total portfolio, officials have said. Still, about 60 percent of Iowa’s energy comes from coal, a large contributor to greenhouse emissions.

Comment: Why the nation needs a national electrical transmission plan now

A nation as large and diverse as the United States should not address major transmission development without a national plan. We should be siting and building major transmission lines to wind and solar rich areas of the nation now. Just as waiting for private developers to build a hodgepodge of roads did not work for the national highway system, it will not work for the grid. The plan will require leadership from federal and state governments and must consider and incorporate regional differences in electricity delivery systems.

FERC approves expansion of Southwest Power Pool

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Friday, November 14th, 2014

SPP will now integrate the Western Area Power Administration — Upper Great Plains Region, Basin Electric Power Cooperative and Heartland Consumers Power District. Together, the new members provide the backbone of the bulk electric transmission system across seven states in the Upper Great Plains region, consisting of about 9,500 miles of transmission lines, according to FERC.

Kochs target Republicans on tax breaks

Source: By BRIAN FALER, Politico • Posted: Friday, November 14th, 2014

Powerful conservative groups including those backed by the Koch Brothers are pushing Republicans to take a hard line on a raft of expired tax breaks pending in the lame duck, an effort that could jeopardize party leaders’ hopes for a low-drama Congress. Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity, Heritage Action for America and others want Republicans to capitalize on their election victory by killing some of the tax “extenders” they’ve long hated, such as a one subsidizing the wind energy industry. Americans for Prosperity said it will spend $200,000 targeting 25 House Republicans on the wind issue. Among them: Reps. Gus Bilirakis (Fla.), Larry Bucshon (Ind.), Renee Ellmers (N.C.) and Michael Turner (Ohio).

Overseers flag concerns as system shifts to gas, renewables

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

A national surge toward natural gas and renewable energy driven by cheap gas and new government rules and policies is creating reliability concerns — especially in the Midwest, New York and Texas — and weakening buffers for blackouts, grid overseers warned today. And those problems loom even before considering the impact of U.S. EPA’s power plant initiative, the North American Electric Reliability Corp. said.

Industry says agreement would help China, ruin U.S. economy

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

The agreement calls on the U.S. to cut its emissions by between 26 and 28 percent compared with 2005 levels by 2025. China’s emissions must stop growing no later than 2030. But while the announcement is the first firm commitment by China to stop increasing its carbon dioxide output, opponents of CO2 restrictions say it will lead to an uneven playing field that places U.S. industry at a crippling disadvantage. Returning to the Senate floor for the first time since last week’s election all but assured that he would become Senate majority leader next year, Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Obama seemed to be ignoring the voters’ demands for more cooperation across branches of government.

Obama flexes his muscle with emissions-reduction plan

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

President Obama last night reasserted his power to act on climate change without Congress, using a trip to China to announce new U.S. emissions-reduction obligations that he said could be achieved under authorities he already has. Obama pledged that the United States would cut its heat-trapping emissions to between 26 and 28 percent below 2005 levels by 2025. His announcement — which came together with a new promise by China to cap its own emissions no later than 2030 — is the first and perhaps most significant U.S. contribution toward an international climate agreement to be finalized in Paris next year.

In Climate Deal With China, Obama May Set 2016 Theme

Source: By CORAL DAVENPORT, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

President Obama’s landmark agreement with China to cut greenhouse gas pollution is a bet by the president and Democrats that on the issue of climate change, American voters are far ahead of Washington’s warring factions and that the environment will be a winning cause in the 2016 presidential campaign. A variety of polls show that a majority of American voters now believe that climate change is occurring, are worried about it, and support candidates who back policies to stop it. In particular, polls show that majorities of Hispanics, young people and unmarried women — the voters who were central to Mr. Obama’s victories in 2008 and 2012 — support candidates who back climate change policy.

Changes to extenders bill unlikely, Hatch says, in encouraging sign for wind credit

Source: Nick Juliano, E&E reporter • Posted: Thursday, November 13th, 2014

The top Republican on the Senate’s tax-writing committee says he does not expect many changes to a “hard-fought” package of tax break renewals that members from both parties want to see enacted before the end of the year — an assessment that is good news for supporters of a key renewable energy tax break. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), who is ranking member on the Finance Committee, said yesterday that he would look at calls from conservative groups to eliminate the production tax credit, which primarily benefits wind energy, but he echoed earlier sentiments suggesting that lawmakers should not meddle with the overall package of “tax extenders,” of which the PTC is a part.

Denmark Aims for 100 Percent Renewable Energy

Source: By Justin Gillis, New York Times • Posted: Wednesday, November 12th, 2014

Denmark, a tiny country on the northern fringe of Europe, is pursuing the world’s most ambitious policy against climate change. It aims to end the burning of fossil fuels in any form by 2050 — not just in electricity production, as some other countries hope to do, but in transportation as well. Now a question is coming into focus: Can Denmark keep the lights on as it chases that lofty goal?