“We are pleased that the policy framework that existed before the legislative session, which is helping us to advance our clean energy goals in the state, is largely intact,” said John Hall, Texas director of clean energy for the Environmental Defense Fund. Still, the mood was mixed among Hall and other environmental advocates. Cyrus Reed, conservation director at the Sierra Club’s Lone Star Chapter, said he was “extremely disheartened and disappointed” by two energy bills that made it through.
The Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), passed the spending bill including the wind energy research cuts on May 21, just before Congress left town for a recess from which it returned today. The full House approved its own version of the bill earlier in May on a 240-177 vote. The White House has threatened a veto unless the bill is changed later in the appropriations process, which reportedly is far from over. Research at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has helped advance technologies and drive down the cost of wind power and other renewables, said AWEA CEO Tom Kiernan, but such R&D would be cut by about $70 million in the Senate version of the appropriations bill.
Berkshire Hathaway Energy today is poised to make another bid on Capitol Hill to scrap federal requirements for utilities to buy power from small solar generators and cogeneration units. Jonathan Weisgall, Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s vice president for legislative and regulatory affairs, is slated to make the pitch before the House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Energy and Power, according to his prepared testimony.
The CEOs of six of the largest energy companies worldwide want national governments to put a price tag on greenhouse gas emissions. In a letter addressed to Christiana Figueres, executive secretary of the U.N. Framework Convention on Climate Change, the authors call upon the United Nations and countries to “open a direct dialogue” on climate change and carbon pricing, “including at the UNFCCC negotiations in Paris and beyond.” The authors — the CEOs of European oil and gas companies BG Group PLC, BP PLC, Eni SpA, Royal Dutch Shell PLC, Statoil and Total SA — want the international community to create national and regional carbon pricing mechanisms and a global network that could “eventually connect national systems.”
Renewable energy — once a niche industry — has the potential to transform the world economy while simultaneously mitigating carbon emissions, according to panelists speaking at an event yesterday on the emergence of renewable energy as an important component of U.S. energy policy at the Atlantic Council. “The business case for renewables is here; it’s not a grant charity enterprise anymore,” said Adnan Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), an intergovernmental organization that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future. “It’s a growth agenda.”
A new poll from the National Surveys on Energy and Environment shows broad — but conditional — support for state-level renewable portfolio standards. Nearly three-quarters of poll respondents back the idea of states requiring a set percentage of electricity to be produced by renewable sources like wind and solar. That support decreases, however, the more the price goes up. While 58 percent of respondents told pollsters they’d still back an RPS that increased annual electricity prices $25, support dropped to 45 percent when the hypothetical price tag hit $50. And the vast majority of those surveyed have no idea whether or not their state even has an RPS on its books.
Wind generated more than 20 percent of electricity in three states last year and California became the first to draw 5 percent of its power from utility-scale solar last year, according to a survey from research firm Clean Edge Inc. Wind produced almost 30 percent of Iowa’s electricity, a total of 16,300 megawatt-hours; 25 percent of South Dakota’s power; and 22 percent of Kansas’ in 2014, according to the index, which ranks states and cities based on a wide range of indicators.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) announced submission of its proposal for new and improved strategies to support large scale renewables such as solar, wind, and other clean technologies. These strategies would build upon New York’s clean power legacy, which began in the 1950s with major public investments in hydroelectric dams that continue to provide low-cost, zero-emissions electricity for New Yorkers to this day.
Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) today urged the utility industry to view the rapidly changing energy landscape being fostered by technology as a chance to transform itself into a new business model, rather than an obstacle to be surmounted. “I think the way to look at this is not as a threat but as an opportunity,” King told the DNV GL Utility of the Future conference in Washington, D.C.
U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan traveled to the White House Office of Management and Budget yesterday for one last vetting before a final version is released, the office’s regulatory website shows. The existing power plant carbon rule has become a political lightning rod since it was proposed one year ago today. President Obama originally asked EPA to release a final version this month, but the agency has pledged to do so by “midsummer,” and the OMB website projects it will be out in August. Meanwhile, Republicans in the House and Senate are moving legislation aimed at scuttling the rule, with a floor vote on the House version, H.R. 2042sponsored by Rep. Ed Whitfield (R-Ky.), expected late this month.