California’s Senate majority leader yesterday proposed a carbon tax for transportation fuel to replace part of the state’s landmark cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases but immediately ran into opposition from fellow top Democrats and environmental groups. State Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D) pitched it as part of a broader tax reform movement that he hopes to institute, possibly in time for next year, when the state’s emissions trading program expands from utilities, refineries and other industrial emitters to covering carbon-based transportation fuels, as well.
Political considerations also could complicate the push for a tax extenders package. Such legislation typically carries a hefty price tag that rankles budget-conscious members, and some of the specific provisions — in particular the PTC — are facing increasingly intense opposition from outside conservative groups aligned with fossil fuel interests. Congress most recently passed an extenders bill in the lame-duck session following the 2012 election. However, at that time it was able to hitch a ride on the larger “fiscal cliff” legislation to prevent an across-the-board increase in individuals’ taxes. The lack of a similarly significant “must-pass” bill this time around further complicates the prospect for extenders, but many of the breaks enjoy broad backing from lawmakers, and advocates say they are staying optimistic.
Last week, a new analysis was released that explored the technical, environmental, and economic implications of raising California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard (RPS) from 33 percent by 2020 to 50 percent by 2030. I’m excited to report that although the study illuminates the challenges of installing unprecedented amounts of renewables on the grid, it is technically possible. Moreover, California has tools in hand today to scale up renewables, and is developing programs and policies that will continue to lower the cost and technical challenges of doing so.
The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission plans to probe recent wintry wallops that triggered both unprecedented natural gas price spikes in the Midwest and Mid-Atlantic in recent weeks and the agency’s first-ever order for a private pipeline to ship propane into the Midwest.
The need for a study into the potential threat to the red-throated diver, a type of waterfowl, has forced developers to scrap a project to expand the world’s largest offshore wind farm, Britain’s London Array. The consortium of Denmark’s Dong Energy, Germany’s E.ON and Abu Dhabi state-owned energy investor Masdar joined a growing list of companies scaling back plans to build new offshore wind capacity in Britain.
he world’s biggest offshore wind turbine, a Vestas behemoth with wings that sweep an area the size of three football fields, has signed its first potential order. The Vestas V164 8-megawatt machine has won a competitive tender for Dong Energy’s Burbo Bank Extension wind farm in U.K. waters. The final decision to install the turbines is subject to the wind farm receiving the relevant subsidies.
Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz today outlined the Obama administration’s vision of a more resilient U.S. electric grid capable of handling severe weather linked to climate change. Addressing the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers smart grid conference in Washington, D.C., Moniz said the administration aims to shape an energy network with reduced emissions and a grid that’s tough enough to withstand rising temperatures and fierce storms.
A panel of Iowa lawmakers advanced legislation Tuesday rewriting the approval process for construction of certain power lines in the state. The measure is a direct response to vocal opposition to the proposed Rock Island Clean Line from landowners across northern Iowa. The proposed 500-mile transmission line would deliver wind energy from northwest Iowa to markets in Illinois and points eastward. But it but might have to take land by eminent domain to secure the long, narrow strip that the power lines and poles would run through.
How should state regulators be influencing the business model evolution facing the electric power sector? During today’s OnPoint, Colette Honorable, president of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners, discusses the role of regulators in the net metering debate, the transition to a diversified fuel supply and transmission planning challenges. Honorable, whose name was circulated as a potential candidate for the top spot on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, also comments on the nomination of Norman Bay to lead the agency.
At issue are concerns that the current standards-making process, in which the North American Electric Reliability Corp. (NERC), an industry group, works with the electric sector to reach a consensus on rules that then go to FERC for final approval. Lawmakers have become increasingly alarmed that the process can take months to complete, lagging behind quickly evolving cyber and physical threats to the system.