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.
Cheaper crude oil and lower fuel prices at the pump have failed to lift the U.S. economy, according to the most recent federal government statistics. Rather, there’s mounting evidence that the oil price bust has been a net negative for the economy as a whole as business investment spending and state government revenues and spending have fallen.
Consumer spending is also lagging, meaning people are not using the money saved on gasoline and diesel purchases as much as observers had hoped.
Billionaire entrepreneur and CEO Elon Musk of Tesla Motors Inc. envisions a world charged by solar and shaped by super batteries to store the excess energy. Whether people are willing to shell out lots of cash to turn homes into tiny, solar-powered entities boosted by battery storage is the big lingering question.
Utility regulators gave final approval for what will become the largest solar power project in Minnesota, setting the state on a trajectory to become a bigger player in the nation’s fast-growing solar market. The $250 million Aurora Distributed Solar Project, to be built by Geronimo Energy, calls for installing ground-mounted arrays at 21 sites throughout southern and central Minnesota, according to proposals submitted to the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission. Construction is slated to begin this fall, with first power coming from the panels in 2016, officials said. Once built, the project will transfer in ownership to development partner Enel Green Power North America.
An offshore wind developer vying for the right to build a 25-megawatt wind farm off the coast of New Jersey lost an appeal in state court last week. Cape May, N.J.-based Fishermen’s Energy failed in its bid to overturn a Board of Public Utilities decision from last year that denies the company the right to start construction. BPU has maintained the power would be too expensive, despite the pledge of a $47 million federal grant to subsidize the project and statements in the past by Gov. Chris Christie (R) that he wanted the Garden State to be a leader on offshore wind.