The two largest electric utilities in Massachusetts have backed out of a plan to buy most of the power that was slated to be generated by the proposed Cape Wind turbine project, dealing a potentially serious blow to the long-delayed wind farm off the state’s coast. National Grid and NStar, a subsidiary of Northeast Utilities , were slated to buy a combined 77.5% of the output from the 130 turbine, 468-megawatt wind project, which isn’t yet under construction. But they announced late Tuesday they had backed out, saying the project had missed financing and construction commitments it was supposed to hit by Dec. 31.
A Senate vote scheduled for this evening on whether to move forward with debating legislation to approve the Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada is expected to unleash weeks of congressional debate on a broad range of energy and environment issues. With the a promise of regular order from new Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), the 5:30 p.m. roll call will be followed by a flurry of amendments on issues like energy efficiency and climate change.
Companies that collectively own two Minnesota wind farms are seeking bankruptcy protection. With 11 turbines, the community-owned Minwind farms went online in 2002 and 2004, and were profitable until 2012. The farms are still operating, but Minwind has told federal regulators that the companies cannot afford maintenance on the turbines, which includes repairing main bearings.
2014 marked the first year renewable energy became the primary source of electricity in Germany, according to Agora Energiewende, a Berlin think tank. Renewable energy made up nearly 26 percent of the country’s energy, up almost 2 percent from 2013. Most of this energy was derived from wind power and biomass.
“Science is under attack like it has never been before,” McCarthy said. “Now is not the time for us to hide or to begin to be more quiet. It’s the time for us to embrace this challenge.”
She added, “I can remember how the world was when I was a child. If you don’t think it’s changed, you’re kind of nuts.”
Separately, Obama is also expected to propose a new training fund that would provide additional grant dollars for technical training programs. The fund would underwrite the start-up of 100 centers for teaching workers the skills they need to secure jobs in high-growth fields like energy, IT, and advanced manufacturing. And Obama will announce the establishment of a new manufacturing hub at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville designed to create new materials lighter and stronger than steel. The new materials could be used to lighten cars and trucks — increasing their fuel efficiency — or to create bigger wind turbines.
The looming departure of President Obama’s front man on climate issues is sparking speculation in energy circles. The question on their minds: What will happen to energy and climate issues in a post-John Podesta White House? “I think there’s a lot of anxiety, I think there’s a lot of questions,” said Eric Washburn, an energy industry lobbyist at Bracewell & Giuliani. “We know these issues are going to be coming up again and again, and no one knows quite how this White House system is going to work in the next two years.”
Findings from the American Wind Energy Association show that during the January 2014 polar vortex event, which occurred one year ago this week, wind energy “provided large quantities of critical electricity supply when it was needed most, keeping the lights on and reducing the impact of [electricity] price spikes,” the trade group said in a white paper released yesterday.
California already has shown that generating large amounts of renewable energy is possible. The next phase — coordinating the new power with the needs of the electrical grid — will be much more complicated, said V. John White, executive director of the Sacramento-based Center for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Technologies. “Meeting the governor’s goal is easily achievable,” he said. “But making it fit and work together in terms of [the] grid is the difficulty. The more we add renewables to the system, the more we have to think about how they fit with what we have.”
U.S. EPA is delaying the final rollout of its new rules aimed at lowering the power sector’s greenhouse gas emissions by 30 percent by 2030. And while the agency insists the two delays — one a matter of months, the other a matter of weeks — are aimed at helping states develop compliance plans, observers say the moves could help shield the efforts from legal and congressional challenges.