Minnesota’s decision to accept a court ruling striking down a 9-year-old ban on coal-fired electricity imports will have little effect on the state’s transition to a clean energy economy, state leaders and environmentalists said yesterday. Rather, the laws of economics as well as overarching regulations like the federal Clean Power Plan will help Minnesota achieve many of the same outcomes it sought under the controversial provision of the Next Generation Energy Act, officials said.
“I think this is incredibly impactful for the future of clean energy in this country,” said Abigail Ross Hopper, director of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM), the federal agency within the Interior Department in charge of permitting and leasing offshore wind power. “It shows that offshore wind can happen here in the United States.” The Block Island farm, developed by Deepwater Wind, will only have a 30 megawatt generating capacity, enough to power 17,000 homes. But while the technology is far more expensive than traditional wind power, it’s both a small step and a giant leap, in terms of its power to demonstrate a technology.
Defense. Defense. Defense. That’s the strategy for groups lobbying on clean energy issues who say they are gearing up for a tough fight this fall in Congress and stand ready to tackle any efforts to block the first comprehensive energy law in nearly 10 years.
It was supposed to be the largest wind farm in North America, with 1,000 turbines spinning above 320,000 acres of southern Wyoming. But after investing more than $50 million and nearly a decade seeking approval to build a wind farm on public lands, the Power Company of Wyoming’s landmark project is still tied up in required scrutiny of its environmental impact. “We understood that this is a complex process,” said the company’s vice president Roxane Perruso. “We did understand that it was going to be several years. We did not anticipate nine.”
The Center for Biological Diversity today threatened legal action against the Fish and Wildlife Service to jump-start the stalled Endangered Species Act status reviews of 417 imperiled species — a move that could set the stage for another major legal settlement between the conservation group and the agency. The species listed in the notice of intent to sue were all flagged for ESA protection by CBD and other nonprofits over the past eight years. They include coastal flatwoods crayfish, eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, panhandle lilies and hundreds of other species.
Minnesota will not appeal a federal court ruling that called unconstitutional a Minnesota law restricting importing electricity from coal-fired electric generating plants. North Dakota filed the suit against the Minnesota Next Generation Energy Act, passed in 2007, and won in a federal district court. A federal appeals court panel in June agreed with the district court, leaving the U.S. Supreme Court the only opportunity for Minnesota to win.
The words are stenciled on the front of the Apple Store, a glass box sandwiched between a nondescript Thai restaurant and a CVS pharmacy in downtown Palo Alto: “This store runs on 100 percent renewable energy.” If Apple’s plans play out, it will be able to make that claim not only for its operations throughout California but also beyond, as the company aims to meet its growing needs for electricity with green sources like solar, wind and hydroelectric power.
A Federal Trade Commission summit spawned charges and countercharges this summer about how utilities and solar companies are treating customers. The comment period ended yesterday for FTC’s June 21 solar workshop, which examined competition and consumer protection in the renewable-energy sector. The commission doesn’t have to take action, but it’s also not precluded from issuing new guidance or regulations as a result of the event.
The contract price for utility-scale solar power reached a new world low last week as a Spanish energy firm agreed to sell output from a 120-megawatt solar farm in Chile for $29.10 per megawatt. That’s 80 cents lower than the current record price set in the United Arab Emirates earlier this year. The agreement calls for Maria Elena Solar SA, a subsidiary of the Spanish multinational Solarpack Corp., to supply up to 280 gigawatt-hours annually to the Chilean grid by 2021. It was approved by the national energy commission, known as CNE, as part of Chile’s largest ever solicitation for electricity, estimated at 12.4 terawatt-hours per year
A team of researchers has developed a groundbreaking forecast system that could save utilities hundreds of millions of dollars by more efficiently integrating solar-generated electricity into the grid, a Boulder, Colo.-based research institution announced today. The National Center for Atmospheric Research has been working for three years with researchers from government laboratories, universities and six public utilities to develop the Sun4Cast system, which NCAR says “uses a combination of advanced computer models, atmospheric observations and artificial intelligence techniques.”