The Senate on Wednesday started debating its first comprehensive energy legislation since the George W. Bush administration, a bipartisan measure meant to update the nation’s power grid and oil and gas transportation systems to address major changes in the ways that power is now produced in the United States. Since passage of the last major energy law, in 2007, the United States has gone from fears of oil and gas shortages to becoming the world’s leading producer of both fuels. The use of wind and solar power is rapidly accelerating as those sources become cheaper than fossil fuels in some parts of the country. And President Obama’s clean air regulations are reshaping the nation’s power systems, as electric utilities shutter coal-fired power plants and replace them with alternative sources. But the nation’s energy infrastructure has not kept pace with those changes.
The small Mississippi River city of Hannibal, Mo., best known as the site of Mark Twain’s boyhood home, could play a big role in a developer’s effort to win regulatory approval for a $2.2 billion wind energy superhighway across the Midwest. Houston-based Clean Line Energy Partners has worked for years to develop the 770-mile direct-current transmission line that would connect yet-to-be-built wind farms in western Kansas to power markets in the eastern United States.
Wind and sunshine could power most of the United States by 2030 without raising electricity prices, according to a new study from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the University of Colorado, Boulder. Even when optimizing to cut costs and limiting themselves to existing technology, scientists showed that renewables can meet energy demands and slash carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity sector by 80 percent below 1990 levels.
A senior House lawmaker is lobbying the Obama administration to authorize more tax incentives for energy storage technologies. Rep. Mike Honda (D-Calif.), a member of the Congressional Battery Storage Caucus, is circulating a draft letter to Treasury Secretary Jack Lew and Internal Revenue Service Commissioner John Koskinen to press the caucus’s case.
Treasury and the IRS are updating current guidance on the scope of the so-called investment tax credit, which helps companies buy alternative energy sources.
The states and agencies that signed on to the petition with West Virginia are Texas, Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Utah, Wisconsin, Wyoming, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, the Mississippi Public Service Commission, the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality and the Oklahoma Department of Environmental Quality.
A coalition of 25 states opposing President Obama’s plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions asked the Supreme Court on Tuesday to stop the new regulations from taking effect until after their legal challenge is resolved. West Virginia and Texas led the group of mostly Republican states that asked Chief Justice John Roberts to immediately bar the Environmental Protection Agency from enforcing the Clean Power Plan. Roberts can consider the application on his own or refer it to the full court. The move came after an appeals court in Washington last week denied a similar request, handing a significant procedural victory to the Obama administration.
The United States could lower carbon emissions from electricity generation by as much as 78 percent without having to develop any new technologies or use costly batteries, a new study suggests. There’s a catch, though. The country would have to build a new national transmission network so that states could share energy. “Our idea was if we had a national ‘interstate highway for electrons’ we could move the power around as it was needed, and we could put the wind and solar plants in the very best places,” says study co-author Alexander MacDonald, who recently retired as director of NOAA’s Earth System Research Laboratory in Boulder, Colorado.
After a blizzard-induced delay, the Senate will today open debate on long-awaited broad and bipartisan energy reform legislation backed by Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). “I don’t know about you all, but I spent a good portion of my weekend shoveling,” Murkowski said on the Senate floor yesterday. “I feel stronger today, but I’m ready to be back at work where it’s a little less rigorous.”
Southern California Edison, San Diego Gas & Electric and Pacific Gas & Electric are pushing back against a regulator proposal for new rules on compensating California homeowners and businesses for the solar power they produce. The three investor-owned utilities have united in an unusual counterproposal that would be less generous to solar-panel owners than the plan that the California Public Utilities Commission is set to vote on next week.
Gall? Nerve? Chutzpah? Call it what you like, but Christine Harbin’s two recent anti-wind columns in The Hill are prime examples of Koch-funded dishonesty—and hypocrisy.