Note to EPA World: Keep your August clear. That’s the date the administration has tentatively listed to finalize its major carbon rules for future and existing power plants in the spring Unified Agenda it released on Thursday.
As Pope Francis prepares to release a high-profile encyclical on ecology and climate change, the Vatican appears to be softening its message to the world’s business community. Yesterday, the Vatican sponsored a conference exploring “how economic growth and sustainability can go hand in hand.” The goal of the event, said Cardinal Peter Turkson, who has played a major role in coordinating the rollout of the impending high-level papal teaching, was “to help business people recognize these new opportunities … it’s not going after business with a stick, but going after them with a carrot.”
This week, General Electric launched its digital wind farm innovation. How could this new tool help make the wind energy industry more profitable and efficient? During today’s OnPoint, Ganesh Bell, chief digital officer and general manager of software and analytics at GE, explains how this “wind energy ecosystem” could help transform the industry and double global wind energy generation by 2020.
Gov. Steve Bullock, who addressed the audience at a conference titled “Powering Up: Renewable Energy and its Economic Benefits for Montana” Wednesday at the Great Northern Hotel, said the economic benefit for Montana from renewable energy is exciting. “When we look at where we’ve come from, it’s just 10 years ago that the Montana Legislature passed the renewable portfolio standard that now requires that 15 percent of the energy sold in Montana comes from renewable resources like wind, sun, even our working lands. “In 2005, just a decade ago, we had a president of the Senate who had kind of a vision for the future of renewable energy. And he built a coalition of support around the renewable portfolio standards. That legislator was Jon Tester,” Bullock said, adding that U.S. Sen. Tester, D-Montana, would be sharing a few words at the meeting by video.
The association of state air regulators who are charged with writing carbon-reduction proposals under U.S. EPA’s Clean Power Plan today will release an extensive 465-page encyclopedia of 25 core compliance options. The menu goes far beyond the “building blocks” EPA used to set state emissions goals. EPA based standards on actions the agency thought states could take to make coal plants more efficient, use more natural gas, build renewable energy and cut electricity use through efficiency improvements.
“Over the past six years, we’ve done more than ever to reduce harmful emissions, unprecedented investments to cut energy waste in our homes and building, standards to double the fuel efficiency of our vehicles. We’re using more clean energy than ever before — more solar, more wind. It’s all helped us reduce our carbon emissions more than any other advanced nation. And today, we can be proud that our carbon pollution is near its lowest levels in almost two decades. But we’ve got to do more.”
A bipartisan quartet yesterday reintroduced legislation that aims to speed development of wind, solar and geothermal projects on public lands while splitting the proceeds of those activities among state, local and federal governments. Sens. Dean Heller (R-Nev.), Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Jim Risch (R-Idaho) and Jon Tester (D-Mont.) offered the bill, which they said would streamline siting and permitting of renewable energy projects on public lands.
Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who worked with Bingaman to craft both bills, this month acknowledged the difficulties in managing sprawling energy legislation when asked about her strategy for keeping her bill above water. “See this magic wand?” she said, holding up her hand. “I don’t have the answer to that, but you know what? You don’t get if you don’t try. And I think we have to be moving forward as if we’re going to be successful at every step.”
Elon Musk, the star CEO of the electric car company Tesla Motors and the rocket company SpaceX, staged an elaborate event last month to unveil a new product. Not a sleek new luxury car. Not a rocket that can ferry people to Mars. A home appliance — a battery — that can be mounted on a garage wall and ignored. The reason for all the excitement is because of what batteries like these might someday do. They may make the electric power grid more robust and able to handle increasing amounts of wind and solar power. In conjunction with rooftop solar systems, batteries may help homeowners reduce their electric bills. And some homeowners, like Mike Thielen — who installed a Tesla battery prototype last year in his Redondo Beach, California, home as part of a state home storage testing program — would like to use them to say goodbye to their electric utility forever.
The goal passed by Hawaii’s Legislature this month to some sounds like a blueprint for a future utopian world: 100 percent renewable power. But lawmakers in the Aloha State want it to happen in 30 years. The mandate put on utilities under H.B. 623, if accomplished, would make Hawaii the nation’s first state with all green power. Across the Pacific Ocean, California also wants to increase clean energy, though it’s aiming for 50 percent by 2030.