A split federal appeals court panel ruled yesterday that Exelon Corp. cannot force a Texas utility to buy power from its wind farms. In a 2-1 vote, judges on the New Orleans-based 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that several units of Chicago-based Exelon cannot force a subsidiary of Xcel Energy Inc. — Southwestern Public Service Co. — to buy wind power under a 1970s law aimed at bolstering renewables.
Senate Republicans today accused Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) of trying to micromanage nominations to critical agencies tasked with overseeing the grid and energy infrastructure and asked two Obama nominees for assurances they would not bend to the senator’s political will.
A majority of Americans are skeptical of federal energy mandates but still favor tax breaks for wind power and other forms of renewable energy, according to a poll released today by the pro-business American Energy Alliance. The survey found that 60 percent of respondents oppose renewable energy standards for consumers and 77 percent don’t trust Congress to hand out corporate tax breaks. At the same time, 51 percent of respondents said they support a production tax credit for wind power. And 62 percent said they believe U.S. EPA should require states to produce alternative sources of energy.
Governors of 15 fossil fuel-heavy states took swings yesterday at U.S. EPA’s proposed climate rule for existing power plants, targeting the proposal’s legal underpinnings and practical feasibility. In a letter to President Obama, the governors warn that EPA had built its draft rule on a shaky legal foundation.
California climate policy luminaries are meeting today in Sacramento to argue that regional cooperation on reducing emissions is possible, even in the face of international gridlock. The three-hour conference is organized by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and will feature veterans from the state, federal and international levels of climate policy, including Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change Chairman Rajendra Pachauri, Gov. Jerry Brown (D), former U.S. EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and California Air Resources Board Chairwoman Mary Nichols.
U.S. solar photovoltaic installations continued at a brisk pace in the second quarter of 2014, with 1,133 megawatts of new capacity coming online in the utility, commercial and residential sectors, according to data released Friday by the Solar Energy Industries Association and GTM Research.
The Department of Energy today doled out $8 million for the construction of new microgrid projects across the United States, part of the government’s Climate Action Plan and push to harden the grid against increasingly violent storms. The funds will support microgrid projects in Alaska, California, Illinois, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and Tennessee — systems that can detach from the U.S. grid, operate autonomously and continue to generate power should an attack or severe storm trigger widespread damage.
With legislative gridlock the rule rather than the exception in Congress for the foreseeable future, badly needed reforms in the way electricity markets operate are not on the horizon. Instead, federal and state regulators will “muddle through” trying to make outdated jurisdictional arrangements work even as advanced technologies and changing consumer preferences disrupt the industry, said Robert Nordhaus, a partner at Van Ness Feldman and formerly the general counsel of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission as well as the Department of Energy.
Among the states surveyed, the lowest percentage of people who believe wind turbines cause health problems (7 percent) was in Iowa, a state that leads the nation in proportion of energy from wind. Meanwhile, the highest percentage believing such claims (21 percent) was in Wisconsin, a state which has far fewer wind farms and where some political leaders have in recent years been hostile to renewable and distributed energy.
Waist-high weeds and a crumbling old Chevy mark the entrance to a rust-colored factory complex on the edge of town here, seemingly another monument to the passing of the golden age of American industry. But deep inside the 14-acre site, the thwack-thwack-thwack sound of metal on metal tells a different story. “We’re holding our own,” said Greg Hess, who is looking to hire draftsmen and machine operators at the company he runs, Youngstown Bending and Rolling. “I feel good that we saved this place from the wrecking ball.”