The Obama administration has found someone to fill the shoes of Lauren Azar, former Energy Secretary Steven Chu’s top adviser on greening the U.S. electric grid, who quietly left the agency Friday. Skila Harris, who served as the Tennessee Valley Authority’s first female director and as a special assistant to former Vice President Al Gore, is now serving as senior adviser for the Power Marketing Administration. Although Department of Energy officials did not offer to comment about the personnel moves in time for publication, Harris will likely be tasked with addressing bipartisan backlash on Capitol Hill over a number of the agency’s programs.
The Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee has scheduled a hearing for next Tuesday on the nominations of Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner Michael Connor to become deputy Interior secretary, former Colorado energy regulator Ron Binz to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and NASA Chief Financial Officer Beth Robinson to be undersecretary at the Department of Energy.
A large wind energy developer has committed to use the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project if built, a rare bit of good news for a project that has been dogged by criticism from congressional leaders, Defense Department officials and environmentalists who have questioned claims that the line will support renewables development. The project’s developer, Phoenix-based SunZia Transmission LLC, announced late Friday that it has a formal letter of intent from Boston-based First Wind Energy LLC reserving up to 1,500 megawatts of electricity capacity on the planned New Mexico-to-Arizona power line.
Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) yesterday expressed strong concerns about President Obama’s pick to head the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I’ve got a problem. I’ve got serious problems,” Manchin told E&E Daily during a brief interview yesterday evening about the nominee, who has encountered strong opposition from the coal industry.
BMW is going to extremes to make the i3 the most carbon-neutral car on the road. A wind turbine outside the BMW factory in Leipzig provides power for the i3 assembly line, and the carbon fiber for the passenger compartment comes from a factory in Washington State that uses hydropower. And of course the i3 itself has no tailpipe emissions (unless buyers choose a range-extender version that has a small gasoline motor).
A small wind farm planned near this small town is ready to begin construction except for one major snag — no one, so far, wants to buy the electricity it will produce. The 22 farmers behind Burt County Wind LLC are trying to change that by convincing Nebraska utilities that they need to look past the slightly higher cost of the energy produced by small wind farms and consider the bigger economic impact that such projects would provide.
Iowa is among several states now getting more than 20 percent of its power from wind, a key reason wind energy was the fastest-growing power-generation sector for the first time in 2012, the U.S. Department of Energy reported Tuesday. Wind accounted for 43 percent of all new electricity generation last year, a $25 billion investment, DOE reported.
Bonneville Power Administration’s hiring and promotion practices get stinging critique by Department of Energy audit
The U.S. Department of Energy on Friday released a stinging critique of human resources activities at Bonneville Power Administration. The overall conclusion of a triennial audit of the Portland based power marketing agency was that its hiring and promotion activities are “NOT EFFECTIVE.” The audit revealed “pervasive misapplications” of and “system departures” from federal hiring guidelines and laws.
Coal-fired power, hit hard by natural gas, could see further market erosion from regulations — report
s the largest power grid in North America, the Eastern Interconnection encompasses 39 U.S. states, eight Canadian provinces and the District of Columbia. Some 84 percent of all U.S. coal-fired capacity falls within its jurisdiction. Given the Eastern Interconnection’s lion-sized role in hosting the flow of coal-fired electrons in the United States, the findings of a recent report by the consultancy ICF International are unlikely to bring much comfort to the nation’s faltering coal industry. The report, commissioned by the Eastern Interconnection States’ Planning Council (EISPC) and the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC), finds few challenges to natural gas’s current price advantage within current market or regulatory conditions.
The auction garnered praise from environmental groups and industry leaders. Oceana’s vice president for U.S. oceans, Jacqueline Savitz, said in a statement that the auction was “further proof that the Obama administration is committed to building a strong offshore wind industry in the United States.” Chris Long, offshore wind and siting policy manager for the American Wind Energy Association, called it “an important milestone in efforts to launch the offshore wind industry in the United States.”