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Energy News

Bill Proposes Taxing Solar, Increasing Wind Tax in Wyoming

US News and World Report | Posted on February 13, 2018

Legislation has been proposed to increase Wyoming's tax on wind production and impose a new tax on utility-scale solar facilities.House Bill 118 is sponsored by Republican Rep. Thomas Crank, of Kemmerer. It proposes levying a $2 per megawatt hour tax on renewable energy produced in Wyoming. Currently, the state levies a $1 per megawatt hour tax on just wind power.The Casper Star-Tribune reports that the measure provides that if a company manufactures and installs its wind or solar facilities in Wyoming, the cost of equipment may be subtracted from the tax bill.


Virginia Senate passes utility regulation overhaul

Richmond Times Dispatch | Posted on February 13, 2018

Despite floor speeches from lawmakers from both parties calling it a mistake, the state Senate voted 26-13 on Friday to pass the utility regulatory reform package endorsed by Gov. Ralph Northam and spearheaded by Dominion Energy, Virginia’s biggest utility. “Let’s be honest,” said Sen. Chap Petersen, D-Fairfax City. “This bill is being written to benefit ... an industry giant.”The far-reaching legislation shifts Virginia to what Dominion calls a “reinvestment model” that lets the company keep millions in earnings that would otherwise be returned to customers in exchange for investments in grid upgrades and renewable energy, among other spending, over the next decade.


Lawmakers Seek Firmer Stance Against Drilling off Georgia

US News and World Report | Posted on February 13, 2018

While the governor sticks to cautious, measured responses to President Donald Trump's proposal to expand oil drilling into waters off Georgia and its coastal neighbors, a bipartisan group of lawmakers wants the Georgia legislature to formally denounce the energy plan as a threat to tourism and fishing.Republican Gov. Nathan Deal, serving his last year in office, stands alone among governors of 22 coastal U.S. states in that he's refrained from taking a firm stand for or against Trump's plan to let private companies drill in federal waters currently off-limits to oil exploration.Hoping to fill the political vacuum, a small group of Democratic and Republican legislators are pushing resolutions in the state House and Senate that would flat out declare opposition to drilling. They argue it would risk fouling Georgia's pristine salt marshes, threaten endangered right whales that give birth off Georgia and potentially devastate local economies.Anti-drilling Democrats have been joined in sponsoring the proposals by at least six GOP lawmakers. One of them is Republican Rep. Jesse Petrea of Savannah, who said he's a big supporter of "fracking and drilling" in the U.S. But he also noted Georgia's 100-mile (160 kilometer) coast is home to nearly one-third of the remaining salt marshes on the East Coast. The state's chain of barrier islands remains largely undeveloped, with vast acreage under federal and state protection.


Pipeline sues Wintergreen property owners citing eminent domain

The Daily Progress | Posted on February 13, 2018

The Atlantic Coast Pipeline, LLC is suing Nelson County property owners to gain land for the 600-mile natural gas pipeline, which is set to emerge from the mountain and pass along a ridge right next to the popular Wintergreen Resort.The company, which is majority owned by Dominion Energy, sued the Wintergreen Property Owners Association Friday in the United States Court for the Western District of Virginia for seven and a half acres. The suit cites eminent domain, or the governmental power to take private property for public use.The company has made several efforts to buy the land, but it and the association have never been able to agree about adequate compensation, according to the lawsuit.In a release on Friday, the association repeated its opposition to the location of the pipeline. The association represents 3,700 property owners in Nelson County, and the proposed pipeline would pass right next to the resort and the association’s front gate.


Cruz scapegoating the renewable fuels standard

My San Antonio | Posted on February 13, 2018

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recently took to the Senate floor to object to a unanimous consent agreement that would have allowed a confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s choice to be USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, a critical post as Congress begins deliberations on the farm bill’s reauthorization.Cruz objected to the motion, not because he thinks Bill Northey is not qualified for the position; he agrees Northey is a terrific person, but because he wants to use the leverage of holding up Northey to force changes to an energy program completely unrelated to USDA.


Canadian solar companies sue Trump over tariffs

The Hill | Posted on February 13, 2018

A handful of Canadian companies that make solar panels are suing the Trump administration over the 30-percent tariffs the president imposed last month on their products. In their lawsuit, filed Wednesday in the United States Court of International Trade, the three companies say that since Canadian solar imports do not harm United States producers, the tariffs violate the Trade Act and the North American Free Trade Agreement.


Cruz scapegoating the renewable fuels standard

My San Antonio | Posted on February 12, 2018

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz recently took to the Senate floor to object to a unanimous consent agreement that would have allowed a confirmation vote on President Donald Trump’s choice to be USDA’s undersecretary for farm production and conservation, a critical post as Congress begins deliberations on the farm bill’s reauthorization. Cruz objected to the motion, not because he thinks Bill Northey is not qualified for the position; he agrees Northey is a terrific person, but because he wants to use the leverage of holding up Northey to force changes to an energy program completely unrelated to USDA.He wants to see changes to the Renewable Fuels Standard, or RFS, a program requiring refiners to blend an increasing amount of renewable fuels like ethanol and biodiesel into gasoline that is enforced by EPA, not USDA.


Minnesota solar energy employment up almost 50 percent in 2017

Minnesota Star Tribune | Posted on February 8, 2018

Minnesota bucked the national trend in solar energy employment in 2017, posting the second highest job growth by state. Nationwide, U.S. solar energy industry employment fell by 4 percent or 9,800 jobs, according to a report released Wednesday by The Solar Foundation. It was the first decline since The Solar Foundation began tracking jobs in 2010.Total U.S. solar employment was 250,271 last year, with the majority of those jobs in installation.


Clean energy cuts make no sense

My San Antonio | Posted on February 7, 2018

The White House is seeking a 72 percent cut to clean energy research. This move falls squarely under the huh? category even if Congress is unlikely to go along with the budget request. Texas is, by any measure, a fossil fuel state. It is a driver of the state’s economy. But even this state has embraced wind and solar energy generation. All of the above (except for coal) is a good strategy, and one this administration should follow. Congress should again reject this cut.


Philadelphia Energy Solutions wrong to blame renewable fuel standard for bankruptcy

The Hill | Posted on February 7, 2018

Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) filed for bankruptcy last week, pointing fingers and laying blame squarely on the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), a federal program that requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of ethanol and other biofuels. That may make for a provocative headline, but the public and PES’ 1,100 employees deserve to know the truth: PES has no one else to blame but itself. PES operates one of the nation’s oldest refineries, which is handicapped by hopelessly antiquated technology. This is not the first time the refinery has found itself in a precarious financial position. In 2012, the Carlyle Group and Sunoco rescued the refinery from bankruptcy, thanks to a taxpayer-funded rescue package. The following year, PES invested in new infrastructure to allow the importation of cheap oil from North Dakota. While PES was able to capitalize on that investment in 2014 and 2015, the collapse in oil prices and the end of the U.S. crude export ban in late 2015 hit the refiner hard and left it hostage to the higher-priced Brent crude index. Since that time, PES has been dealing with a substantial debt burden.


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