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Energy News

Energy Department backs huge Louisiana project to store carbon dioxide in the ground

Washington Post | Posted on December 22, 2016

the Energy Department announced Wednesday that it was conditionally prepared to guarantee as much as $2 billion in loans to the Lake Charles Methanol project, which represents a different variant on carbon capture and storage. In this case it isn’t stripping carbon out of the coal-burning process, but rather out of petroleum coke or “petcoke,” a remnant of oil refining that is often exported out of the United States and burned in other countries.  The Lake Charles Methanol project, based in Louisiana, plans to use gasification technology to turn petcoke into syngas and then from there produce the industrial chemical methanol, along with hydrogen. Another byproduct of this process is carbon dioxide. Then it will sell all three products — methanol and hydrogen industrially, and the carbon dioxide to be pumped to oil fields in Texas, where it could be used to help recover additional oil from the ground. The carbon dioxide is expected to be able to unlock about 4.5 million barrels of oil per year, the company says.

Iowa's new energy plan: More renewable energy, stronger power grid

Des Moines Register | Posted on December 22, 2016

Iowa's new energy strategy envisions electric car-charging stations across the state, anaerobic digesters that turn animal waste to energy, and top state and federal researchers finding ways to store wind and solar energy.  Lt. Gov. Kim Reynolds released the broad energy report Wednesday that looks at Iowa's energy needs over the next decade. It provided 45 recommendations ranging from modernizing the state's electric power grid to improving state tax credits for solar energy. Reynolds and Debi Durham, Iowa's economic development leader, said energy is key to economic development and job creation across the state, especially in rural areas. "We want to ensure that Iowa remains a place where businesses and people want to call home," Durham said. Durham and Reynolds worked with nearly 50 energy, business, farm and community leaders over a year to develop the strategy. It builds on Iowa's leadership in energy research, wind generation, biofuels development, and agricultural production, leaders said.

Understanding the Renewable Fuel Standard program and its viability

The Progressive Farmer | Posted on December 22, 2016

Lack of a commercial-scale cellulosic ethanol industry has led to a Renewable Fuel Standard conundrum: Where do companies complying with the law find gallons or the renewable identification numbers, or RIN?  The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued waivers for cellulosic ethanol in the past decade because the industry has been slow to develop. Refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel have faced significant costs. Cellulosic credits are valued four times higher than corn-based ethanol credits."An industry organization leader who's now retired said a few years ago that it was easier to find a pink unicorn than the cellulosic fuel still required to be blended, even if at a lower volume," said DTN Energy Editor Brian Milne.The 38-digit RIN attached to a gallon of biofuel is important to both energy and agricultural markets.Gasoline refiners and importers must comply with the RFS by buying and submitting credits to the EPA, or face potentially heavy fines.

Las Vegas Is Now Powered Entirely by Renewable Energy

Popular Mechanic | Posted on December 22, 2016

Las Vegas is now the largest city in the country to run entirely on renewable energy.

Old mine could supply new power

Times Union | Posted on December 22, 2016

Some look at an abandoned, centuries-old iron mine in New York's Adirondacks and see a relic. An ambitious group of engineers sees the shafts in Mineville as a new way to provide a steady flow of electricity in a growing market for renewable energy.They are pitching a plan to circulate some of the millions of gallons of groundwater that have flooded the mine shafts over the years to power an array of 100 hydroelectric turbines a half-mile underground.

A ‘mixed bag’ for clean energy as Midwest legislatures close out 2016

Midwest Energy News | Posted on December 22, 2016

Lawmakers in three Midwest legislatures closed out their 2016 lame-duck sessions with plans to both expand as well as slow clean energy development. The proposals in Ohio, Michigan and Illinois came under three Republican governors and, aside from Illinois, Republican-held legislatures.  In each case, major utilities played significant roles — either prominently lobbying or behind the scenes — in getting policies adopted in their favor.  In Ohio, this meant a concerted effort toward what critics say further weakens the state’s renewable energy and efficiency standards. On Dec. 8, lawmakers sent a bill to Gov. John Kasich that makes those standards voluntary for the next two years. Advocates and others have since called on Kasich to veto the plan.  However, a different story played out in Illinois and Michigan, where clean energy was just part of broader statewide energy plans. In Illinois, Exelon pushed lawmakers for subsidies that would help keep open two uneconomic nuclear plants there at $2.4 billion over the next 10 years. Clean energy advocates supported the legislation, though, because it would update the state’s renewable energy standard in a way that will lead to more in-state solar and wind investment. In the past, Exelon had opposed such a measure out of fear that renewables would compete with its nuclear fleet.

Northern Michigan city aims for 100 percent renewables by 2020

Midwest Energy News | Posted on December 22, 2016

Local officials in Traverse City voted Monday night to become the second Michigan city looking to meet 100 percent of municipal electricity needs from renewable sources. Traverse City Commissioners unanimously approved a resolution to set a goal of 100 percent renewables by 2020 to power city services, such as streetlights, a wastewater treatment plant and government buildings.

The Energy Department helped start a revolution – and doesn’t know who to hand it off to

Washington Post | Posted on December 22, 2016

As the Obama administration prepares to leave office, it is seeking to underscore just how much has changed in the last eight years in the way we get energy — and to take some credit for it.  Since 2008, costs for wind and solar have plunged by 40 and 60 percent, respectively, according to an analysis provided by the Energy Department. That’s even as the United States has installed 100 gigawatts, or billion watts, of generating capacity in the two technologies combined (75 gigawatts of wind, 25 of solar).Meanwhile, we now have 500,000 electric vehicles on the road, thanks largely to a 70 percent drop in battery costs. The federal government can’t take credit for all of this (industry invested too, states also promoted renewable energy, and so on), but it helped drive much of it through research investments over decades, said David Friedman, the Energy Department’s acting assistant secretary for energy efficiency and renewable energy.“The Department of Energy has really changed the world when it comes to energy, and that’s part of a global competition that’s underway,” said Friedman.

MI: Gov. Rick Snyder 'fired up,' plans to sign energy overhaul

Michigan Live | Posted on December 20, 2016

Ultimately, it was new language around energy choice -- the 10 percent of Michigan's electric market that is allowed to use alternative energy suppliers instead of their incumbent utilities -- that helped push the package over the edge. Ultimately, the compromise made changes to energy efficiency, electric choice and solar net metering provisions that satisfied almost everybody. The main bill, Senate Bill 437, passed the House 79-28 and the Senate confirmed the changes 33-4. The bill focusing on renewable energy, Senate Bill 438, passed the House 76-31 and the Senate confirmed the changes 33-4.

Colorado agriculture plummets

Durango Herald | Posted on December 20, 2016

Income declines to level not seen since 1986. Statewide income from farms and ranches is projected to fall to $444 million in 2016 from about $1.3 billion in 2015. The fall can be largely attributed to the decline in cattle prices because the industry accounts for the largest portion of the state’s agriculture economy, said Stephen Koontz, a professor at Colorado State University. He expects prices for cattle will not level off until 2018, and producers will likely not see the gains that the Trans-Pacific Partnership could have fueled because President-elect Donald Trump does not support it.