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Energy News

As energy mix becomes cleaner, Minnesotans paying less for it

Midwest Energy News | Posted on March 9, 2017

Consumers have seen flat or declining energy costs as renewable energy becomes a greater part of the energy mix of Minnesota and the nation. That’s one of the findings in the annual 2017 Sustainable Energy in America Factbook, published by Bloomberg New Energy Finance in partnership with the Business Council for Sustainable Energy. The report points out that in the United States, renewable energy, greater energy efficiency and low natural gas and gasoline prices have combined to drive down energy costs – as a percent of total household spending – to its lowest level in decades, according to business council president Lisa Jacobson.

Fuels America Cuts Ties With RFA

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on March 9, 2017

A coalition of the nation’s top biofuels advocates united together as Fuels America resolved to reject a move by Carl Icahn (Eye’-Kahn), owner of CVR Refining, to destabilize the Renewable Fuels Standard. They’ve also severed ties with the Renewable Fuels Association. Fuels America says it represents diverse groups that are working to protect America’s Renewable Fuels Standard. A Fuels America statement says, “We adamantly oppose any effort to derail the RFS by shifting the point of obligation and exempting certain refiners and fuel importers from their responsibility to deliver cleaner and more affordable fuel options for consumers.” The group says in Icahn’s conflicted role of refiner as well as White House advisor, he’s now attempting to mislead biofuels advocates into accepting changes to the Renewable Fuels Standard in exchange for changing outdated Environmental Protection Agency regulations that limit the summer sales of ethanol.

As wind grows, so does its opposition

EEnews | Posted on March 6, 2017

Oklahoma wind developers are fresh off a record-setting year. Only Texas installed more wind capacity in 2016, a fact that thrusts the Sooner State's power markets into a sudden transition and is agitating opponents along the way. Wind barely registered in Oklahoma a decade ago, but it now accounts for 20 percent of the state's electricity generation.Instead of celebrating, industry leaders find themselves facing a torrent of anti-wind legislation in Oklahoma City, the state capital. By one tally, 88 bills concerning wind development have been filed in the opening days of the legislative session. They range from a proposal to provide advanced notification for new developments to a plan backed by Gov. Mary Fallin (R) that would impose a 0.5-cent-per-kilowatt-hour tax on wind-generated electricity.Most expect Fallin's plan to fail. Wind's importance to the local power grid means there is little appetite among lawmakers to back a bill that could raise consumers' rates. But a proposal to end a tax credit that has helped make Oklahoma the third-largest producer of wind power in the country is gaining steam.

EPA halts inquiry into oil and gas industry emissions of methane

The Washington Post | Posted on March 6, 2017

The Environmental Protection Agency Thursday announced it was withdrawing a request that operators of existing oil and gas wells provide the agency with extensive information about their equipment and its emissions of methane, undermining a last-ditch Obama administration climate change initiative. The EPA announcement was a first step towards reversing an Obama administration effort – which  only got underway two days after Donald Trump’s election – to gather information about  methane, a short-lived but extremely powerful climate pollutant which is responsible for about a quarter of global warming to date. The agency cited a letter sent by the attorneys general of several conservative and oil-producing states complaining that the information request “furthers the previous administration’s climate agenda and supports … the imposition of burdensome climate rules on existing sites, the cost and expense of which will be enormous.” Scott Pruitt, the EPA administrator, said the agency took those complaints seriously. “Today’s action will reduce burdens on businesses while we take a closer look at the need for additional information from this industry,” he said in a statement.

Keystone XL Pipeline exempt from Trump’s ‘Buy American' policy

New York Daily News | Posted on March 6, 2017

President Trump recently signed an executive order demanding that any new oil pipelines on U.S. soil are built with American steel — but that apparently doesn't go for the controversial Keystone XL project, according to a report. Trump reignited the Keystone development in a January executive action that ordered the Secretary of Commerce to ensure that all pipeline projects "use materials and equipment produced in the United States." But a White House spokeswoman told Politico that the Keystone XL is apparently exempt from the order

Nation’s first integrated wind and solar project takes shape in Minnesota

Midwest Energy News | Posted on March 2, 2017

Later this year the nation’s first “integrated” wind and solar hybrid project will begin producing power outside a small city in northwest Minnesota. Developed by Juhl Energy, Inc., the Red Lake Falls Project combines two 2.3 megawatt (MW) General Electric 116-meter rotor turbines with a 1 MW solar photovoltaic installation. Dan Juhl, the company’s founder, said it will be the first project in the country to use wind integrated solar energy (WiSE) allowing turbines and panels to share a converter, which transforms electrical direct-current voltage for use on the grid.

Growth Energy Denounces Illegitimate Efforts to Rewrite RFS

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on March 2, 2017

Growth Energy condemned efforts by Carl Icahn, owner of CVR Refining, to strike a backroom deal with the Renewable Fuels Association that would irreparably change the Renewable Fuel Standard by shifting the point of obligation from oil refiners to fuel retailers and violating the Trump Administration’s commitment to the RFS. “If true, this proposal would eviscerate America’s progress under the RFS and impose indefensible costs on consumers,” said Emily Skor, CEO of Growth Energy. “Neither RFA nor Carl Icahn have the authority to strike a ‘deal.’ Mr. Icahn does not work for the U.S. government; he owns CVR Refining, which would profit directly from this change.  RFA does not represent a majority of the biofuels industry; RFA’s largest member is an oil refiner, which would also profit directly from such a change. They’re negotiating for the same side – and that is not the side of the ethanol industry or the American farmer.

Pioneering project combines wind and solar

Innovators Magazine | Posted on February 24, 2017

America’s first ever solar-wind hybrid power generation project is set to harness innovative technology supplied by GE Renewables.Expected to enter commercial operation in August, the 4.6MW community based project in Red Lake Falls, Minnesota, is being developed by Juhl Energy. It will use two 2.3-116 wind turbines from GE Renewable Energy’s Onshore Wind business supported by 1MW of solar power conversion equipment provided by GE’s Current business.Using GE’s Wind Integrated Solar Energy (WiSE) technology platform, the hybrid design gives the project the ability to produce power when it is most needed. In short, the solar provides summer peak energy, and the wind provides winter peak energy.

Six states propose new electric vehicle fees

Utility Drive | Posted on February 24, 2017

The Sierra Club says six states have proposed legislation this year that would add to the cost of owning an electric vehicle, worrying clean energy advocates who say owning emissions-free vehicles should be incentivized rather than taxed. States with new EV-fee bills include Indiana, South Carolina, Kansas, Tennessee, New Hampshire, and Montana. About 10 other states already have similar fees instituted. Advocates of the new fees say they are necessary to make up for falling gasoline taxes, which are used to fund road upkeep, as vehicles have become more efficient, and EVs would avoid the cost altogether.

Duke Energy ordered to defend restrictive solar policies in regulatory hearing

Charlotte Business Journal | Posted on February 24, 2017

N.C. regulators will hold hearings May 31 on claims by solar developer O2 EMC that Duke Energy is violating state and federal law by failing to connect three of 02’s solar projects to the power grid. Charlotte-based Duke (NYSE: DUK) denies any wrongdoing. It had asked the N.C. Utilities Commission in December to dismiss the complaints O2 had filed in October. The commission says it will defer consideration of Duke’s dismissal motion until it hears evidence at the hearing.