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Energy News

Massachusetts Lawmakers Pass Bill that Opens New Prospects for Microgrids

Microgrid Knowledge | Posted on August 8, 2018

Energy insiders see the emergence of new microgrid opportunities in Massachusetts from clean energy legislation passed last week and now awaiting the signature of Gov. Charlie Baker.An Act to Advance Clean Energy (H.4857) won unanimous Senate support and near-unanimous House support, with only one nay vote. The legislation opens up prospects for microgrids via several pro-distributed energy initiatives.“HR 4857 is a positive for microgrids, storage, combined heat and power, and cogenerated district energy,” said Jack Griffin, vice president and general manager of Boston-based SourceOne.

Degrading plastics revealed as source of greenhouse gases

Science Daily | Posted on August 2, 2018

Researchers have found that several greenhouse gases are emitted as common plastics degrade in the environment. Their study reports the unexpected discovery of the universal production of greenhouse gases methane and ethylene by the most common plastics when exposed to sunlight.

Biodiesel Challenges Waivers in Court

DTN | Posted on August 1, 2018

Biofuel, petroleum and environmental interests have filed legal briefs in a broader lawsuit challenging the EPA on its implementation of the 2018 Renewable Fuel Standard volumes, according to documents filed with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit in Washington. Petroleum, biodiesel and environmental interest groups are attacking the 2018 volumes rule on a number of fronts.Those include a challenge to EPA's granting of small-refinery waivers; an agency decision not to consider a petition to change the RFS point of obligation from refiners and importers of gasoline and diesel to ethanol blenders; the process used to set volumes for advanced biofuels, including biodiesel; and the agency's alleged lack of consideration for how the volumes could affect endangered species.EPA also faces separate lawsuits by biofuel and agriculture interest groups on the agency's granting of small-refinery waivers. 

America spends over $20bn per year on fossil fuel subsidies.

The Guardian | Posted on July 31, 2018

Imagine that instead of taxing cigarettes, America subsidized the tobacco industry in order to make each pack of smokes cheaper.A report from Oil Change International (OCI) investigated American energy industry subsidies and found that in 2015–2016, the federal government provided $14.7bn per year to the oil, gas, and coal industries, on top of $5.8bn of state-level incentives (globally, the figure is around $500bn). And the report only accounted for production subsides, excluding consumption subsidies (support to consumers to lower the cost of fossil fuel use – another $14.5bn annually) as well as the costs of carbon and other fossil fuel pollutants.At a time when we need to transition away from fossil fuels as quickly as possible, the federal and state governments are giving the industry tens of billions of dollars to make the production of their dirty, dangerous products more profitable.

Pennsylvanians who live near fracking are more likely to be depressed

Environmental Health News | Posted on July 31, 2018

eople who live near unconventional natural gas operations such as fracking are more likely to experience depression, according to a new study.They found that people living near fracking-related operations are more likely to be depressed than the general population, and that stress and depression went up among people living closest to more and bigger natural gas wells.

Administration predicts ‘moderate’ impacts from new Keystone XL route

The Hill | Posted on July 31, 2018

The Trump administration released a new environmental review for a portion of the proposed Keystone XL oil pipeline, predicting some “moderate” impacts from its construction and operation. In its 300 page draft report, the State Department found that some of the biggest impacts from the project’s new route in Nebraska include injuries to wetlands and vegetation, but says much of the impact would be temporary. Monday’s release is just the latest development in a years-long, contentious fight over the Keystone pipeline. Keystone XL once was at the center of environment and energy policy in the United States, and President Trump acted swiftly after his 2017 inauguration to approve it, fulfilling a campaign promise. The report was required because of the Nebraska Public Service Commission’s vote in November 2017 to allow TransCanada Corp. to build the controversial pipeline only on an alternative route, not the one that it had preferred and that the Trump administration had initially approved earlier that year.

Local governments take up effort to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, combat climate change

Wisconsin State Journal | Posted on July 31, 2018

Local municipalities are taking up the reins to combat global climate change as scientists around the world continue to sound alarm bells warning of the possibly irreversible effects of using greenhouse-gas emitting sources of energy.The Middleton City Council passed a resolution this month setting goalposts for utilizing renewable energy sources in 100 percent of energy consumption city-wide — for the city government’s operations but also for community residents and companies.Middleton’s plan is just one in the region either laid out or in the works.Dane County, which boasts 100 percent renewable electricity use for government functions, hopes to complete and roll out an expanded sustainability plan in the spring. In March 2017, the Madison City Council passed a resolution to develop a plan laying out goals for zero-carbon emissions energy use in city operations and methods to reach those goals.

FirstEnergy won’t say what it’s done with Ohio grid modernization money

| Posted on July 31, 2018

Ohio regulators let FirstEnergy collect $168 million a year from ratepayers with virtually no strings attached for how it is spent.Ohio ratepayers have paid FirstEnergy’s utilities roughly a quarter of a billion dollars since January 2017 under a distribution modernization rider. The mandate for consumers to pay the rider is currently on appeal before the Supreme Court of Ohio. Meanwhile, FirstEnergy’s utilities have been collecting the $168 million per year, and regulators could renew the charge for another two years after 2019.“To date, FirstEnergy has stymied the efforts of the state-designated advocate of its consumers to discover information about its subsidy charges,” Ohio Consumers’ Counsel Bruce Weston and assistant counsel Zachary Woltz said in a July 13 brief.  

Russian Hackers Reach U.S. Utility Control Rooms, Homeland Security Officials Say

Wall Street Journal | Posted on July 26, 2018

Hackers working for Russia claimed “hundreds of victims” last year in a giant and long-running campaign that put them inside the control rooms of U.S. electric utilities where they could have caused blackouts, federal officials said. They said the campaign likely is continuing.

Indiana cancellation of efficiency program took heavy toll, study says

Energy News Network | Posted on July 26, 2018

A report released by an Indiana watchdog group confirms what many consumer and energy efficiency advocates had long feared: that the rollback of Indiana’s energy efficiency mandate in 2014 has had serious costs. An analysis commissioned by the Citizens Action Coalition found ratepayers and utilities have missed out on almost $150 million in savings that would have accrued between 2015 to 2019. It also concluded that the legislation meant to replace the canceled program has done little to fill the gap.