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Energy News

Cruz aims to declaw energy security hawks with appropriations amendment

Biofuels Digest | Posted on May 16, 2016

In Washington, news arrived from Advanced Biofuels USA that the “Defense Department Budget put together by Republican leadership would stop the US Navy from buying biofuels for the Fleet. This would end the “Great Green Fleet” and related projected that Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus has heroically pushed despite great opposition.” “The Cruz amendment to the Senate version of the NDAA could be more damaging than this Section 8132,” a Washington source told The Digest, referring to a proposed amendment offered by to the National Defense Authorization Act by defeated Presidential candidate Ted Cruz of Texas, joined lately in the effort by James Inhofe of Oklahoma. That proposed amendment would add any financial contributions from a Federal agency other than the Department of Defense, including the Commodity Credit Corporation under the Department of Agriculture, for the purpose of reducing the total price of the fuel,” after “commodity price of the fuel” — when it comes to calculating the full burdened cost of drop-in fuels.

Wind on the Rise, Coal on the Wane

Institute for Energy Economics | Posted on May 16, 2016

A State by STate Snapshot

As coal dependence falters in the U.S., wind-powered electricity generation is on the rise. In less than a decade, the mix of fuels used for generating electricity has gone a major shift.

The two maps below show where the changes are most marked.  Twelve states, most of them in the wind-rich Great Plains or the upper Midwest, are getting more than 10 percent of their power now from wind, a threshold first passed by Iowa in 2009. Last year, two states—Iowa and South Dakota—generated more than 25 percent of their electricity from wind. On some days in some of the areas highlighted here, almost 50 percent of electricity demand is being met by wind.

This transition has happened quickly. In Texas, for instance, the country’s largest electricity market, wind’s share of generation jumped from 2.4 percent in 2007 to 11 percent last year.

Rules meant to boost renewable energy could backfire

VT Digger | Posted on May 15, 2016

A popular subsidy program for renewable energy is undergoing rule changes overseen by the Public Service Board. Much of the opposition to the proposed rules concerns what are called renewable energy credits, which are legal instruments that convey title to the renewable attributes of energy from sources such as solar and wind.

The widespread sale of these credits, which are produced every time a renewable energy source creates a megawatt-hour of electricity, means that almost none of the energy consumed in Vermont qualifies as solar- or wind-generated. Most of the credits currently get sold to Massachusetts and Connecticut utilities, which use them to meet minimum requirements on the amount of renewable energy they must purchase. Academics and industry professionals say this results in Vermont’s renewable energy development satisfying other states’ energy goals, while leaving Vermont to power itself mostly from the nuclear and fossil-fuel energy supplying much of New England’s electric grid.

North Dakota's top oil county wants state inspectors on the home front

Bismarck Tribune | Posted on May 13, 2016

Leaders in North Dakota’s top oil producing county pushed state health officials to consider stationing inspectors in Watford City to more closely monitor the oil and gas industry. A landfill in McKenzie County is the first to apply to the state to accept waste with radioactivity levels up to 50 picocuries per gram. McKenzie County leaders questioned how much state oversight there would be if the landfill gets approved for accepting the higher level of radioactivity.

Community solar systems popping up across rural America

Agri-Pulse | Posted on May 13, 2016

More and more people are going solar even if they don't own a home, don't have a sunny rooftop, can't afford to buy their own rooftop system, or simply don't want the fuss of installing and operating their own system.  Led by rural electric co-ops responding to their members, what's changed is the arrival of community solar, also known as “shared solar” or “solar gardens” or even “SolarCondo” ownership.

The Clean Energy Collective helped launch this new own or lease option with a community-owned solar array near El Jebel, Colorado in 2010. Now CEC has developed more than 90 community solar facilities shared by individual households and businesses which each receive credits on their monthly electricity bills for their share of the electric power generated and delivered to the grid. CEC has partnered with 28 utilities in 12 states to create these projects.

Deadly 2013 West Fertilizer plant fire was intentionally set

ABC13 | Posted on May 13, 2016

An intentionally set fire caused the 2013 explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant that killed 15 people, federal officials said Wednesday, saying the fire was "a criminal act."

New York plans to make fighting climate change good business | Posted on May 11, 2016

Under Governor Andrew Cuomo, New York is in setting ambitous climate goals, and may be pulling ahead of California.  Cuomo is trying to apply market forces to transform the way electricity id produced, transmitted and consumed. Depending on the details of the rules to be released from the Public Service Agency, New York's program could be the most ambitious effort in the the country to enlist the profit motive as an ally in the fight against global warming.

Wyoming Legislative Committee Considers Wind Tax Hike

Wyoming Pubmic Media | Posted on May 11, 2016

As Wyoming faces a growing budget shortfall, the state is looking at ways to generate additional revenue, including possibly raising the state's wind tax. The Joint Revenue Committee will consider a proposed tax hike this week.

Wyoming is currently the only state in the nation that taxes wind energy production. Producers pay $1 per megawatt hour of electricity generated. Last year, that brought in $3.8 million to the state and counties.

Tree removal for Minnesota solar project prompts legislative action

Nidwestern Energy News | Posted on May 11, 2016

In addition to a countywide moratorium, a controversy over the removal of trees for a Minnesota solar project has prompted an amendment in the state legislature.

The amendment, offered by state Rep. Marion O’Neill, would prohibit solar projects if more than 75 percent of the trees in an area larger than three acres would have to be cut down. The billto which her amendment was attached cleared the Minnesota House on April 27, though the Senate has yet to take it up.

The proposed legislation only applies to solar projects, and does not restrict other land-intensive uses, such as real estate development or mining.

Kansas will suspend all work on Clean Power Plan

The Wichita Eagle | Posted on May 11, 2016

Gov. Sam Brownback signed SB 318 Friday. The bill suspends “all state agency activities, studies, and investigations that are in furtherance of the preparation” of the plans that states are supposed to submit to the U.S. Environment Protection Agency as part of the Clean Power Plan.

The Clean Power Plan is an Obama administration initiative that sets a national goal of reducing carbon emissions by 32 percent of 2005 levels by 2030. Each state is required to submit a plan to the federal government on how to enact this under the policy.