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Energy News

Hawaii ‘Postcard From the Future’ for Renewables

Bloomberg | Posted on February 21, 2019

Near Honolulu, researchers are testing how to generate electricity from the energy in ocean waves. And Hawaii’s largest electric utility is among the first to widely use advanced “smart” inverters to help manage the flow of electricity from rooftop solar panels into the power grid. Such projects help explain why Hawaii is becoming a laboratory for how to integrate wind, solar, geothermal, and other renewable energy into an electric power grid—something the state must do in order to meet its first-in-the-nation goal to use only renewable electricity in the future.California approved a similar renewables mandate in 2018. But Hawaii is a lab for how to integrate renewable energy into the power grid because it already has the highest use of rooftop solar in the country and its power grids are small and completely isolated from one another, Andy Hoke, a senior engineer at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, told Bloomberg Environment.The Hawaii Legislature passed a law in 2015 requiring the state to obtain all of its electric power from renewables by 2045—a goal California, New York, and other states have tried to emulate.

States Consider ‘Surge Pricing’ for Power

Pew Trust | Posted on February 21, 2019

Just as more people fly during the holidays and drive during rush hour, the demand for electricity peaks at predictable times. Flights and some toll roads cost the most when demand is highest. Now California wants residents to get used to the same dynamic when it comes to purchasing electricity.Starting in March, the state’s utility regulator will require major utilities to increase prices during the hours when electricity is in high demand and lower prices the rest of the time — a change that’s expected to affect some 6 million households.It’s Uber’s surge pricing, but for your light switch.Electricity might not feel like a hot commodity when you come home to an empty house at 5:30 p.m., but across California, millions of people also are returning from work, bumping down the thermostat a few degrees and throwing in a load of laundry before prepping dinner.All that demand at once forces utilities to ramp up production, typically turning on additional generators that rely on fossil fuels. That costs utilities more, and it releases more dirty emissions.

Criminal investigation of Mountain Valley Pipeline underway

The Roanoke Times | Posted on February 21, 2019

The Mountain Valley Pipeline is under criminal investigation into possible violations of the Clean Water Act and other federal laws, one of the companies building the project has confirmed. EQM Midstream Partners, the lead company in the joint venture, made the disclosure in an annual report filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.Since construction of the buried natural gas pipeline through Southwest Virginia started last year, crews have repeatedly run afoul of regulations meant to keep muddy runoff from contaminating nearby streams and rivers.Although Mountain Valley has been named in enforcement actions brought by the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality, and in a lawsuit filed by Attorney General Mark Herring, this week’s filing is the first confirmation of a criminal investigation.

POET Makes Fast Company Annual List of “World’s Most Innovative Companies”

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on February 21, 2019

POET and its new JIVE asphalt product have earned the No. 3 spot in this year’s Fast Company “World’s Most Innovative Companies.” POET made the annual ranking in the transportation category thanks to its new proprietary asphalt rejuvenator and modifier, now being used to pave roadways in states across the U.S.

Does clean energy include nuclear? Pennsylvania is latest state to debate

Energy News Network | Posted on February 19, 2019

Clean energy advocates in Pennsylvania are weighing whether to throw their support behind a proposed bailout for the state’s nuclear power plants. The state’s environmental groups have said little publicly about the plan recently floated by two legislators, but behind the scenes some see the debate as a chance to make more progress on energy efficiency and renewables.Much like the Green New Deal, though, any bargain will have to contend with decades of cultural and political baggage with potential to splinter support.“Historically, nuclear power has been one of the big bugaboos of the environmental movement. That continues to the present,” said John Quigley, director of the Center for Environment, Energy, and Economy at Harrisburg University and a former state environmental secretary.

New Mexico Bill would provide San Juan College with $500,000 for renewable energy program

Farmington Daily Times | Posted on February 19, 2019

San Juan College is getting attention in Santa Fe for its potential in training a renewable energy industry workforce.  A bill introduced in the New Mexico House of Representatives would turn the college into a Center of Excellence for renewable energy. It would be one of four Centers of Excellence in the state. Each center would receive $500,000.Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham has pushed to create the centers. Each would have its own focus. For example, New Mexico State University’s focus would be agriculture and University of New Mexico would focus on bioscience. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the fourth center of excellence, would focus on cybersecurity.“I think we were selected based on our long history of working with our energy partners,” said San Juan College President Toni Pendergrass.Nora Sackett, a spokeswoman for the governor, said in an email statement that the college’s former renewable energy program was highly ranked and considered one of the best in the nation.

America’s trains are a drag. The Green New Deal wants to fix that.

VOX | Posted on February 18, 2019

High-speed trains already compete with planes in many parts of the world. They also have far lower carbon emissions.Specifically, the section of the FAQ on transportation calls to “build out high-speed rail at a scale where air travel stops becoming necessary.” The resolution itself doesn’t mention air travel at all but does call for the goal of “investing in ... clean, affordable, and accessible transportation; and high-speed rail” as part of a 10-year national mobilization.

U.S. settles with Antero over water pollution from fracking

Reuters | Posted on February 14, 2019

The U.S. Justice Department reached a settlement with oil and natural gas company Antero Resources Corp over claims it violated the Clean Water Act at 32 different sites in West Virginia, mostly tied to fracking. Antero agreed to pay a penalty of $3.15 million and provide mitigation for affected sites, estimated to cost $8 million. The violations involved unauthorized disposal of materials into local waterways associated with hydraulic fracturing, also known as fracking, for natural gas extraction, the Justice Department said. Antero identified half of the sites through its own self-audit.

Florida’s about-face on solar power

Christian Sciene Monitor | Posted on February 14, 2019

Despite being the Sunshine State, Florida has long lagged when it comes to tapping into the abundant rays overhead. But now that is changing as utility companies in the state have begun to recognize solar power as a vital component of a diverse energy future.Florida utilities’ newfound embrace for solar power echoes trends seen across the country, as the renewable energy source has shifted from a fringe indulgence for wealthy environmentalists to becoming a conventional part of power production.“Five years ago it was more of an emerging technology,” says Maggie Clark, senior manager of state affairs for the Southeast region at the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA). “As it’s become a mainstream energy resource,” she says, “there’s an element of comfort with it [for utilities,] as just any other generating asset.”With abundant sunshine, Florida ranks ninth in the United States for solar potential. But as recently as 2015, just one-tenth of a percent of the state’s power came from the sun.

Economic Benefits Of Cap And Trade Will Outweigh The Costs In Oregon

Oregon Public Broadcasting | Posted on February 12, 2019

A new economic report finds Oregon’s proposed cap-and-trade planwould create thousands of jobs and boost household income while creating only modest increases in energy prices. Moreover, the report concludes, the more aggressive interim cap on greenhouse gas emissions proposed for 2035 would create even more economic benefits than a more gradual decline in emissions from 2021 and 2050.An analysis by Berkeley Economic Advising and Research finds capping greenhouse gas emissions as proposed in House Bill 2020would spur widespread adoption of energy-saving technology by the year 2050.That, in turn, will create significant economic growth, said the research company’s director, David Roland-Holst.