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Energy News

New York's 'zero-emission' nuclear power credits upheld by utility regulators

Mass Live | Posted on January 3, 2017

Utility regulators in New York this week signaled their continued support for a clean energy plan that would subsidize three nuclear power plants for twelve years as a "bridge to renewables." The New York Public Service Commission rejected or delayed 17 petitions to reconsider aspects of its Clean Energy Standard, which contains the nuke-friendly zero emission credits, reports RTO Insider. The energy standard requires New York to acquire 50 percent of its energy from low-carbon resources by 2030. The zero-emission credits would support the nuclear plants, which were in danger of closing for financial reasons. Critics say the credits would cost ratepayers $7.6 billion over the program's 12-year lifespan. They claim the public service commission is overstepping its authority, and that the program will undermine fair wholesale power markets.

Net metering rules in Pennsylvania are challenged

earthship 360 | Posted on January 3, 2017

An Allegheny County solar developer is challenging the state Public Utility Commission’s authority to adopt new alternative energy regulations in a complaint filed this week in Commonwealth Court.  David Hommrich of Green Tree, who is representing himself in the case, wants the court to declare that the agency has no authority to put limits on a clean energy incentive granted by the Legislature in 2007. The PUC’s regulations, which took effect on Nov. 19, narrow the kinds of alternative energy projects that qualify for net metering — a policy in which owners of solar panels and other renewable energy systems are paid retail rates when they produce more electricity than they use and send it back to the grid. Mr. Hommrich said the new rules would strangle his plans for three, 3-megawatt solar projects he intends to build between now and 2019.

7 states will have higher gas taxes Jan. 1

USA Today | Posted on January 3, 2017

Motorists in nine states will see changes in gas taxes at the pump on New Year’s Day, and more than a dozen states will examine adjustments in 2017. Pennsylvania has the largest gas tax in the country, at 50.4 cents per gallon, according to the Tax Foundation. The rate will rise 7.9 cents per gallon in the new year, based on a 2013 law. The other big increase is in Michigan, where the gas tax is 30.54 cents per gallon, according to the foundation. That rate will rise 7.3 cents per gallon, based on a 2015 law. Nebraska’s rate of 27.7 cents per gallon will go up 1.5 cents per gallon, as part of a four-step hike approved in 2015. Georgia, North Carolina, Indiana and Florida will each see modest gas tax increases of less than a penny per gallon, based on automatic adjustments in those states

Farmer turned lawyer helps make Iowa wind power go

Des Moines Register | Posted on December 29, 2016

Before many of the approximately 3,700 turbines dotting Iowa's fields and prairies went up, Des Moines real estate attorney Kathleen Law drafted those documents, sometimes working the phones to answer questions from farmers about the effects wind farms might have on their crops and livestock.  She works behind the scenes on behalf of wind-energy developers. But some credit the Iowa native who grew up on a family farm south of Lohrville with playing a significant role in the development of around 40 percent of Iowa’s overall wind capacity — more than 6,300 megawatts.

Iowa produced record ethanol output in 2016

Des Moines Register | Posted on December 29, 2016

Iowa's 43 ethanol plants produced a record 4.1 billion gallons of ethanol in 2016, according to a state trade group. The Iowa Renewable Fuels Association credits increases in gasoline demand, E10 blending and ethanol export opportunities for the slight uptick in production over 2015's 4 billion gallons.

Federal Permits Will Allow Wind Farms to Kill More Bald Eagles

cnsnews | Posted on December 22, 2016

New 30-year permits that will be issued next month by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service will quadruple the number of bald eagles that wind farms will collectively be allowed to kill per year and avoid prosecution under the 1940 Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. Under the new $36,000 “incidental take permits” - which are to be reviewed every five years by an independent third party – the number of bald eagles that can be killed by permit holders will increase from 1,100 currently allowed under 2009 regulations to 4,200 when the Final Rule goes into effect on Jan. 17, 2017.

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.