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Lessons from Germany’s aggressive path to integrate renewables on the grid

Midwest Energy News | Posted on February 2, 2017

As policymakers in Ohio and elsewhere look to modernize their aging electric grid, concepts in Germany’s changing energy system suggest how today’s decisions can set the stage for a greater share of renewables and more energy security.  Germany has committed to reducing its reliance on fossil fuels with a shift known as the Energiewende. The country sees the shift not only as “an important energy project, but also an important economic project,” said spokesperson Beate Baron at the Federal Ministry of Economics and Energy in Berlin. “This of course can serve as a model for other countries as well.”  Germany and other countries, including the United States, have traditionally operated their electric grids with the view that some amount of power would always be needed as “baseload” to meet constant demands placed upon the electric system, and additional power plants would ramp up or down as necessary to meet peak power needs.


Buffett's BNSF cuts ethanol shipper costs amid push for safer train cars

Reuters | Posted on February 2, 2017

BNSF Railway Co will start offering discounts to ethanol shippers this April if they agree to use new, safer train cars, as it pushes to scrub puncture-prone ones from its rail lines at a faster pace than required by U.S. regulations.  The move by Warren Buffett's Berkshire Hathaway rail company comes even as ethanol shippers have been slow to embrace the new train cars mandated by sweeping new regulations enacted in 2015 after a series of fiery crude oil derailments.


Exxon Praises ‘Monumental’ Paris Agreement in Signal to Trump

Bloomberg | Posted on February 2, 2017

Exxon Mobil Corp., the U.S. oil giant that’s facing investigations over what it knew and when about climate change, sees the Paris agreement to mitigate global warming as a “monumental” achievement, according to a top executive.  The company supports the December 2015 Paris accord as a “very meaningful and constructive process,” William M. Colton, Exxon’s vice president for corporate strategic planning, said in an interview in Berlin. Adhering to the accord’s commitments are achievable and compatible with Exxon’s business strategy, he said. Exxon “fully appreciates and acknowledges the risk posed by climate change,” Colton said, following a panel discussion at an energy conference. “We really admire the Paris process, where you have all the major nations of the world coming together on a global basis -- for it is a global challenge.”


SunShot $1 per Watt Solar Cost Goal: Mission Accomplished,

Green Tech Media | Posted on January 31, 2017

With the advent of $1.00-per-watt (DC) pricing for utility fixed-tilt PV systems, the solar industry has crushed the SunShot Program's $1.00-per-watt goal for 2020 three years early.


Net metering bill would make Indiana an outlier on solar policy

Midwest Energy News | Posted on January 31, 2017

As dozens of states consider adopting fees and less-favorable rates to tilt the scales against net metering, advocates say a proposal in Indiana would offer rooftop solar customers the worst deal in the country.  Senate Bill 309, would end net metering by 2027 at the latest, and earlier than that for new panel installations by customers of utilities that hit caps on net metering capacity. The new rules would require customers to buy all the electricity they consume from the utility at a retail rate while selling everything they generate to the utility at a lower wholesale rate. If the bill passes, Indiana would be the only state in the country with a “buy all, sell all” model that doesn’t credit customers at the full retail rate for the energy they consume from their own solar panels, said Autumn Proudlove, senior policy analyst at the NC Clean Energy Tech Center, which tracks net metering rules around the country. “I don’t think that I’ve seen any other models proposed that would be less financially favorable to solar customers since most of them allow the customers to at least self-consume energy from the system,” she said.


Nebraska bills would allow more community solar, tap lottery for funding

Midwest Energy News | Posted on January 31, 2017

A pair of bills now before the Nebraska legislature would provide a new potential funding source for community solar projects, and mandate that utilities allow community solar projects initiated by their customers. LB 610 would explicitly allow the Nebraska Environmental Trust to consider issuing grants to community solar projects. The trust’s funds, coming from a portion of the state’s lottery proceeds, amount to roughly $16 million yearly.


Pipeline leaks 138,600 gallons of diesel in northern Iowa

Des Moines Register | Posted on January 27, 2017

An investigation is ongoing on how a pipeline leaked 138,600 gallons of diesel fuel in Worth County early Wednesday morning, according to Magellan Midstream Partners L.P., the pipeline company. "It’s a big one — it’s significant," said Jeff Vansteenburg, a field office supervisor for the Iowa Department of Natural Resources. "The responsible party is Magellan, so they’ll have to bear the cost of clean up." The pipeline leaked on private agricultural land, said Karen Grimes, spokeswoman for the Iowa DNR. There is a small stream near the leak, but Grimes said no surface water has been contaminated. The Iowa DNR has not uncovered any underground water contamination.


Appeals court to decide future of California carbon auctions

Washington Post | Posted on January 27, 2017

Businesses looking to invalidate California’s fee for carbon pollution took their arguments to a state appeals court Tuesday in a case that could determine the future of one of California’s signature efforts to combat climate change. With a central piece of Gov. Jerry Brown’s legacy on the line, lawyers for the state and for environmental advocacy groups defended a program that has been closely watched around the world as a potential model for controlling carbon emissions.


US solar power employs more people than oil, coal and gas combined

Independent | Posted on January 27, 2017

The latest report from the US Department of Energy (DOE) reveals solar energy accounts for the largest proportion of employers in the Electric Power Generation sector, with wind energy the third largest, while the coal industries have declined in the past 10 years. Solar energy employed 374,000 people over the year 2015-2016, making up 43 per cent of the sector’s workforce, while the traditional fossil fuels combined employed 187,117, making up just 22 per cent of the workforce, according to the report.


California proposes ambitious new climate goals

The Hill | Posted on January 26, 2017

California formally proposed a 40 percent slash in the state’s greenhouse gas emissions, minutes after President Trump was inaugurated.  The state’s Air Resources Board said that 40 percent cut by 2030, compared with 1990 levels, would be the most ambitious climate goal in North America. “Climate change is impacting California now, and we need to continue to take bold and effective action to address it head on to protect and improve the quality of life in California,” Mary Nichols, the board’s chairwoman, said in a statement.  Scott Pruitt, the nominee to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, said at a confirmation hearing that he would consider ending California’s decades-old authority to enforce its own limits on emissions from cars and trucks.  The California plan would extend its cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases through 2030, cut the carbon intensity of fuels used for transportation and put more than 4 million zero-emission vehicles on the roads.


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