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Energy News

Electric car sales pass half a million in US

Newsweek | Posted on January 3, 2017

More than 500,000 electric cars have been sold in the United States, according to a report from an electric vehicle charger operator.  The sale of more than 130,000 plug-in hybrid or battery-powered electric vehicles between November 2015 and November 2016 pushed the total number of electric cars sold in the U.S. to 542,000. The milestone was highlighted in a report by Chargepoint, first seen by the technology news website Recode, which also ranked the U.S. with the highest electric vehicle adoption. California, home of Silicon Valley and Tesla, has the highest number of electric vehicles in operation, ahead of Georgia, Washington, Florida and Texas.

Ohio Governor Vetoes Bill to Extend Freeze on Renewable Energy

Bloomberg | Posted on January 3, 2017

Ohio Governor John Kasich rejected a bill to extend a freeze on a law that requires utilities in the state to buy more electricity from renewable sources including wind and solar power.  The bill would have extended for two years a delay on the state’s requirement that utilities get 12.5 percent of their power from renewables by 2027, slowing development of the clean energy technologies and threatening investment and jobs, Kasich said Tuesday in a statement. House bill 554 would also have made the goal voluntary.  Environmental groups applauded Kasich’s move, which restores the state’s path to getting additional sources of renewable energy starting Jan. 1. Ted Ford, president of Ohio Advanced Energy Economy, said their analysis showed resuming energy efficiency and renewable energy investment could save the state $3.3 billion by 2027.

Gov. Rick Snyder on Michigan’s energy future

Midwest Energy News | Posted on January 3, 2017

In the waning hours of the Michigan legislature’s 2016 lame-duck session, Gov. Rick Snyder’s administration played a key role in ensuring that major energy reforms that were two years in the making crossed the finish line. In fact, Snyder helped broker a deal which initially might have narrowly passed in his view, but ended up gaining widespread support in the Republican-controlled legislature. “This was one of the finest illustrations of good, bipartisan and broad-based work I’ve seen in my time as governor,” Snyder, also a Republican, said

ESPA study suggests water credit trading program

Capital Press | Posted on January 3, 2017

A research study has found junior groundwater users on Idaho’s Eastern Snake Plain could reduce the financial sting of a settlement agreement by strategically idling marginal land and selling credits to other groundwater users. WestWater Research assigned an intern, Ryan Shepler, to evaluate the most effective ways for Idaho Ground Water Appropriators, Inc., groundwater districts to meet a 240,000 acre-foot annual reduction in aquifer withdrawals mandated under the terms of a 2015 settlement with the Surface Water Coalition.The reduction averages 12 percent per user, with the amount varying based on priority dates of groundwater rights.Shepler explained a credit program would pay willing growers scheduled to plant low-value crops, such as wheat, on marginal ground to fallow those acres. Resulting irrigation credits could then be sold to others within the groundwater district in need of water to finish off high-value crops on more productive land.

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.