Senate critics confront FERC nominee at confirmation hearing

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The top Republican on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee yesterday said she cannot support President Obama’s highly controversial pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, despite his efforts to respond to myriad attacks from libertarian and conservative groups. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said she could not support Ron Binz, a former Colorado regulator. “I don’t think I’m going to be able to support your nomination, and I say that reluctantly,” Murkowski said. “The process will move forward; I recognize we need a full commission.”

Emails show Binz asking BP execs for help with FERC confirmation

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

The nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman reached out to executives at oil giant BP PLC for help with the confirmation process, according to emails released yesterday by a conservative think tank opposing his nomination. Former Colorado energy regulator Ron Binz thanked three BP officials in a July 25 email, part of a packet of emails obtained by the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic and the Independence Institute in Colorado through a Freedom of Information Act request from FERC.

Hearing leaves Ron Binz with few votes to spare

Source: By DARIUS DIXON | 9/18/13 5:03 AM EDT, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

Ron Binz, the president’s pick to lead the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission, charged into his Tuesday confirmation hearing with a central message: I’m no radical tree-hugger. But critical pieces moved into place that could sink or stall his bid — for instance, losing the support of the Energy Committee’s top Republican, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. That makes it more likely that Binz’s fate will come down to the decisions of two fossil-fuel-friendly Democrats, West Virginia Sen. Joe Manchin and Louisiana Sen. Mary Landrieu, neither of whom tipped their hands Tuesday.

North-central Nebraska transmission line could spark energy boom

Source: By Daniel Wheaton /Omaha World-Herald News Service • Posted: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

The Nebraska Public Power District’s plans for a new transmission line spanning 220 miles across north-central Nebraska is sparking excitement in the area. Known as the R-Project, it would create a 345,000-volt transmission line starting at the Gerald Gentleman Station near Sutherland, heading north and then turning due east to the Holt/Antelope county line. NPPD officials have said the $290 million project could open the door for expansion of renewable energy.

Energy Future Coalition’s Jimison discusses regulatory, economic challenges to transforming grid

Source: Monica Trauzzi, E&E • Posted: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

How can regulators and utilities work together to make the United States’ often rigid electricity sector more flexible? During today’s OnPoint, John Jimison, managing director at the Energy Future Coalition and a former senior counsel to the House Energy and Commerce Committee, discusses a new report, “America’s Power Plan,” that provides a blueprint for state and local lawmakers and business leaders to address the challenges facing the electric power system.

Turbine maker thinks big as companies crowd into rebounding wind power market

Source: Special to E&E • Posted: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

With blades as long as nine double-decker buses and a rotor sweeping an area bigger than the world’s largest Ferris wheel, the world’s most powerful wind turbine is being built by Vestas Wind Systems A/S as analysts predict a renaissance in the hard-hit industry. The Danish wind turbine manufacturer has produced and is now testing the 80-meter (262-foot) blade prototype at its research and development center on Britain’s Isle of Wight, while a 300-ton nacelle that will hold the gearbox, generator and other equipment for the turbine dubbed V164-8.0 MW is assembled at an old shipyard in Denmark.

New power plant emission rules, the first big step of Obama’s climate plan, will emerge this week

Source: Tiffany Stecker and Christa Marshall, E&E reporters • Posted: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

U.S. EPA will unveil standards for new power plants this week, the first step in a three-year rollout of regulations to address the largest stationary sources of greenhouse gas emissions in the United States. The new power plant proposal will give a sense of how carbon capture and storage (CCS) — the promising but controversial practice of removing carbon dioxide from smokestacks and storing it underground or using it for industrial purposes — will feature in a rule on existing plants.

Renaissance man who’s ‘anything but shy’ faces fight for FERC gavel

Source: Hannah Northey, E&E reporter • Posted: Tuesday, September 17th, 2013

Depending on whose spin you believe, President Obama’s nominee for Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is either a radical environmentalist hellbent on greening the electric grid no matter the cost or a level-headed energy regulator getting a bad rap. But friends of FERC nominee Ron Binz — whose confirmation hearing is today before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee — say the man is a lot more interesting than the caricature being drawn by either side.

U.S. power grid operators face tension between integration and independence — FERC chairman

Source: Nathanael Massey, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

As the United States moves to modernize its aging power grid, it is being pulled in two different, and sometimes opposed, directions, the chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission said yesterday. On the one hand, many consumers are pushing for a greater degree of autonomy from traditional power systems, opting for a more decentralized system of small operators producing and distributing energy on a local scale, said Chairman Jon Wellinghoff, speaking during a briefing co-hosted by the Environmental and Energy Study Institute (EESI) and the German Marshall Fund of the United States.

New power plant rule legally sturdier but still requires CCS — source

Source: Jean Chemnick, E&E reporter • Posted: Monday, September 16th, 2013

U.S. EPA may be poised to introduce a proposal for new power plant carbon dioxide emissions that is legally sturdier than the one it issued last year but that still relies on a costly emissions-reduction technology that coal-fired utilities say is not commercially viable.