News

‘Build Back Better’ Hit a Wall, but Climate Action Could Move Forward

Source: By Coral Davenport and Lisa Friedman, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, January 20th, 2022

A small but growing number of Democrats in Congress want to move ahead with the climate portion of President Biden’s stalled spending bill, saying the urgency of a warming planet demands action and they believe they can muster enough votes to muscle it past Republican opposition. Faced with the possibility that Democrats could lose control of Congress in November’s midterm elections, the party is now looking to salvage what it can from the $2.2 trillion Build Back Better Act. The sweeping climate-change and social-policy bill passed the House but came to a halt last month when Joe Manchin III, the West Virginia Democrat and swing vote in the Senate, said he opposed it.

Predictions Favored Solar Over Wind Power. What Happened?

Source: By Lois Parshley, New York Times • Posted: Thursday, January 20th, 2022

Nearly 50 years later, wind and solar farms have sprouted across the country — but solar power accounted for less than 3 percent of American electricity last year, while wind made up around 8 percent. President Biden is aiming to run the U.S. energy grid entirely on clean energy within 15 years, and he has set a goal of cutting the cost of solar energy by 60 percent over the next decade. To hit these targets, policymakers might do well to explore why Seamans’ predictions were essentially upside down.

MidAmerican proposes adding enough wind, solar generation to meet all of Iowa customers’ power needs

Source: By Donnelle Eller, Des Moines Register • Posted: Thursday, January 20th, 2022

MidAmerican Energy said Wednesday that it’s seeking to invest $3.9 billion to develop more wind and solar energy, and explore new technologies that will push the company closer to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions. The Des Moines-based utility generated nearly 88% of the power used by its Iowa customers from renewable sources in 2021. In a filing with the Iowa Utilities Board, it proposes building 2,042 megawatts of wind and 50 megawatts of solar generation.  The filing said the projects would push MidAmerican’s wind generation to 9,300 megawatts and solar capacity to nearly 200 megawatts. In a statement, it said the wind initiative alone would enable it to provide renewable energy equal to its Iowa customers’ annual usage.

Automakers Develop Charging Networks for Greater EV Cred

Source: By Ryan Fisher, Bloomberg • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Frequent announcements of new electric vehicle model launches and multi-billion-dollar funding for electrification programs have pushed automakers’ commitments to roll out charging networks out of the news. It’s worth taking stock of these projects — a raft of meaty announcements in the area recently have positioned carmakers to become key owners of the future charging network.

States unwind FERC plans for grid expansion

Source: By Jeffrey Tomich, E&E News • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

A decade after federal regulators opened the door to competition for development of large transmission projects, states — acting at the request of incumbent utilities — are slamming it shut. The latest example is Michigan. In December, Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) signed into law a proposal pushed by Novi, Mich.-based ITC Holdings Corp. guaranteeing the company the opportunity to build any new large transmission line in its service area rather than having to compete for the project.

Power companies back EPA climate authority at Supreme Court

Source: By Niina H. Farah, Lesley Clark, E&E News • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Public and private power companies yesterday called for the Supreme Court to uphold EPA’s authority to broadly regulate how they produce electricity for the nation. Consolidated Edison Inc., Exelon Corp., National Grid USA and other firms expressed their support for EPA to require the sector to cut emissions using a range of approaches that look beyond technical controls at individual facilities. “Power companies, including the Power Company Respondents, favor emission-reduction approaches that allow for trading because these market-driven approaches enable the greatest emission reduction at the lowest cost,” the companies wrote in a “friend of the court” brief docketed yesterday in the case West Virginia v. EPA.

Exxon vows to have net-zero carbon emissions from operations by 2050

Source: By Sabrina Valle, Reuters • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Exxon Mobil Corp on Tuesday pledged to cut to zero its net carbon emissions from its global operations by 2050, a step in the direction of rivals minimizing their carbon footprints. Exxon’s 2050 plan, first mulled last year, covers emissions from its oil, gas, and chemical production and from the power those operations consume, so-called scope 1 and 2 targets. It made no commitment for emissions from consumers using those products.

Despite Aggressive Policies, California Not On Track For GHG, Air Goals

Source: By Curt Barry, InsideEPA • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

Despite California’s pioneering and aggressive policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and conventional air pollution, the state enters 2022 facing seemingly near-impossible odds of achieving its carbon-reduction targets and EPA’s legal mandates to attain criteria air pollution limits. “[W]hile the state has delivered on many fronts, the hard truth remains that we are no longer on track to meet our forthcoming climate goals, and even state leadership has expressed concern that we are off track,” notes F. Noel Perry, founder of Next 10, a clean energy policy group.

When Will EVs Go Mainstream? It Depends on Uncle Sam

Source: By Stephen Wilmot, Wall Street Journal • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

One of the biggest questions EV investors face is whether the U.S. will throw its weight in. President Biden’s infrastructure plan included $7.5 billion for chargers, but extra tax credits for EVs were part of the now-stalled “Build Back Better” bill. While there is an existing federal handout of up to $7,500 for each of the first 200,000 plug-ins a manufacturer sells, market leader Tesla and would-be challenger GM have already passed the milestone.

California’s butting solar rules

Source: BY MATTHEW CHOI, Politico • Posted: Wednesday, January 19th, 2022

The California Public Utilities Commission’s proposal to gut solar incentives for homeowners appears to be at odds with a California Energy Commission mandate for solar power in new homes. The California Energy Commission’s 2-year-old mandate requires the panels remain within the financial reach of homeowners, but investors are saying the CPUC proposal would make them practically worthless investment unless paired with expensive batteries.