Renewable Energy

March 10, 2014 2:13 PM | Posted by Masterson, John | Permalink

Ask wind developers, large and small, about the quality of the wind resources in Wyoming and you’ll see smiles and enthusiasm break out on their faces. Words like "unparalleled" and "world class" will be used. Yet the promise of a viable industry in Wyoming has fallen victim to the cumulative effects of bad public relations, poor decisions, and legislative and regulatory uncertainty that has stifled its development. This has led to a significant decrease in the development of Wyoming wind. The question becomes: what happens now to this resource?

**This is the introduction to an article published in the February 2014 issue of the Wyoming Lawyer, a publication of the Wyoming Bar Association. The full article on wind energy in Wyoming is available here.

read more
February 18, 2014 10:03 AM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Natural Resources Defense Council ‎‎(“NRDC”) and the Edison Electric Institute‎‎ (“EEI”) ‎announced last week that they agree – in principle – that certain changes are needed to the rate ‎structures of electric utilities. The agreement ‎ was announced during a joint presentation at the ‎Winter Meetings of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners ‎ (“NARUC”) ‎and has been covered by many sources as “a kumbaya moment” between two organizations that ‎rarely agree on anything. While it is refreshing to see two important stakeholders making ‎progress on these difficult subjects, the agreement is missing too many details to make it a real ‎breakthrough. read more
January 31, 2014 9:32 AM | Posted by Campbell, Tom | Permalink
On November 4, 2013, the Arizona Corporation Commission opened a docket entitled "Inquiry into potential impacts to the current utility model resulting from innovation and technological developments in generation and delivery of energy." (ACC Docket No. E-00000J-13-0375, available here.) This docket was initiated at the request of Commissioner Bob Burns who is concerned that new innovation and technology will force regulators to change the way they supervise utilities including how rates are set. read more
January 6, 2014 11:13 PM | Posted by McGimpsey, David | Permalink
Municipal leaders, both first-termers and seasoned incumbents, are reviewing energy usage by and within their municipalities. The buck often starts and stops with using CFL light bulbs, installing LED traffic lights, and adding insulation. Here’s one idea that more municipal leaders need to consider. read more
December 4, 2013 11:18 PM | Posted by Tom Campbell and Tom Dougherty | Permalink
The ongoing discussion between solar energy stakeholders and utilities concerning the merits of net metering and the best approach to ensure that ratepayers with installed solar power systems contribute appropriately to overall electric transmission and distribution costs spans the nation, with state utility commissions from Georgia to California considering this issue. However, nowhere is that discussion presently more heated and more closely watched than in Arizona and Colorado. read more
November 26, 2013 8:36 AM | Posted by Updegraff, Samantha | Permalink
Patents are often a company’s most important asset. Thus, when a company is contracting with the federal government, the contractor has to proceed with caution to avoid loss of patent rights. Government contracts can include various forms of patent and patent rights. If a contract is subject to a patent rights clause, the contractor must adhere to the Federal Acquisition Regulation to protect its patent rights. Essentially all government contracts are subject to a patent rights clause, except government contracts for construction work or architect-engineer services that involve only “standard types of construction” – a term that is defined in the FAR. See FAR 27.303(3). read more
November 25, 2013 8:46 AM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
On November 20, 2013, the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission, by a 3-2 vote, made significant changes to the way in which renewable energy standards are regulated. Consistent with the Renewable Energy Act, NMSA 1978, Section 62-16-1 et seq., the Commission retained the requirement that the renewable portfolio standard shall consist of no less than 15% for each plan year from 2015 through 2019 of the utility’s plan year total retail energy sales and no less than 20% for the plan year 2020 and thereafter of the utility’s plan year total retail energy sales. While the statute does not define what the makeup of the diversity requirements are, under the Commission's rules codified at 17.9.572 NMAC (New Mexico Administrative Code), a fully diversified renewable energy portfolio consists of no less than 30% of the renewable portfolio standard requirement to be met using wind energy, no less than 20% to be met using solar energy, and no less than 5% to be met using one or more of the other renewable technologies. Other renewable technologies include geothermal, fuel cells that are not fossil fueled, and biomass resources such as agricultural or animal waste, small diameter timber, landfill gas and other similar vegetation based resources. Renewable technologies do not include nuclear energy. read more
November 5, 2013 6:46 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) voted today to approve a revised ‎‎"position limits" rule intended to limit speculation in derivatives markets for certain energy, ‎agriculture, and metals commodities. The CFTC wants to limit the number of futures contracts a ‎single trader can hold, although a prior rule was vacated by the D.C. District Court in September ‎‎2012. The four categories of energy contracts covered by the rule are: (1) NYMEX Henry Hub ‎Natural Gas; (2) NYMEX Light Sweet Crude Oil; (3) NYMEX RBOB Gasoline; and (4) ‎NYMEX NY Harbor ULSD (heating oil).‎ read more
October 28, 2013 12:29 PM | Posted by McGimpsey, David | Permalink

In a move that had been in the works for a while, the U.S. Department of Energy recently announced that its Clean Energy Application Centers have been rebranded as CHP Technical Assistance Partnerships, or CHP TAPs. The rebranding builds upon the Executive Order issued last year promoting CHP (i.e., combined heat and power) and aims to foster constituent understanding of the assistance that the CHP TAPs provide.

read more
October 17, 2013 1:19 PM | Posted by Dougherty, Tom | Permalink
In a decision unprecedented in the United States, on October 17, 2013 the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) voted unanimously to adopt an energy storage requirement for the state’s investor-owned utilities.  The decision in Rulemaking 10-12-007 implements the goals of California Assembly Bill 2514 which required the CPUC to determine appropriate targets and deadlines for California load serving entities to procure viable and cost effective energy storage systems.  Since passage of this legislation in 2010, the CPUC has worked to develop a framework for policies and guidelines pertaining to energy storage including consideration of various energy storage technologies and their applicability to various end uses along the "value chain" of generation, transmission, distribution, and behind-the-meter.  The decision requires regulated entities to acquire 200 MW of energy storage capability by 2014 and a total of 1.325 GW of energy storage by 2020.  The CPUC identified the objectives of this requirement as promoting grid optimization, integration of renewable energy, and reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. read more
September 23, 2013 8:52 AM | Posted by Dougherty, Tom | Permalink
This month, the Energy Foundation and Energy Innovation Policy and Technology LLP released ‎‎“America’s Power Plan,” a report consisting of a series of white papers providing policy ‎recommendations which the authors describe as intended to “help the United States manage the ‎transition to a cleaner, healthier and safer energy future.” The report is the result of a collaborative ‎effort among numerous representatives from the utility, industrial, regulatory, academic, and NGO ‎sectors and, since its release, has generated significant “buzz” in the public debate regarding national ‎energy policy or the arguable lack thereof. “America’s Power Plan” includes policy recommendations ‎related to power markets, utility business models, financial risk management, distributed energy, and ‎transmission investment and siting. While all of these topics are necessary components of the national ‎energy discussion, the report’s recommendations concerning electric transmission policies are of ‎particular interest to energy stakeholders in the western United States where traditional as well as ‎renewable energy generation resources are frequently located remotely from the load centers they ‎are intended to serve and require significant transmission infrastructure.‎ read more
September 19, 2013 2:26 PM | Posted by McGimpsey, Dave | Permalink
The Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission (Commission) issued its order approving Lewis Roca Rothgerber client Headwaters Wind Farm LLC’s (Headwaters) new wind development in Indiana. Headwaters is a subsidiary of EDP Renewables North America LLC. Headwaters will sell the power from the 200 MW nameplate capacity wind farm to Indiana Michigan Power Company pursuant to a 20-year power purchase agreement. read more
September 4, 2013 11:48 AM | Posted by Dave McGimpsey | Permalink
FERC announced that it will hold a workshop on Wednesday, October 2, 2013, regarding ‎implementation of the Hydropower Regulatory Efficiency Act of 2013 (the "Act").  Specifically, ‎the workshop will investigate "the feasibility of a two-year process for the issuance of a license ‎for hydropower development at non-powered dams and closed-loop pumped storage projects in ‎compliance with [the Act]."  The workshop discussion will focus on four areas: 1) whether a two-year licensing process is ‎feasible; 2) the details of a two-year licensing process; 3) the criteria used to identify ‎projects appropriate for this process; and 4) potential pilot projects. read more
August 27, 2013 11:44 AM | Posted by McGimpsey, Dave | Permalink
California Governor Edmund Brown, Jr., recently declared a state of emergency for the City and ‎County of San Francisco. The City and County of San Francisco and the San Francisco Public ‎Utilities Commission had previously declared their own states of emergency and requested that ‎Governor Brown do the same. The reason: wildfires threatening critical electric infrastructure that ‎provides service to San Francisco. (These are the same wildfires threatening Yosemite National ‎Park). Transmission lines and two of the three hydropower facilities serving San Francisco have ‎been shut down as a result of the wildfires, which are threatening San Francisco’s electricity ‎supply. As a result of the declaration, San Francisco is authorized to spend $600,000 to purchase ‎electricity on the open market.‎ read more
July 3, 2013 11:00 AM | Posted by Graham, Justin | Permalink
Renewable portfolio standards (RPSs) that favor in-state renewable energy projects may be unconstitutional under the Commerce Clause. That is the recent opinion of Judge Richard Posner, an influential member of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. In Illinois Commerce Commission v. FERC, Judge Posner made his position clear regarding one such RPS: "Michigan cannot, without violating the Commerce Clause of Article I of the Constitution, discriminate against out-of-state renewable energy." The case involved a complex regulatory dispute over financing the construction of transmission lines from rural wind farms. Because the constitutionality of Michigan's RPS was not part of the dispute, Judge Posner's language about the Commerce Clause is technically non-binding dictum. Nevertheless, his challenge to the RPS is problematic for Michigan and a number of states with similar renewable energy requirements. read more
June 27, 2013 3:27 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
On Tuesday, President Obama described his administration's plans for addressing climate change in a speech at Georgetown University.  "The question is not whether we need to act," said the President.  "The question is whether we will have the courage to act before it's too late."  Not surprisingly, the centerpiece of his climate change proposal is reducing carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.  Under its Greenhouse Gas Reporting Rule, the EPA has been collecting emissions data since 2010.  In his speech, Obama challenged EPA to develop carbon dioxide emission standards for existing coal and gas-fired plants by 2015.  EPA is then expected to require emissions reductions under its GHG Tailoring Rule, which subjects greenhouse gases (GHG) to permitting under the Clean Air Act.  The Tailoring Rule has been in effect since the start of 2011, but EPA has not -- up to this point -- required significant reductions in GHG emissions through permitting. read more
April 25, 2013 4:07 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
According to research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance, worldwide investment in clean energy dropped to its lowest level in four years during the first three months of this year.  Total investment, which includes renewables, energy efficiency, and energy-smart technologies, was down 38% from the last quarter of 2012 and 22% from the same period (first quarter) of 2012.  The causes identified by BNEF include policy uncertainty in major markets like the U.S. and Germany and the sharp decrease in prices of solar PV panels which translates to lower investment, in dollar terms, for a project of equal capacity. read more
April 3, 2013 1:37 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Las Vegas Sun reported yesterday on NV Energy's proposal to begin decommissioning its existing coal-fired power plants and to accelerate its investments in renewable energy and natural gas generating capacity.  Interestingly, NV Energy is seeking to implement the plan legislatively, as opposed to having it approved by Nevada's Public Utilities Commission (PUC).  This is not surprising considering the difficulty the utility had in getting three renewable energy PPAs approved in 2011 (as we blogged about here).  According to the Sun article, the PUC would not be able to reject the plan if approved by the legislature. read more
March 18, 2013 4:32 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Suntech announced last week that it will be closing its Goodyear, AZ panel manufacturing facility in April.  We blogged here about Suntech's decision to locate in Arizona in Nov. 2009.  The company blamed the closure on hefty tariffs imposed on Chinese solar cells by the U.S. International Trade Commission (although the panels were assembled in Arizona, the cells were produced in China).  However, the tariffs are not completely to blame for the company's financial problems -- Suntech announced last summer that it was defrauded into investing 530 million euros ($690 million) in non-existent German bonds. read more
February 26, 2013 2:17 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
According to a statement released earlier this month by BTM Consult, a division of NavigantGeneral Electric passed Denmark-based Vestas Wind Systems in 2012 as the world's largest producer of wind turbines.  Vestas had held the top spot for twelve years.  Another American company, Siemens, came in third with German-based Enercon and India-based Suzlon rounding out the top five.  Although none made it into the top five, four Chinese companies were ranked in the top ten.  The only other top ten company was Spain's Gamesa.  The rankings are preliminary with the final report expected to be released in March. read more
January 22, 2013 1:12 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
In his second inaugural speech yesterday, President Obama mentioned climate change and promised a response.  He also voiced his support for a transition to "sustainable energy sources" but did not provide any additional details about how he will address climate change in his second term as President.  Here is the relevant portion of his speech: "We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity. We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations. read more
January 16, 2013 3:38 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Duke Energy Renewables and SOLON Corp. announced last week the completion of the 10MW Black Mountain Solar Project near Kingman.  Duke purchased the project from SOLON in May 2012.  SOLON constructed the project and will be responsible for operation and maintenance of the solar system.  Electricity generated by the project will be purchased by UniSource Energy Services, a sister company to Tucson Electric Power (TEP), under a twenty-year power purchase agreement.  The Black Mountain Solar Project is Duke's fifth photovoltaic (PV) plant in Arizona, along with the 5MW Ajo Solar Farm in southern Arizona, the 15MW Bagdad Solar Farm near Prescott, the 1.5MW Prescott Valley Solar Project, and the 6MW Gato Montes Solar Project in Tucson. read more
October 29, 2012 1:22 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
A book by Oxford Economics Professor, Dieter Helm, is highly critical of the methods being used by European countries to reduce their carbon emissions in an attempt to mitigate the impacts of global climate change.  The Carbon Crunch: How We're Getting Climate Change Wrong—and How to Fix It, argues that current regulatory efforts to cut carbon emissions have focused on expensive and ineffective methods, resulting in limited progress and widespread scepticism of the movement.  (This blog is based primarily on a review of Mr. Helm's book by The Economist, and not a full reading of the book which is not yet available in the U.S.) read more
September 14, 2012 3:24 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
On Tuesday, the U.S. Department of Energy announced a $15 million grant to the Algae Testbed Public-Private Partnership (ATP3) led by ASU.  $8 million will cover the first two years of the program and, if certain benchmarks are met, the remaining $7 million will be disbursed.  The ATP3 partnership is led by the Arizona Center for Algae Technology and Innovation (AzCATI) housed at ASU’s Polytechnic campus with support from national labs and academic and industrial partners, including the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Sandia National Laboratories, Cellana LLC, Touchstone Research Laboratory, SRS Energy, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, Georgia Institute of Technology, University of Texas at Austin, and Commercial Algae Management. read more
August 29, 2012 3:43 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced yesterday that it will invest $5 million over the next five years on research to improve the molten salt-based heat transfer fluids used in concentrating solar projects (CSP), such as Abengoa's Solana Project near Gila Bend.  The project will be led by the University of Arizona but will also include researchers from Arizona State University and the Georgia Institute of Technology.  The grant is part of DOE's Sunshot Initiative, which is attempting to reduce the cost of solar energy through providing funding for research on high risk, high payoff ideas. read more
August 14, 2012 11:30 AM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Obama Administration announced last week "that seven nationally and regionally significant solar and wind energy projects will be expedited" through the applicable federal permitting and review processes.  The two Arizona projects are: (1) BP Wind's Mohave County Wind Farm, between Kingman and Las Vegas; and (2) SolarReserve's Quartzsite Solar Energy Project, near Quartzsite.  The announcement also includes two solar PV projects in California, two solar projects in Nevada, and one wind project in Wyoming for a total of nearly 5,000 MWs of renewable energy.  The administration did not provide any details on how the "fast track" program will differ from standard procedure.  Both of the Arizona projects had already been identified by the BLM as "Priority Projects" for 2012. read more
June 22, 2012 3:34 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Since the U.S. Commerce Department's decision to impose anti-dumping tariffs against solar cells manufactured in China, there has been considerable disagreement about the effectiveness of the tariffs, in addition to debate about the broader trade implications of the action.  Media outlets began reporting almost immediately that Chinese solar companies were likely to simply begin buying cells made in nearby markets such as Taiwan and Korea and to continue their remaining manufacturing and panel assembly operations in China.  These reports predicted that the end result would most likely be a minor increase in the price of Chinese solar panels because of the current oversupply in the global market for solar cells.  Last week, one of China's largest solar cell makers, JA Solar, confirmed that it plans to do exactly that.  However, the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing (CASM) -- the group behind the complaint to the Commerce Department -- released an analysis this week arguing that the tariffs will be effective and that "toll production" of solar cells in a third country should not allow Chinese companies to avoid the tariffs. read more
May 18, 2012 3:58 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Yesterday, the U.S. Commerce Department proposed tariffs of at least 31% on solar panels imported from China.  The preliminary ruling found that Chinese manufacturers have been illegally "dumping" solar panels on the U.S. market, meaning that they have been selling panels at below production costs.  The tariffs will be retroactive for 90 days but will not become final unless and until the International Trade Commission finds that the under-priced panels are injuring the U.S. solar industry.  A final decision from the Commerce Department is expected in the fall. read more
May 9, 2012 5:06 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Arizona Legislature adjourned last week without a Senate floor vote on Rep. Lesko's (R-Glendale) controversial House Bill 2789.  This bill, as amended in the Senate, would have prohibited the State from increasing its existing renewable energy standard, which was adopted by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) in 2006.  HB 2789 was actively opposed by Arizona's renewable energy industry and was unconstitutional in the opinions of both the ACC's legal division and Legislative Council. read more
April 17, 2012 3:47 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Pew Charitable Trusts released a report last week analyzing the worldwide clean energy economy in 2011 with a particular focus on investment levels in G-20 countries.  The report is titled Who's Winning the Clean Energy Race? 2011 Edition and is based on data gathered by Bloomberg New Energy Finance, a market research firm focused on renewable energy.  The report found that worldwide clean energy investment rose 6.5% in 2011 to a record $263 billion, resulting in the deployment of 83.5 gigawatts (GW) of new renewable energy capacity.  With a 42% increase in its investment in renewable energy, the U.S. regained the top spot with $48.1 billion of investment in 2011.  The U.S. ranked third in 2010 behind both China and Germany. read more
March 15, 2012 3:02 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Rep. Lesko's (R-Glendale) energy bill -- HB 2789 -- was passed yesterday by the Government Reform Committee of the Arizona Senate.  The bill was subject to a "strike everything" amendment that replaced the version of the bill that passed the House with the following single sentence: "A Public Service Corporation shall not be required to meet a renewable energy standard that is greater than the standards required in any rules in effect on January 1, 2012."  The change was presumably made to address concerns about the bill's constitutionality after both the ACC's top attorney and the legislature's own legal counsel concluded that the House version was unconstitutional.  However, this sentence seems to have the same constitutional problems as the full version. read more
March 6, 2012 5:32 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The Arizona House of Representatives voted today to pass Rep. Lesko's HB 2789.  This is the bill that would require the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to get legislative approval of "all rules or amendments to existing rules ... concerning public service corporations that are policy decisions, including rules mandating the use of specific sources of energy or imposing or increasing energy efficiency standards or renewable energy standards."  Both the ACC's legal counsel and the Legislative Council have concluded that the bill is unconstitutional (see our prior blogs here and here). read more
January 27, 2012 2:36 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Last week I attended the January meeting of the Governor's Solar Energy Task Force (Task Force).  Arizona Governor Jan Brewer created the Task Force by executive order in March of last year.  The executive order notes the existence of "various impediments" that have "hampered several promising, proposed solar projects" and the need for "greater effectiveness and efficiency in public processes and competitive taxation structures to advance development and meet the promise of solar energy in Arizona."  The Task Force is charged with identifying impediments to solar energy development, evaluating current incentive structures, and proposing appropriate reforms to public agency processes and tax structures. read more
January 18, 2012 10:06 AM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The dasHaus Tour, an exhibit of advanced technologies for building construction and solar energy use, will be in Tempe from Jan. 21-30 as the third stop on its North American tour.  "Das haus" means "the house" in German and the main attraction of the exhibit is the dasHaus pavilion -- a fully-functioning structure that demonstrates advanced German solutions for reducing buildings' energy demand and maximizing the efficiency of energy generated on-site.  In addition to the dasHaus pavilion, the exhibit will include presentations by respected experts, new technologies displays, and networking opportunities for students and organizations.  The display will be at the Tempe Arts Park, at 700 West Rio Salado Parkway. read more
December 19, 2011 1:31 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Last week, North Carolina-based Duke Energy announced the purchase of two photovoltaic (PV) solar projects in Arizona with a combined generating capacity of 20 megawatts (MWs).  The two projects are the 5 MW Ajo Solar Project in southern Arizona and the 15 MW Bagdad Solar Project near Prescott, Arizona.  Both projects were developed by Recurrent Energy, which has been owned by Sharp Corporation for just over one year now.  The Ajo facility began commercial operation in September of this year and the larger Bagdad facility is scheduled to achieve commercial operation within the next few weeks.  The electricity generated by the projects will be purchased by APS under 25-year power purchase agreements. read more
November 4, 2011 3:31 PM | Posted by Clausen, Tim | Permalink
On October 21, 2011, Nevada Power Company ("NPC") re-filed its application requesting approval of the Public Utilities Commission of Nevada ("PUC" or "Commission") for power purchase agreements ("PPAs") for three renewable energy projects.  This re-filing is a result of the PUC's denial of NPC's initial request for approval of these PPAs in July 2011.  The Commission denied NPC's initial request because the utility did not meet its burden in justifying the need for the additional renewable energy.  The PUC stated in its order that based upon the evidence and testimony, Nevada Power did not adequately satisfy the legal requirements to allow the PUC to approve the three renewable energy PPAs.  It was the first time since Nevada adopted its Renewable Portfolio Standard ("RPS") in 2001 that the PUC did not approve a renewable energy PPA.  In late September 2011, the Commission, however, granted NPC's request for rehearing on these PPAs and issued an order requiring NPC to re-file its application for approval, along with additional justification by October 21, 2011. read more
September 21, 2011 8:27 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Without comment, the Arizona Supreme Court yesterday declined to hear an appeal of the Court of Appeals' decision in the legal battle over the state's Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) rules.  The appeal was sought by the Goldwater Institute after the both the Superior Court and the Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).  The primary issue in the case was whether the ACC's adoption of the REST rules was within the agency's constitutional authority to regulate the rates charged by private utility companies.  Because it declined to hear the appeal without any comment, it can fairly be implied that the Supreme Court agrees with the lower court's decision. read more
September 9, 2011 4:29 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The news of Solyndra's bankruptcy filing and the FBI's raids of the company must be an embarrassment to the Obama administration, as a little more than a year ago the President praised the solar manufacturer, touting its job creation potential and promise for America's clean energy future. The Department of Energy (DOE) remains undaunted, however, and this week announced three new loan guarantees for solar energy companies. read more
July 29, 2011 2:46 PM | Posted by Anderson, Jennifer | Permalink
On July 27th the New Mexico Supreme Court was unanimous in its decision to allow environmental groups to intervene in an ongoing legal battle regarding the state's regulation of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.  Utilities and other petitioners recently filed petitions with the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board (EIB) seeking to repeal the regulations that were approved in the last few weeks of former Governor Richardson's administration.  The regulations include New Mexico's plan to participate in a regional cap-and-trade program, as well as implementing a statewide cap on GHG emissions and a reporting system.  Environmental groups claim the EIB excluded them from talks meant to resolve the issues raised by opponents of the GHG regulations. read more
July 26, 2011 5:11 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Earlier this month, Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced a plan estimated to reduce Australia's carbon emissions to 80% of 2000 levels by 2050.  The plan involves a carbon tax beginning in July 2012 which will be replaced after three years by an emissions-trading program.  The tax begins at A$23 per ton and increases 2.5% per year for the three years it is in effect.  A coalition between Ms. Gillard's Labor party and the Australian Greens essentially assures the proposal's passage through parliament.  The plan includes numerous tax cuts and subsidies aimed to lessen the impact of putting a price on carbon and to encourage low-carbon alternatives. read more
July 11, 2011 10:31 AM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The EPA has agreed to defer for three years the requirement that biomass facilities obtain greenhouse gas permits. On July 1, in its final rule implementing the deferral, the agency explained, "the issue of accounting for the net atmospheric impact of biogenic CO2 emissions is complex enough that further consideration of this important issue is warranted."  The EPA's action responded to a petition filed by the National Alliance of Forest Owners (NAFO).  The result of this decision, as summarized in the final rule, "is that during this three year period biogenic CO2 emissions are not required to be counted for applicability purposes under the PSD and Title V permitting programs."
read more
June 10, 2011 4:19 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Last week, Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) filed a new rate case with the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC).  The filing proposes raising electricity rates on all classes of customers to support the utility's efforts to improve its system's sustainability and reliability.  The filing also proposes, for the first time in Arizona, the establishment of an "Efficiency and Infrastructure Account" that aims to allow APS to recover costs that it spends on energy efficiency efforts. read more
May 27, 2011 11:42 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
This week, the Salt River Project's (SRP) Board of Directors voted to increase the utility's goal for sustainable energy resources to 20% of all retail sales by the year 2020.  SRP's previous goal, set in 2006, was 15% of retail sales by 2025.  SRP defines "sustainable resources" to include hydro power and energy efficiency measures along with more commonly recognized renewable resources such as solar and wind.  Read more here.  Regulated utilities in Arizona, such as Arizona Public Service Co.  (APS) and Tucson Electric Power (TEP), are required by the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to generate 15% of their retail sales from renewable resources by 2025 and to separately reduce energy consumption by 22% by 2020 through energy efficiency measures.  As a quasi-governmental entity, SRP is regulated by the State Legislature, not the ACC. read more
May 13, 2011 1:37 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
Top executives from the five biggest U.S. oil companies testified yesterday before the Senate Finance Committee regarding a bill that would eliminate certain tax breaks that currently save the companies approximately $2 billion per year.  The bill is called the Close Big Oil Tax Loopholes Act and was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ).  Democrats claim that there is no justification for the tax breaks which amount to federal subsidies for established and highly profitable businesses.  They propose applying the additional tax revenue to the country's budget deficit.  Republicans, on the other hand, accuse the Democrats of political theater -- attacking oil companies to gain political favor with an American public that is already upset with oil companies because of high gas prices. read more
April 15, 2011 9:40 AM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Congress today passed the much-debated budget bill, the product of a partisan compromise reached late last Friday to avert a government shutdown.  The bill reduces the EPA's budget by 16% as to compared to the 2010 fiscal year, down from $ 10.3 billion to $ 8.7 billion.  The majority of the $ 1.6 billion reduction is taken from programs that provide aid to states for implementation of environmental laws.  Superfund, the hazardous waste cleanup program, received a cut of $ 23 million, roughly 2%. The bill also chops $ 49 million, or 13%, from climate change programs. read more
April 13, 2011 5:12 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
On Monday, April 11, 2011, BrightSource Energy, Inc., announced that it had closed financing for the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 392 megawatt solar power plant under construction in California's Mojave Desert.  Financing for the plant includes $1.6 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. Department of Energy and a $168 million equity investment by internet giant Google, both announced on Monday. NRG Solar is the project's other large equity stakeholder, which has committed to invest up to $300 million.  BrightSource, which is headquartered in Oakland, California, also has operations in the Negev (Israel) and Australia. read more
April 8, 2011 4:01 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
In the ongoing legal battle between the Goldwater Institute and the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) over the ACC's adoption of its Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) rules, the Arizona Court of Appeals has affirmed the Superior Court's ruling in favor of the ACC.  In its opinion, the three judge panel concluded that the ACC's "promulgation of the REST rules falls within its plenary power over ratemaking under Article 15, Section 3" of the Arizona Constitution.  The Phoenix Business Journal is already reporting that the Goldwater Institute is likely to appeal the ruling to the State's Supreme Court (subscription required).  The REST rules, among other things, require regulated utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their retail electricity sales from renewable resources. read more
March 30, 2011 1:21 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
California's ground breaking CO2 cap-and-trade program may be in jeopardy, after a Superior Court in San Francisco County issued an injunction against the California Air Resources Board (CARB) prohibiting the agency from any further rule making under its "Climate Change Scoping Plan".  The challenge to CARB's cap-and-trade proposal was brought by environmental justice advocates, who believe that cap-and-trade would impose disproportionate air quality impacts on low income and minority communities. These advocates believe that a carbon tax is preferable to cap-and-trade since it would incentivize emission reductions at all facilities equally.  The court ruled that CARB did not sufficiently evaluate alternatives to cap and trade as required under the California Environmental Quality Act (a state version of NEPA). read more
March 21, 2011 1:15 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
We blogged here about Representative Fred Upton's (R-MI) bill that would repeal the EPA's finding that greenhouse gases endanger the environment.  The Energy Tax Prevention Act of 2011, as the measure is known, has now passed the House Energy and Commerce Committee on a 34-19 vote.  The committee rejected last-minute amendments that would have put Republican supporters on record denying that human activity contributes to climate change.  On March 15, the same day as the passage of Rep. Upton's bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced an amendment to a small business bill that would also block EPA's regulation of greenhouse gas emissions. read more
February 25, 2011 1:09 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
SOLON Corporation, a Tucson-based subsidiary of the German company SOLON SE, announced Feb. 24 that it has been awarded a contract to design and construct a 15 MW power plant in California for Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), one of the largest utilities in the U.S.  SOLON is a manufacturer of turnkey power plants and crystalline silicon solar modules.  Construction on the PG&E project is slated to begin in April 2011 and end in October 2011. read more
February 16, 2011 7:10 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Monday, a trial court in Ecuador handed down what may be the largest environmental damages award in history: $8.6 billion against California-based Chevron Corp.  The lawsuit was filed in 1993 by local farmers and indigenous groups, alleging extensive contamination of surface waters in the Lago Agrio area of the Amazon rainforest.  Despite the award, it is far from certain that Chevron will ever legally be required to pay anything to the plaintiffs in this case. read more
January 21, 2011 3:25 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Arizona's Salt River Project (SRP) announced plans this week to review its Sustainable Portfolio Principles, adopted by its Board of Directors in 2004.  These principles include goals such as "evaluat[ing] and implement[ing] supply- and demand-side measures that reduce the use of traditional fossil fuels" and "encourag[ing] … the development and use of sustainable energy technologies."  The Principles were last reviewed by SRP's Board in 2006. read more
December 21, 2010 10:01 AM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The U.S. Department of Energy and the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) have announced a proposal to designate large swaths of land in six southwestern states as “solar energy zones.”  On Dec. 17, the two agencies issued a Draft Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (DPEIS) that outlines a program to standardize and expedite the review and approval process for utility-scale solar installations on public lands. read more
December 17, 2010 4:45 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
On the heels of New Mexico's approval of cap-and-trade earlier this month, regulators in the Golden State decided late yesterday to adopt a cap-and-trade plan, creating the world's second-largest carbon market after Europe's.  The California Air Resources Board (CARB) voted 9-1 to limit greenhouse gas emissions from large emitters, the keystone of the state's goal to reduce emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, as outlined in the 2006 Global Warming Solutions Act.  Voters last month rejected a measure that would have postponed these emissions reduction efforts until a recovery in the jobs market. read more
December 16, 2010 12:40 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
We blogged here about the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board's (EIB's) December 6 decision to adopt a cap-and-trade program and the City of Farmington's immediate appeal of that decision.  Now, the Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM) is joining the fight, filing a separate legal challenge with the New Mexico Court of Appeals on December 14.  PNM believes that the EIB overstepped its authority in mandating cap-and-trade and has stated that the program would competitively disadvantage New Mexico.  Other parties who have appealed the decision include the New Mexico Oil and Gas Association, Southwestern Public Service Company, and the Tri-State Generation and Transmission Association. read more
December 9, 2010 10:56 AM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
New Mexico Residential customers can expect a 35 cent increase in their monthly electricity bills beginning in January, 2011.  The charge would be added to Public Service Company of New Mexico's energy efficiency rider that, according to PNM, helps pay for the program's actual costs.  The program includes many components, from refrigerator recycling to discounts for the purchase of fluorescent bulbs.  The rider would allow PNM to recover the revenue to cover fixed costs that continue, even though energy use is decreased.  The add-on also is intended to serve as an incentive for investing in low-cost energy programs in lieu of new plants. read more
December 9, 2010 9:41 AM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
It did not take long.  On Monday, December 6, the New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board New Mexico Environmental Improvement Board adopted a plan to require businesses and industries in the electric and gas and oil sectors that emit 25,000 metric tons or more of carbon dioxide to start reducing emissions by 3% a year from 2010 levels, beginning on January 1, 2013.  The rule would sunset if a regional or federal emissions reduction program is put in place.  Regulated companies that cannot reach the reduction requirements could buy offsets from unregulated state companies that are able to reduce green-house gas emissions.  On Tuesday, December 7, the Farmington City Council voted unanimously to appeal that decision. read more
December 7, 2010 7:07 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court announced that it has accepted certiorari over an appeal by several large power companies from a Second Circuit decision allowing public nuisance claims based on greenhouse gas emissions to proceed.  The case was brought by eight states, three non-profit land trusts, and New York City seeking to impose injunctions on the defendants to restrict their carbon emissions.  The claims were initially dismissed by the Southern District of New York on political question grounds, but reinstated by the Second Circuit last fall.  As we previously blogged, the Obama Administration urged the Supreme Court several months ago to review the circuit court's decision. read more
November 22, 2010 11:25 AM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
The New Mexico Public Regulation Commission is expected to approve a Public Service Company of New Mexico request to add 50 cents to an existing PNM rider to pay for its energy efficiency program.  PNM argued that energy efficiency programs cause customers to use less energy, reducing revenues, thus creating a disincentive to develop such programs.  The fixed recovery cost would be based on 1 cent per kilowatt hour saved over the life of the energy efficiency program.  The Commission will likely rule on the request in December. read more
November 17, 2010 11:15 AM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
On Monday, November 15, 2010, the US Supreme Court denied cert to hear a last minute challenge to Hydro Resources Inc.'s Nuclear Regulatory Commission license to mine uranium in northwestern New Mexico near Church Rock.  The permit would allow Hydro Resources to leach-mine uranium.  Challengers had challenged the license after the US 10th Circuit denied a request for rehearing in September.  Opponents will continue to mount efforts at the state level, since certain permits will still be required from the New Mexico Environmental Department and other state agencies.  Major concerns have been raised concerning potential groundwater contamination. read more
October 13, 2010 5:22 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Arizona's solar energy industry is expanding again.  On Oct. 12, Sempra Generation announced its plans to build a large-scale solar photovoltaic plant in Arizona.  The first phase of the planned Mesquite Solar Complex will generate 150 megawatts of electricity, with the capacity to grow to 600 megawatts at full build-out.  The plant will be located in Arlington, 40 miles west of Phoenix, on former agricultural land and will connect to the grid at the Hassayampa switchyard.  Sempra Generation, a San Diego-based subsidiary of Sempra Energy, has entered into a 20-year, 150-megawatt power purchase agreement with Pacific Gas & Electric, which is pending approval by the California Public Utilities Commission. read more
October 6, 2010 1:47 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
An interesting tidbit on the solar energy front: The White House is going green, at least to a limited extent.  Energy Secretary Steven Chu and Council of Environmental Quality (CEQ) Chair Nancy Sutley announced Tuesday that a solar panel array and a solar water heater will be installed on the White House roof.  These installations will heat water for the presidential mansion's living quarters and provide a small amount of electricity.  Secretary Chu says the White House installations will demonstrate the availability and reliability of American solar technology. read more
October 1, 2010 4:47 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Phoenix this week hosted the 4th Annual Algae Biomass Summit (Summit), a three-day event organized by the Minneapolis-based Algal Biomass Organization (ABO).  Over 600 researchers, developers, and other interested constituents from 27 countries, attended the Summit, which took place Sept. 28-30. The ABO selected Arizona as the location for the Summit due to the state’s emergence as a "hotbed for research on algae." read more
September 23, 2010 6:15 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Tuesday, Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) proposed a national renewable electricity standard (also called a renewable portfolio standard) as a stand-alone bill with some GOP support.  The standard would require electric utilities who sell more 4 million MW-hrs per year to generate at least 15% of their electricity from renewable sources by 2021.  Supporters view a national RES as a way to encourage the development of renewable energy in light of Congress' rejection of the broader and more ambitious energy bill proposed earlier this year by Sens. Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (I-CT). The proposed RES is expected to have much lower costs than Kerry-Lieberman's cap-and-trade scheme although it will also do much less to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. read more
September 10, 2010 1:28 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
This Thursday, Sept. 9, Power-One, Inc. announced its decision to open a solar and wind inverter manufacturing facility in Phoenix.  Power-One is the sixth renewable energy company to locate in the Valley of the Sun since the state enacted a tax incentive program for such companies last year.  Inverters manufactured by the Southern California-based company are used to convert direct current electricity from renewable sources like photovoltaic panels and wind turbines into alternating current electricity, as required to power electrical devices. read more
September 8, 2010 3:35 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The Arizona Corporation Commission announced last week the official launch of the Arizona Goes Solar website, a one-stop resource for Arizona consumers and businesses looking for information about solar projects going on around the state and available incentives for adoption of solar energy technology.  According to the website, Arizona Goes Solar is a "collaborative effort led by the Arizona Corporation Commission and implemented by the electric utilities in Arizona." read more
August 19, 2010 8:23 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
The Journal Science is providing free online access to its special issue: Scaling up Alternative Energy, until August 27, 2010.  The special issue "explores worldwide efforts to develop clean, renewable alternatives to fossil fuels" and is an excellent opportunity to find out what experts think about many of the issues currently being debated by politicians and the public.  The underlying message of the issue, is that developing renewable energy on the scale necessary to replace fossil fuels will most likely require more time and be more difficult than many proponents of renewable energy currently realize. read more
August 13, 2010 5:13 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Gov. Jan Brewer announced Aug. 11 that Rioglass Solar, a solar component manufacturing company based in Madrid, Spain, will open a manufacturing and headquarters facility in the City of Surprise.  Rioglass manufactures curved glass mirrors for use in parabolic concentrators and has reached a deal with Abengoa Solar to supply all the mirrors for the planned Solana Generating Station, a concentrating solar power plant to be constructed near Gila Bend.  Rioglass will make a $50 million capital investment in a 130,000 sq. ft. manufacturing and headquarters facility and create 100 jobs.  The company also has plans for a second-phase investment of $45 million in an additional facility.  Welcoming the company, Gov. Brewer praised Arizona's "significant progress" in becoming "a global leader in the renewable energy sector."  Michael Bidwell, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, noted Arizona's current position as an "established leader" in the renewable energy industry, which "just a year ago overlooked us." read more
August 4, 2010 12:14 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
The Salt River Project (SRP) has announced a plan to allow schools to receive solar electricity without any upfront costs by purchasing output from a single large PV plant. SRP believes this will be more cost-effective than installing PV systems at individual schools.  Under the program, schools will sign 10-year contracts to buy electricity at a fixed rate of 9.9 cents per kilowatt-hour (kWh).  Schools in SRP's territory currently pay 8.3 cents per kWh for their daytime electricity so, initially, the schools will pay a 19% premium for the solar power.  However, SRP's prices will almost certainly increase over the next 10 years.  The fixed-rate contract protects schools against price increases and could eventually allow them to buy electricity at less than the normal rate.  This new program is in addition to SRP's Solar for Schools Program, which will install PV systems at 14 Arizona schools this year. read more
July 31, 2010 2:56 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
While many people have never heard of solar daylighting, Glendale-based Natural Lighting Company has been designing and installing their energy saving component "daylighting" systems since 1992.  Component daylighting is a technology that uses high efficiency skylights, reflective lightwells, and light diffusers to convey sunlight through a building's roof to light the interior.  While perhaps, not as flashy as photovoltaic (PV) panels, solar daylighting is starting to gain attention as a cost effective solar technology.  For example, in APS's Schools and Government Program (recently filed with the Arizona Corporation Commission), the utility hopes to install a daylighting project along with every PV or solar thermal project.  Arizona's Department of Commerce is getting on board too.  read more
July 30, 2010 3:01 PM | Posted by Mehta, Jasmine | Permalink
The Clean Energy Jobs and Oil Company Accountability Act, unveiled by U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), does not include a national renewable energy standard (RES).  Several Democratic senators have expressed their support for a nationwide RES that requires utilities to provide 15% of their power by renewable energy resources.  Renewable energy groups have also expressed dismay that the bill does not include an RES. read more
July 23, 2010 8:12 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Yesterday, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) acknowledged what has been suspected for several weeks – that there is not enough support in the Senate for a carbon cap-and-trade scheme.  Although the possibility of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system has been unlikely for some time, Democratic leaders and environmental advocates had maintained hope that the Senate would pass a utility-only cap-and-trade program or, at a minimum, a national Renewable Energy Standard.  The smaller energy and oil spill-related bill Sen. Reid now intends to pursue will include neither. read more
July 20, 2010 5:04 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The latest development in the Senate climate bill drama is a shift in focus from economy-wide to utility-only greenhouse gas emission caps.  Senators Kerry (D-MA) and Lieberman (I/D-CT), who previously authored a sweeping cap-and-trade bill that failed to attract the needed sixty votes, are now working feverishly to garner support for a pared-down version that limits only power plant emissions.  Their efforts are in response to Majority Leader Reid’s (D-NV) July 13 announcement that he wants to address power plant emissions in the larger energy bill that he plans to send to the floor during the last week of July.  That bill will also include titles that deal with oil spill response, energy efficiency, and renewable energy production. read more
July 17, 2010 2:11 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
According to an analysis by the Energy Information Administration (EIA), the American Power Act of 2010 would reduce GDP by 0.2% from 2013 to 2035.  The decrease in GDP is a result of higher energy prices, "which reduces real economic output, reduces purchasing power, and lowers aggregate demand for goods and services."  EIA estimates the Act would cost an average of $206 per household per year. read more
June 4, 2010 12:35 PM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
Public Service Company of New Mexico has filed for a $165M two-phase rate increase with the New Mexico Public Regulation Commission.  If approved, the new rates would represent a 21.2% increase on top of a 24% increase customers have already seen since 2007.  The new proceeding before the PRC is in addition to an already ongoing case that involves solar and other renewable energy initiatives designed to increase PNM's renewable energy portfolio.  The rate increase will be based upon the projected cost of service for 2011 and not on the actual cost of service of a historical (past) year. A decision is not expected until early 2011, at which time the Commission will have at least three new Commissioners. read more
June 3, 2010 6:28 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
We blogged here about Sen. Murkowski's (R-AK) resolution of disapproval of the EPA's greenhouse gas endangerment finding, which provides the legal basis for the agency's recently promulgated "tailoring rule" for stationary source emissions and its light-duty vehicle emissions rule.  On Thursday, June 10, the Senate will vote on the disapproval resolution.  Per a unanimous consent agreement between Sen. Murkowski and Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV), the Senate is slated to debate the resolution for ten hours, with no filibusters or amendments allowed.  Sen. Murkowski has secured forty-one co-sponsors for the resolution, including Democrats Sen. Mary Landrieu (D-LA), Sen. Blanche Lincoln (D-AR), and Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE), but it is not clear whether she will be able to garner the additional ten votes needed for passage. read more
May 29, 2010 11:19 AM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who until recently was heavily involved in negotiating the Kerry-Lieberman climate bill released earlier this month, said this week that a climate bill focused only on power plants may be the best way to proceed.  Senator Graham apparently thinks that the Kerry-Lieberman bill, which includes provisions intended to reduce transportation emissions that critics have labeled a "gas tax", will not be able to get the support it needs to pass a Republican filibuster in the Senate. read more
May 21, 2010 10:42 AM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The Solar 2010 National Conference, an annual event of the American Solar Energy Society (ASES), opened Monday, May 17 at the Phoenix Convention Center. Approximately 2,500 industry professionals have attended the week-long gathering, which features hundreds of vendors from all sectors of the solar industry.  Participants have included rooftop installers, manufacturers of solar water heaters, and builders of large-scale solar power plants.  A major sponsor of the event is Arizona Public Service Co., which offers rebates to electricity customers who install solar systems for their homes and businesses. read more
May 18, 2010 8:22 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
On May 12, Senators John Kerry (D-MA) and Joe Lieberman (I/D-CT) unveiled their much-anticipated cap-and-trade bill (known to opponents as "cap-and-tax").  Senator Kerry declared his hope that the legislation, titled the American Power Act (APA), will reach the Senate floor by June or July, which may be the last opportunity to pass a climate bill before the mad dash to the November midterm elections.  The lone Republican to have a hand in drafting the bill, Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), was not present at the unveiling, having withdrawn his support last month over concerns about the interference of immigration politics. read more
April 30, 2010 5:06 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Wednesday, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar approved the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, ending a nearly decade-long NEPA review of the proposal.  The project could become the first offshore windfarm in the U.S., but opponents have vowed to fight it in court -- seeking a preliminary injunction that could postpone construction for years.  However, considering the extensive reviews conducted by both federal and state agencies, it could be difficult for opponents to demonstrate a "substantial likelihood of success on the merits," as required for obtaining a preliminary injunction. read more
April 30, 2010 4:25 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
As we blogged here and here, Sens. Kerry (D-MA), Graham (R-SC), and Lieberman (I/D-CT) have been collaborating on a bipartisan climate and energy bill, a compromise measure which addresses some of industry's concerns with the previously introduced Kerry-Boxer bill.  That six-month-long effort suffered a major setback April 24 when Sen. Graham unexpectedly pulled his support, stating that he could no longer move forward on the legislation.  The surprise announcement came on the eve of the bill's much-anticipated unveiling, which had been slated for April 26, and indefinitely delayed its release. read more
April 9, 2010 10:27 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
In this interview with E&E TV, Dave Hoppe, former Chief of Staff for Trent Lott (R-MS), and Patrick Von Bargen, former Chief of Staff for Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), discuss their expectations for Senate action on climate change legislation this year.  Both predict that the Kerry-Graham-Lieberman bill will go to the floor but will not be able to garner the 60 votes necessary to overcome a Republican filibuster.  The key will apparently be Senator Graham's ability to bring some of his fellow Republicans on board.  Mr. Von Bargen also discussed how President Obama's recent proposal to lift restrictions on off-shore drilling was a message to Republican Senators that "it's ok" to support climate legislation because it is not going to be an extreme measure. read more
March 19, 2010 2:30 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Three prominent Senators are working on a new climate bill that will address some of industry's major concerns with the earlier Kerry-Boxer bill while maintaining the Kerry-Boxer bill's caps on carbon emissions.  On Wednesday, Senators John Kerry (D-MA), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), and Joseph Lieberman (I-CT) shared an outline of their proposal with several major industry groups, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the Edison Electric Institute, and the American Petroleum Institute. read more
March 11, 2010 12:19 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Tuesday, Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) announced his intent to draft and present to the Senate an energy bill that will focus on threats other than climate change, including national security, economic, and environmental threats to the United States and her citizens. The Senator’s plan does not include a cap-and-trade component or any direct control on GHG emissions but it does contain a "clean energy standard" mandating the use of cleaner energy sources. read more
March 4, 2010 10:49 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew; Demarchi, Kimberly | Permalink
The Greater Phoenix Economic Council is a public-private partnership whose goal is to bring new, high quality jobs to the Phoenix metropolitan area.  According to this article by the Arizona Republic, GPEC has recently focused a lot of its efforts on solar companies and was the driving force behind the Renewable Energy Tax Incentive recently passed by the Arizona legislature.   (We blogged about the bill here.)  GPEC is currently led by board president Michael Bidwell and its president and CEO, Barry Broome.  It receives approximately half of its $4.3 million annual budget from Maricopa County and local municipalities and the rest from private-sector investors. read more
February 24, 2010 9:30 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Monday, in response to a letter from several U.S. Senators, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson released a letter outlining the agency's plans for regulating greenhouse gases in the absence of climate change legislation from Congress. The Senators' letter, signed by eight coal-state Democrats, warned that "[i]ll-timed or imprudent regulation of GHGs may squander critical opportunities for our nation, impeding the investment necessary to create jobs and position our nation to develop and produce its own clean energy," and asked for an explanation of the agency’s plans with respect to regulating GHGs from stationary sources. In her response, Administrator Jackson states that she shares the Senators' goal of "addressing greenhouse gas emissions in sensible ways that are consistent with the call for comprehensive energy and climate legislation." read more
February 15, 2010 6:53 PM | Posted by Campbell, Thomas | Permalink
Lewis and Roca represented Hualapai Valley Solar LLC in hearings on January 12-13 before the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee. At the conclusion of the hearing, the committee voted unanimously to approve a new 340 MW solar power plant to be built about 30 miles north of Kingman, Arizona. This project addressed the issue of water usage by thermal solar plants by working with the City of Kingman to purchase the City's effluent for use by the plant, thereby reducing the amount of groundwater needed. read more
February 2, 2010 11:23 AM | Posted by Chapman, Britt | Permalink
Plans to bury America's nuclear waste inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain, a project that has long been the subject of environmental and political opposition, appear to be coming to an end. Funding for the nuclear waste site has been eliminated in President Obama's budget proposal released Monday. The Department of Energy also seeks to eliminate Yucca as an option, filing paperwork to suspend licensing for the site. read more
January 22, 2010 2:58 PM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
Federal district court Judge Roger Titus of the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, issued a comprehensive ruling that an industrial wind energy facility in Greenbrier County, West Virginia will kill and injure endangered Indiana bats, in violation of the Endangered Species Act (ESA). The court concluded that "the development of wind energy can and should be encouraged, but wind turbines must be good neighbors." read more
January 22, 2010 1:51 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Arizona Governor Jan Brewer has stated that she wants to make Arizona the "solar capital of the world." To that end, she has signed into law tax incentives for renewable energy companies and created a solar energy advisory task force. And, during her Jan. 11 State of the State address, she marked further progress toward that goal. Gov. Brewer announced a commitment by Tower Automotive to locate its solar component manufacturing operations in the Valley. Tower Automotive’s decision comes just two months after the news that Chinese giant Suntech Power Holdings Co. will open a large solar-panel manufacturing facility in Phoenix. Gov. Brewer called both decisions "strategic wins" that establish Arizona's "foothold in the solar industry." read more
January 12, 2010 11:30 AM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The regional consortium, which consists of seven western states and four Canadian provinces, aims to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, partly through implementation of a region-wide cap-and-trade program. But although Arizona, under Governor Janet Napolitano, was a founding member of the WCI, the state’s participation is unpopular with some Republican legislators. read more
December 23, 2009 3:36 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Although the United Nations’ Summit on Global Climate Change failed to reach a binding agreement on a plan to combat climate change, a majority of the parties in attendance have indicated their support for a non-binding agreement negotiated between some of the major players at the conference. This agreement, called the Copenhagen Accord, was negotiated between the United States, China, India, and some of the other largest countries over the last few days of the conference. Although it was not formally adopted by the U.N. because it was not supported unanimously, the Conference of the Parties “took note” of the Accord and many countries expressed their support for the plan. read more
December 10, 2009 1:39 PM | Posted by Mehta, Jasmine; Chapman, Britt | Permalink
Nevada has been ruled out as an alternative disposal site for low-level radioactive waste from South Carolina. The Nevada Test Site, about 65 miles north of Las Vegas, is being excluded from discussions about the nearly 15,000 drums of depleted uranium because the energy department agreed to conduct a statewide environmental impact statement before accepting new waste there and the review could take longer than a year. read more
December 8, 2009 2:27 PM | Posted by Albright, Jeffrey | Permalink
On December 4, 2009, New Mexico U.S. Representative Harry Teague announced over $100 million would be funded for an algae-based biofuel refinery near Las Cruces, New Mexico. California-based Sapphire Energy, with a present test facility in Las Cruces, is planning to build a facility in which fuel could be refined from algae. read more
December 7, 2009 2:57 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
EPA issued a widely anticipated finding today that greenhouse gas emissions “endanger … the public health and the public welfare of current and future generations.” This finding is a prerequisite to EPA finalizing its proposed light-duty vehicle GHG emissions standards proposed in September and is a step towards regulating emissions from stationary sources such as power plants and refineries. read more
December 2, 2009 2:11 PM | Posted by Mehta, Jasmine; Chapman, Britt | Permalink
The University of Nevada, Reno, as part of the Nevada System of Higher Education (NSHE), has received $3.2 million from the U.S. Department of Energy for renewable energy research in addition to the $5.7 million NSHE has secured over the past two fiscal years from the Department of Energy. read more
December 1, 2009 11:48 AM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
How to end reliance on coal? Pay homeowners for feeding electricity into the grid at a rate that is double the rate they pay for electricity. Over three gigawatts (!) of solar electric generation have been installed in Germany this year, leading to the sell out of all available solar panels in that country. Time will tell, but it appears that one half of all of the installed photovoltaic capacity in the world is now in Germany! read more
November 24, 2009 12:22 PM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
As big as you can afford. While the fabled “London Array”, which contemplates 1 gigawatt of production capacity in the Thames Estuary, is truly enormous, Sweden plans a wind farm array in Lappland (where the reindeers live) that will generate over 3 gigawatts. They will use 7.5 megawatt turbines, that will be far higher than a football field is long: over 35 stories high. See the video, and more details, here. read more
November 19, 2009 3:23 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
EnviroMission (USA) Inc., the Phoenix-based subsidiary of the Australian company EnviroMission Ltd., already has a few parcels under option in La Paz County and recently received an initial approval from the Southern California Public Power Authority ("SCPPA").  The company plans to construct a plant in Arizona that will generate electricity using "solar tower" technology.  This new technology, described here, essentially heats air near ground level using a greenhouse effect and then funnels it into a huge tower as it rises, driving wind turbines.  Unlike photovoltaic and concentrating solar, the solar tower does not require any water and can operate at night and on cloudy days since it is powered by radiant heat rather than direct sunlight. read more
November 17, 2009 11:01 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Four months after signing into law new tax incentives for the renewable energy industry, Arizona governor Jan Brewer welcomed China’s largest solar-panel manufacturer to the Valley of the Sun. Suntech Power Holdings Co. announced on Sunday its decision to locate its U.S. headquarters and an 80,000 to 100,000 sq. ft. manufacturing facility in Phoenix. The facility, which will assemble panels that convert sunlight into electricity, is slated to begin operations in the third quarter of 2010. Initially, it will employ 75 Arizonans, and that number could grow to 250 at full capacity. read more
November 16, 2009 10:37 AM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Now that climate change legislation has passed the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee, albeit without any Republican votes, proponents must gather the bipartisan support and 60 votes needed to withstand an expected filibuster. The road to the floor will not be smooth, with senators of both parties expressing reservations and seeking to modify the bill. read more
November 13, 2009 10:25 AM | Posted by Laurence, Eric | Permalink
A proposal submitted by petition for hearing on January 5, 2009 by New Energy Economy (a Santa Fe based nonprofit) is being considered by the state Environmental Improvement Board (NMEIB) and would place strict limits on greenhouse emissions.  The New Energy Economy proposal would apply to oil and gas producers, refineries, manufacturers, power plants, and others that emit 10,000 tons or more a year of carbon dioxide and require that by 2020, they reduce greenhouse gas emissions 25% below 1990 levels. read more
November 12, 2009 3:45 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
The Greenbuild 2009 International Conference and Expo opened on Wednesday at the Phoenix Convention Center.  An annual event organized by the U.S. Green Building Council, Greenbuild is the largest convention of its kind, with over 20,000 attendees and exhibitors expected this year. read more
November 11, 2009 6:24 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
On Tuesday, Arizona governor Jan Brewer participated in a celebratory signing of SB 1403, entitled "Renewable, High-Wage Industry Incentives." The bill, which Gov. Brewer signed into law in July, creates income and property tax incentives for renewable energy companies, including those in the wind, biofuel, and solar industries, to locate or expand their operations in Arizona. read more
November 10, 2009 9:18 PM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
In the wee hours of Sunday morning, Spain set quite a record: The country got more than half its electricity from wind farms, a first for a country long invested in renewable energy.  Between 4:30 and 6 a.m., Spanish wind turbines took advantage of a particularly windy day to generate 53% of the electricity coursing through the grid. read more
November 9, 2009 11:41 AM | Posted by Alonso, Alfredo; Chapman, Britt | Permalink
NV Energy recently began a bio-mass test in an attempt to increase efficiency, reduce emissions, and reduce energy prices for customers.  The test began two weeks ago and consists of burning wood chips to produce steam. read more
November 6, 2009 11:18 AM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
On Thursday, Democrats on the Senate's Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee approved the Boxer-Kerry cap-and-trade bill without a single Republican present.  The 10-1 vote came after a two-day Republican boycott of the committee's markup of the bill. The boycott protested the lack of a comprehensive analysis of the measure's potential effect on jobs and energy prices, with Republicans calling the bill a hidden tax increase.  Democrats labeled the boycott a stall tactic and countered that a new study would largely duplicate EPA's analysis of the House-passed cap-and-trade bill, which pegged costs to the average American household at 22 to 30 cents per day. read more
November 4, 2009 7:03 PM | Posted by Alonso, Alfredo; Chapman, Britt | Permalink
On Tuesday, the Nevada Interim Committee on the Production and Use of Energy heard presentations from the Solar Alliance and the Electric Auto Association of Nevada regarding feed-in tariffs.  After the presentations, Chairman Schneider directed the Nevada Public Utilities Commission (PUCN) to open an investigatory docket regarding the plausibility of the feed-in tariffs. read more
November 3, 2009 6:13 PM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
PointCarbon, a market research firm, has just released a study projecting that ExxonMobil would need to spend nearly $6 billion for carbon allowances under the terms of the Kerry-Boxer cap-and-trade bill. read more
November 2, 2009 4:54 PM | Posted by Laurence, Eric | Permalink
Government incentives (federal, state and local combined) make installing solar power almost irresistible. Buyers can save up to 90% on a system whether its for a single family home or a 75-unit condo in the city. This article by Chris Kahn describes a $394,514 solar system installation at a Queens, NY co-op in which the 75% of the cost was picked up by government incentives. The remaining 1/4 costs will be recouped in a couple years, and then the co-op can start selling back energy to the public utility. A Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory study released last month shows solar costs have declined 31% over last 10 years. read more
October 29, 2009 4:23 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
More than 500 researchers, federal contractors and venture capitalists are expected in the Reno-Sparks area next week to attend a business, energy, and technology conference. read more
October 28, 2009 1:59 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Tuesday, the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee began hearings on a climate bill introduced by Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), chair of the Committee, and Senator John Kerry (D-MA).  Most republicans remain opposed to climate legislation on grounds that it will raise energy prices and cost jobs.  Supporters counter that clean energy technology could be the next major growth industry and that the U.S. is falling behind many other countries who are already making heavy investments in research and development.  Some climate bill “fence-sitters”, primarily moderate democrats such as Senator Max Baucus (D-MT), are in favor of passing climate legislation but concerned that the current version is too ambitious. read more
October 28, 2009 1:32 PM | Posted by Chapman, Britt | Permalink
NV Energy will receive a $138 million grant, as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), to implement smart grid technologies in Nevada.  The project is part of an $3.9 billion build out of the smart energy grid announced Tuesday by President Obama. read more
October 26, 2009 10:32 AM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
The Solar Technology Roadmap Bill passed the House of Representatives last Thursday by a 310 to 106 vote. read more
October 23, 2009 5:57 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana; Laurence, Eric | Permalink
Proposed in July 2009, the regulations would have imposed reporting requirements on sources emitting 10,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent annually and required third-party verification of emissions reports for sources emitting more than 25,000 metric tons annually. read more
October 15, 2009 6:49 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
On Wednesday, the head of the Congressional Budget Office, Douglas Elmendorf, answered questions from a Senate energy panel regarding the costs of the cap-and-trade bill passed by the House of Representatives in June (known as Waxman-Markey). CBO estimates the bill would slow US GDP by 0.25 to 0.75 in 2020 but Mr. Elmendorf noted that costs of climate change were not included in the analysis. read more
October 13, 2009 7:43 PM | Posted by McNulty, Michael | Permalink
The European Commission announced plans to spend $73 billion on renewable energy technologies over the next ten years.  Europe has clearly decided to go all out in the white-hot competition to lead the world in solar, wind, nuclear, and other non-carbon based energy technologies. read more
October 7, 2009 5:38 PM | Posted by Hake, Alana | Permalink
Dow Chemical recently introduced its "Powerhouse" line of solar shingles.  The solar shingles use thin-film solar technology but can be installed by roofers without any specialized tools or training. read more
October 5, 2009 4:01 PM | Posted by Demarchi, Kimberly; Harris, Gregory | Permalink
Renewable energy developers using technologies that consume large amounts of water are finding it more difficult to obtain the necessary water rights and approvals for their projects. read more
October 2, 2009 9:54 AM | Posted by Acken, Albert | Permalink
On Wednesday, EPA proposed a rule that would subject GHG-emitting facilities to its NSR program, including the requirement of best available control technology.  The applicability threshold in the new rule is 25,000 tons/year of CO2 equivalent. read more
September 30, 2009 4:44 PM | Posted by Campbell, Thomas | Permalink
U.S. Representative Gabrielle Giffords, of Arizona's 8th District, recently introduced legislation that would require the Department of Energy to develop a long-term plan for the research and implementation of solar energy technology. read more
September 30, 2009 10:56 AM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
Three energy-sector businesses have recently left the U.S. Chamber of Commerce over its opposition to carbon legislation and its general stance on the issue of global climate change.  The three businesses are Exelon Corp., the largest nuclear operator in the United States; PG&E Corp., a California utility; and PNM Resources Inc, an energy holding company in New Mexico. read more
September 28, 2009 11:15 AM | Posted by Gordon, Garrett | Permalink
Alfredo Alonso, lobbyist, and Garrett Gordon, land use attorney, in the Lewis and Roca office in Reno, Nevada, recently obtained final land use approvals for an 80-acre environmentally conscious business and industrial park called the "Village Green Commerce Center". read more
September 23, 2009 12:36 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matthew | Permalink
At a U.N. climate summit yesterday, President Hu Jintao discussed China’s willingness to reduce greenhouse gases including some specific proposals. read more
September 22, 2009 12:15 PM | Posted by Bingham, Matt | Permalink
The rule identifies certain “source categories” such as power plants, petroleum refineries, and Portland cement manufacturers that must report emissions. In addition, any stationary source that emits 25,000 tons/year of CO2 equivalent must also report its emissions. EPA estimates that the 85% of total GHG emissions in the U.S. will be covered by the new rule. Facilities must begin monitoring on January 1, 2010 and reports for 2010 will be due on March 31, 2011. read more
September 21, 2009 2:08 PM | Posted by Herstam, Chris | Permalink
In this "Daily Email", Clint Bolick of Arizona's Goldwater Institute argues against the Corporation Commission's Renewable Energy Standards. read more