Clean Energy Initiative

House GOP Plays Effective Game with Clean Energy, Sen Reid Refuses to Appoint Conferees, CSP Could Play Big Role in Middle East

Scott Rosenberg writes an interesting piece in Grist on how effectively the House Republicans have used Clean Energy to bait the President and the Democrats in Congress.  I am not sure I necessarily agree with him, but because I cannot understand why energy has gone from regional to stridently partisan, his arguments do make sense.

Senator Reid told the Huffington Post this morning, "no negotiations until Boehner follows through and passes the compromise that Senators Reid and McConnell negotiated at his request, and which received 90 percent support in the Senate. It's shameful that he won't even give it an up or down vote.  Hopefully fellow Republicans can prevail upon their wayward colleagues in the House."  By refusing to appoint conferees for negotiation, Senator Reid is rendering Speaker Boehner's challenge a mute one.  There is little hope either party will be able to bridge this disagreement in the next 11 days that remain before the payroll tax cut ends.

Concentrated solar thermal power sits alongside photovoltaic electricity solar energy as a commercially available renewable energy technology which is capable of harnessing immense solar resources.  A new study by the European Academies Science Advisory Council examined the current status and challenges of CSP and at the same time evaluated the potential contribution of CSP in the Europe and the Middle East region in the first half of this century.  The findings report that with significant investment CSP could offer a cost effective way of enabling signigicant contribution to meeting this regions need for clean energy.

Incentives for Wind and Solar in Limbo, Energy Storage Crucial to Energy Technologies, Teeth Taken out of Light Bulb Regs

Renewable Energy Activists are fighting to keep tax and grant programs alive, but it doesn't appear that this GOP controlled Congress is inclined toward their efforts.  The Solar industry is fighting to renew the 1603 Treasury grant program which gives renewable and solar developers cash payments of up to 30% of their project costs in lieu of future tax credits.  At the same time the wind industry is actively working Congress to extend their Production Tax Credit which pays wind farm owners 2.2 cents for every kilowatt hour of energy it produces during the first decade of operation.   Both solar and wind industries argue that a decision needs to be made sooner than later for future planning purposes, but it looks like Congress will adjourn for 2011 without consideration of these programs.

Energy Storage Systems are considered a crucial component of the future energy system, enabling the widespread adoption of everything from renewable energy, smart grid technologies and backup power, to electric vehicles and portable devices.  A New analysis from Frost & Sullivan finds that  the development of electric energy storage technologies is currently being driven by factors such as grid stability and reliability, the need to integrate intermittent renewable energy generators, and the push to limit greenhouse gas emissions and use energy resources more efficiently.

In a last minute deal, the House GOP successfully killed new energy efficiency rules for light bulbs when House and Senate negotiators included a rider to block enforcement of the regulations in the year-end spending bill.  Normally, industry loves it when GOP fights business regulations. but companies like General Electric millions of dollars prepping for the new rules and say pulling the plug now could cost them. The looming possibility of the new standards, signed into law by President Bush in 2007, and the fact that places like Europe, Australia, Brazil and China have already put similar measures in place has already transformed the industry.  For years I have stockpiled hundreds of what will soon be illegal 'incandescent  bulbs'.  The legal energy efficient bulbs' ugly and cold light are a bane to good decorating and a happy home.

President Obama big friend of Oil and Gas Industry, Troubles with NRC Commission in House Hearing, Summary of Legislative Riders

An Op-Ed by Michael Webber, University of Texas energy analyst, states that the oil and gas industry has flourished under the Obama Administration and is experiencing the largest growth since the 1950s.  U.S. oil production is up 14% since Obama took office while foreign oil consumption is only 45%.  Obama opened up offshore drilling and continued this even after the BP oil spill, Administration investments energy and research resulted in filling the innovation pipelines with new devices and entrepreneurial opportunities.

House of Representatives  Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a hearing on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  The hearing aired complaints from all five members of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.  Gregory B. Jaczko, chair of the committee and an ally of Senator Reid, has had trouble with the the four members in terms of information flow to other commissioners.  

California gets ready to integrate more renewables on the market.  Five things are critical to this process: adequate interconnection, good market design, advanced market tools, system flexibility, and last of all agreed upon rules fo this.

U.S. Oil Production drastically Peaks, Solar Energy Generation at Parity, Republicans successfully make Keyston a 2012 Issue

Daniel Yergin, arguably the most prominent oil expert in the world, points out in his Wall Street Journal piece that foreign oil now only meets 45% of domestic consumption in the United States, down from 60% in 2005. 

Republicans have breathed life into the Keystone XL Pipeline by attaching the Keystone Pipeline as a rider to the Payroll tax Bill.  In doing so, the Republicans have successfully made the Keystone Pipeline into a major 2012 election issue

Solar Parity is here today.  Solar material prices are down, financing is more accessible and technology haas extended the life of  solar panel. The result is that the price of solar energy generated electricity is now competitive in many regions with conventional sources. 

Payroll Tax Cut includes Keystone Pipeline, Hearing on Production Tax Credits, NREL presents Systems Integration

House Republicans on Tuesday defied a White House veto threat to pass a version of a payroll tax cut extension that includes language demanding a quick decision on the Keystone XL pipeline and blocking EPA's boiler MACT. The measure passed 234 to 193, with 10 Democrats supporting the bill and 14 Republicans voting against it. 

Today the Senate Finance Subcommtittee on Energy, Natural Resources and Infrastructure is holding a hearing on "Alternative Energy Tax Incentives" The renewable energy community has put out a study from Navigant Consulting, which found that next year there will be 78,000 jobs supported by wind, but that this would fall to 41,000 in 2013 without an extension of the tax credit, which is 2.2 cents per kilowatt-hour.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has instituted a new energy systems integration facility (ESIF) currently underconstruction to take on the challenge of helping utilities keep the grid functioning as our national grid infrasturcture is challenged by integration of new generation technologies such as wind and solar power and smart meters are rolled out across the nation.

MIT Recommends Changes in Regulatory Environment, Unemployment Insurance tied to Keystone Pipeline, Reps and Dems counter Policy

According to the recent MIT study, while the grid is not in any imminent danger, the current regulatory framework, largely established in the 1930s is not capable of giving the country the grid of the future to support new technologies and consumer services for a strong and competitive U.S. economy.  MIT recommends a series of changes in the regulatory environment designed to facilitate and exploit technological innovation which should  include federal authority over decisions on the routing of new interstate transmission lines.

Republicans leaders in the House of Representatives are looking to use year-end legislation to extend the payroll tax cut to advance their energy tax policy.  Legislation was rolled out Friday to extend the tax holiday and unemployment insurance, but would also force the State Department to make a final decision on Keystone XL within 60 days. The measure also includes language blocking EPA's boiler MACT rule that would clamp down on mercury, lead and soot emissions.

Paralysis on any energy legislation rules the day in 112th Congress.   The Republicans say the Democrats haven't allowed votes on their bills, but the Democrats say that the Republicans' legislation is too ideologically partisan and not based in compromise

Full Frontal in behalf of Climate Change? Govt Subsidies in Peril for Solar, NREL initiates procedures for Electric Vehicles,

David Roberts of Grist makes a compellingcase for full frontal press behalf of climate change.

While renewable energy advocates have long argued that government subsidies for the sector are dwarfed by those for more traditional energy industries, they have had a more poignant complaint since the onset of the recession: one of the subsidies they do get, an investment tax credit, has been rendered nearly useless by the general business downturn.  At issue is a complicated provision of the tax code called Section 1603, which is actually a modification of an earlier subsidy program.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) has released the country's first set of test procedures to optimize how electric vehicles connect to the smart grid.
The technical report includes ways to evaluate the potential for vehicle-to-grid (V2G) connections, whereby power flows both ways, from grid to vehicle batteries and from batteries to grid. The test procedures evaluate EVs to determine their ability to connect and disconnect and to store and provide power to the grid, according to a NREL press release.

National Gas to outpace Coal in production of Electricity, Bogus Job Number for XLKeystone Pipeline, EV Industry Bumps in Road

Natural Gas will soon replace coal as our nation's leading electricity generator by 2025, according to a long-term outlook from Exxon Mobil Corp.

If you say 20,000 jobs often enough – does that make it true?  No, it doesn’t.  The "20,000 jobs" came from a study funded by TransCanada, the company building the pipeline. The original State Department review, however, found that the actual number would be more like 5,000 annnnnd most of these jobs will be temporary.  Which makes the number 20,000 untrue and unfair – given the reality of unemployed people in our country.  But that won’t stop the Chamber of Commerce and some Republicans for repeatedly using that number, even if it means by their own admission that his includes ‘modern dancers choreographers and dancers who would move to the high plains area to reap the benefits of this economic boon' As might be expected, the Administration's money for the burgeoning electric vehicle industry has experienced some bumps in the road particularly in the area of batteries and battery storage.

International and National Efforts to Address Climate Issues; Bingaman to Introduce CES Again citing EIA Analysis

UN Chief General Ban Ki-moon, as he opened the final ministerial stage of the two-week conference, stated that an all-encompassing climate deal "may be beyond our reach for now," as China and India delivered a setback to European plans to negotiate a new treaty that would bind all parties to their pledges on greenhouse gas emissions.  Political differences, the worldwide financial crisis and a divergence of priorities among rich and poor countries are barriers to an agreement on a future negotiating path, Ban said. But he urged nations to resolve lesser issues.  "We must keep up the momentum," he said. "It would be difficult to overstate the gravity of this moment. Without exaggeration, we can say the future of our planet is at stake." 

However, leaders in the United States are not so pessimistic.  According to Politico Morning Energy, Senator John Kerry wants to help lead a Senate effort to come up with bipartisan energy proposals that can find their way through the legislative gridlock next year. Kerry and Barbara Boxer have restarted weekly Tuesday gatherings of a group of fellow Democrats that they had led during the cap-and-trade talks.

The Energy Information Administration (EIA) has released an analysis of the impacts of a Federal clean energy standard (CES).  The analysis was requested by Sen. Jeff Bingaman (D-NM), Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  Sen. Bingaman has said that the analysis will inform the development of legislation he plans to introduce in 2012 to establish a Federal CES, which would require electric utilities to demonstrate that a minimum percentage of sales derive from certain clean energy sources.

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