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Researchers: No Evidence Wind Turbine Sound Poses Threat To Public Health

Iowa Public Radio | Posted on February 6, 2019

A team of Iowa researchers has concluded that there's no actionable evidence that the sound of wind turbines is a danger to public. Instead, the report authors found that reported symptoms of hearing loss or poor sleep are more likely related to people’s attitudes and beliefs about wind development. Residents in areas seeing wind development sometimes report headaches, sleep disturbance, hearing loss and other symptoms. A team of researchers from the University of Iowa, the Iowa Policy Project and The Iowa Environmental Council explored potential causes of these symptoms. Based on an overview of peer-reviewed studies, they found that there is not suffiecient evidence to show sound or sound pressure from turbines is a directly causing adverse health effects. 

Long-awaited Oregon carbon cap bill is released

Capital Press | Posted on February 6, 2019

After nearly a year of work by a legislative committee, a bill released Thursday afternoon outlines how Oregon would drastically cut its greenhouse gas emissions and become the second state to implement a cap and trade system. The anticipated legislation — criticized before it even appeared — instantly became the talk of the Capitol, though many legislators weren’t exactly certain what had emerged. At 98 pages, the legislation is more something to devour after dinner with a bottle of wine than something to skim through between committee hearings.Lawmakers, lobbyists and nonpartisan legislative analysts alike scrambled to read the proposal, what is called the Oregon Climate Action Program, branded as Legislative Concept 894.

Surge in wind power set to surpass hydroelectric power in U.S.

Digital Journal | Posted on February 4, 2019

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) released its Short term energy outlook for 2019 this month - and it's good news for the U.S. electrical grid. even as coal-fired power plants decline. In 2019, a surge in wind power is set to surpass the nation's longstanding renewable mainstay, hydroelectric power. Hydroelectric power generation - a renewable energy source, has been around for at least 100 years, but it is also seeing slow growth due to permitting restrictions and protections of wildlife. In 2017, hydro made up 7.4 percent of total electrical generation. Hydropower was 7.0 percent of total generation in 2018 and EIA forecasts that it will be about the same in 2019 and in 2020.As for solar power, the EIA estimates about 5 gigawatts (GW) of utility-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) capacity will be added in 2019 and 6 GW will be added in 2020. The EIA expects nearly 9 GW of small-scale solar PV capacity to be installed during 2019–20, mostly in the residential sector.


Trump rollbacks for fossil fuel industries carry steep cost

AP News | Posted on February 4, 2019

As the Trump administration rolls back environmental and safety rules for the energy sector, government projections show billions of dollars in savings reaped by companies will come at a steep cost: more premature deaths and illnesses from air pollution, a jump in climate-warming emissions and more severe derailments of trains carrying explosive fuels. The Associated Press analyzed 11 major rules targeted for repeal or relaxation under Trump, using the administration’s own estimates to tally how its actions would boost businesses and harm society.The AP identified up to $11.6 billion in potential future savings for companies that extract, burn and transport fossil fuels. Industry windfalls of billions of dollars more could come from a freeze in vehicle efficiency standards that will yield an estimated 79 billion-gallon (300 million-liter) increase in fuel consumption.On the opposite side of the government’s ledger, buried in thousands of pages of analyses, are the “social costs” of rolling back the regulations. Among them:— Up to 1,400 additional premature deaths annually due to the pending repeal of a rule to cut coal plant pollution.— An increase in greenhouse gas emissions by about 1 billion tons (907 million metric tons) from vehicles produced over the next decade — a figure equivalent to annual emissions of almost 200 million vehicles.— Increased risk of water contamination from a drilling technique known as “fracking.”— Fewer safety checks to prevent offshore oil spills.


Corporate Clean Energy Buying Surged to New Record in 2018

Bloomberg | Posted on February 4, 2019

Corporations purchased 13.4 gigawatts of clean power through long-term contracts, more than doubling 2017’s total, helped by demand from new industries and previously untrodden markets.

Michigan regulators clamp down on utility’s political spending

Energy News Network | Posted on February 4, 2019

In an unprecedented move, the Michigan Public Service Commission has prohibited a major utility from using corporate dollars to fund nonprofit political advocacy groups.The deal with Consumers Energy follows a contentious election involving outsized spending from energy-focused nonprofit groups supporting regulated utilities. Sources say it was the commission’s attempt to rein in the practice following complaints about one group’s political spending in the 2018 election.

Massive Wisconsin solar proposal splits farmers and clean energy fans

The Cap Times | Posted on February 4, 2019

Soon, the family will stop raising dairy cows because the industry is in trouble. In 2018, Wisconsin lost 638 dairy farms because of falling milk prices. And the Bishops, who farm in Iowa County, still carry debt from when hog prices tanked in the 1990s. Yet a rare opportunity has come the Bishops’ way. For at least a generation, the family would receive double or more the market rental rate on about 650 acres to be used for a giant solar power project. The Badger Hollow Solar Farm would be the largest such project in the Midwest. Here in Wisconsin, the 300-megawatt project, which the company says could power about 77,000 homes, is envisioned for 3,500 acres of prime agricultural land. It is dividing the area’s farming community, pitting neighbor against neighbor in this county of about 24,000 people. The Bishops are among several local farmers who plan to lease a checkerboard of parcels between Cobb and Montfort to Invenergy. 




PG&E says judge’s wildfire safety plan would cost $75 billion, lead to huge rate hike

The Sacramento Bee | Posted on January 31, 2019

PG&E on Wednesday blasted a federal judge’s plan for wildfire safety as unrealistic, saying his proposal for the utility to inspect every inch of its electrical grid and remove dangerous trees would cost $75 billion to $150 billion and lead to staggering rate hikes.The embattled utility, which plans to file for bankruptcy because of wildfire claims, said it “does not have the ability to raise those funds” and would have to turn to ratepayers for more money. At the low end, a $75 billion increase in costs would generate a rate hike “of more than five times current rates in typical utility bills,” the company said 

Oregon adopts strict rules for solar panel farms on high-value farm soil

Statesman Journal | Posted on January 29, 2019

The Oregon Land Conservation and Development Commission didn’t shut the door on new solar farms being built on high-value farmland Friday, but it did allow counties to choose if they could be built under significant restrictions. The commission voted to adopt temporary rules that apply statewide to no longer allow construction of photovoltaic solar power generation facilities — commonly referred to as solar farms — on soils that are determined Class 1, Class 2, prime or unique soils.But if a solar developer can determine a dual use, such as beekeeping, of a solar farm on high-value farmland, they can choose to build on 20 acres if a county allows it.Marion County in March 2018 changed its codes to prohibit building solar farms on high-value farmland.

Trump Eyes Action to Limit States' Powers to Block Pipelines

Bloomberg | Posted on January 29, 2019

The Trump administration is considering taking steps to limit the ability of states to block interstate gas pipelines and other energy projects, according to three people familiar with the deliberations. The effort, possibly done through an executive order, is aimed chiefly at states in the Northeast U.S., where opposition to pipeline projects has helped prevent abundant shale gas in Pennsylvania and Ohio from reaching consumers in New York and other cities.