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Energy News

Should plastics be a source of energy?

Chemical and Engineering News | Posted on September 26, 2018

The plastic waste problem has grown into a crisis over the past year as more people have become aware of ocean plastic litter and China shut its doors to waste plastics imports from the rest of the world. In the U.S., little plastic is being recycled, and the prospects for boosting recycling significantly and in short order are slim. Some observers are arguing for burning plastic that can’t be recycled to extract its energy value. But that might be easier said than done. Burning more plastics in waste-to-energy facilities poses economic and societal challenges. Making fuels out of plastics shows long-term promise, but plants need to be built.

The Battle Over Arizona’s Clean Energy Mix

Green Tech Media | Posted on September 26, 2018

As debate rages over increasing Arizona’s RPS, the largest utility—and strongest RPS opponent—has announced new clean energy programs and incentives. This column explores the state’s mismatched clean energy outlook. In November, residents will vote on whether or not to enshrine the increase in Arizona’s constitution under Proposition 127. The state’s current RPS is 15 percent by 2025. Arizona Public Service, the state’s largest utility, is strongly opposed to the increase. In July, Arizonans for Affordable Electricity, a political action committee funded by APS’ parent company Pinnacle West Capital Corp., filed a lawsuit to keep the renewable energy initiative off the ballot. The PAC claims proponents of the measure failed to gather enough valid signatures. The effort to increase Arizona’s RPS is being led by Clean Energy for a Healthy Arizona, which is backed by San Francisco-based billionaire Tom Steyer. Over the summer, the group submitted more than double the required number of signatures to place the constitutional amendment on the ballot. The group has raised just over $8 million to date.Meanwhile, Pinnacle West has spent $11 million to keep the RPS measure off of the ballot this fall. 

Ryan Zinke to the oil and gas industry: “Our government should work for you”

Vox | Posted on September 26, 2018

Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke gave the keynote address at the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association’s fall meeting in Lafayette, Louisiana. He told the conference over lunch “our government should work for you." And according to the Louisiana Oil and Gas Association, the industry members in the room were thrilled with the pledge, giving Zinke a standing ovation.

California urges Trump administration to abandon fuel rule plan

Reuters | Posted on September 26, 2018

California’s top air regulator urged the Trump administration on Sunday to abandon a plan to freeze fuel efficiency standards through 2026, as automakers urged state and federal regulators to reach agreement to extend nationwide rules. Mary Nichols, who chairs the state’s Air Resources Board, asked the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Environmental Protection Agency to reverse course, saying the plan to freeze requirements at 2020 levels “turns its back on decades of progress in cleaning up cars and trucks.”

87 days of smog: Southern California just saw its longest streak of bad air in decades

The Los Angeles Times | Posted on September 26, 2018

Southern Californians might remember the summer of 2018 for its sweltering heat waves, record ocean temperatures and destructive wildfires. But it also claimed another distinction: the summer we went nearly three months without a day of clean air.The region violated federal smog standards for 87 consecutive days, the longest stretch of bad air in at least 20 years, state monitoring data show. The streak is the latest sign that Southern California’s battle against smog is faltering after decades of dramatic improvement.

Resiliency in the face of hurricanes makes the case for renewables even stronger

Quartz | Posted on September 20, 2018

People of the Carolinas are picking up the pieces after Hurricane Florence, the wettest tropical cyclone on record.  Solar-power installations were largely able to escape without harm.Before the storm hit, Duke Energy’s 40 solar-power sites were “de-energized” and set up horizontally to minimize wind damage. Although it’s too soon say what, if any, damage occurred, the signs are good. Soon after the storm passed, all the installations had begun producing power. Rooftop solar installations fared well too. Only six out of 800 customers of Yes Solar Solutions reported that there was a problem with their system.That said, modern renewables form only a fraction of the total electricity produced in the Carolinas. Duke Energy’s Brunswick nuclear plant was shut ahead of the storm and remains offline. The plant is safe but remains inaccessible because of flooding. Natural gas and coal power plants haven’t suffered any problems, but the flooding coal-ash fields are likely to cause environmental problems.

Omaha company idles Iowa ethanol plant, points to trade war, lack of year-round E15

Des Moines Register | Posted on September 20, 2018

Omaha-based Green Plains says it's idling production at a northwest Iowa ethanol plant, but the facility remains open and its nearly 50 employees continue to work. Jim Stark, Green Plains spokesman, said the company plans to resume production at Superior, but he's unsure exactly when that will occur. The facility employs 46 workers.

Trump administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands

The Hill | Posted on September 20, 2018

The Trump administration on Tuesday finalized its plans to weaken regulations on methane gas releases from drilling on public land.The action from the Interior Department’s Bureau of Land Management (BLM) rolls back key provisions of an Obama-era rule that limited releases of the greenhouse gas during oil and gas production on publicly owned lands leased to fossil fuel companies.The new rule is expected to allow for more leaks of the gas through a practice known as venting or flaring, adding to air pollution. The Obama administration estimated that the practice cost taxpayers more than $330 million annually in lost revenue. The new rule is being described by the Trump administration as a way to reduce burdens on the private sector.

Indiana NIPSCO plan would eliminate coal-fired electricity generation within 10 years

NorthWest Indiana Times | Posted on September 20, 2018

IPSCO has a tentative plan to retire its entire coal-fired electricity generation fleet in the next decade, with the majority of its coal-fired generators to be retired in the next five years.The company made the announcement at the fourth of five public meetings detailing the development of a new Integrated Resource Plan for the utility.“This creates a vision for the future that is better for our customers, and it’s consistent with our goal to transition to the best cost, cleanest electric supply mix available while maintaining reliability, diversity and flexibility for technology and market changes,” said NIPSCO President Violet Sistovaris.


Solar Going Big (And Small) In Illinois

Northern Public Radio | Posted on September 20, 2018

Solar power has been used here and there in Illinois for a long time. But now the state is going for it in a big way. With the Future Energy Jobs Act of 2016, Illinois charted a course to boost renewable energy, particularly solar, in a big way.It's all being managed by the Illinois Power Agency (IPA), led by Anthony Star. It was established to manage electricity markets, including renewables, and still does. But the new law gives it a mandate to create the framework for a new energy market in Illinois."So there's really two paths forward on renewable energy coming out of the Future Energy Jobs Act," Star said. "For large-scale renewable, such as wind farms or solar that's located on brownfields, we use the competitive procurement model, where we basically put out a request for proposals and people come with specific projects and bid on price."Renewable energy credits were developed by the renewables industry as a way to separate the environmental benefits from the electricity itself. They have value, and can be sold or traded separate from the electricity.