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Coal power stations disrupt rainfall: Global study

Science Daily | Posted on March 13, 2019

Modern coal-fired power stations produce more ultrafine dust particles than road traffic and can even modify and redistribute rainfall patterns, a new 15-year international study shows. The study indicates filtration systems on modern coal-fired power stations are the biggest source of ultrafine particles and can have considerable impacts on climate in several ways.

Does the Aesthetic Impact of Wind Turbines Constitute a Nuisance?

Texas A&M | Posted on March 13, 2019

However, not everyone is a fan of wind farms or the look of the wind turbines dotting the skyline across the Lone Star State.  This has led to an interesting question:  Can claimed negative aesthetic impact of a wind project by a neighboring landowner constitute a nuisance under Texas law?In Rankin v. FPL Energy, LLC, neighbors of the Horse Hollow Wind Farm in Taylor County, filed a lawsuit against the farm claiming it constituted a nuisance.  One of the the plaintiffs’ key claims was that the “wind farm’s aesthetic impact” and the emotional impact of the loss of the unimpeded view of neighboring landowners  was a condition that could be considered by a jury in determining whether a nuisance existed.  The plaintiffs claimed that the 400-foot-tall turbines significantly diminished the area’s scenic beauty and, therefore, the enjoyment of their property.  One plaintiff claimed that because of the wind farm, they abandoned their plan of opening a bed and breakfast due to the view of the wind farm.The court rejected the plaintiffs’ argument that the aesthetic impact created a nuisance.  Although the court recognized the wind farm’s impact on the view and the emotional reaction this could cause, it simply did not constitute a nuisance.  Texas case law limits a nuisance action  “when the challenged activity is lawful to instances in which the activity results in some invasion of the plaintiff’s property and by not allowing recovery for emotional reaction alone.”  Thus, Texas courts do not provide a nuisance action for damage to aesthetic impact.

Study sees beef cattle emissions not significant to global warming

Meating Place (Free registration required) | Posted on March 12, 2019

USDA’s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) has completed a life cycle analysis of beef cattle production in the United States that concluded cattle convert feed about as efficiently as pork and poultry and are not large contributors to global warming. The scope of the analysis spanned five years, seven cattle-producing regions and used data from 2,270 survey responses and site visits nationwide."We found that the greenhouse gas emissions in our analysis were not all that different from what other credible studies had shown and were not a significant contributor to long-term global warming," said ARS agricultural engineer Alan Rotz, who led the analysis team.

'Virtually all' coal plants monitoring groundwater show ash pollution, report finds

Utility Dive | Posted on March 10, 2019

More than 90% of coal plants that monitor groundwater pollution across the United States are leaking toxic coal ash pollution, according to a new national report based on industry disclosures. Of 265 coal plants that report groundwater tests, 243 disclosed unsafe levels of at least one coal ash pollutant, including arsenic, lithium and other contaminants, according to the new report from the Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) and Earthjustice. The data, representing about three-quarters of U.S. coal plants, come from utility filings mandated by federal coal ash rules that the Trump administration is attempting to roll back. The remaining plants were either exempt from reporting groundwater tests or were eligible for reporting extensions.

Xcel Energy has an aggressive clean energy goal. How will it get there?

Energy News | Posted on March 7, 2019

The utility says its interim goal of 80 percent carbon reduction by 2030 can be met with existing technology. After that, it gets more difficult.In Colorado, Xcel Energy says its recently announced goal of 80 percent reduction in carbon emissions by 2030 can be achieved with existing technology. Costs of renewables have declined, weather forecasts have improved, and engineers have learned how to integrate higher and higher levels of clean power without sacrificing reliability.

Oregon renewable energy siting bill worries farmland advocates

Capital Press | Posted on March 7, 2019

Increasing demand for renewable energy in Oregon has spurred a proposal to exempt most such projects from compulsory review by a statewide siting panel. Supporters argue it would be less expensive and time-consuming for county governments to review plans for solar arrays and other renewable energy facilities.However, advocates of farmland preservation argue that counties will scrutinize renewable energy projects less rigorously that the Energy Facility Siting Council, which aims to ensure such facilities meet statewide standards.Under House Bill 2329, the threshold for mandatory EFSC review of solar facilities would be increased from 100 to 200 acres of arable farmland and certain wind, geothermal and transmission projects would also be exempt from the statewide process.

After 4 hour filibuster, New Mexico senate passes landmark renewable energy bill

Albuquerque Journal | Posted on March 7, 2019

A high-profile energy bill passed the Senate late Wednesday night after a procedural fight sparked by a Republican lawmaker’s lengthy filibuster.Sen. William Sharer, R-Farmington, held the Senate floor for nearly four hours in an attempt to force changes to the bill that would reshape New Mexico’s energy landscape by imposing renewable energy standards and providing financial assistance to the state’s largest utility to offset the cost of closing coal-fired power plants in the Four Corners region.In its current form, the measure would replace all of New Mexico’s carbon-emitting generation with clean-energy resources over the next 25 years.In addition, the bill would allow fixed-rate bonds to be issued to help PNM recover the costs associated with the transition to new energy sources.

Utility-linked group seeks to dismantle net metering in Michigan

Energy News Network | Posted on March 5, 2019

Nonprofit advocacy groups linked to DTE Energy are waging a public campaign to significantly reduce the amount customers are paid for their solar power, in line with the utility’s request before Michigan regulators.While these groups — classified as 501(c)(4) social welfare organizations — have been prominent in statewide elections and lobbying lawmakers on behalf of utility interests, the latest involves policy decisions at the Michigan Public Service Commission. Energy laws passed in 2016 with bipartisan support directed the MPSC to study the costs and benefits of net metering customers and require utilities to file new distributed generation programs. DTE is the first major utility to do so. DTE and its allies say net metering customers are being subsidized by all other ratepayers for their cost of using the grid. DTE proposescompensating customers for excess power at wholesale rates along with a monthly fee, similar to utility efforts in other states to curtail net metering.Critics of the utility campaign contend that the benefits net metering customers provide more broadly to the grid have not been fully studied in Michigan, such as helping reduce demand during peak periods in the summer and lower costs for all customers. Advocates also note that in the same rate case DTE is proposing to increase average residential rates by 9.1 percent, with low-income customers being hit the hardest. Net metering customers made up 0.12 percent of DTE’s 11,000 MW load in 2017.

Coal ash contaminates groundwater near most U.S. coal plants: study

Reuters | Posted on March 4, 2019

More than 90 percent of U.S. coal-fired power plants that are required to monitor groundwater near their coal ash dumps show unsafe levels of toxic metals, according to a study released on Monday by environmental groups, which cited the potential harm to drinking water. Data made public by power companies showed that of the 265 plants subject to the monitoring requirement, 241 - or 91 percent - showed unsafe levels of one or more coal ash components in nearby groundwater compared to EPA standards, according to the analysis by the groups.The report also found that 52 percent of those plants had unsafe levels of cancer-causing arsenic in nearby groundwater while 60 percent showed unsafe levels of lithium, which can cause neurological damage.



Alabama Power customers to pay $740 million after coal plant closes

Birmingham Real Time News | Posted on March 4, 2019

The William Crawford Gorgas Electric Generating Plant near Parrish is set to be retired in April, but Alabama Power customers will be repaying about $740 million in costs related to the Walker County coal power plant long after it closes, according to documents the company filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission.  Alabama Power’s parent group, Southern Company, disclosed in its latest public 10-K filing that “approximately $740 million of net investment costs [from Plant Gorgas] will be transferred to a regulatory asset at the retirement date and recovered over the affected units’ remaining useful lives.” That will allow Alabama Power to recover the costs of investments it made in the coal-fired power plant, plus a profit margin set by the Alabama Public Service Commission, from customers through their electric bills.