Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke recently falsely claimed that wind turbines kill 750,000 birds each year. In actuality, wind turbines kill a little more than 350,000 birds annually — which is far fewer than cars, house cats, or plate-glass windows put to death. What’s the biggest threat to our flying friends? According to the Audubon Society, it’s climate change. The Acoustic Lighthouse generates a high-pitched sound that prompts birds to slow down. Birds hit the brakes by pointing their tail feathers down, which makes their body shift upright, causing them look ahead instead of at the ground. “All that’s missing is the brake-screeching sound,” Swaddle said.
This might be the future of wind repowering in the United States. In a first-of-its-kind project, the owner of a pioneering Illinois wind farm will bring down an aging fleet of 15-year-old turbines in a process akin to trees being logged in a forest. The Mendota Hills site, in operation since 2003, was the first utility-scale wind farm in Illinois. The project owner, Dallas-based Leeward Renewable Energy, is replacing sixty-three 850-kilowatt Gamesa turbines with twenty-nine 2.6-megawatt turbines from Siemens Gamesa. The new project will increase power capacity at the site from just over 50 megawatts to 76 megawatts.In an interview, CEO Greg Wolf told Greentech Media that Leeward is exploring repowering opportunities across its portfolio. Seventeen of the company’s 19 wind farms are beyond their 10-year Production Tax Credit (PTC) period. Mendota Hills is the oldest operating wind farm in its portfolio.
Big oil and big corn are touting opposing studies released this week on proposed biofuels policy reforms under consideration by the Trump administration, part of an ongoing clash between the two sides over the future of the program.Valero Energy Corp , a major oil refiner, funded a study by Charles River Associates that supports placing a cap on the price of biofuel blending credits under the U.S. Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) - a change meant to help refiners that complain the RFS now costs them a fortune.A rival report from Iowa State University, also released this week, said such a cap on credits would backfire by eroding U.S. demand for corn-based ethanol and potentially lowering corn prices, already under pressure from a supply glut. The corn industry did not directly fund the Iowa State study, but does provide funding to the university.The studies are meant to inform the administration's deliberations on how, and if, to reform the RFS - which has become a major point of tension between two of President Donald Trump's most important constituencies.
The Maryland General Assemblywill evaluate two very different proposals for the future of energy and climate policy in our state. One, The 100% Clean Renewable Energy and Equity Act, will fundamentally change the trajectory for wind and solar development, strengthen our economy and build a solid pathway to using only clean renewable electricity by 2035. The other, The Clean Energy and Jobs Act (CEJA), will accelerate the current Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) mechanisms to reach a target of 50 percent renewable electricity by 2030.
Canada's National Energy Board has approved Hydro-Quebec's application to construct an international transmission line to New Hampshire as part of the disputed Northern Pass transmission project. In January, Massachusetts selected Northern Pass to help the state meet its clean energy goals, but the project was rejected unanimously by the New Hampshire Site Evaluation Committee the following month. Massachusetts has since indicated that it will select Central Maine Power's New England Clean Energy Connect (NECEC) transmission line to replace Northern Pass if it doesn't secure a permit from New Hampshire in the next three weeks. Both projects involve partnerships with Hydro-Quebec to deliver clean energy from Canada to the U.S.
If you live in a city or county that sues oil companies over climate change, prepare for a blowback. ExxonMobil and other fossil fuel giants are taking legal action against such local governments, seeking to undermine a key part of their finances — their relationship with lenders. Exxon’s target is several California cities and counties that have filed state lawsuits, claiming the oil and coal industries worked for decades to cover up their role in climate change and the consequences. The local governments want the industries to pay for damage and adaptation costs resulting from climate change, including sea-level rise and more extreme storms.Exxon responded last month by petitioning a state court in Tarrant County, Texas — near the company’s headquarters in Irving — to subpoena California officials and lawyers involved with the lawsuits. In a novel legal tactic, Exxon alleges the local government officials are defrauding buyers of municipal bonds by not disclosing to lenders the climate risks they have claimed in their lawsuits.
A tax credit that’s helped motivate many fiscally conscious Iowa farmers to install solar panels would see an early demise under a sweeping tax reform bill that cleared a major legislative hurdle. Iowa is the only state in the Midwest and one of just a dozen nationally that still offers a state solar tax credit. The Iowa Legislature created the 15 percent tax credit in 2012. Since then it’s provided a total of $21.6 million in incentives for nearly 4,000 projects.
Nearly 50,000 Iowa jobs are supported by biofuels production. In addition, the biofuels industry boosts household income for Iowans by more than $2.4 billion and accounted for $5.0 billion, or 3.4%, of Iowa GDP.
On Sunday, March 4, the California Independent System Operator saw an all-time peak percentage of demand served by solar, hitting a record 49.95 percent.
American solar company SunPower will lay off about 3 percent of its workforce in March, a decision that comes after President Trump began imposing new tariffs on imported solar materials earlier this month. SunPower has already started the process of laying off between 150 and 250 workers, largely from its research and development and marketing positions, CEO Tom Werner told The Hill. The cuts will amount to about a 10 decrease in operational expenses.