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Maryland 50% renewable by 2030, but republican governor wants more

electrek | Posted on May 23, 2019

Maryland’s bill mandating 50% renewable energy by 2030 is set to become law on Friday. The bill will do so without the signature of Republican Gov. Larry Hogan. Why won’t Hogan sign the bill? It’s probably not what you think. Like a number of critics, Maryland’s GOP governor doesn’t believe the bill does enough to combat climate change, and it gives no guarantees of Maryland jobs. As Hogan wrote in a letter to the Maryland senate president,“Despite its name, this bill is not clean enough, nor smart enough, nor does it create the intended jobs within Maryland.”Hogan actually wants to expand the mandate to 100% clean energy by 2040, surprising his critics. The new law may not go as far as some would like, but it will still have its benefits.

Ohio House Republicans overhaul ‘clean-energy’ bill to focus on nuclear, coal subsidies | Posted on May 23, 2019

Ohio House Republicans on Wednesday dramatically transformed a controversial “clean-energy” subsidy bill, turning it into a bailout plan for both nuclear and coal power plants owned by Ohio companies. The changes to House Bill 6, made by the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee, would also end Ohio’s much-disputed renewable-energy and energy-efficiency mandates for utilities after this year, which cost residential electricity users an average of about $4.60 per month. Instead, residential customers statewide would pay up to $1 per month into an estimated $190 million “Ohio Clean Air Program” fund, most of which would go to help keep open the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants, owned by FirstEnergy Solutions.

Indiana utilities are in midst of identity crisis as customers take power into own hands

Indy Star | Posted on May 23, 2019

The changes came slowly, then seemingly all at once. Next door, your neighbor installed solar panels. You started seeing more and more electric vehicles. When you drove north on I-65, you hit a patch of farmland dotted with large windmills. And what about that big field of solar panels at the airport?You may not have thought much about it, but every time you flipped on the lights or plugged in an appliance, you were part of a revolution.Until recently, virtually all residents in Indiana, and many states across the country, had little say in where their electricity came from or how it was produced. Bills arrived in the mail — whether from one of the big, investor-owned utilities or a smaller municipal or rural cooperative — and customers paid them.But Indiana utilities no longer hold a monopoly on energy generation in the state.

Renewable Fuel Standard Saves Consumers 22 Cents on Every Gallon of Gas

Hoosier Ag Today | Posted on May 23, 2019

The Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) has lowered gas prices by an average of 22 cents per gallon in recent years and saved the typical American household $250 annually, according to a study published by economist and energy policy expert Dr. Philip K. Verleger, Jr. The study used an econometric model to estimate the impacts of the RFS, which requires refiners to blend increasing amounts of renewable fuels with gasoline and diesel, on crude oil and gasoline prices over the last four years (2015-2018). Findings reveal that the RFS has provided substantial economic benefits to consumers in the United States and worldwide.

Trump EPA did not await court ruling to loosen biofuel rules for refiners - documents

Reuters | Posted on May 23, 2019

The Trump administration made it easier for oil refineries to get waivers from the nation’s biofuel law at least four months before a 2017 court decision it often cites to justify the move to the corn lobby, and the move was motivated by a desire to save the oil industry money. The timing and motivation for the Environmental Protection Agency’s policy change, revealed through court documents and an interview with a former top agency official, have not been previously reported. This reinforces the concerns of the corn industry that the decision to expand the waiver program was made at the EPA’s discretion.“EPA repeatedly told Congress its hands were tied and blamed the courts. That appears to have been a lie. EPA also said it was following Department of Energy recommendations. We also know that’s bunk. I’m going to get to the bottom of this,” U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley, a Republican from the farm state of Iowa, said.The waivers, granted to small refineries including those run by oil majors Exxon Mobil, Chevron Corp and billionaire investor Carl Icahn, saved the oil industry hundreds of millions of dollars. The waivers angered the corn lobby which argued they hurt farmers by threatening demand for ethanol.

After Standing Rock, protesting pipelines can get you a decade in prison and $100K in fines

Grist | Posted on May 16, 2019

Cherri Foytlin and her fellow protestors spent much of last summer suspended 35-feet in the air in “sky pods” tied to cypress trees. They were hoping to block the Bayou Bridge Pipeline from running through their part of Louisiana. At the time, Energy Transfer Partners was building the pipeline to move oil between Texas and St. James Parish in southern Louisiana, crisscrossing through the Atchafalaya Basin, one of the largest swamps in the country. Foytlin and others with the group L’Eau Est La Vie (“Water Is Life”) set up wooden platformsbetween trees along the proposed path of the pipeline. The construction crew couldn’t build the pipeline with a protestor dangling above.Though the protesters were on private land with the landowner’s permission, some were eventually arrested by St. Martin’s Parish Sheriff’s deputies in mid August. The pipeline was completed in March, yet Foytlin could still face up to five years in prison and $1,000 in fines.That’s because Louisiana’s Governor John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, signed HB 727 into law last spring, making trespassing on “critical infrastructure” property a much more serious crime than garden-variety trespassing. What was once a misdemeanor is now a felony. 

Minnesota nonprofits using community solar to help veterans, families in need

Energy News Network | Posted on May 16, 2019

Minnesota nonprofits are turning to community solar as a tool to fight poverty. Community solar typically involves households or businesses buying subscriptions to projects owned by a third-party developer. The power generated is credited to subscribers’ utility bills and generally reduces monthly payments.But the model comes with barriers such as credit score checks that can put it out of reach for some of those who have the most to potentially gain. Several Minnesota charities are experimenting with ways to spread the benefits.

'Impossible' research produces 400-year El Niño record, revealing startling changes

Science Daily | Posted on May 16, 2019

Coral experts around the world said it was impossible to extract a multi-century record of El Niño events. But now a persistent effort has produced the world's first 400-year long record of El Niño events. And the changes researchers have found to El Niños in recent decades are startling. The 400-year record revealed a clear change in El Niño types, with an increase of Central Pacific El Niño activity in the late 20th Century and suggested future changes to the strength of Eastern Pacific El Niños."We are seeing more El Niños forming in the central Pacific Ocean in recent decades, which is unusual across the past 400 years," said lead author Dr Mandy Freund.

Third-biggest US coal company files for bankruptcy

AP News | Posted on May 16, 2019

The nation’s third-largest coal company by production volume filed for bankruptcy Friday as utility companies increasingly turn to gas-fired generation and renewable energy for electricity. Gillette-based Cloud Peak Energy filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Delaware. The move was widely expected since at least March, when the company received the first of several extensions to make a $1.8 million loan payment. The latest extension expired Friday.

Ohio lawmakers seek to relax profit limits on FirstEnergy, other utilities | Posted on May 9, 2019

State rules to prevent significantly excessive profits by FirstEnergy and other Ohio utilities would be loosened by language slipped into Ohio’s massive two-year budget bill. If passed, the Akron-based utility would stand to make more money from ratepayers, rather than having to issue refunds to more than a million customers in northeast and north-central Ohio.The amendment, one of dozens added by lawmakers last week, would change the state’s calculation of what constitutes “significantly excessive” profits in a way that allows the utility’s subsidiaries -- Ohio Edison, Cleveland Electric Illuminating Company and Toledo Edison -- to “artificially dilute” the profits they report, said Jeff Jacobson of the Ohio Consumers’ Counsel