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Illinois:Lottery Held To Decide Which Solar Energy Projects Get Credits To Sell Power To Utilities

WIll | Posted on April 11, 2019

Hundreds of proposals for solar electricity projects in Illinois competed to win renewable energy credits in a special lottery. The credits will be used to mark the sale of renewable energy to utility companies that are required by the state’s Future Energy Jobs Act to buy a certain amount. “Renewable energy credits are designed to recognize the environmental attributes of renewal energy, and put a monetary value on something that traditional markets don’t properly value,” said Anthony Star, who manages the Illinois Power Agency, which conducted the lottery, using a random number generator. Results of the lottery can be found at this link to the IPA website.Solar energy projects in Illinois do not need renewable energy credits to sell electricity to utilities. But Star says their chances for profitability would be less without them.

Montana judge rules PSC intentionally set PURPA rates to kill solar projects

Utility Dive | Posted on April 11, 2019

A Montana district court judge last week issued an order in favor of solar developers, ruling that the state's Public Service Commission intentionally disadvantaged small solar projects in violation of the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA). The ruling comes after a June 2017 audio recording captured Commissioner Bob Lake acknowledging that cuts to compensation rates the commission had approved that morning were likely deep enough to kill small solar projects. After the recording was released, a number of solar developers in the state filed suit against NorthWestern and the PSC.The PSC cut the rates utilities have to pay solar producers under PURPA by 40%, from $66/MWh to $31/MWh, and cut contracts from 25 to 15 years. District Judge James Manley's order gives the PSC 20 days to come up with new compensation rates and restore contracts to 25 years

Ohio GOP lines up bill to save FirstEnergy nuclear plants

Utility Dive | Posted on April 11, 2019

Ohio Republicans are reportedly circulating legislation that would provide financial support to FirstEnergy’s two nuclear plants slated for closure in the state. A draft version of the bill would create an "Ohio clean air program" that would provide a total of $300 million annually to the Davis-Besse and Perry nuclear plants through customer bill surcharges. Energy News Network released a version of the bill last Thursday. A bill sponsor told the bill could be formally introduced late this week but its provisions are "still in a state of flux." Lawmakers must pass support legislation by June, when FirstEnergy must decide whether to purchase more fuel for the plants or shut them down.

Why some environmental groups oppose a bill to help out low-carbon nuclear plants

Pennsylvania Capital Star | Posted on April 11, 2019

After Sen. Ryan Aument revealed his version of a plan to prop up the state’s nuclear power plants on Wednesday, it didn’t take long for the criticism to start rolling in. “We don’t need to see the forthcoming bill to know that any proposed legislation would rob ratepayers, including Pennsylvania’s most vulnerable citizens, to support corporate greed,” the No Nukes Bailout Coalition, a group that includes the AARP, gas industry interests, and commercial electric users, said.The debate over whether lawmakers should forestall the shutdowns of two of the state’s five nuclear power plants is one of the most divisive issues of this legislative session. A bill similar to Aument’s was introduced in the House in March.And it’s made unlikely allies among some critics, which include everyone from liberal consumer advocates to the conservative Americans for Prosperity.

Ohio bill would create ‘clean air’ fund to benefit nuclear, excluding wind and solar

Energy News Network | Posted on April 11, 2019

Legislation to subsidize two FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power plants in Ohio is about to surface in the Ohio House. Republican majority leaders have been circulating a proposal that would add up to $300 million annually to electric bills across the state, creating a state “clean air program” with grants administered by political appointees.About $180 million would be earmarked for the FirstEnergy Solutions nuclear power plants, say analysts who have looked at the legislation. The remaining $120 million could be used to prop up other companies — though it appears those companies would not be owners of wind and solar farms.

An overeager legal strategy may endanger Trump’s energy goals

Roll Call | Posted on April 11, 2019

Sen. Lisa Murkowski was unhappy with an April 5 ruling by Sharon Gleason, a federal judge in Anchorage, Alaska, who found that President Donald Trump had unlawfully lifted a ban prohibiting drilling in the Arctic Ocean, dealing the president’s fossil-fuel energy agenda a major blow. “I strongly disagree with this ruling,” said Murkowski, who wants to open her state’s land and water to increased oil and gas leasing. “I expect this decision to be appealed and ultimately overturned.”If the past is any indication, the Alaska Republican may be disappointed. In the 28 months since Trump became president, his administration has worked with zeal and speed to slash, dilute and tweak the environmental protections of previous administrations, frequently with the support of Republicans in Congress and industry groups that stood to gain.To achieve his administration’s “energy dominance” agenda, the president has nominated industry-friendly officials to run Cabinet agencies, signed a raft of executive orders in support of oil, gas and coal companies rather than work with Congress to change the law, and overseen a governmentwide rollback of environmental regulations.

Earth's carbon dioxide levels highest in 3 million years, study says

USA Today | Posted on April 11, 2019

Carbon dioxide – the gas scientists say is most responsible for global warming – has reached levels in our atmosphere not seen in 3 million years, scientists announced this week in a new study.  At that time, sea levels were as much as 65 feet higher than they are now, Greenland was mostly green and Antarctica had trees.“It seems we’re now pushing our home planet beyond any climatic conditions experienced during the entire current geological period, the Quaternary,” said study lead author Matteo Willeit of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany. “A period that started almost 3 million years ago and saw human civilization beginning only 11,000 years ago. So, the modern climate change we see is big, really big; even by standards of Earth history.”

Here’s why Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Jack Ma and other investors are pouring billions into clean-tech ventures

CNBC | Posted on April 11, 2019

Investors are pouring billions into clean-tech ventures as renewable-energy technology advances. At the same time, more than 100 globally significant financial institutions have restricted investments in carbon-intensive fossil fuels, according to the International Energy Agency.The $1 billion Breakthrough Energy Ventures fund, founded by Gates, Bezos and other philanthropists, has invested in 14 companies involved in everything from battery storage to fusion energy.

ACLU challenges South Dakota pipeline protest legislation

AP News | Posted on April 4, 2019

The American Civil Liberties Union is challenging a new law signed by South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem aimed at potential protests against the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline. The ACLU filed a federal lawsuit Thursday on behalf of groups and individuals planning to protest the pipeline or encourage others to do so.Noem signed the act on Wednesday that allows officials to pursue money from demonstrators who encourage violence. The Republican governor also signed another bill requiring pipeline companies to help pay extraordinary expenses such as the cost of policing during protests, but the ACLU is not challenging that new law.

EPA Science Panel Considering Guidelines That Upend Basic Air Pollution Science

NPR | Posted on April 4, 2019

Several members of a powerful science panel for the Environmental Protection Agency expressed doubt at a hearing about the long-established scientific consensus that air pollution can cause premature death. The panel was meeting to consider recommendations that would fundamentally change how the agency analyzes the public health dangers posed by air pollution and could lead to weaker regulation of soot. The recommendations concern how the EPA regulates microscopic soot known as particulate matter, which causes and exacerbates respiratory diseases such as asthma. Determining exactly how much particulate matter is safe to breathe requires complex analysis of an enormous — and growing — body of scientific literature.Before the EPA disbanded it last year, a 20-person subcommittee called the Particulate Matter Review Panel was responsible for helping the agency decide how much air pollution is safe for Americans to breathe. With that group gone, only the seven-member Clean Air Scientific Advisory Committee is left to make recommendations.