Friday, February 25, 2011

Renewable Energy News, February 25, 2011

California Senate OKs green energy bill
The state Senate acted Thursday to require California utilities to boost their use of wind, solar and other renewable energy sources to a third of total supply by the year 2020.

California law already requires utilities to get a fifth of their power from renewable energy. If this measure becomes law, utilities will be forced to lean even more heavily on green power — improving air quality and helping the economy in the process, supporters said. "Right now we can begin to create the jobs that this state so desperately needs,'' said state Sen. Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto), the bill's author.

The measure passed 26 to 11. The vote split largely along party lines but with a few crossovers.
Jerry Brown's tough choice: green energy in hard economic times
Instability in the Middle East has put America’s dependence on foreign oil back on front pages. It’s also added another ball to California Gov. Jerry Brown’s juggling act over this state’s renewable energy sector in tough economic times.

Democrats are resurrecting an idea vetoed by former Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger that would require utilities to buy at least 33 percent of state electricity from renewable sources by 2020, hoping Mr. Brown will be more amenable. On Thursday, the bill passed in the state Senate.

“All indications by those commenting on this in committee is that this is an idea whose time has finally come,” says state Sen. Joe Simitian, the bill’s author. “This last month in the Arab world has been a stark reminder of what happens when Americans are driven by energy needs rather than our values and principles.”
Official hopes firms will put turbines in Gulf of Maine
Middle East instability may be one reason more people than expected attended or tuned in online Tuesday to a wind power developers conference at the University of Maine.

As popular uprisings have broken out in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia and elsewhere, the price of oil has been rising, pushed up by uncertainty over how the instability will affect oil production. The volatility of oil prices, according to state and federal officials, is a major reason the potential for offshore wind power development in the Gulf of Maine is getting a lot of attention.

“With turmoil in the Middle East, oil prices are edging up again,” Ned Farquhar, deputy assistant secretary of the federal Department of the Interior, said Tuesday morning at the conference.

The United States, Farquhar said, must figure out how to meet its energy needs in sustainable and secure ways that do not rely so heavily on importing oil from unstable parts of the world.
USDA Requests Renewable Energy Funds in FY 2012 Budget
Although President Obama's fiscal year (FY) 2012 proposed budget for the U.S. Department of Agriculture decreased to $23.9 billion from the $27 billion level in FY 2010, the budget still invests $6.5 billion to support renewable and clean energy. In particular, the Agriculture and Food Research Initiative is getting an increase of $8.2 million for a research initiative to develop high-quality, cost-effective feedstocks for biofuel production. And the Rural Business-Cooperative Services, which operates a renewable energy loan and grant program for the purchase of renewable energy systems and energy efficiency improvements, will see a combination of mandatory funding and grants for programs at about $57 million above the 2011 total.
Wind energy eminent domain bill moves in Wyoming Senate
A proposed two-year extension of Wyoming's moratorium on wind developers' eminent domain powers passed another legislative hurdle Wednesday.

By a voice vote, state senators passed House Bill 230 on first reading. If left unchanged, the legislation must pass two more Senate votes before heading to Gov. Matt Mead for his signature.

Supporters of the bill say that allowing the current one-year moratorium to expire on July 1 would raise landowners' wariness of eminent domain when dealing with wind developers on land leases to build collector lines.

But other lawmakers have questioned why the state should prohibit wind developers from using eminent domain when other industries are still allowed to employ such powers.
Montana Senate passes bills that undermine renewable power incentives, mandates
Senate Republicans, after trying and failing earlier this Legislature, finally pushed forward a pair of bills Wednesday that dilute renewable-power incentives and mandates currently in state law.

On both bills, supporters said they're acting to help electricity consumers in the state, because the incentives are raising or have the potential to raise energy prices.

“It's about fairness,” said Sen. Jason Priest, R-Red Lodge, the sponsor of Senate Bill 226, which changes the rules and costs for small wind or solar projects that take advantage of “net metering.”
Ontario green-lights 40 renewable energy projects
Forty new green energy projects — mostly solar and wind power — have been given the go-ahead by the Ontario government.

Energy minister Brad Duguid said Thursday that four large wind projects, totalling 615 megawatts of power have been approved, along with 35 solar projects totalling 257 megawatts, and one 500-kilowatt water project.

But the announcement may upset hundreds of proponents of smaller solar projects, who have been told that their projects have been put on hold because they can’t be connected to the electricity system.

Duguid told reporters that the projects announced today, which are large scale projects, have all been analyzed, and connections are available.

He said the smaller projects are being approved as quickly as possible, but couldn’t give a deadline by which time all the small operators would be connected.
France, Chile team up on renewable energy
Chilean and French energy officials will lead a joint energy group that focuses on renewable and alternative energy resources, a French energy company said.

Chilean and French ministers of energy sponsored a bilateral energy group tasked with promoting a policy of sustainable energy through renewable and non-conventional natural resources. Both nations would also support an exchange of technology for sectors such as nuclear power and hydroelectricity, French energy company GDF Suez announced.

The vision for the bilateral energy group was spelled out by French President Nicolas Sarkozy and Chilean President Sebastian Pinera during October talks in Paris.

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