Renewable Energy

UK renewable subsidies safe after Scotland ‘no’


Scotland’s rejection of a move to independence leaves British renewable subsidies in place -- the issue had concerned the industry since more than 40 percent of U.K. wind power comes from the region, Bloomberg reports.

Calif. teachers fund to boost clean energy bets

The California State Teachers' Retirement System says it plans to increase its investments in clean energy and technology to $3.7 billion, from $1.4 billion, over the next five years.

CalSTRS CEO Jack Ehnes says the pension fund is seeing more opportunities in low-carbon projects and technologies. The fund is hoping also to help push for stronger policies aimed at fighting climate change, Ehnes says.

Musk-Rive partnership could change energy picture

The Wall Street Journal

The announcement this week that the battery gigafactory planned by Elon Musk’s Tesla Motors will make energy storage on a grid scale to be used by SolarCity Corp., run by his cousin Lyndon Rive, has the potential to transform the landscape of the energy industry, The Wall Street Journal reports.

Nepal clears Indian firm to build power plant

KATMANDU, Nepal (AP) — Nepal's government has endorsed plans for Indian company GMR to build the Himalayan nation's largest hydro power plant in a small step toward easing chronic power shortages, officials said Friday.

Govinda Pokhrel of Nepal's national planning commission said a Cabinet meeting endorsed a draft agreement late Thursday to allow the company to build the $1.15 billion power plant with a 900 megawatt capacity.

GMR executives are expected to fly to Nepal Friday and sign the final agreement with Nepalese officials.

Alec Baldwin passionate about green energy

NEW YORK (AP) — Alec Baldwin says he is passionate about green energy and is hoping next week's U.N. climate summit brings home to Americans that the United States has fallen behind other countries in promoting wind and solar power.

The Emmy award-winning actor who has appeared on film, stage and television spoke at a reception Thursday night to celebrate the launch of a book entitled "Addressing Climate Change" featuring the work of award-winning English photographer Henry Dallal, who has often photographed Queen Elizabeth II. Its contributors include U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and U.N. climate chief Christiana Figueres, who attended the launch.

Jamaica aims to double renewable energy capacity

KINGSTON, Jamaica (AP) — Sun-splashed, wind-swept Jamaica positioned itself Thursday to nearly double the amount of electricity it generates from renewable sources.

During a ceremony in Kingston, three companies focused on wind and solar energy signed power purchase agreements worth roughly $200 million with Jamaica's sole electricity distributor and also received licenses from the government.

US to train veterans to install solar panels

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. will train at least 50,000 veterans to become solar panel installers in the next six years, the White House said Thursday.

The jobs training program is among a host of initiatives the White House says will cut carbon dioxide emissions by more than 300 million tons through 2030, plus save billions of dollars on energy bills for homeowners and businesses. It will launch this fall at one or more military bases.

SolarCity announces new installation pattern for solar panels


Now that solar modules are cheaper, SolarCity says it will install panels more densely on flat rooftops and put them angled toward each other in an east-west orientation, which should generate more power earlier and later in the day, at times when the electricity demand is higher, E&E reports.

Office of Sen. Ron Wyden

Wyden sees 'performance-based' energy tax breaks

Fault lines were on display at Wednesday at a Senate hearing on energy tax breaks, illustrating again that a comprehensive tax reform effort would have to bridge partisan and regional divides over incentives for fossil and renewable fuels.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., who called the hearing -- his first on energy tax policy as chair of the Senate Finance Committee -- endorsed a performance-based approach that he said would allow the U.S. to display "energy exceptionalism" in the global clean energy market.

A relatively small number of remaining energy tax breaks could be "based on performance, not fuel type," he said. "I think this has the potential to be bipartisan."

Wyden avoided specifics about what performance factors he would support, however, or whether he would bring back a tax reform blueprint laid out by his predecessor, former Sen. Max Baucus, that tied clean energy production and investment tax credits to carbon output.

"Obviously senators will have differences of opinion with respect to it," Wyden told reporters about the approach.

He said the proposal raised by Baucus, D-Mont., would get attention in any discussion in the context of tax reform.

The timing of any comprehensive effort remains uncertain, and whether it happens anytime soon could depend on whether Republicans take control of the Senate this fall for President Barack Obama's final two years in office.

In the meantime, Wyden and ranking Republican Sen. Orrin Hatch of Utah both called for Congress to pass the $85 billion, two-year package of business tax break extensions and renewals the committee voted out earlier this year.

That package would retroactively renew the wind Production Tax Credit through 2015 and includes incentives for biofuels. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has pledged to bring it to the Senate floor after the November elections.

Hatch offered no detailed proposals for energy tax reform, but made a pointed attack on any attempt to use a carbon tax to generate revenue to offset lower tax rates, saying it would send U.S. jobs overseas and depress U.S. gross domestic product.

He also said all tax provisions should be reviewed.

"When we turn to tax reform, hopefully soon, I believe we need to examine all existing tax provisions, including energy tax provisions, under President Reagan's three criteria for reform: fairness, simplicity and efficiency," Hatch said.

Sen. Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich., raised Democratic arguments that oil companies no longer need tax incentives after a century of backing by the tax code.

"For folks that have said, "ah you know, we shouldn't pick winners and losers,' well as I've said before, we picked the winner and they won. So now the question is, can we create more competition for different kinds of energy?" she said.

Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, who authored the PTC, pushed back against criticism of it leveled by former Sen. Don Nickles, R-Okla., who testified that it was a government subsidy that should be eliminated.

Nickles said breaks for oil and gas companies should be seen as expensing provisions, different from tax credits, which he argued distort the energy market.

"Would you believe that raising taxes on alternative energy, raising their cost of doing business, will lead to job losses, and is there a difference then between a job lost in the oil and gas sector, vs. one lost in the renewable energy sector?" Grassley said.

Nickles responded: "I happen to think there's a difference between allowing somebody to deduct an out-of-pocket expense, I don't consider that a subsidy."

Preliminary OK for Palen project amid continuing bird debate


Two members of the California Energy Commission have recommended that the first phase of the Palen Solar Electric Generating System be approved despite continuing concerns of environmentalists worried about the project’s impact on the Joshua Tree National Park and the welfare of migrating birds, E&E reports.


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