Library filed under Energy Policy from California
The three-year fight over the Sunrise Powerlink, which is designed to carry solar, wind and geothermal energy, typifies the serious challenges facing President Obama and many of the nation's governors as they tout the power of renewable energy to put people to work and rescue the planet from the effects of climate change.
Superior Court Judge Ernest Goldsmith ruled that the air board approved the larger plan to implement AB32 prior to completing the required environmental review, and that the board failed to adequately consider alternatives to cap and trade. The Air Resources Board "seeks to create a fait accompli by premature establishment of a cap-and-trade program before alternative (sic) can be exposed to public comment and properly evaluated by the ARB itself."
"All this makes this whole situation so gray. And if you're a business trying to decide whether you should invest half a billion dollars in a wind farm in Oregon or Washington, or Montana for that matter, your financial folks are going to be pretty scared," said John Audley, deputy director of the Renewable Northwest Project.
"California is a very big variable," said Elliot Mainzer, who is Bonneville Power Administration's guru on how to balance future energy and environmental needs here in the Northwest. When asked if he thought California was carrying its weight as far as managing those type of issues, he said "I would like to see California pay a little bit more attention to our issues, quite frankly."
The message is that California energy prices will soar, on top of the added costs of huge taxpayer subsidies that will be needed to finance so-called renewable energy sources. Wind, solar and geothermal energy are all economically infeasible without massive subsidies. Like the huge amounts of taxpayer dollars already wasted in government subsidies for the ethanol industry, other renewable-energy endeavors are likely to face similar fates.
Big Republican wins in the House of Representatives make it unlikely that a bill to curb emissions from fossil fuels or establish renewable-energy goals will make it through Congress. But in California, clean-energy policies apparently struck a chord with voters, who handed the governorship to Democrat Jerry Brown, a strong proponent of cutting emissions and boosting alternative-energy industries.
The new California regulation requires that a third of the state's power supply, or an estimated 15,000 to 25,000 megawatts, must come from a renewable source, said Stanley Young, a spokesman for the air board. ..."What that will do is finance wind farms in Montana, whether those electrons make it to California or someplace else," said Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer.
Perhaps the biggest impediment to passage of the 64-page bill was the number of interest groups with a stake in the outcome: utilities, environmentalists, labor unions, big companies such as Safeway and Shell Oil that procure their own electricity, and developers of wind, solar and geothermal power. Each faction, and the factions within the factions, kept pushing for amendments.
A federal ruling has cast doubt on a Vermont program designed to promote renewable energy. The ruling says utilities should not pay more than market rates for electricity from the clean-energy projects. The state agency that represents consumers wants to know how the decision affects projects in Vermont, so it's asked the state attorney general's office for legal advice.
SDG&E's proposal will face opposition from consumer groups when it goes before the California Public Utilities Commission, said Michael Shames ..."It's a disturbing example of how this Commission's obsession with renewable power results in perverse incentives for utilities," he said. "And a very compelling reason why the regulators have to seriously reassess its tradeable renewable energy credit policy.
The questions can be posed pretty starkly: if the voters in a place like California can reject carbon curbs, and by extension, the shift to a clean energy economy, what chance for success do the concepts have in the rest of the country?
As the deadline approaches, the three utilities have been on a deal-making spree. In the first quarter of 2010 alone, the companies combined submitted 37 contracts to the state utilities commission for approval. The agency approved just 26 in all of 2009.
Sonoma County has suspended an innovative 16-month-old program to help property owners finance solar installations and other energy-saving retrofits after a federal agency announced Tuesday that such programs present a risk to giant government-chartered mortgage lenders.
TransCanada has signed agreements with three wind energy developers to supply power to the company's proposed $3 billion electrical transmission line that would run from Wyoming to the Southwest. ...TransCanada and other Wyoming wind interests have been concerned about recent actions by the California Public Utilities Commission that they believe could limit renewable energy produced outside of that state.
The California Public Utilities Commission recently adopted a measure that may have a negative effect on Wyoming's wind energy market. In March, the commission issued an order limiting the volume of tradable renewable energy credits that public utilities there can buy to meet California's renewable portfolio standard.
The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) this week issued a decision that would allow the use of tradeable renewable energy credits (TRECs) in the state. The legislature had previously authorized the CPUC to allow the use of TRECS in 2006. In October, 2008, the CPUC issued its first proposed decision authorizing the use of TRECs. Since then the CPUC considered various proposed decisions that would have permitted the use of TRECs until adopting the final decision on March 11.
Households that get their power from the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power could see their electric bills go up between 8.8% and 28.4%, depending on where they live and how much energy they use, under a plan unveiled Monday by Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa. Appearing with labor and environmental leaders, Villaraigosa said the proposed increases would ensure that the DWP meets his goal of securing 20% of its energy from renewable sources such as wind and solar by Dec. 31.
Nevertheless, many states have adopted a Jeopardy!-like approach in their energy policies. They are imposing detailed renewable energy mandates that prescribe how much of which renewable energy types must be installed by specific dates. But as in the game show, these renewable energy policies are the correct answers only in response to the right questions. California is the leading contestant in this perilous renewable energy game.
The projects will help the nation and California meet renewable-energy goals, but they also raise new concerns about ruining scenic views and damaging habitat needed by species such as the desert tortoise, which has been creeping toward extinction. The Obama administration has selected three large-scale wind developments for a shortened approval process, part of an effort to advance alternative energy and reduce green-house emissions that experts say contribute to global warming. The energy companies hope to win BLM approval by Dec. 1, 2010.
The Marin County Civil Grand Jury is asking officials to pull the plug on their proposed Marin Clean Energy program, a plan designed to reduce greenhouse gas emissions ...The jury's report states that the costs of the program create too high a risk for ratepayers and taxpayers alike, lacks a transparent citizen vote, and will install a new level of bureaucracy that has little or no experience with energy management.