News Archive
  • Texas is Considering a Wind-Energy-Only Fee for Transmission Lines

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 09, 2014
    The Texas Public Utilities Commission is considering raising the costs to wind generation companies for energy transmission. Right now, those costs are built into the rates paid by consumers. The PUC Chair Donna Nelson has asked for a study, questioning whether wind companies ought to be paying more than they are now...
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  • Some Renewable Energy Companies Fail, but That Doesn’t Mean Much

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 08, 2014
    Following the Obama administration’s latest round of loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, Michael Grunwald has an essay in Time analyzing the loan guarantee program, and what it means after the Solyndra collapse...
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  • Ethanol Industry Wants Government Intervention to Fix Railroad Issues

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 08, 2014
    The beleaguered ethanol industry is being squeezed by all sides. The EPA has been talking about cutting back the federal mandate that keeps them afloat. Their recent distribution troubles meant that they couldn’t provide enough ethanol to fulfill that mandate in the first place. And with no clear decision on the future of the federal mandate, despite being well into 2014, it’s very hard to plan for the future. Now, the ethanol industry group Growth Energy is asking for government relief for ethanol shippers...
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  • Offshore Wind - The Latest Renewable Energy Push from the Obama Administration

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 08, 2014
    The Obama administration isn't done with offshore wind. Almost 80,000 acres of ocean off the coast of Maryland will be auctioned off for offshore wind, the Department of the Interior announced last week. The Baltimore Sun describes what officials hope to see built there...
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  • How the Hydropower Industry Could Use More NASA Data

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 07, 2014
    Hydropower operators may soon have a new long-term forecasting tool. Like other forms of renewable energy, hydroelectric plants have to work around a certain amount of variance in the amount of power they put out. When the flow of water increases they put out more power. When the flow of water decreases they put out less power...
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  • Hawaii’s Governor Calls for More Geothermal Power

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 03, 2014
    Renewable energy thrives in remote communities, far from widespread power grids and infrastructure. From Hawaii to Alaska to the Caribbean, these distant communities are hungry for new sources of energy. They push the technology forward. And as the technology moves forward, new sources of energy open up new parts of the world to live and work in.
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  • Offshore Cape Wind Plan Gets a $150 Million Loan Guarantee

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 03, 2014
    The Cape Wind offshore wind farm planned in Nantucket Sound just got a boost from the Department of Energy. The DOE will give them a $150 million loan guarantee. The NRDC says that this is just what the Cape Wind project needs...
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  • Arizona and Solar Companies Can’t Agree on What Residential Solar Means

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 02, 2014
    The latest tough question for rooftop solar panels: can you get the tax benefits of rooftop solar when you put someone else’s solar panels on your home? Arizona offers property-tax exemptions for rooftop solar panels. But Arizona’s Department of Revenue decided last year that homes with leased solar panels don’t qualify. The state argues that they are treating the companies that own and lease out the panels like energy generation companies, which don’t get the same benefits as residential solar panel owners...
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  • Commercial Production of Cellulosic Ethanol Comes to Iowa

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 02, 2014
    In Iowa, the state’s first commercial cellulosic ethanol operation is up and running. In a state rich in corn, Quad County Corn Processors are converting fiber from corn kernels into cellulosic ethanol. This new production of cellulosic ethanol is taking place at a facility that already produces traditional corn ethanol. With a $9 million investment at the existing plant, they added what they needed to produce 2 million gallons of cellulosic ethanol a year...
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  • Halfway Through 2014, and Still Little Sign of an Ethanol Announcement from EPA

    by Henry Kaplan | Jul 01, 2014
    The EPA have been talking about cutting their 2014 support for ethanol since late 2013. Back then, they said that they would make their final decision in late spring or early summer. In May, AP reported that we should expect the decision in June. But it’s now July, halfway through the year, and the EPA is still a long way from issuing their final rule for 2014. They've yet to even submit a proposal with hard numbers. The closest they've come is a statement from last November considering reducing the requirement from 14.4 billion gallons to 13 billion gallons.
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  • California Wind Farm Preapproved for Five Eagle Deaths over Next Five Years

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 30, 2014
    The Shiloh IV wind farm is about to become the first wind farm in the country to be issued a “take permit” for golden eagles, allowing the wind farm to avoid penalties for up to five golden eagle deaths over five years. Without such a permit, wind farm operators can draw criminal charges for golden eagle deaths. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has offered the permits for five years now, but this is the first to go into effect...
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  • Photos of 1970s Solar Technology Show How Quickly Solar Has Developed

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 27, 2014
    If you follow renewable energy news, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by the number of stories about research-stage technology. Just in recent weeks we’ve seen stories about researches squeezing energy out of everything from coffee beans to just-discovered species of algae. The questions that always comes to mind: will anything ever come of this? Will this ever be a viable, practical, beneficial source of energy on a large scale?...
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  • SolarCity’s Move into Solar Panel Manufacturing Says a Lot about the Future of the Industry

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 27, 2014
    Solar panel installer SolarCity acquired Silevo, a solar panel manufacturer, last week. In some ways, it seems like a natural fit – why wouldn’t a big company that sells solar panels want to make their own? But in other ways, it seems counter to their business, which right now relies on China’s ability to churn out solar panels cheaper than anyone else. If they can’t beat Chinese manufacturers on price, why go into the manufacturing business at all?
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  • How Affordable is Renewable Energy?

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 26, 2014
    The price of solar power and other renewables is falling. But is renewable energy a good deal for the average ratepayer? A few recent reports from state agencies tried to answer this question.
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  • Nest Opens Up Its Smart Thermostats to Developers

    by Henry Kaplan | Jun 25, 2014
    For a “smart grid” company, Nest isn’t all that interested in updating the power grid itself. It’s really something closer to a smart energy use company. The Google-owned company makes small devices for managing a household or officeplace – devices like computerized thermostats, smoke alarms, and as of last week, security cameras. They promise that their thermostats will increase the energy efficiency of a building by carefully scheduling heating and cooling based on your schedule and automatically adjusting your energy use when you’re not home...
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