Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
October 31, 2014

Posts in "Renewables"

October 30, 2014

Moniz Talks ‘War on Coal’ and Energy Investment

moniz 475 240x243 Moniz Talks War on Coal and Energy Investment

Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz. (


Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz was on hand to discuss energy policy on day two of the Ideas Forum hosted by the Aspen Institute and the Atlantic. He was asked a range of questions from his thoughts on tax reform to what’s necessary to get better energy infrastructure investment in the United States.

But first, almost immediately after taking his seat, Moniz was asked “What’s the harm in doing Keystone?” And almost just as immediately he deferred to Secretary of State John Kerry, who was the previous guest on stage, and whose State Department has jurisdiction over construction of the pipeline.

Only 30 seconds in and we had our first artful dodge.

Next, the moderator turned to tax reform and how it would affect the incentives for energy investment embedded in the current tax code. Specifically he wanted to know “Is there a cost to not using tax credits and tax policy as an incentive for behavior?”  Moniz expressed his support for energy tax credits, particularly the ones involving renewable energy. “We need to extend those renewable tax credits and do it in a way where there is predictably on all sides.” He added that without predictability it’s difficult for both firms and customers to make sound financial decisions.

When the topic turned to energy infrastructure investment, Moniz stressed that there was no issue with the current level of investment. However, the direction of investment dollars should be shifted. He specifically noted the lack of natural gas in New England, propane in the midwest, or the fact the we are using rail to transport oil.

Finally, when asked about Republican charges of a “War on Coal.” He reiterated that he takes an “all of the above” approach to energy policy before adding: “Make no bones about it. There is a fundamental commitment, it starts with the president, on moving toward a low carbon future.”

October 28, 2014

Southern Company Purchases Solar Facility in California

20097 0 240x159 Southern Company Purchases Solar Facility in California

Tubes used to boil water in a conventional steam-turbine generator to produce electricity. by Dennis Schroeder. (

Southern Company recently announced that its subsidiary, Southern Power, has acquired a 150 megawatt Solar Gen 2 solar facility from First Solar Inc. in California. It is now the largest facility in Southern Company’s portfolio and is expected to power 60,000 homes.

Construction of the project began in 2013 and will likely be completed sometime before the end of the year. While Southern Company does own the facility, First Solar is expected to operate it.

California’s Renewables Portfolio Standard program requires electric service providers, among other utilities, to “increase procurement from eligible renewable energy resources to 33 percent of retail sales by the end of 2020.” With this purchase, the company is looking to meet that goal.


October 27, 2014

The Week Ahead: Natural Gas & Clean Coal in China

Here’s what’s on tap for the week.


NRG President and CEO David Crane, U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest J. Moniz, and BP Capital Management Chairman T. Boone Pickens will be speaking at the Aspen Ideas Forum hosted by the Atlantic along with the Aspen Institute. The event will take place over two days at the Harman Center for the Arts.

Kevin C. Ramnarine, minister of Energy & Energy Affairs for Trinidad and Tobago, will take part in a discussion hosted by the Natural Gas Roundtable. The discussion will center on natural gas and energy security in Trinidad and Tobago and the Americas and will be held at the University Club.

The Brookings Institute will host the International Energy Agency’s Chief Economist Fatih Birol for the U.S. launch of the IEA’s Africa Energy Outlook report.

The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum that looks at clean coal in China featuring Dr. Ren Xiangkun. Ren will discuss clean coal technology being developed by his company.


The Florida Chapter of the Air and Waste Management Association will hold a forum at its annual conference in Jacksonville on Wednesday and Thursday.  The panel will discuss guidelines for CO2 emissions from existing utility units.


The U.S. Energy Association will host a forum on subsurface technology and engineering for energy applications such as oil and gas, carbon storage, geothermal and waste disposal.

Hans Bruyninckx, the executive director of the European Environment Agency, will discuss Europe’s 2050 agenda and event put on by the Wilson Center’s Environmental Change and Security Program.


The Wilson Center will host a panel discussion that examines the economic and political impact of low oil prices on countries like Russia, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Nigeria and Venezuela.

October 23, 2014

Another State Deals A Blow To Tesla’s Business Model

dw0904211081 240x159 Another State Deals A Blow To Teslas Business Model

A view of the 2009 Tesla Roadster plug, during a show of various company’s models of hybrid, alternative fuel and electric vehicles outside the Russell Senate Office Building, in anticipation of the April 22 celebration of Earth Day. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly)

Tesla Motors lost a crucial legislative battle in Michigan on Tuesday when Republican Gov. Rick Snyder signed a bipartisan bill that would prevent the electric vehicle manufacturer from selling its cars outside of a dealership network. It is already illegal to make direct sales of any new automobile but the new law, supported by General Motors, will explicitly require manufacturers to sell through auto franchises.

Elon Musk, Tesla’s founder, has been fighting to sell his cars directly to consumers but so far more than half of all states have laws on the books similar to Michigan’s that protect their automobile franchises from direct sales competition. The California-based company has been selling its cars through galleries in 23 states, mainly along the east and west coasts. And in the states where they can’t sell directly, they take orders online.

Snyder, a governor known for his championing of entrepreneurship, drew charges of hypocrisy and took criticism from several quarters, including from supporter and Detroit billionaire, Dan Gilbert. Gilbert decried the role lobbying played in the decision and added, “To me you have to have a philosophy and you have to stick to it and you can’t let your personal circumstances compromise that.”

Adam Jonas, auto analyst with Morgan Stanley, thinks that this is just the beginning and that a broader debate on the national level is due. In a client note mentioned in the Detroit Free Press, Jonas wrote, “As Tesla grows in significance and expands its sales network, we expect more debate at the Federal level on the double standard in the application of dealer franchise laws. It’s only a matter of time before something gives. We expect that in the next two to three years, this could likely mushroom into a national issue. We believe these laws exist to support the weakest link in the network.”

October 22, 2014

Energy Ads Intensify As Senate Campaigns Heat Up

LAPOL14 312 092214 240x159 Energy Ads Intensify As Senate Campaigns Heat Up

Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., right, answers questions from the local media during her event to exchange endorsements with Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-La., left, in Baton Rouge, La., surrounded by local elected officials on Sept. 22, 2014. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

With just under two weeks until an election in which control of the U.S. Senate is up for grabs, campaign ads are starting to intensify — in volume and rhetoric — in several key battleground states (Louisiana, Alaska, West Virginia, Arkansas, Kentucky, Colorado and Michigan). Somewhat surprisingly, energy and environment are the third most mentioned issue in Senate races this cycle (surprising since it barely registered during the 2012 presidential campaign). Some are running because the states they air in are significant energy producers. Others are running in states that feature environmentally conscious electorates.

The ads tend to focus on coal, oil, green energy and climate change. It shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that West Virginia and Kentucky are leading the way in coal-related ads with both states featuring pro-coal positions in 87 percent of their energy-related ads. Also unsurprisingly, 39 percent of Iowa’s energy ads are anti-oil while 40 percent focus on green energy (likely, due to ethanol).

It’s also notable that both Democrats and Republicans are finding politically advantageous ways to deploy these energy ads. For instance, in blue states, Democrats are attacking Republicans for denying climate change and accepting money from the Koch brothers. And in red states, Republicans look to tie President Obama’s new environmental regulations around the necks of their opponents.


October 17, 2014

ICYMI: Oil Slides, CO2 Talk & Yucca Echoes

Down, down, down was the way oil looked this week, with the global benchmark Brent crude dropping 27 percent from July before rebounding slightly Thursday. Full story

October 16, 2014

3D Innovation for Electric Cars

2014 inverter P05004 article 3D Innovation for Electric Cars

(Energy Department)

Researchers at the Energy Department’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory used 3-D printing to construct a high-efficiency power inverter that takes up less space than current technology, the department announced this week. Full story

October 15, 2014

States Fighting CO2 Regs Get Money to Comply

495453921 445x296 States Fighting CO2 Regs Get Money to Comply

Appalachian Electric Power coal-fired Big Sandy Power Plant in Cattletsburg, Ky.
(Luke Sharrett/Getty Images)

The Energy Department has awarded $4.86 million to help reduce carbon dioxide emissions and increase efficiency through programs in 13 states, including several that are fighting proposed regulations. Full story

October 14, 2014

The Week Ahead: Russia, Solar, Gas, Carbon and Coal

A little bit of everything is happening this week, and much of it takes place Tuesday. Full story

October 7, 2014

Developing a Solar Battery

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Nanometer-sized rods of titanium dioxide cover the surface of a piece of titanium gauze. (Yiying Wu/The Ohio State University)

Looking to increase the efficiency of solar power storage, researchers at Ohio State University devised a process to integrate solar electric generation and storage into one implement. Full story

October 6, 2014

The Week Ahead: International Energy & Winter Heating


Energy Central will hold a webinar on U.S. energy policy with Mike Morris, former head of American Electric Power. Full story

October 3, 2014

ICYMI: Cove Point LNG, India Agreement & Radio Star Ernie

175090439 445x297 ICYMI: Cove Point LNG, India Agreement & Radio Star Ernie

Energy Secretary Ernest J. Moniz to be on NPR radio show.

Here’s a roundup of this week’s stories and items of note.

Citing the expiring investment tax credit, a company balked on plans to build a second solar concentrating plant after getting approval for just half the project. Full story

October 2, 2014

Spanning Solar Division, U.S. Firms Partner in Asia

Solar panel producer SunEdison, Inc., expects to slash energy used to produce polysilicon for solar cells at a new plant in South Korea. Full story

DOE Approves 1GW Canada-NYC Renewable Powerline

The Department of Energy signed off on a presidential permit for a $2 billion transmission line to carry primarily hydro and wind generated high voltage direct current from Quebec to New York City. Full story

September 29, 2014

Without ITC, Solar Concentrating Plant in Doubt

A company that had planned to build a second massive concentrating solar plant is reconsidering its request because of the expiration of a tax benefit and regulatory constraints. Full story

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