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Governor visits wind farm near Fairfield

Gov. Steve Bullock visited a wind farm near Fairfield on Thursday as part of a series of energy roundtables he’s conducting around the state.

Previously, Bullock conducted a solar energy roundtable in Bozeman at Simms Fishing Products and toured the building’s new solar panel array. He also toured a weatherization project at a home in Missoula and held a roundtable about energy efficiency efforts.

Bullock said he’ll use input from the roundtables to develop an energy plan he is expected to release late this month.

The state has an opportunity to expand the state’s energy portfolio, he said.

“We can help design what that energy future will look like,” Bullock said.

Bullock was scheduled to conduct another roundtable in Colstrip, home to a coal-fired power plant and a coal mine, on Tuesday.

The state’s future energy options will include coal but also wind, solar and hydro, Bullock said.

Recently, Pennsylvania-based Talen Energy, which owns a share of the Colstrip plant and operates the facility, said its role as operator is not economically viable and the plant’s five owners will need a new manager by May 2018.

“The wind is shifting under our feet when it comes to energy,” said Bullock, who conducted an energy roundtable on wind at the Montana Farmers Union in Great Falls following his visit to the wind farm near Fairfield.

The 13-turbine, 25-megawatt Greenfield project is located next to the six-turbine, 10-megawatt Fairfield Wind farm, which was completed in 2014.

Developer Martin Wilde of WINData LLC, said both wind farms are examples of smaller, community scale wind projects that involve local contractors and land owners.

“There’s great expertise in Montana for Montanans to build them,” he said.

Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls is the general contractor. The power is being sold to NorthWestern Energy.

Allan Frankl of Dick Anderson Construction said 60 to 70 people will be working on the Greenfield project during the height of construction. Turbine components are expected to arrive later this month and be up by mid-September. The wind farm is expected to be producing power after Sept. 30.

Land owner Marvin Klinker said he’ll receive a percentage of revenue from the electricity produced at the wind farm.

Follow Karl Puckett on Twitter @GFTrib_KPuckett.

Wind energy engineering since 1991

Source: WINData LLC – Wind energy engineering since 1991

Choteau Acantha Article – Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county-pub 3-30-16- WINData LLC

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Choteau Acantha Article – Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county–pub 3-30-16–

Choteau, Montana March, 30, 2016

By Nancy Thornton, Choteau Acantha reporter

A second industrial wind farm has broken ground southeast of Choteau, even as a wind farm half the size located on the new project’s western boundary was sold to a New York-based renewable energy investment company.

Teton County Commissioner Jim Hodgskiss said a Greenfield Wind LLC official, Matt Wilson, notified him that contractors would break ground during the week of March 20 for a 15-turbine wind farm next to the six-turbine Fairfield Wind project that was completed in May 2014.

The Teton County commissioners last summer approved a 10-year tax abatement for the proposed $47 million Greenfield Wind project while denying an abatement for the $19 million Fairfield Wind project.

Subsequently, Fairfield Wind appealed the state Department of Revenue’s determination that Fairfield Wind had a $19,118,781 market value. The matter is now before the Montana Board of Tax Appeals with all “discovery” documents due by April 25 and the hearing set for July 19.

Fairfield Wind’s 2015 tax bill was $323,569.83, an amount, with some later adjustments, that was paid under protest.

The Fairfield Wind farm is located in the Choteau elementary and high school districts and the proposed Greenfield Wind farm is in the Power High School and the Greenfield Elementary School districts.

Revenue officials estimated that Greenfield Wind would generate an estimated annual tax bill in the neighborhood of $863,000 under the cost approach, although with the tax abatement set for 50 percent during the first five years, local governments would receive only half of that.

Wilson works for Foundation Windpower LLC that owns a majority-member equity interest in Greenfield Wind LLC. The minority member of Greenfield Wind is Fairfield resident Martin Wilde who developed both wind farm projects under his company, WINData LLC.

Wilson and Wilde did not respond to invitations for telephone interviews.WINData has filed two lawsuits against Foundation Windpower in Teton County District Court that Judge Robert Olson recently dismissed. However, WINData has appealed the two cases to the Montana Supreme Court.

In December 2015 Foundation Windpower sold its interest in the Fairfield Wind project (the legal entity at that point was called Fairfield Wind Master Tenant LLC) to Greenbacker Wind LLC, which is a business created by Greenbacker Renewable Energy Corp. and Greenbacker Renewable Energy Co. LLC of New York, New York.

Greenbacker, in a December press release, said it acquired the Fairfield Wind project for $6,615,000 in cash and the assumption of $12,412,000 in debt for a total of $19,027,000 on Dec. 8, 2015. It is a “publicly registered, non-traded limited liability company that expects to acquire a diversified portfolio of income-producing renewable energy power plants, energy efficient projects and other sustainable investments,” according to its website.

The wind farm has two 1.6-megawatt and four 1.7-megawatt turbines. The generated electricity is sold to NorthWestern Energy under a long-term power purchase agreement that has 18.5 years remaining on the contract.

Greenbacker, citing the project as a “fund portfolio” for its investors, forecasts a 10.7 percent initial yield on the investment, but cautioned in its literature that that yield is not a measure of the fund’s performance and it is not necessarily indicative of distributions that the fund may provide to investors.

Wilde has had disputes with Foundation Windpower since mid-2015 and in court documents said he filed a notice of dissociation with the Fairfield Wind entity over Foundation Windpower’s refusal to supply him with accounting information, among other things. He refused to sign off on Foundation Windpower’s proposed monetary value of WINData’s 10- percent equity interest in Fairfield Wind and he declined to agree to the sale.

However, Foundation Windpower’s attorney Stephen Brown of Missoula successfully argued in Olson’s court in February that the operating agreement the pair of companies signed required that the dispute be brought in a California forum, not one in Montana.

Brown successfully argued a similar point when in July 2014, the Montana Supreme Court found in favor of San Diego Gas & Electric Co., (against Naturener USA that owns wind farms in Glacier and Toole counties) determining that the “consent to conduct all” provision of the first contract between the two parties required the parties to litigate all disputes Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county–pub 3-30-16– 2 pertaining to that contract in California. Brown represented San Diego Gas.

In a similar way, Olson dismissed Wilde’s lawsuit against Foundation Windpower, first in the dispute over Fairfield Wind, and second, over the Greenfield Wind

Source: Choteau Acantha Article – Industrial wind farm has broken ground in county-pub 3-30-16- WINData LLC

Great Falls Tribune – Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes

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Construction of a 25-megawatt, 13-turbine wind farm seven miles north of Fairfield is back on track, according to the developer.

Martin Wilde, principal engineer at WINData LLC, said Wednesday that foundations are being poured at Greenfield wind farm.

“We’re moving ahead,” Wilde said.

Wilde is partnering with Foundation Wind Power of San Francisco in developing the project.

Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls is the general contractor.

Towers and turbines will be erected this summer, Wilde said. The goal is to have construction completed by September.

“Our goal has been to keep money in Montana to help Montana communities leverage the wind power opportunities to the full extent,” Wilde said.

Greenfield wind farm is located next to the six-turbine, 10-megawatt Fairfield wind farm, which was completed in 2014.

Construction was halted at Greenfield last summer over property taxes.

At the time, Foundation Windpower said the first property tax bill for the existing Fairfield wind farm came in higher than expected.

Foundation Windpower then applied for tax abatements seeking tax breaks for both the operating Fairfield wind farm and the proposed Glacier wind farm.

An abatement means that the developer will receive a 50 percent tax cut over the first five years with taxes gradually increasing to 100 percent at the end of the 10th year.

Jim Hodgskiss, Teton County commissioner, said commissioners granted a tax abatement for the Glacier project because it still hadn’t been constructed, but denied the abatement for the Fairfield project because it already was completed.

About half of the total tax reduction for the Fairfield wind farm, or about $2 million, would have been shifted onto the rest of the tax rolls if commissioners would have approved the abatement after the wind farm already had been constructed, Hodgskiss said.

“We didn’t feel it was right to shift it back to the rest of the taxpayers after it was built,” Hodgskiss said.

Follow Karl Puckett on Twitter @GFTrib_KPuckett.

Wind farm is planned near existing wind farm north of Fairfield.

Source: Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes

Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes

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Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes Karl Puckett, kpuckett@greatfallstribune.com 3:15 p.m. MDT March 30, 2016

(Photo: Tribune file photo/Karl Puckett)

Construction of a 25-megawatt, 13-turbine wind farm seven miles north of Fairfield is back on track, according to the developer.Martin Wilde, principal engineer at WINData LLC, said Wednesday that foundations are being poured at Greenfield wind farm.“We’re moving ahead,” Wilde said.Wilde is partnering with Foundation Wind Power of San Francisco in developing the project.

Dick Anderson Construction of Great Falls is the general contractor.Towers and turbines will be erected this summer, Wilde said. The goal is to have construction completed by September.“Our goal has been to keep money in Montana to help Montana communities leverage the wind power opportunities to the full extent,” Wilde said.

Greenfield wind farm is located next to the six-turbine, 10-megawatt Fairfield wind farm, which was completed in 2014.Construction was halted at Greenfield last summer over property taxes.At the time, Foundation Windpower said the first property tax bill for the existing Fairfield wind farm came in higher than expected.Foundation Windpower then applied for tax abatements seeking tax breaks for both the operating Fairfield wind farm and the proposed Glacier wind farm.

An abatement means that the developer will receive a 50 percent tax cut over the first five years with taxes gradually increasing to 100 percent at the end of the 10th year.Jim Hodgskiss, Teton County commissioner, said commissioners granted a tax abatement for the Glacier project because it still hadn’t been constructed, but denied the abatement for the Fairfield project because it already was completed.

About half of the total tax reduction for the Fairfield wind farm, or about $2 million, would have been shifted onto the rest of the tax rolls if commissioners would have approved the abatement after the wind farm already had been constructed, Hodgskiss said.“We didn’t feel it was right to shift it back to the rest of the taxpayers after it was built,” Hodgskiss said.

Follow Karl Puckett on Twitter @GFTrib_KPuckett.

Source: Construction back on track at Greenfield wind farm after delay over taxes

Court Denies Petitioners’ Plea To Halt The Clean Power Plan :: North American Windpower

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Court Denies Petitioners’ Plea To Halt The Clean Power Planby Joseph Bebonon January 22, 2016 No Comments Categories : Featured, Policy WatchOn Thursday, a federal court handed renewable energy stakeholders, environmentalists and the Obama administration a victory: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit denied a request to halt the implementation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Clean Power Plan (CPP) while an ongoing legal battle over the plan is sorted out.The CPP, which was first released in 2014 and finalized in August 2015, creates the first-ever regulations on carbon pollution from U.S. power plants. It mandates a cut in carbon pollution from the power sector of 32% below 2005 levels by 2030.Although the renewables industry and other advocates have long lauded the CPP and deemed it a great opportunity for U.S. clean energy, a coalition of over 20 states launched a lawsuit to do away with the climate change initiative. Opponents also requested that the court block enforcement of the plan until the case is resolved.Ultimately, the court’s Thursday decision keeps the CPP in effect while the court works on the larger legal challenge. In its order, the court ruled that the opponents “have not satisfied the stringent requirements for a stay.”Although the court denied the request for a stay, it has scheduled to hear oral arguments on June 2, setting the stage for the next round of the battle.Nonetheless, proponents of the CPP have hailed the court’s Thursday ruling as a win.In a statement, Dan Whitten, vice president of communications for the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), says, “The decision by the court to allow states to continue work on their carbon-reduction plans under the president’s Clean Power Plan is a victory for advocates of clean energy everywhere. State regulators can now begin to incorporate a significantly growing role for solar power into their long-term energy planning.“Smart industry, financial and government leaders are already betting on the Clean Power Plan by moving forward with initiatives and policies to advance a clean energy economy,” continues Whitten. “The solar investment tax credit extension enacted late last year is a great example of recent policy that can speed emissions reductions.”The Environmental Defense Fund, which is a party to the case, has also welcomed the development.“Today’s court decision means we can continue working – without delay – to protect Americans from the clear and present danger of climate change,” says Fred Krupp, president of Environmental Defense Fund, in a statement. “The Clean Power Plan encourages states to use their own best ideas and resources to create prosperous clean energy economies. It rests on a rock-solid legal foundation and will help America move toward a safer and healthier future.”According to a USA Today report, the White House press secretary issued the following statement: “We are pleased that the court has rejected petitioners’ attempts to block the Clean Power Plan from moving forward while litigation proceeds. We are confident that the plan will reduce carbon pollution and deliver better air quality, improved public health, and jobs across the country.”In a separate statement, Carol M. Browner, former EPA administrator from 1993 to 2001, has shown her support for the current administration’s climate change plan and applauded the court’s ruling.“Winning isn’t everything, but in this case, it’s pretty close,” says Browner, later adding, “It underscores the Clean Power Plan’s strong basis in law and signals that legal challenges to it will ultimately fall short. It’s time to stop suing to stay stuck in the past, and start working to usher in the clean energy economy of the future.”Categories : Featured, Policy WatchTags : clean power plan, clean-energy, cpp, epa, obama, renewable energy, renewables, solar, wind, wind-power

Source: Court Denies Petitioners’ Plea To Halt The Clean Power Plan :: North American Windpower

North American Windpower: Congress Passes Omnibus Bill With Five-Year Wind PTC Extension

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Congress Passes Omnibus Bill With Five-Year Wind PTC Extension

On Friday, both chambers of Congress passed an omnibus spending bill that includes a provision to extend the expired production tax credit (PTC) for five years. The U.S. House of Representatives overwhelmingly approved the legislation in a 316-113 vote, and the U.S. Senate followed suit shortly after with a 65-33 vote. President Barack Obama has signed the legislation into law.

Considered the U.S. wind industry’s most important federal tax incentive, the PTC provides wind developers with a credit of $0.023/kWh for electricity generated to the power grid. Although Congress passed a one-year retroactive extension for the PTC last December, the subsidy again expired almost as soon as the legislation was approved.

The new legislation will retroactively extend the PTC for this year. After that, the incentive would maintain at its level through 2016 and start phasing down at 80% of its present value in 2017, 60% in 2018 and 40% in 2019. As with previous extensions, the rules will allow wind projects to qualify as long as they start construction before the end of the period.

Notably, the legislation also includes an extension of the solar investment tax credit (ITC), which will also be subject to a phase-out. Solar projects that are under construction by December 2019 will fully qualify for the 30% ITC. The credit will fall to 26% for projects starting construction in 2020 and 22% for projects starting construction in 2021.

The American Wind Energy Association (AWEA) has applauded the legislation’s passage.“We’re going to keep this American wind power success story going,” says Tom Kiernan, CEO of AWEA, in a press release. “With predictable policies now in place, we will continue advancing wind turbine technology, driving down our costs and passing the savings on to American families and businesses in all corners of the country.”

AWEA also points to several industry leaders who reacted to the news favorably, as they believe the multi-year extension supplies their companies with a level of predictability needed to keep U.S. factories open while adding new wind projects to the pipeline.“

Pattern will be expanding its project development for the coming year because of the PTC extension,” says Mike Garland, CEO of Pattern Energy and chairman of the board for AWEA. “Having PTCs for five years will allow us to make more supply commitments and build more projects, creating more jobs. It also allows us to work with the turbine vendors to lower the cost of our projects and minimize the economic impact of phasing down of the credits.”

“On behalf of the nearly 2,000 Siemens wind energy employees in the U.S., I applaud Congress for its leadership in providing clear, long-term certainty for renewable energy growth in America,” says Jacob Andersen, CEO of Siemens Onshore Americas. “The PTC has encouraged tremendous investment in wind energy, helping to reduce the cost of wind power while simultaneously creating a new American industry.”

“The long-term certainty the legislation creates for the PTC provides EDP Renewables the opportunity to expand its competitive project development pipeline in the U.S., creating jobs while reducing greenhouse-gas emissions, in a country that is at the core of EDPR growth,” comments Gabriel Alonso, CEO of EDP Renewables North America.

“This is a game changer for our company and will finally allow us to plan with certainty our growth and expansion over the next several years,” says John Billingsley, chairman and CEO at Tri Global Energy. “Tri Global Energy plans aggressive expansion of both our wind and solar divisions into diversified geographical areas across the U.S.”

According to AWEA, the PTC has helped to more than quadruple wind power in the U.S. since 2008 – up from 16,702 MW installed at the start of 2008 to 69,470 MW by the third quarter of 2015.

Furthermore, AWEA says the PTC has helped spur innovation in wind turbine technology, causing wind’s costs to fall 66% in just six years. The organization says this new multi-year predictability will help continue that trend and break the repeated boom-bust cycles the U.S. wind energy industry has weathered through two decades of uncertain tax policies.

In 2013, after the renewable energy tax credits were allowed to expire even briefly, installations of new wind farms fell 92%, causing a loss of 30,000 jobs across the industry that year. After Congress renewed the PTC, AWEA continues, the U.S. wind energy industry added 23,000 jobs the following year, bringing the total to 73,000 at the end of 2014.

Source: North American Windpower: Congress Passes Omnibus Bill With Five-Year Wind PTC Extension

North American Windpower: Sen. Bernie Sanders Proposes Legislation To Permanently Extend PTC

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U.S. presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., has introduced legislation that he says would permanently extend the production tax credit (PTC) for renewables and drive over $500 billion in clean energy investments between now and 2030.The American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 and The Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act – both co-sponsored by Sens. Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass. – would significantly reduce carbon pollution and help put the U.S. on a path to more than double the size of its clean energy workforce to 10 million by 2030, says Sanders.The bills would allocate $41 billion to helping oil, gas and coal workers as they transition out of the fossil fuel industry. According to Sanders, the costs for these proposals are completely offset by repealing all subsidies for fossil fuels and ending the tax breaks that encourage corporate inversions.Sanders says The American Clean Energy Investment Act of 2015 would stimulate a strong, sustainable economy by spurring massive new investments in renewable energy and energy efficiency.Specifically, the act would permanently extend the PTC for renewable electricity generation from sources including wind and solar. It would also permanently extend the investment tax credit for advanced clean energy property and expand the 30% credit for offshore wind facilities.The Clean Energy Worker Just Transition Act would help coal miners and other fossil fuel workers and their families by connecting displaced workers with new job opportunities through vocational education and job skills programs. The bills would also provide support so that transitioning workers and their families could maintain family-level wages, health care and pensions until they are able to start new jobs, the senator explains.”The American Wind Energy Association [AWEA] deeply appreciates Sen. Sanders’ leadership in seeking long-term policy support to enable the growth of our nation’s wind energy sector,” AWEA says in a release from the senator. “This legislation is the latest example of his attention to wind energy and his leadership in promoting policies that will generate affordable, reliable and clean energy and provide a future for wind energy workers and American factories. We look forward to continuing to work with Sen. Sanders and his colleagues with the shared goal of delivering the benefits of wind energy to even more American families.”

Source: North American Windpower: Sen. Bernie Sanders Proposes Legislation To Permanently Extend PTC

North American Windpower: Gov. Cuomo Calls For 50% Renewables In N.Y. By 2030

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Gov. Cuomo Calls For 50% Renewables In N.Y. By 2030in News Departments > New & Noteworthyby NA Windpower on Wednesday 02 December 2015 Email article Print Reprints & PermissionsGov. Andrew M. Cuomo, D-N.Y., has directed the New York State Department of Public Service to design and enact a new clean energy standard mandating that 50% of all electricity consumed in New York by 2030 come from clean and renewable energy sources.Under Cuomo, New York has taken bold action to modernize its energy system through the Reforming the Energy Vision (REV) plan, which laid the groundwork for the state and private sector to aggressively add renewables. Now, the governor says, the clean energy standard provides a cost-effective, efficient and enforceable mandate to meet the goal of ensuring clean, resilient and affordable energy for all New Yorkers. It will result in lower costs for renewable energy and create new opportunities to scale large renewable energy projects, according to Cuomo. The regulatory process to develop the clean energy standard will include the opportunity for full and complete public and stakeholder participation. State law requires that the Public Service Commission take all reasonable steps to meet New York’s goals set forth in the state’s energy plan.The governor’s directive sets forth a time frame by which the commission should act. The new standard, which will be developed by the Department of Public Service to complement Cuomo’s REV plan, is expected to be presented to the Public Service Commission by June 2016.“Climate change is one of the defining issues of our time, and we must act now,” the governor states. “As discussions continue in Paris, we are taking real, enforceable actions in New York to lay the foundation for a thriving clean energy economy. With one of the most aggressive renewable energy goals of any state in the nation, we are leading by example to ensure the possibility of a bright future for generations to come.”Additionally, the governor has directed the Department of Public Service to develop a process to prevent the premature retirement of safe, upstate nuclear power plants during this transition. As New York state continues to aggressively add new renewable resources, it cannot lose ground in the fight to reduce carbon pollution through the unnecessary retirement of safely operating nuclear power plants in Upstate New York, says the governor. According to Cuomo, the early closure of those plants would result in increased carbon pollution from fossil fuel generators, reduced fuel diversity and unstable electric prices, as well as job losses and economic distress in upstate communities. Support for nuclear plants is separate and distinct from the 50% renewable energy mandate.Richard Kauffman, chair of energy and finance for New York state and a participant in the COP 21 talks in Paris, says, “Today’s announcement codifies New York’s commitment to powering statewide economic development with clean, affordable energy. The creation of a clean energy standard is good public policy for the environment and our economy.”The governor’s full letter to the department can be found here.

Source: North American Windpower: Gov. Cuomo Calls For 50% Renewables In N.Y. By 2030

Eugene Robinson: Clean Energy Gathers Steam – Truthdig

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As the Paris climate talks begin, the die is already cast: The world is going to move toward cleaner, more sustainable sources of energy. The question for U.S. policymakers is whether the world’s biggest economy gets left behind.President Obama is trying his best to ensure this doesn’t happen. He told the world leaders assembled in Paris that he saw the effects of global warming firsthand on a recent trip to Alaska. He wanted to make clear, he said, “that the United States of America not only recognizes our role in creating this problem, we embrace our responsibility to do something about it.”Obama has set a target of reducing U.S. carbon emissions, over the next decade, to a level at least 26 percent below what they were in 2005. Republicans in Congress—and on the presidential campaign trail—vow to do everything they can to sabotage this effort, claiming it will be bad for the economy. But if the naysayers succeed, they will only guarantee that the other great industrial powers, China and Europe, dominate the new energy landscape.Of the nearly 200 nations gathered in Paris, 183 have already set targets for limiting heat-trapping carbon emissions. Whether or not the summit produces a comprehensive agreement, the clean-energy train has already left the station.It is fitting that such a hopeful gathering takes place in a city that recently saw such tragedy. It is also fitting that it comes amid what is, with just a month to go, the warmest year since global record-keeping began.The basic facts are not in dispute among scientists: The large-scale burning of fossil fuels since the Industrial Revolution has sharply increased the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere by 40 percent, and this increase, because of the greenhouse effect, has warmed the planet. Nor are the facts in dispute among policymakers in most capitals other than Washington.Sea levels are measurably rising. Glaciers are rapidly melting. Weather patterns are obviously changing. Deniers look like bratty children, with their hands clamped over their ears, going “na-na-na-na-na.”China, which pumps far more carbon into the atmosphere than any other country, has announced a goal of limiting its emissions so that they peak “around” 2030. Cynics point out that this is roughly when they would peak anyway, given current trends. But that’s because China’s emissions, at present, are barely growing at all—at most a 1 percent increase in 2014 and probably less this year.Two important things have happened in China. First, the nation’s leaders have come to realize that the noxious, choking, particulate-laden smog that periodically blankets major cities—as is happening this week in Beijing—poses a real threat to the Communist Party’s legitimacy. Having ushered hundreds of millions into the urban middle class, the leadership is obliged to provide a reasonably safe environment for these people to raise their children. Eliminating the smog means cutting back on burning coal, which is relatively “dirty” not just in spewing particulates but also in the amount of carbon dioxide it produces.The other big development in China is that the leadership—rather than deny climate science, as most Republicans do—is making a huge bet on clean energy. In the third quarter of this year, China saw $26.7 billion invested in solar, wind and other clean-energy technologies, as compared with $13.4 billion in the United States, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.About 17 percent of the world’s solar power capacity is in China, according to Bloomberg, as are about a third of the world’s wind turbines and a third of all the nuclear power reactors under construction. A new clean-energy economy is already taking shape; the only question is whether the United States sits by and lets others reap the coming benefits.The Paris summit could yet fail; India, the third-biggest carbon emitter, balks at limits that would curb its economic growth and wants rich countries to help it bear the cost of leapfrogging the “dirty” stage of development. Even if the meeting reaches an agreement, it will not be a legally binding treaty. And scientists warn that the limits pledged thus far will not achieve the best-case goal of keeping warming to less than 3.6 degrees by the end of the century.But clean energy, once a pipe dream, now has both mass and momentum. This gathering of world leaders in the City of Light is a stunning rebuke to those who would prefer to curse the darkness.

Source: Eugene Robinson: Clean Energy Gathers Steam – Truthdig

North American Windpower: Clean Power Plan: A Climate Change Civil War In Court?

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The Clean Power Plan is a contender for the title of most controversial environmental rule promulgated in the history of the U.S. The rule has prompted more than half of the states in the country to file petitions challenging its adoption and, thereby, has caused many of the remaining states to intervene in its defense.Beyond the states, the vast majority of energy interests in the U.S., as well as major municipalities and non-governmental organizations, have all entered the fray either in opposition or support of the rule. Given the extraordinarily divisive nature of this rule, the litigation is almost certain to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.This titanic battle should lead even the most casual of observers to ask: What is the plan all about?The short answer is that the Clean Power Plan is designed to transition the nation’s energy profile away from fossil fuel generation. Technically, it is a rule adopted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under the Clean Air Act. The rule sets emission rate reductions for carbon dioxide (the most prevalent greenhouse gas) for each state in the country, with the ultimate compliance deadline set for 2030. States are to then develop plans for achieving the rate reductions either by reducing the carbon intensity of existing fossil fuel generation through improved performance, or by transitioning to lower-emitting and zero-emitting energy generating facilities (such as natural gas and renewables).In concept, using regulation to change our nation’s energy portfolio is not a new idea. Over 30 years ago, then-President Jimmy Carter addressed the nation on energy policy and explained, “We will use … regulatory authority to hasten the shift from oil and gas to coal, to wind and solar power, to geothermal, methane, and other energy sources.” Fast forward to today, and with tax credits that support renewable energy development set to expire at the end of 2016, much of the focus is now on whether “regulatory authority” can be properly used to “hasten the shift” to alternative energy sources.Enter the Clean Power Plan. The litigation over the Clean Power Plan is in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Under the Clean Air Act, a petition to review a rule such as the Clean Power Plan that has “nationwide scope or effect” is automatically directed to the D.C. Circuit. Currently, the petitions challenging the rule and accompanying motions to “stay” the effect of the rule are pending further briefing by all of the parties, and will not be resolved until next year at the earliest.The challenges to the merits of the Clean Power Plan can be distilled down to two primary arguments. The first argument is that the Clean Power Plan improperly requires a substitution of energy sources (i.e., changing from fossil fuel to renewable energy). The states argue that this far exceeds the authority granted to the EPA by the Clean Air Act. In particular, the Clean Air Act authorizes the EPA to adopt a “standard of performance” reflecting “the degree of emission limitation achievable through the application of the best system of emission reduction.” The challenging states argue that the “substitution” of energy sources is not a statutorily authorized standard of “performance” such as “improved design and operational advances.” To bolster this argument, the challenging states further assert that the EPA’s interpretation of the Clean Air Act is not entitled to deference in the field of regulating the electrical grid, as that has traditionally been reserved for the states and, to a limited extent, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.The second argument is that the Clean Air Act precludes the EPA from regulating existing stationary sources under the section invoked for the Clean Power Plan. For the Clean Power Plan, the EPA has invoked Clean Air Act Section 111(d), but that provision states that standards of performance shall be established for existing sources for any air pollutant that is not emitted from a source category regulated under Section 112. The states argue that existing power plants are already regulated under Section 112 and, thus, the Clean Power Plan is not authorized and amounts to double regulation. The anticipated response from the EPA is that the prohibition applies only to the specific “pollutants” regulated under Section 112; it is not a blanket prohibition shielding the “sources” from further regulation of pollutants that are not encompassed under Section 112. The challenging states have requested that arguments on their motions to stay the Clean Power Plan be scheduled for spring 2016. They have further cautioned that, if no stay is granted, this rule “will impose immense sovereign and financial harms upon the states, on a scale exceeding any environmental regulations the states have ever faced.”One has to ask whether the courts are equipped to wrestle with these high-stakes issues of national energy policy. However, with congressional action virt

Source: North American Windpower: Clean Power Plan: A Climate Change Civil War In Court?