SFC ranking member Wyden and 25 other Democrats (including minority leader Schumer) introduced tech-neutral energy legislation this week. The bill includes energy storage provisions. Following is a summary followed by summaries pertaining to energy storage. The legislation would consolidate 44 energy incentives into three tech-neutral provisions to promote energy independence and a low-carbon economy. All of the original co-sponsors are Democrats. The roll out of the legislation was accompanied by supporting statements from about a dozen supporting organizations.Read More
Significant investment is flowing into private companies seeking long-sought-after breakthroughs to develop practical power generation solutions based on nuclear fusion reactions.  Fusion reactions have become relatively commonplace in the laboratory setting, but no one has developed a nuclear fusion reactor yet that produces more energy than the device uses to operate and maintain the reaction. Numerous private companies, in the United States and around the world, are attacking this challenge with a variety of approaches, with the goal of making the technology sustainable, practical, and commercial. These companies are receiving significant investment from backers who believe a solution is within reach.
UPDATE 10/5/17: On October 4, 2017, pursuant to authority delegated to the Director of the Office of Energy Policy and Innovation, FERC Staff issued a request that comments filed regarding DOE’s proposed rulemaking address specific questions “in order to assist Staff in understanding the implications of the proposed rule.” The request includes several categories of questions regarding the proposed rule, including the need for reform; eligibility (including with respect to the 90-day fuel supply requirement); implementation concerns; and impact on wholesale market rates. The request also asks commenters to address the timeline for compliance with a final rule; the impact of the proposed rule on consumers; and any alternative approaches that could be taken to accomplish the goals of the proposed rule.
UPDATE 10/3/17: On October 2, 2017, FERC issued a Notice Inviting Comments on DOE’s proposed rulemaking. Initial comments are due on October 23, 2017. Reply comments are due on November 7, 2017. FERC has docketed the proceeding at RM18-1-000.
On September 28, 2017, using the Secretary of Energy’s authority under Section 403 of the Department of Energy Organization Act, the Department of Energy (“DOE”) proposed a rule for final action by the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (“FERC”). The rule would allow certain traditional baseload generators, such as coal and nuclear plants, to “fully recover costs” to maintain the reliability and resiliency of the electric grid. DOE is requiring FERC to consider and take final action on the proposed rule within 60 days after publication in the Federal Register. In the alternative, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry urges FERC to issue the proposed rule as an interim final rule, effective immediately. The proposed rule has the potential to significantly impact the wholesale electricity markets, implicate a host of issues related to pricing, and draw strong objections from the oil and gas industry.
The US Department of Energy (DOE) recently released its 2013 Wind Technologies Market Report summarizing the accomplishments of the U.S. wind energy industry. The full report can be found here. Compared to the record-setting 13 GW of new operating wind projects in 2012, 2013 was clearly an off-year, with only a little over 1 GW of new wind energy capacity added. One of the major reasons for this dramatic fall-off was the expiration of the federal income tax production tax credit (PTC) at the end of 2012, which created a land rush of projects being placed in service at end of year 2012, depleting the project pipeline for 2013. The revival of the PTC in 2013 was too late to stimulate significant project completion in 2013. The good news is that because projects that commenced construction by the end of 2013 will qualify for the PTC, a flood of wind projects will be placed in service in 2014 and 2015. The boom and bust cycle of PTC driven wind project development continues.
On Friday, President Obama announced private sector goals and commitments for solar installation, applauded those private financial institutions which are “leading the way” on solar and renewable investments, and announced a series of “executive actions” which the Administration is taking to stimulate the use of energy efficiency and renewable energy technologies. Read the White House Fact Sheet here.
The President’s announcement came in the middle of Senate debate on the Shaheen-Portman energy efficiency bill which has been stalled for years in the US Senate. And again this week, because of issues unrelated to energy efficiency, it appears that the bill will not advance. The Administration has clearly decided – as they have on other energy and environment issues – to take steps which do not need Congressional action in order to advance the President’s energy agenda. Read More