Environment: Colorado PUC rejects attack on net-metering credits for rooftop solar energy

A new study suggests photovoltaic systems add to the resale value of homes. PHOTO COURTESY U.S. DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY.

A new study suggests photovoltaic systems add to the resale value of homes. Photo via U.S. Department of Energy.

Ruling will encourage more distributed renewable energy installations

Staff Report

FRISCO — The Colorado Public Utilities Commission this week rejected an attempt by Xcel Energy to roll back net net metering, a key financial incentive that has helped spur widespread installation of rooftop solar systems in the state.

Net metering gives consumers credit for the energy their systems put into the grid at the same rate residential customers are charged for electricity — about 10.5 cents per kilowatt-hour. Continue reading

Environment: Coastal communities in southeastern U.S. not exactly enthusiastic about offshore oil and gas drilling

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Where there is drilling, there are oil spills. Photo via U.S. Coast Guard.

Offshore wind energy projects touted as better alternative

Staff Report

FRISCO — Cities along the southeastern coast of the U.S. are lining up to oppose offshore fossil fuel exploitation. Earlier this week, the  Morehead City Council unanimously passed a resolution opposing seismic airgun blasting and offshore drilling.

The council’s resolution expresses concerns that federal plans for offshore oil and gas exploration and development threaten coastal communities, economies, fisheries and marine mammals.

The city was reacting to the Obama administration’s proposed plans to opening a large swath of the Atlantic Ocean, from Virginia to Georgia, to offshore drilling. Meanwhile, seismic airgun blasting, a process used to search for oil and gas deposits deep below the ocean floor, is continuing to move forward in an area twice the size of California, stretching all the way from Delaware to Florida. Continue reading

Report: U.S. wind energy price hits all-time low

A wind turbine installation near Frankfurt, Germany viewed from the air. @bberwyn photo.

A wind turbine installation near Frankfurt, Germany viewed from the air. @bberwyn photo.

Renewables on the rise around the world

Staff Report

FRISCO — A new report from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that wind energy prices have fallen to an all-time low, with prices offered by wind projects to utility purchasers averaged under $0.2.5 per/kWh. The falling prices have spurred increased demand by utilities, according to the report, with wind power comprising 33 percent of all new U.S. electric capacity additions since 2007

“Wind energy prices, particularly in the central United States, have hit new lows, with utilities selecting wind as the low cost option,” Berkeley Lab senior scientist Ryan Wiser said. “Moreover, enabled by technology advancements, wind projects are economically viable in a growing number of locations throughout the U.S.” Continue reading

EU wind power growing by leaps and bounds

Global capacity grew to 370 gigawatts in 2014

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Got wind?

Staff Report

FRISCO — Europe is now generating about 8 percent of its total energy usage from wind power, according to an annual report from the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, here’s another way to look at it: Windpower generated enough electricity to cover the combined annual consumption of Belgium, the Netherlands, Greece and Ireland. Thanks to the ever-decreasing costs of building new windpower facilities, the EU could be producing at least 12 percent of its annual power needs with turbines by 2020.

The report confirms that wind power has been the most widely deployed form of renewable energy in the past two decades, with the global cumulative capacity growing to 370 gigawatts in 2014. Last year represented an annual record with 52.8 GW of wind turbines capacity installed worldwide, a 48% percent increase compared to 2013 and 17 percent over the 2012 record of 45.2GW. Continue reading

Court upholds Colorado’s renewable energy standard

dgRuling bolsters similar laws in other states

Staff Report

FRISCO — Colorado’s renewable energy standard is perfectly legal and reasonable, a federal appeals court held this week, rejecting a nuisance challenge from a fringe right-wing group.

Under the standard, Colorado will get 30 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020. The standard also faced a challenge in the State Legislature this year, as Republicans in the senate sought to roll back the requirement.

The legal challenge from the Energy & Environment Legal Institute  claimed the standard discriminated against fossil fuel energy companies and forced outside states to comply with the standard. Read the appeals court ruling here: Energy & Environment Legal v. Epel. Continue reading

New study could cut bird deaths at wind farms

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More data, better planning and design could help reduce bird deaths at wind farms.

Research focused on golden eagles in Wyoming

Staff Report

FRISCO — Federal scientists say a new modeling study will help more accurately predict bird deaths at wind energy sites before they’re built.

The findings could help planners design more bird-friendly wind power facilities — important because by the best available estimates, the spinning turbines kill between 160,000 and 330,000 birds each year, and that number is likely to grow as the number and size of wind turbines increases. Continue reading

The U.S. could transition to 100% renewable energy by 2050

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Wind power!

‘The main barriers are social, political and getting industries to change …’

Staff Report

FRISCO — Getting the U.S. completely off its addiction to fossil fuels may seem daunting, especially if the goal is a relatively quick switch to renewable energy sources. But there’s more and more scientific evidence showing it can be done with existing technology, and without causing a lot of economic pain.

The U.S. could achieve the transition by 2050, say two California scientists who have outlined a plan for all 50 states to make the switch to renewable energy sources.

The advantages are pretty clear: Combating climate change, eliminating  mortality and disease linked with air pollution, creating new jobs and stabilizing energy prices to the benefit of consumers. Continue reading

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