Energy News for week ending April 17, 2020

Double Capacity | Stay-at-Home Savings | Owl’s Wings

Happy Friday afternoon.

This week we’re focusing on some good news stories. We figure we can all use some upbeat information these days.

We start with a State House News Service report via WBUR, “New State Rules Aim To Double Solar Power Capacity. Industry groups on Wednesday largely welcomed the updated regulations that the Baker administration filed for a solar energy development program, saying the new rules will help the state meet its climate goals and help the solar industry as it deals with the fallout from the coronavirus pandemic, but some also said the update does not go far enough. The updated regulations for the state’s Solar Massachusetts Renewable Target (SMART) incentive program, which is designed to facilitate solar projects by ensuring financing, double the program’s capacity, expand eligibility criteria for low-income solar projects and encourage the adoption of energy storage technology…The regulations take effect Wednesday, the administration said. A public hearing will be held virtually in May and a public comment period will stay open until May 22. In the update, DOER expanded the program’s capacity from 1,600 to 3,200 megawatts, which the administration said ‘will create a stable runway for growth of solar to continue’ in Massachusetts. DOER also expanded the criteria for projects in low-income areas and established a set-aside to provide a more stable incentive rate for those projects.”

Next, we move to New York with a story from Greentech Media, “In New York, a New Way for Stay-at-Home Customers to Get Paid for Shaving Peak Energy. A new program in Westchester County will allow customers to make money at home using software, smart meters and demand response. New York is struggling with the country’s worst coronavirus outbreak, but it’s also pushing ahead on its ambitious clean energy goals. Those include major expansions of wind and solar power, more energy storage to manage that intermittent supply — and, on the demand side of the equation, programs that can turn utility customers from passive consumers into active grid-balancing participants. Take GridRewards, a program launched last week by community-choice aggregator Sustainable Westchester and building energy software and demand response provider Logical Buildings. Beyond providing efficiency tips and energy usage insights, GridRewards will give Sustainable Westchester’s 115,000 or so customers a chance to get paid for reducing energy consumption when utility Con Edison needs to relieve its straining grid. That’s a timely offer for Westchester County residents stuck at home under the state’s COVID-19 restrictions and looking for ways to reduce rising utility bills. It’s also a way for Logical Buildings to gain load-reduction capacity in the residential sector, which is seeing electricity usage rising even as New York City’s locked-down commercial sector’s demand is falling.”

Our new energy technology story for this week comes from the Smithsonian Magazine, “To Silence Wind Turbines and Airplanes, Engineers Are Studying Owl Wings. No one knows exactly how the nocturnal hunters manage their whisper-soft flight, yet it’s inspiring the design of quieter airplanes, fans and wind turbines. Every owl fancier has a story of the first time they heard an owl — or, rather, didn’t hear one. It’s unforgettable to see an enormous bird, whose wingspan can reach more than six feet, slipping through the air without even a whisper…Laboratory measurements have shown that the slight swoosh made by a barn owl is below the threshold of human hearing until the owl is about three feet away — a feat of stealth that biologists and engineers are far from completely understanding. But researchers from both disciplines are working to solve the riddle of silent flight — some with the aim of designing quieter fans, turbine blades and airplane wings. Such owl-inspired innovations can reduce noise by as much as 10 decibels, similar to the difference in noise between a passing truck and a passing car…

That’s the recap for the week. Have a wonderful weekend and stay well.

 

Natural Gas/Oil/Pipeline/Drilling

Offshore Oil Could Soon Be Powered By Wind, Oilprice.com

Opponents of compressor station say workers aren’t following rules, Patriot Ledger

No safety issue with gas pipeline near Indian Point, NRC says, Mid-Hudson News

 

Climate Change/Renewables/RGGI

To cut carbon emissions, a movement grows to ‘electrify everything,’ PBS.org

Energy Department Considers New Partnership to Bring Star Power to Earth, Nextgov.com

New website will help steer the U.S. away from fossil fuels, Phsy.org

As CO2 Emissions Drop During Pandemic, Methane May Rise, Scientific American

Social Distancing Is Rewriting the Cleantech Startup Survival Guide, Greentech Media

Engie North America launches financing plan for renewable projects, Daily Energy Insider

CESA launches 100% Clean Energy Collaborative, Renewable Energy World

Climate change affects everything — even the coronavirus, Washington Post

Trump officials reject stricter air quality standards, despite link between air pollution, coronavirus risks, Washington Post

Mass. lost thousands of clean energy jobs in March, says new report, Boston Business Journal

Clean energy shed 106,000 U.S. jobs in March, erasing a year of gains, Reuters

As Trump and McConnell mock clean energy, the industry could soon lose a half-million jobs, Vox.com

EPA Changes Another Emissions Rule; This Time It’s About Mercury, WBUR

 

Wind

Anbaric confronts regulators in quest to create subsea transmission highway, S&P Global

Iberdrola Plans to Take Top Spot in US Offshore Wind (and Keep It), Greentech Media

RODA request pause in offshore wind development amid COVID-19 pandemic, SeafoodSource

Wind Turbine Factories Struggle For Parts in Virus Lockdown, Bloomberg

To Silence Wind Turbines and Airplanes, Engineers Are Studying Owl Wings, Smithsonian Magazine

 

Solar

Second Homes, Solar Arrays, Vineyard Concerts Test Little Compton’s Rural Character, EcoRI

New State Rules Aim To Double Solar Power Capacity, WBUR

Niagara Town Board approves first step toward solar energy project, Buffalo News

 

Energy Efficiency/Storage

Massachusetts struggles to incentivize behind-the-meter storage, PV Magazine

In New York, a New Way for Stay-at-Home Customers to Get Paid for Shaving Peak Energy, Greentech Media

Energy Efficiency Industry Seeks Aid as House Panel Seeks Ideas, Bloomberg Law

Efficiency sector gets creative to stem COVID-19 job losses, maintain energy savings, Utility Dive

Groups sue DOE over ‘arbitrary’ threshold they say will avoid tougher efficiency standards for appliances, Utility Dive

COVID-19 hits clean energy jobs, but storage companies could be ‘bucking the trend,’ Utility Dive

 

EVs

Coronavirus Got Rid of Smog. Can Electric Cars Do So Permanently?, Wall St. Journal

‘Charger desert’ in big cities keeps electric cars from mainstream, Boston Business Journal

As states use less coal for electricity, driving electric vehicles becomes even cleaner, Green Car Congress

 

Nuclear

Millstone moving forward with reactor refueling amid COVID-19 pandemic, The Day

Could Full Decarbonization Depend on New Nuclear or CCS?, Greentech Media

New ‘Beyond Indian Point’ Campaign Launches as Nuclear Facility Shuts Down; Focuses on NY’s Transition to Renewable Energy, Riverkeeper

Pennsylvania raises alarms on transfer of radioactive Three Mile Island reactor, WHYY

 

Market/Grid/Policy/Prices

New England Ratepayers Association files net metering petition with FERC, Daily Energy Insider

CMP power line’s chief backer spent $5 million this year to promote it, Press Herald

Federal spending makes more energy assistance available, AP News

Judge OKs referendum on utility corridor; appeal is expected, News Center Maine

Microgrid Bill that Clarifies Utility & Operator Roles Approved by Maine House, Microgrid Knowledge

How New England Is Keeping The Lights On During The Pandemic, WBUR

Electricity prices pushed to new lows as coronavirus cuts New England demand with businesses closed and employees at home, Hartford Courant

Power forecasters struggle to find grid’s ‘new normal,’ E&E News

Virus Throws $6 Billion in Higher U.S. Utility Bills Into Limbo, Bloomberg

 

Editorial/Opinion

THE ARGUMENT: Should Massachusetts cities and towns ban new natural gas hook-ups,? Boston Globe

Will the Coronavirus Kill the Oil Industry?, New Yorker

Post-coronavirus economic recovery requires EV adoption, Utility Dive

New York’s Fracking Ban and Its Discontents, Energy Central

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Filed under Climate Change, Electric Grid, Electricity Costs, Energy Efficiency, Natural Gas Pipelines, New England Energy News, Northeast Energy News, offshore wind, solar

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