Energy News for week ending May 15, 2020

Planned Approach | Green Grant Rejected | Secret Space Plane

Happy Friday afternoon.

We start with an offshore wind story brought to us by the State House News Service via the Boston Business Journal. “Report sees benefits in offshore energy transmission hub. If Massachusetts and other New England states continue to develop offshore wind projects that each have their own cables connecting the offshore arrays to the onshore power grid, transmission costs will be higher, there will be more marine life disturbance and greater environmental impacts, and the existing grid could need significant upgrades sooner, a Brattle Group report found. The report, which was conducted on behalf of a Wakefield-based company that focuses exclusively on transmission, recommends that Massachusetts and surrounding states adopt a planned transmission approach to offshore wind, in which existing wind lease areas would connect to one common transmission network and then deliver power to southern New England…Using a planned transmission approach rather than individual generator lead lines from each offshore project would lead to a 10 percent reduction in overall transmission costs, 49 percent less undersea cable, 40 percent less energy lost in transmission and optimized utilization of each of the limited locations at which offshore wind power can be brought onto shore, the Brattle Group said Thursday morning as it presented its findings alongside Anbaric, the Responsible Offshore Science Alliance and Eric Hines of Tufts University.”

We missed this story last week, but the interesting dynamics in it made it worth sharing this week. From the Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Holyoke City Council turns down $275K grant for green energy planning. After nearly an hour of heated debate Tuesday evening, six members of the City Council voted to reject a $275,000 grant to help Holyoke transition away from fossil fuels. The Barr Foundation announced in December that the city would be a recipient of the grant, which would have paid for project management and technical consulting for developing a plan to transition the city’s buildings and energy grid to renewable energy. But the City Council voted 7-6 on the grant, denying the body the nine votes it needed. “I believe that this grant is an attempt to basically introduce a political agenda — the politics of the Green New Deal — into Holyoke,” At-Large Councilor Howard Greaney said during the meeting…The grant had previously been the subject of disagreement over the role that the grassroots organization Neighbor to Neighbor would play in the project. Neighbor to Neighbor, which organizes against environmental and racial injustice, was set to receive their own separate, $125,000 grant to do outreach to city residents…Much of the controversy revolved around a protest that Neighbor to Neighbor held in October 2018 at the Suffolk Street headquarters of Holyoke Gas & Electric, or HG&E — the city’s municipal utility. HG&E also was slated to be a partner in the grant project. For some councilors, though, the protest was too much. In February, the Council’s Finance Committee had already recommended, by a 3-2 vote, to reject the grant. But the full City Council sent the grant back to the Finance Committee, asking the city’s director of planning and economic development, Marcos Marrero, to contact the Barr Foundation about the possibility of removing mention of Neighbor to Neighbor from the grant. The Barr Foundation ultimately said it would not amend the contract, and asked the council to vote the grant up or down… Bartley expressed opposition to Neighbor to Neighbor’s role in the project. He added that the outcome of the Barr Foundation project is to reduce fossil fuel consumption to as close to zero as possible. ‘That’s the goal,’ Bartley said. ‘So the ‘G’ in the ‘Gas and Electric’ might as well go away. I just can’t in good conscience support this grant.’”

For our technology feature of the week, we bring you this story from Wired, “A Secret Space Plane is Carrying a Solar Experiment to Orbit. On Saturday, the US Air Force is expected to launch its secret space plane, X-37B, for a long-duration mission in low Earth orbit. The robotic orbiter looks like a smaller version of the space shuttle and has spent nearly eight of the past 10 years in space conducting classified experiments for the military. Almost nothing is known about what X-37B does up there, but ahead of its sixth launch the Air Force gave some rare details about its cargo. In addition to its usual suite of secret military tech, the X-37B will also host a few unclassified experiments during its upcoming sojourn in space…But the real star of the show is a small solar panel developed by the physicists at the Naval Research Lab that will be used to conduct the first orbital experiment with space-based solar power. ‘This is a major step forward,’ says Paul Jaffe, an electronics engineer at the Naval Research Lab and lead researcher on the project. ‘This is the first time that any component geared towards a solar-powered satellite system has ever been tested in orbit.’ Space-based solar power is all about getting solar power to Earth no matter the weather or the time of day. The basic idea is to convert the sun’s energy into microwaves and beam it down. Unlike terrestrial solar panels, satellites in a sufficiently high orbit might only experience darkness for a few minutes per day. If this energy could be captured, it could provide an inexhaustible source of power no matter where you are on the planet.”

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

 

Natural Gas/Oil/Pipeline/Drilling

Ashland consultant says Eversource pipeline project is unnecessary, MetroWest Daily News

Does New York need a new natural gas pipeline? It’s about to decide., Grist

Weymouth compressor station moves toward completion, Patriot Ledger

US fossil fuel giants set for a coronavirus bailout bonanza, The Guardian

Gas stoves can generate unsafe levels of indoor air pollution, Vox.com

 

Climate Change/Renewables/RGGI

Mass. emission strategies all up in air, CommonWealth Magazine

In a First, Renewable Energy Is Poised to Eclipse Coal in U.S., New York Times

Clean energy has shed nearly 600,000 U.S. jobs due to pandemic: report, Reuters

Replace NYC peakers with renewables+storage? Plant owners say they’re working on it, Utility Dive

Clean energy, rate relief on collision course, Politico

Holyoke City Council turns down $275K grant for green energy planning, Daily Hampshire Gazette

Judge Dismisses Another Green Development Lawsuit, EcoRI

Climate models got hotter. Why they might be overshooting, E&E News

April 2020 was Earth’s second hottest April on record, NOAA

Smog-Causing Pollutant Way Down In Mass. — For Now, WBUR

US Emissions May See Record Decline in 2020, Study Says, Greentech Media

 

Wind

Report sees benefits in offshore energy transmission hub, State House News via Boston Business Journal (Paywall)

Treasury Department offers wind industry coronavirus lifeline with proposed safe harbor extension, Utility Dive

Climbing Wind Turbines for a Living | That’s Amazing, greatbigstory.com

US wind sector delivers ‘strong first quarter’ despite coronavirus crisis, Energy Live News

Eversource pushes back startup date for NY offshore wind farm, SandP Global

 

Solar

A Secret Space Plane is Carrying a Solar Experiment to Orbit, Wired

 

Energy Efficiency/Storage

Cold storage: Organic proton batteries show disposal, solar pairing advantages in advance to market, Utility Dive

 

Nuclear

Consultant says NorthStar’s spending on track, Brattleboro Reformer

NRC commissioner blasts proposed emergency preparedness rules for SMRs as a ‘radical departure,’ Utility Dive

 

Market/Grid/Policy/Prices

CMP gets a key state approval for its hydropower corridor, Bangor Daily News

New England takes key step to 1.2 GW of Quebec hydro as Maine approves transmission line, Utility Dive

Ditching PJM capacity market could cost New Jersey $386M through 2022, market monitor finds, Utility Dive

NYISO stands by renewable exemption limit proposal, urges swift FERC action, S&P Global

CT regulators toughen rules on energy suppliers, Greenwich Time

CMP parent sues state in effort to halt proposed anti-corridor referendum, Bangor Daily News

House coronavirus bill aims to prevent utility shutoffs, The Hill

 

Editorial/Opinion

CT regulators toughen rules on energy suppliers, Greenwich Time

Stop Equating Coronavirus with Climate Action, Next City

NJ’s energy master plan is a winner, Energy Central

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Filed under Climate Change, New England Energy News, Northeast Energy News, offshore wind

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