Jun 13, 2018

Wind and Gas Surpassed by Solar as Biggest Source of New U.S. Power

Solar Power: Technicians work on solar panels

In the first quarter of 2018, developers have installed 2.5 Gw of solar power – up 13% from the previous year. According to a report from the Solar Energy Industry Association and GTM Research, the 2.5 Gw increase accounted for 55% of all new power generation with solar panels beating new wind and natural gas turbines for a second straight quarter. The growth in the solar sector came despite tariffs on imported panels which were anticipated to increase costs for developers. According to GTM, total anticipated installations this year are expected to be upwards of 10.8 Gw. For more information,… Read more

May 15, 2018

EPA Announces New Carbon Neutral Policy for Forest Biomass Energy

Carbon Neutral Policy and Forest Biomass

On February 23, 2018, Scott Pruitt announced a new EPA policy which will treat forest biomass burned at power plants as carbon neutral in all future regulations.  According to Pruitt, the policy will provide “much-needed certainty and clarity” on the carbon neutrality of forest biomass – a clarification that the forest and paper industries have long sought.  Biomass involves obtaining energy by burning wood and other organic matter which is classified as renewable energy in the European Union and United Nations because plant stocks can be replaced with new growth.  In the U.S., regulatory uncertainty regarding how the EPA would treat… Read more

May 9, 2018

Turning Poultry Waste and Scrapwood into Electricity

Poultry Waste as energy

Veolia Environment SA has agreed to operate and maintain three power plants in the southeast that will generate electricity from burning wood and poultry waste.  Veolia current has a short-term contract with Georgia Renewable Power LLC to manage a Lumberton, North Carolina power plant that burns poultry litter and wood biomass.  In a deal announced on March 2, Veolia will get a 15 year operation and maintenance contract to operate the 25 MW facility and to oversee two additional sites in Georgia.  Georgia Renewable Power plans to build two biomass facilities in Georgia, each of which will have capacity to… Read more

May 2, 2018

Guilt-Free Sara Lee: Renewable Energy Plans

Renewable Energy - Wind Energy

Grupo Bimbo SAB (“GB”), the maker of Sara Lee Cakes and Thomas’ English Muffins, has announced plans to buy wind credits to erase its carbon footprint created by its baking operations. GB announced plans to convert to renewable energy for all its U.S. operations by 2020 and has just locked in credits for 100 megawatts of wind power from Invenergy LLC, a Chicago-based, renewable energy company. GB will begin offsetting its energy use with generation from Invenergy’s Santa Rita East wind farm in Iron County, Texas, in the third quarter of 2019. In a statement released by GB’s Chief Executive… Read more

Apr 18, 2018

EPA Posts Updated List of “Active” Chemical Substances

Active Chemical Substance

The Toxic Substances Control Act Inventory (“Inventory”) is a list of chemical substances manufactured (including imported) or processed in the United States. On April 12, 2018, EPA posted an updated version of the Inventory, designating nearly 31,000 chemicals on the public portion of the Inventory as “active” in U.S. commerce. TSCA regulation generally prohibits the manufacture, importation, or processing of “inactive” chemical substances. On June 22, 2016, Congress amended TSCA pursuant to the Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act. The amended TSCA initiated an “Inventory reset” process, which required EPA to designate chemical substances as “active”… Read more

Apr 4, 2018

EPA Lifts Repair Requirements for Oil and Gas Leaks

The EPA has altered a 2016 rule requiring oil companies to fix leaks from oil and gas wells during unscheduled shutdown periods. Under the now-defunct 2016 rule, oil and gas operators were required to identify and repair sources of fugitive emissions during unscheduled or emergency shutdowns. The EPA estimated that the rule would cost the industry $14-16 million in compliance cost over a 14-year period, and industry representatives have indicated that the rule could potentially disrupt natural gas supplies by taking wells offline for longer periods of time while repairs are being conducted. With this change, owners and operators are… Read more

Mar 26, 2018

House Votes to Delay Brick Kiln, Wood Stove Air Pollution Control Rules

Air Pollution from Kiln

The House has voted to delay the implementation of regulations setting limits on toxic air pollution from brick and cement tile kilns and wood fire stoves pending resolution of litigation filed to block implementation of the rules. The bill, which passed by an overwhelming majority on March 7, targets standards limiting emissions of mercury, heavy metals, and acid gases from brick and ceramic tile makers. The emission standards, which were originally issued in 2003, were challenged by industry representatives and were overturned by federal courts prior to being reissued in 2015. A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in November… Read more

Feb 28, 2018

Congress Reauthorizes Tax Credit For Buried Carbon Dioxide

Carbon Dioxide Emissions

In a bill signed into law on February 9, Congress expanded a tax incentive program responsible for more than a billion dollars in tax credits awarded to oil companies for burying carbon dioxide underground.  Both environmental and industry groups support the move which encourages emitters of carbon dioxide, such as power plants, ethanol factories, steel mills, and refineries, to capture their CO2 emissions and bury them underground for storage, or pump them underground to help oil companies extract more crude from aging reservoirs.  The credit allowed for captured carbon dioxide was worth as much as $20 per ton and was… Read more

Feb 21, 2018

EPA Reverses Toxic Pollutant Policy under Clean Air Act

On January 25, the EPA issued a memorandum reversing the “once-in-always-in” policy under the Clean Air Act (“Act”) which prevented major sources of toxic air pollutants from removing pollution control devices at their facilities once actual emissions fell below major source thresholds.  The new policy will allow these facilities to be reclassified as smaller “area” sources subject to less stringent requirements.  The policy originated in a 1995 memorandum which clarified when major sources (defined as facilities that released at least 10 tons per year of single toxic air pollutant or 25 tons of any combined toxic pollutants each year) can… Read more

Feb 12, 2018

Solar Tariffs Set to Slow Expansion of Solar in U.S.

Solar Panels - Solar Tariffs - Solar Energy

President Donald Trump’s tariffs on solar panel imports to the U.S. are expected to add roughly 10% to the cost of a utility-scale solar farm in the U.S. and 3% to rooftop units bought for homes according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance.  The tariffs are projected to cut U.S. installations by 11% over the next five years, but the decision is unlikely to reshape the economics of the photovoltaic business on the global stage or threaten China’s leadership of the industry.  While Bell Labs in the U.S. invented the modern photovoltaic cell in the 1950s, the industry flourished elsewhere while… Read more