Western Energy News Round-Up: Wind, Feed-in Tariffs, Decoupling, and Wildfires

Western Energy News Round-Up is a selection of news highlighting recent energy and environmental issues in the western United States. 

June 23 – 30, 2013

Renewable Energy:

Mohave County Gets Federal Wind Farm OK

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell has announced the approval of a 500 MW wind energy project in northwestern Arizona. Proposed by BP Wind Energy North America Inc., the project will erect up to 243 wind turbines on federal lands for the Mohave County Wind Farm and is projected to create about 750 jobs through construction and operations.

(Associated Press, June 28, 2013)

Los Angeles Launches Largest Feed-In Tariff Solar Program In U.S.

The Los Angeles Department of Water and Power has just begun rolling out the first part of the country’s largest urban rooftop solar program. The Feed-in Tariff project kicked off with a set of rooftop panels installed on an apartment complex in North Hollywood. Solar Provider Group provided the panels, and a contract with the DWP has solidified plans for the company to invest $50 million in 17 projects across the state.

(The 9 Billion, June 30, 2013)

Oregon House approves bill to ban canola crops in Willamette Valley

A bill that would prohibit farmers from planting canola crops, used increasingly for biodiesel, in some parts of the Willamette Valley passed the Oregon House and goes to the Senate.

(Oregonian, June 25, 2013)

Fossil Fuels:

Green group challenges pending lease sales in New Mexico, Colorado

Environmental advocates have filed appeals against pending coal lease sales in New Mexico and Colorado, citing potential climate change and other pollution impacts. One of the Bureau of Land Management-approved actions could add several million tons of coal to Peabody Energy Corp.'s El Segundo mine in New Mexico. Another decision this year authorizes a lease modification to expand the McClane Canyon mine in Colorado.

(E&E News, June 25, 2013)

EPA Delays Fracking Safety Study Until 2016

The EPA is abandoning an investigation that linked fracking chemicals with groundwater contamination in Wyoming. Amid controversy over that move, the EPA also announced that its study of the threat that hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, poses to drinking water won’t be completed until 2016, rather than the expected 2014 release date.

(Grist, June 24, 2013)

San Onofre: How do you dismantle it?

The decision this month to shut the plant’s two existing reactors for good sets in motion an elaborate engineering feat that hinges on keeping workers safe from radiation as they cut up, cart away or entomb reactor entrails. But clearing away the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station in northern San Diego County is forecast to cost as much as $4.1 billion, well above the industry norm.

(U-T San Diego, June 27, 2013)


Washington regulators approve innovative ratemaking mechanisms for Puget Sound Energy

Washington’s utility commission approved the nation’s most comprehensive utility rate plan to support energy efficiency measures. The final order adopts a comprehensive “decoupling” provision that will help the utility achieve even greater energy efficiency savings while making its revenue more predictable. A separate order facilitates a fair and orderly end to coal-fired power production in the state.

(NW Energy Press Release, June 26, 2013)

Climate Change:

Western Governor’s unveiled a new energy plan, emphasizing cooperation. The Governors don’t all agree on the importance of climate change, though; and the plan includes increased renewable energy and energy efficiency cooperation- as well as fossil fuel extraction and transport.

(AP July 1, 2013 and The Salt Lake Tribune, June 30, 2013)

Extreme Weekend Heat Wave to Scorch Western U.S.

A wave of record-setting and life-threatening heat is expected to blaze across a wide swath of the West this weekend, with temperatures projected to climb precarious heights.

(US News, June 28, 2013)

Beetles to blame for Colorado's fires? Blame climate change instead

Fire crews don't expect to make much progress on containing Colorado’s worst wildfire blazes in history until they get some rain and cooler temperatures. That's a grim outlook, made grimmer by the droughts and summer heat that scientists have linked to global climate change.

(NBC News, June 25, 2013)


Study offers advice on grouse: Wyoming report says protections on high populations will reduce declines

A new study of sage grouse habitat in Wyoming has found that targeting habitat with the highest density of birds for protections will reduce potential population declines by as much as 50 percent statewide and even higher in the targeted areas. It comes as the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is considering listing the bird as a threatened species and the Bureau of Land Management proposes new protections on land it manages across the West to avert listing

(Great Falls Tribune, June 28, 2013)

Compiled by Meredith Connolly