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Renewables are key to Obama energy plan

President-elect Barack Obama campaigned on an energy plan that calls for a federal Renewable Portfolio Standard that would require 10 percent of electricity used in the U.S. to be derived from clean, sustainable energy sources by 2012 – and 25 percent by 2025. Obama toured a Voith Siemens Hydro Power Generation plant at York, Pa., in September, adding hydropower to the list of renewables he said the U.S. needs to promote. Obama has said he wants to extend the federal production tax credit for renewables for five years to encourage the production of renewable energy. His energy plan also calls for investment of $150 billion over ten years on low-carbon energy sources to create 5 million jobs.

Renewables groups call for $30 billion

The National Hydropower Association (NHA) and other renewable energy associations are calling for the U.S. government to invest $30 billion during 2009 on new development of renewable energy technologies. NHA, the American Wind Energy Association, Geothermal Energy Association, and Solar Energy Industries Association said the investment would help President-elect Obama meet his commitment to invest $150 billion over ten years on low-carbon energy sources. The groups did not specify investment amounts for individual technologies. However, some of the $30 billion could supplement the production tax credit for renewables to better promote their deployment. The representatives also agreed that some of the money could go to other areas such as research and development, and longer-term loan programs.

BC Hydro receives 45 hydro offers

BC Hydro’s Clean Power Call received offers of 45 hydropower projects representing 8,700 gigawatt-hours (GWh) of annual generation. The utility took proposals Nov. 25 from projects to provide up to 5,000 GWh annually of clean or renewable energy. A spokesman said 43 independent power producers submitted a total of 68 projects. All projects totaled 7,000 MW and 17,000 GWh of annual generation. In addition to the 45 hydro projects, offers included 19 wind projects and four projects powered by waste heat, biogas, or biomass. Notable among the proposals were offers from Plutonic Power Corp. and GE Energy Financial Services, who submitted two bids offering nearly 1,200 MW of hydropower from projects costing more than C$4 billion (US$3.25 billion). Plutonic said the 20 hydro plant sites in the Upper Toba Valley and at Bute Inlet, British Columbia, represent the largest single private sector investment in hydropower generation in Canada.

California governor pushes one-third renewables

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger issued an executive order directing state agencies to prepare for a requirement that the state’s utilities obtain a third of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2020. “All retail sellers of electricity shall serve 33 percent of their load with renewable energy by 2020,” the order said. “State government agencies are hereby directed to take all appropriate actions to implement this target in all regulatory proceedings, including siting, permitting, and procurement for renewable energy power plants and transmission lines.” The Legislature must pass legislation before the goal can be imposed. California’s current renewables portfolio standard requires investor-owned utilities to generate 20 percent of their power from renewables by 2010. On Nov. 4, California voters rejected Proposition 7, which would have expanded that requirement to include government-owned utilities. It also would have raised renewables requirements to 40 percent by 2020 and 50 percent by 2025.

Canada Throne Speech notes hydro’s role

Delivering the Throne Speech opening Canada’s Parliament, Canada Governor General Michaelle Jean acknowledged the importance of hydropower in helping to combat climate change. As representative of the British Commonwealth’s Queen Elizabeth, Jean said Canada plans to tackle climate change and preserve the environment by ensuring 90 percent of its electricity comes from non-emitting sources, such as hydropower, by 2020, and by reducing greenhouse gas emissions 20 percent, also by 2020. “Our government will set an objective that 90 percent of Canada’s electricity needs be provided by non-emitting sources such as hydro, nuclear, clean coal, or wind power by 2020,” Jean said. President Pierre Fortin of the Canadian Hydropower Association remarked that the speech was the first time in recent years, “if ever,” that support for hydropower was included in a Throne Speech.

Waxman bumps Dingell from House chair

Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., wrested control of the House Energy and Commerce Committee from veteran Rep. John Dingell, D-Mich., in a closed-door meeting of House Democrats Nov. 20. Waxman will take the chairmanship of the committee when the 111th Congress convenes Jan. 6. Environmental groups welcomed Waxman as the new chairman. His immediate priorities will likely be passing legislation to promote alternative energy intended to help create the millions of “green” jobs that President-elect Obama has called for. Ethan Siegal of the Washington Exchange, which tracks Congress for institutional investors, said Waxman’s harder edge had long been noted. “We see Dingell as a more pragmatic, deal-making liberal with whom the business community can negotiate; and we see Waxman as more of a classic take-no-prisoners liberal who tends to go for the jugular,” Siegal said.

Missouri voters back renewables portfolio

Missouri voters passed a renewable energy ballot initiative Nov. 4 to create a state renewables portfolio standard that includes small hydropower. The Secretary of State’s office said two-thirds of voters approved Proposition C, 1,772,432 to 912,000. The initiative requires investor-owned electric utilities, which control 76 percent of Missouri’s generation, to obtain electricity from renewable energy sources such as small hydropower, solar, wind, and biomass. Renewable energy sources must supply at least 2 percent of retail sales by 2011, increasing incrementally to at least 15 percent by 2021. Hydropower projects would be eligible to meet the mandated targets if they do not require a new diversion or impoundment of water and they have capacities of 10 MW or less.

B.C. offers communities clean energy aid

The British Columbia government invites expressions of interest from about 70 remote communities for assistance in developing remote community clean energy systems, including hydropower. The B.C. Energy, Mines, and Petroleum Ministry said the Remote Clean Energy Program is to encourage development of sustainable energy systems through planning, community-owned clean energy development, and energy efficiency assistance. The province is providing C$20 million (US$16.3 million) over four years. Among the first projects to receive funding in 2007 and 2008 were C$1 million (US$816,250) toward the 2.4-MW Atlin hydro project and another C$1 million toward the Klemtu hydro project. The ministry said expressions of interest are to be reviewed on a quarterly basis through Dec. 15, 2010. Information may be obtained from the ministry Internet site at www.empr.gov.bc.ca/EAED/Pages/ CommunityEnergy.aspx

U.S. issues draft marine, hydrokinetic report

The Department of Energy (DOE) issued a draft report examining the environmental effects of marine and hydrokinetic power projects. The report notes there are more than 100 ocean and hydrokinetic energy technologies, most of which are in the conceptual stage. It said basing environmental monitoring programs on adaptive management principles would allow ongoing research and monitoring to help refine technology designs. DOE is developing the report with the Commerce and Interior departments. Oak Ridge National Laboratory prepared the draft and will prepare the final report, which is due to Congress in June 2009. The document can be obtained from the Internet at www.ornl.gov/sci/eere/eisareport/report.html.

Zebra mussel found at 572-MW Conowingo

Pennsylvania environmental officials reported Nov. 24 that a single zebra mussel was found in an intake of 572-MW Conowingo Dam on the lower Susquehanna River in Maryland. Conowingo’s reservoir extends into Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania officials said the half-inch eastern Europe native was discovered during monitoring of shad migration at Conowingo. It had not yet attached itself to the intake. The officials said it was the first time a zebra mussel has been found in the lower Susquehanna. Carried to North American waters in ballast water of ocean-going ships, zebra mussels first infested the Great Lakes and moved into other water bodies across the continent. The species plugs water intakes and disrupts aquatic food chains.

Pact could lead to removal of Klamath dams

The federal government, the states of California and Oregon, and project licensee PacifiCorp have reached an agreement in principle that could lead to removal of four dams in the 161-MW Klamath hydroelectric project. PacifiCorp said the agreement represents “the first step down a presumptive path” toward historic resolution of Klamath River resource issues and the utility’s Klamath River hydropower projects, 90-MW J.C. Boyle, 20-MW Copco 1, 27-MW Copco 2, and 18-MW Iron Gate. The Interior secretary would make a final decision in 2012 on dam removal following an assessment to confirm dam removal is in the public interest. The total cost of removal is capped at $450 million. California and Oregon utility commissions would impose a surcharge on PacifiCorp customers to raise $200 million toward dam removal. In addition, California would seek a general obligation bond of $250 million.


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