U.S. Energy News

Are increased utility fixed charges on their way out?

RATES:
• In a victory for consumer advocates, Wisconsin regulators scale back a utility’s request for another fixed-rate increase. (Associated Press)
A Montana utility abandons plans for fees on customers who install their own wind and solar generators. (Billings Gazette)
As quickly as they became popular among utilities in response to load defection, increased fixed charges now appear to be on the way out. (Utility Dive)

BIOFUELS: A group of lawmakers led by Rep. Nancy Pelosi are pushing President Obama to not back-pedal on the Renewable Fuel Standard before the Paris climate talks. (Reuters)

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TECHNOLOGY: The “Tesla effect” is taking hold in Reno, Nevada, where local officials hope to capitalize on revitalization opportunities as the company opens its Gigafactory nearby. (EnergyWire)

EFFICIENCY: A study finds New York City could see major energy savings by installing heat-control devices in buildings. (New York Times)

POLITICS:
• U.S. Senators who voted to block the Clean Power Plan have received millions in campaign contributions from the coal industry. (CNBC)
In the face of formal opposition, congressional Democrats are pushing their Republican colleagues to do something meaningful with respect to upcoming Paris climate talks. (The Hill)

NATURAL GAS:
• An Illinois commission is investigating whether utility executives hid information about the rising cost of a Chicago-area gas main replacement program to win approval for a major utility merger last year. (EnergyWire)
A new study suggests New England did not need to build a new natural-gas pipeline to shore up the region’s future energy supply. (Forbes)

SUSTAINABILITY: Devastating floods from 2012 were a “real motivation” for the city of Duluth, Minnesota to overhaul its energy system into a more sustainable one. (Midwest Energy News)

CLIMATE:
• House Democrats begin probing whether oil and coal companies have lied to the public over what they know about climate change. (The Hill)
The GOP chairman of the House science committee is ratcheting up efforts to discredit a recent NOAA climate study. (The Hill)
• 
A bill in the U.S. Senate would revive a 1970s financing tactic to help promote carbon capture projects. (New York Times)

FRACKING: An EPA report finding no “widespread, systemic impacts” on drinking water from fracking is being challenged by the agency’s own scientists. (InsideClimate News)

TRANSMISSION: Developers of a major transmission project to carry wind energy from Iowa to Illinois confirms have asked regulators to suspend their review of the project while the company figures out how to move forward. (Associated Press)

OIL AND GAS:
• BP may qualify for $5 billion in tax relief from the $20.8 billion fine following the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill because most of it could be claimed as a business expense. (Grist)
Federal prosecutors charge multiple companies and individuals with involuntary manslaughter following a 2012 oil rig explosion in Louisiana. (Houston Business Journal)

SOLAR: Analysts predict the wind-down of solar tax credits will cause a short-term slump in the industry but strong growth after that. (Utility Dive)

UTILITIES: Regulated utilities nationwide continue spending tens of billions of dollars in capital investments despite a lack of demand growth. (Forbes)

COMMENTARY: A new industry study criticizing the Clean Power Plan, and frequently being cited by news media, is deeply flawed. (NRDC Switchboard)

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