U.S. Energy News

EPA grants a biofuels standards waiver to major oil refiner

BIOFUELS: The EPA says a multi-billion dollar Texas company doesn’t have to comply with U.S. biofuel rules, issuing a waiver that’s historically reserved for small operations. (Reuters)

REGULATION:
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt celebrates a plan to weaken Obama-era vehicle emissions standards at an invitation-only event with auto industry representatives. (The Hill)
Connecticut’s stricter motor vehicle emissions standards could be upended by the Trump administration. (Connecticut Mirror)
A U.S. senator from Colorado urges President Trump to revise NAFTA as a means to thwart future environmental regulations. (Denver Post)

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EPA:
A White House official says the Trump administration is reviewing allegations that EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt rented a condominium from the wife of an oil industry lobbyist. Meanwhile the president reportedly tells Pruitt, “We have your back.” (The Hill)
Two House Democrats ask the EPA’s inspector general to investigate allegations against Scott Pruitt, and two House Republicans call for Pruitt to resign or be fired. (The Hill)
Ethics scandals tied to Pruitt continue to grow, as new allegations surface that he played favorites by raising the pay for two of his aides, one of whom was made to work on weekends searching for an apartment for Pruitt. (The Hill)

SOLAR:
• The CEO of Spice Solar describes eight mistakes from the solar industry that energy storage companies can still avoid. (Greentech Media)
• Solar advocates cheer an Illinois Commerce Commission order laying out how the state will meet its ambitious goals for exponentially increasing solar capacity under the Future Energy Jobs Act. (Midwest Energy News)
• Despite its nation-leading community solar program, Minnesota placed 14th on a recent community power scorecard. (Midwest Energy News)
The number of solar jobs in New Mexico could double by 2030, according to a new report. (Albuquerque Business First)
A Florida clean energy company wants to build a solar farm and 200 MW storage system in western Nevada. (KTVN)

STORAGE: The California ISO starts an initiative to consider how transmission-connected storage improves efficiency and provides value to the system and ratepayers. (Utility Dive)

EFFICIENCY: With data centers producing 3 percent of the world’s annual CO2 emissions, it’s increasingly important that they’re efficient and use low-carbon energy sources. (Yale Environment 360)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: Regional networks of Western and Northeastern states are expanding partnerships to boost electric vehicle awareness and adoption. (Utility Dive)

COAL: A Colorado company that owns three Montana coal mines says it’s considering filing for bankruptcy. (Billings Gazette)

OIL & GAS:
A Pennsylvania court rules that fracking natural gas from an adjacent property is trespassing, which could lead to hundreds of lawsuits. (The Daily Climate)
An analysis of the federal government’s recent auction of drilling leases in Gulf waters shows reason to worry about demand. (Reuters)

PIPELINES: An Oklahoma pipeline operator reports it was the target of a cyber attack, making it the fourth U.S. pipeline company to face threats this week by hackers. (Bloomberg)

GRID: Rooftop solar and improved energy efficiency will reduce electricity usage and peak demand in the next decade, says a report by ISO New England. (Utility Dive)

SMART METERS: A federal appeals court reverses a 2016 verdict that awarded Dominion Voltage Inc. damages after a competitor allegedly infringed on its methods of using smart meter data to control grid voltage. (Greentech Media)

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UTILITIES:
FirstEnergy’s plea for the Trump administration to use emergency powers to keep several of its power plants open is a test of how serious the president is about saving coal and nuclear. (Washington Post)
Experts say the time has come for utilities to consider hybrid renewable projects and point to a utility-scale solar plus storage plant being built in Arizona as an example of what that might look like. (Utility Dive)
Virginia regulators question whether the state’s new electric utility overhaul is constitutional, saying the utility-backed law may unfairly disadvantage out-of-state renewable projects. (Associated Press)
A ruling by Virginia utility regulators lowers a barrier for businesses that want to bypass the state’s major utilities to buy power and sets the stage for legal fights. (Southeast Energy News)

COMMENTARY:
Tens of millions of solar panels will reach the end of their lifespans in coming decades, and it’s time to start planning for how to recycle them, says the managing editor of Solar Power World.
President Trump is unlikely to fire EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, despite a pile of ethics scandals. (Vox)
New research shows that restricting the production of fossil fuels at the supply side is an effective climate policy with unique economic and political benefits. (Vox)
• West Virginians have seen an 8.5 percent jump in utility costs since 2014 due to continued reliance by power companies on coal, says the executive editor of WV News.

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