Western Energy News

Oregon makes it tougher to build solar on farmland

SOLAR: Oregon regulators prohibit the construction of solar projects on high-value farmland unless developers can prove it has a dual use and counties give approval. (Statesman Journal)

ALSO: Restrictive contracts between electric co-ops and their coal-heavy wholesale power provider are hindering efforts by a southwestern Colorado county to attract large-scale solar farms. (The Journal)

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UTILITIES:
• Equipment owned by California’s three largest utilities started more than 2,000 fires over the past three and half years but were only cited and fined nine times by state regulators. (Los Angeles Times)
• Officials with Nevada’s largest utility say that the departure of some of its larger commercial energy users could result in higher rates for its remaining customers. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
• Federal energy regulators are asserting their jurisdiction over any requests by California’s largest utility to modify its power contracts as it moves toward bankruptcy. (Reuters)

STORAGE: Colorado utilities are quietly moving to build bigger, better batteries for clean energy storage. (Colorado Public Radio)

PUBLIC LANDS: Two Colorado federal lawmakers introduce ambitious legislation aiming to protect 400,000 acres of public land, about half of which would be off limits to oil and gas development. (Denver Post)

COAL: Wyoming lawmakers file a bill requiring utilities to seek new buyers for retiring coal plants or face financial penalties. (Casper Star Tribune

ELECTRIC VEHICLES: New Mexico lawmakers file legislation to allow Tesla to open showrooms and service centers in the state, but the bill faces heavy opposition from local auto dealers. (New Mexico Political Report)

OIL & GAS:
• The plaintiffs in a case that unsuccessfully challenged a Colorado law governing the regulation of oil and gas development are appealing the recent decision by the state supreme court because of the involvement in a lower court judge who used racial slurs. (Associated Press)
• A federal judge in Montana rules a Western conservation group’s lawsuit against the Trump administration can proceed over its creation of a federal royalty panel. (Associated Press)

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POLITICS:
• New Mexico lawmakers file legislation seeking to raise penalties on companies that break state rules for oil and gas development. (Carlsbad Current Argus)
• New Mexico’s new land commissioner says she believes she can strike a balance between oil and gas development on public lands and protecting the environment. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY:
• It’s time for another audit of the commission that regulates California utilities, says the editorial boards  of The Mercury News and the East Bay Times.
• California’s dependence on high voltage lines has become a liability, says a history professor at the University of Southern California. (Los Angeles Times)
• A Bloomberg columnist says that despite the uncertainty swirling around PG&E one thing is certain: customers’ bills are going up.
• Washington and Oregon have a right to refuse to buy Montana’s coal, but blocking efforts to build a coal export terminal “is beyond belief,” say three Republican lawmakers from Montana. (Billings Gazette)

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