The New York Times: Japan’s Growth in Solar Power Falters as Utilities Balk
Solar use in Japan has exploded over the last two years as part of an ambitious national effort to promote renewable energy. But the technology’s future role is now in doubt.
Utilities say their infrastructure cannot handle the swelling army of solar entrepreneurs intent on selling their power. And their willingness to invest more money depends heavily on whether the government remains committed to clean energy.
Last September, Kyushu Electric Power Company, the region’s dominant utility, abruptly announced that it would stop contracting to buy electricity from new solar installations. Other power companies elsewhere in Japan soon followed suit.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has initiated a review of the renewable-energy policies introduced after the Fukushima disaster by a previous, more left-leaning administration. Environmentalists worry he will gut them. The government recently reduced the amount of clean power that utilities are required to buy from outside producers, and additional measures to curb supply are expected this spring, including cuts to price subsidies.
The Oregonian: Gov. Kate Brown Calls for Investigation of $12 million in Tax Credits for Solar Scheme
Gov. Kate Brown wants the Oregon Department of Justice to investigate the questionable award of $12 million in state tax credits used to finance a massive installation of solar panels at Oregon Institute of Technology and Oregon State University.
The Justice Department's Criminal Investigation Division was initially asked to look into the matter last week by Michael Kaplan, the director of the Oregon Department of Energy. Kaplan reacted after an investigation by The Oregonian/OregonLive that found his agency relied on phony and misleading documents in approving the tax credits in 2012.
State rules compel the Energy Department to revoke tax credits obtained by fraud. But the agency has no record of going after questionable energy tax credits once they've been issued, and the Justice Department is being tight-lipped about whether it will launch an investigation.
Energy Efficiency Markets: Energy Efficiency Saves Consumers More Than Shopping Around for a Better Electricity Price, Says Illinois Board
The nonprofit watchdog group says that energy efficiency now offers greater savings potential than ditching the local utility in favor of lower-priced electricity offered by a competitive supplier.
This wasn’t always the case. In the early days of market deregulation, Illinois consumers could achieve significant savings just by shopping for their electricity provider, according to an analysis released this week by the Citizens Utility Board.
Columbus Business First: Dynegy 'Very Interested' if AEP Sells Ohio Plants
Now that American Electric Power Company Inc. has lost its initial bid for a power-purchase agreement, the question becomes whether the company will start looking to sell or spin off its Ohio power plants.
A potential buyer is Dynegy Inc., one of the foremost opponents of the AEP plan.
"Dynegy would be very interested," said Dean Ellis, managing director of regulatory affairs at the Houston-based company.
Bloomberg: Republicans Fail to Override Obama Veto of Keystone Measure
The U.S. Senate failed to override President Barack Obama’s veto of a bill forcing approval of the Keystone XL pipeline, a setback for Republicans who’ve made building the $8 billion U.S.-Canada oil link a legislative priority.
Eight Democrats joined 54 Republicans in voting to overturn the veto, short of the two-thirds super majority needed. Obama said he opposed the bill because it would circumvent his administration’s review, now in its sixth year.
AP: Michigan Democrats Seek 20 Percent Renewable Power by 2022
Democrats are calling for Michigan to double the amount of electricity that comes from wind and other renewable sources in the state.
The current requirement is 10 percent by the end of 2015. Top Democrats on the Republican-led Legislature’s energy committees said Tuesday that the requirement should rise to 20 percent by 2022 as long as it’s economically viable.
Their plan would forbid surcharges on customer bills to meet the mandate. They also propose increasing energy-efficiency requirements.
Think Progress: James Inhofe, Meet the Press, and the Climate Debate
Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) brought a snowball onto the Senate floor to disprove global warming last Thursday. In the climate world, this was the viral equivalent of the seemingly gold-and-white dress that was actually black and blue. Except instead of dividing the world into two camps, the snowball brought universal ridicule to the chair of the Senate Environment and Public Works committee. Cue Jon Stewart.