New York Times: In Climate Move, Obama to Halt New Coal Mining Leases on Public Lands

The Obama administration will announce on Friday a halt to new coal mining leases on public lands as it considers an overhaul of the program that could lead to increased costs for energy companies and a slowdown in extraction, according to an administration official.

The move would represent a significant setback for the coal industry, effectively freezing new coal production on federal lands and sending a signal to energy markets that could turn investors away from an already flailing industry. President Obama telegraphed the step in his State of the Union address on Tuesday night, saying, “I’m going to push to change the way we manage our oil and coal resources so that they better reflect the costs they impose on taxpayers and our planet.”

Energy Department: DOE Announces $220 Million in Grid Modernization Funding

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) today built on its Grid Modernization Initiative -- an ongoing effort that reflects the Obama administration’s commitment to improving the resiliency, reliability, and security of the nation’s electricity delivery system. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz announced the release of DOE’s comprehensive new Grid Modernization Multi-Year Program Plan, a blueprint for modernizing the grid.

The secretary also announced the award of up to $220 million over three years, subject to congressional appropriations, to DOE’s national labs and partners to support critical research and development in advanced storage systems, clean energy integration, standards and test procedures, and a number of other key grid modernization areas. Additional programs, initiatives, and funding opportunity announcements related to the Grid Modernization Initiative will be announced in the coming days.

Market Watch: SolarCity Shares Tank After Nevada Decision

Shares of SolarCity Corp. fell more than 14% Thursday, a day after Nevada regulators decided to go ahead with new rules that make solar power more expensive for many homes and businesses.

At a meeting Wednesday night, they opted not to postpone the adoption of controversial rules, approved late last year, that raised fees and lowered credits for solar-powered homes and business.

SolarCity and Sunrun last week said they were pulling out of Nevada and cutting hundreds of jobs there due to the new rules, which decrease the savings that many count on for going solar.

Bloomberg: Solar and Wind Just Did the Unthinkable

The sun and the wind continue to defy gravity. Renewables just finished another record-breaking year, with more money invested ($329 billion) and more capacity added (121 gigawatts) than ever before, according to new data released Thursday 

This wasn't supposed to happen. Oil, coal and natural gas bottomed out over the last 18 months, with bargain prices not seen in a decade. That's just one of a handful of reasons 2015 should have been a rough year for clean energy. But the opposite was true.

All Africa: Uganda Struggles for Renewable Energy

Uganda is endowed with abundant renewable energy potential from sources such as water, wind, the sun and biomass.

However, this potential has not been fully utilized, resulting in a situation where only 15 percent of the population has access to electricity in urban areas, with only seven percent in rural areas. This leaves about 85 percent still reliant on kerosene for lighting and more than 90 percent dependent on charcoal and firewood for their cooking energy needs.

To tap into this, however, requires substantial investment, which is lacking in developing countries such as Uganda.