U.S. Energy News

Hurricanes cost utilities up to $2.5 billion in damages in 2017

UTILITIES: U.S. utility companies estimate hurricanes caused as much as $2.5 billion in damages this year. (Bloomberg)

ALSO: Illinois regulators approve new rules to rein in alternative energy suppliers using deceptive marketing tactics and variable rates, though clean energy and consumer groups oppose removal of some draft provisions. (Midwest Energy News)

GRID:
• The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a $2.5 billion investment in rural electric infrastructure improvements in 27 states. (Utility Dive)
• Duke Energy announces a plan to strengthen South Carolina’s energy grid by investing $3 billion over the next 10 years. (Greenville News)

CLIMATE:
• A U.N. climate conference kicks off in Germany this week, with the U.S. largely on the sidelines after moving to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. (Washington Post)
• A federal climate change report reaffirms that it’s “extremely likely that human activities … are the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century,” which directly contradicts policies and statements by the Trump administration. (New York Times, Vox)

EMISSIONS: Advances in technology have helped New Mexico cut methane emissions from oil and natural gas production by more than 50 percent over the past year. (Associated Press)

REGULATION: Over 80 House and Senate Democrats send a letter asking Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke not to delay or repeal an Obama-era rule limiting methane emissions from drilling sites on federal lands. (The Hill)

POLICY:
• Two state Senate bills in Oklahoma could end cash-back rebates that coal and wind production companies receive for unused income tax credits. (The Oklahoman)
• The leader of the Trump administration’s effort to support coal and nuclear plants is a former longtime lobbyist for Ohio-based FirstEnergy, which stands to directly benefit from the proposal. (E&E News)

EPA: After barring researchers who have received EPA grants, Administrator Scott Pruitt appoints 66 new experts to three of the agency’s scientific committees, many of whom are conservatives who hail from industry or state government. (Washington Post)

SOLAR:
• Opposition to privatizing Puerto Rico’s electric grid will make it difficult to bring widespread solar power to the island. (NBC)
• States in the Southeast are rapidly expanding their solar markets, despite a lack of renewable-friendly policies. (InsideClimate News)

NUCLEAR: While building South Carolina’s now-failed Summer nuclear project, contractor Westinghouse wasted millions of dollars on unnecessary supplies, and those costs could be passed on to the state’s utility customers in the coming decades. (Post and Courier)

ELECTRIC VEHICLES:
• For electric vehicles to take off, the grid must be able to quickly charge a large number of vehicles, but investors want to know if the demand will be there before pouring money into charging. (Greentech Media)
• Analysts say electric vehicles are on the verge of going mainstream, but a new GOP tax plan could change that by repealing a $7,500 tax credit for buyers. (Quartz)
• Tesla may need to raise more funds in 2018, as battery bottlenecks cause production delays for its Model 3 sedan. (Bloomberg)

OIL & GAS: Lawmakers want to close Alaska’s budget deficit by opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, even as the state is struggling to pay for the effects of climate change. (Vox)

FRACKING: The first company to receive a fracking permit in Illinois has returned it, saying state regulations are too “burdensome and costly;” advocates earlier this year had identified numerous shortcomings and unanswered questions in the company’s “poorly written and incomplete” permit application. (Springfield State Journal-Register, Midwest Energy News archive)

PIPELINES: Ohio is suing the developer of the Rover gas pipeline over numerous water pollution violations during construction. (Associated Press)

COMMENTARY: A decision on whether to impose solar tariffs will force President Trump to choose between cracking down on imports or saving American jobs, says the editorial board of the Washington Post.

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