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Guest Commentary: Wind Energy Protects Wildlife

November 30 -- Wind farms are not a major source of bird mortality. Wind turbine sites represent only a tiny fraction of bird deaths caused by human activities — an estimated 214,000 to 368,000 annually, according to a 2014 study from the American Wind Wildlife Institute. This compares to other human causes such as buildings (550 million), power lines (130 million), cars (80 million), and pesticide poisoning (67 million), according to a 2002 study published in a 2005 U.S. Forest Service General Technical Report.

The same holds true for eagle mortality. While eagles do occasionally collide with turbines at some wind farms, this is not a common occurrence. Modern wind facilities represent only 2 percent of all documented sources of human-caused golden eagle fatalities.

Bird mortality has been studied many times by many different researchers, and wind's impacts are much less than other sources of power generation. Indeed, many other human-made sources have a significantly larger effect. Judith Lewis Mernit informs her article largely on the basis of one discredited report, which a proper peer-review later found was flawed with a wide variety of serious mistakes. >>View Article 

Editorial: Energy Plan Secures Power Supply

November 30 -- Michigan will lose nine coal plants over the next year; 25 coal-fired units will be retired in the next five years. Across the region, scores of coal facilities will go offline during that period.

Between the state’s aged energy infrastructure and the continual onslaught of federal environmental regulations, Michigan must decide now how it will meet its future energy needs. Bills have passed out of committee in the state House and are pending in the Senate to address energy policy for the next several decades. With an emphasis on long-term generation planning, goals for energy efficiency, and room for the market to help direct costs and the type of generation, these bills should meet Michigan’s goals. >>View Article 

Offshore Wind Energy Worth a Spin

November 30 -- By now, every coastal municipality and the three coastal congressional representatives have rightly voiced opposition to drilling for oil and natural gas off the state’s coast. Fortunately, a much cleaner energy alternative is showing offshore potential.

This month, the federal government asked businesses to submit proposals for wind farm leases off the South Carolina coast. That’s the most concrete step so far in opening up the coast to offshore wind energy.

Four broad areas are currently open to potential development in state waters, including much of the Grand Strand coast and waters off northern Charleston County. >>View Article 

Yet Another Study Finds The US Could Quit All Fossil Fuels By 2050

November 25 -- Earlier this year, the Clean Power Plan pledged to cut US power plant carbon emissions by 32 percent by 2050. A new study says the US can do way better than that: reducing all greenhouse gas emissions by 80 percent and running the country entirely on renewable energy by 2050.

This most optimistic scenario is released by Labor Network for Sustainability and, with research by economist Frank Ackerman of Synapse Energy Economics, just as the world’s leaders are about to grapple with slashing global emissions by 80 percent at the Paris climate talks. It’s named the Clean Energy Future, and it sounds wonderful. >>View Article 

RFS is Crucial to National Security

November 25 -- As a veteran, I’ve witnessed fellow servicemen and servicewomen risk life and limb over oil interests in hostile regions, all so we can feed our dependence on foreign oil. That’s one of the many reasons why Congress passed the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) into law in 2005. Our leaders saw American-grown renewable fuel as a way to cut our dependence on foreign oil and bolster our energy and national security. They recognized that it’s senseless to keep putting Americans in harm’s way when we are producing renewable fuel right here at home. Biofuels are crucial to our national security, and since the RFS was enacted, our dependence on foreign oil has decreased by more than 55 percent. Biofuels are also a major contributor to job growth in America, creating more than 852,000 annually.

Lowering the renewable volume requirements under the RFS, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) proposed several months ago, would be disastrous for our country’s energy independence and security. With ongoing instability in the Middle East and so much at stake, continuing to depend on foreign oil is not an option. The RFS is the most successful energy policy in the U.S., and producing secure renewable fuel, like ethanol, in our country is one of our most effective tools at breaking our addiction to foreign oil. But now it’s being attacked by people who only stand to gain from our foreign fossil fuel dependence: the oil industry. >>View Article 

Strong Clean-energy Standards Are Good Business for Michigan

November 25 -- Rewriting Michigan's energy plan has been a major objective in Lansing this year, and the decisions made in the coming weeks will affect Michigan families and businesses for years to come. Unfortunately, the plan under consideration in the state House still falls short when it comes to promoting clean energy and keeping costs down. As a business owner who wants to power my business with more clean, efficient and renewable energy, I know Michigan can do much better.

Due to advances in technology, clean, renewable energy is now often the cheapest source of electricity available. The Michigan Public Service Commission recently estimated the combined cost of renewable energy generation and energy waste reduction at $37 per megawatt hour, while the combined cost of all power generation is $64 per megawatt hour. Valerie Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy, recently summed it up well by saying, "The renewable energy we're adding is actually helping to lower energy prices because it's so competitive." Renewable energy is making our electricity bills cheaper, plain and simple. >>View Article 

Google is First Customer of Duke Green-energy Program

November 25 -- Google will become the first customer of a Duke Energy program to bring renewable power to energy-hungry companies, the two said Tuesday.

Duke will buy energy from a 61-megawatt solar farm, the second-largest in the North Carolina, to be built in Rutherford County. Google will buy energy credits that represent the electricity generated for its Lenoir data center.

Google has collaborated with Duke to create the program, known as the Green Source Rider, since doubling its $600 million investment in its Lenoir facility in 2013.

The rider is intended to help customers that use a lot of power, like Google, meet corporate sustainability goals while encouraging development of green energy. >>View Article 

Another View: Climate Policies Will Help Poorest Californians

November 25 -- For those who struggle to pay their rent and put food on the table, California’s status as the world’s seventh-largest economy is meaningless.

I appreciate Dan Walters’ concern for the poor. However, having been raised in poverty and representing one of the poorest Senate districts in the state, economic inequality is a constant in my reality.

While California’s job growth outpaced all other states in 2014 and unemployment is 5.8 percent, the lowest since October 2007, not enough is being done to share the bounties of a recovering economy with the poorest Californians. Walters reveals shortsightedness as he clings to a harmful carbon-based economy, while failing to acknowledge the economic and health benefits of our climate change policies to these very communities. >>View Article 

Gov. Cuomo to Order Large Increase in Renewable Energy in New York by 2030

November 23 -- Frustrated by the pending shutdown of two nuclear power plants on Lake Ontario, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo plans to order state regulators to mandate that, by 2030, half of all power consumed by New Yorkers be generated from renewable sources that emit much less carbon dioxide, people briefed on the matter said.

Mr. Cuomo, a Democrat, has already declared a goal of having 50 percent of the state’s power come from solar, wind, hydroelectric or other renewable sources in 15 years, but the state has had no means of enforcing that directive. The governor intends to have the Public Service Commission, which regulates utilities in the state, codify the requirement, these people said. Some of them, including a Cuomo administration official, spoke on the condition of anonymity because they did not have permission to discuss the proposed mandate. >>View Article 

Texas Wind and Solar Power Could Compete with Fossil Fuels in Just a Few Years

November 23 -- Wind and solar power competing evenly with their fossil fuel counterparts without federal subsidies could come in just a few years in Texas and other areas, while it may take another 15 years or more in other parts of the country, according to reports released this week.

The “paradox” slowing renewable power growth somewhat is that the regions with the greatest natural resource potential for wind and solar, like the southwest and mid-continent, already have relatively cheap power prices that make it harder for wind and solar to compete, while the northeastern part of the country with more expensive power has weaker resource potential, according to the “Journey to grid parity” report from the Deloitte Center for Energy Solutions. >>View Article 

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