Supreme Court halts Clean Power Plan

The United States Supreme Court on Feb. 9, 2016, ruled against the Obama administration in a 5-4 decision, temporarily blocking its rules designed to lower carbon emissions and create green jobs in order to combat climate change while litigation is pending.

Arizona is part of a 26-state coalition suing to halt implementation of the Clean Power Plan. Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich is calling the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision a huge victory for the state.

In a statement, Brnovich says the Clean Power Plan is regulation without representation.

The stay will remain in effect until a federal appeals court in Washington rules on the plan, which could be later this year.

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Under the stay, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) won’t be able to enforce a Sept. 6, 2016, deadline for Arizona and other states to either submit emission reduction plans or request a two-year extension.

Press Secretary Josh Earnest issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s decision to stay the Clean Power Plan, “We remain confident that we will prevail on the merits. Even while the litigation proceeds, EPA has indicated it will work with states that choose to continue plan development and will prepare the tools those states will need. At the same time, the administration will continue to take aggressive steps to make forward progress to reduce carbon emissions.”

Oregon Senate bill revises Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard

The Oregon Senate passed a bill March 2, 2016, that is designed to move Oregon away from fossil fuels and toward clean energy sources, the Senate Majority Office announced in a press release.

Senate Bill 1547, which passed the Oregon Senate on a 17–12 vote concurring with House of Representatives amendments—requires electric companies to eliminate coal-fired resources from their electrical supply by Jan. 1, 2030. It revises the state’s renewable energy portfolio standard and creates a community solar program.

The bill is a priority of Gov. Kate Brown and the Oregon Senate Democrats for the 2016 Legislative Session.

Oregon’s Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS) was created in 2007 through Senate Bill 838. It requires Oregon utilities to obtain a certain percentage of their retail electricity from qualified renewable resources.

Under current law, Oregon’s three largest utilities—Portland General Electric, PacifiCorp and the Eugene Water and Electric Board—are required to obtain 5 percent of their electricity supply from renewables by 2011, 20 percent by 2020 and 25 percent by 2005.

For other consumer-owned electric utilities in the state, the current renewable portfolio standard varies between 5 and 10 percent of energy supply by 2025, depending on the size of the utility.

SB 1547 increases the RPS for the three largest utilities, requiring 50 percent of electricity from renewable energy by 2040. Under SB 1547, the Renewable Portfolio Standard does not change for smaller, consumer-owned utilities.

In addition to the coal elimination and RPS increase, the bill also makes changes to the criteria for generating renewable energy certificates, ensures facility decommissioning costs are recovered, establishes a program for community renewable projects and incents development of electric vehicle infrastructure throughout the state.

The bill gives the Public Utility Commission broad rule—making and regulatory authority, capping the annual rate increase at 4 percent and establishing a mechanism for exemption of compliance would result in significant adverse financial impact to Oregon ratepayers. The Public Utility Commission will be required to report back to the Oregon Legislature.

“This bill strikes a good compromise to help the state reach meaningful clean energy goals and also provides the regulatory authority to the Public Utility Commission to protect ratepayers’ interests,” says Sen. Chris Edwards, D - Eugene, “Including biomass in this bill is good for our rural natural resource-based economy, which now is able to participate in efforts to clean up Oregon’s energy portfolio.”

SB 1547 now goes to Gov. Kate Brown for signature.

Alabama city in negotiations to reclaim shuttered mixed-waste processing facility

A shuttered mixed waste processing facility in Montgomery, Alabama, could open again by summer, according to the city’s Mayor Todd Strange.

An article in the Montgomery Advertiser notes the city has started the foreclosure process on the center. An auction was scheduled for Feb. 17, 2016, however, Strange says city officials are negotiating with the facility owners to avoid the action through an “amicable transfer of title.”

The owner of the Infinitus Renewable Energy Park (IREP) Montgomery, Plantation, Florida-based Infinitus Energy, closed the facility in October 2015.

Strange says that if a title transfer of the property can occur at a minimal cost, the city would be able to issue a request for proposals to find a facility operator.