Energy in the News: Friday, June 2

Friday, June 02, 2017

Trump to pull US out of Paris climate agreement: U-M experts respond

University of Michigan News, feat. Barry Rabe, Richard Rood, Mark Barteau, Daniel Raimi, Joe Arvai and Andrew Hoffman

"Trump's choice will not stop the world from acting on climate change. Nor will it do more than delay the decarbonization of the U.S. economy, a process already well under way due to the simple economics of renewable energy costs. Instead, Trump's ignorant decision contributes mainly to the rapid decline of America's reputation. In its place, China and the European Union will now lead the way." -Paul Edwards

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A great, and terrible, day for climate action

Policy Options Politiques, feat. Joe Arvai

When reflecting upon yesterday’s climate change news, I thought back to a pivotal moment in the movie City Slickers when Billy Crystal’s character Mitch and his pals Phil and Ed, are on horseback discussing their best and their worst days.

When Ed, played by Bruno Kirby, is asked to recall his best day, he talks about his philandering dad:

“So I told him; I said ‘You’re bad to us. We don’t love you. I’ll take care of my mother and my sister. We don’t need you anymore.’ And he made like he was gonna’ hit me, but I didn’t budge. And he turned around and he left. He never bothered us again. Well, I took care of my mother and my sister from that day on. That’s my best day.”

When asked about his worst day, Ed paused and said:

“Same day.”

If you care about climate change you probably had had a similar experience on Wednesday.

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Why Trump’s decision to leave Paris accord hurts the US and the world

The Conversation, feat. Marina v. N. Whitman, Ross School of Business and Ford School of Public Policy

If ever there was a decision contrary to our country’s business and economic interests – never mind our global standing and the impact on the poor countries most vulnerable to climate change – this may be it.

Corporate America already knows this. That’s why a cross-section of leading companies, including industrial powerhouses like General Electric and 3M, have urged the president to stay in the plan, which would allow the U.S. a greater say in how the agreement evolves. Even oil companies like ExxonMobil and Conoco Phillips have expressed support.

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Companies represented on Energy Institute's External Advisory Board react to Paris Accord withdrawal

Several news outlets

"I deeply regret the decision of the U.S. President to withdraw the Unites States from the Paris Climate Agreement. As Chair of the B20 Energy, Climate & Resource Efficiency Taskforce, representing 97 businesses from 22 countries and diverse economic sectors, I can say that the Business 20, the official business dialogue to the G20, supports the Paris Climate Agreement and its implementation. We must now ensure that all other stakeholders live up to their commitments." -Kurt Bock, BASF

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World carbon price seen needing to increase sevenfold by 2020

Bloomberg New Energy Finance

Carbon prices need to jump sevenfold by 2020 from current rates in the world’s biggest market to meet climate goals cost-effectively, according to a commission of economists and scientists.

A price of about $40 a ton along with adoption of other policies that encourage emission cuts would achieve targets in the 2015 climate deal agreed in Paris, according to a report published Monday by a commission of economists and scientists. Under the Paris agreement, almost 200 countries will try to limit the global temperature increase to “well below” 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 Fahrenheit) above pre-industrial levels.

Costs from the higher carbon prices would not hurt ordinary consumers much, said Joseph Stiglitz from Columbia University, who led the High-Level Commission on Carbon Prices with fellow economist Nicholas Stern.

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AEP customers offered $10,000 rebate if they buy Nissan Leaf

The Columbus Dispatch

American Electric Power customers can get a $10,000 rebate on the all-electric Nissan Leaf under a new incentive from the automaker.

The vehicle has a base price of $30,680 before the rebate. In addition, customers can get a federal tax incentive of up to $7,500.

Columbus-based AEP is not paying anything to receive the discount.

But there is some fine print. The promotion runs through the end of June, while supplies last. Customers need to prove that they are eligible by bringing an AEP bill to the dealer.

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Coal is about to disappear from New England

E&E ClimateWire

For Pat Haddad, a good day is one when she returns home from the state Legislature to see steam rising from Brayton Point Power Station's twin 497-foot-tall cooling towers. New England's largest coal plant has long powered the economy in Haddad's hometown of Somerset, a community of 18,000 people on the south coast of Massachusetts.

But good days have been few and far between lately. Soon, they will be gone altogether. Brayton Point will extinguish its boilers for the final time tomorrow. When it does, coal will have all but disappeared from this six-state region of 14 million people. Two small and seldom-used coal plants in New Hampshire will be all that remains of a once-mighty industry.

"The sun is literally and figuratively setting," said Haddad, a Democrat who represents Somerset and three other communities in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. "It's so hard to see."

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Coal country’s power plants are turning away from coal

The New York Times

Coal is on the defensive in the nation’s power industry. Even in coal country.

The pressure to shift more of the country’s electric supply to renewable sources is not just a rallying cry for environmentalists. Some of the power industry’s biggest customers, like General Motors and Microsoft, have made a commitment to clean energy. And to help them meet it — and keep them from taking their business elsewhere — utilities are changing their ways.

West Virginia, where coal is king, is no exception.

Appalachian Power, the leading utility there, is quickly shifting toward natural gas and renewable sources like wind and solar, even as President Trump calls for a coal renaissance.

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Clean energy bills light up the Silver State

E&E ClimateWire

Nevada is perhaps best known in energy quarters for axing the credits paid to solar-panel-owning residents who send electricity back to the grid. But this year, lawmakers in Carson City have busied themselves with nothing short of a major overhaul of the state's power market.

A bill calling on the Silver State to increase its renewable portfolio standard to 50 percent by 2030 passed the General Assembly by a wide margin last week. A measure aimed at directing savings from energy efficiency to low-income communities passed the Assembly and Senate unanimously. And the Senate unanimously approved a bill calling on Nevada regulators to establish annual energy efficiency goals.

Most notably, perhaps, the Assembly approved by a 38-2 margin a bill to restore net metering, the credits paid to solar homeowners for their surplus power.

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For those who enjoyed a long holiday weekend, we include a few stories from last week that you may have missed.

Electric cars becoming popular as grid gets greener

Salon

The amount of heat-trapping pollution that’s released every time Bill Williams drives his electric sedan a mile down a road here has fallen by about a quarter in the three years since he bought it.

Williams’ car hasn’t changed, but the electricity that powers it has. In Tennessee, power once generated overwhelmingly by coal has given way to more nuclear and natural gas power. With the rising number of plug-in models available in the U.S., many at increasingly affordable prices, and with electricity getting greener, the climate benefits of electric cars are growing.

Polls show that Tennesseans are among the least worried nationwide about global warming, yet they support one of America’s healthiest electric car markets. One out of every 400 new cars sold in the state in 2016 could be plugged in, Auto Alliance figures show, ranking Tennessee 11th nationwide.

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Looking for Trump’s climate policy? Try the Energy Department

The New York Times

The Trump administration’s deepest impact on domestic climate policy might have little to do with its efforts to dismantle the Clean Power Plan or its decision on the Paris accord.

Instead, the coming battle over the future of the Energy Department could prove far more significant for the United States’ long-term efforts to cut greenhouse gas emissions.

Among energy experts, there is broad agreement that the world still needs major technological advances to halt global warming, like better batteries to integrate larger shares of solar and wind power into the grid, or carbon capture to curb pollution from cement plants.

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Pretty soon electric cars will cost less than gasoline

Bloomberg

Battery powered cars will soon be cheaper to buy than conventional gasoline ones, offering immediate savings to drivers, new research shows.

Automakers from Renault SA to Tesla Inc. have long touted the cheaper fuel and running costs of electric cars that helps to displace the higher upfront prices that drivers pay when they buy the zero-emission vehicles.

Now research from Bloomberg New Energy Finance indicates that falling battery costs will mean electric vehicles will also be cheaper to buy in the U.S. and Europe as soon as 2025. Batteries currently account for about half the cost of EVs, and their prices will fall by about 77 percent between 2016 and 2030, the London-based researcher said.

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