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Energy in the News: Friday, July 29

As corn devours U.S. prairies, Greens reconsider biofuel mandate

Bloomberg Politics, feat. John DeCicco

Environmentalists who once championed biofuels as a way to cut pollution are now turning against a U.S. program that puts renewable fuels in cars, citing higher-than-expected carbon dioxide emissions and reduced wildlife habitat.

More than a decade after conservationists helped persuade Congress to require adding corn-based ethanol and other biofuels to gasoline, some groups regret the resulting agricultural runoff in waterways and conversion of prairies to cropland — improving the odds that lawmakers might seek changes to the program next year.

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U-M wins national award for campus sustainability excellence

University of Michigan News

The University of Michigan is one of eight institutions to receive the Sustainability Award in Facilities Management by APPA: Leadership in Educational Facilities.

APPA, formerly known as Association of Physical Plant Administrators, is the nation’s primary organization for the management of educational facilities with more than 1,300 learning institution members.

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Transmission plan could end coal plant life support payments in Upper Mich.

E&E News

Millions of dollars in life support payments for an unprofitable coal plant in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula would no longer be required under a proposal to temporarily reconfigure the area’s transmission system.

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U.S. energy mix changes – coal consumption declines

Agri-Pulse

Primary energy consumption fell slightly in 2015 as a decline in coal use exceeded increases in natural gas, petroleum and renewables use, says a report from the Energy Information Administration (EIA). In most cases, changes between 2014 and 2015 reflect longer-term trends in energy use, says EIA.

Coal consumption declined by more than 12 percent in 2015, says EIA, and it is now at its lowest level since 1982. Coal supplied 16 percent of total U.S. primary energy use in 2015, down from 18 percent in 2014, the report shows. Nearly all coal is used for electricity generation.

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Michigan utility plans statewide electric vehicle charging network

Midwest Energy News

A major investor-owned utility in Michigan is planning to install more than 800 charging stations as part of a $15 million statewide electric vehicle infrastructure program that could make it a leader in the Midwest in pushing EV adoption.

As part of a broader rate increase request, Consumers Energy’s program is under consideration by the Michigan Public Service Commission. While clean-energy advocacy groups hope to work with the utility on refining some of the plan’s details, they overall support its move to drive EV adoption for both climate and grid benefits.

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America’s next energy source: the water tank

Forbes

Mr. Haney from Petticoat Junction would have loved this idea.

The Department of Energy today released a report estimating that the U.S. hydroelectric capacity could increase by approximately 50% by 2050 and we wouldn’t have to dam new rivers.

Instead, the bulk of the new power capacity would come from Pumped Storage Hydropower (PSH), i.e. pumping water into a tower or uphill reservoir and letting it rip when the grid demands it. Water is pumped in the off hours when power is cheaper and released during peak hours.

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Clinton energy adviser predicts Clean Power Plan will survive high court stay

StateImpact

A future Clinton administration would assume that the U.S. Supreme Court is going to uphold both the Clean Power Plan and the Environmental Protection Agency’s responsibility to regulate greenhouse gases under the Clean Air Act, Hillary Clinton’s energy adviser said on Wednesday.

Trevor Houser also said that if the Democratic nominee becomes president, her administration will work to provide new economic opportunities to coal miners who have been displaced by the move away from coal in the nation’s energy mix.

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