In today’s EGEB:

  • The largest wind/solar/storage project in the US is coming to Oklahoma.
  • Senators introduced the American Energy Efficiency Act of 2019.
  • A California natural gas company earns astroturfing accusations.
  • Guess who’s spent millions lobbying against the Green New Deal?

Another big project was announced last week, as the Western Farmers Electric Cooperative (WFEC) entered into a PPA with a NextEra Energy Resources subsidiary for what will be the largest combined wind, solar, and energy storage project in the US.

A two-phase project, the already-announced 250 megawatt wind farm Skeleton Creek Wind will come online by the end of the year. It will be followed by Skeleton Creek Solar — another 250 MW, of solar energy — and a 200 MW, 4-hour battery energy storage project. As you might expect, it’s named Skeleton Creek Storage.

Both of the latter two phases are expected to come online by the end of 2023, so there’s a ways to go. The project will be located across three Oklahoma counties. Gary Roulet, chief executive officer for WFEC, said:

“At Western Farmers, we are always looking for ways to better serve our customers with reliable, low-cost and environmentally-friendly energy. With the price of wind and solar energy lower than ever, we are now able to pair it with battery storage to make more affordable, renewable energy available to customers for more hours of the day — even when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.”

Getting Efficient

US Senators Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Angus King (I-Maine) and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.) introduced the American Energy Efficiency Act of 2019 last week, which aims to create a nationwide energy efficiency standard.

Like so many emissions targets we’ve seen, the act has its own targets — retail electric and national gas utilities would have to achieve an energy savings of 22% and 14% respectively, by 2035. It’s noted that 26 states already have similar standards. Sen. King said,

“Energy efficiency is the unsung hero when it comes to reducing carbon dioxide emissions, because no matter how great our technological advancements are, the cheapest, cleanest kilowatt-hour will always be the one that is never used. This bill will reduce costs for consumers, and decrease overall energy consumption – exactly the type of incentives we need to make meaningful progress in the fight against climate change.”

Turf Wars

The Guardian reports on another case of energy astroturfing, this time in California. SoCalGas, the country’s largest gas utility, is pushing back against activists who want to limit the use of natural gas. And it’s funding a consumer group to do so:

SoCalGas, a subsidiary of Sempra Energy that provides natural gas to nearly 22 million customers in California, says it does not direct the consumer group Californians for Balanced Energy Solutions (C4Bes). But documents show it funded the organization from its launch, paying outside consultants to develop the not-for-profit group, establish “the organization’s messages and themes” and recruit board members.

The report notes that SoCalGas has had some success in its pushback against electrification efforts in the state — for instance, Berkeley recently voted to ban natural gas in new homes. More than 10 municipalities have signed on to a SoCalGas resolution for “balanced energy solutions.”

A recent article showed how astroturfing techniques are on the rise in the energy industry. That report also dealt with a natural gas industry push, with a company that paid crowd members to attend a New Orleans city council meeting.

Also…

Speaking of lobbying against clean energy, even casual followers of American politics or fossil fuel operations won’t be surprised by this, which only covers “specific” lobbying:


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