Daily Digest

Coalition contests clear-cutting trees for woody biomass pellets exported to Europe

ALTERNATIVE ENERGY:
A loose-knit coalition is contesting clear-cutting of trees throughout the Southeast U.S. for “woody biomass” pellets that are exported to and burned in Europe to generate electricity. (ThinkProgress)
• A Raleigh, North Carolina company is at the center of worldwide speculation: Cold fusion research firm Industrial Heat. (WRAL-TV, Raleigh-Durham)

CLIMATE:
• A panel of federal judges appeared inclined to dismiss the first legal challenge to President Obama’s most far-reaching regulation to slow climate change in two lawsuits, one brought by West Virginia and 14 other states. (The New York Times)
Data is a powerful tool in researching climate change — from North Carolina to Alaska’s North Slope (WRAL-TV, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina)

SOLAR:
• A North Carolina bill to let solar-power producers sell electricity directly to customers appears to have broadening support even as various groups raise issues about the impact on utilities and their customers. (Charlotte Business Journal)
• Republican lawmakers in North Carolina have proposed scaling back the state’s renewable-energy requirements and radically reducing the size of solar projects that qualify for standard utility contracts. (Triad Business Journal)
• In its fourth California solar project acquisition, a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Company purchased a controlling interest in the 32-megawatt Lost Hills-Blackwell Solar Facility from First Solar. (Atlanta Business Chronicle)
• North Carolina regulators have cleared Duke Energy to build a 12-megawatt solar project at Camp Lejeune, the fourth large-scale solar farm owned by Duke utilities to be built this year. (Triad Business Journal, North Carolina)
• After its libraries had to cut hours of operations due to high utilities bills, elected officials in Augusta, Georgia are assessing how solar energy on government-run buildings can save money. (WAGT-TV, Augusta)

COAL: Putnam County, Georgia and other rural sites of coal-fired power plants in the Southeast U.S. grapple with loss of property taxes after plants shut down. (The Telegraph, Macon, Georgia)

SUSTAINABILITY:
• The First Tennessee baseball park in Nashville has been awarded silver certification for Leadership in Energy & Environmental Design (LEED).  (WTVF-TV, Nashville)
• Former Georgia Rep. Stephanie Stuckey Benfield has been appointed director of Atlanta’s Office of Sustainability. (Atlanta Business Chronicle)

UTILITIES: The Tennessee Valley Authority purchased a 700-megawatt natural gas-fired power plant in Ackerman, Mississippi,  the sixth combined-cycle gas facility it has built or purchased since 2007. (Associated Press)

ENERGY EFFICIENCY: GE has selected Jacksonville, Florida to participate in a six-month pilot program to install LED bulbs in 50 city street lights which could be used to help create a smartphone app for downtown parking. (Florida Times-Union, Jacksonville)

OIL & GAS:
Associated Press finds a collapsed drilling rig in the Gulf of Mexico has been leaking oil since 2004, 20 times greater than estimated by its operator, New Orleans-based Taylor Energy. (Associated Press)
• Whether an interstate natural gas pipeline should be routed around historic and cultural landmarks in West Virginia is being tested in permitting the Mountain Valley Pipeline. (West Virginia Public Radio)
• Five years after the 2010 BP deepwater drilling rig accident, nobody’s reported a complete collapse of any species, but there are trouble spots, and the real damage may take years to detect. (WVUE-TV, New Orleans, Louisiana)
• This profile of a leader of efforts to restore coastal waters in the Gulf of Mexico after the BP deepwater drilling rig accident illustrates how environmental disasters can create economic havoc. (Alabama Media Group)

POWER LINES: A group of South Florida mayors are escalating a campaign against plans by Florida Power & Light to construct 100-foot tall towers for high-voltage power lines through some of the area’s toniest neighborhoods. (Reuters)

COMMENTARY:
• An energy policy conservatives and liberals can agree on is free-market solar; North Carolina will be wise to promote it. (News & Record, Greensboro, North Carolina)
• The president of the Louisiana Oil & Gas Association defends BP’s response to its deepwater oil drilling rig accident in 2010. (The Louisiana Record)

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