Posts Tagged: Dept. of Energy

Uncertain Future(Gen)


Here is a future that may not happen. The FutureGen Alliance, a band of energy companies partnered with the U.S. Dept. of Energy, announced yesterday that Morgan County in rural, western Illinois will be the site for a $1.3 billion underground facility to store carbon dioxide that, when emitted, contributes to climate change. The CO2 comes from a Meredosia, Illinois coal plant retrofitted for the FutureGen project. This is the latest iteration of FutureGen, hatched by the Bush administration and continued by Obama — a project that indicates the uncertainty of American energy and climate change policy. (more…)

California power plant – breakthrough in ‘clean coal’?

It could be a breakthrough for electricity generation, or an innovation Americans will come to regret.

Funded in part by stimulus and other federal funds, a planned California power plant would convert coal and petroleum coke into hydrogen which would then be burned for electricity. According to Will Evans of CaliforniaWatch, the key feature of the new plant, to be built and run by BP and a joint venture partner with strong BP roots, is “carbon sequestration,” the modern day alchemist’s holy grail that will (more…)

There is no Future(Gen)

The long discussed plan to build “FutureGen,” — a “clean coal” power plant outside of Mattoon, Illinois — is dead. According to Katherine Skiba of the Chicago Tribune. Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin says that FutureGen (the name refers to the alliance of energy companies that were supposed to build the plant) will still get $1 billion in Dept. of Energy stimulus money. However, the money will go (more…)

Federal-state tensions over energy efficiency loan program

The tangled web of federal financing that was lashed together to help fund homeowners’ energy efficiency projects has unraveled quite quickly.

Robert Selna of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the California Energy Commission is pulling the plug on $30 million set aside for the now in-limbo Property Assessed Clean Energy program or PACE. This, after state officials, including Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger asked federal officials (more…)

Due diligence not an evil for renewable energy funding

Federal diligence is stalling important renewable energy projects in California, and state officials say the delays may jeopardize construction of several next-generation green power plants, Marc Lifsher of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Construction of a dozen wind farms, solar panel complexes and seven different plants that would use a massive array of mirrors to capture (more…)

Funds for frigidaires getting tweaked

Remember the headlines a few weeks ago when the Department of Energy’s appliance efficiency rebate plan ran out of money almost as soon as it was launched? Hoping to avoid the experience in many other states, California officials (each state administers the rebates differently), raised the bar, restricting the rebates to only the most energy efficient major appliances. They also required documentation (more…)

Will BP Catastrophe Lead to a Sea Change?

Although the energy sector was doing more whining than gloating, until late last month there was much for the industry to celebrate. Even with Democrats pulling the levers of power, officials are still eagerly shoveling funds into ‘clean’ coal research, and nuclear power continues to gain converts among enviros and has even earned the President’s embrace. Even California was ready to reopen its waters to offshore drilling.

The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon has prompted a sea change. Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger quickly declared (more…)

Funds for Frigidaires

Buying a refrigerator may seem like a strange way to celebrate Earth Day, but with millions in federal funds available in rebates for energy efficient appliances, many Californians decided to do just that on April 22 — in a cash-for-clunkers-style rush at appliance and home improvement stores across the state.

Californians, and consumers around the U.S., will receive rebates of up to $200 for a new refrigerator, $100 for a washing machine and smaller rebates for other items – that is, until the $35 million alloted to the program nationwide runs out. (more…)

Put More Energy into Hiring at Energy

As Ian Talley and Stephen Power report in the Wall Street Journal, the Energy Department has expended only 7% of stimulus funds the Department received in 2008 — funds that are supposed to go to job creation and innovative energy projects.  The tension at Energy is between vetting proposals carefully and getting money out the door quickly.  Officials want to avoid even the appearance of waste or haste in the selection process, something the Obama administration takes seriously.  But jobs are not being created even as other major programs at the DOE are also experiencing a slow rollout.  What’s the problem?

Talley and Power sum it up as follows:  “department offices were still too short-staffed and under-trained to handle such a massive increase in funding authority.”

Congress usually hates to fund new government hires, but in this case it’s understandable that more hands are needed.  Spending billions of dollars effectively isn’t easy.  So for future projects of this kind, Congress should include funding for temporary, project-related hires and training programs.  If they had set aside even a small portion of the billions in funding for temporary hires, contracts, and training, we’d have more funding going to clean energy projects and more people employed.