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EGEB: Midwest wind 4GW DC transmission line, BP going Solar, living near turbines, more

EGEB for Thursday March 21, 2018:

  • Regulators clear the way for a transmission line to take wind energy from Kansas through Missouri and eastward.
  • BP is looking to move into U.S. solar power in a big way.
  • A federal judge blocks Wyoming drilling due to climate change concerns.
  • A study finds people prefer living next to wind turbines, if they had to choose between energy sources.

Electrek Green Energy Brief: A daily technical, financial, and political review/analysis of important green energy news.

DC Power

Missouri regulators approved the Grain Belt Express transmission line on Wednesday, ending years of frustration for developers and proponents.

The clean energy will be transported via an approximately 780-mile overhead, direct current (DC) transmission line. DC is the most efficient and cost effective technology to move large amounts of power over long distances, due to its lower electricity losses and smaller footprint than comparable alternating current (AC) lines.

The transmission line will bring 4000 MW of wind power from Kansas through Missouri, Illinois and Indiana, and then farther east, into the grid via Direct Current. Missouri had long blocked the progress of the Grain Belt Express while regulators attempted to determine if it was in the public interest. Developers now have the right to use eminent domain to construct the line, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.

Despite clearing this large hurdle, the line isn’t quite ready to go. A spokesperson from developer Invenergy said it’s seeking approval on its acquisition of the project, which was agreed upon last year. The Post-Dispatch notes that last year, Illinois “rescinded its approval on the technicality that Clean Line did not have a physical presence in the state and therefore could not qualify as a utility.” New developer Invenergy, however, is based in Chicago.

A similar project is underway from Iowa east through Illinois involving both wind and solar, as noted in a prior EGEB.

BP Solar

Oil giant BP is looking to buy solar power in the U.S. BP would buy the power from a developer it partially owns, Lightsource BP. A contract could be signed within six months, Lightsource BP told Bloomberg.

Lightsource BP Chief Commercial Officer Katherine Ryzhaya said BP would make the move “for financial reasons.”

While oil companies are getting more involved in clean energy as its prices drop, it’s unclear just how much solar power BP would be purchasing in this instance.

Cease Drilling

A federal judge ruled that the United States Bureau of Land Management (BLM) violated federal law by not “sufficiently considering climate change when authorizing oil and gas leasing on federal land in Wyoming, Utah, and Colorado.” The disputed Wyoming lease sales occupy 303,000 acres of federal land across multiple BLM planning areas.

The BLM specifically violated the National Environmental Policy Act, The Washington Post reports. U.S. District Judge Rudolph Contreras wrote,

“BLM summarized the potential on-the-ground impacts of climate change in the state, the region, and across the country. It failed, however, to provide the information necessary for the public and agency decisionmakers to understand the degree to which the leasing decisions at issue would contribute to those impacts. In short, BLM did not adequately quantify the climate change impacts of oil and gas leasing.”

The plaintiffs were two non-profit organizations, WildEarth Guardians and Physicians for Social Responsibility. We’ll see if this ruling will have ramifications for similar situations going forward.

Turbine Neighbors

A new study in Nature Energy finds that, if given their druthers, most people would prefer to live near wind turbines as opposed to other types of energy projects. The study shows that about 90 percent of U.S. residents who live near a wind turbine prefer that to living the same distance from a centralized power plant.

While this may not be surprising, the study also showed residents prefer wind 3-to-1 over living near solar power among those who had a preference between the two. Geography doesn’t matter, either. The researchers noted “these results are relatively consistent across states with different characteristics, suggesting a strong social preference for wind turbines among their neighbors.”

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