Monday, August 22, 2016

Klamath River Dam Removal Hits a Speed Bump (Politico Morning Edition)

The work-around plan developed by the Interior Department, Oregon, California, PacifiCorp and Native American tribes to remove four hydroelectric dams along the Klamath River has hit a bump. After Congress failed to approve a water-sharing deal along the Oregon and California border, many of the key players found a way to deal with part of the problem without Congress - by going through the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. That plan was originally due to FERC at the end of July, but has been pushed until September. PacifiCorp spokesman Bob Gravely told the Times-Standard the deal is still on track.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Google Suspends Portland High-Speed Internet Plans (Portland Business Journal, OR)

Montana Lawmakers Craft Measures to Deal with Colstrip Coal Plant Closure (Associated Press)

Utah Utility Group Selects Idaho Site for NuScale Small Modular Reactor (The Energy Collective)

$40 Million in Play for Would-Be Oregon Coast Energy Project (Portland Business Journal, OR)

Chum Salmon Prove Surprisingly Resistant to Pollution (Olympian - Paywall Advisory)

Mail Call: Step Up for Hydropower Licensing Changes (Politico)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- The National Hydropower Association and three other trade groups are keeping up the pressure on lawmakers conferencing the House and Senate energy bills to make sure the final measures "include a strong hydropower title that improves the licensing and regulatory approval process for new hydropower development and relicensing of existing projects." In a letter to top lawmakers on Monday, the groups argue the licensing process will block the industry from reaching its growth potential, which a recent Energy Department report pegged at 50 gigawatts of new capacity by 2050.

"The current licensing process must be modernized to add accountability and transparency, eliminate inefficiencies and redundancies, and unlock innovation and advancements in technology and operations," the groups, which include the American Public Power Association, the Edison Electric Institute and the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association, wrote. "We believe the provisions in both the House and Senate energy bills, taken together, will implement this new direction, and do so in a way that protects environmental values, public participation, and the authorities of federal and state decision-makers in the licensing process."

Waters of the U-S Foes Turned Back by Court (Politico)

(ATLANTA, GA) -- Challengers to EPA's Waters of the U.S. rule lost their latest attempt to have their case heard by the district courts the groups believed would be more receptive to their arguments. A three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided it would wait to take up the case until the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals rules on a slate of challenges to the Clean Water Rule from several states, Annie reports.

The 11th Circuit panel noted the 6th Circuit has already decided that it, and not district courts, has jurisdiction. "The Sixth Circuit is the obvious court to proceed to decision because it is significantly farther along the decisional path than we are. It has already decided the district court versus court of appeals jurisdictional issue, it has denied rehearing en banc of that decision, it has set a briefing schedule on the merits issues, and it is in the process of winnowing down the massive administrative record to its most relevant parts." In other words, "[i]t would be a colossal waste of judicial resources for both this Court and the Sixth Circuit to undertake to decide the same issues about the same rule presented by the same parties," the panel wrote.

Bullseye on WOTUS

Donald Trump's agriculture advisory committee really doesn't like WOTUS. Concerns about regulatory overreach bubbled to the top during the panel's first conference call Tuesday, several members said, and WOTUS is a glaring example of that. Many of the panel members ME spoke cited WOTUS, arguing that a Clinton presidency would just offer more of the same. "Farmers and ranchers cannot afford another four more years of those failed policies," Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge said. "That's why I support Donald trump."

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Billionaire Developer Martin Selig Racks Up $2 Million in Unpaid Seattle City Light Bills (Seattle Times, WA - Paywall Advisory)

Hot Water Poses Ongoing Threat to Columbia River Salmon, Groups Say (Spokesman Review, Spokane, WA)

July Was ‘Absolutely’ Earth’s Hottest Month Ever Recorded (Washington Post)

British Columbia: Dam Safety – BC Hydro Officials Worry about Risks of Earthquakes Triggered by Fracking (Globe & Mail, Canada)

How a Land Use Plan for the California Desert Turned Climate Change Allies into Foes (Washington Post)

Monday, August 15, 2016

Ruralite Wins Top Award for Magazine Design (Ruralite Magazine)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- On August 9, Ruralite magazine won the gold award for best magazine design during the National Electric Cooperative Statewide Editors Association annual awards banquet at the National Press Club Building in Washington, D.C.
Judges said the magazine has “gorgeous cover photos.” They were impressed by the consistent grid, use of white space, clean section headers, and fresh, modern look.
“Overall, a truly beautiful magazine,” the judges said.
Two runner-up publications awards for merit: Kentucky Living and Oklahoma Living. Ruralite competed against 17 other magazine design entries for the top honor.
“This is the best of the best of the Statewide publications,” says Managing Editor Curtis Condon of the submissions. “This competition means a lot to us. It’s a way for us to appreciate what all of us do, and look forward to what we can improve the next year.”
Ruralite also received an award of merit for best editorial. Curtis’ January 2016 Voice Box column, “Taken for Granted,” recounts a snow camping trip. Through this cold, dark wilderness experience, Curtis was reminded of how vital electricity is to his life, and how it should be appreciated. Read the column here.
Judges said the article was “very well written” and “a gentle reminder to readers not to take the availability of electricity for granted.”

The National Electric Cooperative Statewide Editors Association represents 32 statewide magazines, including Ruralite, Currents and Florida Currents. The annual awards are nicknamed the Willies, a tribute to the legendary cooperatives mascot Willie Wiredhand. The awards honor excellence in publication designs, writing, illustrations, photography and website design. Learn more about the association at

Lowest Canadian Sockeye Run on Record Prompts Fishery Closures, Outcry (Victoria Times Colonist, BC – Fraser River, no dams)

Washington State Carbon-Tax Initiative Backers Press Campaign despite Green Opposition (Seattle Times, WA - Paywall Advisory)

Op/Ed: Carbon Tax Proposal Wrong Approach for Washington State (Tri-City Herald, WA)

Who Owns the Wind? We Do, Wyoming Says – It’s Taxing Those Who Use It (Los Angeles Times, CA)

Seattle City Light Takes Feedback on Opt-Out for Smart Meters (KOMO-TV, Seattle, WA)

Earthquakes & Energy - The San Andreas of the Pacific Northwest (Politico)

(SEATTLE, WA) -- DOE Secretary Ernest Moniz will join Sen. Maria Cantwell for a field hearing in Seattle today to examine how prepared the agency is to respond to a potential massive earthquake and tsunami in the Pacific Northwest that could cause widespread blackouts. 

Scientists have found in recent months that the risk of a major quake in the Cascadia Subduction zone - where one tectonic plate is sliding under another - is higher than initially thought. The region which stretches from northern California to British Columbia is long overdue for a magnitude 9 earthquake, scientists say. The last one occurred more than 300 years ago, as the eye-opening New Yorker piece last year documented.

Don't Forget Everyone Else

Cantwell, the Senate Energy and Natural Resources ranking Democrat, and Moniz will also review how well DOE would cope with other natural disasters, as well as grid-related cyber-attacks that target energy infrastructure. Cantwell and Moniz will then head west to the Tri-Cities area of the state for a Tuesday roundtable discussion of energy workforce issues.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Pacific Northwest Congress Members Demand Action on Columbia River Treaty (Politico)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- The U-S State Department has been sitting on a key document related to updating the Columbia River Treaty for months, and a bipartisan group of 17 members of the Pacific northwest's Senate and House delegations want the department to get a move on. The treaty governs dams and flows along the upper Columbia River Basin, which touches British Columbia in Canada and Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana. The two sides are looking at renegotiating some of the treaty's terms. In a letter sent to Secretary of State John Kerry, the Congressional delegation demanded that State approve a key negotiating document and press Canada to name a lead negotiator. The letter was led by Democratic Sen. Maria Cantwell and includes signatures from Republicans like Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the party conference chairman.

Legal Pot Is Big Business in Washington State (KELA Radio, Centralia, WA)

(OLYMPIA, WA) -- Legal marijuana has become such a big business that the Thurston County Chamber of Commerce dedicated its monthly lunch forum this week to the topic, filling ballroom space at a west Olympia hotel. The Olympian reports Chamber president David Schaffert said the industry has had an increasing economic impact on the community and the state. He said data shows pot sales in Washington are set to approach $1 billion by the end of the year and about $60 million in Thurston County. Tax revenue for the state through the first half of the year was $104 million.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Bonneville Power Administration Already Projecting Electricity Rate Increase for 2018 (Longview Daily News, WA)

Washington (Puget Sound Energy), Arizona Utilities Begin Testing CAISO EIM Integration (Utility Dive)

Risk of Major Quake on Cascadia Subduction Zone Higher than Previously Thought (Oregonian, Portland)

Feds Deny Governors’ Petitions to Reclassify Marijuana for Medical Use (Consumerist)

Tennessee/North Carolina: U-S Court Blocks FCC Bid to Expand Public Broadband (Reuters)

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Washington State Audit Questions No-Bid Contract for Washington State Patrol Radio Upgrade (Northwest Public Radio)

Canada’s Fisheries Minister Plans ‘Concrete’ Action to Fight Declining Sockeye Run (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation)

Court Orders Feds to Turn Over Idaho Nuclear Waste Documents (Associated Press)

Amnesty International Calls for Halt to British Columbia’s Peace River Dam (Globe & Mail, Canada)

Massachusetts Just Gave a Huge Boost to the Offshore Wind Industry (Washington Post)

Monday, August 8, 2016

How to Give Rural America Broadband? Look to the Early 1900s (NY Times)

Pacific Power: Oregon 50% RPS Will Barely Raise Customer Rates through 2028 (Utility Dive)

California’s Regional Electricity Grid Plan on Hold (Los Angeles Times, CA)

Tacoma to Sewer Customers: Stop Using Your Toilet as a Trashcan (News Tribune, Tacoma, WA - Paywall Advisory)

Half the Country Not Likely to Participate in EPA’s Clean Energy Plan (Washington Examiner)

Asotin County PUD Official Gary Hicks Dies (Lewiston Tribune, ID)

(CLARKSTON, WA) – Asotin County Public Utility District Commissioner Gary Hicks died Friday.

Hicks, 74, of Clarkston, died of complications related to an illness, according to a press release from the utility district.

He was considered a patriarch of the Public Utility District, along with Joe Silvestri, Tony Flerchinger and Scott Broyles. They helped get the utility district on the ballot in 1984, the utility district said.

Hicks was the last remaining utility district commissioner in Washington who had been involved in the formation of the district. Hicks helped the guide the utility district into becoming a well-functioning organization, the utility district said.

In 2014, he was awarded the Washington Public Utility Districts Association Lifetime Achievement Award for his commitment and life's work with the Asotin County utility district, the news release states.

A service for Hicks will be held at 3 p.m. on Thursday Aug. 11 at the Life Center on 2377 Appleside Blvd., in Clarkston.

U-S Dept. of Energy: Crowd Demanding Moniz Encore if Clinton Elected? (Politico)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- Could Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz get a second act atop the Energy Department? With Hillary Clinton dusting Donald Trump in the polls, rumors around who she could potentially bring into her cabinet are intensifying. But as Pro's Darius Dixon reports , Moniz's expertise and bipartisan support make him a top candidate for carrying over into the next administration. "All the folks I know who are very respected in the energy space have the utmost respect for [Moniz] and I think everyone would be happy to see him there for an extended period of time," said Carol Browner, President Barack Obama's first-term climate adviser and Bill Clinton's former EPA chief as well as an informal energy adviser to Clinton.

Unfinished Symphony

While some agency chiefs have wrapped up their heavy lifting for this administration, Moniz is still up to his elbows in unfinished business. He's trying to improve coordination with the national labs, make improvements on how DOE responds in emergencies, and monitor the nuclear deal with Iran. And his work to date has earned him plaudits from people in important positions. "I think that Ernie Moniz has been the best Cabinet member of this administration," said Senate Energy and Natural Resources Chairwoman Lisa Murkowski.

Oh, It's Never That Easy

The campaigns aren't yet thinking this far ahead. But a thoroughly unofficial shortlist of potential successors is circulating. Cabinet appointments, of course, are as much political calculus as they are about running the government, and leaving Moniz in place would create complicated ripples for the rest of Clinton's team, who are likely going to have a mix of ethnicities, geographies, genders and political loyalties. "The appointments at the Cabinet level are like a big jigsaw puzzle," said Sue Tierney, a former Energy Department official who worked on Obama's transition team. "The first piece the president lays down then begins to shape the next pieces are going to be places and what they're going to look like.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

FERC Still Trying to Crack Transmission Problem (Politico)

(WASHINGTON, DC) -- FERC is putting out a call to learn more about why, five years after Order 1000, more long distance transmission isn't getting built. The commission asked utilities, grid planners to respond to more than two dozen questions staff posed as part of the agency's review of its transmission policies. The commission is considering tweaking parts of its landmark order that allows businesses to come into what had been a local utility monopoly and bid on major transmission projects and required better regional and inter-regional coordination on grid planning. Some of the questions, which follow a June technical conference, focus on whether the commission should change what rates of return it grants utilities for transmission investments.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Monday, August 1, 2016

Obama Administration’s Regulatory Releases – Clean Power Plan, Reservoir Management (Politico)

(WASHINGTON, DC) – August could be a hot month, both on the thermometer and for regulatory releases. The Obama administration has about five weeks to roll out any remaining summer rules before Congress rolls back into town. Here's a look at what might arrive during the dog days of summer.

Clean Power Plan
Don't expect anything new in August from EPA on this landmark rule, but Washington's environmental class is awaiting news from the D.C. Circuit about the structure of Sept. 27's oral arguments. The court at some point must announce what topics it will hear and for how long. A decision on that front, could come this month, which would give the lawyers more time to practice in front of their mirrors/mock trials. (The challengers asked for two days' worth of legal yakking, while EPA wants to wrap things up in just one day.)

Reservoir Management

The Army Corps of Engineers owns and manages hundreds of reservoirs across the country, and even though they are often aimed primarily at flood control, they have become vital sources of water supply for cities as well. But whether or not the corps can manage those reservoirs with water supply in mind has been a major open legal question - one that has become intensely controversial in drought-prone communities across the West and in the long-running Florida-Georgia-Alabama water wars. After years of labor, the Army Corps finally sent a proposed rule to OMB in May to update its policies governing reservoir management. It's sure to stoke already-fierce water conflicts, so don't hold your breath waiting for it, but if the administration is seeking a quiet time to release it, August could be a prime time.