Energy News: Cape Wind Will Lower Electricity Rates; Japan's Residential Solar Soars; More

From good to bad in energy news today, beyond the headline: Pennsylvania towns challenge fracking being shoved down their throats; BP looks to the Amazon for more oil; Alberta, Canada's oil rush shortchanges locals. Keep reading for the details.

Cape Wind Project Means $250 Million Lower Wholesale Electricity Costs
It may get an award for the wind power project that's been in planning for the longest amount of time, but Cape Wind gets another boost this week. Think Progress details the pretty wonky reasons why wholesale electricity prices could drop when (if, perhaps) Cape Wind ever finally gets built:

Massachusetts regulators gave final approval to a merger between NStar and Northeast Utilities, which includes a commitment by NStar to buy slightly more than a quarter of Cape Wind’s project’s electricity for 15 years. ... The rest of Cape Wind’s power will be sold into the competitive daily wholesale electricity market overseen by New England’s electric grid operator, ISO-New England. Cape Wind’s bids into the market will be among the lowest-priced electricity because generators can only bid the actual production costs of their electricity. For Cape Wind, their electricity has a close to zero cost because their fuel, wind, is free.

Japan's Residential Solar Power Growing Rapidly
CleanTechnica gives a good overview of how Japan, even before the Fukushima disaster change the energy landscape there, is going through a veritable residential solar power boom:

There is a growing trend toward energy self-sufficiency on a local and individual level. The number of applications for residential-use solar subsidies ballooned to 215,178 in the period from April 2011 to January 2012, up 140% from the previous year. Following the March disasters, solar companies have also come up with new solutions to meet these energy needs. One such example is Kyocera's all-in-one energy management system (EMS) which combines a solar power generating system with a lithium-ion battery storage unit. This technology not only provides back-up energy in the event of a blackout or natural disaster, but can also help lower consumption from the grid during peak hours by efficiently controlling energy use from solar power, the battery unit and the grid.

Pennsylvania Towns Ban Together Against Fracking
NRDC Switchboard says:

On Thursday, seven municipalities (the Townships of Robinson, Nockamixon, South Fayette, Peters, Cecil, Mount Pleasant Township, and the Borough of Yardley Bucks County), along with the Delaware Riverkeeper Network and a local physician, filed suit in the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania against the recently passed Act 13 ... Under the new law, towns may have to allow frack well sites and toxic impoundment pits as close as 300ft from a home, school, or hospital.

BP Eyes Amazon Rainforest Oil & Natural Gas
Mongabay brings the unfortunate news:

On Tuesday Brazilian legislators approved BP's acquisition of a 45 percent stake in a project run by HRT Participacoes em Petroleo SA, a Brazilian startup. BP is operating under TNK-Brasil Exploracao de Producao de Oleo e Gas Natural Ltda., a joint venture with Russia's TNK. The stake is work about $1 billion. The 21 exploration blocks are located near Coari, a town in the Brazilian state of Amazonas. HRT says the blocks contain 4-6 billion barrels of light crude oil and 10-20 trillion cubic feet of natural gas.

Albertans Getting Shortchanged By Tar Sands Expansion
The Tyee explains:

The Parkland Institute, a left-leaning Edmonton-based research network, reported that the government has received less than 20 per cent of the wealth generated by oil sands production since 1997 even though its original target was 35 per cent. "Albertans have never received more than 20 per cent of the rent in the tar sands, and since 1997 have averaged only nine per cent," says the Parkland report. Since 1986 industry has taken home $260 billion in pre-tax profits while the public, the owner of the resource, has received less than $25 billion or less than six per cent of the total value.

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