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Policy & Enforcement Briefing: Utility-Scale Solar, Renewable Subsidies, GHG Targets, Nuclear Plants

The Department of the Interior announced a new program for utility-scale development of solar energy on public lands in six western states. The Programmatic Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) outlines permitting in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah with an initial set of 17 Solar Energy Zones. If fully built out, projects in the designated areas could produce as much as 23,700 MW of solar power, the department said.

Renewable power subsidies paid by German consumers will rise by 47 percent next year. Germany’s four leading high voltage network operators said that the surcharge for renewable energy will rise to 5.3 cents per kWh in 2013, from 3.6 cents in 2012, Reuters reports.

South Korea has doubled GHG emissions targets for industrial and power sectors in 2013, a policy designed to increase competitiveness before it launches its cap-and-trade scheme in 2015. The country aims to cut 17.2 mmtCO2e or 3 percent of next year’s expected emissions, compared with 8 mmtCO2e reduction or 1.42 percent of this year’s level, Reuters said.

Poland plans to build a $15.8 billion nuclear power station, the country’s first nuclear facility. The nuclear program is run by Poland’s top utility PGE. Poland wants to develop nuclear power to reduce its dependence on coal. It aims to launch a 3 GW nuclear plant by 2023 and double that capacity by 2030, Reuters said.

Power utility Kengen in Kenya has opened bidding for an estimated $12 billion in construction of geothermal power plants in the Great Rift Valley, with the aim to achieve 560 MW of geothermal power production by 2016. Under the terms of the agreement, the successful bidder will transfer the completed power plants over to Kengen within 10 to 20 years following completion, writes ESI-Africa.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s latest analysis of faults near the Diablo Canyon nuclear power plant in California concludes that the plant’s design would withstand earthquakes near the site. Diablo Canyon must still carry out additional earthquake evaluations, as well as identify any near-term actions for enhancing earthquake resistance. These measures are included in the NRC’s recent information request to all US nuclear power plants, the NRC said.

The EPA is awarding $30 million for clean diesel projects under the Diesel Emission Reduction Program, The program is designed to replace, retrofit or repower older diesel-powered engines. DERA was enacted in 2005 and first funded in FY 2008; this year, increased funding availability per award will allow EPA to target larger engines used in marine vessels and locomotives, the agency said.

The EPA has finalized a change to its plan to clean up ground water at the Liberty Industrial Finishing Superfund site in Farmingdale, New York, and the agency no longer plans to build a second ground water treatment system at the site. Industrial operations, including aircraft parts manufacturing during WWII and metal plating, polluted ground water. The EPA said cleanup of the site has cost $34 million – performed and paid for by the responsible parties.

The US Battery Manufacturing Company in Corona, Calif., has agreed to pay $167,300 to resolve federal Clean Air Act violations. The company also will install secondary high-efficiency air filters to capture additional lead particles. US Battery failed to comply with federal emissions monitoring and reporting requirements, including performance testing requirements for its lead emission control devices, the EPA said.

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