Energy briefs

** During a 2.5 hour hearing before Congress, Energy Secretary Jennifer Granholm maintained UFOs reported around nuclear plants were “drones” but she also admitted her department works with the Joint Special Operations Command, an admission that raised eyebrows.

** Federal regulators have authorized the Mountain Valley Pipeline to begin operating following years of controversy that saw Democratic lawmakers split over the project. The 303-mile pipeline, which is set to carry natural gas from northwestern West Virginia to southern Virginia, has been approved, according to a Tuesday letter from Terry Turpin, director of the Office of Energy Projects at the bipartisan Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

** A series of legal battles in Louisiana has slowed construction of pipeline projects worth more than $2 billion in the state. Yet the litigation wasn’t from environmentalists: It was spearheaded by one of the biggest natural gas pipeline operators in the US.

** Ocean Power Technologies, a leading renewable energy company that specializes in wave power technology, recently announced a major clean energy milestone. In a company news release, OPT revealed that it’s nearing 15 megawatt-hours of production from its PowerBuoys, which harvest wave energy to supply reliable power to offshore industries, the defense and security sectors, and scientific research endeavors.


** A widespread power outage hit Puerto Rico Wednesday night, leaving more than 340,000 customers without electricity after two of the U.S. territory’s power plants shut down. The capital of San Juan was left without power, as well as neighboring municipalities including Bayamón, Caguas and Carolina.

** US carmaker Ford said it would seek to cut another 1,600 jobs at its factory near Valencia in eastern Spain, where it already axed 1,100 positions last year. “At the factory, there is currently a surplus of around 1,600 employees,” a spokesman for Ford Spain told AFP after management met unions to outline their plan.

** Honda Motor will start selling a micro-sized electric van targeted at Japan’s delivery industry in October, the Japanese automaker said on Thursday, joining an increasingly crowded part of the market.

** Hungary disagrees with Europe’s “brutal” punishment of Chinese electric car manufacturers, its economy ministry said on Wednesday, hours after the European Commission said it would impose tariffs on Chinese electric vehicle (EV) imports.

** Growth for global wind power is expected to slow this year as the industry faces struggles with rising costs, limited infrastructure and policy uncertainty. Installations are expected to increase by almost 6% in 2024, BloombergNEF said in a report. That compares with a jump of almost 35% in 2023.

** Tesla has received construction approval for yet another massive plant in Shanghai, but this time it won’t be making EVs, according to a report by Teslarati. The new Megafactory will focus on producing the Megapack, a large-scale rechargeable lithium-ion battery specifically designed for use by utilities and other companies looking to bulk up on their clean energy storage infrastructure.