MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., the power unit of Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc. (A:US), agreed to buy wind turbines valued at more than $1 billion from Siemens AG (SIE) for five projects in Iowa, in the supplier’s biggest order to date for land-based wind equipment.
The decision by Warren Buffett’s utility company to order about $1 billion of wind turbines for projects in Iowa shows how a drop in equipment costs is making renewable energy more competitive with power from fossil fuels. Turbine prices have fallen 26 percent worldwide since the first half of 2009, bringing wind power within 5.5 percent of the cost of electricity from coal, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co., a unit of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., yesterday announced an order for 1,050 megawatts of Siemens AG wind turbines in the industry’s largest order to date for land-based gear.
Apparently not content to simply ease into the holiday recess, Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) is expected tomorrow to release a draft tax reform bill focused on the energy sector, Senate aides said yesterday. Details of the draft are being closely held. A Finance Committee aide declined to provide any details yesterday, and several other aides to senators with an interest in energy policy said they had not seen the details of the draft.
“If a broader tax code overhaul cannot be achieved by year’s end, it is imperative that these key clean energy tax incentives are renewed as soon as possible,” they wrote. “These tax credits have helped scale up production and drive down the cost of clean energy technologies. They remain critical to addressing the market failures that prevent cost-effective, market-ready technologies from being deployed to their full potential.”
NextEra Energy Resources, the largest wind energy developer in the United States, said it is in the very early stages of looking at Douglas County as a site for a future wind farm. “We have talked to some landowners,” said Steve Stengel, a spokesman for the Florida-based company. “We haven’t really even started measuring the wind yet, so it’s a fairly lengthy process.”
ENR Chairman Ron Wyden would not comment on the forthcoming paper but said he wants all the players in the energy sector to have more “parity” in the tax code. “You’ve got to make it possible for all of the different energy sources to get out of the gate, and if you have a set of energy sources that are permanently subsidized at a very high level … how are you going to move to a competitive landscape?” Wyden yesterday hinted he may push Congress to consider some sort of tax extenders package if broader tax reform efforts drag out too long. “If you didn’t have tax reform and you didn’t have extenders, you’d do crushing damage to solar, wind and renewables,” Wyden told ME in the Capitol.
Anti-fracking protesters have dumped a wind turbine blade at an oil drilling site in Manchester, in the latest step in an ongoing campaign that saw scuffles between police and protesters on Friday. 50 campaigners put the blade in place at around 5.30am at the Barton Moss site this morning, and said it was disrupting vehicle access to the site.
A surge in U.S. oil production has in just a few short years propelled the United States from a country largely dependent on oil imports to one that soon could become the world’s top oil producer. The goal of North American energy self-sufficiency, the holy grail of American politics since the Arab oil boycott of 1973, seems to be within grasp. The revolution has taken place almost unnoticed — and in a way that few foresaw less than a decade ago, when the emphasis on breaking America’s foreign oil dependence was almost entirely on persuading Americans to drive less, turn the thermostat up or down and open protected areas to oil exploration.
Mr. Podesta, named a senior adviser to President Obama, is not currently a lobbyist and therefore does not have to worry about the Obama administration’s self-imposed ban on hiring lobbyists to administration jobs. But he will nonetheless arrive at the White House after having run an organization that has taken millions of dollars in corporate donations in recent years and has its own team of lobbyists who have pushed an agenda that sometimes echoes the interests of these corporate supporters.
Udall is set to argue in a floor speech later this week or next that hundreds of Colorado jobs in the industry depend on the wind Production Tax Credit, or “PTC.”
“I’ll do whatever it takes to get the tax credit extended,” Udall told FOX31 Denver Thursday. “We’re not only protecting jobs but we’re making this new energy in America. Wind manufacturing employs 1,500 people in Colorado today and supports over 5,000 jobs statewide. We need to extend the credit long-term. It’s crucial to wind energy and our nation’s energy independence. If we don’t do it, these jobs are going to go overseas to China and even India.”