A new poll tracking the conservation attitudes of residents of the six Rocky Mountain States shows that support is strong for greater protection of public lands and investment in renewable energy. It also offers some clues to why public policy does not dovetail with public opinion in those areas. In early January, two polling companies questioned 2,400 registered voters across Arizona, Colorado, Montana, New Mexico, Utah and Wyoming. Brendan Boepple, program coordinator for Colorado College’s State of the Rockies Project, said the results highlighted “the disparity between the reality and the rhetoric among Western voters.”
The wind industry set a record last year with a capacity of more than 60,000 megawatts of power, and Texas is by far the top producer. The big challenge: getting all the wind energy produced in far west Texas to the big cities that need the power. To make that happen, the state is putting down thousands of miles of transmission lines to get the job done. Construction is supposed to be completed by the end of the year. It can’t happen soon enough for Doug May, the economic development director for Pecos County.
Exelon Corp. Chief Executive Christopher Crane said Thursday that the rapid pace of subsidized wind-generated electric power could ultimately force it to shutter nuclear plants. “What worries me is if we continue to build an excessive amount of wind and subsidize wind, the unintended consequence could be that it leads to shutting down plants,” Crane said in an interview. Crane said states that have helped to subsidize wind development in order to create jobs might find themselves losing jobs if nuclear plants shut down.
Electric utilities and independent power producers completed 430 new power plants accounting for 29,335 megawatts of new generation projects in 2012, a whopping 43 percent increase over the previous year, according to figures released yesterday by SNL Financial. Six of the 10 largest projects were natural gas- and coal-fired generators in the Southeast and Midwest, while wind power accounted for the lion’s share of new generation nationally, with 12,953 MW of added capacity, or 44 percent of the total.
A number of renewable energy executives, financiers and advocates are calling for Congress and the Obama administration to open new avenues for investment in renewable energy projects amid continued uncertainty around long-term federal support for the sector. Master limited partnerships (MLPs) and real estate investment trusts (REITs) were among the hottest topics yesterday at a daylong conference hosted by the American Council on Renewable Energy focused on policies that could aid wind, solar, alternative fuels and other renewable industries.
A bipartisan report out today calling on Congress to allow federal regulators to approve certain high-voltage power lines even if states oppose them has drawn the ire of the National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners. At issue is a report the Bipartisan Policy Center released today, which calls on Congress to enact new, targeted backstop siting authority for the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to approve multistate high-voltage power lines when states fail to do so after a certain amount of time.
Previewing his upcoming State of the Union address, President Obama yesterday urged House Democrats to support energy-efficient programs during the 113th Congress. peaking at the Democrats’ policy retreat less than an hour outside of Washington, D.C., Obama reaffirmed a commitment to pursue an energy agenda during his second term consisting of less drilling for oil while developing more fuel-efficient factories and modes of transportation.
“I’m going to make sure that we’re focused on job creation here in America, and that means that we have an energy agenda that can make us less dependent on foreign oil,” Obama said. Such an “energy strategy,” as he put it, “would maintain our leadership well into the future.”
Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) said Thursday that he plans to reintroduce a bill that offers tax credits for a limited amount of offshore wind projects. Carper told reporters he did not have a timeline for resubmitting the bill, but said its content would likely mirror the one he co-sponsored last Congress with former Sen. Olympia Snowe (R-Maine). “We’ve been trying to get that done. As it turns out when [the Congressional Budget Office] prices that — they score that — it’s not cheap. And so pretty high score, hard to get it done,” Carper said during an event hosted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund in Washington, D.C.
In his second inaugural address, President Obama promised to take on climate change as a priority in his second term. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that failure to do so would betray our children and future generations,” he said at the start of one of the longest passages devoted to a single subject in the speech. But the president did not detail exactly how he intended to act, given the hostility in Congress and industry to taxes on carbon dioxide emissions or any broad-gauged legislative effort to address the problem. Officials said that he would put some flesh on the bones of his promise in his State of the Union address next week and in his budget proposal.
The Interior Department today announced it has identified 23 solar, wind and geothermal power projects that it intends to move through federal permitting this year and next, continuing the Obama administration’s aggressive push to advance renewable energy development on federal land. If all 23 projects are approved by the Bureau of Land Management and built in the next 24 months, the 14 solar, six wind and three geothermal power projects would have the capacity to produce 5,300 megawatts of electricity, or enough to power about 1.6 million homes.