A Senate Finance subcommittee yesterday began its work to overhaul an array of tax incentives benefiting energy companies with a broad overview of what benefits exist today and continued partisan disagreement over how to account for the tax breaks enjoyed by various industries. Negotiations over comprehensive tax reform have been simmering on Capitol Hill for more than a year, but the effect that overhauling the tax code would have on energy companies has remained largely in the background. Tax reform could have massive implications across numerous sectors, from oil drillers to pipeline operators to wind farm developers to building retrofitters.
A New England company has successfully bid $3.8 million for the rights to develop offshore wind farms in nearly 165,000 acres of specially designated federal waters off the coasts of Massachusetts and Rhode Island. Deepwater Wind LLC of Providence said it plans to build up to 200 turbines capable of producing enough energy to power roughly 350,000 homes, with a transmission system linking Long Island, N.Y., to southeastern New England. Construction could begin as early as 2017.
Kansas is undoubtedly a windy state, but it is not yet the “Saudi Arabia of Wind” that Republican Gov. Sam Brownback wants it to be. Kansas has more wind energy potential than any state except Texas, but eight states generate more total megawatts of wind power — even as Brownback and his legislature have taken steps to boost Kansas’s wind industry. A key problem: a lack of high-voltage electric lines to connect the remote areas where turbines churn out power to the bustling regions that demand it.
Xcel Energy Inc., the investor-owned utility that has been championed for its commitment to wind power by clean energy advocates far and wide, is at risk of being dropped as the electricity provider to this city, which is its national headquarters. Among other reasons, it is accused of not being sufficiently pro-clean energy.
The Interior Department is reviewing a plan by Virginia to build two 6-megawatt wind turbines in federal waters off its shores, a project that aims to lower the risk of developing offshore wind farms. The proposal by Virginia’s Department of Mines, Minerals and Energy would test “twisted jacket” turbine foundations that offer the strength of traditional foundations but use substantially less steel.
A decision by the Lincoln Electric System to purchase wind energy from Oklahoma is being criticized by the Nebraska Farmers Union. Earlier this month, Lincoln Electric System agreed to purchase 100 megawatts of wind energy. LES officials touted cost savings for its customers. But Farmers Union President John Hansen said the public utility also has a responsibility to boost economic development in Nebraska.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) is calling on the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to carefully consider billionaire Warren Buffett’s proposal to buy Las Vegas-based NV Energy Inc. for $5.6 billion and combine it with MidAmerican Energy Holdings Co.
Pricing carbon may be the single most important thing the government can do to drive clean technology and is a necessary but not sufficient condition for mitigating climate change, according to experts. Many of the emerging systems that curb greenhouse gas emissions and displace fossil fuels show promise in the laboratory and at small scales but are too expensive for prime time. Attaching a price tag to carbon dioxide emanating from fossil fuels would go a long way toward closing the gap.
A federal effort to revamp the way the grid is planned and paid for could encroach on states’ rights to oversee the electric grid, a group of state commissioners warned this week.
The National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners took aim at the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s implementation of a far-reaching new rule, Order 1000, which overhauls the process for planning and allocating the cost for new transmission projects.
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley released one of the most aggressive greenhouse gas reduction plans in the country yesterday, calling for an increase in the state renewable standard and a boost to clean car and “zero waste” initiatives. “Climate disruption is real. It is not an ideological issue any more than gravity is,” said O’Malley, who will leave office in 2015 because of term limits. The revised plan was necessary, he said, since existing policies leave the state short in its goals and able to cut emissions by roughly 18 percent by 2020. The blueprint calls for the state renewable standard to be raised to 25 percent renewable power by 2020, up from 20 percent by 2022. It also calls for carbon-emitting “black liquor” — a byproduct of producing paper — to be removed as an eligible fuel source under the standard.