Tax breaks for wind-power producers are set to expire in a little more than a month, threatening hundreds of manufacturing and energy jobs in the state if nothing is done. In Iowa, much of the attention has focused on the federal Renewable Fuel Standard in which the federal government guarantees a market for biofuels. But for Iowa’s turbine manufacturers and power companies, it’s the federal production tax credit that is the center of concern.
Iowa’s future as a wind power leader relies on more utility customers than the state can provide. The state ranks third nationally in wind energy production, with 3,198 turbines generating 25 percent of the state’s energy, as well as some reliable income for landowners who negotiated their place on the state’s alternative power grid. The next big step requires extending the power grid, and that’s the goal of the Rock Island Clean Line, a cross-country transmission line to take Iowa’s wind power eastward to more customers. Wind energy cannot be stored. So to get the maximum value of the state’s existing turbine network, it makes sense to connect to more customers.
Iowa’s hugely successful wind industry isn’t just an economic driver, it’s having a major impact on cutting pollution and saving water. Wind energy generation in Iowa avoids more than 8.4 million metric tons of climate-altering carbon pollution — the equivalent of taking 1.7 million cars off the road, according to a new report released by Environment Iowa.
Efforts to extend the credit have already met with pushback from stakeholders on the other side of the issue. The American Energy Alliance has so far been one of the most vocal opponents of the credit and is planning a major drive against the credit set to begin next week with the release of a series of digital and print ads in the Washington, D.C., market as well as national ads railing against the subsidy for wind producers. AEA is also helping to organize a fly-in next week to marshal grassroots organizations from across the country to put pressure on members of Congress not to renew the subsidy. According to Benjamin Cole, a spokesperson for AEA, the fly-in will focus on strengthening opposition to the credit among members who have already said they want to see it expire
When U.S. EPA was founded in 1970, Bill Ruckelshaus had thousands of applications from would-be employees who wanted to be part of an agency with a cause they believed in. “From the beginning, the morale was sky high,” the first EPA administrator said in a recent interview. “People were excited and enthusiastic and working around the clock because they had this cause that they were working for.” The thrill is gone. An agency that was once home to some of the government’s happiest employees now ranks just average in morale. And EPA’s not alone: Employees at the Interior Department and the Energy Department are also on par with other federal workers when it comes to their overall job satisfaction, according to a recent government survey.
The federal government Friday announced the first-ever criminal enforcement of bird-protection laws at a wind energy facility, fining a North Carolina-based energy giant $1 million for killing more than 150 migratory birds, including 14 golden eagles, at two Wyoming wind farms over the past few years. The government’s plea agreement with Duke Energy Corp. could have broad legal implications as the Obama administration and the wind industry grapple with the ecological trade-offs of building commercial-scale wind farms across the landscape.
Emissions of the greenhouse gas methane due to human activity were roughly 1.5 times greater in the United States in the middle of the last decade than prevailing estimates, according to a new analysis by 15 climate scientists published Monday in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The analysis also said that methane discharges in Texas and Oklahoma, where oil and gas production was concentrated at the time, were 2.7 times greater than conventional estimates. Emissions from oil and gas activity alone could be five times greater than the prevailing estimate, the report said.
In recent years, solar energy has emerged as a solution for powering places that lack sufficient electricity, frequently remote areas in developing nations where conventional fuel can be expensive. Now, Vestas, the wind technology giant, is betting its products can do the same. On Monday, the company announced a project called Wind for Prosperity, with the goal of bringing low-cost power to rural populations around the globe.
Nebraska is rated third among the states for its wind-energy potential. And yet a year ago, it ranked only 26th for its actual wind-energy production. It’s a long-debated issue that came to a head earlier this year, when neighboring Iowa’s vast wind farms helped it beat out the Cornhusker State to land a $300 million Facebook data center. In fact, among Midwest states, only Ohio has less installed wind capacity than Nebraska. The reason for the gap? Several people familiar with the curious dynamics of wind energy in Nebraska place much of it squarely on the doorstep of one Bruce Pontow.
U.S. federal energy regulators imposed more than $304 million in fines against energy companies in fiscal 2013 primarily for market manipulation and false reporting activities. It was the highest yearly total, according to Reuters data. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) on Thursday said its enforcement division staff in fiscal 2013 also forced companies to disgorge an additional $141 million in unjust profits.