They may not be able to do much to influence the “fiscal cliff” negotiations that remained at an impasse last week, but wind energy supporters are continuing to pound the halls of Congress with a somewhat nuanced request that will have an outsized influence on the state of the industry. The ask all year has been for an immediate extension of the wind production tax credit, which expires Dec. 31 without congressional action. But at this late stage of the game, simply changing the date in existing law won’t be enough to do much good for the industry, supporters say. Instead, they are focused heavily on persuading House Republicans to accept a modification to PTC eligibility requirements that already has won bipartisan backing from the Senate Finance Committee.
The bipartisan Western Governors’ Association is urging Congress to immediately extend the wind production tax credit for projects that begin construction next year as a first step to eventually eliminating all federal energy subsidies. In a letter sent to congressional leadership today, Govs. Gary Herbert (R-Utah) and John Hickenlooper (D-Colo.) — the chairman and vice-chairman of the 19-state organization — urge an immediate extension to the PTC, which is scheduled to expire at the end of this year unless Congress acts.
Western governors Friday called on Congress to extend the wind-power tax credit rather than let it expire at the end of December. In a letter to the U.S. House and Senate leaders, Western governors said that extending the credit now is critical to achieving the country’s clean-energy goals, building the nation’s manufacturing base, creating jobs, lowering energy costs and strengthening security.
World has jumped the proposed 2-degree-Celsius ‘guardrail’ and is moving to a more dangerous climate, expert says
The world has missed its chance to limit global warming to 2 degrees Celsius, the level many scientists and governments say is necessary to avoid “dangerous” climate change, former U.K. environment adviser Bob Watson said yesterday. Keeping under that 2-degree guardrail would have required industrialized countries to begin cutting their emissions in 2010, he told attendees at the American Geophysical Union’s fall meeting. “We are not on a pathway to a 2-degree world,” Watson said. “Much more likely, it will be 3 to 5″ degrees Celsius, roughly 5 to 9 degrees Fahrenheit.
Wind power makes up a small slice of the nation’s energy pie, but its advocates have mounted a big lobbying campaign to persuade Congress to renew an expiring tax credit viewed as crucial for the industry’s survival. Sen. Mark Udall, D-Colo., is playing a prominent role in this effort as he joins advocates who want Congress to extend the wind-energy production tax credit beyond its Dec. 31 expiration date. Udall and Sen. Charles Grassley, the Iowa Republican who authored the first wind tax credit 20 years ago, want Congress to include it in a broader legislative package aimed at blocking sharp tax increases and automatic spending cuts set to take effect next year.
Power plants’ use of coal for electricity production will continue to decline over the next 15 years, the Energy Department’s statistical arm said today. The Energy Information Administration’s draft “Annual Energy Outlook 2013″ says more efficient use of fuel by existing power plants and the building of few new coal plants will reduce coal use.
Iowa is second to Texas in installed wind capacity, but the state is catching up on the wind energy educational front. The State of Iowa Board of Regents on Wednesday approved a proposal to establish a Ph.D. program in wind energy science, engineering and policy in Iowa State University’s College of Engineering. The request was recommended earlier this year by ISU’s faculty senate, Board Office and Council of Provosts.
A new worldwide survey of offshore wind installations takes a look at why it might be slow going in the United States, which still doesn’t have any. Navigant Consulting, reviewing conditions at the end of last year, found that building a wind machine offshore in Europe cost about 4 million euros (around $5.1 million) per megawatt of capacity. By comparison, wind turbines built onshore in the United States (the only point of comparison for now) cost about $2 million per megawatt.
Insiders are optimistic that Congress will extend wind energy tax breaks, but that doesn’t mean Iowa’s wind industry will see a quick boon. Iowa’s interests in the wind industry has pushed the state’s policymakers to be spokespeople for the federal tax breaks. For instance, Republican Gov. Terry Branstad went to Washington, D.C., last month for a news conference about the tax credit, while U.S. Rep. Dave Loebsack, D-Iowa, delivered a speech on the House floor in support of the extension.
Materials science breakthroughs in wind turbine blade technology could drive down the costs of building wind farms and help put the renewable energy technology on a stronger economic footing to compete with coal- and natural-gas-fired electricity. Early-stage research by General Electric Co., with support from the Department of Energy and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, aims to use tensioned architectural fabrics rather than fiberglass as the primary material for turbine blades, thus driving down costs by 25 to 40 percent, according to officials involved in the research-and-development effort.