fight over state standards for renewable energy generation has returned to the Kansas Senate. The so-called Renewable Portfolio Standards were set in place in 2009 as part of a deal for Kansas to issue a construction permit for a Sunflower Electric Cooperative coal-fired power plant near Holcomb. But they have pitted free-market conservatives against the industry.
Already buffeted by competing political interests over a proposal to open a liquefied natural gas export terminal on the Chesapeake Bay, leading Maryland Democrats now find themselves divided over a plan to install at least 25 wind energy turbines in the bay.
If you ask Cape Wind proponents about the president of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, they’ll say you’re inquiring about the wrong person. “When you mention Audra Parker, you really want to be talking about Bill Koch,” said Cape Wind President Jim Gordon, when questioned about her multiple attempts to block his proposed $2.5 billion, 130-turbine offshore wind project in Nantucket Sound. “She basically carries Bill Koch’s water.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., said Iowa becomes the “political epicenter” with its first-in-the-nation caucuses leading up to the 2016 presidential election and called on Iowans to make candidates talk about the issue.
“I want to work with you to make sure Iowa is sending a strong message to every single presidential candidate that shows their face here: if you’re going to be credible in Iowa, you’ve got to be credible on climate change,” said Whitehouse, which received a round of applause from the more than 100 lawmakers and citizens in attendance at the Iowa Statehouse discussion.
The rejection of a New Jersey offshore wind pilot was met with boos, if not surprise, from state environmental groups and industry insiders, some of whom said Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) political ambitions may have been behind the decision. Fishermen’s Energy LLC planned to install a 25-megawatt, five-turbine project in waters about 3 miles off the coast of Atlantic City, which the developers aimed to complete by 2016. The demonstration project was one of seven under consideration by the Department of Energy to receive an additional $47 million grant later this spring.
Gina McCarthy was deep in enemy territory. Here on this wind-whipped prairie pocked with strip mines, Ms. McCarthy, the administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, faced 20 coal miners, union workers and local politicians deeply suspicious of the new climate change regulations she had come to pitch. The Obama administration hopes the regulations will help save the planet, but the North Dakotans say the rules will put coal and their livelihoods at risk.
Iowa representatives in Washington joined more than 140 other lawmakers Friday to call for extensions of a pair of tax credits to help wind energy. The investment tax credit and production tax credit, which both support on-shore and off-shore wind-energy developments, expired at the end of 2013. In a pair of separate letters, lawmakers in both the House and Senate encouraged leaders in Congress to extend the credits that help create jobs and promote renewable energy. Iowa generates 25 percent of its electricity by wind power, the most of any state.
A group of 144 members of the Congress sent letters Friday urging their colleagues to renew tax credits that help the wind energy industry.
The members want credits for investment in renewable energy technology and production of electricity to be renewed. Both credits expired at the end of 2013. “Like all businesses, the wind industry seeks certainty and predictability so that long-term project decisions and investments can be made,” said the letter signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Mark Udall (D-Colo.), along with 24 other senator
A Senate committee passed a bill to repeal the state’s renewable energy standards Thursday after one member said the end of a federal tax credit makes renewables less attractive. Sen. Forrest Knox, R-Altoona, said the expiration of the Renewable Electricity Production Tax Credit at the end of 2013 could double the cost of renewable energy, adding one more reason to unshackle the state from the Renewable Portfolio Standards passed in 2009. “Something very big has changed,” Knox said. “The federal production tax credit is no longer there.” The Senate Utilities Committee passed a bill repealing the state standards by voice vote Thursday, with Sen. Marci Francisco and Sen. Tom Hawk, D-Manhattan, asking that their votes in opposition be recorded.
Reports of coal’s imminent demise are exaggerated, but this year will still be bleak for the industry, according to a new study from ICF International consultants. There has been much speculation about the possible downfall of coal at a time when the United States is inundated with inexpensive natural gas and prospective pollution regulations are hindering coal.