Big oil and natural gas companies vastly outspend and outman the renewable fuels industry on Capitol Hill, but the general gridlock in Washington gives advocates of wind, ethanol and other new-age sources an edge in the growing battle to overhaul U.S. energy policy. “This Congress seems unable to make a national energy policy,” said Bruce Babcock, an Iowa State University economist. “The renewable fuels have an advantage in that they are part of current law, and it’s always easier to maintain current law than it is to change it.”
In the latest black eye for the Department of Energy’s controversial loan guarantee program, Colorado-based Abound Solar is preparing to shut down less than two years after being approved for a $400 million loan. The Abound loan had been offered to aid the construction of manufacturing plants in Longmont, Colo., and Tipton, Ind.
A renewable energy advocacy group has launched a Web portal aimed at disseminating information about wind, solar, biomass and other alternative fuels while also refuting what it characterizes as lies and misinformation being peddled by opponents of renewable energy.
After a federal appeals court upheld Obama administration greenhouse gas regulations yesterday, attention turned to what remaining legal options are left available to the challengers. The choice is straightforward: Ask the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit to rehear the case or immediately seek Supreme Court review. A three-judge panel of the appeals court yesterday denied or dismissed challenges to four rules that are key to the administration’s effort to regulate greenhouse gas emissions (Greenwire, June 26).
House Democrats today introduced a bill that would extend a key wind industry tax break for one year and make up the proceeds by eliminating an incentive that allows large oil companies to deduct foreign tax payments from their domestic tax bills. While there is substantial bipartisan support for extending the wind production tax credit, the effort has struggled to gain traction in a polarized Congress. A broader effort to tie the PTC to eliminating oil company tax breaks fell short in the Senate this year, when S. 2204, a bill from Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), failed to overcome procedural hurdles.
The Senate may hit another milestone in its consideration of whether to extend a bevy of expiring tax incentives — including a key credit for the wind industry — soon after returning from its Independence Day recess, a senior Democrat said today. Senate Finance Chairman Max Baucus (Mont.) said he hopes to see “movement next month” on a tax extenders package, although he would not offer additional details. Industry lobbyists tracking the issue have said they expect the committee to mark up an extenders package in July, although Baucus would not confirm those plans.
An environmental group today sued the Interior Department for allegedly withholding information on how commercial wind farms affect birds and bats. The American Bird Conservancy, in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia, said the Fish and Wildlife Service has failed to provide correspondences with wind developers and other data on the impacts to birds and bats near wind projects in 10 states.
A group of fishermen agreed to support a wind farm proposed for Nantucket Sound in Massachusetts, dropping a federal lawsuit against the project.
Electric utilities and transmission owners are expected to make significant investments in technologies to protect the grid against ebbs and flows in current caused by the addition of intermittent power sources such as wind and solar power, two new reports predict.
When the energy entrepreneur Jim Gordon first proposed building the Cape Wind project in Nantucket Sound, he assumed the project would be a slam dunk. Liberal Massachusetts communities would surely embrace a clean energy initiative, he figured. More than 10 years later, the offshore project is still not up and running, although it has passed some regulatory hurdles and survived a few legal challenges from locals who oppose the project. The long controversy is now the focus of a documentary, “Cape Spin: An American Power Struggle,” which opened on Friday in Washington after showings in Boston and a sprinkling of film festivals.