Energy Secretary Steven Chu spent the afternoon on Capitol Hill defending President Obama’s proposed DOE budget for next year, but his agency’s research programs got firm support earlier in the day from Microsoft Corp. founder Bill Gates. Energy development programs deserve twice as much money as they get now, Gates said during a panel discussion with Chu.
Despite Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s long-expressed dream of putting wind turbines on skyscrapers and bridges, the constraints of an urban landscape have so far proved too challenging for reliable wind power in the city, energy experts said. As a result, New York City has been largely inactive — and behind the national curve — in embracing wind power. But that is about to change. This spring, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection will solicit plans for the first major wind project, the installation of turbines atop the Fresh Kills landfill in Staten Island. And city planners are working on zoning changes, now under review by the City Planning Commission, to allow turbines up to 55 feet high on the rooftops of buildings taller than 100 feet, and even taller turbines on commercial and industrial sites along the waterfront.
Renewable power generation from the wind and the sun promises higher energy costs, less reliable infrastructure and, ironically, more pollution, according to a report from the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). These problems form “the perfect green trifecta,” according to the report’s author, Benjamin Zycher, a visiting scholar at the think tank. Speaking at AEI’s offices in Washington, D.C., last week, he presented findings from his study titled “‘Renewable’ Electricity Generation — Economic Analysis and Outlook.”
The production tax credit (PTC) for renewable energy didn’t shrivel up and blow away when Congress failed to include an extension with tax legislation passed earlier this month. The wind industry, which says development will grind to a halt without the PTC, is continuing to push for an extension, and is doing so with what appears to honest-to-goodness bipartisan support.
The wind power industry in the United Kingdom has come in for a political spanking in recent weeks over costs, aesthetics and necessity, but it has shrugged it off and gone on with its ambitious program. There has always been a well-organized, vocal campaign against onshore wind farms here, with opponents calling the giant wind turbines unsightly and a blight on England’s green, rolling countryside. But objections escalated earlier this year when more than 100 parliamentarians from the senior coalition government party, the Conservatives, signed a petition calling for a cut in subsidies.
A Minnesota commission yesterday held up a plan to build a rural wind farm because of concerns for bald eagles and insect-eating bats. AWA Goodhue Wind Project will need an Avian and Bat Protection Plan approved by the Minnesota Public Utilities Commission before the developers can begin work on a 50-turbine wind farm in southeast Minnesota.
A left-to-right coalition of senators is pressing GOP and Democratic leaders to quickly extend tax credits for wind power projects that are slated to lapse at year’s end. “The future of the American wind industry requires a stable tax environment in which to operate,” states the bipartisan Feb. 22 letter from a dozen senators to Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Senators, including John Kerry and Scott Brown, are urging government officials to reauthorize a production tax credit for wind energy projects that is set to expire at the end of the year.
President Obama, confronted by the political perils of surging gas prices in an election year, on Thursday defended his efforts to wean the United States off imported oil, even as he conceded there was little he could do in the short run to ease the pain at the pump. Speaking to students at the University of Miami, in a swing state where gas averages $3.69 a gallon, Mr. Obama said: “Just like last year, gas prices are climbing across the country; this time, it’s happening even earlier. And when gas prices go up, it hurts everybody.”
Pennsylvania, one of the nation’s premier coal states, is promoting wind energy under a new partnership that seeks to expand the state’s wind portfolio to as much as 6 percent of total generation over the coming years. The initiative, known as ChoosePAWind, launched yesterday with a website portal providing businesses and consumers with information about what companies and institutions are investing in wind power across the commonwealth, as well as how and where to purchase electricity generated by Pennsylvania turbines.