Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany vowed Wednesday to fight a European Union investigation into her government’s policy of exempting hundreds of companies from a surcharge on electricity that is used to promote renewable resources. Ms. Merkel insisted that promoting solar and wind energy was crucial to German competitiveness, but she also noted that other issues were at stake.
Domestic oil production will continue to soar for years to come, the Energy Department predicted on Monday, scaling to levels not seen in nearly half a century by 2016. The annual outlook by the department’s Energy Information Administration was cited by experts as confirmation that the United States was well on its way — far faster than anticipated even a year ago — to achieving virtual energy independence. The report predicted that the increase in United States production would contribute to a decline in the world oil benchmark price over the next few years to $92 a barrel in 2017 from a 2012 average of $112 a barrel, which should translate into lower prices at the pump for consumers.
Vestas Wind Systems A/S is hiring again at its Colorado factories after signing new orders for as much as 3,400 megawatts in North America this year. The Danish company signed a contract yesterday to deliver 175 turbines of its V100-2.0 MW model to Enel Green Power North America. The contract also entails an additional 636 MW of possible orders that Enel has the option of placing later (see related story). “We have 1,400 employees at four factories in Colorado at the moment, and we are hiring hundreds more to ensure that we can deliver the orders we got in North America,” said Morten Albaek, chief of marketing at Vestas.
Wind energy supporters said the industry could face a slowdown in 2014, and hundreds of workers could lose their jobs if Congress fails to renew a popular tax break credited with helping build the massive turbines spinning across the United States. The wind tax credit expired at the end of 2012 before being renewed early this year, but it appears set to lapse again at the end of December. Supporters, who include many Democrats and some Republicans, have worked to extend the tax credit into 2014 and beyond.
With the clock ticking loudly on the U.S. wind energy sector’s production tax credit, which is set to expire Dec. 31, another blockbuster deal between two major wind energy firms materialized yesterday, as Vestas Wind Systems A/S and Enel Green Power North America Inc. cemented the terms of a 350-megawatt deal to significantly expand EGP’s wind energy portfolio in the United States. Denmark-based Vestas, whose U.S. operation includes large turbine, blade and tower manufacturing plants in Colorado, said it would supply 75 2 MW turbines to EGP’s $250 million Origin wind farm in Oklahoma, which is set to begin producing power by the end of 2014.
A zero-emissions facility — such as a wind farm, solar facility or nuclear plant — would be eligible for a production credit of $23 per megawatt-hour through the first 10 years of a facility’s life, the same level as the current PTC. Or it could claim a one-time investment credit worth 20 percent of a facility’s costs, compared to the existing 30 percent ITC.
Baucus’ impending exit seems to put the final nail in the comprehensive tax reform coffin, at least for this term. The news broke less than six hours after he unveiled a widely anticipated draft bill to overhaul dozens of incentives for the energy sector. The proposal represented a radical rethinking of the tax code — and perhaps the most ambitious effort to shape energy policy since the failed effort to enact a cap-and-trade law in 2009 and 2010. Baucus envisioned replacing at least 42 existing incentives — some temporary, some permanent — with a trio of tax credits to promote clean electricity, clean transportation fuels and carbon capture and sequestration. The credits would have been allotted based on the greenhouse gas intensity of a given energy source and would be set to phase out when their targeted recipients — utilities, transportation or coal-fired power plants — achieved a 25 percent reduction in their emissions intensity
Daily oil production in North Dakota is nearing the 1 million-barrels-per-day benchmark, and monthly production records don’t last long. And while it’s a long way from here to Williston, N.D., Nebraska businesses from Omaha to Sidney are feeling a ripple effect. “I would say, over the last five years, it’s probably doubled our operation, both by revenue and employees,” said Don Adams, owner of Adams Industries Inc. in Sidney, Neb.
Cape Wind, the proposed $2.6 billion wind farm off the coast of Massachusetts criticized by local residents including the Kennedy family, will qualify for a key federal tax credit that expires at the end of the year, according to its turbine supplier Siemens AG.
More than 1,000 wind power manufacturing employees in Iowa and Kansas received an early Christmas gift yesterday as energy giant Siemens AG announced that its U.S. plants would supply 448 wind turbines to MidAmerican Energy Co. as part of the largest single order for onshore turbines in history. At a ribbon-cutting at Siemens’ Fort Madison, Iowa, turbine blade manufacturing plant, executives from Siemens and MidAmerican, along with local, state and federal officials, marked the largest economic development project in Iowa history, as Des Moines-based MidAmerican embarks on a $1.9 billion expansion of wind power generation across the state.